Welcome to ABC Friends NSW & ACT

Abdel-Magied Anzac row is a storm over not much

Michelle Grattan - The Conversation - April 26, 2017

There are two issues in the latest episode of the culture wars, sparked by the Anzac Day Facebook comment by controversial young Muslim activist and part-time ABC presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

One is what she actually said; the other is whether the ABC should act against a presenter who made such a comment - but not on air. Full story [here]

The slow death of Australian children's TV drama

Anna Potter & Huw Walmsley-Evans - The Conversation - April 27, 2017

Australian children's TV may have recently picked up an Emmy Kids award for the ABCME animation Doodles, but otherwise kids' TV in this country is in a dire state.

Free-to-air TV networks have to commission certain amounts of children's programs each year. But in recent years there's been a dismaying lack of new live action shows, or recognisably Australian content. Instead, local children's TV has become dominated by animation with little sense of place.

This is a shame, because Australia's most fondly remembered children's TV shows are live action productions such as Mortified, Playschool, Blue Water High, and Round the Twist. When asked in a 2015 survey to name their favourite childhood TV characters, most people chose Round the Twist siblings Linda and Bronson, followed by Mortified's Taylor Fry. Full story [here]

ABC congratulates its winners at the 2017 Logie Awards

ABC Media Release - April 24, 2017

ABC congratulates its winners and record-breaking number of nominations at the 2017 TV Week Logie Awards held in Melbourne last night.

The ABC won an impressive seven awards spanning drama, comedy, children's, factual and current affairs programs.

It also reaffirmed its reputation as the network that unearths the best fresh talent with Rob Collins (Cleverman) winning Best New Talent and Elias Anton (Barracuda) winning the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer. Full Media Release [here]

Peter Dutton wants apology from ABC over reporting of Manus detention shooting

ABC News - April 25, 2017

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has called on the ABC to apologise for its reporting on a shooting at the Manus Island detention centre.

The incident took place on Good Friday and explanations about what caused it have been conflicting and contradictory.

Citing advice from "senior people on the island", Mr Dutton has repeatedly said Papua New Guinea soldiers fired shots into the detention centre because they were concerned about the welfare of a five-year-old boy who was allegedly led into the centre. Full story [here]

Hindsight: The ABC has to find a way to rejuvenate its audience

Craig Mathieson - SMH - April 20, 2017

Short is definitely proving to be sweet for the ABC. Some of the national broadcaster's best programming in recent years has come with a slimmed-down running time. The blithe, biting comedy of The Katering Show rewrites reality in 10-minute bursts, while the terrific factual interview series You Can't Ask That is still concise and compelling after doubling in size from 15-minute to 30-minute episodes for its second season. Full story [here]

Despite Fears, ABC Shuts Down Shortwave Broadcasts

James Careless - RadioWorld - April 17, 2017

OTTAWA - On Jan. 31, state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp. shut down its shortwave radio transmitters; ending both international broadcasts of Radio Australia and the ABC's domestic service in Australia's Northern Territory. The transmitters were located at ABC broadcasting facilities at Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Roe Creek (Alice Springs). According to the ABC news release that announced the shutdown on Dec. 6 - less than two months before it took place - "The move is in line with the national broadcaster's commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences." Full story [here]

Federal politics: Hostile governments starve ABC of funding

Gael Barrett - The Age - April 18, 2017

Tony Walker's proposals to "fix" the ABC ignore the principal problems (Comment, 17/4). The ABC is starved of funding due to the malevolence of Coalition governments. It needs on its board and as CEO skilled people who are committed to public broadcasting. The ABC's independence should be protected by parliament and must never be beholden to advertisers or commercial interests. The old complaint of left bias has been consistently refuted by numerous independent inquiries. SBS serves a particular audience but is now totally corrupted by advertising. Australia is a wealthy country, which once espoused ideals of justice and integrity. It can afford and must have a national broadcaster providing news, enlightened comment and quality entertainment. Gael Barrett, North Balwyn

The ABC: what should go, what should stay, and what needs fixing

Tony Walker - SMH - April 17, 2017

Let me rise in defence of public broadcasting, not an unqualified defence to be sure but resistance to the idea that public service broadcasting represents a luxury the country can ill afford.

Let's also confront the misuse to which endless debate about public broadcasting's alleged bias has become a weapon in this country's culture wars to no one's benefit least of all consumers. Full story [here]

Cormann stares down One Nation's demand to cut $600m from ABC

Paul Karp - The Guardian - 12 April 2017

The finance minister, Mathias Cormann, has stared down a threat from Senator Brian Burston that One Nation will "reconsider" savings bills if the government doesn't cut $600m from the ABC in the May budget.

Burston and James Ashby, Pauline Hanson's chief of staff and party secretary, have savaged the public broadcasters, accusing the ABC of leftwing bias after a Four Corners special on One Nation and SBS of having too much multicultural and LGBTI content. Full story [here]

Vale John Clarke

The Executive of the NSW & ACT ABC Friends notes the very sad passing of John Clarke, one of Australia's greatest comedians and satirists. This represents an enormous loss for all of us in Australia and New Zealand. Our most heartfelt condolences to John's family, friends and all his colleagues at the ABC.

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

The April 2017edition of Update is now available [here]

New ABC chair Justin Milne says 'high-minded' Malcolm Turnbull will not interfere

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 27, 2017

Incoming ABC chairman Justin Milne says he has deep respect for Malcolm Turnbull but his longstanding friendship with the Prime Minister will have "zero impact" on his role at the public broadcaster.

In an interview with Fairfax Media the telecommunications veteran said he would reduce his board appointments but would continue to serve on the board overseeing the rollout of the National Broadband Network. He also flagged that supercomputers capable of analysing huge amounts of data could be used in the future to assess the ABC's coverage for bias. Full story [here]

Nine key questions for new ABC chairman

Editorial - SMH - March 25, 2017

Taxpayers deserve to be reassured early and often that Justin Milne is his own man, not just a prime ministerial bestie.

Malcolm Turnbull in his pre-prime ministerial days had a lot of time for the ABC - notably as a guest on the much-admired but regularly maligned Q&A program.

The multimillionaire who made a fortune out of internet service provider Ozemail used to share his thoughts about the ABC's role in Australian life and journalism, too. Full story [here]

What will tech and media entrepreneur Justin Milne do with our old ABC?

Lucy Battersby - SMH - March 22, 2017

Justin Milne, the new chairman of the ABC, is a former filmmaker and serial entrepreneur who has been thinking about how television could be delivered over the internet for more than 20 years.

Milne emerged as the government's anticipated pick to helm the public broadcaster on Tuesday. He comes having carved a career rich in technology and broadcasting as well as blue chip corporate experience. Full story [here]

ABC wins top honours at Quills

ABC Media Release - March 18, 2017

In an outstanding night the ABC has won the major honours at the 2016 Quill Awards for Excellence in Victorian Journalism, taking the Gold Quill, the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award and the Young Journalist of the Year Award.

Four Corners reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna was named Journalist of the Year for her reporting on Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which led to a Royal Commission. Full release [here]

ABC MD Michelle Guthrie faces difficult few weeks, says Quentin Dempster

Martin Hirst - Independent Australia - March 18, 2017

Walkley Award-winning reporter and writer Quentin Dempster says the decision to appoint Minerals' Council chair Vanessa Guthrie to the ABC Board was a "direct 'political' choice" that is "provocative and revealing". As Doc Martin reports, it seems to many like a return to the bad old days of political stacking. Full story [here]

On his way out, ABC chairman James Spigelman delivers home truths about the broadcaster

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 17, 2017

Each member of the ABC's audience has a gripe about the public broadcaster - including those who run it.

Managing director Michelle Guthrie has remarked on the ABC's "peculiar obsession" with the British royal family and comparative lack of interest in Asian culture. Full story [here]

ABC farewells Chairman James Spigelman

ABC Media Release - March 16, 2017

Departing ABC Chairman James Spigelman has been recognised for his contributions to the ABC, the law, politics and Indigenous reconciliation at a farewell event held at ABC Ultimo.

Tributes to Mr Spigelman were led by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull - a lifelong friend - the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, the Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke and ABC Board Member Simon Mordant.

Guests included ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, former Managing Director Mark Scott, current ABC Board Members and members of the ABC leadership team. Read the full release [here]

'The most unfashionable rock star': How ABC's Insiders beat Sunrise and Today

Michael Lallo - SMH - March 12, 2017

When it launched, some dismissed Insiders as a niche program. Now, it's Australia's top-rating morning show.

Pauline Hanson is standing in the ABC's Melbourne studios, watching Barrie Cassidy as he welcomes viewers to Insiders. "The government doesn't seem to have a strategy to deal with [her]," Cassidy says. "They don't seem to know whether to appease or oppose." Full story [here]

Reporters share their memories as the ABC celebrates 70 years in the Northern Territory

Emilia Terzon - ABC Radio Darwin - March 11, 2017

Screaming down a main highway wearing a shiny Olympic gold medal, celebrating an internationally anticipated verdict with beers in a bus, and an "endless" stream of crocodile stories.

These are just a few of the memories gathered by ABC veteran reporters since the public broadcaster opened its first bureau in the Northern Territory 70 years ago.

To celebrate the milestone anniversary, four current and former Top End broadcasters have shared their most memorable moments. Read the full story [here]

Media union cries foul over ABC's 'back office' cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 10, 2017

BC staff, many of them seasoned journalists trained in deciphering messages, were blindsided by the revelation that dozens of the job losses outlined by Michelle Guthrie on Tuesday were not middle management at all. Guthrie talked a lot about reducing red tape and eliminating over- management, about bottlenecks and about "reducing the number of management roles across the ABC" in order to create a $50m content fund and 80 new jobs in regional and rural content. Read full story [here]

Guthrie's ABC shapes up, but fears linger

SMH Editorial - March 10, 2017

The new managing director seems focused on delivering taxpayers greater value for money. The question is whether she can do so while maintaining the ABC's independence and integrity.

