Welcome to ABC Friends NSW & ACT

Public Broadcasting in the Pub


Tuesday 28 Nov 2017 - From 5.15 to 6.15pm - Civic Pub, Braddon


Attacks on the ABC: In whose interests?
The ABC's independence and funding is under threat, with an "inquiry" prompted by Pauline Hanson and powerful private media interests attempting to undermine it. Come and hear:
  • Margaret Reynolds, ABC Friends National Founding President and former Senator for Queensland
  • Ranald Macdonald, former editor-in-chief of The Age, broadcaster - and Collingwood Football Club President
  • Together with Canberra's own David Kilby as MC
  • Further details [here]

ABC teems with teams but who's reporting to whom?

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 17, 2017

We've seen the handiwork the consultants to the ABC came up with when Michelle Guthrie announced her radical content restructure on Tuesday. No more TV and radio departments. It's all about "teams" grouped around four topics: news, regional, entertainment and innovation.

The 3,000 broadcasters, journalists, producers and technical people who work to produce all this content are still getting their heads around where they sit and who they report to. ABC TV's Media Watch program, for example, has been slotted into the entertainment team after almost ending up in news, which could have been an awkward fit, given it has to critique the news output. Read more

Amazon the model for ABC's new streaming service as big data steers the ship

Karl Quinn - SMH - November 15, 2017

The chairman of the ABC has outlined his vision for the national broadcaster, and it's a long way from the Aunty of old.

The ABC is set to morph into a Netflix-style streaming service from as early as next year, and to use data and analytics to track which actors and stories resonate with audiences, board chairman Justin Milne has revealed.

Delivering the Hector Crawford memorial speech at the Screen Forever conference on Wednesday, Mr Milne avoided mentioning Netflix and streaming rival Stan by name, but did point to Amazon as a model for what the ABC is likely to evolve into. Read more

Here's hoping Michelle Guthrie hasn't just restructured the ABC's spine away

Karl Quinn - SMH - November 14, 2017

There's a lot to like in the restructure announced by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, but it does little to address the broadcaster's biggest challenges.

Though it has been flagged as "the biggest shake-up in the national broadcaster's history", there is at first glance little in Michelle Guthrie's long-anticipated restructure of the ABC to startle the horses.

No job losses. Earlier-than-planned recruitment of additional staff for the regions. No cuts to programs or networks. What's to fear in any of that? Read more

Big picture, few hilltops

Margaret Simons - Inside Story - November 14, 2017

There are really only two ways to organise a big media organisation. You do it either according to the platforms on which your content is delivered, or by the genres of content you are producing. At different times over its history the ABC has tried both.

Yet the determinant of success has never been the big-picture organisational chart; it's been the internal communications, leadership culture and strategic vision. Read more

Michelle Guthrie unveils major ABC restructure

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 14, 2017

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has unveiled one of the biggest shake-ups in the broadcaster's 85-year history. From early 2018, staff will be re-organised into teams focused on particular topics instead of working strictly for radio or television.

The restructure does not include any job losses or particular programs getting the boot. Read more

'Not a dumbing down': Michelle Guthrie announces major ABC restructure

Amanda Mead - The Guardian - November 14, 2017

The reorganisation of the ABC along genre lines to remove the historic division between television and radio is not a "dumbing down" exercise but an "evolution" for the digital age, its managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has told staff.

From February next year the networks will be divided up into three new teams and a fourth team for original content and innovation, Content Ideas Lab, led by an ABC Radio staffer, Angela Stengel. Read more

Radio, TV ditched in Michelle Guthrie's digital-first ABC

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - November 13, 2017

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie on Tuesday will drop the long-standing radio and television divisions in a digital-first restructure, The New Daily can reveal.

Senior management will be briefed on Monday with an all-staff announcement to be made by Ms Guthrie from Melbourne on Tuesday.

The heads of ABC Radio (Michael Mason) and ABC TV (David Anderson) will lose their once all-powerful fiefdoms. They will be redeployed in three "platform agnostic" divisions Ms Guthrie and the ABC Board will unveil. Read more

ABC restructure: biggest shake-up in broadcaster's history to be revealed

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 13, 2017

Twelve months in the making, a small fortune in consultants' fees and countless "cascade sessions 'and leadership principles workshops later, Michelle Guthrie's Transformation Project will be unveiled on Tuesday.

The ABC board has ticked off on the structure, the communications strategy - which includes not confirming the date - is in place and the message is clear: this is not about job losses, this is about reorganisation. Read more

ABC management taken to task over 'dangerous' stress levels

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 13, 2017

ABC staff are suffering "dangerous" levels of workplace stress, according to a survey conducted by one of the unions responsible for the national broadcaster.

The Community and Public Sector Union has said it will enter the ABC's Ultimo headquarters under the Workplace Health and Safety Act to ensure the broadcaster has the appropriate measures in place to deal with any potential fallout from its digital restructure, including increased rates of anxiety. Read more

John Clarke Birds 2018 Calendar

Tribute to an ABC Legend

The late, great, John Clarke was a satire genius, but he was also an accomplished bird photographer. ABC Friends is pleased to release the John Clarke 2018 Australian Birds Calendar.

Makes an ideal Christmas Gift!

Buy the Calendar [here] or download an order form [here]

ABC rebuffs government's request to reveal top presenters' salaries

Melissa Cunningham - SMH - November 10, 2017

The ABC has refused to publicly disclose the salaries of staff earning more than $200,000, arguing the demands are onerous and will prove counter-productive.

