GetUp! report on ABC funding cuts ‘deeply regrettable’
A forensic look at activist group Get Up's report on ABC budget cuts that was rapidly endorsed by presenters has been condemned for containing glaring inaccuracies.
The report by Get Up and left wing think tank Per Capita claimed the ABC had lost $783 million in funding to its budget since the coalition came to power in 2014.
But the report contained major errors including claims Aunty had lost $148.8 million in funding for a contract to broadcast internationally that was axed six years ago.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said: "It is deeply regrettable when factually inaccurate claims are made about ABC funding.
"To claim the ABC has been 'defunded' is at odds with the facts," he said. "The numbers show that ABC funding in 2019-20 is higher than in 2013-14 and will be higher again in 2021-22."
The Get Up report received support from ABC journalists, including Media Watch presenter Paul Barry, journalist Ellen Fanning and presenter Adam Spencer who tweeted: "My bias on this subject is, I am sure, self-evident. But this is a national f***ing disgrace."
Mr Fletcher said: "It is really quite surprising that the report issued this week by Labor-aligned activist groups Per Capita and Get Up which gets the numbers so badly wrong would be quoted uncritically."
The report claimed the ABC budget was $879 million - failing to mention the $183.7 million transmission funding that takes it to its actual budget of $1062.3 million. That will increase to $1070.8 million in 2021-22.
"These numbers are not a secret, they are published in the budget papers," Mr Fletcher said. "The Government's investment in the ABC gives it more financial certainty than any other media organisation in Australia."
He said that was not the case for other media companies enduring major cutbacks during the COVID-19 crisis. "The ABC and its journalists enjoy a level of security that private sector businesses and employees can only dream about," he said.
The report was written by former Labor staffer Emma Dawson who worked for then communications minister Stephen Conroy in Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd's governments.
A Get Up spokeswoman said Ms Dawson "has a wealth of knowledge and policy expertise" and "diminishing" her career to one job from her past was "disappointing".
"The report is clear and accurate, this government is responsible for aggressively de-funding our national broadcaster to the tune of $783 million," the spokeswoman said. "One thousand jobs have been lost, countless programs have been axed and the ABC faces an uncertain future still being threatened with funding cuts - this is a fact. The figures are an unbiased analysis of budget papers on the public record."
That claim was disputed by Evan Mullholland, communications director at rival think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, who called on the ABC to acknowledge the errors in the report.
The ABC declined to comment yesterday.
Originally published as GetUp! report on ABC funding cuts is a bit rich