ABC: “We can’t afford Downton Abbey”

ABC's Kim Dalton explains the purse strings are tight and there are just some shows they can't afford to buy.

ABC Director of Television Kim Dalton told ABC radio host Jon Faine that funding at the ABC was under pressure and impacting on its ability to acquire feature programming.

“Five, six, seven, eight years ago Downton Abbey would have been on the ABC. We cannot afford to buy Downton Abbey anymore. We just don’t have the funds to buy Downton Abbey anymore,” he said.

He said ABC makes a modest amount of money from commercial enterprises, including DVD sales but the downturn in retail and diminishing DVD sales had now sent revenue “south.”

“That’s had an impact for us as well,” he said.

But in defending a mix of in-house and outsourcing production he questioned whether critics were suggesting favourite programmes should be cut in favour of ABC-produced content.

“I don’t know whether people are seriously suggesting that we should stop showing programmes like Paper Giants or Angry Boys or Gruen Transfer or we should get The Chaser off our screens, or all the documentaries that we screen that people love, the Australian ones…  whether we should get those of our screens as well?

“I’m not quite sure what’s being proposed here,” he said.

13 Responses

  1. While I agree, that the ABC might do better to effectively drop one of its channels, I think i would focus on a time-share. I mean, why are there kids programs for school-aged children on during the day?

  2. Yes, I am suggesting that you don’t waste money on Angry Boys. I loved his two previous offerings, but as brilliant as Chris Lilley is, Angry Boys didn’t work. That’s not just my opinion but also that of everyone in Australia bar the 450k that watched the last couple of eps.

    I also think that 4 channels from a public broadcaster in a country of 22½ million is one too many. It’s pretty difficult to justify the expense of News24 given it’s minuscule ratings. And it’s a complete waste of a semi-HD channel.

  3. We didn’t loose anything by having the ABC not screen Downtown Abbey. It did well in the UK and was always going to do commercially well here. Let the commercials have those shows and buy more of the hidden gems out there.

    If you don’t have enough money, don’t waste it on new channels that rate next to zero! ABC3 content could could easily fit in the mornings for ABC2. Does anyone really need to have rolling news coverage? Especially went it wastes perfectly good HD bandwidth that the commercial channels would certainly pay for? There’s your funding for some new dramas.

  4. I’m glad they didn’t buy Downton Abbey, and I would have like the money spent on Angry Boys to have funded something else (like developing new comedy or drama) As I have said before, the ABC shouldn’t be chasing ratings. They should be reflecting cultural diversity and providing programs that aren’t available on the commercial channels. One persons pretentious rot is another persons intellectual stimulation.

  5. If the ABC didn’t waste their money on garbage aimed at a specific demographic then they would be able to afford programming like Downton Abbey. The ABC is supposedly Australia’s national broadcaster, just a shame it’s programming is only aimed at a small percentage of the community. The ABC is comparable to BBC2 in the UK which is aimed at a minority audience.

    There is a difference between producing quality progarmming and producing pretentious rot.

  6. Perhaps ABC commercially should stick to children’s licensing to raise some funds?

    ABC commercial is heading backwards at a rate knots as they’re very badly run – hence wouldnt be holding out on DVD sales to improve things.

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