The Beagle Editor, This week sees the visit of Liberal Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield at a NBN forum in Moruya and Tuross Head at the invitation of Ann Sudmalis, Member for Gilmore.
Above: Minister Fifield and Ann Sudmalis MP will be hosting forums in Tuross Head and Moruya on Wednesday Photo source: www.annsudmalismp.com.au In the wake of the total defeat of the Liberals in last weekend’s bi-elections maybe Ann shouldn’t have chosen to rollout the man behind the decimation of our ABC. Let’s all remember that Fifield is the man behind the massive cuts to ABC funding and the Minister of Communications who endorses the ‘merger” of Nine and Fairfax. He was responsible for the cut of $84m to ABC in the May budget with the government saying the reduction was justified because “everyone has to live within their means”. Following this announcement the Guardian reported that the ABC’s managing director, Michelle Guthrie, told staff she was “very disappointed and concerned” about what amounted to a substantial budget cut and it would impact audiences” and that “This decision will make it very difficult for the ABC to meet its charter requirements and audience expectations,” Guthrie told her staff.
The Guardian reported that “the cut came on top of the government’s decision not to continue a further $43m targeted grant to support news gathering and after cuts of the magnitude of $254m since 2014.”
The secretary of the ABC section of the Community and Public Sector Union, Sinddy Ealy, was reported to say that “the ABC would not survive another term of the Turnbull government.”
“The ABCs MD has tonight confirmed the ABC will not be able to meet its obligations to Australian audiences as a result of these cuts,” she told Guardian Australia. “This is extraordinary. The only way we can protect our national broadcaster now is a change of government at the next federal election.”
It was revealed in the Guardian report that savings from the ABC cuts will be redirected to other spending measures within the communications and arts portfolio, according to the budget papers, including $48.7m for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s landing in Botany Bay.
In the South East it is feared that Fairfax news will be further diluted as regional news mastheads begin to merge. We have already seen examples of this with Fairfax from Shoalhaven to Bega and there is further evidence of dilution of local news with the further regionalisation of ABC radio.
It is common knowledge that with mergers there come job losses and Nine has already identified $50m in savings as it “consolidates administration and remove duplications”. Such duplications in the past with Fairfax have included editors, journalists and sales staff. Will they be further consolidated?
This is of considerable concern to regional communities as it strips away at reporting resulting in the community being less informed or worse, ill informed. It has been suggested that Nine will sell off its least performing assets which will see local newspapers up for sale. All of our local papers have been propped. Just look at their dwindling advertising and even more dwindling content. With advertising dollars gobbled up by the internet there is little hope that local newspapers will survive as they are now and will need to be pared right down in overheads including labour costs to make ends meet. Meanwhile the rural and regional communities are left further in the dark. Maybe Minister Fifield might like to comment while there are still papers and radio to report his response. Name and address provided