Australia: ABC chair Ita Buttrose says staff have no reason to fear job losses despite looming budget cuts - - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaABC chair Ita Buttrose says staff have no reason to fear job losses despite looming budget cuts

14:37  29 may  2019
14:37  29 may  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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The ABC's newly appointed chair, Ita Buttrose, says staff at the organisation have nothing to fear despite looming cuts to the broadcaster's budget.

A three-year freeze to the ABC's annual funding indexation was announced in 2018, in a move set to cost the corporation $83.7 million.

Under the re-elected Coalition Government, the cut will come into effect at the start of the 2019-20 financial year with a first-year impact of $14.6 million.

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During an interview with ABC Radio Melbourne on Wednesday, Ms Buttrose was asked by host Rafael Epstein if any staff should feel nervous about losing their jobs.

"No," she said, "Not at this point. I wouldn't be nervous at all.

"There are many ways of achieving savings, you know. It's not just people.

"There are many things that can be cut. There are many things that can be changed."

ABC chair Ita Buttrose says staff have no reason to fear job losses despite looming budget cuts
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However, Ms Buttrose said there were no plans to close down branches of the ABC, such as radio and television stations.

'No good bleating and whimpering'

Ms Buttrose said she and managing director David Anderson were hoping to meet with the new Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, next week to discuss the broadcaster's future.

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"If we feel that we need more funding then we have to plead the case," she said.

"It's no good bleating and whimpering. We've got to present a case as to why we need it, what it's for, where it'll take us, what our plans are for the future, what the digital impact will be on the way we do broadcasting.

"When we have the plan, we will discuss it more fully with the Minister for Communications and the Prime Minister."

After the budget announcement was made last year, Mr Anderson told staff that "tough decisions" would have to be made regarding staffing and services.

"This is on top of the $254 million the ABC has had to absorb in efficiency cuts over the past five years," Mr Anderson told staff in an email.

Buttrose says ABC may be biased sometimes

Ms Buttrose was appointed the ABC's chair in February, after the highly-publicised departures of ex-chair Justin Milne and former managing director Michelle Guthrie.

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Ms Buttrose, a one-time Australian of the year and media trailblazer, was chosen to lead the ABC Board by Federal Cabinet despite not being on a shortlist for the position.

When asked about claims made by the ABC's critics that it is biased, Ms Buttrose said: "Sometimes I think we might be biased. I think sometimes we could do with more diversity of views.

"I haven't got a problem with anybody's view but we've got to make sure ours is as diverse as it can be," she said.

Ms Buttrose was asked to clarify whether it was the ABC's news or radio programming she was referring to, to which she replied: "Sometimes I think, people without really knowing it, let a bias show through.

"The way you deflect the critics that love to give us a tough time is by having a wider viewpoint," she said.

"The more diverse views we can represent, the better it will be for us."

In a separate interview with ABC Radio National, Ms Buttrose said the ABC was trusted more than any other media organisation.

"On election night, who won the ratings? I know we're not supposed to care about those things but we do," she said.

"We won them. Because people turned to us because they wanted election coverage that was serious and sensible and would tell them what was happening in Australia."

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