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Notice given 28 June 2001

967  Senator Bourne: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes, on the occasion of its 69th anniversary, that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has traditionally produced outstanding results, despite the fact that its operational budget has declined dramatically in recent years and remains well below its highest level of funding following corporatisation in 1983;

(b) expresses its concern that the restructuring of the ABC is at the expense of high-quality programming, the dismissal of a large number of committed and dedicated staff, the result of which will be felt in the television and radio schedule over the next 2 to 3 years and longer;

(c) notes the concerns of the independent production sector, and the radio, television and film industries generally, about the loss of high quality productions being commissioned at the ABC at the present time;

(d) expresses its concern that ratings are used as a measure of success, to the detriment of other measures, including audience reach, or the other provisions of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 , which details the programs and services the ABC should deliver, which have both general and specific appeal;

(e) acknowledges the role of independent, investigative news and current affairs programs as central to the role of the ABC in educating Australians, no matter where they live, or their levels or sources of income;

(f) notes the finding of the 1995 select committee inquiry into the role and operations of the ABC which found ‘that the need for a quality national broadcaster is greater today than it was a decade ago’, reflecting the importance the majority of Australians place on this most important national and cultural icon;

(g) calls on the Government to immediately restore the operational funding of the ABC untied, and not inclusive of special grants, capital or infrastructure costs or transmission funding, to a level commensurate with the levels achieved in 1985, in real terms; and

(h) calls on the ABC board:

(i) to take immediate action to arrest the disruption currently at the ABC, and

(ii) to ensure that the ABC’s relationship with its audiences is immediately restored.