Govt review recommends iview fee, selling studios.

2014-06-24_2229More 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.


  1. Pertinax is an economic rationalist who doesn’t believe in public sector broadcasting. In his world view, everything should be done by the private sector. God help us!

  2. once-upon-a-time

    @ Pertinax ” the government only sets the budget and appoints the board( nearly enough said), and can’t implement any of the report” ??, ( and normally so, that is if it wasn’t the cruelest most ideologically driven government, ever to be assisted/endorsed by some very vested interests who just happen to also be ABC competitors).

    Any government so ideologically driven, they’ll attack their own, as in Lib/LNP state governments ‘By severely reducing ”their” Budgets’, to achieve another long held goal, such as broadening/increasing the GST, is remorselessly capable of doing exactly the same to a sworn( perceived) enemy, along with the added bonus of linking it to Mr Turnbull’s portfolio.

  3. Along with that have special discounts to ABC events, concerts, meet and greets and etc., even for subscribers they could get the best seats say on The Book Club (or Mad As Hell or whatever show has an audience). I’m sure there would be people willing to voluntary subscribe to the ABC if they structured it correctly.

  4. I wouldn’t mind if the ABC went the route of community radio and had voluntary subscriptions to the station. Have a couple of different levels like community radio does and you get a say Friend Of The ABC card (and maybe a quarterly ABC magazine). One community Radio station I kno of has Full – $75, Passionate – $125, Concession – $40 and Business – $150, something along those lines. With a presence all over Australia a fair bit of money could be raised I believe, without resorting to regular type ads.

    With the subscriber card they could offer discounts at ABC Shops, possibly other outlets as well, I’m thinking JB Hi-Fi would be on board and also Dymocks,a s they both sell ABC merchandise. The sponsors who offer discounts could get mentions, not elaborate ads just something to remind people they offer subscribers discounts and are “Friends Of The AbC.”

    Along with that have…

  5. Efficiency, my arse. The whole review is politically and ideologically motivated, and entirely driven by the LNP’s dopey notions of the ABC being dominated by the left. Fortunately, most Australians have a good deal of respect and affection for the ABC, as has been demonstrated in the past. Any government that threatens the ABC’s autonomy will do so at their peril.

  6. The independent sector can provide many more programs to the ABC. They will be commissioned by the ABC who will control its creative content and staff. The ABC union may object but indies can make it cheaper because they are bound by a different union and awards which are not as generous as the in-house CPSU awards and they compete with one another for work. One problem though is that the ABC facility at Ultimo is small and may not be able to accommodate SBS. It is not even possible to store sets there which are usually struck after recording and shipped out to the ABC’s old studios in Artarmon which has been kept because it also has a helicopter pad. With the ABC losing its BBC deal it needs every idea possible to increase it local content so rationalising backroom services, sacking a lot of overpaid middle managers and farming out production becomes an absolute necessity. It should…

  7. Most of these ideas would be common sense to any other business, why not Govt owned / subsidised ones! Another thing, why are the likes of the ABC in such high value locations? Ultimo in Sydney, South Bank in Brisbane. Whether they rent or own, these places would cost, or be worth a mint. You don’t need most staff (especially the likes of admin, who never benefit from where their desk is) in such locations. Have a CBD location for interviews and the likes and a base for city centric crews, with everything else in nice offices in an industrial / commercial estate, centrally located to where staff even live

  8. Pertinax – more ads on SBS would certainly lose me completely as a viewer.
    I already avoid movies on SBS as they have ads in them (and a dirty great watermark).
    I already watch Orphan Black elsewhere because of the ads.

  9. @ Jezza the BBC is mandated to use 50% independent producers, they still produce significant amounts in-house, e.g. Dr Who. The ABC already has significant independent production. Wouldn’t mind if back catalogue was monetised though.

  10. Secret Squirrel

    Matthew Deaner has a point but he argues against himself when he puts “various Chris Lilley comedy series” at the front of his list. Mad as Hell, Old School, Miss Fisher, and Dr Blake are all “classic” ABC-style programs yet all were produced externally (altho’ the ABC may have had some input).

    Charging for archival content which is not currently available is fine.

  11. I wouldn’t mind if shows older than 2 weeks on iView had advertising or were paid, as long as it’s cheaper than purchasing it.

    As for everything else, it’s a slash and burn job, not an efficiency review. On the comment that “Mad As Hell” is independently produced – sure, but it’s in the ABC Elsternwick studios!

  12. Another great meeting of the minds…..

    Walled Garden on a FTA catchup service.Genius!

    “Sell ABC studios in each state” Because nobody lives outside of Sydney.

    “Get out of internal production” What internal productions?….probably should have read “cease news services.”

    “Increase advertising on SBS” SBS viewers love advertising.

  13. Another stupid idea to suck more money out of ordinary people. How much more is there to give?
    Most people will drop that service and the ABC and SBS will go down hill with the other recommendations.

    Surely the federal Government has to do something for the people with the taxes they collect.

    Wold love to know what kind of people sit in those think tanks to come up with all those silly ideas? 🙁

  14. The report will not be made public because Turnbull and Scott don’t want it. The Government only sets the budget for the ABC and appoints the board, it can’t implement any of the report.

    All ABC comedies and dramas and most of their light entertainment are already outsourced. Australian Story and The Movie Show are two of the few made in house.

    The paper said it recommended scrapping the expansion of digital radio not digital radio that exists.

    If SBS shows 8 minutes of ads and 2 minutes of promos instead of 5 and 5 or enough ads to make Orphan Black a full hour would anybody care?

    iView of UK shows has put pressure on ABC content. So why should people downloading OS content on iView be subsidised by those who want to watch local shows?

  15. jezza the first original one

    There are some good ideas here. Previous comments simply reflect a kneejerk negative reaction. Charging a fee to access archived (ie older shows folks-read carefully) would be a good revenue stream. Production outsourcing happened to the BBC in the UK many years ago and strongly boosted the independent sector. It doesn’t stop innovative risk taking. Take the blinkers off folks and broaden your outlook….

  16. Lewis report – and who is behind that? Im sure a few News Limited (and maybe Fairfax) lackeys on that review

    Why is this government so scared of ABC and SBS?

  17. I believe the terms we’re after here is ‘Visigoths’

    So the ABC should be reduced to nothing but a reseller of other’s products? Won’t that be marvelous, no?

    Oh and charging for iView? That should be a fantastically efficient way to kill it off, kudos to whomever it was who produced this report on behalf of the Murdoch family.

    Viva Foxtel, RIP innovation and choice

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.