Media release - ABC budget : LUSENET : Friends of the ABC : One Thread PO Box 4285 University of Melbourne, 3052

MEDIA RELEASE 23 May 2003 – for immediate release Attention: Chief of Staff Facing Financial Facts

The Friends of the ABC have accused the Minister for Communications, Senator Alston, of refusing to recognise financial reality. Friends of the ABC spokesperson Darce Cassidy said: “The government seems to have a problem with understanding figures. According to reports in yesterday’s press, sources close to Senator Alston claimed that ABC funding had been maintained. Yet figures produced by the Macquarie Bank show that ABC funding, in real terms, has fallen by 200 million dollars since 1986” “To be fair to the government, a significant part of that reduction was made by Labor. Before the 1996 election, in its widely publicised “Better Broadcasting” election policy, the government promised in writing to maintain ABC funding. One the election night itself the Coalition solemnly repeated the promise. Then the Coalition then it cynically broke the promise and cut 12% from the ABC budget. The ABC has never fully recovered, despite desperate cost cutting and giant leaps in productivity. “The figures speak for themselves. Since 1986 $200 million has been cut from the ABC budget. In that time the ABC has introduced a new radio network, NewsRadio, and two digital TV channels, Fly TV and Kids TV. ABC Online has been established as one of Australia’s most frequented web sites. “Unless the government faces facts, the ABC can’t continue this way. Something will have to give. “ “Or someone will have to give – a very small part of Peter Costello’s surplus can go towards a very big increase for Our A.B.C. As Donald McDonald recently said ‘it is expensive to be good, it is expensive to be distinctive.’” …ends

Further information or comment: Darce Cassidy , phone 03 9486 9549 (bh) 03 9349 4280 (ah) mobile 0412 685 178 email

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