The new ABC: no TV commissions after 9:30pm

Michael Carrington

ABC will no longer commission shows to screen after 9:30pm as part of its 5 year plan to meet an $84 million shortfall over three years.

Outside of Children’s TV and News, shows are now expected to be commissioned for the 6 – 9:30pm window.

It will also pull back on original content screening 48 weeks a year to 42 weeks a year, which is likely to see a reduced episode output for some shows.

Up to 250 roles are expected to go in the restructure, with the ABC Comedy channel to be rebranded for Arts, Science, Education and Religion.

iview will become the destination for much of ABC comedy titles.

Factual and Entertainment content have been hit hardest in changes announced by managing director David Anderson, with the independent production sector to lose $5m a year in commissions.

ABC is reducing its internal content teams from 5 to 4 with Factual content makers – currently split between Entertainment & Factual and Specialist –  becoming a Factual & Education team under Aidan Laverty.

Entertainment and comedy content makers fall within a new Drama, Entertainment & Indigenous team, under Sally Riley.

Michael Carrington, Director Entertainment & Specialist, said yesterday, “The government’s indexation pause, coming amid the backdrop of an already challenging media landscape, has highlighted our need to be more efficient and targeted in how we prioritise content to meet audience needs. In line with the ABC’s Five-Year Plan, announced today, ABC iview and ABC listen will be increasingly placed at the heart of our content strategy to ensure our continued success.

“Prioritising digital services will necessitate changes to the ways in which we allocate our declining budget and deliver programs. We will focus on commissioning for first-run content across a reduced schedule of 42 weeks, with no first-run commissions from 9.30pm on broadcast.

“Similarly, our content investment will be moved increasingly towards on-demand rights. As part of this transition, iview will become the home of much of our comedy content, while the ABC Comedy channel will be repurposed into a broader destination for multiple genres, such as the arts.”


  1. timmydownawell

    Please, please, please if ABC Comedy is to be rebranded for Arts, Science, Education and Religion, can they call it “ABC ARSE”?

  2. The budget hasn’t been cut it’s still $1.1b. It didn’t increase but inflation and wage growth are zero or lower. Changing viewer habits mean there is no point in commissioning stuff after 9:30pm, except Q& A. As we can see from last night’s ratings when the commercial networks had nothing to offer, people watched a bit of ABC earlier and then started streaming whatever. This is particular true for ABC2’s comedies. I have usually ended up watching Fleabag, Upstart Crow, Inside No. 9 on iView as it’s easier than trying to find when they are on, or finding that don’t have a free slot to record them.

    • On demand streaming is more popular now, as seen in the UK with BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub etc.
      Biggest complaint from UK TV buyers is the lack of these apps on some new release TV’s.
      This is not a concern for the ABC as it has less drama production and would have to compete with other SVOD apps for newer overseas content. The ABC is really stuck in a rut enforced by government policy to some degree, maintaining the ABC as a political tool. The ABC is likely never to follow a BBC business model, even if it has a similar ideology.

    • GriffinLimey

      Wage growth at the ABC is tied to the industry award and is unconnected to government inflation figures.
      So a relatively static level of funding means the ABC has to fund the already locked in annual increase for the majority of those on the payroll, from within the existing budget.

  3. Outside of news and current affairs, little local content has screened at 9:30pm this year anyway.

    Main question is if Planet America considered news or light entertainment? Cutting it back to weekly probably would be fair though.

  4. Yet again the “$84 million” claim. The CPI figures used to come up with that figure are much higher than the actual CPI figures so far, and the currently forecast CPI figure for the remainder of the period of the indexation pause.

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