Schools

ABC Friends in need of teachers

April 23, 2018

Lobby group ABC Friends has urged teachers to join the fight to defend the national broadcaster from funding cuts and a conservative political agenda, including the assault by the Murdoch press.

Federation Vice-President Tim Mulroy recently met with NSW President of ABC Friends Professor Ed Davis to discuss the importance of the broadcaster to public debate and its role to inform and entertain, as well as its link to public education.

“It is of particular concern to teachers who deeply value the educational programs presented by the ABC and its broad and thoughtful discussion of economic, environmental, political and social issues,” Professor Davis, a former teacher, said.

Government cuts have meant that funding for the ABC has fallen, in real terms, by 28 per cent since the mid-1980s, while staff numbers had been reduced by 20 per cent in the past 20 years.

Professor Davis said the BBC receives almost 10 times the funding of the ABC while serving an audience just three times greater than Australia’s that is certainly less dispersed and remote.

“These are shocking developments in a world with an extraordinary need for accurate and impartial news and analysis; where the ABC has such a critical role to play, as outlined in its Charter,” he said.

“In the past five years, there has been a reduction in ABC funding of around $200 million and the current Federal Government has made no secret of its intentions to impose further cuts on the ABC.”

He said the cuts have resulted in less diversity, fewer specialist, well-researched programs and insufficient resources to seek out and investigate news, as well as the loss of Australian voices, history and perspectives as the ABC is forced to rely on imported documentary, history and science programming.

Rupert Murdoch’s empire “hates” the ABC – with “no shortage of News Corp staff calling for the abolition of the ABC” – as it sees public broadcasters, here and overseas, as competitors who are given a free kick from the public purse to compete for viewers, readers and listeners.

“Put simply, commercial media do not have the same obligations as public broadcasters,” Professor Davis said. “Their aim is to make profit, to sell audiences to advertisers. They are not guided by the obligations and noble aims spelt out in the ABC’s Charter.

“ABC Friends would appreciate and encourage the support and seek the guidance of Federation and its members for the worthy cause of public broadcasting.”

For more on ABC Friends and membership go to www.abcfriends.org.au.

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