Welcome to ABC Friends NSW & ACT

The federal budget and the end of ABC Fact Check

The Saturday Paper - Jim Middleton - May 28, 2016

The demise of ABC Fact Check brings into question government funding and the national broadcaster's right to decide where taxpayer dollars go.

Just before Christmas, ABC news director Gaven Morris and one of his offsiders, Bruce Belsham, called together about 20 senior reporters and executive producers. They had bad news. The Turnbull government was refusing overtures to discuss the national broadcaster's 2016 budget.

However, they assured the gathering that in assessing any future cuts, it would not be a case of "last on, first off" - that they should not assume any of the initiatives developed as a result of the Gillard government gifting ABC News $20 million in 2013 for three years would be scrapped. One of those was the fact-checking unit. Full story [here]

New ABC redundancies the direct result of latest budget cuts

MEAA - May 18, 2016

The axing of the Fact Check unit and other editorial redundancies at the ABC are the inevitable result of funding cuts in this month's federal Budget.

The announcement by ABC management this afternoon of 14 positions to be cut from the Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne newsrooms has been made more painful by yet another deplorable use of targeted redundancies.

Talented journalists, from the Fact Check Unit and National Reporting Team now have been given their marching orders, with little notice their position was in the firing line, and no chance to explore swap-outs or redeployment options before their positions were eliminated.

The loss of quality journalism and talented colleagues will impact newsrooms around the country, from Brisbane to Sydney, and Melbourne to Perth. Full atory [here]

ABC Fact Check unit to close following budget cuts

ABC News - May 18, 2016

The ABC's Fact Check unit is set to close as part of budget cuts likely to result in the loss of 14 jobs across the corporation.

ABC News director Gaven Morris confirmed the proposed changes in an email to staff on Wednesday afternoon.

On top of the ABC's regular annual budget, the former Rudd government provided $60 million over three years for enhanced newsgathering services.

In this month's budget, the Federal Government trimmed that funding to approximately $41.4 million for the next three years. Full story [here]

Details of Funding Cuts to the ABC - Primary Sources

Dept of Communications - Details of the ABC funding allocation in the 2016 budget [here] PDF 21pps 228KB.
On page 75 you will see "Total funds from Government 2015/16 is $1,084,413,000 and 2016/17 is $1,036,090,000" = $48,323,000 cut!

The ABC's FactCheck traces the government's broken promises on ABC funding [here]

The cumulative cuts to ABC funding since 2014, according to the February 2016 submission by the ABC to the House of Reps Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts [here] PDF 24pps 637KB
On page 3 - Table 1. ABC funding cuts 2014-15 to 2018-19

No cuts to the ABC? Public broadcaster $100m poorer than in 2013

Crikey - Myriam Robin - May 10, 2016

Remember when Tony Abbott promised no cuts to the ABC? "No cuts" turned out to mean $101 million worth of cuts.

By the time Australia goes to the polls on July 2, the ABC will have lost more than $100 million a year in base funding, tied funding and other government contracts for services since the Liberal government first came to power in September 2013. Full story [here]

Promise check: No cuts to the ABC

ABC FactCheck - May 8, 2016

On the eve of the September 2013 election, Tony Abbott promised that there would be no cuts to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation under a Coalition government.

During a live interview with SBS from Penrith football stadium, Mr Abbott said: "No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS."

This promise was broken when the Government announced cuts to the ABC worth $35.5 million over four years in the 2014-15 budget, as well as announcing the termination of the ABC's Australia Network contract, saving the Government $197 million over nine years.

Further cuts of $254 million over five years were announced in November 2014, and smaller ones in the 2016-17 budget. Here's how the promise tracked:

Stop the Cuts to the ABC - Sign the Petition

The ABC is one of the building blocks of Australian society - a fair and impartial media that's free of ads and free to access for everyone.

Every parent understands the important role the ABC plays for kids, but our national broadcaster also plays a crucial role in the social fabric of our country, providing news that matters to all Australians and telling local stories for regional areas.

Malcolm Turnbull's cuts mean an uncertain future for our national broadcaster. Sign the petition to stop the cuts to the ABC [here]

Memo to Michelle Guthrie: expert ideas for the new ABC era

The Conversation - Jonathon Hutchinson - Peter Manning - Vincent O'Donnell - May 9, 2016

The ABC’s new managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has been in the job for a week. She has already made it her mission to increase diversity at the broadcaster and Helen Vatsikopoulos offers some suggestions how to here. We asked a group of experts to consider what needs to be done in other areas: from news and current affairs coverage to local content to digital services. Read what they have to say [here]

Why ABC boss Michelle Guthrie is right about needing more diversity

SMH - Jacqueline Maley, May 6, 2016

The new ABC boss, Michelle Guthrie, commenced work this week, and started as she presumably means to go on - by calling for greater diversity in content and staff.

Her comments, sent in an all-staff email, echo those of her outgoing predecessor, Mark Scott.

Scott used one of his last interviews to obliquely admit the public broadcaster's extant domination by the Anglo male - a critter who, in other, less reality-constrained segments of the media, is considered to be the most persecuted species of all. Full story [here]

Letter to the SMH Editor

Dear Editor,
The ABC suffered massive cuts, again, in the Federal Budget. A total of $48m was cut from the corporation, undermining its News, Online and Mobile output. Unfortunately many media organisations wrongly reported that the cutbacks were less serious, because they failed to notice that the government had not included one of the cuts in the budget papers.

Please, let there be no mistake, the ABC has $48m less than it had before this budget, and ABC Friends isn't going to stand for it any more. We are gearing-up for the election campaign, drawing on our many thousands of volunteers across the country to target a selection of key marginal seats. Let the record be corrected: The ABC has had a big cut - just one of the thousand which will cause its death.

Mal Hewitt
President ABC Friends NSW
6 May 2016

Half of ABC staff don't think Aunty lives up to its values

Crikey - Myriam Robin - May 5, 2016

Only one in five (21%) of ABC staff think that senior ABC leadership executives work well together, communicate effectively and treat staff across the organisation well, according to a survey of almost 3000 ABC staff. And with more job losses threatened in the wake of funding being cut in the federal budget, dissatisfaction is likely to grow even further. Full story [here]

Huge Hit to ABC in 2016 Budget - Almost $50M cut Over the Next Three Years

ABC Friends Media Release - May 3, 2016

The 2016 Budget Papers reveal more severe cuts to the ABC, adding up to almost $50m over the corporation's next three-year agreement with the government.

The ABC's Triennial Funding was released as part of tonight's budget.

It revealed a more than $6m would be axed from the ABC News Division annually, along with millions-of-dollars worth of cuts to the development of the ABC's online and mobile capacity. Full Media Release [here]

Read detailed ABC Budget Statement [here] PDF 21 pps 228KB.
On page 75 you will see "Total funds from Government 2015/16 = $1,084,413 and 2016/17 = $1,036,090

Budget 2016: Michelle Guthrie calls for more diverse ABC as fact check unit faces chop

SMH - Matthew Knott, May 2, 2016

Michelle Guthrie has vowed to use her position as the ABC's first female managing director to create a more diverse public broadcaster, with greater representation of women and multicultural communities.

In an email to staff on her first official day in the job, Ms Guthrie said the ABC must "extend our reach and our relevance into areas where we are under-represented", which "means more diversity in both our staff and our content". Full story [here]

The biggest challenge facing the ABC's new boss

The New Daily - Quentin Dempster - April 27, 2016

The ABC's new managing director Michelle Guthrie faces an immediate challenge in her first full week in command at the national public broadcaster.

Ms Guthrie, a former Google Asia, Foxtel and News Corp senior executive, will be sweating on Treasurer Scott Morrison's first federal budget next Tuesday.

If the ABC loses a $20 million special annual budget supplementation initiated by former treasurer Wayne Swan, Ms Guthrie will have to sack 10 per cent of her workforce of 1000 journalists. Full story [here]

Coalition Risks Marginals with ABC Closures

ABC Friends Media Release - April 26, 2016

ABC Friends is warning the Federal Government that it risks losing votes in marginal electorates if it closes a number of regional news bureaux.

It's widely anticipated that the ABC News Division will lose at least 10 per cent of its funding in next week’s Federal Budget.

Under the outlined cuts, the ABC would lose at least three regional bureaux in marginal seats: Corangamite, Blair and Parramatta. Full Media Release [here]

Outgoing ABC chief Mark Scott takes parting shot at Murdoch empire

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 25, 2016

In a wide-ranging interview, the managing director reflects on a decade at the helm of Australia's public broadcaster, the importance of an independent ABC, his battles with News Corp and the future of media in the digital age.

Mark Scott has rounded on the ABC's critics at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, saying their opposition to public broadcasting is commercially motivated and out of touch with the public's great affection for it. Don't blame the ABC for problems of commercial media, says Mark Scott.

"I think there are some who actually don't want a strong public broadcaster," Scott told Guardian Australia before his final week as the ABC's managing director. Full story [here]

Broken promises, reality TV and 'loud critics': Mark Scott on 10 years at ABC

SMH - Michael Lallo- April 25, 2016

When Mark Scott was put in charge of the ABC, one columnist sniffed that he had "risen without trace".

A decade later, the Financial Review called him "the most attacked managing director" in Australia.

Everyone knows him now.

His admirers say he has dragged Aunty into the 21st century, with its News24 channel, iView, and opinion and news websites. They praise him as an aggressive defender of public broadcasting. Full story [here]

ABC Friends Appoints National Campaign Coordinator

ABC Friends Media Release - April 22, 2016

Distinguished former ABC journalist, videographer and author Jeff Waters has joined ABC Friends as its National Campaign Coordinator. The appointment signifies a major push by the Friends leading into the Federal Election, aimed at putting future funding of the ABC on the political agenda.

ABC Friends, the national lobby group supporting increased funding and independence for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, sees his as a significant appointment, as it tries to ensure that the continuous funding reductions are not allowed to continue. Full Media Release [here]

Mark Scott blames govt for ABC's Sydney focus

Crikey - Cassidy Knowlton - April 22, 2016

You want the ABC to cover regional Australia better? Give it more money, says departing boss Mark Scott. Full story [here]

ABC Managing Director Blames Government for Sydney-Centrism

Media Release - April 22, 2016

The ABC's outgoing Managing Director, Mark Scott, has admitted today that the corporation has become "Sydney-centric" as a direct result of government funding cuts.

ABC viewers and listeners across the continent have been complaining, over recent years, that news and programmes were starting to concentrate too much on Sydney issues, at the expense of the rest of the country. Taking talkback calls on ABC774"s morning programme with Jon Faine, Mr Scott said the move of jobs and resources to Sydney was a deliberate undertaking. Full Media Release [here]

More hits than misses for Mark Scott's ABC

The Age - Jonathan Holmes - April 20, 2016

I've worked for the ABC, off and on, since 1982. Mark Scott was the seventh managing director during that time, and in my view incomparably the best. Here are a few reasons why I think so.

Next week will be Scott's last as the ABC boss. Through it all, he has managed the Canberra public service and his political masters supremely well. For the first part of his tenure the ABC board had several members who seemed to have been appointed by the Howard government simply on the strength of their outspoken criticism of the ABC. They had no other visible qualifications. Scott coped. Full story [here]

ABC rejects criticism its Chinese web portal bows to Beijing censorship

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 16, 2016

The ABC has strongly rejected criticism its Chinese web portal, AustraliaPlus.cn, helps Beijing to silence critical voices in the region.

An opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review by Prof John Fitzgerald, director of the Asia Pacific program in social investment and philanthropy at Swinburne University of Technology accused the ABC of selling out its news values in order to get a foothold in China.

"The ABC has not, and never has, entered into an agreement with China or any country in regards to censorship of its content," the ABC said in a strongly-worded statement. Read the full story [here]

ABC Friends say regional jobs will be the first to go if funding is not renewed

The Border Mail - April 11, 2016

Regional jobs will go first if funding for the ABC is not renewed in the 2016-2017 budget, according to ABC Friends national spokesman Ranald Macdonald.

Mr Macdonald addressed concerns about funding shortfalls with a crowd of about 100 people at a public forum at The Cube, Wodonga, on Thursday evening. Full story [here]

ABC Friends back senior broadcasters over management

ABC Friends Media Release - April 10, 2016

ABC Friends has expressed outrage at a new level of radio management being installed at the ABC, at the same time as the corporation is facing a funding-cuts crisis.

Friends Spokesman Ranald Macdonald says the reported re-structuring of ABC radio management, which included a number of new high-level jobs, was of "grave concern."

Mr Macdonald was speaking from Albury-Wodonga, where ABC Friends has been holding special campaign meetings ahead of a pre-election push in the marginal seat of Indi.

"I've just spent two days at public meetings about the ABC and its ability to maintain services, particularly in regional areas," he said. Full Media Release [here]

Veteran broadcasters condemn ABC radio restructuring plan

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 8, 2016

Veteran broadcasters Fran Kelly, Margaret Throsby, Robyn Williams, Norman Swan and Geraldine Doogue have written to the ABC board condemning a plan to add another layer of "preposterously named executives" which would be at home in an episode of the ABC satire on bureaucracy, Utopia.

Don't blame the ABC for problems of commercial media, says Mark Scott. The restructure will see an effective management merger between the ABC's five radio networks Radio National, Classic FM, Triple J, News Radio and local radio.

The letter, signed by 17 of Radio National's most senior broadcasters, expresses "profound concern" about a plan to restructure the radio division that could have "serious consequences" for ABC radio listeners if implemented. Full story [here]

ABC radio personalities need to tune out their left-wing bias

SMH - Jonathan Holmes, April 5, 2016

ABC management has failed to recognise a clear problem among some capital city presenters.

Ten days ago, on ABC TV's Media Watch program, presenter Paul Barry quizzed departing ABC managing director Mark Scott about his 10 years in the job. Scott's responses to Barry's more predictable questions caused apoplexy in even more predictable quarters.

"How can the man heading our biggest media organisation be so blind to the ABC's unlawful and dangerous Leftist bias?" frothed Andrew Bolt.

"Mark Scott has clearly failed to enact his promised reform agenda", fumed Gerard Henderson in his Media Watch Dog blog. Full story [here]

Federal budget 2016: ABC prepares for funding cut, journalist job losses

SMH - Matthew Knott, April 5, 2016

The ABC is bracing for a $20 million a year budget cut the broadcaster says would put the jobs of investigative journalists and reporters in regional areas at risk.

Funding, equivalent to around 10 per cent of the ABC's news budget, will expire this year unless the Turnbull government provides extra money in the May budget as part of the ABC's triennial funding deal.

"If the tied funding is not renewed, it will inevitably result in cuts to programming, content and personnel" Read full story [here]

The ABC should work with commercial media outlets, not compete with them

The Conversation - Brian McNair - March 30, 2016

As the ABC's managing director Mark Scott approaches the end of his decade-long tenure, Media Watch this week provided a platform for him to highlight his achievements and fire off a couple of parting shots.

It's not ideal to see the ABC CEO using an ABC program to defend the ABC, but presenter Paul Barry did a reasonable job of representing the other side. "Too rich, too powerful, and biased" was the gist of it.

