ABC axe: 400 jobs, Adelaide TV closure, changes to 7:30 & Lateline.

abccThe ABC has confirmed the repercussions of the government’s funding cuts, following an address by Managing Director Mark Scott to staff this morning.

Amongst the announcements are:

  • Up to 400 jobs will go.
  • The closure of non-News TV production in Adelaide and a winding down of non-News production in WA, Queensland and Tas.
  • Closure of key foreign bureaux.
  • Stateline editions of 7:30 to be replaced by a new national programme.
  • Lateline to move to ABC News 24.

Many of the rumours surrounding the broadcaster have been confirmed, but the move out of non-News production in all states was unexpected.

“We anticipate that more than 400 people – close to 10 per cent of our ongoing workforce – face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months,” Mark Scott said.

“We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions.”

There will also be:

  • changes to ABC Local programming, Radio National and ABC Classic FM.
  • property sales including Lanceley Place in Sydney and the closure of five regional radio outposts.
  • rationalisation of outside broadcast vans. Overhaul of sports coverage, with a focus on national sporting events.

But the broadcaster also announces a $20 million digital investment fund, a new Regional division, to operate from mid-2015, will harness the ABC’s skills, knowledge and infrastructure to better serve rural and regional communities. ABC Digital Network will prioritise the ABC’s online and mobile expenditure, ensuring better research and the delivery of products and services that connect with a digital audience.

Full Release:

Managing Director Mark Scott today announced changes designed to address budget cuts imposed by the Federal Government while ensuring the ABC’s reinvestment priorities remain focused on audience strategy and Charter obligations.

In an address to staff, Mr Scott said the Corporation was committed to using back-office and overhead savings to fund the $207 million that would be cut from the ABC’s budget from July 2015. This cut, announced last week, comes on top of funding reductions of $120 million announced by the Government in May.

The changed funding and media environment has meant that the ABC has had to carefully consider its spending priorities.

“We anticipate that more than 400 people – close to 10 per cent of our ongoing workforce – face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months,” Mr Scott said.

“We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions.”

Today’s announcement includes more than 40 proposed projects aimed at transforming the ABC’s operational base. Key proposals include:

· A comprehensive review of the ABC’s property holdings, with its Lanceley Place site in Sydney to be sold and the closure of five regional radio outposts;
· The closure of the Adelaide television production studio and the winding down of remaining non-news television production in the remaining states; and
· A rationalisation of television outside broadcast vans and a scaling back of television sporting broadcasts.

The ABC has also proposed the creation of two new divisions and a $20 million digital investment fund.

A new Regional division, to operate from mid-2015, will harness the ABC’s skills, knowledge and infrastructure to better serve rural and regional communities. ABC Digital Network will prioritise the ABC’s online and mobile expenditure, ensuring better research and the delivery of products and services that connect with a digital audience.

The announcement today also included details of proposed programming changes in ABC News, Radio and Television. They include:

· A new national 7.30 program on Fridays to replace the current State edition, with extended cross-platform coverage of state and territory issues seven days a week. Moving Lateline to a new fixed timeslot on ABC News 24. Restructuring the ABC’s foreign bureaux to create multiplatform hubs and opening a Beirut post;
· Changes to ABC Local programming, Radio National and ABC Classic FM; and
· An overhaul of ABC TV’s sports coverage, with a focus on national sporting events.

The ABC Board has expressed its support for the changes in a statement released after Mr Scott’s address to staff.

“The initiatives outlined by Mr Scott comprise a carefully considered response to the twin challenges of technological change and reduced funding,” the Board, led by ABC Chairman James Spigelman, said.

“They provide funds to invest in essential new online and mobile strategies that better connect the ABC with its audiences. Like the best media companies across the globe, the ABC is using its digital expertise to achieve deeper and broader audience engagement and relevance.”

Mr Scott will visit ABC branches in each state and territory over the next fortnight to fully brief them on the changes and to answer their questions.

“The message I will convey, both internally and externally, over the next few weeks is that the ABC cannot stand still and run the risk of becoming less relevant and compelling to this and future generations,” he said.

“What we are doing today is in the best interests of the ABC and its many stakeholders. It is designed to position the organisation for the future.

“Working together, we can be confident in our ability to see through these changes and to build a stronger ABC.”

More details on the proposed changes can be found at: http://about.abc.net.au/our-abc-our-future/

13 Comments:

  1. I don’t understand the logic of rationalisation of outside broadcast vans. Surely the ABC needs to keep at least one per state to cover special events like the annual Anzac Day parade. In places like Darwin it won’t be easy to rent one from a production company, or outsource the production altogether.
    The ABC has also confirmed it won’t broadcast W-League soccer, WNBL and Northern Territory Football League at the end of their seasons. I thought it only dropped state-based competitions to save costs.

  2. @Bazza – it was not at the fault of either major party as it is too expensive to making cars here and besides people would prefer cheaper cars from overseas
    @jordonboh – that is an excellent idea and they can merge the programming together and its not surprising considering the ratings are so terrible on most days when they can’t even beat Ten.

  3. @Maev….Sydney
    ABC Classic FM announcers play popular bits of classical pieces during the day, in amongst lots of irrelevant chat. At night a Robot just plays random tracks of classical music. For serious classical music you listen to 2MBS.

    The only change to ABC Classic FM is that they are reducing the number of the symphony concerts that will be recorded and re-broadcast on it

  4. It will be interesting to see if there is any reshuffling with the drama personnel…

    Word around is that industry is stick of having projects stuck in drawn out development because so many heads have input – which must prove more costly – and that lack of impetus is often seen in the low energy drama productions. It might be cost efficient and creatively productive to rethink how their development could be done with fewer heads wasting everyone’s time!

  5. @Aussiecam58 – “Allows them to do more on the main channel.” – At the cost of replacement programming?
    “Most people these days have digital TV’s even the pensioners.” Since analogue is no more, everything is “digital” so everyone “these days have digital TV’s even the pensioners”, or at least set top boxes, most being able to receive HD ABC24.

  6. I liked watching state based 7.30….I am annoyed that I am being shoved into a box..like You have to watch this…
    Also…I did not realise this was affecting radio…what the heck are they going to do to my ABC Classics…that is what is on while TV is not…all night also…

  7. Really hope most regular programs are relatively unaffected.
    Of course ABC regional radio will also be impacted with staff cutbacks and general paring back.

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