It is important that the ABC spends as much on content creation as possible. ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie means investing in TV programs and radio broadcasts, along with news and current affairs journalism, drama and cultural shows. Hard to argue with any of that.

There's not enough Australian content on television. Hard to dispute that, either. Full editorial [here]

ABC cuts: Revamped Catalyst could inspire new-look 7.30, Lateline and News

Michael Lallo & Tom McIlroy - SMH - March 8, 2017

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has suggested Catalyst - the controversially revamped science program - could inspire changes to key news and current affairs shows.

In a wide-ranging interview with Radio National's Patricia Karvelas, Guthrie was asked about the future of "crucial programs" including Lateline, 7.30 and the 7pm news bulletins. Full story [here]

ABC to cut 200 jobs as Michelle Guthrie restructure revealed

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 7, 2017

One in five ABC managers - totalling up to 200 staff - will lose their jobs under a sweeping restructure announced by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie.

Ms Guthrie acknowledged the "painful" cuts would be a blow for staff who lose their jobs, but said "swift and decisive action" was needed for the ABC to remain relevant to audiences. Full story [here]

Cut the buzz, Guthrie and tell us what this means for ABC viewers

Michael Lallo - The Examiner - March 8, 2017

An extra $50 million for ABC content. Eighty new jobs in rural and regional Australia. Who could argue with that?

The staff facing retrenchment - up to 200, gone by June - might have a few complaints.

On Tuesday, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie revealed a grand restructure of Australia's national broadcaster. Management and support roles will be slashed. (Though she focused on these cuts, up to 70 production workers on programs including 7.30 and Foreign Correspondent are also facing the axe.) The savings, Guthrie said, will be invested in "content creation". Full story [here]

ABC restructuring: leaner, but hopefully not meaner

Brian McNair - The Conversation - March 7, 2017

Today's long-awaited announcement of restructuring at the ABC highlights two directions for change in the coming year and beyond. Both are welcome.

More money will be spent on content production and delivery, and less on management, which some would say is always a good principle on which to run big public sector corporations. Managing director Michelle Guthrie will reduce the number of the ABC's divisions from 14 to nine "teams", leading to an altogether "leaner, less cumbersome management structure", as she put it in her speech to ABC staff today. Full story [here]

ABC restructure: After a rocky start, Michelle Guthrie finally asserts control

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 7, 2017

Ten months after her arrival as managing director, Tuesday marked the day Michelle Guthrie finally asserted control over the ABC.

Since taking over from Mark Scott, Guthrie's tenure has been marked by internal angst and external confusion about where the ABC is going.

Online conspiracies - suggesting the former News Corp executive is a secret agent pursuing the "Murdochification" of the ABC - have been circulating wildly. Full story [here]

ABC to lose 200 jobs by June in latest round of cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 7, 2017

The ABC will cut 20% of management positions and lose 200 staff by June, in what the managing director, Michelle Guthrie, calls a tough strategy to bring transformational change to the national broadcaster.

The job losses will start immediately in support areas in the TV news and television divisions, and move on to content areas later in the year.

The executive team will be reduced from 14 to eight and powerful new overarching roles have been created for former Nova executive Louise Higgins and current ABC executives Samantha Liston and Leisa Bacon. Full story [here]

$50 million audience investment in ABC transformation

ABC Media Release - March 7, 2017

The ABC will invest $50 million in new content and create 80 new jobs in rural and regional Australia under a new strategy and transformation program announced today by the ABC's Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie.

"Investing in Audiences" involves a number of interlocking initiatives designed to strengthen the Corporation and enhance its ability to deliver on its Act and Charter and serve the community. Full release [here]

Building the ABC's services in regional and remote Australia

ABC Media Release - March 7, 2017

The ABC has announced its biggest ever single investment in regional and remote Australia, to expand the broadcaster's coverage of news and information for audiences across the country.

The Connecting Communities package builds quickly to an extra $15 million a year ongoing, with almost $4 million more to be spent on new tools and technology.

Up to 80 new jobs, delivering regional news and information, will be recruited within 18 months as part of a broader content fund announced by the ABC's Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, today. Continue reading [here]

ABC Managing Director Address to employees

ABC MD Michelle Guthrie staff address - Investing in Audiences March 7, 2017

I joined the ABC because I knew it to be a trusted, much loved and treasured Australian institution. Our audiences and the broader community appreciate the critical role that the national broadcaster plays in the fabric of everyday life.

My ultimate objective as Managing Director has been to strengthen that bond.

Over the past 10 months, I've learned that the ABC has an extraordinary engine: the creativity and drive of its people. Daily, I'm impressed by the energy and passion that goes into your work and the amazing content that springs from it. I know that the ABC has a vibrancy and a community service ethic that needs to be nourished and protected. Full address [here]

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie announces $50m Content Fund, with management positions cut

ABC News - March 7, 2017

The ABC has announced a significant restructure, cutting up to 200 jobs to create a $50 million Content Fund and new positions in regional areas.

Managing director Michelle Guthrie has announced the ABC will cut management positions by an average of 20 per cent across the organisation. Other positions will go as part of an attempt to reduce duplication in support roles.

Up to 200 staff will leave the ABC by June this year. Full story [here]

Michelle Guthrie's creative sackings at the ABC tipped to be in the hundreds

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - March 6, 2017

Hundreds of redundancies at the middle and upper management levels of the ABC are to be progressively initiated by the national broadcaster's managing director Michelle Guthrie on Tuesday.

Ms Guthrie, appointed to the million-dollar-a year job last year, will unveil her board-approved "flattened management" restructure is calculated to free up $50 million in coming years, which is said to be for reinvestment in programs.

After months of work by specially hired consultants and her executive, Ms Guthrie has invited all ABC staff to an internally-broadcast briefing at noon on Tuesday to hear "how we shape the ABC in 2017 and beyond". Full story [here]

An Open Letter to ABC MD Michelle Guthrie

Margaret Reynolds - Spokesperson ABC Friends National Inc - March 3, 2017

ABC Friends National expresses its grave concern about some of the misinformation presented at the Senate Estimates Hearing on Tuesday, 28th. February.

Many of our members urge you to consider the following as a FACT CHECK which suggests that your advisers need to be much more rigorous in their research. Read the letter [here]

Michelle Guthrie says it is not her job to lobby for ABC funding

Amanda Meade & Helen Davidson - The Guardian - February 28, 2017

The ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has told Senate estimates she believes it is not her job to lobby government for more funding for the broadcaster but to work within the budget she is given.

Under questioning at a fiery Senate estimates committee, Guthrie revealed she saw her role as a manager rather than an advocate for more funding, a marked difference from her predecessor Mark Scott who was a consistent lobbyist for additional funding and critic of government cuts.

"On my second day in the job I was handed down the triennial funding in the May budget and as far as I'm concerned we operate within that three-year funding envelope," Guthrie said. Full story [here]

Coalition handpicks mining lobbyist for ABC board position

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 28, 2017

The Coalition has handpicked Western Australian mining lobbyist Vanessa Guthrie to sit on the ABC board, bypassing the independent nomination panel.

Guthrie is the chair of the Minerals Council of Australia and until December was managing director of uranium developer Toro Energy.

Along with Queensland rural leader and businesswoman Georgina Somerset, Guthrie has been appointed by the government to sit on the ABC board for a period of five years. Full story [here]

Turnbull government ignores advice, appoints Minerals Council boss Vanessa Guthrie to ABC Board

Adam Gartell - SMH - February 28, 2017

The Turnbull government has overruled an independent selection panel to appoint the chairwoman of the Minerals Council to the ABC board.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said Vanessa Guthrie has the "requisite skills" to be on the board, despite not making the final list of recommendations put forward by the Nomination Panel for ABC and SBS Board Appointments. Full story [here]

Protest Rally - ABC Centre - Thursday 23 February 12:30 to 1:00PM

 

Come join the protest rally at the ABC Centre in Harris St Ultimo

A broad group of community organisations will be there protesting prior to the ABC Board meeting.

We are extremely concerned that the ABC is failing to meet its charter obligations and that senior management is not genuinely listening to staff or responding to the needs of its audiences. Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), Hands off RN Music and Friends of the ABC say a range of management decisions have created a crisis at the national broadcaster.

Recent decisions that demonstrate how out of touch the ABC Executive has become include:
- The axing of science program Catalyst
- Removing music from Radio National
- Ending shortwave transmission in the NT and Pacific, and
- Dismantling the Religion Unit

ABC management’s decision late last year to cut almost all but one of Radio National’s music programmes from its 2017 schedule drew sharp criticism from artists and audiences. The protest will call on the ABC board to step up and ensure our national broadcaster is properly funded by Government and properly managed by people who are genuinely committed to public broadcasting.

Come join the rally - there is power in numbers!

The death of broadcast television

Michael Bodey - The Saturday Paper - February 18, 2017

The figures presented to television producers in November were alarming. In 2016, the average age of an ABC TV viewer was 66.

Little wonder one of Michelle Guthrie's few tangible objectives since joining the public broadcaster as managing director one year ago has been to "offer distinctive and relevant content not just to under 12s and to the over 45s, but to all Australians".

