Commission of Audit report released: experts respond
Friday 2 May 2014
- Analysis for The Conversation by Dr Andrew Dodd, Swinburne University of Technology
In an article published in The Conversation, Swinburne Lecturer in Journalism, Dr Andrew Dodd, comments on what the Commission of Audit's recommendations will mean for Public Broadcasting. You can read the full article here.
The ABC’s first reaction to the release of the Commission of Audit report must be one of relief. Major cuts to the ABC and SBS have been averted, for now.
The same cannot be said for the Australia Network, which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade but run by the ABC. The Commission of Audit has recommended it be scrapped because it claims it is not the most efficient way of achieving soft diplomacy in our region. This is certainly arguable and definitely unfortunate given the network’s successful inroads into China in recent weeks.
But there are no real surprises here: the government has been sending not-so-subtle messages that the Australia Network faces cuts or closure.
On ABC and SBS funding, the Commission of Audit said there really is no such thing as the right amount, insisting instead on driving a culture of efficiency in both organisations. On this score, it looks like the right hand knows what the left is up to because the commission has recommended that the ABC and SBS be benchmarked against commercial television networks and that funding should be based on this.
It is as if communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has already anticipated this, because in January he commissioned former Seven network executive Peter Lewis to conduct an efficiency review of the ABC and SBS.
So now, all eyes must be directed at Lewis' report, which is due to be released around the time of the federal budget. Insiders say Lewis has taken some convincing that the ABC’s approach to news and current affairs requires greater funding than the Seven Network. So his recommendations, and the ABC’s reaction to them, will tell us much about the future of funding for our national broadcasters.