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Helicopter leases offer better value & news independence, says ABC.

ABC has rejected criticism it has splurged on purchasing new helicopters at a time when 200 jobs are set to go from the broadcaster.

Senator Eric Abetz labelled the move an “extravagance” whilst media articles note Seven and Nine have previously done a deal to share pooled footage.

In a statement, ABC says it is extending its helicopter operations to include regional areas, following the recommendations of a review.

“With the ABC’s former helicopter leasing contract in NSW and Victoria coming to an end, we took the opportunity to review the entire operation to ensure it was value for money and delivering to our audiences,” the statement read.

“Senator Abetz has today claimed that the ABC ‘has purchased an additional three helicopters taking their fleet to five’. This is incorrect.

“After a lengthy tender process, the ABC now has an agreement that delivers an efficient, fit for purpose and scalable model for leased helicopters across five States – delivering a better deal operationally, editorially and financially.”

ABC considered a pooling model with Seven and Nine, but this covered footage only, not the transportation of crews and / or journalists, and would have inhibited ABC’s independence.

“It was estimated this arrangement would have covered about one-third of the requirements. For example, newsgathering in regional areas would not have been covered. Due to these operational limitations, as well as lack of editorial control and independence and other considerations, the model was not suitable,” ABC said.

“The ABC is confident the final decision, which was supported by the ABC Board, represents the best interests of the ABC and its audiences in terms of content outcomes and cost savings.

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