Before responding, Scott emphasised two key achievements: the launch of ABC News 24, and the move online. iView in particular, he said, had led the Australian media market in streaming technology. Full story [here]

ABC MD Mark Scott on Media Watch

Managing Director of the ABC Mark Scott appeared on a special edition of Media Watch on Monday 28 Mar 2016. Watch it on iView [here] - 22 min video

You can download the program from [here] (MP4 80MB)

Update Newsletter - April 2016

ABC Friends produces a thrice yearly national newsletter called Update, which is sent to all financial members and is available [here] (PDF 20pps 3.0MB)

No politics at Aunty's table - Depoliticising the governance of the ABC

The Australia Institute - Fergus Pitt - March 2016

Tackling the ABC for its performance is part of the Australian political game. Partisan attempts to change the ABC's governance arrangements, however, amount to moving the goalposts.

The ABC's governance arrangements are designed to ensure it is independent and politically neutral. The success of these arrangements is demonstrated in repeated editorial reviews and its long running support from the Australian public. Given this success, changes to these governance arrangements should be made only when demonstrably necessary and certainly not for partisan political or commercial gain. Debate around the ABC's content, performance and personalities is welcome. Tackling the ABC for its performance is part of the Australian political game. However, attempts to use the governance arrangements as political levers are attempts to move the goalposts.

But that is what has occurred: Important aspects of the ABC's governance have become political battlegrounds - the ABC's Charter, the ABC Board and its appointment process, and the ABC's funding. Read the full discussion paper [here] PDF - 26pps - 1.3Mb

What was Mark Scott thinking when he poured petrol on plans to merge ABC and SBS

The Age - Debi Enker - February 29, 2016

Given all that he accomplished during his 10 years as managing director of the ABC, it's a pity that Mark Scott decided to toss a bomb on his way out the door. He'd led the complex and sometimes controversial organisation through turbulent times. On his watch, which officially ends in May, Aunty purposefully shed her image as a dusty ageing relative, becoming more Lady Mary Crawley than Dowager Countess Violet: a vigorous pioneer rather than a conservative force resisting change. Full story [here]

ABC hits back at Senator Bridget McKenzie's claim the broadcaster is abandoning regional Australia

ABC News - Matthew Doran - March 4, 2016

The ABC has hit back at claims it is not providing adequate services to regional Australia, describing a bill to amend its charter as demonstrating "a paucity of understanding of the ABC's operations".

The broadcaster has also made a pointed reference to Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie's demand for country-based board members, when the Senator herself lives in the city. Full story [here]

Bill forcing ABC to reallocate funds to regional coverage unnecessary, says broadcaster

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - March 4, 2016

The ABC already spends more than $385m - a third of its annual budget - in rural and regional areas and a National party push to amend the ABC charter is unnecessary if not dangerous, the broadcaster says.

A private bill from Victorian National party senator Bridget McKenzie proposes to promote regional news services and journalism in rural and regional Australia by forcing the ABC to reallocate its resources. Full story [here]

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Advocacy) Bill 2015 - Submissions

Amends the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 to: amend the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Charter in relation to the delivery of services to rural and regional Australia in each state and territory; impose certain requirements on the ABC and the ABC Board; and provide for the establishment, functions and membership of the Rural and Regional Advisory Council.

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications is calling for submissions - you can download any of the submissions [here]

You can download ABC Friends' submission [here] PDF 10 pps 775Mb

The Weekly Beast: ABC braces for budget cuts as Mark Scott exits

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - February 25, 2016

Mark Scott wasn't kidding when he told the National Press Club on Wednesday that losing 10% of the ABC's $200m news allocation in the May budget would mean "significant cuts to jobs and programming" . On Tuesday ABC News's executive producers were briefed on possible budget cuts and asked to start making contingency plans should their budgets be trimmed again. (The word from Canberra was that the Turnbull government would not be as forthcoming as the Gillard government had been in topping up the ABC's news coffers three years ago.)

At risk is an additional $20m in tied funding allocated to the ABC each year for three years to create the national reporting team, establish the fact check unit and boost resources for the regions and digital content. "It also funded major, award-winning, in-depth prime-time documentary series like The Killing Season and George Megalogenis's TV series Making Australia Great - compelling award-winning work, unlike anything else on Australian television," Scott told the press club. Full story [here]

One Sure Bet: The Future of Public Broadcasting

Address by Mark Scott - National Press Club - February 24, 2016

The full address is available [here]

ABC boss Mark Scott proposes 'friendly merger' with SBS, makes case against funding cuts

ABC News - Jane Norman, February 24, 2016

The ABC's outgoing managing director Mark Scott has called for a "grown-up conversation" about merging the nation's two public broadcasters, arguing it could save the Federal Government $40 million a year.

In his last National Press Club address as ABC boss, Mr Scott also made the case for the Government to at least maintain the ABC's current level of funding, warning the only way the broadcaster will be "strong and relevant" in the future is with adequate financial support. Full story [here]

Mark Scott's final speech: time for 'grown up' conversation on ABC-SBS merger

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 23, 2016

Mark Scott has used his final major speech as ABC managing director to ramp up the case for the ABC to merge with SBS, saying it would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year and stop the broadcasters "tripping over each other".

Mr Scott, who departs the ABC in May, also revealed he and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown had secretly agreed there should be a "friendly merger" between the two broadcasters and were prepared to make the case to government. But the idea was rejected by the SBS board and Mr Brown retired in 2011. Full story [here]

Mark Scott's farewell idea: fewer channels, shared ABC, SBS transmission

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 23, 2016

Mark Scott will use his last major speech as ABC managing director to propose an overhaul of the way the ABC and SBS transmit their television channels, a move that could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year.

The change, if implemented, could see the broadcasters reduce their number of television channels and eventually move some channels online. Full story [here]

What will media reforms mean for regional Australia?

ABC Rural By Lucy Barbour

The debate about media reform is confusing, but changes to media laws could affect what regional audiences get to watch, read and listen to.

There are concerns proposed changes could mean fewer voices in rural media than ever before.

The Coalition is likely to introduce media reforms to Parliament next month and it is widely expected the proposal will include scrapping the reach rule and the two of three rule. Full story [here]

ABC power grab: Mark Scott suggests ABC and SBS should merge

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 10, 2016

Departing ABC managing director Mark Scott has questioned whether SBS should be merged with the ABC, a move that would see the multicultural network lose its special status as a standalone public broadcaster.

At his final appearance at Senate estimates hearings, Mr Scott said SBS was an "analogue solution in a digital world" and argued the broadcaster was losing its distinctiveness. Full story [here]

ABC appoints Michelle Guthrie after flawed selection process

The Saturday Paper - Quentin Dempster - January 30, 2016

The problems facing the ABC's incoming managing director, Michelle Guthrie, are various and substantial. There's a bush backlash. A decline in locally made drama and programming.

The declining share of free-to-air TV and radio audiences. A now frenzied, competitive online and mobile news and video streaming market, with aggressive global players trying to dislodge and divert your eyeballs. Full story [here]

How Australian is the ABC?

On Australia Day 2016 ABC FRIENDS is preparing for a year of action to return the ABC to the people.

As shareholders of the national public broadcaster it is only fair to ask “How Australian is the ABC”?

Is it the familiar national icon that provides a diversity of services and information to all Australians?

Or has the ABC retreated to its Sydney headquarters nervously assessing the impact of shrinking government funding?

National ABC FRIENDS Spokesperson Margaret Reynolds said “This year it’s time that we all spoke up in support of OUR ABC!” Read on [here]

Hand Off Our ABC Campaign

Hands Off Our ABC

Hands Off Our ABC is a community and advocacy campaign co-ordinated by the two unions that represent the vast bulk of employees at the ABC: the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union.

"Our goal is an editorially-independent ABC that is fully-funded by the government and meets its charter as a comprehensive national broadcaster, that is resourced to tell Australian stories across multiple platforms, and positioned to take advantage of new technology to retain its position as the most trusted and reliable source of news and entertainment in Australia". Full details [here]

Battered broadcaster's Bolt delusion

eurekastreet.com.au - Jim Sparrow - January 26, 2016

Last week, Fairfax reported that Andrew Bolt was in the midst of travelling the country 'filming an ABC documentary on Indigenous constitutional recognition'. Margaret Simons The Content Makers

Bolt might seem a strange choice for such a program. Yes, he opines regularly about Indigenous issues. Yet, in the famous Eatock v Bolt case, Justice Bromberg found Bolt's writings on that subject to contain 'errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language'.

Not much of a recommendation, one might think - particularly since the ABC is ushering Bolt back into its fold just as the Bolt Report (the show for which Bolt abandoned his regular segment on ABC's own Insiders) collapses for want of viewers.

To put Bolt's new gig in perspective, consider Liberal Senator Eric Abetz's press release on 21 December last year about the appointment of the ABC's new managing director. Full story [here]

The voice of regional Australia needs to be heard

The Drum - Chris Earl - January 21, 2016

Any debate about media reform and the ABC must acknowledge the fact that Australians who live beyond the capital cities deserve to have their stories told just as much as those living on the eastern seaboard, writes Chris Earl.

A showdown is on the horizon in the latest battle to sustain the identity, character and voice of regional and rural communities across Australia. Full story [here]

ABC should provide local television news: Warren Truss

Brisbane Times.com - Matthew Knott - January 20, 2016

Nationals leader Warren Truss has backed sweeping changes to the charter and board structure of the ABC, while calling for the public broadcaster to be forced to air television news services in regional areas as well as radio broadcasts.

Mr Truss, currently serving as acting prime minister, also said he would push for local content requirements for commercial television networks to be included as part of a forthcoming deregulation of the media sector. Full story [here]

'Media Interests' snapshot

From the ACMA Website - Jan 16, 2016

The Media Interests snapshot below provides an overview of the main interests in major commercial television and radio networks and associated newspapers. 

From this snapshot, you can click through to maps showing the location and details of the relevant media operations. Click [here]

Badge Up For Our ABC and/or put a Bumper Sticker on your car


Get yourself a button badge, wear it and go out and talk about what's happening to your ABC - click [here]

ABC news director Gaven Morris says 'bias' is part of the job

SMH - Karl Quinn - January 8, 2016

Gaven Morris, the ABC's recently appointed director of news, has some sage words for anyone expecting the broadcaster to drop all that lefty "bias" of which it has been accused now he's overseeing things.

"I think the point where politicians or corporations or the powerful stop calling the ABC biased is the point where we're not probably doing our job," he says. "They call it bias but I call it independence. It's the job we were put here to do." Full story [here]

What new boss Michelle Guthrie will need to do to refocus the ABC

SMH - Parnell Palme McGuinness - January 7, 2016

New ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has been criticised for having no plan for the organisation, but the public broadcaster seems to have no clear sense of its purpose.

New ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is entering upon one of the nation's most important and influential jobs as an unknown quantity. So far, she has offered a few motherhood statements about the organisation that she will lead and the innovative technologies on which she plans to focus. Full story [here]

The ABC is like a victim trapped in an abusive relationship - with the government

The Guardian - Josh Bornstein - December 28, 2015

A relentless stream of attacks on the ABC by crusaders of the hard right has recalibrated the notion of balance and redefined the organisation.

2015 ended pretty much like every other year. On 21 December, the Liberal senator Eric Abetz heralded the appointment of Michelle Guthrie, the new ABC managing director, with an injunction to "stop the lefty love-in that has taken hold of the organisation" and restore "editorial balance". Full story [here]

Gaven Morris interview: 'Every member of the public has a stake in the ABC'

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 23, 2015

When ABC News 24 launched on 22 July 2010 the fledgling rolling news channel already had plenty of enemies. They weren't just rival media angry that Sky News Australia, partly owned by Rupert Murdoch, had a challenger. Internally, a lot of old-school journalists thought a 24-hour news channel was a waste of Aunty's precious resources.

The man at the centre of this political and cultural storm was Gaven Morris, head of continuous news, whose 10 years working at CNN and al-Jazeera had given him experience enough to be chosen by the managing director, Mark Scott, to set up the ABC's news channel. Full story [here]

Ranald Macdonald. Meet Mark Scott's heir apparent, a businesswoman with close ties to the Murdochs

John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations Blog - December 21, 2015

The announcement of Michelle Guthrie as the new ABC supremo by ABC Board Chairman Jim Spigelman is shrewd and just maybe a winner.

Of course, one cannot judge the performance of a driver until she is actually behind the wheel and showing her stuff.

An “A” for innovation, though, for the Board on its decision - and (perhaps) it is an appointment which will not be slammed by the News Empire (after all, M’s Guthrie worked for the Murdochs for some 13 years). Full article [here]

New ABC head Michelle Guthrie commits to editorial independence but open to advertising

SMH - Heath Aston - December 22, 2015

Incoming ABC boss, Michelle Guthrie, has pledged to protect the tradition of editorial independence at the national broadcaster but the former Google executive has also left the door open to non-traditional developments like advertising and digital paywalls.

Ms Guthrie, who will be paid $900,000 a year to steer the ABC as its first female managing director, received a traditional welcome by the conservative flank of the Liberal Party, with dumped minister Eric Abetz urging the new boss to "stop the lefty love-in". Full story [here]

'Dreadful and appalling': Government senator slams idea of ABC paywall

Brisbane Times - Latika Bourke - December 22, 2015

Prominent Nationals senator Fiona Nash has hit out at the idea of the ABC charging readers for news articles online, describing any such move as "dreadful and appalling".

"It's a dreadful idea, Australians have already paid for the ABC once why should they pay for it again?" Full story [here]

Eric Abetz says new ABC MD will inherit a 'left wing' city-centric public broadcaster

ABC NewsRadio, December 21, 2015

Liberal Senator and former Cabinet Minister Eric Abetz is a long standing critic of the ABC. He says the new Managing Director will inherit an 'unbalanced and largely centralised' public broadcaster which has become a 'protection racket' for 'group think' and 'left wing ideology'.

Senator Abetz joins Hamish Macdonald on Summer Breakfast. Listen [here]

Friends of the ABC 'excited' to welcome Michelle Guthrie as ABC's new Managing Director

ABC NewsRadio, December 21, 2015

Margaret Reynolds is the national spokesperson for the Friends of the ABC and she speaks to ABC NewsRadio's Glen Bartholomew. Listen to the interview [here]

Is Michelle Guthrie going to sell ads on your ABC?

Crikey - Myriam Robin - December 21, 2015

Given her commercial experience, is Michelle Guthrie likely to partially commercialise the ABC? An interview this morning suggested she might be open to it. Full story [here]

ABC Board appoints new Managing Director

21 December 2015

International broadcasting and digital media executive Michelle Guthrie will succeed Mark Scott as the Managing Director of the ABC in May 2016.

The Chairman of the ABC, James Spigelman, today announced Ms Guthrie’s appointment, saying she is ideally credentialed to lead the national broadcaster in the digital era. Full Media Release [here] News story [here]

Audiences could pay under new ABC boss Michelle Guthrie

SMH - Tom Allard - December 18, 2015

The impending appointment of Michelle Guthrie as the new managing director of the ABC signals the national broadcaster will double down on its digital strategy - and begin charging its audience to access online services.

