Lobby group Friends of the ABC has called for a public inquiry in the wake of widespread cuts to programmes and jobs yesterday.
It follows the Community and Public Sector Union criticising ABC management for generating more content via the independent production sector over ABC production staff.
Glenys Stradijot, a spokesperson for Friends of the ABC (Vic) said cuts to programming were an abrogation of the broadcaster’s charter responsibilities.
“The ABC was envisaged as a producer of programs of cultural value and intellectual integrity. Instead it is being transformed into a platform for carrying commercial content. This is privatisation by stealth,” she said.
“FABC regularly receives audience feedback that TV programming has become too populist and less innovative – the entertainment less stimulating, and factual programming more lightweight.
“ABC television programming is becoming less distinctive than commercial offerings. Hardly surprising, given that programming produced externally for the ABC is also being made with sales to commercial broadcasters and overseas outlets in mind.
“The essence of the ABC is being destroyed, and the people who head the ABC are ultimately taking the public broadcaster to irrelevancy.”
Yesterday ABC confirmed New Inventors, Art Nation and Collectors would not be renewed. It attributed the cuts to an increasingly competitive broadcasting environment and increasing financial pressures. In a statement to staff it said it must deliver maximum value to its audiences and the Australian taxpayer.
A new Tasmanian production, Auctions, would replace Collectors.
But Friends of the ABC fears the broadcaster will become a platform for content provided by external commercial providers and lose taxpayer support.
“Mr Scott and the ABC Board seem to have forgotten that they are caretakers of this great national institution which belongs to the people of Australia. They have no authority to commercialise it,” said Stradijot.