Australian Government-owned broadcasters ABC and SBS are to receive AUD$4.2 billion across the 2022-23 to 2024-25 triennium.
According to a statement issued by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the announcement represents “… an increase in funding for both national broadcasters against the 2016-19 and 2019-22 triennia, and is a total funding increase in real terms.
“This funding reflects the important role the two broadcasters play in the Australian media and entertainment landscape. The ABC and SBS provide important public interest journalism and play a significant role in commissioning and broadcasting Australian content.
The ABC will receive AUD$3,284.9 million over three years. This includes $45.8 million for the Enhanced News Gathering program to strengthen local public interest journalism outside the major city centres.
The ABC will also see a return of indexation on base operational funding as outlined in previous Budget estimates.
The SBS will receive $953.7 million over three years, including an additional $37.5 million in ongoing funding to support its long-term sustainability.
Additional funding will be provided to ensure the continuation and expansion of audio description by the national broadcasters over the next three years.
New Reporting Expectation for National Broadcasters
The Government will establish a National Broadcasters Reporting Framework for Australian Content to “increase public transparency around how much our national broadcasters are investing in Australian content”.
The ABC and SBS will be asked to report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on their provision of, and expenditure on, Australian content in line with the reporting obligations currently in place for commercial television broadcasting licensees.
The Framework will form part of the broader reporting arrangements for Australian content, overseen and administered by the ACMA. The Government will provide ACMA with an additional $3.3 million over four years to develop and implement a single, harmonised reporting framework for all content providers, including streaming services, national, commercial and subscription broadcasters.
The Government has said it will publish a “Statement of Expectations” for the national broadcasters.
In response to the Government’s announcement, ABC Chair Ita Buttrose said, “I am delighted with the Government’s decision to commit $3.3 billion over the next three years to the ABC.
“It will allow the national broadcaster to continue doing what it does best – provide information and entertainment to Australians wherever they live.”
“On behalf of the ABC, I welcome the funding certainty this announcement brings to the national broadcaster for the next three years,”added ABC Managing Director David Anderson. “The $3.3 billion over the next triennium, announced by the Minister Paul Fletcher, sees the resumption of indexation, the continuation of the Enhanced Newsgathering (ENG) program that provides vital services across the country, and ongoing support for audio description services for blind or visually impaired audiences.
“ENG funding has delivered more tailored news to local communities and has seen the ABC invest more in specialist resources that provide vital context and analysis about issues that matter to all Australians.
“Importantly, this announcement also guarantees the ability of the ABC to continue to reinvest funds from the recently concluded Google and Facebook deals into rural and regional services.
“As the ABC’s Managing Director, I have consistently made the case for the resumption of indexation on the ABC’s base funding and the continued support for ENG program.
“The triennial funding announcement is an important recognition that the ABC is needed now more than ever, and this funding is required so it can continue to fulfil its vital role in our democratic society.”