The decision will put the national broadcaster on a warpath with the federal government, which has signalled it may introduce legislation forcing the ABC release the figures. Read more

Veteran ABC reporter Matt Peacock farewells colleagues

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 10, 2017

Veteran ABC journalist and board member Matt Peacock has said the past few years have been "very tough" as he prepares to leave the public broadcaster.

The senior 7.30 journalist, who helped uncover the scale of Australia's asbestos crisis in the late '70s, revealed on Thursday he was among the 11 staff who had recently opted for a voluntary redundancy. Read more

Hands Off Radio National Music (#saveRNmusic)

Ruth Hazelton - change.org - November 6, 2017

It's been a year since The Inside Sleeve, The Daily Planet, The Live Set, Soundproof, The Rhythm Divine and Jazztrack were either decommissioned or removed from RN's schedule.

It has been made clear to us, despite our best efforts, that ABC Head of Radio Michael Mason and his colleagues will not reconsider this decision.

Faced with this situation, we have been looking at alternative ways to increase the quantity of independent and curated music programming via ABC radio nationally; and to the largest audience possible. Read more

What's wrong with being 'fair and balanced'?

Alan Sunderland - ABC - Nov 2, 2017

The ABC has been in the news a bit lately, not least because there is a push underway to make sure our journalism is fair and balanced.

In fact, there is even a proposed law to that effect before our Federal Parliament.

So what could possibly be wrong with such a simple and admirable idea? Surely, all media should aim to be fair and balanced in the way they report the news?

Well, let me try to tell you exactly what's wrong with it. Read more

ABC 2016-17 Annual Report

The 2017 ABC Annual Report was tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Communications and the Arts on 26 October 2017 and is now available [here]

'Morale is very shaky': 7.30 loses senior reporter among 11 ABC staff

Broede Carmody - The Age - November 1, 2017

Some ABC staff feel like the national broadcaster is facing death by a thousand cuts.

On Wednesday, management announced more staff were walking out the door. Eleven people - including a senior 7.30 journalist - have put up their hand for voluntary redundancy.

It is understood this round of redundancies aren't related to budget cuts and will allow more digital staff to be hired. It's no secret the ABC's news director, Gaven Morris, wants the broadcaster's websites to leapfrog News.com.au as the country's most popular online news source. Read more

Birds, a satirist's 'natural' quarry

John Clarke made a name for himself as a stalker of politicians and hypocrites. He managed to pour scorn with a twinkle in his eye and a half smile, leaving his target little choice but to respond in the same way.

Sometimes his barbed comments were so sharp his victim would be impaled before he or she had a chance to realise the space they now occupied.

But Clarke, who died Sunday 9 April this year, also enjoyed a sometimes-solitary pastime that also involved a great deal of subterfuge and stalking. The cutting comedian photographed birds. Read more

Inquiry into Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services

On 18 October 2017, the Senate referred a range of matters relating to the economic and cultural value of Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 9 May 2018. The full terms of reference [here].

The Committee prefers to receive submissions online as an attached document through the Committee's website [here]. Alternatively, submissions may be emailed as an attached document to ec.sen@aph.gov.au or mailed to the address below. The submission should be lodged by 31 January 2018.

The Hanson plot to kill the ABC

Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - October 21, 2017

Fox News never announced that it was dropping its famous slogan "Fair and Balanced". A reporter for Vanity Fair broke the story on June 14 this year.

These days Rupert Murdoch's American cable network tags itself "Most watched, Most trusted."

That is also untrue: MSNBC now regularly outrates it, and Fox is the most negatively fact-checked news network in the United States. Read more

ABC 'reforms' to legislate fairness and commitment to regional Australia

RadioInfo, October 18, 2017

The Turnbull Government has introduced legislative amendments to the ABC Act in the Senate to "enhance the ABC's commitment to rural and regional Australia and require its news services to be fair and balanced."

The move fulfills the government's promise to Pauline Hanson in return for her support for the media reform bill.

In a statement released to radioinfo today, a spokesperson for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, said: Read more

Open letter to Communications Minister, The Hon. Mitch Fifield

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - October 17, 2017

Can we just be serious just for a moment?

Having read your piece in The Australian headed "Shrill Attacks on ABC Adjustments Are Hysterical, Unhinged" (9/10/17), I cannot believe that you, Minister, REALLY believe in what you have written.

You adopt the tone of surprise, astonishment and even of being slightly hurt by those who challenge your pronouncements.

* First, your proposed Charter requirement for "balance'" on top of fairness, impartiality and accuracy for ABC news and current affairs coverage. Read more

After Lateline, the brave new world of better broadcasting

Jane Goodall - Inside Story - October 13, 2017

The BBC charter is up for renewal, and members of senior and middle management have been co-opted into a working group "to identify what the BBC does best and find more ways of doing less of it better." Actually, that's fake news - or news fiction. It's a summary of the first episode in the latest series of BBC Two's satirical documentary W1A. BBC insiders have attested to the accuracy with which the series (whose title is the postcode of Broadcasting House in London) depicts a corporate culture in which ever more resources are indeed being devoted to finding ways of doing less.

At the ABC, which in so many respects mirrors the BBC, a similar range of scrambled corporate imperatives is being rolled out. In programming areas where our own national broadcaster purports to do best, like current affairs and investigative journalism, the quest to find "more ways of doing less of it better" is the order of the day. Or so it would seem, going on managing director Michelle Guthrie's speech to the Friends of the ABC last week. Read more

Jennifer Byrne farewells ABC, The Book Club Axed

Broede Carmody - SMH - October 13, 2017

The axe has fallen on ABC program The Book Club after longtime host Jennifer Byrne decided to leave the public broadcaster after a two decade career.

