Michelle Guthrie overhauls ABC structure

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has today advised staff of a major restructure moving staff into three new ‘agnostic’ content divisions.

The divisions overhaul specific Television, Radio & Digital departments but the restructure does not include further job losses.

The changes encompass:

  • News, Analysis & Investigations team whose work will include state coverage, network news and investigations, and in-depth reporting. Led by Gaven Morris.
  • Entertainment & Specialist, will include key specialist genres like arts, science, education, religion & ethics, children’s content, music & creative development, factual & entertainment, comedy and Indigenous. Director of TV David Anderson now becomes Director of Entertainment & Specialist.
  • Regional & Local group will include rural and regional teams, capital city and regional productions, as well as sport, weather and live events. Led by Michael Mason.

ABC will also establish a Content Ideas Lab, responsible for developing and implementing priority projects, described as “a hot-house for projects like ABC Life and the Great Ideas Grant,” led by Angela Stengel from ABC Radio.

 

“I flagged in March that we would be making changes to our frontline audience areas: those of you who create and deliver the programs and services that delight and inform Australians,” Guthrie told staff.

“The initiatives that we are proposing today come directly from you. They maintain the momentum we started in March in investing in our audiences and our people. They are designed to maximise the ability of audiences to discover and enjoy the great storytelling that you create.”

 

It isn’t clear how Programming and Production will be directly affected by the changes, with Lateline due to shut next month and The Link already defunct.

 

 

Guthrie said the changes were not about cost cutting, program changes or a reduction in networks, nothing “this exercise today is about making sure we work collectively in better and smarter ways to serve our audiences. There is no ‘dumbing down.’ We will be boosting the capability and output of genre specialist teams.

“We will be investing more in our people. Skills training is critical to getting the best ideas and the best output. $10 million will be allocated to equipping our people for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” she said.

 

Following the announcement the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, issued a statement: “MEAA recognises today’s audiences interact differently with the ABC and the ABC must move to meet these audiences,” the statement read. “However, staff are concerned these changes may make the job of delivering content to ABC audiences more difficult given editorial staff are already overworked.”

10 Comments:

  1. This is confusing. For example, does a programme like Charlie Pickering’s The Weekly, which is filmed in Melbourne, sit with David Anderson (it fits the genres he looks after) or with Michael Mason (he looks after Regional, Local and Capital Cities). Does Mason look after everything outside of Sydney??? I don’t really understand how it is going to work.

    And big shame that all three leaders are men.

  2. This is about as vague as it comes and appears completely unmanageable. Digital is just another form of creation and delivery of programming and perfectly able to be delivered by simply tweaking the current structures. I would love to see the ABC taking a good hard look at why people are simply not watching its shows across many genres. An obvious answer is because that many are not good enough, under developed and often ill conceived and simply not comparable to that produced by government broadcasters in many other countries such as the UK and Scandinavia. The jewel in the ABC crown has always been radio and it remains the outstanding exception to this. A more flexible and self critical look at what is actually created would go a lot further than a McKinsey style management restructure from the CEO. I hope I am proven wrong.

    • a) It’s a rework/extension of previous attempts to organise ABC structure along content, not network/outlet lines.

      b) People aren’t watching TV or listening to radio as much, full stop. In terms of % of potential market both are consistently falling all round, & have been for at least 10 years.

      c) On TV in that same time, individual shows may vary – but ABC % share of total watching audience has remained fairly constant year-on-year (as have the commercials). In fact the ABC % is actually a little more consistent in that respect than the rest.

      d) Can’t really compare the situation here with UK/Scandinavia – totally different markets, with structurally-dominant public broadcasters there. Australia decided not to go that way somewhere between the 1920’s & 50’s, depending how you look at it…

  3. I have not been happy since this person took over….with TV or radio….I can wait for this person to depart….but not sure Aunty will survive…. 🙁 ….

    • I think she has made the right call on one thing, which is increasing the diversity of people appearing on radio and tv. It has allowed many people who would not normally get a start to get on board. I can’t remember his name, but I am really enjoying the insights of the Pakistani comedian on the Screen Time show, very insightful and funny, which often comes from having an “outsider’s” perspective.

  4. Changing ABC2 so it will instead just focus on re-running episodes of Gruen and Weekly all night feels like cost cutting. Call me cynical, but ABC Comedy seriously seems like so they don’t have to purchase the rights to documentary content anymore and just re-run their archive of comedy over and over, oh sure they’ll have a couple original shows, but mostly I reckon just reruns.

    Nothing wrong with a rebrand, calling it ABC Edge could have worked if they wanted to keep their old content along with comedy (and fit in with News & ME). But Comedy seriously seems like hardcore cost-cutting.

  5. I feel that the David Anderson job is very broad. How does one person know the scope of the job which will encompass Doctor Who to indigenous programming, Compass and Bananas In Pyjamas?

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