The quest to capture and retain the elusive millennial (15- to 35-year-old) and generation Y (mid-20s to late 30s) audiences is exercising minds in all media and advertising businesses. Full story [here]

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie aims to save millions by taking axe to management

Matthew Knott - SMH - February 17, 2017

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is poised to announce a sweeping overhaul of the broadcaster's management structures that is designed to free up tens of millions of dollars to invest in programming.

Ms Guthrie's plan - which she has been developing since she arrived at the ABC last May - will be presented to the ABC board for final approval next week, with an official announcement scheduled for next month. Full story [here]

Fact Check: RMIT and ABC News partner to relaunch award-winning service

ABC News - February 14, 2017

The ABC's Fact Check Unit is back in business - with ABC News and RMIT University partnering to relaunch the award-winning news service.

The newly-branded RMIT ABC Fact Check will return in March to once again test and adjudicate on the accuracy of claims made by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in public debate. Full story [here]

See also - The Conversation - February 14, 2017 [here]

Dear Michelle Guthrie, here's how to fix the ABC

Debi Enker - SMH - Jan 30, 2017

The ABC is in transition. Well, that's the milder description: it could also be called a worrying state of flux, with a spate of senior executive exits and persistent reports of low morale and ebbing confidence in managing director Michelle Guthrie, who took up the post in May last year.

In recent months, head of entertainment Jon Casimir, director of ABC TV Richard Finlayson and chief operating officer David Pendleton have announced their departures. Chairman of the board James Spigelman is expected to retire when his term ends on March 31, and there are rumours that Guthrie is considering adopting the BBC model and installing a director of content who would sit above the department heads in the hierarchy. Full story [here]

A short-sighted cut - Video

Barclay White - Shepparton News - February 3, 2017

Senator Nick Xenophon answered the SOS call to force the government and the ABC to Save Our Shortwave.

The South Australian politician and NXT party leader was in Shepparton yesterday for the senate inquiry into the dairy industry and took time out to visit the Shepparton shortwave broadcast station. Watch the interview [here] (YouTube).

'Thousands' in Solomon Islands affected by ABC shortwave cut

RNZ - January 31, 2017

Thousands of people in remote parts of Solomon Islands who tune in to the ABC's shortwave service will be poorer off from today according to a leading activist in the country.

The ABC ends its short-wave service to the region from 1pm Solomon Islands time and says it will focus on FM and online services. Full story [here]

ABC announces 'transitional measures' for shortwave radio listeners

Helen Davidson - The Guardian - January 30, 2017

Just days before it switches off its shortwave radio broadcasts in the Northern Territory, the ABC has announced a package of "transitional measures" for those affected by the cancellation, but federal minister Nigel Scullion has said it is "too little too late".

In December, the ABC announced it would cease transmitting radio broadcasts through shortwave radio in the Northern Territory and parts of the Pacific at the end of January.

The measures announced on Sunday come after weeks of sustained criticism from Coalition and Labor leaders, and remote workers and residents, who said the decision was made with no consultation or consideration of their needs. The announcement does not mention those affected in the Pacific region. Full story [here]

Outback workers fight closure of ABC's shortwave service

The Swinging Post - January 2017

It's essential': outback workers fight ABC decision to ditch shortwave radio.

For some living and working in Australia's outback, shortwave radio is the only way they can listen to the ABC - and their main daily contact with the rest of the world. But the ABC will end the service in two weeks.

"People that live out in contracting camps or mustering stock camps or outstations, and even a lot of the people who live in the bush on cattle stations, spend probably 100% of their waking hours out on the land and have very minimal contact with other human beings," says Tracey Hayes, the chief executive of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association. Full story [here]

National Lobby Group calls for delay to Short Wave Switch Off in the Northern Territory

Media Release - Margaret Reynolds - National President ABC Friends - January 29, 2017

It's time for crisis talks between ABC management and government to save NT Short Wave services before the final switch off on Tuesday 31st.

ABC Management has refused to respond to public concern from Territorians as well as representations from parliamentarians and community groups. The Federal Minister for Communications has not yet acknowledged any government responsibility for essential communications infrastructure and the Foreign Minister has not supported Pacific Island leaders who have also indicated their reliance on Australian short wave services for emergency communications.

Clearly there must be a realistic resolution of this impasse in the best interests of those who still rely on short wave services. It is unacceptable that an urban based decision can so disadvantage isolated Australians and disregard our neighbours.

The estimated cost saving of $1. 9 million and a fresh short wave contract are not valid reasons for ending an essential service without consultation.

ABC Friends National President Margaret Reynolds said "the ABC is risking its strong community support by failing to respect a vulnerable group of Australians"

She said "the Federal Government is also neglecting its oversight of essential communications infrastructure"

Clearly this is an issue that can be resolved if both parties are prepared to negotiate but first there must be a delay to the switch off of short wave services scheduled for Tuesday.

Margaret Reynolds - ABC Friends National President

Bill Shorten calls on Turnbull to save ABC shortwave radio broadcasts

Helen Davidson - The Guardian - January 27, 2017

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has called on the prime minister to step in and save ABC shortwave broadcasts in the Northern Territory, claiming the broadcaster's reasons to shut them down "do not account for the reality" of life in the outback.

In December, the ABC announced it would cease transmitting local radio broadcasts through shortwave radio in the Northern Territory and parts of the Pacific at the end of January.

It did so without community consultation and sparked a backlash from users who say the service is vital in remote areas. Full story [here]

ABC's chief operating officer David Pendleton resigns

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - January 27, 2017

The ABC's chief operating officer, David Pendleton, has resigned ahead of managing director Michelle Guthrie’s major restructure next month.

A 21-year veteran of the ABC, Pendleton is the executive team's most senior member and has steered the finances at the national broadcaster under former managing directors Jonathan Shier, Russell Balding and Mark Scott.

He has been a key figure at Senate estimates, helping managing directors answer questions from senators and explaining financing and policy. "He knows where all the bodies are buried," one source said.

"He is the brains trust of the ABC." Full story [here]

ABC director of television Richard Finlayson quits

Ebony Bowden - SMH - January 20, 2017

Richard Finlayson, the director of ABC TV, has announced his departure from the national broadcaster after three years in the job.

In a statement on Friday, Finlayson said he had handed his resignation to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie. It is understood he will step down at the end of March. Full story [here]

ABC director of television Richard Finlayson resigns

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - January 20, 2017

The director of ABC television, Richard Finlayson, has resigned before a major restructure of the corporation by its managing director, Michelle Guthrie. "I have decided that after more than three very satisfying and rewarding years as Director of ABC TV, it is time to move on to the next stage of my career," Finlayson said in a statement on Friday. Full story [here]

When the music's over at Radio National, artists turn up the heat

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - January 20, 2017

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is working on a major management restructure of the ABC, with at least one significant announcement likely next week. Weekly Beast understands there are big changes coming in the TV department.

But Friday marks the end of an era, with the last broadcast of Radio National’s extensive music programming. All but one music show was axed last year in a restructure of Radio National into a talk network. Full story [here]

'It's essential': outback workers fight ABC decision to ditch shortwave radio

Helen Davidson - The Guardian - January 18, 2017

"People that live out in contracting camps or mustering stock camps or outstations, and even a lot of the people who live in the bush on cattle stations, spend probably 100% of their waking hours out on the land and have very minimal contact with other human beings," says Tracey Hayes, the chief executive of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association.

"You can imagine how isolating that would be without having access to the outside world via radio during the day while you're out in the workplace. But I don't think they took that into consideration." Full story [here]

Children's TV is so much better than the rubbish for grown-ups

Mark Chipperfield - SMH - January 10, 2017

Unlike the vacuous mental floss that adults endure each evening on the free-to-air networks, the shows on ABC Kids are mostly stimulating, well written, fast-paced and grounded in old-fashioned values. Programs such as The Octonauts and Dirtgirlworld deal with issues such as species loss, pollution, sustainable farming and the importance of recycling. Sesame Street teaches kids basic numeracy and the importance of tolerance in a diverse, multicultural society. Fireman Sam, set in the fictional Welsh seaside town of Pontypandy, provides basic lessons about safety and the need for self-sacrifice to preserve community life. Full story [here]

The Day the Music Died - 20 January 2017 - National Day of Action

Fight the ABC's decision to cut music programming from Radio National. Much-loved shows - The Inside Sleeve, The Daily Planet, The Rhythm Divine and The Live Set - are to be axed with no replacement. More details [here]

This decision has disastrous implications for the independent and non-mainstream music industry in Australia, and for listeners Australia-wide, particularly in remote or regional areas.

Sign the petition and share your stories about Radio National Music Shows

Facebook Page * Facebook Community Group * www.savernmusic.com

Position Vacant - ABC Board Chairperson

Applications are invited to fill the upcoming vacancy in the role of Chairperson on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Board. Applications close at 5.00 pm (AEDT) on Friday 27 January 2017.

For further information on this process, including detailed selection criteria for the position and application information [here].

Details on the Nomination Panel for ABC and SBS Board Appointments [here].

ABC Friends urges members and friends with skills to lead the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to consider nominating for the position of Chair of the public broadcasting corporation to lead it into the future.

A number of eminent Australians have helped shape the ABC as a national icon for 85 years so it is important the new chair has a range of skills to tackle complex media challenges in this anniversary year.

Perhaps the most important skill is to advocate for independent public broadcasting that reaches all Australians wherever they live. It is also essential that the new ABC Chair can negotiate with government and parliamentarians to protect our popular national icon.

The year Australia's newspapers broke me

Josh Bornstein - The New Daily - January 5, 2017

The relentless accusations of "left-wing bias", the numerous reviews and inquiries, wave after wave of punitive funding cuts, the stacking of the ABC board with ultra conservatives including Maurice Newman and Janet Albrechtsen, the dysfunctional Jonathan Shier era and, more recently, a government black-ban of a panel talk show have all taken their toll.