The veteran journalist and television presenter will sign off for the last time in mid-December for the TV show's Christmas special. Full story [here]

ABC told to cough up the salaries of its top earners as Fifield hands One Nation a prize

Karl Quinn - SMH - October 13, 2017

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has demanded the ABC reveal the names and pay packets of everyone earning more than $200,000 per annum.

The ABC has been ordered by Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield to reveal what it is paying its top on-air personalities, in what amounts to a win for One Nation.

The national broadcaster has been directed to "voluntarily" cough up the salaries of all staff being paid $200,000 or more by the end of next month. If it does not do so, Senator Fifield will push for a change to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act to force the disclosure. Full story [here]

The news is sad for ABC viewers under Michelle Guthrie's rule

Debi Enker - SMH - October 12, 2017

At last; thank goodness. After months of roaring silence, the ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has come out swinging, vigorously defending the organisation against attacks by the government and rival media outlets.

At a Sydney function held by the ABC Friends advocacy group, she robustly detailed some of the ways in which the public broadcaster had been opportunistically used by the federal government as a bargaining chip to pass its media deregulation legislation. Full story [here]

George Christensen is second MP to use taxpayer funds to attack ABC

Broede Carmody - SMH - October 10, 2017

The ABC has once again been accused of biased reporting by a federal MP taking out an ad in a local newspaper.

Queensland Liberal Nationals MP George Christensen has admitted to using his taxpayer purse to criticise the ABC's coverage of the state's new Adani coal mine. Full story [here]

ABC Managing Director speech at the ABC Friends Public Conference Dinner

By ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie - 6th October 2017

Thank you very much for the privilege of presenting this dinner address at the ABC Friends' first national public conference.

It is a very important gathering in both its timing and in the issues discussed. I understand a delegation will be meeting with the Chairman on Monday to take him through the key findings.

It is very apt that the underlying theme for this conference is "Democracy demands diversity". My address tonight maintains there is no media and cultural diversity without the ABC and democracy would be very much the poorer in the absence of the national broadcaster. Full speech [here]

ABC's Michelle Guthrie hits back at Turnbull and Hanson's media reform

Daily Review - October 8, 2017

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has taken aim at a deal struck between the Turnbull government and One Nation to pass media reform changes.

In a speech to the Friends of the ABC this Friday night, Guthrie said: "Legislation designed to further a political vendetta by one party uncomfortable with being scrutinised by our investigative programs is not good policy-making." Full story [here]

Kathleen Noonan: Why Australia needs the taxpayer-funded ABC more than ever

Kathleen Noonan - The Courier-Mail - October 7, 2017

It's dinner time and Leigh Sales is interviewing Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the ABC's 7.30. In between drinking gin and tonic, eating teriyaki salmon and yelling at the TV screen, I am busy keeping count. Sales has asked the minister five clear, reasonable questions, - including: "If 50 of the refugees from Nauru and Manus Island are being sent to the US for resettlement, how many does that leave?" She asks this six times. Then: "Is it accurate that we're offering Rohingya refugees $25,000 to return to Myanmar and is it actually safe for them to return?" Full story [here]

The end of Lateline: Kerry O'Brien and Maxine McKew reflect on a television institution

Debbie Cuthbertson - SMH - October 8, 2017

In 1990 the first season of The Simpsons was screening on American TV and Mr Bean first appeared on British tellies.

In Australia, however, the new decade ushered in something much more serious and profound - a late-night program on the national broadcaster dedicated to reflection on and discussion of big ideas. Full story [here]

ABC chief Michelle Guthrie condemns Turnbull government's 'vendetta' media reforms

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - October 7, 2017

ABC MD Michelle Guthrie has blasted the Turnbull government's 'vendetta' deal with Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party to secure its latest media ownership reforms.

"Legislation designed to further a political vendetta by one party uncomfortable with being scrutinised by our investigative programs is not good policy-making", Ms Guthrie said in an ABC Friends national conference after-dinner speech in Sydney on Friday. Full story [here]

Al Gore embroiled in ABC's inconvenient audit

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - October 6, 2017

From time to time the ABC undertakes editorial reviews to see if the news department is meeting editorial standards. A spot audit of the same-sex marriage debate was undertaken on 7 and 8 August, covering more than 60 items on national television and local and national radio. It found that overall there was a "broadly even number of voices both in favour and against the plebiscite". Full story [here]

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie attacks commercial rivals, media law reforms

Andrew Taylor - SMH - October 6, 2017

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie has launched a stinging attack on her commercial television rivals, accusing their chief executives of wanting to deny "your children and grandchildren" the right to watch Play School and Peppa Pig.

Ms Guthrie also questioned the commercial strategies of rival media players and said the Turnbull government's media law reforms were designed to further a "political vendetta". Full story [here]

Lateline, The Link to be axed in ABC overhaul

Broede Carmody & Adam Gartrell - SMH - October 5, 2017

The ABC's evening news program Lateline and Stan Grant's The Link will be axed as part of a sweeping overhaul of the national broadcaster's current affairs schedule.

Lateline host Emma Alberici will remain at the ABC and will take up a senior news and current affairs role. Full atory [here]

ABC axes Lateline as part of current affairs journalism overhaul

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - October 5, 2017

The ABC has announced an overhaul of its current affairs journalism including the axing of its flagship show Lateline and the creation of investigative and specialist reporting teams.

The new teams of reporters and producers will work across television, radio and online to boost the broadcaster's daily news and current affairs output.

