Updated: ABC has axed long-running current affairs program Lateline and newly-launched indigenous current affairs show, The Link.
The changes are part of an ABC Investigations unit and Specialist Reporting Team and two new programs for 2018.
Presenter Emma Alberici will remain with ABC news as the ABC’s Chief Economics Correspondent.
The Link, hosted by Stan Grant, began in February. Grant will also remain, fronting a prime-time news discussion show at 9pm on ABC News channel in 2018 and a half-hour late edition national news bulletin at 10.30pm on ABC. He also becomes Chief Asia Correspondent.
Lateline has been part of ABC since 1990, with hosts Kerry O’Brien, Maxine McKew, Virginia Trioli, Leigh Sales, Ali Moore, Ticky Fullerton, and Tony Jones. Matt Wordsworth currently hosts on Fridays.
“When it launched in 1990 Lateline was a ground-breaking program, and for almost three decades it has made an enormous contribution to Australian public life,” said ABC Director, News Gaven Morris. “Many great ABC journalists and production teams have worked with Lateline and the current team has produced an innovative brand of late-evening current affairs. The Link was a bold experiment that has done wonderful, creative work.
“This proposal is no reflection on the excellent work of the program teams. But with audience habits changing, we can deploy these resources more effectively in other ways.”
An ABC Investigations unit will be led by Editor Jo Puccini formerly 7.30 Executive Producer with 10 investigative reporters, working across a variety of programs and platforms.
A Specialist Reporting Team sees Lisa Whitby, former Lateline EP, as Editor with a team of reporters and producers covering Technology & Science; Regional Communities; Consumer Affairs; Education; Health; Arts, Culture & Entertainment; Social Affairs; and Indigenous.
“These proposals represent a big investment by the ABC in investigative, specialist and in-depth journalism at a time when many other media outlets are retreating from these areas,” said Morris.
“Public interest journalism on behalf of all Australians is more important to the role of ABC News than ever.”
John Lyons, the ABC’s Head of Investigative and In-Depth Journalism, said: “Alongside teams such as Four Corners, 7.30 and Background Briefing, the establishment of the largest investigative daily news team in the Australian media reflects the ABC’s growing commitment to journalism for television, radio and digital audiences.”
Last October ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie was quizzed about cuts to current affairs, including Lateline, without directly addressing the show. That led to speculative reports which triggered an ABC response it would return in 2017 with no changes.
Consultation on the proposed changes is now underway with staff and unions.