Guthrie has spent most of her media career - 13 years -working for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, but it's her current job as a Singapore-based executive with Google that provides the best insight into why she is likely to become the first woman to head the ABC. Full story [here]

The tumultuous News Corp past of new ABC boss Michelle Guthrie

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 17, 2015

Incoming ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie oversaw one of Rupert Murdoch's biggest media failures, an attempt to bypass Chinese media ownership restrictions through a backdoor TV venture.

The audacious bid, undertaken when Ms Guthrie was chief executive of Mr Murdoch's Star TV network, infuriated the Chinese government and led to the re-imposition of strict media controls. Ms Guthrie left Star soon after the deal soured, saying she had "decided it is time for me to take a break". Full story [here]

Statement by ABC Chairman, James Spigelman (Q&A Review)

17th December 2015

The ABC Board welcomes the 6th Editorial Review, commissioned as part of its legislative duty to ensure the accuracy and impartiality of ABC news and current affairs content.

This review focussed on the ABC news and current affairs program, Q&A and was undertaken by Shaun Brown and Ray Martin, both respected and highly-experienced editorial leaders and journalists. The Review has provided thorough analysis of the program and its performance over the first half of 2015.

The Review recognises the value of Q&A and finds no breaches of the ABC's standards of impartiality. It makes a number of recommendations designed to enhance Q&A's role as a home for important, national conversations. Full statement [here]

ABC's Q&A program should give women proper representation, says report

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 17, 2015

Women were significantly outnumbered by men, asked fewer questions and were given less time to speak, according to the final report on the ABC's Q&A program published on Thursday.

The report has recommended that the Q&A host, Tony Jones, should ensure women are equally involved and that the ABC amend its editorial policies to "include a specific requirement that women are properly represented in discussions" across all its factual programs. Full story [here]

Q&A host Tony Jones should be careful not to 'overreach' in comments: review

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 17, 2015

Q&A host Tony Jones should be careful not to "overreach" his moderator role by making opinionated interjections in debates among the program's panellists, a far-reaching review of the program has found.

In their editorial review, commissioned by the ABC board, television veteran Ray Martin and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown find Jones' interjections are usually "appropriate and effective". But they outline examples of questionable judgment they say feed into criticism of the program and Jones. Full story [here]

Google executive Michelle Guthrie to be named as ABC managing director

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 164, 2015

Michelle Guthrie, a Google executive who spent 13 years working for Rupert Murdoch's broadcasting empire, has been chosen by the ABC board to succeed Mark Scott as managing director.

Guardian Australia has confirmed Guthrie's appointment, first reported by the Australian Financial Review, but her position still has to be ratified by the government before being officially announced ahead of Christmas. Full story [here]

Michelle Guthrie: ABC's preferred new boss 'not afraid of failure'

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 15, 2015

At a conference last year, Google executive Michelle Guthrie extolled the virtue of eating your own dog food.

Also known as "dogfooding", it's a tech industry term for asking employees to use their company's products, especially when they are in the early stage of development. Full story [here]

Google executive Michelle Guthrie to replace Mark Scott as ABC managing director

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 15, 2015

The ABC board will appoint its first female managing director in the broadcaster's history, with Google executive Michelle Guthrie to succeed Mark Scott in 2016.

Based in Singapore, Ms Guthrie manages the search engine giant's relationships with marketing and advertising agencies across Asia. Full story [here]

Bio of Michelle Guthrie [here]

Q&A should be simulcast live on ABC News 24 for national audience - report

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 14, 2015

The ABC should screen Q&A live on ABC News 24 so audiences around the country can watch it at the same time and participate on Twitter, an independent review of the high-profile panel show has recommended.

According to an early draft of the report leaked to Guardian Australia, a key recommendation is that Q&A audiences outside New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT should be able to take part in the discussion of the show that takes place on Twitter. Full story [here]

Kim Williams falls from favour as next ABC managing director

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 14, 2015

Former News Corp Australia boss Kim Williams is expected to be overlooked as the replacement for departing ABC managing director Mark Scott after dividing the broadcaster's board.

Fairfax Media also understands that SBS managing director Michael Ebeid is not favoured to replace Mr Scott when his second five-year term expires in July. Full story [here]

Q&A does not have 'leftwing anti-Coalition bias', leaked report finds

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 10, 2015

The ABC's Q&A program does not have a "left wing anti-Coalition bias" and is equally a challenge to both sides of politics, according to a draft report of the long-awaited review of Q&A obtained by Guardian Australia.

The key criticism by former prime minister Tony Abbott that the popular panel program hosted by Tony Jones is a "lefty lynch mob" was effectively dismissed by the report's authors broadcaster Ray Martin and former managing director of SBS Shaun Brown. Full story [here]

ABC Friends' National Newsletter

ABC Friends produce a newsletter three time each year - you can read the latest edition here - Update December 2015 edition PDF 24pps 3.7MB

Nationals senator calls for changes to ABC board, charter

SMH - Matthew Knott - December 2, 2015

The ABC board would have to include two members living outside the major cities and the broadcaster's charter would be amended to include a commitment to regional Australia, under sweeping changes being pushed by National Party MPs. The ABC would also be required to broadcast at least five radio bulletins a day consisting mostly of local news. Full story [here]

Eric Abetz attacks ABC reporter Sophie McNeill over Middle East reporting

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - December 1, 2015

ABC correspondent Sophie McNeill was strongly defended by managing director Mark Scott on Monday night after coming under attack at a parliamentary committee for her reporting from the Middle East. Liberal senator Eric Abetz asked Scott why McNeill was appointed to the Middle East post when she had stated that she admired journalists John Pilger and Robert Fisk, who held strong anti-Israeli views and pro-Palestinian views. Full story [here]

ABC Friends' Broadcasting Excellence Awards

NSW/ACT Friends each year recognizes the contribution of an outstanding broadcaster, and the award is presented at our end-of-year celebration at ABC headquarters in Ultimo. Awardees in 2015 were popular Classic FM presenter Marian Arnold, who retired last month after 34 years with the ABC’s classical music network, and veteran 702 Sydney presenter and writer Richard Glover. Marian received her award in Sydney on November 27, 2015. Richard’s will be presented early in 2016. Read Marian's entertaining and interesting acceptance address [here]

Support the rebuilding of your ABC (and protect SBS)

'Don't let our public broadcasters be wrecked'

Malcolm Turnbull as our new Prime Minister has promised a "more innovative, open and outward-looking Australia". Such a country, though, needs a fully independent and properly resourced national broadcaster that can inform, analyse, entertain, and reflect the nation to itself and to the world.

Damage to the ABC during the Abbott Government years (and, of course, while Malcolm Turnbull was Communications Minister) has been extensive. Despite pre-election promises, cuts to the ABC have resulted in some 500 talented employees being lost to us, plus hundreds of millions of dollars taken from operational and programming budgets, yet the ABC must be able to compete in the rapidly changing media world. Read our latest campaign advert [here]

ABC Radio National dumps Richard Aedy's Media Report

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - November 19, 2015

There are only a few dedicated programs for discussion of the media in Australia, the most high profile being ABC TV's Media Watch, hosted by Paul Barry. But there is also ABC radio's Media Report, hosted by one of Radio National's more popular broadcasters, Richard Aedy. Weekly Beast can reveal the Media Report was axed at a Radio National management meeting this week. It was killed once before, in 2009, before being reinstated in 2011. Full story [here]

No dramas? What budget cuts signal for homegrown children's shows on ABC3

The Conversation - Anna Potter - November 16, 2015

We know the ABC is facing challenging times, given the Abbott government’s decision last year to cut the station’s budget by A$254 million over five years. What we don’t know is how hard those cuts are falling on the locally-produced children’s TV shown on ABC3. The signals, though, are far from encouraging.

Let’s remind ourselves how the channel started. As Australia’s first free-to-air dedicated children’s channel, ABC3 was launched in 2009 after a sustained campaign by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and the ABC’s then head of television Kim Dalton. Full story [here]

Mark Scott's successor in line for pay rise as ABC managing director race heats up

SMH - Matthew Knott - November 13, 2015

Mark Scott's successor as ABC managing director could receive a significant pay rise, taking home a salary of around $1 million a year.

The race for Mr Scott's replacement is heating up, with the ABC board preparing to begin interviews with short-listed candidates in the next fortnight.

Former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams and SBS managing director Michael Ebeid are understood to be among those who will be invited to interview for the position. Full story [here]

Director ABC Editorial Policies Alan Sunderland responds to The Australian

If only the leader writers at The Australian ("Why so many ABC voices echo similar perspectives") could step away from their computers, remove their ideological blinkers and actually listen and watch the ABC more closely.

They might be surprised at what they find.

They might, for example, have tuned in to our exclusive and ground breaking reporting of union corruption on 7.30 and elsewhere.

They might have noticed our detailed and regularly updated Fact Check data which sets out all the facts and clearly declares Tony Abbott's vow to stop the boats as a "promise delivered". Full story [here]

Radio ratings: SmoothFM hands lead back to KIIS, ABC surprises everyone

SMH - Nick Galvin - November, 2015

SmoothFM's run as king of the Sydney FM stations has come to an abrupt end, while on the AM band 702 ABC Sydney has turned in a stellar performance in the latest radio ratings. SmoothFM clung to top spot for two ratings periods but has once again ceded the crown to KIIS1065, home to Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson.

And while popping champagne corks are unlikely over at 702 ABC Sydney, staff at the public broadcaster would be justified in adding an extra spoonful of sugar to their morning tea today, with an overall rating of 11, up 1.6 points. Full story [here]

ABC spent nearly $50m on redundancy payouts after Coalition budget cuts hit

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - November 3, 2015

The broadcaster's 2014-15 annual report shows the cost of more than 300 job losses and highlights the growing disruptive impact of digital technology.

The ABC spent close to $50m on redundancy payments to staff last financial year as a result of the Coalition's $254m budget cut. The annual report for 2014-15 reveals the broadcaster paid out $47.1m in redundancy and separation payments up to June this year compared with just $3.8m in 2013-2014. Full story [here]

ABC's Annual Report 2014-15 [here]

It's our ABC, but it's his government: what will Turnbull do?

SMH - Amanda Dunn - October 31, 2015

The federal government is under renewed pressure to redress hefty funding cuts to the ABC in a national media campaign launched on Saturday.

Buoyed by a renewed optimism since the ascension of former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull to the prime ministership, ABC Friends has placed advertisements in Fairfax newspapers calling for the national broadcaster's funding to be restored. See the advert [here]

"Damage to the ABC during the Abbott government years (and, of course, while Malcolm Turnbull was communications minister) has been extensive," the advertisement reads. "Despite pre-election promises, cuts to the ABC have resulted in some 500 talented employees being lost to us, plus hundreds of millions of dollars taken from operational and programming budgets, yet the ABC must be able to compete in the rapidly changing media world." Full story [here]

Beyond Antique Roadshow:

Help us to counter Rupert Murdoch’s plan to destroy public broadcasting in Australia.

Address by Quentin Dempster to the Ryde-Macquarie Teachers’ Association Annual Dinner - 30 October 2015.

I regret to report there are forces at work in this country out to destroy public broadcasting... the ABC and SBS.

But the fight to protect and enhance a more dynamic public broadcasting sector has just begun.

Tomorrow in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, you will see a half page ad paid for by public broadcasting supporters calling on all Australians to join the Friends of the ABC or Save Our SBS - grass roots audience-focused organisations - to stake a claim on this country’s future as an informed, engaged and cohesive polity. A more professional national campaign organisation has been revitalised with branches in all states. I ask all in this room - and particularly the teachers and parents of Australia beyond this room - to help build our fighting fund and to join the membership drive. Read the full address [here] 4pps - 110Kb

Don't let local radio wither away, tell the Sydnocentric ABC bureaucrats you're mad as hell

Illawarra Mercury - Letters - 31 October, 2015

Don't let local radio wither away, tell the Sydnocentric ABC bureaucrats you're mad as hell and you won't take it any more. Read the full letter [here]

The Saturday Paper

A change in Prime Ministership does not mean a change of policy. Now more than ever, we need your help to mount a highly visible campaign to draw national attention to the plight of our public broadcaster, using every avenue available to us.

Our good friends at The Saturday Paper have joined with ABC Friends to support the campaign. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, using the promo code giveABC, 20% of your subscription fee will be donated to the ABC Friends National Fighting Fund.

Subscribe here or phone 1800 077 514 using the promo code giveABC

ABC Regional director Fiona Reynolds hoses down controversy over programming changes

AM - Rachael Brown - October 30, 2015

New ABC Regional director Fiona Reynolds has responded to rumours the axe is set to fall on the broadcaster's flagship "Mornings" regional radio programs.

Ms Reynolds said the programs were just undergoing a name change and there would be no job losses, no reduction in local broadcast hours and no budget cuts.

"We're still going to have the same presenters, we're going to have two programs, two presenters as we do now," she said. Full story [here]

Listen to the interview with Fiona Reynolds [here]

'Piss poor management': ABC blasted for axing regional radio programs

SMH - Matthew Knott - October 29, 2015

The ABC has infuriated Coalition MPs by axing its regional flagship 'Mornings' programs from next year's radio schedule.

The ABC will instead extend the 'Breakfast' programs and introduce a new feature-based program, Local Life, to run from 10am to 11am. More local news bulletins will also be produced externally. Full story [here]

Mark Scott pushes for post-Abbott ABC funding boost

SMH - Matthew Knott - October 9, 2015

The ABC will try to seize on Tony Abbott's demise as prime minister to push for fresh funding from the Turnbull government to pay for its news and current affairs services.

ABC managing director Mark Scott said on Friday that he would argue investing in the public broadcaster is a "sure bet" for the government given the "endless existential shocks" being experienced by commercial media outlets. Full story [here]

Sarah Ferguson: will Malcolm Turnbull curb or befriend the ABC?

The Conversation - Michelle Grattan - October 7, 2015

Former prime ministers Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have in common highly negative views about the media, according to ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson.

In her lecture, Ferguson raised questions about what might happen to the ABC, given what was occurring with the BBC. "The world's first public broadcaster is under threat. The BBC is facing perhaps the biggest challenge in its history and it comes from the government led by media-friendly, moderate, liberal-minded Tory MP David Cameron. A man, it should be said, in the same mould as our new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, philosophically aligned as they are on climate change, gay marriage and innovative capitalism." Full story [here]

A CALL TO ARMS - Why this Country needs you to act

Ranald Macdonald’s address to the ABC Friends NSW & ACT Annual General Meeting - Sydney - 26 Sep 2015

The latest figures show over 400 ABC staff already “removed” from the ABC, as we edge towards its 500 target.

The recent change in Prime Minister-ship has NOT changed expectations at the ABC or at SBS. The situation continues to be dire. I will try and explain why. Read the full address [here] PDF 4pps 125KB

ABC hopes for funding boost as Malcolm Turnbull ends 'culture wars'

SMH - Matthew Knott - September 23, 2015

The ABC is hopeful the installation of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister will allow it to claw back some of the $250 million slashed from the broadcaster last year as tension between the government and broadcaster cools off.