Hosted by Emma Alberici, Lateline first aired in 1990, with Kerry O'Brien in the chair until 1995, and has been fronted over its 27 years by some of the ABC's biggest names including Maxine McKew, Virginia Trioli, Leigh Sales and Tony Jones. Full story [here]

Guthrie's content shake-up threatens ABC empires

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 29, 2017

The ABC's senior executive is busy finalising a restructuring plan originally scheduled for October but which has now been pushed back as late as November.

With 16 months now under her belt, the managing director, Michelle Guthrie, is getting on with her "transformation" agenda which includes creating the $50m GIG, or Great Ideas Grant, creating 80 new jobs in regional Australia and shedding 200 jobs in management, support and content areas.

Now, with the help of consultants, she is attempting to reorganise the national broadcaster for the post-analogue age. What this means is rearranging the broadcaster along genre lines rather than the traditional platforms of television, radio, news and online. Full story [here]

John Clarke's pictures from nature live on in 2018 calendar

Tony Wright - SMH - September 26, 2017

Away from the TV cameras, the sound stage and the audiences, John Clarke took solace and pleasure from the natural world.

Birds were his great delight.

Shy little wrens and and the great wing-spread dance of the brolga; startled flocks of curlews and godwits, the flight of an egret or the sharp eye of a sea-eagle in search of a meal – all of these, and many more, were captured by Clarke's own camera.

The man who made Australians and  New Zealanders laugh at themselves and who, with his collaborator Bryan Dawe, regularly stripped bare the vanities of politicians, spent much of his private time quietly wandering the bush and beaches with his wife, Helen, listening out for the song of birds. Full story [here]

ORDER THE CALENDAR [HERE]

How the government and One Nation may use media reforms to clip the ABC's wings

Denis Muller - The Conversation - September 27, 2017

Among the four concessions concerning the ABC that senator Pauline Hanson extracted from the federal government in exchange for her support of its recent media ownership law changes, one in particular has the potential to do real damage to the national broadcaster.

This is the promised inquiry into the ABC's competitive neutrality. It has been on the agenda of News Corp for years to have the ABC's wings clipped, for the obvious reason that it sees the ABC as a commercial rival. If News Corp had its way, the ABC's big strategic move into digital broadcasting more than a decade ago would have been cut off at the pass.

So Hanson, whether she knew it or not, has played into the hands of New Corp on this, and given the government a political opportunity to do yet one more favour for Rupert Murdoch. Full story [here]

ABC cuts jeopardising safety of remote communities - study

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 19, 2017

Cuts to the ABC in regional and rural Australia and the corporation's increasing reliance on digital technologies is jeopardising the safety of remote communities and their access to emergency warnings, Deakin University research has found.

The ABC's increasingly "digital-first" approach to emergency information and the reduction in ABC reporters' local knowledge is causing great distress among rural populations who rely on broadcast signals because they don't have the bandwidth or coverage for digital, researchers say.

A reduction of local news and information, centralised newsrooms in metropolitan areas, the closure of several ABC stations and the scaling back of broadcast programming has been disastrous for people outside the cities, according to a new study, Communication life line? ABC emergency broadcasting in rural/regional Australia. Full story [here]

How the 'No' case is abusing the ABC

Alex McKinnon - The Saturday Paper - September 23, 2017

As the debate on same-sex marriage continues, the 'No' case is exploiting the ABC's charter and complaints process to gain prominence for ugly views.

It took two days, but the Australian Christian Lobby did lodge a complaint with the ABC. At issue was Joe O'Brien's line of questioning on the breakfast show News Mornings.

The lobby's managing director, Lyle Shelton, had been invited to debate same-sex marriage with City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster. Almost immediately, he pulled the conversation to "children being taught radical LGBTI sex education". Full story [here]

Testing times for the ABC with a 'competitive, neutrality enquiry'

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - September 15, 2017

One of our most trusted institutions is under real threat- and, like Humpty Dumpty, once broken may never be able to be put together again.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be expecting strong editorial support from all major and minor commercial media around Australia at the next election.

Under the guise of delivering reform on outdated and restrictive media laws and allowing home grown major media players to compete against the likes of Amazon and Facebook, our PM has delivered what Australian media executive have been lobbying so hard for.

In one of the more laughable comments, News Corps exec. chairman Michael Millar welcomes the "important" passage of the far ranging media package as being a win for regional Australia. Full story [here]

Coalition signals it will negotiate with One Nation over curbs on ABC

Amy Remeikis - The Guardian - September 15, 2017

The Turnbull government has signalled it will press on with meeting One Nation's demands to place restrictions on the ABC.

The communications minister, Mitch Fifield, said he would negotiate to make the Pauline Hanson driven reforms a reality, despite opposition from the majority of the crossbench. He listed legislation, including re-establishing the ABCC, Gonski 2.0 and the childcare reforms, the government has managed to pass despite hostilities.

"The more people say we can't do something, the more determined the government is to deliver on behalf of the Australian people," Fifield told the media on Friday, standing next to a beaming Malcolm Turnbull on the second anniversary of his prime ministership. "So I will be giving this the same application I do with everything else." Full story [here]

The program that changed Australia (Four Corners)

Jane Goodall - The Inside Story - August 31, 2017

When Kerry O'Brien retired from Four Corners at the end of 2015, he left the program on a high. Reporter Adele Ferguson had won a Gold Logie for "The Price of Convenience" (30 August), an investigation of 7-Eleven's employment practices. Other 2015 stories with major political ramifications were Making a Killing (February 16) on animal cruelty in the greyhound racing business, and a two-part series investigating the continuing presence of the Mafia in Australia (June 29 and July 6).

