Local Stories Deserve Local ABC Coverage

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have responded angrily to changes to local ABC radio content that will see the number of local news bulletins significantly reduced.

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ABC Regional has announced that regional content will be “rejigged” to alter the breakfast and morning coverage. The result is that news bulletins at 8 30am and 5 30pm as well as Saturday morning bulletins will now be produced externally in major cities.

27 minutes of local news will be cut down to just nine minutes. The latest changes follow a number of cuts to the ABC’s regional services, including the axing of Radio National’s “Bush Telegraph” and the dumping of five regional radio posts.

Sharon Bird said that local stories should be covered by local ABC radio rather than more stories being generated in our major cities.

“When it comes to regional media content, whether that be print, radio or TV, it is clear that the people of the Illawarra want local stories about local issues.

“The ABC claims that they consulted with listeners and stakeholders across Australia about these changes. Well, I can tell you that if they had spoken to people in the Illawarra they would have been told to enable live streaming of ABC content, not pair back the number of local news bulletins.

“Regional areas deserve regular news bulletins and they deserve proper weekend ABC coverage. I’m concerned that this is just an initial step towards more regional ABC radio content being stripped away.”

Stephen Jones said that regional areas were bearing the brunt of the Coalition’s cuts to ABC funding.

“The Coalition in Canberra has cut the ABC’s total budget by a quarter of a million dollars over five years. Did they honestly think that this wouldn’t have an impact on regional ABC services?

“Coalition MPs are up in arms about these changes this morning. I support their efforts and stand in lock step with them on this, but they also need to recognise that their own Budget cuts have in part led to this latest announcement.

“These decisions being made in Melbourne and Sydney ignore the interests of ABC listeners in the Illawarra. We want more local, not less and we want improved services.

“We will be writing to the ABC’s managing director, Mark, Scott, telling him exactly what we think about these latest changes.”

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