ABC recently answered more than 350 questions submitted by members of the public to its first Annual Public Meeting, held in February.
They covered everything from Programming to Digital, Journalism, Regional Content and more.
Here is a selection of questions & answers (some are merged here as they elicited the same response).
Why did you destroy Lateline?
ABC: It’s always tough to finish programs, but like all news organisations ABC NEWS has to make choices about how we invest our budget to deliver the best service for audiences. Lateline was a highly valued part of our television line-up since its launch in 1990. Over the years, however, its point of difference faded, and its audience was steadily declining, by about 9 per cent a year. Its average 2017 metro audience across ABC TV and the ABC News channel was about 185,000 viewers. The program’s resources have been better utilised by being reinvested into the ABC Investigations team, the Specialist Reporting Team, and new programs Matter of Fact, National Wrap and a 10.30pm news bulletin. Viewers are as well-served as ever with daily and weekly television news and current affairs on ABC TV and on the ABC News Channel.
ABC TV viewing is spoiled by relentless program promotion, why is it considered necessary to rum he (sic) same promotion up to 8 times during one evening, often delaying the starting time for other programs?
ABC: The ABC invests in and produces a wide range of high-quality programs for audiences across all platforms. In such a saturated media landscape, we must ensure our audiences are able to locate that content and access it as readily as possible. We currently reach more than 70% of Australians and our strategy is to grow this figure. Telling audiences about new content is one way we can do this.
Will the ABC be reducing content outsourced and/or provided by third parties, example the BBC?
ABC: We will continue to offer a mix of in-house productions and outsourced content as this represents the best use of our budget.
Is the ABC going to reduce the number of BBC and other English television programs it buys? (Midsummer, QI etc) and invest in more Australian content?
Will the ABC continue to support the local film industry in producing new drama or family series?
When will the ABC programming start to truly reflect modern day Australia? The ABC has a lot of programmes from the UK. Many of these may be high quality, but we rarely see on our screens programmes from non-Anglo-Saxon countries. Also, there are many often repeated programmes on our screen. Many of these again from the UK.
ABC: In 2018 the ABC plans to increase its local production spend by 18 per cent with the majority of that going to Australian Independent Production Companies. Drama will play a significant role in this investment in content.
Where will long form interviews feature on ABC 1?
ABC: The ABC’s flagship news and current affairs programs including Four Corners, 730, and Australian Story all feature long-form interviews.
I would like to know why the ABC continues to show odd military programming from the UK, e.g. the Royal Military Tattoo, in prime time? I can’t see the cultural relevance Australia even as a middle aged import from the UK, If there is a need for some military thing then please mix it up with something like the Royal Tournament.
ABC: Thanks for the feedback. We will pass it on to the relevant team.
What sort of research and feedback do you seek before you make major change to programming (such as recent changes at ABC Brisbane).
ABC: Any change made to a program or format is carefully considered and takes into account audience research. We encourage you to register with our Your Space feedback program.
Why do we have shows repeated so often!
ABC: The ABC strives to broadcast a wide range of programs within its budget envelope. Repeats allow audiences every opportunity to access some of the best programs from both here and abroad.
Why is there no download and watch later option on iview and kids iview?
Why cannot the ABC allow iviewers to ‘resume’ where they left off in a program if they do not watch the entire program in one program (other channels provide this convenience)?
The ABC is constantly reviewing the iView user experience to determine how the service can improve. The ABC 2.0 initiative will improve the audiences experience on platforms like iView and we look forward to sharing new developments when possible.
News 24 is so Sydney centric that is becoming irrelevant to the nation as a whole. This week we saw most new programs debating the public transport delays in Sydney and the nursing shortage in Sydney hospitals. This is a national and international news program. I suspect this is budget driven as film and interviews are cheaply arranged when so local to the base of resources.
ABC: Thanks for the feedback, but rest assured that we make every effort to produce content that is relevant and interesting to all Australians. Some of our content (like News Breakfast) originates from Melbourne, some from Sydney and some from Perth, but the ABC NEWS channel aims to cover a mix of local, national and international news, with the mix depending on the big breaking news of the day.
I am worried that the ABC is dumbing down its 7pm news service – If we want to see stories about car crashes or bad behaviour we can watch the commercial TV service – how about keeping to the important stories from Australia and overseas?
ABC: Thanks for the feedback, which the news team will look at. The state and territory 7pm News bulletins aim to provide a mix of local, national and international news, with the mix depending on the news of the day and designed to inform and interest a broad range of viewers.
Why are you so unbalanced with your news, you take a side on hot political issues all the time, we should not know the political agenda of the ABC.
There is a strong perception that the ABC is anti-Liberal-National Party and consistently acts more like the opposition than a neutral broadcaster. This is a great pity for I have been a long-term fan of ABC until recently when I look for news and current affairs elsewhere. The ABC may not agree – but many people are of the same opinion as me – what will you do about this?
ABC: The ABC Charter and our Editorial Policies ensure the ABC delivers to audiences the fair and balanced reporting expected of it, without fear or favour. The Charter and Editorial Policies, together with the professionalism and dedication of our journalists, are the reason why most Australians view the ABC as their most trusted source of news.
As the Director of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, I would like to ask the ABC about the work it is doing
to improve its on-screen and off-screen diversity, at all levels of its organisation, so that it truly reflects Australia’s multicultural society?
ABC: The ABC Equity and Diversity Plan (PDF)22 for 2016-2018 guides the Corporation’s activities and operations and ensures we pursue the objectives of:
encouraging a culture of diversity, engagement and flexibility;
embracing diversity in the workplace; and
representing, engaging and connecting with various communities.
This means being focused on leadership, communication, an inclusive culture and flexibility around work/life balance. It means opening yourself to the broadest possible infusion of talent and ideas. It means doing the best to retain the talent you already have in the workplace, like making sure culturally and linguistically diverse staff are not impeded by barriers. And at the same time, we will connect and engage communities through our great asset – our ability to tell great stories, to prompt conversations and to promote culture.
When will “Closed Captions” for the hearing-impaired be universally available on ABC News 24?
ABC: Primary channels, such as ABC TV, are captioned 6am to midnight. Many ABC NEWS programs are captioned, including Matter of Fact, News Breakfast, Mornings with Joe, ABC News at Noon (seven days a week), The Drum, Planet America, The Mix, 7.30, The Business, One Plus One, Weekend Breakfast, Insiders, Offsiders and Landline.
In Australia we are very fortunate to have effectively two public broadcasters; ABC and SBS. is it not possible and indeed beneficial to combine all the backroom functions fo the ABC & SBS while retaining the individual brands? Would this not enable the two networks to achieve better economies of scale and avoid any duplication or competition between SBS and the ABC?
ABC: A merger is a matter for the Government. However, the ABC is more than happy to work with SBS to ensure greater efficiency in public broadcasting to better meet the needs of taxpayers, for example we have recently struck a deal to share our indigenous content with NITV to enhance their programming schedule.
Please could you make the intervals between shows (ad breaks) longer? The way it is at the moment there isn’t even enough time to go to the toilet, let alone make a cup of tea as well. Not everyone has access to mobile device to cart around the house and most of us wouldn’t want to take it to the toilet anyway.
ABC: Yes, the ABC aims to keep is breaks between programs reasonably tight; a standard ABC break is approximately 90 seconds. The impact of duration of breaks is closely monitored. On the one hand we need to ensure they are long enough to inform viewers about upcoming programs and provide a breather between programs, and on the other hand we need to make sure they are not so long that viewers switch off between programs.
Why did the comedienne say c*** instead of vagina or maybe pussy on Pickering last night?
ABC: Thanks Maurice.