Catalyst staff to go in ABC revamp


The ABC has confirmed a new format for long-running science show Catalyst shifting from its 30 minute format to “17 hour-long documentaries.”

But up to 9 ongoing staff members “may be affected by changes” according to a statement. Consultations have begun with the ABC offering alternate positions for some staff. ABC will recruit an Executive Producer to manage a small internal production team.

ABC says the changes will enable the show to explore a range of science ideas in depth, using leading expert subject presenters, rather than a fixed ensemble of science reporters. It will also include short form content on digital platforms.

But the changes, recently tipped in the press, come under a cloud following an internal review by ABC and presenter Dr. Maryanne Demasi being stood down following editorial breaches.

The Director of ABC TV, Richard Finlayson, said “Catalyst has made a huge contribution to science communication over 16 years. But, audiences can now get instant access to quality content anywhere in the world and we must ensure our programs can have the greatest possible public impact.

“Under this model, we will encourage excellence by allowing the best minds in Australia to pitch their science ideas no matter how local or how global.”

Catalyst will also be co-located with other Science Units in Radio and Science Online to foster collaboration and ensure editorial excellence with greater promotional synergies.

ABC is yet to further clarify the role of Dr. Demasi, suspended until September.

“We aren’t commenting on individual members of staff given we are now in a consultation period,” a spokesperson said.


  1. Probably the best outcome. The previous magazine-style “2 or 3 stories in 30 minutes” meant there was really only room to for them to choose one position on a subject, explain it, and give not much more than a token nod to any contrary position. That’s poor communications and a failure to explore the subject, regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with the chosen position.

    One, maybe two, stories in an hour at least allows some time to explore a subject – rather than simply present it.

    Now if they could only go back and restore Foreign Correspondent to its earlier 45 minutes running time…

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