Kim Williams: Arts ignored by ABC

Incoming ABC Chair wants broadcaster to return to its Charter to encourage and promote the Arts.

Incoming Chair of the ABC Kim Williams has signalled greater coverage of the Arts as part of its Charter for all Australians.

Speaking to ABC Radio this week he acknowledged, “I think it’s probably the hardest job in media in Australia, but the real hard yards are of course with the (CEO). The Chair is there to accept the responsibility of uniting the Board behind agreed priorities and the strategies that the ABC needs to adopt in its multi-various strands of activity.

“I have an uncompromising view that the ABC is the Australian campfire (and I’m) very firmly wedded to the notion that it needs to reflect on what the Charter means in terms of having contemporary relevance.

“The ABC must at all times be an organisation that is relevant to its current time and not, in some way, bathe in past glories. It needs to really focus on what it is to be innovative and comprehensive in the 21st Century… what it is to actually inform the national identity in its news and current affairs, entertainment and informational programming. What it is to reflect cultural diversity of modern Australia. What education responsibilities it has, which is an area where clearly there is a continuing challenge in meeting the needs of the nation.

“What it needs to do to be a really relevant digital organisation, and to recognise that whilst not for all Australians, digital technologies are absolutely inseparable from the whole trend of modern media and modern media delivery.

“And what we need to do to encourage the real focus on the primary aspect in the Charter, for musical and for music, for drama, for theatre, and for the other arts (which) quite frankly is ignored by the ABC. I don’t say that in an aggressive way, I say it in a statement of simple description.”

ABC recently announced a 2024 Arts show Creative Types with Virginia Trioli and The Art Of
hosted by Namila Benson.

Williams declined to comment on the current saga surrounding staffing and ABC management but said of ABC News international reporting, “I think generally the ABC does an excellent job in difficult circumstances. Often in news coverage, one’s dealing with multiple moving targets and it’s difficult to maintain a through-line in those environments and that is when one is dependent upon the quality of the values, the training and the feedback loops and the internal sense of constant review and criticism to ensure that one is staying on a true-north path.”

You can hear the full interview here.

Photo: ABC

4 Responses

  1. What I think is required would be an increased digital bandwidth spectrum. Is this possible nowadays with the advancement in broadcasting technologies? Either that or for ABC to branch out and consider linear streaming channels on iView, beyond just simulcasts.

    Remember Ovation that was on Foxtel? Other countries have a vast array of broadcast channels, often including an arts and culture multichannel.

    There is also the potential for a number of specific genre music video channels. Then there could also be a Slow TV channel, with content along the lines of NITV’s Bamay, or Naturescape, which was a Seven linear channel. Slow TV sort of fits into arts as well, I think. Maybe also fashion and crafts as well.

    These are the sort of initiatives where there can be lobbying for more funding if resources is an issue. The population growth supports an increase in the viability, for an increase in public broadcasting.

  2. … ABC Charter 1. The functions of the Corporation are: (c) to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia.
    …let’s hope that Kim can help push Aunty away from the obsession with news at the expense of other programming strands and return to “inform and entertain” with equal attention …
    … however, like with Michelle Guthrie, the news department won’t like that …

  3. I understand everyone owns the ABC and most people genuinely want to see it be the best that it can be (subjective) but I’m getting sick and tired of seeing it criticised. Most of the time people seem to be clutching at straws and it’s same old same old

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