Save Lateline and News & Current Affairs – petition

Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised “no cuts to the ABC”, but the cuts are coming: perhaps ten per cent of the ABC’s budget is in jeopardy. It’s certain that in response, the Board is contemplating cuts to the ABC’s current affairs coverage. Lateline could be axed, and some news coverage could be halved. Yet, as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has himself said many times, with the business models of commercial media in crisis, Australian democracy needs ABC news and current affairs programs now more than ever.

The demise of Lateline could be just the beginning. The ABC’s Friday 7.30 programs, which consistently break important local and state-based stories, could also go. So too could radio current affairs programs on ABC Local Radio and specialist programs on Radio National.

Decisions are expected as soon as this Wednesday – so we need to act now. Will you sign my petition?

– Jonathan Holmes, former Media Watch presenter

~ Message from GetUp ~

Recent reports strongly suggest that the Managing Director of the ABC Mark Scott and the ABC Board are poised to sacrifice iconic investigative reporting programs such as Lateline, in what many are speculating is an attempt to appease the Abbott Government.1 Why? Because Lateline has a strong reputation for holding governments and politicians to account by asking the tough questions. You know, the very reason independent media like the ABC was first established.

The ABC Board are set to meet this Wednesday.2 Chances are they’ll discuss which programs to save, and which can be sacrificed. It’s highly likely the future of Lateline, amongst other iconic programs, will be high on the agenda. While the ABC Board might be willing to sacrifice investigative reporting, the people who pay for these programs (all of us!) sure aren’t – and we’ll let them know it.

Concerned about the cuts, former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes started a petition on GetUp’s grassroots campaigning platform, CommunityRun. Will you join him and sign the petition calling on the ABC Board to protect quality investigative reporting?

Click here to sign the petition:

Lateline isn’t the only show on the sacrificial altar, with media reports suggesting further cuts are on the cards. The Guardian Australia is reporting the following programs might also set to face the axe: •The state-based 7.30 current affairs program
•ABC radio news bulletins, which will be cut from ten minutes to five
•The World Today radio program will be cut in half
•Several specialised Radio National programs to face the chop, including Bush Telegraph, Rear Vision, 360, Hindsight, Encounter and By Design3
Losing these programs will mean losing essential coverage of rural and regional issues and investigative reporting that cuts to the heart of the issues that matter most.

If we lose the quality investigative reporting these programs are known for, just what else will we be losing? Interviews like that of NSW Police Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, whose revelations on Lateline led to the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Or reporting from 7.30 NSW, which has kept the public up-to-date with the evidence to come out of the ICAC inquiries.

Without programs like Lateline and the state-based 7.30 report, what other stories will be left uncovered and go unreported? What could politicians and our government get away with?

The ABC Board meets this Wednesday. Before then, we need to let them know how important quality and independent reporting is to us, the public, and how risky it would be to put investigative reporting at risk, in a time when it is needed most.

Sign former Media Watch presenter Jonathan Holmes’ CommunityRun petition to the ABC Board, telling them Australians want to see our quality investigative reporting and current affairs coverage protected:

GetUp members have a strong history of fighting to protect our ABC. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of us rallied in the streets urging our government to keep their promise of no cuts to the ABC in the 2014 budget, and hand-delivered petitions to MPs in more than 61 electorates around the country. The result was a much more modest cut to the ABC’s funding than expected. But now, further cuts have become a reality, one that could threaten some of the programs we love most – so we need to rally again.

For our independent media,
Alycia, Kelsey and Erin for the GetUp team

~ References ~

[1] Why the ABC must save Lateline, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2014
[2] ABC stars unite to save Lateline from the axe, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 September 2014
[3] Lateline and state-based 7.30 shows face cull in new round of ABC cuts, The Guardian Australia, 22 September 2014


1 Response to “Save Lateline and News & Current Affairs – petition”

  1. 1 Annette September 30, 2014 at 2:40 am

    The ABC is an essential source of accurate unbiased news, and an amazing resource of fascinating relevant programs.

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