On 25 August 2020, following endorsement by the Audit and Risk Committee, the Board approved the signing of the ABC’s 2019-20 Financial Statements and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) issued an unmodified audit opinion on the ABC’s 2019-20 Financial Statements.
Financial Outcome 2019-20
The ABC incurred a deficit for the financial year ending 30 June 2020 due to additional expenses recognised on implementation of AASB 16 Leases, as well as allowance for the provision of redundancies. These redundancies are part of ongoing savings required to address the impact of the Federal Government’s indexation pause on the ABC’s General Operational Activities base funding, announced in the 2018 Federal Budget.
Sources of Funds 2019-20
The ABC was allocated $1,062.3 million in the April 2019 Federal Budget. The financial year 2019-2020 is the first year of the triennium funding period and was therefore the first year impacted by the indexation pause on ABC General Operational Activities. The impact of the indexation pause was a reduction of $14.6 million compared to what the ABC would otherwise have received. An amount of $14.3 million is included within the 2019-2020 funding which represents the first year of a three-year continuation of the Enhanced Newsgathering program announced in the Budget. This program was established in 2013. The ongoing annual impact of efficiency savings previously announced in the 2014-15 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook was reduced by $14.4 million in 2019-20 compared to the amount in 2018-19.
The ABC also received $58.4 million from other sources, including ABC Commercial, during the year.
The chart 'ABC Source of Funds' depicts the ABC’s budgeted funds for the various categories against actual sources for 2019-20 and its budgeted sources for 2020-21.
Application of Funds
The chart 'Split of actual expenses 2019-20' broadly represents how the ABC allocates its funds by cost category.
The Year Ahead
Revenue from Government
2020-21 is the second year of the current funding triennium, and the second year of the three-year continuation of the Enhanced Newsgathering program. It is also the second year impacted by the three-year pause to indexation of ABC General Operational Activities base funding, announced by Government in the May 2018 Budget as part of the 'Funding for Australian Film and Television Content and the National Broadcasters' measure. This results in a reduction of $27.8 million in 2020-21 with an ongoing reduction to the funding base of $41.3 million per annum in future years beyond 2021-22.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the Government’s response, the Federal Budget 2020-21 was delayed from May until 6 October 2020. The preliminary ABC’s funding for the 2020-21 financial year below is based on amounts published in the April 2019 Budget:
Total revenue from Government per Outcome 1
Less Transmission and Distribution Services
Total Revenue from Government available for ABC General Activities
The chart 'ABC Revenue from Government by Programme 2020-21' broadly represents the ABC’s budgeted appropriation of funds by programme for the 2020-21 financial year.
The budget environment faced by the ABC and the broader economy has been dominated by the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Federal Budget has been delayed from its annual early May schedule until 6 October to accommodate the Government’s COVID-19 response strategies. At the time of writing the ABC budget has been predicated on funding estimates included in the April 2019 Budget.
As outlined above, 2020-21 represents the second year of continued Enhanced Newsgathering funding as well as the second year impacted by the operational funding indexation pause. Whereas the Enhanced Newsgathering facilitates continuation of existing news activity, the funding reduction from the indexation pause comes on top of the ABC/SBS Efficiency Savings measure previously announced in 2014-15 Budget, and places additional pressure on the ABC’s budget strategy in 2020-21 and coming years.
In framing the 2020-21 Budget, the ABC seeks to position itself to achieve the goals and objectives set out in the ABC Five-Year Plan 2020-2025, released in June 2020. This includes implementation of savings initiatives necessary to operate in the reduced funding environment while reshaping the organisation and focusing resources to the ABC Five-Year Plan’s priority initiatives.
This includes maintaining essential television and radio services while focusing on increased digital innovation, and delivering on-demand and personalised services, thereby meeting the increasing expectation of audiences to be able to watch, read and listen to the ABC when and where it suits them.
The ABC remains committed to prioritising available resources to enable it to most effectively deliver on its Charter obligations and remain relevant to audiences in Australia’s cultural and media landscape into the future.
Comparative Revenue from Government
The 2020-21 operational revenue from Government of $879 million represents a decrease in real funding of $389 million or 30.7% since 1985-86 as depicted in the chart 'ABC Operational Revenue from Government'.
Net Cost of Services (a)
Share of (deficit)/surplus from jointly controlled entities (b)
Revenue from Government
Current Ratio (c)
(a) Net cost of services is total expenses less total income
(b) Note that the ratios differ significantly in 2020 compared to prior years due to the adoption of AASB 16 Leases in 2020.