“Why did you destroy Lateline?”

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.

You can read more here.


  1. Maev....Sydney

    Re ‘Military Programming’…The Tattoo is entertainment…..
    iview….it use to resume where you left off…I don’t understand why or how it stopped…
    I like Stan Grant…and enjoyed his Friday night program….I do not care for the current one…or National Wrap….
    And I do not care for the way the current person in charge is running things…

  2. It is evident from the questions above and the comments below that the ABC can’t win with viewers either way. Most of the shows people are upset about losing are politically focused, whereas I often feel bombarded with politics on the ABC, and that they thrash an issue to a pulp. Quite happy to have less.

    I like the BBC content because it is usually high quality and qualifies as pure entertainment. When there are attempts to replace it with Australian-made, we get shows that border on documentaries, often pushing an agenda through drama.

    I pity the people running the ABC because the Australian public’s expectations are so disparate. Personally, I just want a channel that offers a more intelligent mix of programming than the inanity (and smut) of the commercial offerings.

  3. Ever since the ABc axed Lateline I stopped watching late night ABC the alternative is rubbish as is that karvelas show and Stan grant on five nights a week is ridiculous the man is boring Mr no personality, you have lost me ABC ,add to that newsbreakfast which is so Melbourne centric its become unwatchable might as well call it good morning Melbourne to think Australian tax payers money pays for that rubbish .each state shouldnave its own newsbreakfast show .all tha to this interfering liberal govt and the ex news limited hack Guthrie there to destroy our ABC.

  4. Hmm, the ABC still manages to polarise the Australian community to some degree but what everyone must remember is that the ABC is a national broadcaster funded like any other government civil service, occasionally it tries to match media hype with it’s commercial TV rivals and promote it’s ratings successes but the ABC appears stuck as a poor mans version of the BBC without the hard earned enterprise mentality. The ABC likes to constantly joke about itself and it’s lack of money but the corporations bureaucratic purpose will always be to justify maintaining public funding that’s all the government really expects of it.

  5. The cavalier responses to questions about news and Lateline are infuriating. With Lateline they quite deliberately starved the program of resources, forcing it to make do with fewer satellite interviews and fewer reports overall, which naturally resulted in longer, talkier segments. This has exactly the intended result: audiences turn off so the execs can cite falling viewership and wield the axe, which is what they intended to start with. Now they are deliberately and systematically reducing and dumbing down all news and current affairs. It’s most obvious on radio – with PM and The World Today cut by half – but the effects flow through to TV and play out across all ABC platforms. Anyone who listens to ABC radio or News 24 will have seen the results: fewer stories covered each day, stories covered in substantially less depth, a marked increase in faux-news coverage (e.g. pointless…

    • Lateline was never deprived of resources. In fact it was moved forward on ABC24 to get an audience and remained a priority on ABC1. It lost its audience by being unrelatable and irrelevant

    • OzJay – Nail on the head. The ABC bowed to the whining right. They did starve this program. I don’t get SKY or Foxtel so rely on ABC for decent News and Current affairs. Lateline offered something different at a time of night that was great to digest current events. The answer to the question was pure spin. Disgusted.

    • i think you mean SBS is the BBc poor mans version .The ABC has amazing quality programmes .Its news science comdey nature programmes at first classand kids programmes are brilliant .All the envy of the FTA networks there is nothing poor man about the ABC .what i have noticed since the liberal govt interfering is that poor decisions have been made to dumb down the ABC if you look at the pr gramme National wrap its atrocious something you would find on Ten not on the ABC thats thanks to Guthrie and The Liberal govt to some extent stan grant show five nights a week is another of those terrible shows that normally would never make the cut on ABC until Guthrie took over .this has always been this govt and Murdoch plan to destroy the ABC

  6. So the audience didn’t ask why the ABC spent only 2.6% of its budget on low budget poorly written dramas last year i.e not enough to make even 3 episodes of GOT (or 2 of the final series). Senators did in Parliament.

  7. I don’t know about Lateline, but I’d like to know why they got rid of Stateline on Friday night. Since then they’ve struggled to fill the timeslot. At one stage they even had stand-up comedy and Stan Grant in the slot. Now they’ve just given up altogether, filling it with amorphous filler. They can’t even be bothered having a Friday edition of 7:30. It is painfully obvious that the axing of Stateline has been a disaster and they should bring it back pronto.

    • 7:30 Reports used to be State based programmes, but they made a national show to focus on Federal politics and save money, and just kept Friday’s as Stateline. This didn’t work, reporting a story from Monday on Friday in an era of 20 minute news cycles was silly. Nobody, especially the younger demographic they target, was watching current affairs on Friday nights and the audiences were declining. And it cost a fortune because they couldn’t ever reduce the salary of the staff to match their workload. So in NSW Quentin Dempster was getting $300,000 p.a. to host 30 minutes of TV a week (when it wasn’t school holidays), with similar situations in the other states. So they axed them to direct money elsewhere into their website and news and current affairs.

  8. Let’s get real here, the ABC is not a public broadcaster but a government funded semi-commercial broadcaster. They chase ratings just as much as 7,9 or 10.

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