With Sarah Ferguson as presenter, the program has remained at the top of its game, and the run of high-impact investigations continues. Hardly a week goes by without a major news item triggered by Four Corners, and many of these are concerned with the longer-term consequences of its revelations. Full story [here]

Dick Smith to campaign against alleged ABC bias

Nick O'Malley - SMH - September 5, 2017

Dick Smith is launching an advertising campaign against ABC TV news and current affairs, which he says has warped the debate he has tried to spur over Australian population growth.

He claims both Labor and Liberal politicians have told him they agree that Australia needs to cut its immigration intake to avoid future social and environmental fracturing, but they say they cannot say so publicly because the ABC will label them racist. Full story [here]

Malcolm Turnbull using the ABC as a bargaining chip for media ownership changes

Michelle Rowland, Shadow Minister for Communications
Transcript - Doorstop Interview - Canberra - 4 September 2017

When Parliament last sat we had the government welcoming what it called 'constructive engagement' with One Nation for its flawed media ownership changes. We now know what that 'constructive engagement' entails. It is basically a package of measures designed to undermine the ABC and the SBS as our trusted public broadcasters. We know that this is a government that has no commitment to our public broadcasters. [Full transcrip]

Michelle Rowland will be a guest speaker at 'Public Broadcasting in the 21st Century - Public Conference - Sydney - Friday October 6, 2017' - see above.

ABC Defenders Campaign

ABC Friends are again in the process of building membership, raising awareness and a fighting fund to defend our national broadcaster. Our latest campaign is being built around our ABC Defenders.

Already several well-known Australians have signed-up as ABC Defenders - watch the call-out video [here]

Read all our Defenders' messages [here]

If you or someone you know would like to become a Defender click [here] for details

AM turns 50 (4 Sep 2017): How producing the program has changed over the years

Laura Brierley Newton - ABC News - September 2, 2017

On September 4, 1967, the first AM program played across Australia, forever changing the way Australians received their morning news.

Until that day Australians got their first dose of news from papers printed the night before, or brief updated snippets read live on radio by newsreaders.

Over the past 50 years the program has adapted and evolved with the times, but its original ethos has remained the same. "To bring to Australians as quickly as possible the essence of the news, commentary, interviews.

That was how it started and that's how it is today," Paul Raffaele, who was part of the original team of AM reporters, said. Full story [here]

ABC's Chris Uhlmann to replace Laurie Oakes on Channel Nine

Broede Carmody - SMH - August 31, 2017

The ABC's political editor Chris Uhlmann is taking up a new role with Channel Nine. Uhlmann will replace Laurie Oakes, who retired this month.

Nine's head of news and current affairs Darren Wick said in a statement the broadcaster would help lead Nine's political coverage "into a new era".

"He is a man of integrity, talent and possesses the hunger that drives the truly great reporters," he said. Full story [here]

Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd is poised for a slam dunk through the Turnbull government's media reforms

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - August 17, 2017

Having recently acquired APN regional daily and non-daily newspapers and websites for a bargain $37 million and with Network Ten's free-to-air TV licences in administration and up for grabs, the American tycoon and his associates can consolidate media power if, as now seems likely, the 1980s ownership rules are abolished.

While Communications Minister Mitch Fifield asserts his abolition of Paul Keating's 'two-out-of-three' market constraint and audience reach rules are supported by the entire Australian media industry, it has become apparent that News Ltd will emerge with many market monopolies. Full story [here]

Making war with the ABC

Martin McKenzie-Murray - The Saturday Paper - August 19, 2017

As the ABC faces down sustained attacks from News Corp and other outlets, the government is in the process of changing journalism for good.

On Wednesday evening, ABC chairman Justin Milne gave something of a history lecture in Parliament House. The occasion was the ABC's yearly parliamentary showcase, ordinarily a simple affair, but held this year against a dramatic backdrop - the senate debate on media reforms. Only the day before One Nation had triumphantly declared a deal with the government, one which would see support for reform in exchange for a range of amendments, mostly concerned with altering the charter of the national broadcaster. The Australian Financial Review called it, "the biggest assault on the ABC's independence in decades". Full story [here]

ABC Chairman Justin Milne address to ABC Parliamentary Showcase

ABC Chairman Justin Milne address the ABC Parliamentary Showcase event on Wednesday 16 August 2017.

As a freshly minted Chairman, this is my first ABC Parliamentary Showcase and I am delighted to welcome you here to celebrate everything the ABC does and all that it contributes to the life of Australians.

Now, I may be an ABC ingenue but I've been around media for a while and can tell you that the advent of the internet, smart phones, instant global connectivity, Google, Facebook, Netflix and machine learning all mean that the changes we are experiencing today will be the biggest media has ever experienced. Full address [here]

ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two)

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - August 18, 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (like his counterpart Theresa May in the UK) must on reflection think that calling an early election has not proven an Einstein-ian decision. Having expected community adulation, it is hard to reconcile having to negotiate with parties with different values and ambitions to pass legislation.

So, deals are a fact of political life for both PMs - even recognising the considerable personal cost in achieving them, which leaves little room for attaining the moral high ground. Political pork barrelling, to ensure that an image can be spun of decisive and strong leadership, is a nasty business.