The cultural revolution unfolding at the ABC intensified in 2016. It broadcast a reality television show about the debate concerning the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, providing star billing to Andrew Bolt, an ABC hater, who argues the climate is cooling and who has been found by the federal court to have illegally racially vilified Aboriginal people. Full story [here].

New threat to lives in outback - Plea for urgent ministerial action

Media Release - Margaret Reynolds - National President ABC Friends - January 5, 2017

An urgent call for ministerial action to protect short wave services in Northern and Central Australia has been made by ABC Friends National.

"It is the responsibility of both the Minister for Communications Senator Fifield and the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to respond to this very real need with urgency," said ABC Friends National President Margaret Reynolds today.

ABC Friends National sent a letter in December to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, urging him to intervene so as to guarantee the ABC had sufficient funding to maintain the short wave service - which is so essential in rural and remote areas.

"Furthermore a number of Pacific Island states also rely on this service especially in the current cyclone season," Margaret Reynolds said, "Pacific leaders have expressed concern about a loss of this service."

"It is unacceptable to simply blame the ABC when government funding has been reduced so severely in recent years."

"The ABC cannot provide adequate communication services for all Australians in isolated regions as well as support our Pacific neighbours if it is constantly facing funding cutbacks."

"The Australian Government must accept that, ultimately, short wave services can provide early warning and be an important preventative disaster measure," she said.

'You need to be prepared to make enemies': Caro Meldrum-Hanna on Four Corners

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 30, 2016

ABC's flagship current affairs show had a blinder of a year - continuing its groundbreaking journalism and grabbing sometimes unwelcome attention.

Nine's 60 Minutes might have hogged the headlines with its kidnapping antics in Beirut this year but in Australian TV current affairs it was the ABC's Four Corners that made its presence felt.

The program's shocking images from inside the Don Dale detention centre forced a royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory the day after Australia's Shame was broadcast. Full story [here]

ABC most trusted news source, poll shows, after Turnbull minister accuses it of 'fake news'

SMH - Stephanie Peatling - December 23, 2016

People trust the ABC more than any other news source and would like to see it given more money and protected from political interference, research shows.

The poll, conducted by Research Now for think tank the Australia Institute, found voters trusted and were supportive of the national broadcaster regardless of their political leanings. Full story [here]

Bishop presses ABC on Pacific 'concerns' over shortwave radio cut

Stefan Armbruster - SBS - December 22, 2016

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop has raised the Pacific region's "concerns" about the ABC's planned abolition of Radio Australia's shortwave service with the national broadcaster and will "seek an update in the New Year".

A chorus of criticism from the Pacific greeted the decision to pull the plug on the almost eight decades of broadcasting on January 31, with warnings it would deprive the region of "life saving" information.

Radio Australia shortwave reaches parts of the Pacific lacking FM radio or the internet, from the isolated Papua New Guinea Highlands to remote atolls, and is especially valued during natural disasters and political upheavals. Full story [here]

Cabinet minister Matt Canavan accuses ABC of publishing 'fake news' in bizarre Adani interview

SMH - Stephanie Peatling - December 23, 2016

A Turnbull government minister has accused the ABC of running "fake news" in its coverage of the Adani coal mine and treating regional Queensland like "flyover country".

In a bizarre interview with the broadcaster's AM radio program on Thursday morning, Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the ABC's coverage of an Indian finance ministry probe into the Adani group was "nothing but fake news". Full story [here]

Your ABC or your ASX

The Australia Institute - Rod Campbell & Fergus Pitt - December 15, 2016

The ABC is not biased against business according to the recent ABC Editorial Review of business and economics coverage.

Far from being anti-business, research released today by The Australia Institute finds that the ABC's ample coverage of business and economics skews towards big business.

Big business receives three to five times more ABC coverage than the small to medium businesses that make up a third of the Australian economy. Full story [here]

Friends go National!

There are ABC Friends or Friends of the ABC associations in each state and until recently have operated quite independently. There was always talk of a national coming together but for one reason or another it never eventuated. In June 2015 the Presidents from each state met in Adelaide to develop a national campaign for the forthcoming federal elections. The National Campaign Committee was formed and drove a highly successful campaign leading up to the 2 July 2016 elections.

During the campaign the advantage of working together, sharing resources etc., became even more obvious and so a National Steering Committee was formed to set up a national umbrella organisation for ABC Friends. Bobbie Mackley (WA), Margaret Reynolds & Kate Durkin (Tas), Sue Pinnock (SA/NT), Peter Monie (Vic) and Chris. Cartledge (NSW/ACT) have developed the necessary documentation for incorporation as ABC Friends National Inc.

On 12 December 2016 it became a reality when ABC Friends National Inc. was officially registered! The States will continue to operate as they do now, managing membership, finances and local campaigns/events but will no longer stand alone. Already standard membership categories and fees have been agreed, a national website developed (abcfriends.org.au) and the Friends social media (Facebook) significantly enhanced.

Michelle Guthrie, the ABC and the turning of a once-shining jewel into mainstream sludge

Richard Ackland - The Guardian - December 14, 2016

All public broadcasters are engaged in a constant process of chopping, slicing and reinventing, and every boss spreads his or her own brand of unhappiness.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is going through one of its periodic meltdowns, brought about because a new managing director has come down from the moon and set about doing things her way.

Michelle Guthrie has arrived at the public broadcaster via Google and the House of Murdoch, with a mission to trim the budget and to keep pace with technology and its impact on viewing patterns. Full story [here]

ABC News: End of shortwave radio service 'could be life threatening'

The Swinging Post - December 2016

An Indigenous ranger group in the Northern Territory says the ABC's decision to end its shortwave radio service could be life threatening.

The ABC announced this week its three HF shortwave radio transmitters at Katherine, Tennant Creek and Roe Creek (Alice Springs), would be switched off on January 31, 2017.

ABC Radio will continue to broadcast on FM and AM bands, via the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service, streaming online and via the mobile phone application. Full story [here]

Pacific nations lose shortwave radio services that evade dictators and warn of natural disasters

Alexandra Wake - The Conversation - December 9, 2016

Australia's decision to take another step back from international broadcasting by ceasing its far reaching border crossing shortwave radio services has raised questions about who will fill the void.

For almost 80 years, Australia has provided such shortwave services, including vital emergency service information, to Asia and the Pacific. But government funding cuts saw Asian services turned off in January 2015. And now the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has decided to cut the remaining services to residents of remote parts of the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and parts of northern Australia by ceasing its shortwave radio services to the Pacific from the end of January 2017. Full story [here]

Michelle Guthrie's bruising first year atop the ABC: 'The way it was done was brutal'

Matthew Knott - SMH - December 9, 2016

Just four days into the job, it was clear Michelle Guthrie was in for a bumpy start as managing director of the ABC.

Guthrie was appearing at the May Senate estimates hearings and had told the committee she wanted to make her 7pm flight to Sydney. This left less than an hour for questions. The senators were not impressed. "Our response: you finish when we stop asking questions," one angry senator texted journalists. "My goal is to make her miss her flight." Full story [here]

'She doesn't get what we do': has ABC boss Michelle Guthrie got the insiders on her side?

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 9, 2016

Despite an encouraging start, the former Murdoch and Google executive has drawn fire from staff angry at cuts, an allegedly detached leadership style and apparent lack of understanding of some of Aunty's key values.

At the Lowy Institute in August, the ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, praised Four Corners for its story on youth detention in the Northern Territory, singling out the investigative journalism program as one of the jewels in the public broadcasting crown.

"Investigations like the searing Australia's Shame put together by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and her team on Four Corners that prove the adage that real news is revealing what someone else is trying to keep secret," she said in her keynote speech. Full story [here]

Jaws drop at ABC as Michelle Guthrie defends Radio National cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 9, 2016

Michelle Guthrie was in Perth last week to attend the opening of the new Screenwest office located on a vacant floor inside the ABC building. The ABC managing director welcomed the screen funding agency's co-location, saying they were both in the business of making "exceptional content". And later in the afternoon she held a meet and greet with some of the ABC people who make that exceptional content, at an informal gathering over a cup of tea with local radio, news and RN staffers. Guthrie inadvertently found herself sitting at a table with staff from Radio National, which has been subjected to yet more cuts. ABC bosses 'morally and spiritually bankrupt' for axing Catalyst, RN presenter says.

Staff asked Guthrie questions about the loss of programs and experienced program-makers, and told her how upset the staff and listeners were to lose more documentary and music programs and explained why they had signed a no-confidence motion against RN management. But it didn't go at all well. Full story [here]

You say 'elite media', I say real journalism. And now more than ever we must fight to keep it

Denis Muller - The Conversation - December 9, 2016

A word, if I may, on this nasty new term of abuse "elite media" - they who perpetrate "elite journalism".

This is the journalism said by those who use the term to be out of touch with so-called "ordinary people" and their everyday concerns.

It is the journalism said to be done by people living inside the "goat's cheese curtain", in the chic inner suburbs of our cities, who are dismissed as having no idea what it is like to live in the outer suburbs, much less in regional or remote areas.

The phrase was invoked recently by Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm in his irrational proposition that he could generate a "freedom offset" against the impositions of the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation by forcing the ABC to conduct community forums after its board meetings.

This, he argued, would force its people to receive knowledge from those who lived beyond the "curtain" and so help broaden the ABC's collective mind. Full story [here]

Michelle Guthrie appoints Murdoch consultant to restructure ABC

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 6, 2016

Jim Rudder, who has spent most of his career working for Sky, has been brought in to help deliver Guthrie's plans for the ABC

Michelle Guthrie has hired Jim Rudder, a veteran consultant to Rupert Murdoch's global pay-TV company, Sky, to help restructure the ABC.

