After weeks of delays, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has released a heavily censored version of the ABC and SBS efficiency study.
Mr Turnbull repeatedly told the media that the report, which formed the basis for budget cuts, could not be made public without the approval of both national broadcasters.
“The government has now sought permission from both broadcasters to release the report,” he said in a statement accompanying the report.
The released version is heavily redacted, with many tables, paragraphs and even entire pages blacked out. Until now, only the executive summary had been available to the public.
The edits were all made “at the request of the broadcasters,” the statement said.
The minister’s statement makes it clear that “some” of the cuts announced recently by ABC managing director Mark Scott were not recommended by the report, but said this was “entirely to be expected”.
“The Study was not designed to be the last word, but an important part of an iterative process that would see both public broadcasters explore the potential for operating more efficiently,” the statement said.
The report, known as the Lewis Efficiency Report, did not look at programming decisions or the split in funding between different streams — such as radio and internet.
Overseen by former Seven chief financial officer Peter Lewis, the study was released almost two months after the Senate passed a motion calling for it to be made public.
The last 16 pages of the draft report, which detail the broadcaster’s budgets and staff, are entirely blacked out.
The costs and savings of a number of cuts were also redacted, despite these figures being leaked to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam on Saturday.
The leaks showed that the cuts wanted by the Government could never have been found without making cuts to programs and content, Senator Ludlam said.
“You go through what we’ve seen of the report and it’s very, very clear that there’s no way, really, that mangement could have made cuts of the size that government is imposing on it without impacts on programming. I mean, that’s now crystal clear,” Senator Ludlam said.
“It should really put that whole myth to rest the idea that it could all be done in the back office.”
Senator Ludlam’s demand that the full report be made available in time for an estimates hearing on Monday has been met.
Further savings are expected to be recommended by another report, yet to be released, into transmission costs at the broadcasters.
Click here to read the redacted report.