The shift from Tony Abbott to Mr Turnbull represents a change at the top of the government from one of the Coalition's biggest critics of the ABC to one of its biggest supporters.

"There will be no more culture wars," a Liberal source said, flagging an end to the open hostilities between the government and the ABC during recent times. Full story [here]

New minister Mitch Fifield won't privatise ABC

SMH - Bhakthi Puvanenthiran - September 22, 2015

Freshly sworn in Arts Minister and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has denied any suggestion he would move to privatise the ABC while also confirming he will not reinstate funding to the Australia Council.

In his first media appearance since being appointed, Senator Fifield compared the ABC to a being in a long term relationship and promised to "not be a stranger" there. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott’s election eve pledge

SBS News - Sep 6, 2013

On the eve of the last federal election, Tony Abbott categorically ruled out cuts to the ABC. He replied "no cuts to the ABC and SBS" when asked by Anton Enus for SBS World News on 6.9.2013 if the ABC and SBS would be in the firing line. View the video [here]

Heartland: Why the bush needs its ABC

The Australia Institute - Molly Johnson - September, 2015

Regional media is viewed as an essential democratic institution by regional Australians, with 95 per cent accessing some type of local content each week. Regional media is an important source of news, weather, and emergency information. It also contributes to a sense of community and identity within a region.

However, regional media is in decline in Australia. A third of regional areas do not meet the minimum requirements of media diversity under the Broadcasting Services Act. Furthermore, many groups, such as The Friends of the ABC and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, argue that the ABC is failing to fulfil its governing Charter to provide adequate services to regional Australia.

Commercial media has no intention of expanding operations in regional Australia. The commercial TV industry group, Free TV Australia, declared that the ABC is best suited to provide additional regional news broadcasts. Expanding the ABC's regional services will require additional funding. The ABC budget, however, has been cut by the current government. If a change of approach at the political level is to be achieved, understanding public support for such an expansion is important. Read the full report [here] 22pps - 500KB PDF

Back Story

Back Story is a site for everyone involved in and interested in ABC news and current affairs. It's a place where we can talk about the stories behind our stories - showcasing the best work we do, discussing the problems and challenges, and exploring hints, tips, and ideas.

It's also a forum for discussion about our journalism, a place to debate and canvas editorial issues and audience trends, and a way of sharing snapshots of the work being done by ABC News colleagues around the nation and the world. Go to Back Story [here]

ABC: more cuts to funding would be 'courageous politics', study finds

The Guardian - Melissa Davey - September 9, 2015

Forcing further funding cuts upon the ABC would be "courageous politics" according to an Australia Institute report which found most taxpayers support boosting the national broadcaster's budget for regional news. The ABC was failing to fulfil its charter obligation to provide programs that contributed to a sense of national identity because its coverage of regional Australia was dropping, the report, titled Heartland: why the bush needs the ABC, found. Full stoty [here]

You’ll miss it when it’s gone: why public broadcasting is worth saving

The Conversation - Julianne Schultz - August 24, 2015

In an age of global media abundance, the notion that public broadcasting is a mechanism to address “market failure” is beguiling. It is also fundamentally wrong.

Public broadcasters have a unique national responsibility to provide a public good to citizens, rather than the more narrowly defined and easily measured mission of commercial broadcasters, to engage consumers and maximise the return to shareholders.

Public broadcasters provide a return that is more complex to measure, but with the increasing sophistication of “impact measurement”, not impossible. The exact nature of the outputs and outcomes varies from one country to another, but includes providing platforms for news, entertainment and education that foster a shared sense of national coherence. Full story [here]

Not again Gerard, not again...

An open letter to Gerard Henderson from Tim Bowden - 10 Aug 2015

Dear Gerard,
I can’t believe you are STILL banging that tired old drum about ABC left wing bias in your usual tiresome nitpicking way. It clearly matters little to you that over 80 per cent of ABC listeners (according to many opinion polls over the years) appreciate and like what the ABC is doing. But you and that vitriolic stable of ABC-bashers in The Australian go on and on. Your piece in the news section of the Oz on August 8 for God’s sake, not even in The Inquirer, was its usual mish mash of bile, paranoia, and deeply entrenched hatreds. Read the letter [here]

ABC review raises concerns about coverage of higher education debate

SMH - Matthew Knott - August 10, 2015

The ABC has vowed to take a more "thoughtful" approach to policy coverage following the release of an audit criticising some of its journalists for inappropriate editorialising in their reporting on the Abbott government's plan to deregulate university fees.

The audit, commissioned by the ABC, found most of the broadcaster's higher education coverage was consistent with its editorial standards, but identified flaws in its coverage. Many government MPs have accused the broadcaster of left-wing bias and Prime Minister Tony Abbott instigated a boycott of panel program Q&A following an appearance by former terror suspect Zaky Mallah. Read full story [here]

How to save our ABC from Abbott and Murdoch

The Age - Ranald Macdonald - August 2, 2015

A recent tweet to Q&A said: "I live in fear of no ABC". Many Australians share this concern - or at the very least a steady decline in the national broadcaster's health.

The government-enforced cuts in funding and continual pressure on the ABC from the right - promoted enthusiastically by the Murdoch media conglomerate and the broadcaster's commercial rivals - have ensured that the ABC cannot now carry out its charter responsibilities and provide a variety of quality programming for all of Australia. Full story [here] Macdonald's media release [here]

ABC shop closures make business sense: but where will its digital strategy lead?

The Conversation - Jonathon Hutchinson - July 28, 2015

While the ABC’s announcement of a “phased exit” from its portfolio of 50 ABC Shop properties is an unfortunate outcome for the 300 or so employees, it’s an unsurprising strategic business move.

While some were blaming the loss of $254 million government funding over the next three years - including more vocal ABC supporters complaining on Twitter about the “killing” of their ABC - the move should be seen as an extension of the ABC’s digital strategy that aligns with the shift in media consumer habits. Full story [here]

Ten things we will miss about the ABC Shops

SMH - Andrew P Street - July 24, 2015

The news that (your) ABC have decided to close their retail arm has met with a mix of sorrow, nostalgia and mild surprise that they've lasted this long. But, like the ABC itself, there are things that the various ABC shops and centres did that other retail did not - and with that in mind, here are ten things we'll miss about ABC Shops [here]

ABC, BBC and the future of public service media

The Conversation - Brian McNair - July 20, 2015

If one didn't know better, one might think that right-of-centre governments in both Australia and the United Kingdom are working in lockstep to undermine the long-established and hugely popular public service media institutions over which they have been given (temporary) custodianship.

The Conservatives in Westminster, and the Coalition in Canberra, have both been active in questioning the continuing viability and sustainability of core public service media principles. These are principles which are generally acknowledged to have done by their respective audiences quite well for nearly a century, and to have made both countries' public service media systems the envy of the world, but are now alleged to be no longer fit for purpose. Full story [here]

Q&A: Malcolm Turnbull not consulted before decision made to boycott ABC program

ABC News - Jane Norman - July 14, 2015

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to back the Prime Minister's decision to ban frontbenchers from appearing on the ABC's Q&A program and revealed he was not consulted before the decision was made.

Mr Abbott directed ministers and parliamentary secretaries to boycott the show following its controversial decision to allow a convicted criminal with terrorist links into the live studio audience last month. Full story [here]

Abbott to ABC: put Q&A under news division and ministers will return

The Conversation - Michelle Grattan - July 10, 2015

Tony Abbott on Friday told the ABC that ministers will appear again on Q&A if and when the program is brought under its news and current affairs umbrella.

This would mean there would be stricter controls on the program in terms of balance.

The Abbott condition stops Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull being a panellist, as originally scheduled, on Monday. But he has agreed to do the 7.30 program instead that evening. Full story [here]

Q&A boycott: Tony Abbott prepares to back down on frontbench ban - with a catch

SMH - Matthew Knott - July 10, 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been accused of unprecedented political interference in the ABC by demanding the broadcaster move panel program Q&A into its news division before he lifts a boycott of the program.

In a letter sent to ABC chairman Jim Spigelman on Friday, Mr Abbott said he would be happy to lift a ban on his frontbenchers appearing on Q&A if the ABC transferred the program from its television department to news and current affairs. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott's ABC ultimatum will only prolong controversy

SMH - Michael Gordon - July 10, 2015

In delivering the ABC an ultimatum it could never accept, Tony Abbott has again shown poor judgment on an issue that should have been done and dusted weeks ago.

He has also given more publicity to the program he insists has received much too much (courtesy of his own interventions) already.

And, once again, he has placed Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the broadcaster in an invidious position. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott and Q&A: Before the boycott Abbott loved appearing on the ABC show

SMH - Matthew Knott - July 7, 2015

Nowadays, Tony Abbott calls the ABC's Q&A a "lefty lynch mob" and has instructed his cabinet ministers to boycott the program.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister said he held Q&A in such contempt for inviting a former terror suspect on air that he doesn't want to "advertise" the program by commenting on it.

It wasn't always this way. Full story [here]

Q&A affair has become theatre of the absurd

The Conversation - Michelle Grattan - July 7, 2015

Has Q&A put some spell of madness over the government and their media mates?

A straightforward case of the public broadcaster making a mistake (in my view), acknowledging it and getting a blast from critics has turned into a Coalition and News Corp feeding frenzy that is nothing short of absurd. Full story [here]

Boycotting Q&A, boycotting democracy

The Conversation - Brian McNair - July 6, 2015

Politicians who boycott media organisations with whom they disagree politically rarely come out looking good. UK Labour leader Neil Kinnock tried it with News Corp in Britain 25 years ago, and never won an election. It took Tony Blair’s pragmatism and a long weekend with Rupert Murdoch on Hayman Island to reboot the relationship with News. Three years later New Labour achieved an historic landslide.

Tony Abbott and his ministers’ mandated boycott of Q&A, which they see as the lefty-liberal core of the ABC’s un-Australianism, has different motivations. But the refusal to engage with the public on live TV is not just counter-productive for the Coalition, it is profoundly undemocratic. Full story [here]

Barnaby Joyce banned from Q&A - what will Malcolm Turnbull do now?

The Guardian - July 6, 2015

Q&A bingo has a brand new star. What will Malcolm do?

The agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, has had to pull out of the ABC's Q&A program in pretty embarrassing fashion. Dad's cracked it, sorry mate.

Joyce has made it clear he is not appearing because Tony Abbott has grounded him. So much for the adults being back in charge. Well, I suppose the adults are back in charge - some adults being more equal than others. Full story [here]

Barnaby Joyce pulls out of Q&A as Tony Abbott insists frontbenchers boycott show

The Guardian - July 6, 2015

Barnaby Joyce has pulled out of Monday night’s Q&A program after Tony Abbott ruled that frontbenchers should not go on the ABC show.

The agriculture minister withdrew late on Sunday night, despite having told the ABC’s Insiders program earlier in the day he would be appearing. Vrasidas Karalis, a professor of modern Greek at the University of Sydney, has agreed to join the panel.

A spokesman for Joyce said the prime minister had decided no frontbencher would be allowed to take part, Fairfax Media reported. Full story [here]

Voters in blue-ribbon Liberal seats strongly support ABC, poll finds

SMH - Matthew Knott - July 6, 2015

Voters living in electorates held by some of the Abbott government's most prominent ministers support the ABC so strongly they would vote to change the constitution to protect it from political interference, new polling shows.

The polling shows a majority of voters in the seats held by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Education Minister Christopher Pyne would support including the functions of the ABC in the constitution to ensure its independence from government. Full story [here]

Q&A fallout: Tony Abbott orders frontbench ministers to boycott ABC show

SMH - Matthew Knott - July 6, 2015

Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has withdrawn from a scheduled appearance on the ABC's Q&A, citing a decree from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that his frontbenchers are to boycott the program.

Only hours before withdrawing, Mr Joyce told the ABC's Insiders he would appear on Q&A on Monday and praised the broadcaser for "dealing properly now" with the fallout from former terror suspect Zaky Mallah's appearance a fortnight ago. Full story [here]

ABC give Q&A producer 'formal warning' and name Ray Martin to lead review

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - July 1, 2015

The ABC board has moved against Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy, issuing him a formal warning under the misconduct provisions of the ABC's industrial agreement for having Zaky Mallah on the live program.

The serious penalty for the Walkley award-winning journalist who has produced the program since 2008 was announced after an ABC board meeting on Wednesday.

"Given [Mallah's] criminal background and past public statements, the live broadcast meant that the ABC was not in a position to manage unpredictable or inappropriate actions or responses," the board said in a statement. Full story [here]

Q&A producer gets formal warning over Mallah appearance

The Conversation - Michelle Grattan - July 1, 2015

Executive producer of Q&A Peter McEvoy has been given a formal warning in the wake of the furore over Zaky Mallah’s appearance.

The ABC board, which met on Wednesday, said McEvoy, who has produced the program since its start in 2008, “acknowledges the failure of editorial process and judgement around this episode”.

The warning, issued under the provisions of the ABC industrial agreement, came from management and was announced by the board.

Meanwhile, former managing director of SBS Shaun Brown and long-time television personality Ray Martin have been appointed by the ABC to conduct its review into Q&A. Full story [here]

ABC staff urged to 'stand strong' in internal email following Q&A 'intimidation'

SMH - Ebony Bowden - June 30, 2015

ABC staff have received an impassioned email telling them to stand strong in the face of serious criticism from the Australian government, public and media.

The email sent by ABC staff-elected director Matt Peacock on Monday afternoon follows comments from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that "heads should roll" at the ABC after last week's controversial Q&A episode. Full story [here]

Prejudgment rife over Zaky Mallah affair

The Age - Jonathan Holmes - June 29, 2015

There are currently three separate inquiries going on into the ABC's Q&A program: a management and a government inquiry into the Zaky Mallah affair, and an assessment of the program as a whole by an outsider, as part of a series commissioned by the ABC chairman, Jim Spigelman.

I wonder why they're all bothering: everyone, it seems, already knows the answers. Full story [here]

Furore over ABC's Q&A mishandled

The Saturday Paper - June 27, 2015

he ABC made a dire error of judgement this week. Not in its much-criticised broadcast of Q&A, but in its refusal to defend the program against a campaign aimed at undermining the network's leadership.

The broadcaster was right to put to air former "terrorist sympathiser" Zaky Mallah on Monday night. Though inelegant in his expression, he made a valid contribution to the debate on terrorism legislation and citizenship revocation. Full story [here]

Listen up: democracy means even jerks get a say

The Age - Annabel Crabb - June 27, 2015

Prime Minister Tony Abbott can't seem to decide whether he favours free speech or not.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister was in love with the national broadcaster: "I want to say publicly, 'Thank-you to the ABC!' I don't normally say thank-you to the ABC, but I have to say Australia is indebted to you on this instance." Full story [here]

Opinion: Malcolm Turnbull is writing himself into history as the first minister to interfere in the editorial management of the ABC

The Courier-Mail - Dennis Atkins - June 27, 2015

This week we have seen something that has taken the long-practised sport of bashing the ABC into uncharted waters.

