Axed: The Drum

ABC to end daily news discussion after 13 years on air, as part of an internal News restructure.

The ABC has axed its daily live panel program The Drum after 13 years on air citing budget costs and an internal news restructure.

It’s anticipated the changes will result in fewer than five positions being made redundant.

ABC said the decision was made to focus the ABC News Channel on its “core roles of continuous news, breaking news and news video production” and to expand the role of the Asia Pacific Newsroom as the home of specialist coverage on the region.

Presenters Julia Baird, Ellen Fanning and Dan Bourchier will move to other roles with the ABC.

The Drum has been an engine room of talented people in front of and behind the camera. We will be talking to The Drum team about transfer opportunities over coming weeks and have already identified a number of opportunities. We anticipate these changes will result in fewer than 5 positions being made redundant. Everyone directly impacted has been contacted and we’re holding more briefings with impacted individuals and teams about the changes,” ABC News Director Justin Stevens said.

“The difficult decision not to recommission The Drum is no reflection on the achievements of the team over the years. Stopping things does not diminish their previous value or contribution.

“Many talented people have worked on this program over the years, on camera and behind the scenes, and I thank everyone who has been involved in this program – in particular Annie White, who has been a powerhouse behind the program, and longtime co-anchors Julia and Ellen, all of whom will continue to make key contributions to the ABC.

“One of the key successes of The Drum has been unearthing new talent from around Australia, and we thank all the panelists who have appeared over time. The Drum’s database of interview talent is available to all our teams to call upon.”

The Drum first premiered in 2010 with the launch of the ABC’s 24-hour news channel. In 2014 it moved from the ABC News Channel to the ABC’s primary channel with a new look, new timeslot of 5:30 pm, and a new 30-minute format.

By 2019 the program was relaunched again, moving to a 6pm slot ending a rotation of shows in the slot for the broadcaster.

The show would typically rate around 120,000 – 150,000 metro viewers.

It isn’t clear what ABC will screen in its 6pm weekday slot in 2024 (next week it screens Great Australian Stuff).

“The decision on The Drum has been informed by long-term audience trends. The 6pm timeslot is the lead-in to the flagship 7PM bulletin and key for determining the ABC TV main channel audience across the evening. A change in the slot allows Content to try other programming. Not resourcing a program to fill this timeslot also creates savings for News to fund the digital reinvestment priorities we’re rolling out,” said Stevens.

Friday will be its last ever episode.

Source: The Guardian

23 Responses

  1. I hope the ABC keeps using the very talented Casey Briggs, John Barron and Dan Bouchier, those 3, + Ellen Fanning and Julia Baird, are quality presenters.
    Another disadvantage of axing the Drum will be the lack of some voices in future who usually don’t get a gig on mainstream TV – eg. people from the disability sector, or charities, or first nations advocates.

  2. I have my issues with The Drum, namely the host and the panels usually all agreeing on a certain issue – a propensity for groupthink in other words. And enough of ex Labor staffers who now run progressive think tanks getting a gig every night.
    However, at its best, the program performs a vital service and can compliment well a major news story of the day.
    The ABC is truly being dumbed down – News Breakfast resembles Sunrise without the ads and the guy in the cow suit, 7.30 seems to feature more celebrity interviews than serious journalism, and the standard of reporting on ABC News is frankly mediocre.
    One safe prediction for 2024 – the ABC will fill that 6PM-7PM timeslot with repeats of Grand Designs, Antique Roadshow, Escape From the City etc.

  3. The Drum in the early days of ABC News had (for the ABC) a balanced perspective of topical political forums, which back then was a lot more interesting too, with minority governments and leaders like Rudd, Gillard and Abbott, and Turnbull polarizing national politics, these forums attracted some eclectic responses from politically learned people. I can’t really comment about The Drum in recent years as the conversations generally lost my interest as did the majority of The Drums regular guests, in some ways the ABC News channel does need good forums but the topics must be more representative of the silent majority, and I don’t necessarily mean those who watch Sky News.

  4. I used to enjoy this show, but I find it difficult to watch it nowadays.

    For me, the 5pm timeslot worked well, but I understand the reasoning why it was moved to 6pm, it made better programming sense.

    But of late, whenever I ever dipped back into the show I found it too concentrated on what were very woke or first world problems and I say this as a progressive voter. The commentators were mostly all on the same page with a few opposing voices for balance. But on the whole both sides comments could have been scrapped from Chat GPT given the unoriginality of views put forward. It needed some more contrarian, but not absolutely wacky, ideas to really stimulate thought.

    In its time, it was good TV and it unearth a few people that made you stop and take notice and see a different perspective, but ultimately I think they started to live in a self-contained biosphere and for me, it grated.

  5. I thought The Drum started life as a slot on Triple J which grew and evolved over the years before moving to television and finding a more mature audience. Still, we regularly have it on as the lead in to the news in our house coz we enjoy the varying debates and guests. A shame to see it go for sure.

  6. The Drum started out as a web platform opening boasting of paying radical left-wing op-ed writers to fight News Limited’s paying $800 for conservative and free market op-eds in it’s papers every day. It then became a TV panel show after the Project and for a short time tried to promote debate and air a range of views with experts on the topics of the day. However, like Q&A that didn’t last long as the Friends of the ABC trolled and abused online any guest who to the right of the Greens trying to cancel them, and they stopped turning up. Baron and Bourchier did allow some diversity of opinion, but carefuly quarantined to a video link for one segment only, so they couldn’t debate anything that ABC didn’t want debated. For the last few years it has been predictable progressive activism every evening avoiding major issues. It is also draging down the ABC’s main weapon, their 7pm federal political op-ed so it has to go.

    1. Many more do…they often feature ‘Planet America’ guest commentators or hosts on ‘The Drum’ for US politics discussions-I personally usually record it so as to skip over uninteresting/predictable stuff TD often features these days.

    2. I started to watch Planet America many years ago, purely to try and better understand the American political system. As an exercise in compare and contrast their and our systems, I think it is still useful. As a example of where we are heading I think it is absolutely necessary.

    3. Planet America is arguably the best thing on ABC News right now, it’s humorous and entertaining in my opinion, and provides more info than most American audiences would receive regarding the U.S. election in America.

  7. I doubt it’ll happen.

    But I’d love to see them put classic Dr Who in that timeslot.

    I know they used to show it around 2003-2006.

    I don’t believe classic who has been shown on the ABC since.

  8. Did The Drum start off as a youth-skewed news program with younger hosts and panel? Whenever I have recently tuned in it always seemed to be the stock-standard mature aged hosts and panel and non-youth targeting.

  9. Great! Now;

    Planet America 6:30-7:00, 5 nights a week.
    Not sure about the 6:00 half.

    It would only work next year with the election.
    Then back to weekly at 9:30 is fine.


  10. I can honestly say I think I’ve only ever seen a single episode of The Drum, and that was one that aired after the 2019 election. From the sounds of it, the number of viewers was lower than The Project, which we’ve all been slamming should be cancelled for half a decade now.

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