Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Fiona Nash

Minister for Regional Communications

Deputy Leader of the Nationals

Nash welcomes ABC’s regional investment as a good start

7 March 2017

Minister for Regional Communications and Nationals Deputy Leader, Senator Fiona Nash, has welcomed the ABC's $15 million investment in regional content as "a good start".

The ABC has announced $50 million in savings, with annual regional investment to be increased to $15M a year creating 80 new regional media jobs, as part of a $50 million fund which leaves $35 million of contestable funding for new ideas to attract audiences.

Minister Nash said the remaining $35 million in the contestable content fund should also largely be allocated to regional journalists and content.

"I welcome the ABC's decision to allocate $15 million to regional content creating 80 regional jobs - it's a good start," Minister Nash said.

"A third of Australians live outside capital cities and many of those rely on the ABC for coverage of important local news on TV, radio and online.

"Answers in Senate Estimates have revealed 51 per cent of the ABC's staff are in Sydney - that's more than 2000 people.

"With many rural newsrooms understaffed, this makes no sense and also produces a Sydney-centric view of the world.

"I hope the ABC is also serious about bridging the average pay gap between its country and city reporters and program makers.

"Country journalists should not be forced to move to the city to be better paid.

"The ABC's obvious point of difference from other media organisations is its nationwide network. This should be harnessed by decentralising the ABC. This includes the executive, all of whom are based in Sydney except the regional director.

"Far more of the ABC's journalists should be based in rural, regional and remote Australia. They should be reporting on issues which affect people's lives from Broome to Burnie, not trivial city debates over first world problems like how many levels a multi-story car park should have.

"Relocating a good slice of the ABC's capital city base employees would also have huge flow on benefits for local towns, putting more money and jobs into their economies.

"I applaud the ABC's initial move and look forward to more like it."

ENDS

Contact:

Les White                 0409 805 122           les.white@regional.gov.au

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