PM confident ABC regional safe from cuts
Malcolm Turnbull accepts the ABC’s claim it is not cutting staff or local content as it changes programming in regional areas.
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is not so sure, taking aim at the Federal Government for agreeing to budget cuts.
The public broadcaster insists there will not be job losses as its Mornings program is folded into a longer version of Breakfast with a new features show to follow.
Regional division head Fiona Reynolds told ABC radio they weren’t losing any regional airtime to metro audiences.
“We’re not giving one minute of air time back to metro from regional because we have to accept that we have different audiences in different parts of the country,” she said.
The Prime Minister accepted that, saying he had no reason to doubt there would not be reduction in local content.
Mr Turnbull even joked he could not believe the Tasmanian ABC program host Leon Compton was suggesting his esteemed employer could be misleading people.
“How can you live with yourself working for a company that you’re so sceptical about? Must be a life of torment you go through,” he joked.
But Mr Shorten took aim at the “audacious” Government, saying MPs were complaining now, despite voting for ABC funding cuts in the last two budgets.
“Before the last election the Liberal and National parties promised there’d be no cuts to the ABC — since then they’ve folded their arms and whistled whilst $250 million has been cut from public broadcasting,” he said.
Nationals MPs are not happy about the news, with leader Warren Truss warning there was not a “high level of trust” in regional Australia that the broadcaster will not cut local content.
“I still have very vigorously in my memory the time when the Howard and Anderson government provided $50 million to the ABC to improve services in regional communities and they used some of that money to close studios,” he told ABC radio.
Mr Truss said regional MPs were briefed on changes only a few months ago but they were “left out of the loop” about the decision. AAP