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.”