A former product executive at Foxtel in Sydney, Rudder has spent most of his career working for Sky. The Australian journalist has consulted for Sky operations in the UK, Germany, Italy, the US and Australia. He also spent a year as news director for Channel Nine in 2003.

Along with the "business transformation expert" Debra Frances, Rudder was brought in on a short-term contract in November "to assist the Executive in delivering our 2020 strategic objectives", Guthrie told her executive team in an email. Full story [here]

ABC Exits Shortwave Radio Transmission

ABC Media Release - December 6, 2016

The ABC will end its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences from 31 January 2017.

The move is in line with the national broadcaster's commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.

The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the VAST satellite service. Full release [here]

ABC board demands director of radio explain Radio National cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian.com - December 7, 2016

The ABC board has asked the director of radio, Michael Mason, to explain the rationale behind the cuts to Radio National at a monthly, two-day board meeting in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday.

Guardian Australia understands the managing director of the ABC, Michelle Guthrie, did not brief board members before the announcement last month of severe cuts to documentary and music programs. Full story [here]

ABC chair Jim Spigelman not expected to be reappointed by Turnbull government

Matthew Knott - SMH - December 5, 2016

The ABC is set for more uncertainty over coming months with the Turnbull government not expected to reappoint James Spigelman as the public broadcaster's chair when his term expires in March.

The ABC has been beset by tension and controversy over recent months because of changes to television and radio programming for 2017, including an overhaul of TV science program Catalyst and the removal of most music programs from Radio National. Full story [here]

Cutting on the bias

Jane Goodall - Inside Story - December 5, 2016

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has had a bad time in the headlines over the past couple of weeks. After responding to Noel Pearson's allegations that the ABC is "a miserable racist broadcaster" she has faced a barrage of criticism for recent cuts to Radio National programming and the loss of Catalyst from ABC television, along with its team of seventeen specialised science broadcasters. Variously accused of being "out of her depth" and "morally and spiritually bankrupt," of "gutting a cultural treasure trove" and "remaking the ABC in Murdoch's image," is she taking more heat than she deserves? Full story [here]

'If they don't like it they should leave': tensions escalate between ABC management and staff

Matthew Knott - SMH - December 5, 2016

Some of the ABC's most prominent presenters have urged their colleagues not to resist change as tensions intensify between staff and management over the direction of the ABC under managing director Michelle Guthrie.

ABC staff have in recent weeks been openly critical of programming changes for 2017, including an overhaul of TV science program Catalyst and the decommissioning of almost all music programs on Radio National. The changes follow earlier decisions to abolish the ABC Fact Check unit and online opinion and analysis site The Drum. Full details [here]

ABC wins 5 Walkley Awards in 2016

The 61st Walkeley Awards for Excellence in Journalism announced recently saw the ABC receiving a total of five awards - see full details [here]

1) Radio/Audio News and Current Affairs - PM and AM, ABC Radio, "Voices from Besieged Syria"

2) Business Journalism & Investigative Journalism - Fairfax Newspapers and ABC TV Four Corners, "Money For Nothing"

3) International Journalism - Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, "Yemen: The War on Children"

4) TV/AV Daily Current Affairs - 7.30, ABC TV, "Anglican Church Paedophile Ring"

5) Interview - Four Corners, ABC TV, "Jackson and Lawler"

Senior ABC staff say Michelle Guthrie 'out of her depth'

Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - December 3, 2016

There are many reasons the ABC comes up in survey after survey as the country's most trusted institution. Robyn Williams, it is fair to say, is one of them.

The list of honours and achievements he has collected over more than 40 years with the national broadcaster's science unit is impressive. He has 10 books to his name, multiple honorary doctorates, holds various positions with several universities here and overseas, was the first journalist to be made a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and was voted a national living treasure by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). And that list barely scratches the surface. Full story [here]

ABC bosses 'morally and spiritually bankrupt' for axing Catalyst, RN presenter says

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 30, 2016

Robyn Williams laments 'trashed' science team as prominent musicians and writers call on Michelle Guthrie to reverse cuts to ABC music.

Pressure is mounting on ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, and the board as the community backlash to recent cuts to specialist programming on radio and television grows.

ABC radio broadcaster Robyn Williams called ABC management 'morally and spiritually bankrupt' for axing the magazine-style science program Catalyst as many of the nation's prominent musicians backed a campaign to reverse cuts to ABC music.

Hundreds of artists including Paul Kelly, Gurrumul, Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Kate Ceberano, Tim Freedman, Sarah Blasko, Megan Washington and Katie Noonan have signed an open letter to Guthrie and the ABC board saying they are appalled by the decision to axe Daily Planet, Inside Sleeve, The Live Set, Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack. Full story [here]

Neither the ABC nor SBS have anything to fear from community forums

Brian McNair - The Conversation - November 30, 2016

Some have questioned senator David Leyonhjelm's demand that in return for his support on the government's bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the public service media organisations ABC and SBS be required to hold regular community forums. Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described it as "a ridiculous suggestion", and accused Leyonhjem of "playing off the ABC and SBS in order to exchange votes in the Senate".

Motivations aside, it can't be a bad idea for publicly funded media to be held more accountable to their taxpaying users than has been the tradition in Australia. A community forum seems a sensible way of going about it. Full story [here]

ABC board meetings emerge as David Leyonhjelm's latest ABCC bargaining chip

Matthew Knott - SMH - November 28, 2016

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has emerged as the latest bargaining chip in the government's frenzied bid to reintroduce a building industry watchdog before Parliament rises for the year.

As revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has agreed to support the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in exchange for changes to the way the ABC board conducts its meetings. Senator Leyonhjelm's vote will be crucial for the government to pass its bill to reintroduce the ABCC, one of its double dissolution election triggers. Full story [here]

Changes to Radio National are gutting a cultural treasure trove

Siobhan McHugh - The Conversation - November 25, 2016

"RN is the home of big thinking, big ideas, and the national conversation," the statement from ABC management said. It seems odd that, in pursuit of that notion, RN intends to halve the output of its documentary program, Earshot; cease almost all music broadcasting; abort its flagship sound art show, Soundproof, and a short-form storytelling show, PocketDocs; and dispense with the services of respected religious broadcaster John Cleary as well as seven music and features producers.

Cleary's show, Sunday Nights, deals with "religion and ethics, beliefs and values, as they shape the issues affecting daily life in Australia and around the world". Given how much religion has informed the geopolitical landscape since 9/11, it is extraordinary that the ABC would terminate a presenter who is not only manifestly expert in this sensitive area, but whose ratings are also remarkable. Often, they were within a few points of the popular host Tony Delroy, who until recently occupied the slot weeknights. Full story [here]

Meet Fran Kelly, disc jockey: ABC bosses defend their music cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian.com - November 25, 2016

Our story last week about the big changes to Radio National in 2017 has sparked a great deal of anger from fans of the ideas network who fear management is dismantling the public broadcaster's intellectual heart with cuts to specialist programming. This week there were emotional scenes at a meeting between staff and management as the changes - including giving a second program to conservative Tom Switzer and cutting most of the music programming - were discussed. Management team members were jeered when they claimed there was still music on RN because Fran Kelly played music on Breakfast. On Thursday staff passed a no-confidence motion against management - namely the architect of the changes, director of radio Michael Mason. Full story [here]

ABC staff move no confidence motion against management over radio cuts

Ebony Bowden - SMH - November 24, 2016

ABC employees have fired a warning shot at their superiors, telling them that staff have lost confidence in their ability to manage the organisation.

More than 60 Radio National staff met at the broadcaster's Ultimo office on Thursday.

They unanimously passed a motion of no confidence, citing "systemic failure" in senior radio management and "the erosion of the editorial and managerial responsibilities of executive producers". Full story [here]

Poffington, bring me another 11 Pimms. I've been sacked by the ABC

First Dog on the Moon - The Guardian.com - November 18, 2016

The conservative media were delighted at the news that the Guide to Modern Living - the jewel in the crown of Radio National - had been sold to the IPA. Cartoon [here]

Malcolm Turnbull called out on the thought behind 'elite media' criticism

Chris Johnson - The NewDaily - November 20, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull is not the first prime minister to criticise journalists and their editors, but when he described the ABC and other outlets as "elite media" last week, political watchers across the country were bemused.

With the nation's very recent history proving that a fight with the media is not one any political leader should want to have, some pundits are describing Mr Turnbull's comments as unwise in the extreme.

"Has he not learned anything from Tony Abbott?" asked political lecturer at Australian National University, Dr Andrew Hughes. Full story [here]

Margaret Throsby's Midday to end in ABC Classic FM shakeup

Clive Paget - Limelight Magazine - November 17, 2016

State Symphony Orchestra Chairmen express collective disappointment at station's less talk, more music direction.

Margaret Throsby's Midday Interview is the major casualty in a shakeup of ABC Classic FM announced yesterday. A staple for many radio listener, Throsby’s popular, long-running weekday programme will be replaced by a single three-hour show, Saturday Morning with Margaret Throsby. "The decision was entirely mine, and sought by me in the middle of this year," Throsby told Limelight. "The move is being made with the ABC's blessing”. Full story [here]

Malcolm Turnbull's change of tune strains ABC friendship

Stephanie Peating - SMH - November 16, 2016

From leather-jacketed guest to constructive critic, the PM has all bases covered when it comes to the national broadcaster.

