ABC exploring Q+A future

David Anderson denies Q+A is on the chopping block, but confirms ABC is exploring other ways of doing the format.

ABC is mulling the future of Q+A and whether there is another format which could function in its role of public discourse.

Speaking yesterday to a Senate Estimates Committee, ABC managing director told Liberal Senator Dave Sharma, “Senator, we’re using that time to think about the program’s future. Look, I think, Q+A as a concept, what is there and what it’s meant to do, is an important one.

“It’s important that the ABC does that and actually brings people together and holds conversations. We are looking at what it is that we might be able to do for the future… if there is something we can do for that program.”

In its 16th season ABC is screening 24 episodes a year down from 40 in 2023, aligned with parliamentary sitting weeks.

“I think the format that Q+A has held in that context has been important. I’ve been keen to explore is there another way of doing that format? So I’ll have to come back to you on that one, and that won’t be soon, Senator, because we’re still working on what that might be.”

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson pressed further asking whether it was on ‘the chopping block?’

“No, I wouldn’t say it’s on the chopping block, Senator. Certainly with my background in television, you are always looking at programs, you’re always looking at, ‘Is there a better way of doing something?’ You should never be defensive about needing to improve.

“If I look at Q+A, is there another way of doing that format… still having a program like Q+A, but is there is there a different way of doing it? I think you should always explore … if anyone’s got any innovative ideas that might help refresh a long-standing program that you’ve got, I think you pursue it. That’s all I’m saying. It’s not on the chopping block at the moment.”

Earlier Anderson dismissed suggestions by Senator Sharma that some Q+A staff walked out or went on strike, but ABC confirmed two staff had departed.

“I believe that there were a couple of redundancies that were recent, out of the Q+A team,” he said.

16 Responses

  1. It went down hill when Tony Jones left. David Speers got it back on track, but all the presenters in between and after have set a course for the show to the graveyard..

  2. I’ve always enjoyed Q&A but since David Speers left, it’s never been the same – I think either rest the show for a bit or change the format – also go out to regional areas more and stay away from Sydney Metro/Melbourne metro and get more real opinions from broader Aussie population.

    I like insight as they way they do things is different

  3. I totally agree with what Neil’s comments on Q&A. This was once a great must-watch show on a Monday with Tony Jones, to a show now floundering around looking for an audience, because it has seriously lost its direction.
    It should pick a topic and hit it hard and explain the real world issues behind the debate, and why no government has a endless bucket of funds to throw at this / that cause or the limitations it has, like it is a state issue or Australia can butt its nose into that war??
    The panel should probably be the adjudicator, one from the Government and opposition who deal with the issue plus one green and /or independent with two experts or a well-resourced journalist with no agenda to peddle.
    Also we need to stop with the endless bashing of ABC bias especially as this crap usually comes from News Limited types who couldn’t report a story without bias or the truth if they fell over it. We are lucky in this country to have a network like the ABC reporting like it does.

    1. It’s poor timing to complain about criticising ABC bias, considering Laura Tingle’s comments and the actual circumstances, and context.

        1. Yes the statement provided by Laura Tingle did say that Labor’s Julia Gillard made comments about skilled migration, and that would also match the former NSW Labor leader Michael Daley’s comments on migration as well. The balanced context was provided in the end.

  4. David,
    In this weeks newsletter you mentioned a show which has “so many school students in the audience every week you’d swear they were struggling to get a crowd”

    You clearly do not want to name the show, but this show would certainly be a strong contender.

    Do you know if this show sets aside a certain amount of seating each week for school groups, and how the schools are selected to participate?
    Do the schools nominate themselves, and hope they would be picked?

    I can’t see anything on their join the audience website.

  5. For a show that purports to ask questions in order to get answers. It lacks real insights or solutions to what are mostly complex inter-related problems and we won’t get that from having politicians or special interest group representatives who have a barrow to push.

    I would like to see any reformatting to take on a problem solving approach and break it down into different segments – Define the problem – Possible options – Evaluation of options – Most practical solution – Implementation. But at the same time point out the real life limitations to some of these things.

    You can bring in and take out experts for each segment. I would also move away from a purely “talking heads” approach and bring in other mediums (graphs, videos, real life examples etc) to give more nuance and understanding.

    We have so many real problems out there that need different perspectives and possible left field solutions. But I don’t think Q&A in its current format is filling this brief.

  6. “I think it’s important to have a format or concept where politicians can meet the public”, is a very true statement, but I don’t think Q&A has ever changed a government’s decision. It is mainly talking heads.

  7. Q+A lost it’s way when they started favouring sensational guests and questions and focused on generate headlines in the SMH and Age on Tuesday morning. That was very early on. Debating facts and ideas rarely occurred, usually only in shows with no politicians. Even then media filling up slots often destroy it.

  8. I really only watch it to see “how biased Q&A can be this week” The edition with the Federal Treasurer was truly “better get a bucket cause i’m going to be sick.” Like two best friends having a chat around a fire. Hardly a balanced Q&A based program funded by taxpayers. (I sometimes (repeat-only sometimes) watch Sky News after dark to see how biased they can be too, but that makes my laugh as it is promoted as being biased and is not government funded)

  9. As i have stated many times, i regularly watch Question Time on the BBC and Q&A could follow the format with random questions from the audience with a very capable host. Much more interesting and informative!

  10. When it started it was going great. It was a place of balanced discussion with the highly regarded Tony Jones as the moderator, but it lost its way with the tweets on screen that were biased, the incongruence with the audience reactions and the split between the surveyed political allegiences of the audience, and the witch hunt mentality. I don’t think it’s trusted anymore due to balance. It became more about pushing political agendas and it infuriated viewers. The current moderator Patricia Karvelas is seemingly far-left.

    The program needs to be reformed to bring it back to health. In marketing, if a brand isn’t as good as it used to be, it can be refreshed with a new title or brand as a starting point. I think it’s important to have a format or concept where politicians can meet the public.

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