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Staff cuts leave ABC even more Sydney-centric

Staff cuts leave ABC even more Sydney-centric

MYRIAM ROBIN
Crikey media reporter

More than half the ABC’s staff work in New South Wales, the state that houses its Ultimo HQ, its annual report reveals.

The report, which doesn’t differentiate between those who work in metropolitan Sydney and the rest of the state, reveals a slight increase on the proportion of staff who work in the country’s most populous state — from 51.31% in June 2014 to 51.59% in June 2015.

This is despite most of the job losses that resulted from the ABC budget cuts last year coming from New South Wales, according to figures previously tendered to Senate estimates. However, because there were so few ABC staff in other states, small numbers of redundancies reduced their proportion of staff even further.

In Nick Xenophon’s home state of South Australia, the percentage of ABC staff went from 6.90% to 6.76%. Also losing out relative to New South Wales were West Australia (5.24% to 5.03%), Victoria (17.15% to 16.54), and the ACT (3.85% to 3.81%).

Other states to gain staff as a proportion of the ABC total were Tasmania (3.11% to 3.26%), Queensland (9.18% to 9.74%) and the Northern Territory, which went from employing 2.61% to 2.65% of ABC staff.

In terms of job losses, the ABC went from 4670 full-time-equivalent staff to 4313 over the year, largely driven by the budget cuts announced by the government in November 2014. The report repeats an argument the ABC has made many times before: that while the budget cuts were sold by the government as not requiring any cuts to ABC programming, the ABC’s need to invest in its digital future necessitated programming cuts, as the money was now unlikely to come from anywhere else. As well as staff cuts, the report reveals the ABC took out $20 million a year from “program area budgets”.

The cost-cutting came in other forms too. The ABC heavily discouraged domestic travel by its staff — the report contains a total figure of the kilometres travelled by ABC staff over the year, which it notes decreased 17% from 2013-14. ABC staff also decreased by 5% their travel in vehicles over the year. “The ABC has encouraged staff to reduce domestic travel as much as possible.” the report states. “Staff have been encouraged to consider alternatives to travel where appropriate, for instance utilising video conferencing.”