On a chilly winter's night in Canberra two years ago, Malcolm Turnbull attended the launch of a new group of cross-party MPs keen to show their support for the ABC. Full story [here]

Malcolm Turnbull turns attack on ABC and the 'elite media' for distracting people

Fergus Hunter - SMH - November 15, 2016

The ABC and "elite media" are to blame for distracting people from the government's focus on economic growth, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, at pains to emphasise that he is in touch with the concerns of real people.

Grilled by the ABC's Leigh Sales on 7.30 about the persistence of Coalition MPs seeking to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the Prime Minister agreed that the issue is not a priority for the electorate. Full story [here]

The ABC is failing the people of NSW but Michelle Guthrie has the power to fix it

Sean Nicholls - SMH - November 11, 2016

Six months since her appointment in May, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie will on Friday wander up to Martin Place from Ultimo for a sit down with Premier Mike Baird.

No doubt, like any meeting between a political leader and the head of a media organisation, issues of coverage and balance will be high on the agenda. Full story [here]

The ABC Friends' 2017 Fundraising Calendar

Calendar

Printed in Australia on high-quality paper, the ABC Friends' 2017 Calendar is a beautiful addition to any wall. With a series of stunning photographs, we bring you a subtler vision of our great country, with pictures that highlight Australia's everyday beauty. It would make a great Christmas gift!

The Calendar is large-format, with plenty of space for you to write-in appointments and events, and includes useful and entertaining information about Our ABC. All profits from the calendar will be spent on defending the ABC's funding and independence. More details [here]

What the ABC's new Catalyst could mean for science on TV

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Joan Leach & Merryn McKinnon - The Conversation - November 4, 2016

The ABC says the run of the popular science television show, Catalyst, has reached the end in its current format.

In its place, the ABC has proposed it will deliver a series of 17 one hour-long documentaries that will be aired later in the evening than the current half-hour science magazine style programming.

It would appear that most Catalyst staff will be let go from the new series as the ABC says "up to 9 ongoing staff members may be affected" although "some staff" will be offered other positions.

This change is despite Catalyst's popularity and relatively inexpensive costs. Many documentary makers are somewhat sceptical of the ability of the ABC to follow through on the promise of the 17 documentaries independently produced from outside the ABC. Full story [here]

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie muddles her answers - then wields the axe

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 16, 2016

It's been the worst week for Michelle Guthrie since she started as the ABC's managing director in May. At Melbourne University's New News conference last Friday she made a couple of remarks which had to be hosed down at the weekend by her corporate minders. Then on Monday she was at the centre of a last-ditch attempt to reverse a decision by the ABC board to get rid of the award-winning science magazine show Catalyst, which is watched on TV and on digital platforms by 1 million people a week. Axing a popular show which is made in-house and which is central to the ABC charter is not a good look for a new MD. Full story [here]

'A fundamental challenge to the ABC's independence': ABC chair unloads on Turnbull government

Matthew Knott - SMH - November 2, 2016

ABC chairman Jim Spigelman has lashed out at the Turnbull government, accusing it of posing a "fundamental challenge to the independence of the ABC" by attempting to influence the broadcaster's staffing policies.

The government is furious with the ABC over a new three-year pay deal with its employees that includes 2 per cent annual pay rises, a $500 sign on bonus, two weeks' extra paid parental leave and a new provision for domestic violence leave. Full story [here]

ABC Friends' Annual Award Night Party - November 25, 2016

Join us to celebrate our Excellence in Broadcasting Award. This year the award goes to the ABC flagship program 4 Corners.

ABC's Annual Report 2016

The ABC's Annual Report for 2016 is available [here]

ABC in 2017: Diversity a focus, but which popular shows aren't returning?

Michael Lallo - SMH - November 2, 2016

As the ABC prioritises cultural diversity, some popular programs face an uncertain future.

When Michelle Guthrie took over as managing director of ABC in May, she knew the broadcaster had a problem. "I have heard it said ... that the ABC has captured the hearts and minds of every preschool and aged-care facility," the former Google executive joked in her first major speech.

Under her watch, she vowed, Aunty would strive harder to appeal to all Australians. Full story [here]

ABC axes Friday edition of 7.30 program to make way for Stan Grant show

Fergus Hunter - SMH - October 28, 2016

The ABC has axed the Friday broadcast of the 7.30 program less than two years after it controversially replaced state-based editions of the show.

From 2017 the slot will be filled by a current affairs program hosted by veteran journalist Stan Grant, who has also been appointed as the national broadcaster's new editor of Indigenous affairs. Full story [here]

It's on: government says ABC offered staff a soft pay deal

Noel Towell - SMH - October 28, 2016

A new front has opened in the Coalition's war on the ABC as government ministers accuse the broadcaster of going soft on its staff in a new pay deal.

The government says the ABC's workplace agreement snubs the Coalition's hardline public sector bargaining policy being pushed by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. Full story [here]

Sabra Lane quits 7.30 to host the ABC's flagship radio show, AM

Michael Lallo - SMH - October 26, 2016

If politicians think this is good news for them, they should think again.

After three years as 7.30's political editor, Sabra Lane is leaving the ABC's nightly current affairs program. But Australia's politicians shouldn't breathe easy. They'll still cop a grilling from Lane, with a national audience. Only the medium will be different. Full story [here]

Attacking the ABC is a win-win for conservatives. The latest furore is no surprise.

Lee Zachariah - The Guardian - October 21, 2016

Conservative attitudes to the ABC are best summed up in a single exchange with John Howard on ABC radio to promote his show on ABC TV.

Monday night's Four Corners program about the treatment of asylum seeker children on Nauru has seen the program and the ABC attacked by both the Australian and Nauruan governments. These broad swipes - attacking the ABC as an institution rather than addressing the merits of the journalism - is an approach that only works if you've been undermining the national broadcaster through years of culture wars.

The entire conservative attitude towards the ABC was summed up in a single exchange last month. Full story [here]

Sydney Morning Herald Editor Judith Whelan quits Fairfax Media to join the ABC

Georgina Mitchell - SMH - October 14, 2016

The Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Whelan, will leave Fairfax Media to join the ABC.

Ms Whelan has been appointed the Head of Spoken Content at ABC Radio and will oversee the capital city radio network, Radio National and sports network Grandstand. Full story [here]

One Nation's Brian Burston slams ABC

Francis Keany - ABC News - October 12, 2016

A One Nation senator has suggested de-funding the ABC and establishing the "Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation" instead.

New South Wales senator Brian Burston has criticised multiculturalism and Muslim immigration in his maiden speech to Federal Parliament. Full story [here]

The Conversation working with The ABC

Misha Ketchell - The Conversation - October 3, 2016

Today I'd like to fill you in on some work we've been doing behind the scenes. The Conversation's mission is to help create a better informed public debate by making it easier for academics and researchers to take part.

One way we do this is by sharing the expertise of The Conversation's academic authors as widely as we can. We make everything we do free to republish under creative commons and work in partnership with key media organisations in Australia and globally.

A few weeks ago we deepened our collaboration with the ABC to ensure the Australian public broadcaster gets the best from The Conversation authors. For the past six weeks Adam Connors, a senior member of the ABC news team, has been working with us to alert ABC journalists to our upcoming articles and identify opportunities to work with the ABC to inform its audience with deep context and explanation. Full story [here]

Michelle Guthrie pushes ABC executives to go for the X-factor

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 16, 2016

The ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has embarked on a grand plan to reshape the broadcaster, starting with a hand-picked team of executives dubbed Think-X.

Shorthand for "Thinking Experience", Think-X has a clear goal: work out how to be more "pan-ABC", whatever that means. "Think-X came from the MD's observation that we need a more strategic, pan-ABC approach to shaping and raising engagement across our three main stakeholder groups - staff, audiences and community," the leaked memo says. Full story [here]

Aussie TV viewers' biggest gripes revealed

SMH - Michael Lallo - September 11, 2016

When Labor was in power, Aussie TV viewers had a prosaic list of gripes: shows that started and finished late (or disappeared mid-season) and incorrect program guides. But during Tony Abbott's prime ministership, a bigger concern emerged: keeping our public broadcasters free of government influence. At least, that's what TV Tonight's audience survey respondents say.

And for the second year running, they've nominated the independence of ABC and SBS as their greatest worry. Full story [here]

ABC clarifies Swisse sponsorship after uni 'damned by association'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 30, 2016

The ABC has had to clarify its sponsorship arrangements with Swisse Wellness after Monash University came under fire for being too closely associated with the vitamin brand on the ABC's international website.

Last week the ABC promoted its new commercial sponsorships by displaying three logos - Swisse, Monash and the Victorian government - together in a blue banner on Australia Plus. Full story [here]

Letter from Lynley Marshall, Chief Executive ABC International

"ABC International is expressly permitted under the ABC Act to accept advertising and sponsorship. It does so in accordance with the ABC Editorial Policies, ensuring that editorial decisions are in no way influenced by any companies, Government, universities or other organisations who advertise or provide sponsorship on Australia Plus." Full letter [here]

Nielsen Digital Ratings: ABC Leads Unique Audience, Nine.com.au Enters Top Five

B & T Magazine - August 29, 2016

The ABC News websites have surged into top spot for unique audience, overtaking previous leaders of news.com.au and smh. Meanwhile, nine.com.au has made its first appearance in the top five, following its recent rebrand.

The ABC’s news sites have seen an increase in unique audience of 30 per cent to 6.5 million, compared to the previous month. Full story [here]

Landmark study finds diversity lagging on Australian TV

The Conversation - Madeleine de Gabriele - August 24, 2016

In 1999, there were just two Indigenous actors on Australian television: Aaron Pederson and Heath Bergerson. Today, 5% of all main characters on our small screens are Indigenous, while Indigenous people make up 3% of our population.

