Funding cuts hit ABC Drama & Kids

ABC says it has been open with producers about cuts to drama and kids' TV as a result of budget cuts.


Government funding cuts have resulted in a reduction in ABC Drama and Kids commissioning.

One source told The Australian reports ABC has cancelled some projects in development while it pursues “noisier” projects to compete with commercial networks.

But the independent sector is unclear on whether decommissioned funding for drama or children’s projects has been reallocated within those genres.


The director of ABC TV, Richard Finlayson, said: “We have been open with the sector that last year’s budget cuts have led to some reductions in children’s and drama funding.

“The ABC openly shares information with producers about our strategy, schedule and creative requirements,” he said. The ABC annual report provided detailed breakdowns of content hours, he said.

Meanwhile the newspaper also claims ABC Drama wanted to produce Mushroom Picture’s Molly miniseries, which has since been produced for Seven, but an ABC exec did not think it would appeal to audiences. Sounds like a mis-call to me…


7 Responses

  1. The ABC only spends about $40m a year on drama. Given the lack of popularity of there recent efforts more the same isn’t a sound strategy.

    You have to go back to Paper Giants and S1 & 2 of Seachange to find hugely popular ABC dramas. It not like the commercial networks have had plenty of unspectacular dramas too: Tricky Business, Gallipoli, Wonderland, Winter. A Place To Call Home was popular with over 50s but got axed and ended up on cable.

    The reason people turn to streaming is because they can watch the best dramas in the world, when they feel like it.

  2. Moving Q&A – which has now become a flagship ABC program, from the television division to news/caff is a clear indication even the Board has lost confidence in the management of the television division. The independent sector would prefer a high calibre executive with a track record in content creation to be leading the division in the pursuit of relevance and excellence. Instead we get meaningless roadshows, rehearsed questions (painful) re-branding and spin like the ABC is looking for “noisy” content. The ABC has a charter, with a remit for excellence. The comparison between the brilliantly lead News/Caff division and the mediocrity in the television division is stark. Open letters from former staff with vested interests, not to mention preferential treatment, are not an endorsement of the status quo.

    1. I would agree the quality of the TV Division executive team is probably the poorest in recent memory, and this is now impacting across all programming, not just Drama and Kids. Established and credible independent content creators are rightly extremely concerned about the muddled, inept and tardy responses they get to program submissions, and feel they are being treated most disrespectfully under the current senior leadership. Most won’t complain out loud of course for fear of being blackballed.

      1. As the Mark Scott tenure draws to a close now is the time for the sector to speak up and argue for the importance of high quality content from the independent sector.

        1. I would heartily agree with that Ronnie … what I question is whether the ABC (TV Division) is actually worth the pain of doing business with under the current upper management tier. Is it a truly level playing field? Are they complying with all ABC workplace and procurement/probity policies and leading by example? Are they ethical enough to excuse themselves from decisions where personal relationships are involved for example? It would be understandable if both minor and mega Indies found it just not worth their while pitching to a fragmented Commissioning/Content/Programming system that just isn’t delivering shows the audience wants to watch. It is regrettable that Mark Scott has not identified the problem and addressed it … it is an additional stain on his rather benign and ineffectual legacy.

  3. If it wasn’t for the ABC we wouldn’t have much drama on our FTA screens. The commercial networks are lagging in my opinion. So even less to watch than before by the sounds of it. No wonder people are moving towards services like Netflix.

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