For the first time ever, a government is holding its own in-house inquiry into editorial decisions at the public broadcaster. This will have unknown consequences, beyond a call (unconsciously ironic) from Tony Abbott for "heads to roll". Full story [here]

Mark Scott, the man who stands between the ABC and its critics

SMH - Anne Davies - June 26, 2015

There was a touch of a valedictory about the introduction from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's chief executive Kate Carnell as she introduced ABC managing director Mark Scott to the podium on Thursday night.

Scott, she said, had changed the ABC into a truly digital broadcaster. He'd introduced News 24 and the children's channel, he'd made the organisation more efficient and forward-looking. He'd also met the challenge of continuing to be independent of government, she said.

"One of the inevitable scenarios of managing media is the government loves you Tuesday and hates you Thursday," she said. Full story [here]

ABC Friends - Media Release - Praise for Mark Scott

June 26, 2014

The powerful defence of the ABC given last night by its Managing Director, Mark Scott, deserves high praise say the Friends of the ABC.
“Mark Scott has told the ABC’s detractors what we already knew, which is that the ABC is a top-notch media outlet of world quality, and it is utterly worth defending” said the Friends’ Acting National Spokesperson, Margaret Reynolds. Full Media release [here]

In defence of the ABC

The Drum - Mark Scott - June 26, 2014

The ABC is on the side of Australia. And the part we play is a vital one, central to our culture and our democracy - that of being an independent public broadcaster, says managing director Mark Scott in this speech delivered at an event for the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs [here]

Have your say on the role and performance of the ABC in the comments section at the bottom of the page [here]

Q&A: Mark Scott fires back at Tony Abbott, saying ABC is not 'a state broadcaster'

SMH - Matthew Knott - June 26, 2015

ABC managing director Mark Scott has fired back at Tony Abbott after the Prime Minister said "heads should roll" at the ABC by pointing out he runs a "public broadcaster, not a state broadcaster", with a duty to air confronting views.

On Thursday Mr Abbott intensified his criticisms of the ABC for Monday night's controversial episode of Q&A, which featured a former terror suspect, andannounced a government inquiry into the program. Full story [here]

Mark Scott delivers 2015 Corporate Public Affairs Oration

ABC News - June 25, 2015

ABC managing director Mark Scott delivers the 2015 Corporate Public Affairs Oration: Australian Stories - Who Will Tell Them? In this video Mark Scott covers the Q&A issue in detail. View the video [here] Read the speech [here]

Government adds its own review to two others on Q&A

The Conversation - June 25, 2015

The government has ordered its own inquiry and Tony Abbott has declared “heads should roll” as the row over Q&A escalated after the program was rebroadcast.

The inquiry is being done by the Department of Communications and will be completed by Tuesday. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it would examine of “what happened, who knew what, where and when”.

Abbott told reporters that Wednesday’s replaying of the program was “utterly incomprehensible”. Full story [here]

Abbott spins tangled web of free speech and editorial judgement

The Conversation - June 25, 2015

The Abbott government really has got itself into a tangle over freedom-of-speech issues.

It came to office in 2013 on a mission to emasculate Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act - the section dealing with harmful speech - on the grounds that it burdened freedom of expression. Now it is attacking the ABC for allowing a person to broadcast his own particular brand of harmful speech on ABC TV’s Q&A program.

So where does the government stand on harmful speech? Full story [here]

What will YOU miss about OUR ABC?

Author, academic and ABC Friend Sue Lubbers has created a thought provoking check list that will get you thinking about how valuable OUR ABC is to us. Click [here] to downoad the 2 page PDF - share it with friends. 'Who can I write to?' click [here]

ABC boss defends presenters but says redundancies are 'not a happy time'

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - May, 27, 2015

"There is an art to interviewing," Mark Scott tells Senate estimates when asked whether Emma Alberici and Leigh Sales were too hard on politicians.

ABC managing director Mark Scott has defended presenters Emma Alberici and Leigh Sales in Senate estimates saying they were "fine professional journalists" who were not too aggressive when interviewing politicians. Scott spent much of Wednesday before estimates, answering questions ranging from the political hue of the broadcaster's programs and journalists to the impact of the Coalition's recent budget cuts. Full story [here]

Everyone from Coalition thinks ABC's Q&A is biased to the left, says LNP senator James McGrath

SMH - Matthew Knott - May 27, 2015

The ABC's flagship discussion program Q&A consistently leans to the left and needs to include a more balanced selection of panellists, a Coalition senator has told ABC managing director Mark Scott during Senate hearings.

Liberal National Party senator James McGrath said during a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday there was a widespread view within the Coalition that the program is biased against the conservative side of politics.

"If you spoke to any Coalition MP - even those appear on it - they'd admit the program does lean to the left," Senator McGrath said. Full story [here]

Don’t Blame the Media, Malcolm: part 2

The Conversation - Brian McNair - May 18, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull has urged ABC journalists to adopt a “less aggressive and more forensic” style of political interviewing. The fact that he made this request on The Bolt Report, Australia’s home of Fox News-style controversialism, may be viewed by some as ironic, but was he justified? Should ABC journalists be more polite when they interrogate our politicians?

Back in the 1990s leading US journalist James Fallows wrote a book about “hyperadversarialism” in the political interview. Instead of scrutinising the political elite, he suggested, as is the role of the Fourth Estate in a democracy, Fallows accused his peers of a tendency to grandstand; to approach the interview as a gladiatorial contest, in which the journalist is the star of the show. Full story [here]

Female interviewers attacked for just being tough: ABC's Emma Alberici

SMH - Matthew Knott - May 18, 2015

Lateline host Emma Alberici - one of the ABC presenters Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said could adopt a "less aggressive" interviewing style - says female interviewers are regularly attacked for asking tough questions while their male colleagues are not.

In a Sunday appearance on The Bolt Report, hosted by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, Mr Turnbull said budget interviews by Alberici and 7.30 host Leigh Sales were "very aggressive" and recommended journalists take a "more forensic" approach. Full story [here]

'Less aggressive': Malcolm Turnbull's advice for ABC journalists Leigh Sales and Emma Alberici

SMH - Latika Bourke & Michaela Whitbourn - May 18, 2015

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come under fire after he advised two of the ABC's most prominent journalists to adopt a "less aggressive" style of interviewing while defending them against accusations they are biased.

In a rare appearance on Network Ten's The Bolt Report, hosted by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, Mr Turnbull described budget interviews by Lateline's Emma Alberici and 7.30's Leigh Sales as "very aggressive" and recommended a "more forensic" approach.

Veteran journalist George Negus criticised the "silly" comments, saying: "Oh, Malcolm, really? A bit too aggressive? What do they want, a series of Dorothy Dixers instead? Full story [here]

The death of the political interview?

SMH - Comment - Tim Dick, May 16, 2015

Rather than emphasising conflict and disagreement, politicians and journalists should strive to inform and make interviews interesting.

The three finest political broadcast interviewers in the country all are on the ABC: Leigh Sales, Fran Kelly and Mark Colvin.

There are others who aren't - David Speers on Sky News, for instance - but you'd be forgiven for thinking the public broadcaster is fighting almost alone to save the political interview from death by dull questioner and dim subject.

Sales' post-budget interview of the Treasurer is an exemplar: she let the politician speak, but wasn't afraid to jump in to hold him to account. Full story [here]

Local content and the ABC

The Conversation, 1 April 2015

"The following is an edited version of a submission to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee with reference to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Local Content) Bill 2014, by Brian McNair and Ben Goldsmith. The committee has now reported." Full story [here]

Concerns 'cumbersome' appointment process for ABC, SBS boards may face future threat

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 25, 2015

Senior members of the Abbott government are believed to want to abolish the arms-length appointment process for ABC and SBS board members established by the former Labor government.

The process, introduced by Labor in 2010, was designed to de-politicise public broadcaster board appointments and ensure they are made on merit.

Board vacancies would be advertised and an independent nomination panel would present a shortlist of three candidates to the government.

But it has been mired in controversy recently after the government appointed conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal leader Neil Brown to the four-person nomination panel. Full story [here]

Sarah Ferguson had no choice but to push the envelope when interviewing Joe Hockey

SMH - Quentin Dempster, February 18, 2015

The impertinence!

How dare you interrupt the Prime Minister when he/she is talking!

The adversarial TV and radio political interview has been contentious in Australia from the start.

The audience phone-ins that follow scream bias and rudeness. Or, in some cases, condemn the interviewer for being too soft.

Why is it adversarial?

Because your executive producer can only give you eight to 10 minutes of broadcast time and you must drive the "talent" to get to some intellectual or explicatory point on the issues and events under examination. With most politicians schooled in staying "on message", sometimes interviewers have to push the envelope. Otherwise, the audience will nod off as the interview degenerates into "blah-de-blah". Full story [here]

Address to Australian Institute of International Affairs

Quentin Dempster, Tuesday February 3, 2015

Australian insularity and the strident xenophobia it generates is, I reckon, a significant drawback to our development as a responsive and engaged country in the Asia Pacific region.

In this context it was immensely distressing to see the recent vandalising of this country’s international broadcasting services through Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s unilateral decision to terminate DFAT’s contract with the ABC.

While Minister Bishop can be expected to reject any suggestion that she has exercised her discretion to terminate the Australia Network contract at the insistence and persistence of a lobbying campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, she has exposed the shallowness of her thinking through her stated reasons for such termination. Read the full address [here] .PDF 6pps (220KB)

Submissions to The Inquiry into the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Local Content) Bill 2014

On 4 December 2014, the Senate referred the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Local Content) Bill 2014 to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The closing date for submissions is 7 January 2015. The reporting date is 25 March 2015.

Submissions from ABC Friends NSW & ACT, Friends of the ABC Tasmania and the ABC Friends national body are among the 10 submissions. You can download any of the submissions [here]

Submissions to Select Committee into the Abbott Government's Budget Cuts

On 25 June 2014, the Senate resolved to establish the Select Committee into the Abbott Government's Budget Cuts. The committee is to inquire into the effect of cuts or changes in the Commonwealth budget and provide a final report to the Senate on or before 20 June 2016.

Quentin Dempster made a submission (No 52) titled "Vandalising the ABC". You can download any of the submissions [here]

The man who wasn’t there

Inside Story - Sylvia Lawson on the ABC’s triumphant return to the Opera House

Three months ago, on 28 November, the ABC staged a modest kind of public launch in Sydney for a lengthy and wide-ranging online documentary, The Opera House Project, which has been produced to mark the coming fortieth anniversary of the building's official opening on 20 October 1973. As the date approaches, this remarkable film may be accorded some fanfare; it deserves it. It works on several tracks, and each of those splits and branches at your will, offering some twenty-six hours of history and commentary. Here, I can consider no more than four of them. Full story [here]

ABC Needs to 'Watch its Back' Over Advertising on SBS

Media Release - Mal Hewitt - President ABC Friends NSW & ACT - 19 Jan 2015

Mal Hewitt, President of ABC Friends NSW said today that "the push by the Federal Government to increase advertising revenue from SBS has serious ramifications for the ABC".

"If we don't watch what the Federal government and Management of the ABC are doing, it won't be long before advertising is introduced into the ABC via the back door".

"The much discredited and secretive Lewis Efficiency Review, commissioned by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, declared that advertising on the ABC was 'beyond the scope' of the review (see page 19) but then stated very clearly later in the same report that management could use the device of a shared delivery platform with SBS to get around advertising restrictions on the ABC" (page 60):
Read the Media Release [here]

Review: celebrating 40 years of Triple J at Beat The Drum

The Conversation - Liz Giuffre - January, 19, 2015

Today, Triple J celebrates its 40th birthday. Over four decades, the youth broadcaster has built up a proud history of outside broadcasts and regional concerts. As Double J the station staged some of the country’s finest events for 1970s rock fans in Western Sydney, while in the mid-80s the station celebrated its tenth anniversary (and new FM identity as Triple J) with the help of Midnight Oil for the memorable Oils on the Water event staged on Goat Island in Sydney. Full story [here]

Triple J is a rare beast, an exemplar for economic policy

The Conversation - Jason Potts - January, 19, 2015

It’s a common refrain among the “drys” in any government that arts and cultural policy should set its course by the lights of economic policy, usually competition, growth, and innovation policy. Sometimes this is called “neoliberalism”, intended to rally those who don’t like cost-benefit analyses.

Sometimes it is called “creative industries”, which was the UKs New Labour rebranding of the cultural sector so that it might pass these cost-benefit tests. Full story [here]

Bill to 'strengthen' ABC charter to cost jobs - Screen Producers Australia

SMH - Jared Lynch, January 18, 2015

A plan to break up the ABC's Sydney-centric television production would lead to more job losses and slash the amount of Australian stories aired on the public broadcaster, the industry body representing the nation's film and television producers says.

Screen Producers Australia has savaged a bill that independent Senator Nick Xenophon introduced last November, saying it would "harm the ABC" and curb employment in the independent production sector, which injects more than $1.7 billion into the Australian economy each year.

Senator Xenophon has proposed "strengthening" the ABC's charter to ensure it has a "distinct and discernible presence" across each state and territory, after the Abbott government announced cuts of more than $250 million to the ABC's funding over the next five years. Full story [here]

Happy birthday Triple J: Australian radio’s enfant terrible turns 40

The Conversation - Cathy Hope - January, 19, 2015

Australia’s public youth radio station, Triple J, turns 40 today. On January 19 1975, Triple J’s AM predecessor, Double J, infamously burst onto Sydney’s airwaves with the track, You Just Like Me Cause I’m Good in Bed by Australian band Skyhooks. Commercial stations had refused the song airtime because of the salaciousness of its content. With this gesture, Double Jay staked its territory as the enfant terrible of Australian radio.

Double J was established for a youth audience whose tastes were not met by either the pop floss of commercial radio or the middle-class, middle-aged fare found on the ABC.

Double J appealed to this audience with its overt rejection of some of the more conservative broadcasting practices “enslaving” Australian radio. Read the full story [here]

ABC maternity leave workers vie for jobs in 'Hunger Games-style' redundancy process

Sun-Herald - Matthew Knott, January 18, 2015

A heavily pregnant woman and a new mother who had recently started maternity leave were pitted against each other to fight for their jobs in the ABC's controversial redundancy process.

Eight ABC employees on maternity leave are expected to lose their jobs in the redundancy round triggered by $250 million in federal government budget cuts .

On top of 180 direct redundancies, about 330 ABC staff on equivalent pay grades were placed in pools to compete with each other for jobs – a process nicknamed "The Hunger Games" after the movie in which teenagers are forced to battle to the death in a televised game. Full story [here]

Is Triple J still relevant?

SMH - Peter Vincent, January 14, 2015

Even the most severe cases of Peter Pan syndrome will admit a 40th birthday is high time to wave goodbye to one's youth.

Triple J critics (let's call them "Jaysayers") have a pile of complaints about the station. Most reasonably they complain not enough female artists make the station's long-standing Hottest 100 countdown but whinges generally range from "not enough music I like" (i.e. too obscure) through to "too commercial" (i.e. too mainstream). 

