Aunty defends wisdom of its font

16 Sep Aunty defends wisdom of its font

By DARREN DAVIDSON

The ABC has defended itself against accusations of “extravagant spending” after it emerged the organisation paid $32,750 for a new typeface. An ABC spokesman insisted it was right for the organisation to use taxpayers’ money for the project, saying it would save the public money in the long-term.

“The decision to design an ABC font was made on the business case of long-term savings from no longer paying annual licence costs for other fonts used across the organisation,” the spokesman said in the broadcaster’s first public statement since the amount was disclosed.

The ABC was responding to comments made by Liberal senator James Paterson to The Australian after he first raised the cost of the OneABC typeface to new managing director Michelle Guthrie in a Senate estimates committee hearing.

Although the amount is less than an estimate of about $50,000, Senator Paterson continued to criticise the decision after the true cost was revealed last week by the ABC in response to a question at the May hearing.

“Thirty-two thousand dollars might not seem much from $1 billion of taxpayer funding, but it is a lot of money for a custom font,” Senator Paterson said. It’s understood the ABC initially attempted to keep the expenditure under wraps after refusing a Freedom of Information request by the Institute of Public Affairs on the grounds it was “commercial in confidence or related to business affairs of third party” and “not in the public interest”.

“It highlights the culture that new managing director Michelle Guthrie must confront,” Senator Paterson said. “When private media companies are having to do more with less and carefully watch every dollar, the ABC should not be immune.

“There is a lot of work to be done to make the ABC a lean and efficient organisation that represents good value for taxpayers’ money — as this extravagant spending demonstrates.” The ABC spokesman, however, said “other broadcasters and publishers have made the same decision in recent years”.

In her first appearance before an estimates committee hearing, and in her fourth day in the job, Ms Guthrie defended the move. “It is important to have a consistent branding for our digital services,” she explained, adding: “I wouldn’t call it a lavish marketing tool.’’

It comes soon after the ABC executive behind the typeface resigned. Digital director Angela Clark has left the ABC for the commercial sector. The exit marks the first major management change since Guthrie joined the corporation in May.

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