This dramatic turnaround is one of the most positive findings of a Screen Australia survey of all 199 dramas aired on Australian television between 2011 and 2015. On screen portrayal of other culturally diverse groups, such as those of non-Anglo Celtic background and those identifying as LGBTQI lags far behind their representation in the community. Full story [here]

ABC under fire over deal with vitamin giant Swisse Wellness

SMH - Matthew Knott - August 24, 2016

The ABC has come under fire for signing a sponsorship deal with Swisse Wellness that will help the vitamin giant promote its products throughout the Asia-Pacific.

The ABC this week announced Swisse, the Victorian government and Monash University as its three "foundation partners" for its international media service Australia Plus. Full story [here]

ABC announces partnership with Swisse Wellness

AJP.com.au - Sheshtyn Paola - August 23, 2016

ABC International, a division of the ABC responsible for the broadcaster's international outlets, has announced it has taken on its first partners to support the expansion of its online media service Australia Plus.

These partners are Monash University, the Victorian State government and Swisse Wellness, which it refers to in its press release as "Australia's leading natural health brand".

Australia Plus Foundation Partners receive exclusive branding and advertising opportunities across all Australia Plus online platforms, digital and social media channels and Australia Plus TV, as well as through regional partners including Beijing TV and Singapore's Mediacorp. Full story [here]

A Global ABC: Address to the 2016 Lowy Institute Media Award Dinner

Michelle Guthrie - MD ABC - Aug 11, 2016

"My first few months at the ABC have highlighted the importance of an international perspective in the job."

"The ABC is an immensely proud Australian institution with an 84-plus year history. However, if it is to flourish up to – and beyond – its 100th birthday, the Corporation cannot pretend that best practice will come from looking inward. Our audiences and our media colleagues long ago transcended national borders and the ABC needs to be truly global in its thinking and its actions."

"The challenges the ABC is facing are the same as those confronting every media company in the world – from the traditional players, through to the new, digital upstarts." Read the full address [here]

Protect ABC Classic FM - Petition

ABC Classic FM, Australia's only national classical music broadcasting network, is at risk of a major restructure which will replaced established presenter-led live-to-air formats with pre-recorded, digitally managed programming.

Broadcasting 24 hours a day, it presents a broad range of music to a loyal listenership, curated by knowledgeable and expert presenters. It has been a showcase for many talented Australian orchestras and musicians.

Act now to save this precious jewel of the ABC by adding your name to a petition to new ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie. Sign the petition [here]

Nats ‘ignored’ ABC funding concerns

Echonet Daily - July 27, 2016

The group Friends of the ABC says the National Party has not responded to a recent survey it sent to federal candidates in Page and Richmond and requests to meet with the party's Page MP Kevin Hogan and Richmond candidate Matthew Fraser were 'ignored'.

ABC Friends Northern Rivers recently wrote to local MPs and electoral candidates for the three major parties in Page and Richmond, asking them to 'indicate their position regarding the value and role of the ABC'.

Peter Dickson, President of the Northern Rivers ABC Friends said that 'our key questions to these politicians and would-be politicians related to maintaining the independence, continued public funding and future direction of our ABC, given the broken promise made prior to the 2014 budget.' Full story [here]

Waleed Aly to present the 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture

ABC Media Release - July 27, 2016

The 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture will be delivered by Waleed Aly, one of Australia’s most respected and versatile media talents on Friday 14 October 2016 and broadcast on 702 ABC Sydney.

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie described Waleed as an original voice in Australian national affairs and an outstanding choice for this year’s Andrew Olle Lecture, delivered in memory of one of Australia’s greatest journalists.

“The ABC is delighted Waleed has accepted our invitation to deliver the 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture,” Ms Guthrie said. Full story [here]

Changing their tune: ABC news theme update back on agenda

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 6, 2016

It has long been a dream at the ABC: a single theme song played at the start of news bulletins on both television and radio. And now it's back on the agenda.

Fairfax Media understands the ABC wants to update its news themes and create a consistent brand across all its platforms.

Having different themes is seen as out-dated in the digital era, as audiences increasingly consume content on their mobile phones and computers.

As part of these discussions, the ABC has explored resurrecting a much-loved former theme which has since taken a new life as a dance-floor favourite. Full story [here]

ABC source dries up as transcripts of news and current affairs shows curtailed

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 5, 2016

Some broadcasters at the ABC are not happy with a decision by management to dramatically wind back transcriptions of news and current affairs programs. The transcripts of AM, The World Today, PM, 7.30 and Lateline are a major journalistic source at Aunty and beyond, and are also widely used by politicians, researchers and the public.

But a note from the head of current affairs, Bruce Belsham, seen by Weekly Beast, says only one key interview from each radio program will be transcribed. "From Monday 8th August there is a change to our transcription set-up and from then only the key interviews from our programs will be transcribed," the note said. Full story [here]

ABC's Four Corners shines light on NT juvenile justice system

Mark Day - The Australian - August 1, 2016

Even the ABC's sternest critics must grant this: Aunty hit a purple patch last week. Its fearless reporting made global headlines, sparked immediate government action and quite possibly provided us with a glimpse of the future of journalism. It was quite a week.

7.30 kicked it off on Monday with a report on age abuse which showed an apparent attempt to suffocate an 89-year-old man in a nursing home. That disturbing incident was quickly overshadowed by Four Corners' scandalous vision from inside Northern Territory detention facilities - a report sure to be another Gold Walkley Award contender from reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna. Full story [here]

Four Corners' NT justice story exemplar of mainstream media

Chris Mitchell - The Australian - August 1, 2016

The media takeout from the astounding Four Corners program on Monday night and the royal commission into juvenile justice in the Northern Territory announced Tuesday morning has to be this: mainstream media is more important to our nation continent in the age of Twitter and 24-hour current affairs television than it has ever been.

Never has there been more media to less effect. Millions of words were written and spoken this week about the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and the five children whose plight was highlighted in closed-circuit television footage aired on the program. Full story [here]

ABC cleared of 'anti-business' bias in independent review

Matthew Knott - SMH - July 22, 2016

The ABC has been cleared of systemic "anti-business" bias in a major review of its coverage, with former ANZ boss Mike Smith confessing he has rethought his negative perceptions of the broadcaster.


The independent editorial review, for which Mr Smith was a key adviser, has been one of the broadcaster's most comprehensive yet. As well as analysing a week's worth of ABC programming, the review included interviews with ABC business staff and submissions from business groups, think-tanks and unions. Full story [here]

Top Liberal aide takes senior role at ABC to ensure 'constructive relationships'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 22, 2016

The ABC appears to be shoring up its Liberal credentials with the appointment of Josh Faulks, the deputy chief of staff to the attorney general, George Brandis. Faulks takes up the role of head of partnerships and policy at the broadcaster, working with head of TV, Richard Finlayson, to secure funding for content.

Finlayson says Faulks will “ensure that we have open and constructive relationships with our stakeholders and partners in the sector”. In other words, he will be a lobbyist. Full story [here]

ABC TV appoints Josh Faulks as Head of Partnerships and Policy

Imogen Corlette - Communications Manager ABC Audience and Marketing, ABC TV - July 20, 2016

ABC TV is pleased to announce the appointment of Josh Faulks as Head of Partnerships and Policy.

This role will be responsible for identifying and prioritizing opportunities for ABC TV to enhance funding sources and content partnerships. It will also take on strategy, advocacy and stakeholder communication activities for the TV Division, working alongside the Corporate Communications team.

As a senior political staffer with experience in two governments as well as the Opposition, Josh well understands the policy and political process and has extensive networks at the highest levels of government. Most recently, he was Deputy Chief of Staff to the Attorney General and Leader of the Government in the Senate. He also has considerable experience of the media industry and media policy from his time at Communications Alliance and as Head of Corporate Affairs with Salmat Ltd. Full story [here]

Help Save Australian Public Broadcasting


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is under attack.

Through a "Death by a Thousand Cuts," the ABC is a shadow of its former self, and ABC Friends National is conducting an Australia-wide campaign to restore funding and save its independence.

Our campaign needs boosting

With just two part-time employees, and an army of volunteers, we created a very successful Federal Election Campaign. Our Social Media content reached millions of people, and helped put the fate of Our ABC on the political agenda.

You can join the campaign [here]

Celebrate 50 years of Play School with ABC

ABC TV - Safia van der Zwan - Television Publicist

Since its initial broadcast on July 18, 1966, Play School has been entertaining Australian preschoolers, providing them with new experiences and learning opportunities through music, crafts, stories, games, ideas and information. The series aims to encourage a child to wonder, to think, to feel and to imagine, and strives to reflect a modern, diverse Australian society.

Fellow national TV treasure Kate Ritchie will present Big Ted's Excellent Adventure: 50 Years of Play School, a documentary that takes a nostalgic journey through Aussie childhood, reliving the laughter and delights of half a century of Play School while charting 50 years of the nation's social history. Well known Australians, including, Mikey Robins, Hannah Gadsby, Nazeem Hussain, Craig McLachlan and members of the original Wiggles, share their personal memories of the show, alongside anecdotes from past and present Play School presenters, including Benita Collings, John Waters and Justine Clarke. Full story [here]

Play School presenters past and current share memories of the iconic show

SMH - Nick Galvin - July 18, 2016

In one sentence. Play School is a program of integrity for children under five that takes the time to engage the curiosity of children to educate them in an entertaining way.