Sadly, here in Australia the ABC is being cynically used to ensure right-wing support within (and of) the Government - and to satisfy implied guarantees to the voracious media groupings. Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, continues to say that all media leaders support the Governments media "reforms", as if that makes them worth supporting. In Episode One on Pearls and Irritations last week, I said that 'reform' is defined as change for the better. Many surely would challenge that, in our current imbroglio, perhaps asking whether making media magnates more powerful and happier necessarily benefits all Australians. Full story [here]

'Unprecedented': Nick Xenophon rejects One Nation bid to reveal ABC presenter salaries

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 16, 2017

Pauline Hanson's bid to change the ABC charter and force the broadcaster to reveal the salaries of its top presenters appears doomed to fail despite the party striking a deal with the Turnbull government to support the deregulation of media ownership laws.

The government still appears on track to win support from the Senate crossbench to pass its media deregulation changes, which could trigger a round of major media mergers.

Pauline Hanson's bid to change the ABC charter and force the broadcaster to reveal the salaries of its top presenters appears doomed to fail despite the party striking a deal with the Turnbull government to support the deregulation of media ownership laws. The government still appears on track to win support from the Senate crossbench to pass its media deregulation changes, which could trigger a round of major media mergers. Full story [here]

Tell the Government the ABC is not their Political Plaything

  • Tell the Minister for Communications that the ABC is not the government's political plaything!
  • Unknown deals in the Senate challenge the independence of the ABC as Australia's most trusted institution
  • The people of Australia are ABC shareholders and guardians of independent public broadcasting.
  • If the Minister wants the ABC to change he must first conduct a major survey of what Australians expect of "their ABC"
  • It is certainly not the role of minority political parties or indeed outside critics to dictate policy based on their personal prejudices
  • We need informed and rational debate about the future role of public broadcasting in Australia not behind the scenes manoevering.

Email Mitch:minister@communications.gov.au Minister's office details [here]

ABC-bashing will not help commercial media outlets, MPs told

Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - August 16, 2017

As the Coalition's media ownership package is being negotiated in the Senate, the ABC's chairman sends a message about the importance of its independence.

The ABC chairman has underlined the importance of the ABC's independence, and declared ABC-bashing will not solve the problems faced by commercial media outlets, as the Turnbull government's media reform package hangs in the balance.

Justin Milne was in Canberra on Wednesday night as part of the national broadcaster's annual showcase in Parliament House, and took the opportunity to send politicians a clear message as the horse trading intensified behind the scenes on the government's media reform package. Full story [here]

What One Nation's plans for the ABC charter would mean for fair reporting

Jonathan Holmes - SMH - August 17, 2017

If the government's deal with One Nation goes ahead, and there's no guarantee of that, every ABC employee who is paid more than $200,000 a year will have their salary published for the world to see.

Well, that's already happened at least once, thanks to a spectacular cock-up by the ABC's own bureaucracy. In December 2013 it accidentally attached a comprehensive salary spreadsheet to an email it sent to a journalist at The Australian. Full story [here]

ABC chairman Justin Milne defends broadcaster's role in Australia media landscape

Matthew Doran - ABC News - August 17, 2017

The chairman of the ABC has defended the public broadcaster's role in the Australian media industry.

Justin Milne has only been in the role for a matter of months, but in an address at Parliament House on Wednesday evening, he hit back at criticism the ABC is harming the fortunes of Australia's media empires.

His comments follow a deal between the Coalition and One Nation on the Government's shake-up of media ownership regulations. Full story [here]

Pauline Hanson announces 'conditional support' for Government's media law shake-up

Matthew Doran & Henry Belot - ABC News - August 16, 2017

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has announced "conditional support" for the Federal Government's shake-up of media ownership and regulation.

That support may end months of political deadlock with Labor and the Greens opposed to the changes, claiming they would only weaken media diversity.

Senator Hanson said her party would back the measures because the Coalition had agreed to investigate the ABC's balance, its commitment to regional areas, and order the public broadcaster to be more transparent about its wages. Full story [here]

One Nation wins ABC changes in media reform deal

Lucy Battersby - SMH - August 15, 2017

Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has given the government's media reforms "conditional support" in exchange for a $12 million boost to community radio funding and changes to the ABC, including a greater focus on regional areas, more financial transparency and increasing its political impartiality.

The government will also conduct an inquiry into the ABC's competitive neutrality - whether it is using taxpayer funding to undermine commercial players - and to "legislate a requirement for the ABC to be 'fair' and 'balanced'", according to a post on One Nation's Facebook's page on Tuesday. Full story [here]

ABC to face inquiry and be forced to disclose staff salaries under One Nation media reform deal

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 15, 2017

Big name stars such as Tony Jones and Leigh Sales would have their salaries revealed to the public and the ABC may be restricted from competing with commercial rivals under a deal struck between the Turnbull government and One Nation.

Pauline Hanson announced support for the government's media deregulation package on Tuesday afternoon after Communications Minister Mitch Fifield agreed to a number of conditions, including introducing legislation requiring the ABC to be "fair and balanced". Full story [here]

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield demands ABC explain Sam Dastyari Australian Story 'infomercial'

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 10, 2017

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has written to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to demand the public broadcaster explain why it devoted an episode of Australian Story to Labor senator Sam Dastyari.

As well as the episode of Australian Story, Senator Fifield has asked the ABC to explain why a recent Media Watch episode heavily featured an interview with Senator Dastyari. Full story [here]

Sky's no limit in Murdoch empire's war on ABC

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 11, 2017

The Sky News Australia boss, Angelos Frangopoulos, has raised the stakes in the Murdoch empire's latest war on the ABC by suggesting the government give the commercial media a chance to pitch for Aunty's $1.4bn in annual funding.

