Key services at two Public Service Broadcasters are to undergo budget cuts, resulting in the loss of dozens of posts. This week’s announcements follow a string of budget reductions for both broadcasters this year, with more on the horizon.
At the ABC, around 80 compulsory redundancies are expected, as a result of the Australian Government’s decision to cancel the contract for the country’s international broadcast service, the Australia Network. The exact number of posts is yet to be finalised, but it is understood they will be from the Asia-Pacific News Centre and ABC International.
The loss of the international network contract, worth AUD$220m over ten years, is in addition to a one per cent overall budget cut for the broadcaster, which separately is expected to lead to further job losses to be announced next month. The latest announcement means the entire English-language division of Radio Australia will go, according to independent politics website Crikey, and there will be reduced staffing across all language programmes. This has led to questions over how the ABC will meet the international broadcasting obligations of its charter (6b).
Meanwhile at the BBC, 415 jobs are to be axed in the broadcaster’s news division as part of cost-cutting measures. The proposal is expected to save £48m per year. The department, which currently employs around 8,400 people, is also being restructured to deliver a “24/7 digital news operation, providing live digital news to all audiences on all devices”, leading to the creation of 195 new posts – a net loss of 220 jobs.
The measure is part of £800m of efficiency savings the broadcaster has been required to make after its licence fee was frozen four years ago – an effective reduction of the BBC’s budget by 26 per cent until March 2017. The announcement follows the loss of 140 posts in BBC News in 2012 and a further 75 last year.
A partial breakdown of the job losses listed by the BBC includes 105 jobs in the World Service, 79 newsroom posts, 56 posts in newsgathering, five jobs from programme and two posts from political programming. Although the World Service is set to lose over 100 staff, its budget is increasing by £5m to £250m by 2016/17, and will include the reinstatement of the role of Controller, World Service English, and a £13m investment in digital journalism.
Image: campaigners spell out the ABC logo in front of Australia’s parliament house in May this year (GetUp! Australia)