Over A Billion Reasons Why the ABC Isn’t the Underdog


By Eh?Nonymous

“ABC Braces for $20 million a year funding cut! Job losses and cuts to services expected!” I’m sure you’ve all seen such alarmist, apocalyptic reporting before, but it always leaves out the most important information. If you or I were to see such a headline, our first reaction would understandably be, “Wow, that’s huge. I can’t believe they’d take away that much. The annual budget of the ABC can’t be more than $100 million, can it? Cutting out such a big chunk is outrageous!’

Credit to Steven Ransley
Credit to Steven Ransley

Well, not exactly. While the ABC and their apologists are only too happy to advertise how much is being cut from their budget (as Mike Carlton did in May when he tweeted a complaint about a $43 million cut by his employer, the Federal Government, that would see any garden-variety public servant sacked), but these people are never forthcoming about what their entire budget as a whole is, and with good reason.

$43 million may sound outrageous if, as we say, most people assume that the annual budget of the ABC is $100-$200 million. But as The Australian quite rightly reported as a rebuttal to Mike Carlton’s rant, the annual budget of the ABC is just over $1 billion. It makes $43 million in cutbacks sound quite reasonable when put in that perspective. Especially when private media corporations seem to be doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less.

Things get really interesting when you compare the annual budget of the ABC to the Operating Income (earnings before interest and taxes) of News Corporation. Operating income isn’t the same as turnover. The turnover figure of any business is higher than the operating income, but you can’t bank turnover. So operating income is a fairly good indicator of annual budget because a business will become insolvent if it is spending more than it is actually making in operating costs once everything is settled.

News Corporation is the big evil Goliath to ABC’s David, or so friends of the ABC would have us believe. The ABC is not-for-profit (unless you’re on the payroll), so they do not sell advertising, broadcast rights, etc. News Corp are, of course, for profit in the traditional sense. Still, we can equate the approximately $1.1 billion annual ABC budget to the $2.2 billion annual operating income of News Corporation. Operating income is again earnings before interest and taxes, so this can reasonably be equated to the $1.1 billion the ABC receives from taxpayers as a fair comparison of operating costs.

I know what you’re thinking. There’s a big difference between $1.1 billion, and $2.2 billion. But think about this for a moment. News Corporation not only looks after media, but also film production. News Corp does business not only in Australia, but the United States, the U.K and Europe, Asia, Russia, and Papua New Guinea. This $2.2 billion essentially counts for revenue from costly operations in 9 or 10 different countries. Even if you were to average it out even to just Australia, the U.S, and the U.K, we’re looking at $733 million in annual revenue in each of those countries give or take. These are only three markets in the Newscorp empire. We’re being extremely generous.

And let’s not mistake operating income for full annual running costs. The only reason that we are comparing the operating income of News Corporation to the annual budget of the ABC is that it would be too difficult to pin down the individual annual budgets of literally hundreds of News Corporation newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, Internet companies, publishers, film studios, pay TV companies, and all of their other assets for the sake of an article. It’s safe to assume that $2.2 billion is collectively the absolute highest that the annual budget of News Corporation operations internationally could possibly be.

And even this estimate is extremely generous to the ABC. News Corporation is again a for-profit company, so it’s highly unlikely that at least a sizeable percentage of that $2.2 billion isn’t being banked or reinvested. Not so at the ABC, where the board seems to be able to find a home for every cent of over a billion dollars of taxpayers money without any scruples.

So what do we get for over a billion dollars a year? Arguably a lot less bang for our buck than News Corporation or other private media companies could provide, that’s for sure. The comparison above shows just how wasteful and ineffectual the national broadcaster actually is when compared to a successful private sector broadcaster. Like all incarnations of systemic socialism, the ABC is bloated and wasteful, and blames capitalists for its own shortcomings. The annual budget of the public broadcaster would make any media mogul feel ill if it were his company, and his money being spent.

The obscene disparity between how much the alleged Goliath (Rupert Murdoch) spends on the annual running costs of his Australian media interests, and what the alleged David (the ABC) spends on annual running costs, speaks volumes. David is seemingly taking full advantage of his perceived diminutive size and delivering a knockout blow to the Australian taxpayer with his slingshot as he gleefully spends their money, always complaining that it’s never enough.

Murdoch spends far more frugally. Compare Sky News sets and coverage to the frivolous no-expenses-spared approach of the ABC. The Chaser even poked fun at this idea recently with their extravagant election desk. But the joke was on us. We paid for the very long and presumably very expensive election desk. A five second joke that would be deemed impossible to justify in budgetary terms over at Foxtel gets signed off on no questions asked at Aunty.

The ABC is allegedly hard done by and suffering from budget cutbacks, yet inexplicably is able to afford a Chaser election desk that looks more expensive than every Sky News set put together. There are a lot of questions to be asked about exactly where this billion dollar budget goes, and why the ABC requires a bigger budget than News Corporation, but don’t expect to see them answered on Media Watch any time soon… at any rate, the ABC has no justifiable reason to portray itself as an underdog in any way, shape, or form.

Eh?nonymous was a thoroughly repellent unemployed social justice warrior until a one in a million glitch in his Facebook account affected the algorithms in his news feed, omitting posts from his much loved left leaning Huffington Post and I F**king Love Science, and inexplicably replacing them with centrist and conservative newsfeed items that slowly dragged him kicking and screaming into the light beyond the safe space that Mr. Zuckerberg had so carefully constructed for him. It’s a long road to recovery, but every Mark Steyn share he sees in his newsfeed is like another day clean from social justice addiction.