Fighting Fund: Public broadcasting under threat

Janet Albrechtsen has been appointed to the panel that oversees appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.

Conservative Murdoch mouthpiece Janet Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal Party leader Neil Brown have been appointed as new members of the panel that oversees appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.

The appointments by the Tony Abbott government come after the announcement of serious funding cuts to both public broadcasters in the May federal budget. The cuts were passed in parliament with the support of Labor and the Greens.

Albrechtsen was appointed to the ABC board by the former Coalition government under then-Prime Minister John Howard, serving on it from 2005-10. Openly critical of the ABC, Albrechtsen called for ABC managing director Mark Scott to resign for airing stories based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden about Australian intelligence operations in Indonesia.

According to media reports, Brown, who also served as a minister under the Malcolm Fraser government, has called for the full privatisation of the ABC on the grounds of bias.

ABC’s Stateline presenter Quentin Dempster tweeted on June 24: “ABC/SBS boards need dynamic, quality directors, not Murdoch-approved party political hacks or ideologues.”

The cuts imposed on the ABC and the axing of the Australia Network will see $120 million taken from the ABC’s budget over the next four years.

This will mean job losses and losses in programs.

One of the early casualties was the ABC's Ramp Up website. The website was created in 2010 to give a voice to Australians who live with a disability. A protest against the decision was held on June 30 at the ABC's Melbourne studios.

The site is still accessible, but has the following message to readers: "This website is no longer being updated but remains online as an archive of three and a half years of discussions and conversations regarding disability in Australia."

The threats to public broadcasting, and concentration of media ownership in Australia highlight the importance of supporting vibrant, critical and progressive media, independent of corporate interests and proudly siding with the 99%. Green Left Weekly is just that.

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