More details of the efficiency review for ABC and SBS have emerged today, with Fairfax reporting ABC should charge for the use of iview for archived programmes.
The Lewis review has recommended the public broadcasters should:
• Charge fees for iview
• Sell ABC studios in each state
• Sell SBS in Artarmon and move staff to Ultimo
• Dump digital radio channels
• Increase advertising on SBS
• Shutdown SBS in Melbourne and move staff to ABC
• Save $90m by not proceeding with new Melbourne studios
• Get out of internal production
Guardian Australia reports that after a free window, each download would attract a charge because it is costing the ABC every time someone watches a show on the catch-up TV service.
ABC’s Director of Television has previously flagged giving greater access to ABC archival shows as a means of revenue.
“ABC has started a process looking at making the ABC Archive accessible to everybody in download form. By Q4 next year we hope to have an application in the market which will allow people to access content outside the free window,” he has said.
Amid reports of more production outsourcing, Friends of the ABC have called on the Lewis review to be made public.
“The community will not accept the ABC becoming merely a platform for programs produced by the same private production companies that make content for commercial television,” said Glenys Stradijot, ABC Friends national spokesperson.
“They will not except the operations of the ABC being even more centralised in Sydney. TheABC is meant to be a ‘national’ broadcaster.
“Australians are entitled to know what is being considered for their national public broadcaster.”
The Community and Public Sector Union has warned that outsourcing all TV programs would lead to a bland public broadcaster and risked losing the ABC’s uniquely Australian identity.
But the Screen Producers Australia’s executive director, Matthew Deaner talked up the independent sector, saying, “We’ve seen landmark and hugely successful programs – both in audience and critical terms – such as the various Chris Lilley comedy series, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, The Slap, Old School, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, The Dr Blake Series, Janet King, Nowhere Boys, Dance Academy and numerous more lauded programs made by independent producers.”
‘‘The Lewis review is not prescriptive and final decisions on how the ABC operates and spends its budget lies with the ABC board,’’ Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said.