ABC expands on inclusive, Indigenous content.

ABC isn't quite ready to let NITV be the only home of stories for First Peoples.

ABC is making a concerted push into more Indigenous content in 2020 with a slate of factual and dramas.

At its recent 2020 slate presentation, the broadcaster confirmed Adam Goodes documentary The Australian Dream, Dark Emu with author Bruce Pascoe, nuclear fallout doco Maralinga (working title), kids’ series Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors?

There’s more of Mystery Road, Black Comedy and Little J and Big Cuz. These come on top of embedding more Indigenous performers into shows such as Play School and The Heights.

Development is  also underway for more of acclaimed drama Total Control, if not necessarily for 2020.

Head of Entertainment & Specialist Michael Carrington is proud of the range of content ABC has announced. But with NITV already as an Indigenous broadcaster, he ismindful that ABC can bring the content to a large and broad audience.

“The ABC has a responsibility to connect with as many Australians as possible and a huge part of that community is our First Peoples,” he tells TV Tonight.

“I think the ABC is able to provide broad inclusive stories that maybe another network might not be able to do. So those big stories that we’re doing, whether it’s the Adam Goodes story, or whether it’s bringing to life an award winning book, by Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu, I think it’s just testament to our ability to make stories inclusive for all Australians. Whether they’re Indigenous or other.”

On the prospect of more Total Control he added, “It’s been a huge success and I think we knew all the way through it was going to have an impact and audiences were definitely going to engage with it. So there is thinking around season 2.”

Meanwhile there are still more drama and comedy titles to announce, once formally commissioned.

Of profile docos presented by the likes of Craig Reucassel and Sarah Ferguson, Carrington says, “We’re really trying to create emotional, factual content that means something to the audience. That draws them in.”

But what of shows yet to be renewed -such as a second season of hit series Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds?

“The development process to get there will take us a long time. We will obviously need to recast because those four years will be five years,” he continues.

“It’s had a huge impact. But what comes next will need some really careful thinking. So it’s in the thinking.”

The future of music series The Set is also unknown.

“It’s wonderful to be able to bring Australian music to life. So that is in development. It’s only just in the thinking. I don’t know what form that will take whether it will be another big studio show. Or it might be more attuned to the way that that audience connects with it. But I’m a really great supporter of The Set and Australian music in general. So we will find a way to bring The Set back. Just when I don’t know.

“Ausmusic month is really important to us and we do it every year. We put a lot of effort into creating content for it. Which is kind of where The Set was inspired, originally. So it’s something that’s important to me personally.”

Michael Carrington

Les Norton is in development for more while Diary of an Uber Driver is yet to be renewed.

Carrington also has good news for fans of The Heights.

“I love The Heights. We are totally going to give you a better timeslot. We’re working on it right now.

“But yes, more Heights, which is wonderful because it’s new talent both on screen off screen, whether they’re writers, directors, producers. And I’m really proud of it.”

Upfronts 2020: ABC: Docos, drama & Hamish Macdonald

15 Responses

  1. It’s times like this where I think it would make sense to merge our public broadcasters. It is so self-defeating to have both ABC & SBS “competing” in the same areas of content. Imagine what they could do with the combined resources…at the very least, it would mean more eyeballs across more indigenous content

  2. The Set is such a missed opportunity. Horrible timeslot. Give Triple J the reigns and the broadcast, go live on their social media and post it there afterwards. Young people aren’t watching much on the ABC or iview, so go where they are watching. Great show just buried by traditional broadcasting ideas.

    1. I think The Set should rebrand and have a more broad appeal by having on more mainstream bands and artists in the mix. If they had bands and artists that are currently in the top 10 in the official music charts too, it would surely attract more attention and viewers. There is an element of snobbery of genres on Triple J, which I don’t agree with as I listen to many genres, depending on my mood at the time.

      The BBC has a good balance on radio with Radio 1 for pop, Radio 1Xtra for hip-hop & R&B and Radio 6 for alternative genres. Triple J is mostly alternative and The Set is mostly catering for the alternative and indie audiences.

      1. There are plenty of radio stations that cater for the top 10. Plus whole TV channels playing top 10 music videos all day long. Triple J doesn’t need to cater for areas already well served elsewhere. Btw, Triple J plays a stack of pop music, just not the super popular Ed Sheeran types (not that there’s anything wrong with that music, but I don’t think that music is having any trouble finding radio airplay already). So many pop hits were first played on Triple J in the last few years before being discovered by mainstream radio, so I don’t agree they only play ‘alternative’. Plus, nothing wrong catering for other genres outside of the top 10.

  3. Michael’s doing a lot of thinking by the sounds of it.
    Hope he can follow up with some action.
    As for the push for extra indigenous content, well we all know political correctness rules at ” our ABC ” , and damn what the viewers really want to see.

    1. This has to be the worst comment of the year. How do you know what people want to see? I’m all for extra indigenous content. Definitely not a case of political correctness here. There are so many indigenous stories to tell. I guess you just want more The Block and Married at First Sight…

    2. Agree – where’s the demand for this? The fact Is there is NITV and it doesn’t rate. With the ABC having to find savings, why are they spending more on content that nobody is watching..

      The Block & all rate highly cause it reflects Australian audiences that are watching TV and doesn’t play the race/gender card.

    3. Total Control, Redfern Now, and The Gods of Wheat Street are just a few of the excellent Indigenous content dramas I’ve enjoyed on the ABC
      I can’t even explain why, but I’m drawn to Indigenous content. Don’t assume to know what other viewers want to watch. And the line about political correctness is just offensive.

        1. I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed by thedirtydigger. The ABC are narrow casting and many (not all) of their pc driven drama slate just are not connecting broadly. I used to watch a lot on ABC but have given up now after so much crappy rubbish in recent years. TBH I don’t watch hardly any fta drama, streaming is way better…

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