So is Triple J still relevant? Does it still work as Australia's youth network? Yes and hell yes. Full story [here]

End of Sunday Live, and a bleak future for Classic FM

Mal Hewitt - President Collegiate of Specialist Music Educators, President ABC Friends NSW & ACT

You may have seen the announcement over the past few days of the decision by ABC Management to axe the popular Sunday Live concerts and live broadcasts on Sunday afternoons. These concerts have, over the past 40 years, provided valuable performance opportunities for our outstanding soloists and small ensembles, many of them young, and often performing new music. They were the only concerts mounted on a regular basis by the ABC, were free to audience members, and were broadcast from venues in all capital cities.

The claim by Classic FM Manager Richard Buckham that “It’s not cost-cutting - it’s more an editorial decision” is patently rubbish - ask anybody in Classic FM! It is clearly in response to the massive cuts in ABC funding by the Abbott government that have just cost 400 ABC jobs (10% of ABC staff). It would seem that Classic FM is being targeted for much more than its share of these cuts, perhaps because its audience does not meet the criteria for ABC management’s desperate search for “a younger demographic.” Read the full message [here]

ABC Classic FM axes regular concert program Sunday Live

SMH - Nick Galvin, January 9, 2015

ABC Classic FM has axed its popular Sunday Live program after some 40 years, leaving the station with no regular live broadcast in its schedule.

Sunday Live was a series of free weekly concerts staged around the country, often featuring young, emerging performers as well as work by Australian composers.

Over the years, performers as diverse as Geoffrey Tozer, Tamara Anna Cislowska, Claire Edwardes and Dale Barlow have appeared on the program.

Classic FM manager Richard Buckham confirmed Sunday Live was being axed but denied it was a victim of the ABC budget cuts imposed by the Federal Government. Full story [here]

Letter to Mr Spigelman, Mr Scott and Minister Turnbull

From Annalisa Koeman

"I am writing as a lifelong ABC1 viewer and long time RN listener, member of ABC Friends (ACT) and unsuccessful applicant for membership of the ABC Advisory Council. I am also a viewer of SBS and have participated in Save our SBS campaigns (particularly concerning the introduction of commercials and decision to not broadcast Vietnamese news)."

"I wish to express my deep concern about the attack on public broadcasting. I consider public broadcasting is, surprise surprise, a public service. I also believe it is a necessary alternative to commercial broadcasting which does not seek to serve the nation or public good, but to make profit for shareholders. The ABC provides some balance against vested interests and those with agendas and ideologies in the commercial sector." Read Annalisa's letter [here]

Read Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's reply [here]

ABC journalists informed of potential redundancies before Christmas

SMH - Anna Patty, December 17, 2014

ABC journalists were in tears on Wednesday afternoon after being told their positions could become redundant.

Close to a third of more than 300 ABC staff in pools with similarly skilled colleagues were expected to learn their possible fate by 5pm. Full story [here]

ABC religion and science coverage in doubt

SMH - Matthew Knott, December 12, 2014

The future of science and religious broadcasting at the ABC has been thrown into doubt, following evidence to a Senate committee by former ABC board member Quentin Dempster.

Mr Dempster, a veteran journalist who has taken redundancy from the broadcaster, told Senate hearings on Friday that a $4 million shortfall had emerged in the ABC's television budget.

"At the moment there is a juggling between Catalyst, the television science program, and Compass, the television religious program," Mr Dempster said.

"The argument seems to be that Compass rates less than Catalyst so Compass may have to go." Full story [here]

ABC cuts put the focus squarely on digital

SMH - Anne Davies, December 13, 2014

Two years ago, ABC executives convinced the then Labor communications minister, Stephen Conroy, to include a mention of digital services in the ABC's Charter, the part of its act that governs what the national broadcaster should do. The wiley chief executive, Mark Scott, formerly of Fairfax Media where he had seen first-hand the decimation of the business model as readers moved from buying newspapers to free internet, was determined it was not going to happen to the ABC.

Under Scott, the ABC quietly poured more money into digital services, including highly successful iView service, its websites and news services on mobile. Commercial media, notably News Corp Australia and to a lesser extent Fairfax Media, have cried foul at the taxpayer-funded competition. Full story [here]

Christopher Pyne begs PM Tony Abbott to save ABC TV in Adelaide

SMH - Matthew Knott, December 10, 2014

Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, asking him to overhaul the way the government funds the ABC so that television production can continue in his home state of South Australia.

ABC managing director Mark Scott announced last month that the ABC would close its Adelaide television production studios after the Abbott government cut its budget by $250 million over five years. Full story [here]

Triple J's Doctor raises a finger at Abbott government over ABC cuts

SMH - Peter Vincent, December 10, 2014

After a decade on air Triple J's endearingly oddball drive presenter Lindsay "The Doctor" McDougall wants to depart the network so quietly this week that the listeners won't know he's gone.

But there is one message he'd like heard: the Abbott government has behaved like a school bully over the $254 million worth of ABC cuts, and it deserves 'the bird' - even if doing so won't change anything. Full story [here]

Expert panel: is there a place for the ABC in modern Australia?

The Conversation - Fiona Martin, Denis Muller, Sinclair Davidson, December 5, 2014

In the recent ABC funding debate, many have questioned what the public broadcaster is for. What should its role be in Australia’s contemporary media landscape?

Some argue that the ABC is a market-failure organisation, a “safety net” for anything the commercial sector can’t do. Others argue that it should focus on audiences as citizens, rather than consumers, to be different to commercial players.

Taking the politics out of it, what should the ABC be doing? The Conversation asked a panel of three experts to respond. Read it [here]

Peter Garrett and other stars celebrate 40 years of Triple J

SMH - Baryy Divola, December 5, 2014

Zan Rowe still has a cassette recording of her first time on radio. It was 1993 and she was 15 years old. Rowe phoned Triple J's Michael Tunn on Request Fest and asked him to play Juliana Hatfield's My Sister, dedicating it to her best friend who lived down the street.

"I'd like to think I sound more polished on the radio now," says Rowe, who has worked at Triple J for a decade and hosted Mornings with Zan since 2007. "But one thing that hasn't changed at Triple J since then is that strong connection with the listeners. They tell us we're their friends and you can get no bigger compliment than that as a radio presenter. The technology has changed a lot over the years, but there's still that same goodwill between us and the audience." Full story [here]

Cheap automatons won't make quality radio for the ABC and Radio National

SMH - Geraldine Doogue, December 6, 2014

No one entering journalism from now on can possibly delude themselves that job security's on offer, given what's unfolding at the ABC, and before that, at Fairfax and News Ltd over the last two carnage-ridden years. Maybe security shouldn't be to the forefront of a good journalist's motivation. 

But I'd hate the powers-that-be to start drawing easy assumptions about the worth of semi-regular creative destruction within the Fourth Estate; or that the prospect of acute rationalisation hanging over journalists' heads will somehow sharpen everyone up, create some more useful obsessionality. Full story [here]

Walkley Awards: Four Corners team take gold; ABC, Guardian take Scoop of the Year

ABC News, December 5, 2014

The ABC's Deb Masters and Mario Christodoulou and Fairfax Media's Adele Ferguson have jointly won Australian journalism's highest award, the Gold Walkley, for a Four Corners investigation of the Commonwealth Bank.

The judges said the Banking Bad program had elevated business journalism by capturing the human side of poor financial advice from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), through dogged investigation.

The reporters were among ABC journalists who won 12 Walkleys, including the Gold Walkley, on Thursday night. Full story [here]

Religious leaders unite to plead to ABC board

SMH - Rick Feneley, December 3, 2014

Almost 30 religious leaders have united to plead with the ABC board to refrain from planned cuts to the national broadcaster's coverage of religion, which they say is "crucial in the life of our nation" and its identity.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu leaders sent an an open letter addressed to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott and Chairman James Spigelman late on Tuesday, on the eve of a board meeting on Wednesday, saying they were "especially concerned" that the proposed cuts would include: Full story [here]

Credits roll on the Margaret and David movies show

SMH - Joel Meares, December 3, 2014

Margaret Pomeranz is as fierce a defender of public broadcasting as you'll find – in a not particularly rare moment of exaggeration, she tells Fairfax Media "I'd take to the streets and most probably commit Harakiri to keep news and current affairs going on the ABC and SBS."

So it is that on Tuesday afternoon, having filmed her final episode of At the Movies for the ABC, the value of the public broadcaster is on her mind. "I feel like I'm abandoning it in times of need," she says. "It's tough times for public broadcasting in this country. Really tough." Full story [here]

News Corp should help ABC save money: Mark Scott

SMH - Matthew Knott, December 1, 2014

ABC managing director Mark Scott has challenged News Corporation to help the public broadcaster save millions of taxpayer dollars a year by slashing the costs of broadcasting its channels on Foxtel.

The Abbott government's efficiency study into the ABC and SBS, officially released on Monday, found the broadcasters could save $6 million a year by not paying to broadcast its content on Foxtel, which is co-owned by News Corporation.

Mr Scott's latest appearance before Senate estimates hearings came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott conceded that his government's ABC and SBS funding cuts were "at odds" with the Coalition's pre-election promises. Under repeated questioning last week, Mr Abbott denied that the $308 million funding cut to the public broadcasters amounted to a broken promise. Full story [here]

ABC and SBS Efficiency Study

Department of Communications - December 1, 2014

On 31 January 2014, the Government announced that the Department of Communications, assisted by Mr Peter Lewis, would conduct a study on the efficiency of the operations of the ABC and SBS. The Terms of Reference for the study are below.

Go to the Dept of Communications website [here]

ABC axe to religion will starve national discussion, broadcaster John Cleary tells listeners

SMH - Rick Feneley, December 1, 2014

A veteran ABC broadcaster has used his Sunday night program to denounce the effect of budget cuts to the national broadcaster's coverage of religion, while Baptist minister Tim Costello has lamented there are too few places left in the Australian media to explore faith and ethics.

And the host ABC's Offsiders television program, Gerard Whateley, told viewers on Sunday that the "wipeout" of television sport coverage caused by the budget cuts would "most drastically" affect women's sport. Full story [here]

Your ABC cuts a personal foul on women’s sport and our community

SMH - Lachlan Searle, November 30, 2014

The decision by the ABC to axe free-to-air television coverage of the Women's National Basketball League and W-League soccer is foul play, and not in the spirit of sport.

Four weeks ago, the ABC's 7.30 ACT aired a feature story on a 25-year-old single mum juggling the challenge of raising a toddler while also captaining the University of Canberra Capitals in the WNBL. Full story [here]

The View: A banner year for ABC funding cuts

SMH - Scott Ellis, November 26, 2014

Next year will be, ABC head of television Richard Finlayson said recently, "A pretty interesting year." To show how seriously he was taking the impending change of the Australian TV landscape, he added: "It's a bit of a banner year for TV. It's a watershed year."

At the time, he was talking about the imminent arrival of Netflix, Stan (the Fairfax/Nine Network joint venture) and other video-on-demand services.

But what he must also have known was the way the ABC was about to be hit by job and programming cuts. Full story [here]

Open letter to ABC management

John Davis CEO Australian Music Centre, November 28, 2014

I write on behalf of the constituents of the Australian Music Centre, our 630 Represented composers and sound artists, our 1,200 members, our 4,000 mailing list subscribers, and a larger constituency who use the AMC's services, which includes audiences who support and engage with contemporary art music in this country.

This diverse constituency represents a core audience for Classic FM and its various programs which present Australian music, and new music by international composers - in particular Classic FM's New Music Up Late, but also its concert broadcasts featuring new Australian music, and other programs which regularly feature new Australian works. These programs deliver to Classic FM this diverse, national audience not accessed through any other channels, ABC or otherwise. Read the letter [here]

ABC not to blame for commercial broadcasters' loss of revenue

Sun-Herald - Amma Alberici, November 30, 2014

Even the collapse of the public broadcaster would be unlikely to restore the rivers of gold as audiences move to online content.

Let me dive in to the murky waters of commercial media and clean them up for you. These were once rivers of gold where the likes of Fairfax Media and News Corp ambled uninterrupted by as much as a clown fish. Then, about 20 years ago, the sharks began to circle. First it was Realestate.com.au (1995) then Carsales.com.au and Seek.com.au (both 1997). Each of those businesses is now worth more than Fairfax, publisher of The Sun-Herald. Read full story [here]

Lewis report on ABC canvasses role for minister in directing how cuts be made

SMH - Anne Davies and Mark Kenny, November 28, 2014

The federal government would gain new powers to set out what it expects from the ABC, raising fears of political interference in the national broadcaster, under a recommendation of the confidential Lewis review.

And some services now provided for free may attract a user charge as the government looks to rein in costs and clip the ABC's wings.

The Lewis review into the ABC and SBS has recommended the Minister for Communications issue each broadcaster with "a statement of the government's expectations" relating to "financial management and transparency". Full story [here]

ABC sacks Quentin Dempster

SMH - Anna Patty, November 29, 2014

When veteran ABC broadcaster, Quentin Dempster, says "bye-bye" in his Queensland, boy-from-the-bush way next Friday night, it will be for the last time.

After more than 30 years with the national public broadcaster, Dempster told viewers on Friday night that he plans to go out with a "bang".

"Next Friday will be the final edition of 7.30 NSW," he said.

"I will be leaving the ABC after 30 years to return to the private sector. It has been an honour to work with Australia's great and unique public broadcaster." Full story [here]

ABC cuts: leaked efficiency review shows no way savings could be made without impacting on programming, Greens say

Yahoo 7 News - Louise Yaxley, November 29, 2014

The Greens say a leaked review into efficiency at the ABC and SBS shows there is no way that cuts of the scale imposed by the Government could have been made without having an impact on programming.

Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam has obtained a leaked copy of parts of the draft efficiency review of SBS and the ABC written by Peter Lewis, who spent many years as chief financial officer of Seven West media.

The review has formed the basis for some of the cuts being made by the ABC and SBS in response to Federal Government budget measures. FUll story [here]

ABC committed to serving rural and regional Australia

ABC Media Centre - November 26, 2014

The ABC is the national broadcaster. No media organisation delivers more Australian stories, every day, to a broader audience than the ABC.

The proposed changes announced by the managing director, Mark Scott, maintain the deep commitment to servicing audiences outside the major capital cities and in our far-flung regions. Efficiency has been the sole motivation in the cost-saving exercise. In his addresses to staff members, Mr Scott has stressed that the ABC had no intention of abandoning its obligation to regional and rural communities.

“The new Regional Division highlights our commitment in this area. It is not a cost-savings initiative. It recognises that with new digital technologies and better organisation, we can be smarter and more focussed in our approach,” he said. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott, you did break your promise.

SumOfUs - http://sumofus.org/

Tony Abbott cut millions of funding from the ABC -- and then insisted he hadn’t broken his promise not to cut funding from the ABC.