In an interview with the Australian this week Frangopoulos, who recently became the chair of the Walkley advisory board, was critical of a deal between ABC Commercial and billboard advertising group oOh!media in which news content is syndicated on roadside billboards as well as digital billboards in shopping centres and Qantas lounges.

"If the ABC thinks it's OK to go chasing commercial revenues, then it should in turn be challenged for its own funding," the Sky chief executive said. "We've learned that the ABC is a formidable commercial opponent, not because of its content, but because it can fully leverage its taxpayer-funded resources. Full stoey [here]

ABC deal comes back to haunt Government

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - August11, 2017

Make a deal for political expediency and then unforseen consequences usually follow.

The ABC and its future is not a 'bargaining chip' for the Government to use to pass legislation in the Senate.

Yet a deal brokered by Communications Minister Fifield to gain Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm's vote some months back has already come back to haunt it. Full story [here]

ABC deal comes back to haunt Government

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - August11, 2017

Make a deal for political expediency and then unforseen consequences usually follow.

The ABC and its future is not a 'bargaining chip' for the Government to use to pass legislation in the Senate.

Yet a deal brokered by Communications Minister Fifield to gain Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm's vote some months back has already come back to haunt it. Full story [here]

ABC current affairs shake-up could see 7.30 shift to 9.30 and Lateline axed

Amy Remeikis - SMH - August 4, 2017

'Good evening, I'm Leigh Sales and welcome to 9.30.'

Speculation is rife the ABC is considering moving its flagship current affairs program, 7.30, to 9.30pm, as part of a shake up of the broadcaster's news and current affairs schedule. Full story [here]

News Corp's Handmaid's fail is SBS's gain as boss hits back at 'bunch of sooks'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian- August 4, 2017

Just a week after telling the Australian media to be kinder and to stop attacking each other (to howls of laughter), News Corp's Australian boss Michael Miller joined a chorus of media chiefs who accused the public broadcasters of stealing audiences with their free content, distorting the market for commercial players and aggressively competing for TV shows and online news audiences.

The Australian used its front page to launch an unedifying attack on the ABC and SBS ("Calls to rein in ABC and SBS") which continued for a couple of days. "Corporate chiefs at News Corp, Fairfax Media, Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment are among a group of industry leaders throwing new weight behind criticisms the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service are overstepping their public service remit," the report said. Full story [here]

ABC Friends NSW & ACT Annual Dinner - Friday 8 September 2017

Celebrating Aunty's 85th Birthday

Come and join us in the majestic surroundings of the famous Cello's Restaurant in Sydney. Our special guests this year are the ABC's Gaven Morris and Joe O'Brien. Booking is essential - full details [here]

Opinion journalism and clickbait

Santilla Chingaipe - The Saturday Paper - July 29, 2017

In the age of viral videos, you never quite know what will become the next internet sensation. It could be a North Korea expert being upstaged on camera by his children while conducting a live interview, or a police shooting of an unarmed black man in the United States.

Recently, the ABC's political editor, Chris Uhlmann, found himself in the position of social media sensation after a piece of his on-camera commentary went viral. His takedown of United States president Donald Trump was praised by commentators and journalists alike for its searing assessment of Trump's performance at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Full story [here]

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

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

ABC foyer closed to public after controversial Quadrant article

Jenna Price - SMH - July 26, 2017

I've always loved the ABC. It keeps the clock by which my life has been measured.

The 7.45am news bulletin on local radio. The 7pm news. The strange little modern experiments that provide an insight into generations not mine including The Katering Show where I sit in a room watching television with others who are all laughing and who get all the jokes. Although I haven't laughed on time once, it's true I now call that catch-up app of the ABC's, IVoo. Just like the Kates. Full story [here]

ABC Friends National Survey - 'What Do You Want of Your ABC?'

This questionnaire is designed to enable you to provide your views about the ABC in the future as it moves again into uncharted waters.

ABC Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, has given her support for ABC Friends' initiative to provide feedback to ABC Management on what we want of our ABC. This is your opportunity to be part of that process. Complete the survey [here]

Attacking the ABC could be One Nation's least popular policy yet: Poll

The Australia Institute - Media Release

As the Federal Government's proposed legislation to relax restrictions on who can own and operate newspapers, TV and radio stations in Australia, Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has reportedly proposed that ABC funding should be cut as a condition of its support for the legislation.

New polling released today shows a combined 74% of South Australians want funding to the ABC increased or maintained, while 18% supported cutting the national broadcaster.

When asked specifically about whether the Government should cut the ABC in order to get One Nation's support for their media reform laws, support was 16.5%. Read the full Media Release [here]

South Australians want more funding for ABC: poll

Tom Richardson - InDaily - July 13, 2017

Almost three quarters of South Australians want taxpayer funding to the ABC increased or maintained at its current level, according to a new ReachTel poll, InDaily can reveal.

The national broadcaster has been at the centre of a bitter political debate in recent times, with key figures on the political right - notably former Prime Minister Tony Abbott - targeting the ABC over its alleged "bias" and Pauline Hanson's One Nation reportedly linking support of broader media reforms to a substantial cut in the ABC's budget. Full story [here]

Why we need an independent ABC more than ever

Ranald Macdonald - The Age - July 12, 2017

Sometimes being an ABC Friends officeholder is difficult.

You want to shout from the rooftops about how dumb an ABC board or management decision seems to be, criticise an on-air interviewer for rudeness or lack of preparation, or just say that everyone expects better from our publicly funded National Broadcaster.

