The end of Spicks and Specks later this year has prompted the Community and Public Sector Union to question whether the ABC is committed to its traditions of ABC production over outsourcing to independent producers.
The concerns follow the end of factual program Can We Help? and interview program Talking Heads. Collectors has been “rested”, while there are rumours that The New Inventors is going to be axed.
In contrast upcoming dramas Crownies, The Slap plus Angry Boys, Outland and childrens’ dramas My Place and Dance Academy are all outsourced.
So too are Prank Patrol, Hungry Beast, while Rake and The Gruen Transfer are co-productions with the ABC.
Rumours have also long persisted that extensions to ABC Southbank (pictured) may not include a full-scale television studio when Ripponlea studios eventually close. ABC is yet to make a decision.
The union is worried about a repeat of two years ago when 30 producers were let go.
In an open letter to Mark Scott, Graeme Thomson the head of the CPSU’s ABC section writes: “It has demoralised the ABC workforce and reduced Australia’s most successful and efficient production house to a shell of its former self.
“The staff of the ABC call on you to make a public address to them about the future of ABC TV production.”
But an ABC spokeswoman tells The Australian, “The ABC is committed to a mixed model of internal and external TV production. We will continue to produce some in house and others in partnership with some of the best Australian talent in the independent sector. There has been no policy change on this issue.”
Recent Screenwest and South Australian Film Corporation deals have been put in place following the end of productions such as Can We Help? and Talking Heads.
Thomson said Talking Heads used to cost the ABC in South Australia $2 million for 40 episodes.
“They then shut down Talking Heads, and they say it’s unrelated but they’ve now got a deal with the SAFC to produce a factual-style program. The ABC will put in $1m, the SAFC will put in another million and the producer offset (rebates) will be $400,000 and the ouput is 20 episodes. The total cost to (taxpayers) would be $2.4m for 20 episodes. The public is being ripped off.”