Report: Lateline spared, but wait there’s more.

abc uA day after a protest outside ABC’s Ultimo headquarters, media report that Lateline will be spared the axe, but may change in its form.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports ABC managing director Mark Scott has said privately the show will remain on air. But it may may have its format overhauled or be shifted to ABC News 24.

An editorial in the newspaper today adds:

The ABC should be looking to shore up its journalism – and Mr Scott has hinted at the right approach by suggesting compelling editorial and core competence criteria be used to protect key activities. Programs such as Lateline surely qualify.

By contrast The Australian quotes Neil Brown QC, who wasrecently appointed to the nomination panel for ABC and SBS board appointments.

“I used to stay up at night and watch it. But for the last two years I haven’t bothered,” he declares.

“If I’m not bothering to watch something then perhaps other people are feeling the same way and I suspect the ABC has picked up on that.

“My view would be the 24-hour news channel is the place to have Lateline.

Apologies to the 161,000 other viewers who averaged across its episodes last week.

Meanwhile speculation over change does not end there.

Catalyst is reportedly under the microscope, with its season length reduced or, in a worst case scenario, axed altogether, according to Fairfax.

ABC2 is another said to be under scrutiny while foreign bureaus in Tokyo and New Delhi may see some reporters work from home or without a full-time camera crew.

An ABC spokesman stressed that no final programming decisions have yet been made.


  1. Lateline does belong on News 24. Try watching what 24 broadcasts at the same time as Lateline is on ABC[1]. It’s rubbish in comparison. But’s not to say it shouldn’t be taken off the primary channel. It would only be replaced by a British drama repeat.

    @Spaceman, ABC2 is for people roughly 20 to 35. Does it compete with a lot of other FTA channels for those people? Yes. Does it do it with much success? No. Unless they like trashy UK factual programming.

    @musicbiz, I remember a long-running channel that provided kids shows at 7.30 am and 4 pm. It was called “ABC TV”…

  2. ABC2 offers an alternative, it’s somewhat unique in the landscape. Surely it doesn’t cost that much anyway, or maybe they could just reduce the amount of their own content on it.

    I love science but Catalyst seems a bit boring? to me now. If they changed the format to less frequent but longer-form singular topic episodes like BBC Horizon may that bring costs down?

  3. ABC works because it produces and broadcasts generally quality and reliable content. It is historical as well. ABC 3 produces children’s content that is sought after around the world.

    The recent ABC2 digital channel doesn’t seem to work because it has no base demographic. It is also shared with ABC4 which makes it difficult to establish itself as an entity which can target content that can be accessible to a specific demographic.

    I think ABC2 should be revamped. My suggestion would be for ABC2 to produce or show world class drama, comedy and arts that channels, such France 2 are renown for instead of trying to incorporate a BBC style CBeebies channel into ABC2 when it should be code shared or incorporated with ABC3.

  4. Why don’t ABC add ads to get some extra money coming in. Maybe just a 2 minute ad break in the middle of programming and between programming.

  5. As a drama queen I’m scared about what drama commissions will now not proceed – much easier to not commit the money in the first place, than identify a painful cut.

  6. So one person has stopped watching Lateline and therefore it’s an unnecessary burden to carry.

    Ah, but this is The Australian reporting it.

    Look at it this way: “I used to [read The Australian]. But for the last two years I haven’t bothered. If I’m not bothering to [read] something then perhaps other people are feeling the same way”

    Time to scrap The Australian, then!

    And any move to axe ABC2 I think would be a terrible outcome. It’s been a very successful extension of the ABC brand.

  7. daveinprogress

    News/caff is core business for the ABC. Practically all in house production has gone, so Catalyst and Media Watch and Compass are pretty much it. It is never going to touch its fundamentals, but it may trim around those edges – Lateline originally was four nights, maybe it will become just one or two.

  8. Really smart of the ABC to consider axing Catalyst, the only prime time science show on television. Pretty much sums up Australian’s attitude to science when this is considered. Wouldn’t it be better to just get rid of News 24, purge a lot of middle management and poor work practices and have a smaller more consolidated ABC with better produced programs? Mark Scott led a more is better philosophy at the ABC, a quantity rather than quality philosophy. It has led to some very pedestrian shows. May be time for a change in management.

  9. Axing ABC2 would mean axing ABC4Kids or merging it with ABC3. I used to wonder why they didn’t, then I had kids. Take away the ability of parents to stick kids in front of Peppa Pig at 7:30am or 4pm and people will be burning cars in the street.

  10. Don’t see why moving Lateline to News 24 is relevant, not going to save any costs and not as though there would be any other programming on the main channel that would get anywhere near those ratings.

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