That’s nonsense and we all know it. If Abbott had announced his true agenda last year, he never would have been elected in the first place. That’s why we have to make sure the Prime Minister honours his promises. Full story & petition [here]

Instant protest against ABC & SBS cuts

Coast Community News, November 26, 2014

Over 65 people turned out in Gosford on Monday November 24, to protest the Abbott Government's recently announced budget cuts to the ABC & SBS. Full story [here]

Lateline is vital for our democracy

SMH - Mark Hearn, November 26, 2014

Mark Scott must be removed as editor-in-chief of the ABC, and the ABC Board must confine Scott's role to his task as managing director.

That the ABC chief executive either does not understand his crucial editorial task, or willfully sets it aside in favour of managerial priorities, is sharply illustrated in the decision to downsize the Lateline program and bury it on the ABC News 24. Full story [here]

Stop whinging about ABC job cuts

SMH - Sam de Brito, November 26, 2014

Apart from journalists, few Australians care more about the loss of 400 jobs at the ABC than they do about job losses in other workplaces.

You know, back in June, another national icon - Australia Post - announced it'd be cutting 900 jobs nationally and the period of media outrage dedicated to this seismic shift in the lives of hundreds of Aussie families (without Twitter accounts) was shorter than that devoted to the celebrity of the day saying a silly thing on social media. Full story [here]

ABC cuts: Malcolm Turnbull suggests ABC had 'political bargain' with Labor;
Tony Abbott admits regret pledging to spare broadcaster from cuts

Yahoo 7 News - Andrew Greene, November 26, 2014

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested the ABC had a political bargain with the previous Labor government to maintain its funding.

The Coalition has cut the ABC's funding by $254 million, which has resulted in the public broadcaster cutting programs and hundreds of jobs.

The Government insists the savings could have been found through cuts to backroom operations rather than programs. Full story [here]

ABC Four Corners producer Sue Spencer to step down

SMH - Michael Lallo, November 26, 2014

Sue Spencer, the respected executive producer of ABC's flagship current affairs program Four Corners, has told staff she will step down in March.

Spencer - who started her television career as a researcher with the show in 1985 - leaves behind one of the most coveted jobs in TV current affairs.

Fairfax Media understands Spencer had been planning her resignation for some time, and it is not related to confirmation on Monday that Four Corners will lose resources as a result of the Abbott government stripping $254 million from the ABC. Full story [here]

Aunty: flexible, not flabby

By Andrew Ford, Tuesday 25 November 2014

I read Louise Evans’ Fairfax op-ed piece on Monday morning with a mixture of interest and revulsion. The latter response was partly because I knew that, at that very moment, a large number of my ABC colleagues, some of them friends, were receiving redundancy notices. But I also felt sickened by the tone of the piece, particularly when it came to the cartoonish portrayal of Radio National. It’s easy to mock, easy to mention “yoga classes” and “fresh produce” from Paddy’s Market. I was a little surprised not to read the word “latte” in among the cliches.

For nearly 20 years, I have worked for the ABC two days a week as the presenter of The Music Show on Radio National. Louise Evans was my manager for six months. I was especially pleased Fairfax published a photo of her, because it finally allowed me to put a face to the name. She may have been my boss, but unlike those who came before her and after, she never invited me to meet her. Full story [here]

The ABC versus The Australian - and the winner is ...

SMH - Alan Stokes, November 26, 2014

There are two kinds of people in this world.

One group doesn't follow the news 24/7. Let's call them "the fortunate souls". They are lucky enough to have missed the campaign against the ABC by Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the Abbott government.

Then there's the other group of people in this world who are stuck fast to the news cycle. Let's call them "the blowies on the golden syrup". Full story [here]

Abbott government lacks a truth dividend on ABC cuts

SMH - Letters, November 26, 2014

Letters of varying views [here]

Abbott says he just has to get off a couple of barnacles

The Conversation - Michelle Gratton, November 26, 2014

With the polling bad, some of his strongest media backers excoriating him and his pants on fire over the “no cuts to the ABC” pledge, Tony Abbott has assured his Coalition partyroom that, bar a couple of “barnacles”, everything is going all right.

Abbott admitted it had at times been a difficult year but said the tumult had all been external to the government, which had been stable, competent and delivered on its promises – stopping the boats, building the roads and the like. Full story [here]

ABC staff await a 'Hunger Games' battle for their jobs

SMH - Anne Davies, Lisa Cox and Latika Bourke, November 26, 2014

ABC staff across the organisation face a "skills audit" in coming days and weeks, in a redundancy process that has been nicknamed "The Hunger Games"  after the movie which pitted teenagers in a battle to the death.

Staff with similar skills will be placed in "pools" where they will be audited before a decision is made on which staff will stay or be made redundant.

The process will occur across television and radio, as the ABC seeks to meet the federal government-imposed cut of $207 million over four years as well as redirecting resources toward digital operations such as online and mobile. Full story [here]

ABC cuts announcement - what you can do - GetUp!

This week, the Abbott Government's axe has fallen upon the ABC and SBS - and the impact upon programming is just being realised. The ABC has been forced to close five regional radio outposts, cancel the state-based editions of TV's 7.30 program and end Radio National's Bush Telegraph. Lateline and Australian Story will be gutted, and five Radio National shows will go - as well as 100 jobs from the ABC News division.

Thing is, this isn't the first time we've seen attacks on funding for public broadcasters from a conservative government. The ABC and SBS' ability to hold all politicians to account make them a perfect target for a government with an axe to grind. But if we let the Abbott government get away with these broken promises and damning cuts without a loud and resounding backlash, they'll think that can get away with decimating funding again.

In moments like this, it's critical that the government feels the pain of its broken promise. Will you help make sure voters and politicians in marginal electorates see this message? Go to GetUp! [here]

Political bastardry and nincompoops consign ABC to churnalism

SMH - Quentin Dempster, November 25, 2014

In a click-bait world, the reshaping of the ABC's operations to lead in the digital race will come at the expense of quality TV and radio programs and services.

The loss of the last remaining regional TV production centre in South Australia exposes the ABC's Sydney-centrism.

The sacrifice of many live broadcasts on Classic FM disengages with musicians and music lovers. Full story [here]

Mark Scott's two hats make trouble for ABC

SMH - Jonathan Holmes, November 25, 2014

Of course, Mark Scott's radical cuts to ABC output are in the headlines - cuts far more radical, Malcolm Turnbull would have us believe, than the government's "modest" efficiency requirements justify. Certainly, they are puzzling to this outsider: they seem almost designed to alienate still further the ABC's enemies in the Coalition, and to undercut its Coalition allies.

State-based TV journalism, regional radio and decentralised production are all expensive - but they are surely the last, rather than the first elements of the ABC's overall service that should be cut. Full story [here]

This isn't Play School

Bill Shorten - Federal Opposition Leader - 24 November 2014

The night before the last election, Tony Abbott promised "no cuts to the ABC or the SBS".

But today, 1 in 10 jobs at the ABC were lost because of Tony Abbott's $500 million cut to the ABC and SBS. Five regional stations will be shut down and the state based 7.30 program will be cut.

Malcolm Turnbull has desperately tried to explain that Tony Abbott's pre-election promise not to cut the ABC or SBS was not actually a promise! Continue reading [here]

ABC's Classic FM faces cuts: it's time to change the tune

The Conversation, Peter Tregear, November 25, 2014

Classic FM currently broadcasts around 17 hours of “live” classical music a week, in addition to delayed broadcasts; and the fact it’s facing cuts in this area comes as no surprise.

In September this year, TV presenter and Former Staff Director at the ABC Quentin Dempster warned the station was under particular threat. In a post on the Friends of the ABC website he wrote, “Big concerns in Classic FM about the future of the network,” noting that “ABC Classic FM’s [audience] is greater than that for News Radio”.

Given today’s news, it seems timely to ask what the purpose of a publicly-funded classical music radio station is, in particular what that might be in relation to the grander purpose of public broadcasting more generally. Answering that question is no simple task, for it ultimately demands we consider aesthetic and philosophical questions, like what exactly we mean by “classical” music. Full story [here]

Is this the beginning of the end of the ABC as we know it?

The Conversation, Brian McNair & Adam Swift, November 25, 2014

While Australia’s elected representatives argue over what then-opposition leader Tony Abbott meant when he promised “no cuts to the ABC, or SBS” the night before the last election, directly to the electorate, while advertising himself as a leader who could be trusted not to break his promises, the cuts are in and the announcements of what form they will take at the ABC have been made.

Most had been heavily trailed last week, but now we know for sure that some 400 jobs will go because of these cuts. Regional facilities will be closed, services and programs will be cancelled or, in Lateline’s case, moved to ABC News 24. ABC websites will be rationalised, with 100 or so earmarked for the chop. State-based sports broadcasting will go, along with the state editions of 7.30. Full story [here]

A-Bloated-C exposed from the inside out

SMH - Letters, November 25, 2014

Letters of varying views [here]

Quentin Dempster's ABC rally speech

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance website

Thousands of ABC supporters, community leaders, politicians and media personalities rallied in Sydney's Town Hall Square yesterday as ABC staff prepare for significant job losses to compensate for $254 million in government funding cuts. Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and other supporters addressed the assembled masses. Quentin Dempster, journalist for thirty years and staffer at the ABC for twenty years delivered this address. Read the speech [here]

Nowra loses their ABC

Illawarra Mercury - Bree Fuller & AAP, November 24, 2014

The axing of ABC's regional radio post in Nowra, as part of widespread national cuts to the public broadcaster, has been condemned as a blow to regional journalism.

ABC managing director Mark Scott announced on Monday a raft of changes to the public broadcaster, aimed to offset $254million in lost federal government funding over the next five years.

Nowra is one of five regional radio posts to be axed, alongside Radio National's rural program, Bush Telegraph. There will also be cuts to foreign news bureaus. Full story [here]

Reality bites for ABC staff as 400 face the axe

SMH - Anne Davies, November 24, 2014

Many ABC staff were unable to squeeze into the meeting at ABC's Eugene Goosens Hall at 11 am Monday to learn their fate.

Instead they watched grimly from their offices via the intranet as managing director Mark Scott spelled out his plan to make redundant 400 staff, many before Christmas. The cuts are to meet the federal government's demand for a budget cut of $207 million over four years, and at the same time fund the ABC board and management's vision of the ABC's digital future. Full story [here]

ABC cuts in Victoria: 'News 24 is the elephant in the room'

SMH - Deborah Gough & Nick Toscano, November 25, 2014

The imminent loss of ABC Morwell has drawn criticism from fire-affected regional Victorians, as senior journalists for the national broadcaster slam the cuts for missing "the elephant in the room" - the ABC's 24-hour news channel.

ABC managing director Mark Scott announced on Monday he would cut $254 million from the budget over five years. Cuts include replacing weekly state-based 7.30 programs with a national program and closing the Morwell ABC office. Television sports coverage will be overhauled and sports broadcasts scaled back, Mr Scott said.

But former foreign correspondent Karen Percy described the 400 jobs cut from the national broadcaster as "blood boiling". Full story [here]

The ABC is not the threat to commercial media

SMH - Anne Davies, November 24, 2014

Underlying the debate about the ABC's funding is the thorny issue of what the ABC should actually DO in a 21st century media environment.

Today's cuts to programming are not just about meeting the Federal Government's demand for a contribution toward repairing the nation's budget. They are also about the ABC repositioning for the digital future.

Managing director, Mark Scott told staff  most of the government's remand for $207 million over four years would be met by efficiencies. The trouble is, Scott needs to find more than this if he is to take the ABC forward. Full story [here]

ABC to lose up to 10% of staff, axe shows and close five regional radio posts as cuts bite

SMH - Judith Ireland, November 24, 2014

Close to 10 per cent of the ABC's permanent work force could lose their jobs as the broadcaster grapples with a $254 million funding cut.

In an address to ABC staff on Monday morning, ABC managing director Mark Scott said that more than 400 people were expected to face redundancies in coming months.

Mr Scott said that he wanted to "strip back our management layers," noting that management positions would make up more than 10 per cent of proposed redundancies. Full Story [here]

Cost of the cuts: What the ABC and SBS are losing

Crikey.com.au - Myriam Robin - November, 24, 2014

The state editions of 7.30 are going, Classic FM will record fewer concerts, and other ways the ABC hopes to save money.

Crikey is trying to keep a complete list of all the changes announced to the ABC and SBS today as both broadcasters digest the impact of funding cuts announced by the government last week. We’ll be adding more details throughout the day. Have we missed anything? Go [here]

400 people or 10% of ABC Staff to go

Media Release - Mark Scott ABC MD, 24 Nov 2014

Managing Director Mark Scott today announced changes designed to address budget cuts imposed by the Federal Government while ensuring the ABC’s reinvestment priorities remain focused on audience strategy and Charter obligations.

In an address to staff, Mr Scott said the Corporation was committed to using back-office and overhead savings to fund the $207 million that would be cut from the ABC’s budget from July 2015. This cut, announced last week, comes on top of funding reductions of $120 million announced by the Government in May.

The changed funding and media environment has meant that the ABC has had to carefully consider its spending priorities.

“We anticipate that more than 400 people - close to 10 per cent of our ongoing workforce - face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months,” Mr Scott said. Read the full Media Release [here]

More details on the proposed changes can be found at: http://about.abc.net.au/our-abc-our-future/

ABC Newcastle radio station staff slashed by a third under efficiency cuts

ABC News, November 24, 2014

ABC staff in Newcastle have been told eight jobs will go under a proposed restructure which will see the station downgraded to a regional operation.

Local content manager, Phil Ashley-Brown told staff he was bitterly disappointed at the proposed changes to 1233 ABC Newcastle, which including the axing of Carol Duncan's afternoon show and Helen Clare's Sunday show.

Two producers, an admin assistant, marketing manager, promos producer and an online reporter will go under the plan, which will see staffing at the station cut by a third. Full report [here]

ABC Nowra office to close

South Coast Register, John Hanscombe, November 24, 2014

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock has weighed into the ABC decision to close its Nowra office. Mrs Hancock said regional journalism was paramount in communicating with local residents and the more local the source, the better communication.

"I am extremely disappointed that this decision has been made," Mrs Hancock said.

"Whilst I am pleased there appears to be no job losses within our region, we have lost a major asset with the closure of the Nowra ABC office meaning the Shoalhaven will no longer have a physical ABC presence," she said. Full story [here]

View from the Street: People certainly do care about the ABC cuts thing, huh?

SMH - Andrew P Street, November 24, 2014

"No ifs, no buts, no ABC cuts"

Today was the ABC/SBS budget cuts protest rally in Melbourne, following the rally in Sydney yesterday and the rallies around the country earlier in the week in Hobart, Perth, Newcastle, Adelaide (where, oddly enough, Christopher Pyne didn't attend…) and other places that love their ABC.

Canberra is Tuesday. The goverment are probably booking some very long lunches.

The rally was a sobering reminder of all the things that have only happened in Australia because of the ABC, and also of the things that will not happen in the future without an ABC with the resources necessary to do the sorts of in-depth investigations or take risks on new Australian productions that they have in the past. Full story [here]

Video: Michelle Grattan on Malcolm Turnbull

The Conversation, November 21, 2014

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker and Michelle Grattan discuss the week in politics including Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to the ABC, higher education, the frission in the Palmer United Party and the latest opinion polls. Watch [here]

ABC set to slash TV and radio jobs, as focus goes online

SMH - Sarah Whyte, November 24, 2014

The ABC is set to dramatically overhaul its online and mobile reach, as staff brace for significant staff and programming cuts to be announced on Monday.

