The Guardian 30 March, 2005

ABC Radio National under threat

The Friends of the ABC organisation in Victoria has issued an urgent appeal for all ABC listeners to protest against the proposed cuts to the Radio National (RN).

Several years of operating with insufficient resources is catching up with RN. Three staff positions have already been frozen and an internal ABC review is underway to determine what should happen.

Since 1985/86, ABC funding has declined by almost 30 per cent, well out of proportion to any other major area of government expenditure.

The Howard governmentís cut of 12 per cent in 1996 was the fiercest single blow. The choices available to the already lean ABC to deal with RNís funding shortfall are limited.

Radio National has a unique place because of its combination of informative, thought-provoking programs which cover a wide range of social, political and cultural matters.

It is absolutely criminal to force the station into diluting the quality of its programs with repeats, imported programs and music as fillers.

It is not an acceptable proposition and it is actually contrary to the charter requirements specified in the ABC Act.

The ABC Board has a duty to cease hiding the ABCís funding difficulties from the public.

It should enlist broad community support to pressure the Federal government for funding that enables the ABC to fulfill its role as Australiaís treasured independent and comprehensive national broadcaster.

We cannot afford to lose such quality programs as Background Briefing, The National Interest, The Health Report, The Law Report, The Science Show, Counterpoint and all the others. In commercial hands or without adequate funding these programs will lose their quality, integrity and independence.

Write to Donald McDonald, Chairman of the ABC Board, with a copy to Russel Balding, the ABC Managing Director. The address is ABC Board, GPO Box 9994, Sydney 2001. Also send copies to FABC: fabcvic@vicnet.net.au or GPO Box 4065, Melbourne 3001.

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