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ABC Alumni Submission to Review Into the National Broadcasters' Independence

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5-year funding periods are all very well, but what’s to stop a new government that gets elected half way through a funding term tearing up the agreement and starting again?

It’s an issue the Albanese government, which has introduced 5-year funding for the ABC and SBS, is well aware of.

A second issue that concerns the government is that the process for selecting ABC and SBS Board Directors on merit, introduced by the Rudd and Gillard governments, has proved easy to circumvent by ministers who want to appoint “captain’s picks”.

Accordingly, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has tasked her department with holding a “review into options to support the national broadcasters’ independence”. The department has asked for public submissions. Click on the link to find the terms of reference and consultation paper.

ABC Alumni has put in a substantial submission. We have tried to stick to measures that might actually be acted on by the Albanese Government.

We recommend extensive changes to the ABC and SBS Acts, including a provision that there should be a public review of the broadcasters’ new 5-Year Plans and a subsequent report to the government on the new quantum of funding, also public, well before a new funding term begins.

And we recommend that the Communications Minister should no longer be able to ignore the Nomination Panel’s recommendations for non-executive Directors of the ABC and SBS.

Thanks to Alan Sunderland especially for his initial draft. Your Board – Alan and myself, Janet Clayton, Quentin Dempster, Gael Jennings, and Sandra Levy – have all had input, and have all signed off on the final submission.

You can read all the other submissions [including those from the ABC, SBS, and ABC Friends], when they are posted.

If you have any comments, for or against, let us know on [email protected]

Jonathan Holmes
Chair, ABC Alumni

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