Fairfax Media understands the public broadcaster will reinvest in a digital division, which will re-focus core ABC programs towards online, mobile and tablet audiences, a move that could create up to 100 new jobs.

ABC has confirmed the digital investment will take place. Full story [here]

The ABC has flab to be cut

SMH - Louise Evans, November 24, 2014

"Good luck trying to change anything around here, there are too many lifers."

This was the advice given to me when I started as manager at ABC's Radio National last year.

It seemed like a dream job. I love the ABC and relished the opportunity to help steer RN.

But having previously worked as a journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and managing editor at lean, efficient and editorially robust media companies including Australian Associated Press, Fairfax and News Corp for over 20 years, I was shocked by the culture, waste, duplication and lax workplace practices exercised in some pockets of Radio National. I was even more shocked by the failure of the executive to want to do anything about it. Full story [here]

Stop the BS, Quentin Dempster tells Malcolm Turnbull

SMH - Tim Barlass, November 22, 2014

Several hundred people filled Town Hall Square on Saturday to protest at the $254 million cuts and a forecast 400 job losses at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, with prominent journalist Quentin Dempster describing Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull as "a bullshitter".

They chanted "No ifs, No buts. No ABC Cuts" and waved banners reminding Prime Minister Tony Abbott of his election-eve pledge of no cuts to the ABC or SBS.

Michael Tull, National President of the Community and Public Sector Union, said the purpose of the rally, which heads to Melbourne on Sunday and Canberra on Monday, was to make the promise stick. Full story [here]

Why it's absolute madness for the Abbott Government to strip the ABC

SMH - Peter FitzSimons, November 23, 2014

I'll say it again. At the best of times, the government slashing and burning such a beloved institution as the ABC would be political madness. But doing it when you have risen to power after a three-year crusade that your predecessor is a "liar" for breaking a promise on carbon tax, and you have made a specific election-eve promise that there will be "no cuts to the ABC or SBS", when you are trailing in the polls 55-45 on two party-preferred, when even Andrew Bolt is publicly wringing his hands at your likely fate, when beyond the hard-right commentariat there is absolutely no groundswell of support to bash them? Full story [here]

Thousands of Sydney protesters rally against ABC funding cuts

abc.net.au - Mandie Sami, November 22, 2014

Thousands of people have gathered at Sydney's Town Hall to protest against government funding cuts to Australia's public broadcasters.

It is one in a series of public demonstrations scheduled to take place across the country in response to the Federal Government's decision to cut $50 million a year from the ABC's budget over the next five years.

The rally in Sydney was attended by thousands, including Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the ABC's Quentin Dempster. Full story [here]

Malcolm Turnbull's ABC cuts and the threat to editorial independence

SMH - Editorial, November 22, 2014

Telling the truth is not rocket science. But admitting when you have lied to people is clearly beyond most Australian politicians.

As such voters have endured a succession of Coalition ministers trying and failing to justify their broken promise on cuts to funding of the ABC and SBS.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said there would be none; now there are cuts of 5 per cent or more, depending on how you calculate them. They ratchet up close to an annual 7 per cent in four years' time. Full story [here]

Wollongong protests Abbott govt's cuts to ABC

Illawarra Mercury, Kate McIlwain, Nov. 21, 2014

The musical theme from children’s show Play School became a protest song on Friday afternoon, as a 200-strong crowd sang out against the government’s cuts to the ABC outside Wollongong Town Hall.

Waving placards quoting Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s election-eve promise that there would be ‘‘No cuts to the ABC or SBS’’ and saying ‘‘Shame Tony, Shame’’, the crowd cheered along with political speakers, chanting ‘‘No ifs, no buts, no ABC cuts’’.

The rally was one of about 20 being held this week, in opposition to the $254 million budget cut to the national broadcaster. Full story & pics [here]

ABC cuts tipped to hit news services including 7:30 and Lateline

SMH - David Wroe and Sarah Whyte, November 22, 2014

The ABC's newsrooms are bracing for job losses as the national broadcaster's board prepares to spend the weekend finding savings that are tipped to include 400 redundancies across the organisation.

Fairfax Media understands that ABC news will be hit by the cuts. Sources have confirmed that the state-based editions of 7.30 will be scrapped and Lateline will be pared back to focus less on news reporting and more on a discussion format.

Local radio and the popular stations Radio National and Classic FM are also expected to be hit, with a total of about $6 million ripped out of radio. Full story [here]

ABC and SBS cuts are not cuts, and five other great political evasions

SMH - Rose Powell, November 21, 2014

One might assume the freshly announced multimillion-dollar budget reductions to our government-funded national broadcasters would render Prime Minister Tony Abbott's pre-election promise of "no cuts to the ABC or SBS" utterly broken. But apparently not.

Both Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull stepped into the breach to explain.

Senator Cormann said Mr Abbott's promise did not refer to cuts but to "efficiency dividends", from which he said the ABC had been exempted for the past 20 years. Full story [here]

ABC budget cuts: The fallout for programs and people

SMH - Judith Ireland & Rick Feneley, November 22, 2014

There is an untold story concerning Peppa Pig and Mark Scott, the ABC's managing director. Scott has three daughters but they are older than the target age group for the British-made children's cartoon that rates highly on ABC2. So when Scott wanted to understand the phenomenon last year, he turned to Twitter, as he so often does, to appeal for an explanation. Soon he received a reply tweet, complete with a video. It showed the sender's 20-month-old child using an iPhone to find Peppa.

There was a moral to this story, Scott concluded. If even toddlers were adapting to the possibilities of new technology and getting their entertainment on demand (Peppa Pig is the ABC's most viewed program on iView), millions of other Australians must be doing the same. They wouldn't be prepared to sit around and wait for programs to be delivered to boxes in their lounge rooms at a time of someone else's choosing. They would want them whenever – and on whatever platform – that suited them. Full story [here]

ABC managing director Mark Scott admits many jobs will go in cuts

SMH - Bevan Shields and Stephanie Peatling, November 21, 2014

The $254 million to be slashed from the ABC's budget dwarfs the $59 million in savings identified in a recent efficiency review, Mark Scott has revealed during an impassioned defence of the public broadcaster and its staff.

The ABC managing director used a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday night to question the rationale behind sweeping cuts unveiled by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.

Staff will be told on Monday what programs and services will be axed and how many jobs will be lost, but Mr Scott has given his strongest indication yet the changes will be sweeping. He told a Senate estimates hearing that the board has been hunting for extra savings to pay for redundancies and free-up funding for a new push into digital broadcasting. The number of redundancies would be "very significant", he added. Full story [here]

ABC budget cuts will hit media innovation

The Conversation, Jonathon Hutchinson, November 20, 2014

Of the many media organisations making the transition towards digital, the ABC is one of the most advanced.

So in the face of a $254 million budget, or “back offices” cut, as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull calls it, its worth exploring if the ABC can continue to perform its role in shaping the digital media market.

We have already begun to see the ABC landscape shift with the announcement that The Roast and reports that state editions of 7.30 will be dropped in 2015, with more programming announcements expected shortly. But ABC managing director Mark Scott has repeatedly acknowledged the media landscape is shifting towards the digital environment, presenting opportunities for future audiences. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott dogged by interview with SBS' Anton Enus about ABC cuts on eve of election

SMH - Patrick Begley, November 21, 2014

In 10 seconds and 25 words, on the eve of an election he was almost guaranteed to win, Tony Abbott delivered the soundbite that bit back.

Mr Abbott chose an11th-hour interview on SBS World News, Australia's least watched free-to-air news bulletin, to give voters a crystal clear set of guarantees.

Interviewer Anton Enus asked a simple question about cuts to public broadcasters and received much more in response. Full story [here]

Government calls ABC 'cowardly' in 'broken election promise' funding cut row

SMH - Stephanie Peatling and Judith Ireland, November 20, 2014

The federal government is set on a collision course with the ABC, suggesting any programming cuts as a result of a $254-million funding reduction would be "cowardly" and fending off accusations the cuts are a broken election promise.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday he and Treasurer Joe Hockey had made it "quite clear" there were never any plans to cut on-air or online activities but "if there were to be savings made across the board, the ABC and SBS could not expect to be exempt".

The cuts represent a 4.6 per cent reduction in the ABC's funding, which means it will receive $5.2 billion over five years rather than $5.5 billion. Full story [here]

Tony Abbott, the ABC and SBS: when election promises become lies

SMH - Tony Wright, November 20, 2014

It was as clear as election promises go.

There would, Tony Abbott vowed the night before last year's federal election, be "no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS".

If it wasn't quite as neat as Julia Gillard's "there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead", the breadth of it – a raft of clear promises in a single sentence – laid for Abbott the prospect of becoming the victim of the same accusation he levelled so effectively at Ms Gillard for three years. Full story [here]

Government control lies at the heart of ABC cuts

SMH - Andy Lloyd James, November 20, 2014

There is one overwhelming rationale for governments to cut the public broadcasters' budgets: it is because they can. It's in their DNA.

It has happened a number of times and it is always said to be about efficiencies. But it's really about the government damaging two organisations - the ABC and SBS - which belong to every Australian. It does this by chipping away at their reputations, making them look poorly managed or out of control. Full story [here]

ABC cuts: Malcolm Turnbull announces budget reduction of $250 million

SMH - Stephanie Peatling and Judith Ireland, November 19, 2014

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has detailed a $254 million funding cut to the ABC in a move that could result in job losses and the closure of foreign bureaux.

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday announced a slightly lower than expected budget cut for the ABC as well as a $25.2 million cut to the SBS.

He said the efficiencies represented a "modest saving in comparison to the government's continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.6 billion over the same five year period". Full story [here]

ABC will be cut by $50m a year, costing 500 jobs by Christmas, as Turnbull defends Abbott on Q&A

SMH - Neil McMahon, November 18, 2014

he axe is coming to the national broadcaster this week, with the ABC breaking the details of its own looming amputations on Monday night: $50 million a year in new cuts will mean the loss of up to 500 jobs by Christmas, the death of state-based current affairs, a tighter budget for Lateline and foreign news offices closed.

On Media Watch, these and other cuts were flagged as a near 6 per cent hack from the ABC budget. Later on Q&A, Malcolm Turnbull put the figure at around 5 per cent but refused to offer much more detail. "It'll average over five years about 5 per cent off the top," the Communications Minister said. "I'll have a lot more to say about it later in the week." Full srory [here]

ABC fears cost-cutting won't be enough

SMH - Jared Lynch, November 17, 2014

More than 40 cost-saving programs have begun at the ABC, but its managing director Mark Scott fears it won't be enough to offset deeper cuts from the Abbott government.

Mr Scott said he is yet to know the magnitude of the government's next round of cuts after Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull described a 1 per cent reduction to the national broadcaster's base funding in May as a "down-payment".

Mr Turnbull is expected to late this week or next week announce cuts of between $200 million and $300 million for the ABC and SBS over five years. Full srory [here]

Our Stories. Our Future. Our ABC.

MEAA & CPSU launch a national campaign against ABC cuts.

Public rallies will be held in capital cities and regional centres across Australia to launch the Our stories, Our Future, Our ABC campaign, a joint initiative by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

The National Week of Action will begin on Tuesday November 18 and conclude on Tuesday November 25. Campaign details [here]

For detailed information on each event: https://www.facebook.com/HandsOffABC

ABC Friends Northern Rivers shows support for ABC Staff

ABC Friends Northern Rivers will be showing support for ABC staff on Thursday 20 November 2014, from 8 to 9am outside Lismore Office of the ABC 61 High Street, Lismore Heights. Full details [here]

For a range of protest posters (A1 size) click [here]

Friends of ABC protest against cuts - Echo NetDaily

ABC and SBS facing up to 500 job cuts with tens of millions in pay-outs

SMH - James Massola, Scott Ellis, November 12, 2014

The ABC and SBS are facing combined job losses as high as 400 to 500 people, while the pay-out figure from the expected cuts will run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The cuts to the two broadcasters' workforces will hit content makers, back office and services staff. The ABC reported 4679 full-time equivalent employees in 2013-14, while the SBS had 1301 staff.

The ABC shed about 72 jobs earlier this year from its international division, a move that cost the broadcaster $10.7 million according to its annual report. But sources have told Fairfax Media this round of redundancies was expected to cost less per person, with the payouts by the broadcasters expected to be in the vicinity of $25 million. Full story [here]

ABC, Malcolm Turnbull at odds over finalisations of funding cuts

SMH - Latika Bourke, November 11, 2014

The ABC has disputed claims by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he has spoken to the management of both it and SBS about the final level of funding cuts to be imposed on the public broadcasters.

On Tuesday, Mr Turnbull told ABC radio that he had finalised the level of the cuts and had spoken to management about the decision..

But the ABC says it is still waiting for the government to reveal how much it will dock the broadcaster's funding, which is in breach of Prime Minister's Tony Abbott's pre-election day promise that there would be no funding cuts to the ABC or SBS. Full story [here]

ABC and SBS facing $200-$300 million shared cuts over five years

SMH - James Massola, November 11, 2014

The ABC and SBS are facing swingeing cuts of up to $200 to $300 million over five years in the mid-year budget update, as the federal government prepares to announce the second round of savings it will demand of the broadcasters.

Sources from the broadcasters and government confirmed to Fairfax Media on Tuesday the magnitude of the cuts expected.

It's understood the government will make the case for the cuts in the context of the two broadcasters being slated to receive an overall $6.9-billion, five-year funding allocation. Full story [here].

Why ABC Classic FM is so important

Here you will see just one reason why we need to fight for ABC Classic FM - 6 min video on YouTube (turn up the sound).

Malcolm Turnbull: ABC can cut $200m from budget and still maintain quality

theguardian.com, Thursday 18 September 2014

Communications minister does not deny Coalition is considering cutting an additional $100m from ABC's funding.

The ABC can afford to cut its budget by as much as $200m and still maintain a quality service, according to the communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Speaking on ABC radio on Thursday, Turnbull did not deny the Coalition was considering cutting an additional $100m from the ABC's funding - on top of the $120m reduction already made as a "down payment" in the May budget.

Breakfast presenter Fran Kelly said a cut of that magnitude would affect the quality of the programming and could not be contained to backroom efficiencies. Full story [here]

ABC Chairman James Spigelman's address to the National Press Club

ABC chairman James Spigelman has defended the corporation's digital presence, saying without online and mobile platforms it risked marginalising itself in a future media landscape.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Mr Spigelman also announced the ABC will produce and publish external audits examining its impartiality.

The comments come after the ABC sustained strident criticism from News Corp Australia and some members of the Government in recent weeks.

Mr Spigelman said the ABC's expansion in digital media was always bound to clash with other broadcasters, but that the transition to new media was no different to what has occurred in the past... Watch the speech here.