The national broadcaster’s boss, David Anderson, has confirmed positions will go in the coming years but he can’t say exactly how many or which sections of the organisation will be affected.
“There will be job losses,” he told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday night.
“It’s not something that I can quantify at this point in time because I think that there is still more work to be done.
“As we look at the efficiency of what we’re doing, some of it relates to people’s employment, some of it does not. Efficiency comes in many forms, so I’m reluctant to put a number on that at the moment.”
Anderson said the cuts will be necessary as the ABC deals with a cut first identified in the Turnbull government’s 2018/19 budget.
The budget showed the ABC would miss out on $83.7 million in the three years from 2019/20 by pausing indexation of operational funding.
The ABC is currently analysing how it may be able to run more cheaply.
“The task at hand now is to do a sweep of efficiency,” Anderson said.
The broadcaster will need to find $15 million worth of ongoing savings this year, $21 million the following year and $48 million in 2021/22.
So far, it has identified $17 million worth of the final $48 million savings target, including by renegotiating third party partnerships and reducing management travel.
It is also reviewing its property portfolio, including considering renting out space at its Ultimo headquarters in Sydney, which is worth $330 million.
Anderson, who became the ABC’s managing director after his predecessor Michelle Guthrie was sacked last year, said the ABC’s content would also be affected as it finds savings.
It plans to prioritise quality over quantity.
“The quantum of what the ABC puts out will have to reduce if we’re going to maintain the quality of what it is we do for the public.”
The ABC leadership is doing its best to manage staff morale but Anderson acknowledged it was an uncertain time.
“For me to be able to say that ‘yes, there will be staff losses’, not to say how many and not to say where from, I certainly appreciate is quite uncertain,” he said.
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