Your most memorable gaffe? I once had to do a segment about tiny turtles and describe the way they pop their heads out of their shells. The rehearsal went brilliantly with each of the four turtles poking their head out. During the segment, none popped their heads out so I had to ad-lib as I tried to entice them out of their shells. When the show finished, we decided to find out why the turtles didn't appear. We discovered that all the turtles had died during the segment due to the heat from the studio lights. So not only did I feel like a fool, I felt like a murderer... Full story [here]

Veteran broadcaster Greg Keane speaks out about Classic FM

Limelight Magazine - by Maxim Boon - July 13, 2016

The former 'Classic Breakfast' producer challenges manager Richard Buckham's denial of station shakeup.

After being approached over a period of several months by current and former ABC Classic FM staff, Limelight published an article last week reporting alleged changes, believed to be imminent, that would affect the classical radio station's future offering.

The news item outlined the belief by several highly respected and credible sources connected to the broadcaster, that the station would be moving away from its established presenter-led, live-to-air formats in favour of pre-recorded, digitally managed programming with a substantially reduced amount of presenter commentary. Full story [here]

SAVING ABC CLASSIC FM ABC - Friends Launches New National Campaign

Media Release - July 12, 2016

Reports that ABC management is planning further cuts to ABC Classic FM has spread anger and alarm among the station's large body of supporters.

ABC Friends has launched a national campaign to save Classic FM, ABCF National Spokesperson and former Senator Margaret Reynolds announced today.`

She said music lovers are being urged to contact the ABC and Federal parliamentarians to insist that bureaucratic recommendations be set aside to protect this national icon.

"The problem with too many ABC management decisions is that they fail to understand what is valued by ABC shareholders," Ms Reynolds said.

"Of all the ABC's services, Classic FM has the most dedicated audience, scattered all over the continent." "For many of them it is their most important source of musical enjoyment," She said. Full release [here]

Major cuts to ABC Classic FM "imminent" say inside sources

Limelight Magazine - by Maxim Boon, Clive Paget - July 7, 2016

A drastic shakeup of the radio station could see the loss of several programmes and many popular presenters.

ABC Classic FM could be facing its most radical restructure ever, according to senior sources within the broadcaster. Under the planned restructuring, which is yet to be made public, the major shakeup of the ABC's classical music radio station will see a large number of redundancies, primarily of producers and presenters, including some of the broadcaster's most high-profile figures, as well the loss of the majority of its existing live-to-air presented programming.

Limelight understands that all but two existing shows will become largely automated, with only the Breakfast Show and Drive Time programme surviving the cuts, which according to one source are "imminent". The rest of the broadcaster's programming will be replaced by the pre-programmed "streamed" broadcasts similar to the type that replaced the overnight programming of Classic FM in November 2014. Full story [here]

ABC closes opinion website the Drum with immediate effect

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - July 5, 2016

The ABC has axed its opinion website the Drum in a cost-saving move that is one of the first significant decisions in the reign of the new managing director, Michelle Guthrie.

The ABC insisted the decision had been driven by the ABC's head of news, Gaven Morris, in an attempt to corral the news division's online output into one place rather than under a separate masthead.

The Drum online is an opinion and news analysis website that publishes regular contributions from inside and outside the ABC, including from ABC journalists Barrie Cassidy, Ian Verrender and Annabel Crabb. Full story [here]

"Where Would We Be Without Our ABC?"

ABC Friends' Campaign Song

Last Media Watch 2017 - What could happen to our ABC!

Last Media Watch 2017 - What could happen to our ABC! - Video - YouTube 1:37

Watch all the Friend's videos on YouTube [here]

ABC's YourSpace

The ABC's YourSpace is an online community where your opinions will contribute to shaping the future of the ABC.

Why Join? Share your opinions and be entered into monthly prize draws. You'll be the first to get a sneak peek at what we're working on and you can help influence content and product decisions. More [here]

Nats 'ignored' ABC funding concerns

Echo NetDaily - June 27, 2016

The group Friends of the ABC says the National Party has not responded to a recent survey it sent to federal candidates in Page and Richmond and requests to meet with the party's Page MP Kevin Hogan and Richmond candidate Matthew Fraser were 'ignored'.

ABC Friends Northern Rivers recently wrote to local MPs and electoral candidates for the three major parties in Page and Richmond, asking them to 'indicate their position regarding the value and role of the ABC'. Full story [here]

Foreign Media Baron Enters Australian Election Fray

Foreign Media Baron Enters Australian Election Fray - Video - YouTube 2:14

Watch all the Friend's videos on YouTube [here]

ABC Friends Recruits Humphrey B. Bear To Paint Frightening Future Of ABC

B&T Magazine - June 9, 2016

An old Aussie favourite, Humphrey B. Bear himself, has resurfaced as part of ABC Friend's campaign to keep, and in fact completely restore, all the funding for the ABC. It's the second instalment of a series of 10 videos that show the terrible future of television should the ABC be left without financial support.

The world painted in this new clip isn't much better than the last, where host of 7.30 Leigh Sales was a contestant on 'I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here', among other horrors.

This video shows an intensely commercialised ABC, where Bananas in Pyjamas are rife with product placement, and the Bananas wear Nike tracksuits and eat McDonald's Happy Meals. Full story [here]

ABC's Bananas 'trade pyjamas for Nike tracksuits, eat Happy Meals' in new campaign warning

Brisbane Times - Michael Gordon - June 8, 2016

A new video by the group opposing funding cuts to the ABC warns of product placement in children's programs and features the iconic figure of commercial children's television, Humphrey B. Bear.

The video features a young girl watching television with the bear "sometime in the future" and expressing incredulity as she discovers the extent of product placement. "Why do the Bananas in Pyjamas have Nike logos?" she asks, before she realises they are wearing Nike tracksuits and eating McDonald's Happy Meals. Full story & video [here]

Labor promises ABC a trip down memory lane

Screen ArtsHub - David Tilley

ABC marches wearily on, its pack full of bills, as the ALP goes back to the future with its single promise.

The theory out in apparatchik-land is that political promises only get made now when they have multiple benefits to an economic bottom line. Hence a symbolic commitment to restoring the battered public broadcasters.

Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus crowded into Melbourne's small Malthouse Theatre on Saturday 2 June to announce an arts policy which fixes the Brandis/Fifield funding problems, and adds an extra $20m per year over the next four years to the Arts Council.

It also offered the ABC $60m for new drama, presumably over the same period. it is noticeable that SBS in not mentioned at all. So far, the Dreyfus camp is refusing to be drawn on that issue, although I understand that this is not the final word in the arts area. There will be more to come. Full story [here]

We care about our ABC - Change.org Petition

Our politicians have forgotten how important our ABC is to us.

Constant funding cuts are placing the very existence of our ABC at risk.

While the ABC is trying valiantly to deliver services to metro, regional and local communities, it is continually being forced to cut back further. By the time we go to the polls on July 2, the ABC will have lost more than $100 million in funding a year!

The petition will be delivered to: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison & Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Leigh Sales is a reality star and Kerry O'Brien is eating lizards for ratings: Parody video shows what the ABC would turn into if the broadcaster's funding is cut

Daily Mail Australia - Max Margan - June 2, 2016

A parody video has painted a bleak picture of what the ABC could look like if the public broadcaster's funding is not restored.

In the video, which is set in an Australian lounge room 'sometime in the future', investigative journalism is a thing of the past.

Current affairs program Four Corners 'hasn't been on for years' and has been replaced by Bush Survivor, a reality show set in the jungle. Full story [here]

Social media campaign shows terrifying vision of a future ABC

News.com - Liz Burke - June 2, 2016

Publicly funded investigative journalism is a thing of the past, current affairs veteran Kerry O’Brien is a reality TV star, reduced to eating barbecued lizards for prime time entertainment, and Leigh Sales has been voted off the island.

An interest group devoted to "keeping the ABC independent" has launched a social media blitz convincing voters this terrifying scenario is the future of the ABC under a Coalition government.

Videos depicting an Australian lounge room "sometime in the future", show a couple watching an ABC where Bush Survivor has replaced Four Corners which "hasn't been on for years".

O'Brien carries out humiliating tasks which Sales wasn't up to - she was thrown for not eating the tarantula. Full story [here]

ABC Friends' independence campaign targets marginal Coalition seats

The Guardian - Elle Hunt - June 2, 2016

A not-for-profit organisation is targeting nearly 30 marginal Coalition seats in a national campaign to "protect the independence of the ABC" ahead of the election.

ABC Friends is encouraging voters to support candidates who are on the record as supporting the national broadcaster following cuts under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull's governments.

ABC Friends' first national campaign will target 27 marginal electorates, most held by the Coalition, across Australia: eight in New South Wales, three in Victoria, three in Tasmania, four in Queensland, and one each in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Full story [here]

ABC suffering slow death by a thousand cuts

SMH- Ranald Macdonald - June 1, 2016

The ABC is needing support and protection because it is severely wounded.

Cuts to its funding have continued. One media analyst calculates that by the election 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 Coalition came to power.

Australia needs a well-funded, independent ABC to provide an alternative voice,and to meet its charter requirements throughout this vast country. Its programming for all areas of our community is unique and extensive, as, for example, it provides emergency services and vital contact with the regional and rural communities. Full story [here]

Election 2016: Cashed-up marginal seat ABC campaign another headache for Malcolm Turnbull

SMH - Michael Gordon - June 1, 2016

A cashed-up campaign to oppose funding cuts to the ABC and defend the public broadcaster's independence will target more than 20 marginal Coalition seats in a new headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

More than 10 videos will be released on social media urging younger voters to support candidates who commit to restore funding cut since the last election. The national campaign has also enlisted thousands of volunteers to ask voters in the marginal seats to sign "pledge cards" supporting the ABC. Full story [here]

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

Badge_1Badge_2Badge_3Badge_4

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]