The national broadcaster is again calling on the federal government to extend special funds for journalism or risk putting more jobs on the chopping block.
ABC managing director David Anderson has raised concerns state border closures could hurt the broadcaster’s ability to move staff around to cover extreme weather over summer.
At a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, Mr Anderson answered questions over whether the ABC’s funding was increasing or decreasing.
He said the broadcaster’s current $43.7 million enhanced news-gathering services funds would expire in the 2022/23 financial year.
The money was spread over three years and supports 74 jobs.
The broadcaster first received the package in 2013 and it has been extended each time it’s due to end.
Mr Anderson said that without knowing in advance, it was hard for the ABC to plan.
“The funding has enabled us to deliver more tailored and local news to communities and to bring news from across the country to a national audience,” he said.
“Prior to the expiry of the initiative we will continue to make the case for this funding to be permanently incorporated into the ABC’s operating funding base.”
The ABC has felt the impact of an indexation freeze on its funding, which results in its budget increasing but not in line with how much it would have if indexation continued.
“They (funds) are not increasing to the tune in which our costs would be increasing, hence we’ve had to find ongoing savings,” Mr Anderson said.
The broadcaster planned for 250 job losses this year because of the funding cut, but Mr Anderson said instead 229 people have been made redundant.
He thanked his team for shifting focus this year to boost the ABC’s bushfire and coronavirus coverage.
“But this doesn’t mean we can always please everyone,” Mr Anderson said.
“Our critics relentlessly try to make us part of a cultural debate most Australians do not find relevant or helpful. The ABC is bigger than this debate.”