ABC staff still concerned at increase in outsourcing

Amid speculation that The New Inventors is not to be renewed by the ABC, production staff have again called on managing director Mark Scott to halt a broadcaster drift to outsourcing.

The Australian reports that up to 100 people, including camera operators, researchers, directors and producers in the television and resources division as well as regional production staff in Adelaide and Perth are set to be retrenched.

In a letter to Scott, staff complained, “Under the current mixed model of production, ABC TV internal production staff and budgets have been steadily eroded. Starved of resources and opportunities, we are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver the quality content that the Australian public deserves.”

In recent times ABC has lost Talking Heads, The Einstein Factor, Sunday Arts, The Cook and the Chef, The Hopman Cup and Can We Help? with production on Spicks and Specks already over.

The New Inventors and Collectors are awaiting renewals for 2012.

The director of ABC TV Kim Dalton told the newspaper, “Television is not a static business. Planning is ongoing around programming, the production slate and the management of resources. Programs may be cancelled – such as Talking Heads or Can We Help. Key talent may decide not to proceed with ongoing series – such as Maggie Beer and Cook And The Chef or Adam Hills and Spicks and Specks.

“Programs are moved in the schedule – such as Poh’s Kitchen. New programs are commissioned – such as the drama Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the comedy At Home With Julia or the sports show Marngrook Footy Show.”

In May Graeme Thomson, head of the  Community and Public Sector Union said of management,  “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.”

That prompted Mark Scott to confirm a new studio would be built at ABC’s Southbank facility in Melbourne.

He affirmed ABC’s commitment to a mixed television production model, “where we make programs, produce them in partnership with the independent sector and acquire other programs to meet our Charter obligations and fully engage our audiences.”

12 Comments:

  1. Welcome to 2011 .. Robs right , like it or not ,this is the Real world and just like the production folk at the commercials a decade ago you either take the package , retire , buy a caravan park , or get on with it but make no mistake the writing is on the wall .

  2. High time ABC Management were outsourced too!
    Maybe Sky News could manage the ABC instead of the closed shop of talentless commercial media rejects that run the place now?

  3. The only peeps complaining here are the lazy union infested public servants that is the abc. A close friend who works there as a freelancers can’t believe the rorts that go on. Mandatory tea breaks. Work to rule overtime… Outsource the lot I say.

  4. When the ABC is financed by a licence fee (tax) on TV sets like the BBC is in the UK, then they can afford the luxury of full-time studio crews and production people sitting around doing – well, in some cases I’m aware of, not much.

    I want to see ABC make much more culturally relevant programmes as much as anyone else and welcome the current increase in drama and comedy (Rake, Crownies, At Home With Julia, Myles Barlow etc).

    In the 2011 model of broadcasting, all these shows can and are being made by run-of-show staff working for production companies pitching their best efforts to the programmers, rather than whole departments of producers, designers etc.
    Commissioning Editors/EPs, production and script executives is all they should have on board – and they, in turn should be on 2-3 year renewable contracts, so there are always fresh talents, opinions etc in the process.

    The more I think about it, I can’t see the logic for the new studio in Melbourne unless it’s big, very, very big – and run as a hire facility with only a skeleton technical support and maintenance staff.

  5. Except for news, current affairs, music, science and history shows I might end up watching the ABC less. I’ll admit the only thing I’m looking forward to is Phryne Fisher that’s new. And one by one the shows disappear.

  6. Oh please. The abc is quite rightly trying to rid itself of lazy, inneficient programs that are better made by external companies. There decent ones like qanda and insiders will still remain internal.

  7. daveinprogress is absolutely right. compass, catalyst and message stick were on the chopping block early in mark scott’s reign, with plenty of noise about outsourcing these programs completely. that was until staff complained much like they are doing now. kim dalton is right, tv is anything but static. at least ABC innovation in new media is setting the benchmark in australia, but ABC internal production is arguably poor. little wonder when most have been at the ABC their entire career. time to adapt or die – frank but true.

  8. daveinprogress

    Core charter business only: News and Play School! Media Watch, Message Stick and Compass and Catalyst will be the only survivors. All entertainment, comedy, drama, documentary, reality is outsourced or co-produced. Even Message Stick, Compass and Catalyst have buy ins for blocks, or they would not stay on air for 40+ weeks, 50 for Compass.

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