JERAA commends ABC on emergency broadcasts and calls for increased funding



JERAA commends the ABC for its extraordinary emergency service broadcasting during the current bushfire season, and notes the additional pressure this coverage will put on its budget for the coming year. Accordingly, we call for increased funding to support the ABC’s operations, in order for its normal staff and content budgets not to be affected by the resources necessarily diverted to emergency broadcasting.

This funding is essential in light of the Coalition government’s recent budgets cuts (including its efficiency saving and indexation pause). The ACCC’s Digital Platforms inquiry recommended that stable and adequate funding should be allocated to both ABC and SBS and that they “are not currently resourced to fully compensate for the decline in local reporting previously produced by traditional commercial publishers” (2019, p.19).

The ABC said it has broadcast 670 emergency events already at the start of 2019-20, compared to only 371 in the whole of 2018-19 and 256 in 2017-18. Into the future an expansion of the ABC’s emergency broadcast capacity, and its news and information services, will be critical to help Australians meet the challenges of climate change.

JERAA also supports the ABC against criticisms of its ongoing news and analysis of climate change consequences. We also call on all journalists, editors, columnists and opinion writers to show professionalism in bushfire coverage by questioning ill-informed climate change denial perspectives. We ask them to choose a variety of informed sources rather than the misleading practice of giving prominence to inaccurate, decontextualized and distorted information in the name of ‘balance’.

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