My challenge is to keep a sense of proportion and recognise what to me is the bigger picture: that the ABC must be preserved as an essential source of information and entertainment - an alternative voice in a democracy where many voices and sources of information need to be heard. Full story [here]

Australian drama, comedy in decline on ABC TV: What the figures reveal

Karl Quinn - SMH - July 11, 2017

The ABC is under no obligation to produce Australian drama and comedy, and figures released in the Senate last week show it is making way less than it used to.

Anyone doubting the scale of the challenges facing the ABC right now need only look at the figures revealed in the Senate last Friday to see how great they are. Full story [here]

Defending the ABC

Ranald Macdonald - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - June 29, 2017

The ABC is not perfect but this country desperately needs an ABC able financially and committed to fulfilling its Charter requirements for all Australians. And for it to be free of political interference.

Saturday, July 1 marks the 85th birthday of the ABC. First the Australian Broadcasting Commission and then in 1983 it became the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Never in its existence has it been under greater threat. Contunue reading [here]

ABC Visit to Alice Springs

Media Release ABC Friends - June 27, 2017

ABC Friends National congratulates Justin Milne, the ABC Board Chair, for asserting his recent leadership by holding his first board meeting in Alice Springs to demonstrate his commitment to regional Australia. It is a significant decision because this meeting coincides with the ABC's 85th Birthday at a time when the national broadcaster has been under attack for being too Sydney-centric.

Alice Springs is a welcome departure from so many capital city venues and offers an important message to all Australians that the ABC wants to reach out to people wherever they live. Continue reading [here]

ABC comes up short with Catalyst revamp

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - June 23, 2017

he ABC's promise to replace its weekly science magazine show Catalyst with 17 one-hour science documentaries in 2017 has been broken. We are past the halfway point of the year and the ABC has not screened a single episode. The director of television who made the promise, Richard Finlayson, has gone and Brendan Dahill, the executive who wrote the report which recommended the axing of the weekly program, had moved on before the decision was made.

At the time of Catalyst's downgrading in October last year, ABC insiders warned it was unrealistic to get that many programs to air in such a short timeframe, especially since they hadn't yet hired an executive producer to commission them. The ABC eventually imported British producer Aiden Laverty, a former editor of BBC's flagship science program, Horizon, who began work in April. Which didn'leave much time to make any programs. Full story [here]

The ABC gets it wrong on its South Pacific service

Graeme Dobell - The Australian Strategic Policy Institute - June 19, 2017

The technical bastardry of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in degrading its shortwave broadcasts to the South Pacific has been starkly revealed. The bloody-mindedness helps explain the dumb decision to turn off Australia's shortwave service that broadcasts to northern Australia and the South Pacific.

The reveal happened in Parliament House last Friday, when the Senate Communications Committee took evidence on a draft Bill that would require the ABC to restore the shortwave services it killed on January 31. Full story [here]

One Plus One - Michelle Guthrie

Michelle Guthrie is the ABC's managing director. She joins Jane Hutcheon to discuss leadership, criticism and her reluctant embrace of the public spotlight. Watch it on iView [here]

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie spooks Foreign Correspondent... again

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - June 9, 2017

f the ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, is committed to keeping ABC TV's Foreign Correspondent on air she has a funny way of showing it. At a Blue Mountains community forum this week Guthrie was asked about the ABC's attitude to foreign coverage. Worryingly, she said the ABC was committed to maintaining long-form and short-form international affairs across multiple media but "not to specific programs like Foreign Correspondent necessarily". Given that the program was shunted into a late-night time slot this year - 9.30pm on Tuesdays - and is now slated to finish its 2017 season over the dead months of summer, hopes are fading that it will return next year. This is not the first time Foreign Correspondent has appeared as though it is on death row. In November Guthrie sent shockwaves through ABC news by making similar public comments: Full story [here]

We need a strong ABC more than ever. It cannot pander to rightwing attacks

Gay Alcorn - The Guardian - June 2, 2017

The relentless, disproportionate attacks on the ABC usually receive little pushback from the ABC. Presenters hold their tongues, perhaps reporting what was said but usually refraining from full-throated rebuttal. That changed last week with the astonishing suggestion by Quadrant online editor Roger Franklin - in an attempt at satire, presumably - that had there been "a shred of justice" the Manchester bomber would have blown up the Q&A studio instead because, you know, the ABC excuses terrorism or denies its seriousness.

The basis for Franklin's fury was that a Q&A guest, physicist Lawrence Krauss, said that Americans are more likely to die from a fridge falling on them than in a terrorist attack. Full story [here]

How the newspapers tried to kill an independent ABC news before it even began

Stan Correy - ABC News - June 1, 2017

This week, the ABC marks the 70th anniversary of its first truly independent news bulletin - but it almost never made it to air.

"Independent and up to the minute" is how ABC news promotes itself today.

But when the ABC began broadcasting in 1932, being independent and up to the minute meant going to war with some of the most influential men in the country: the Australian newspaper proprietors. Full story [here]

A disgrace: One Nation's ABC blackmail threat

Editorial - SMH - June 1, 2017

One Nation's threat to blackmail the Australian people by demanding cuts to ABC funding was a disgrace. The ultimatum stood for almost a day before its stupidity dawned on party leader Pauline Hanson and she backed off.

The damage had been done. Any political threat to hold the public broadcaster to ransom and threaten its independence undermines confidence in the parliament and democracy. It is especially hypocritical when One Nation was behaving in a manner not unlike the apocryphal swamp-inhabiting political insiders the party claims to despise. Full Editorial [here]

One Nation refuses to back budget unless ABC funding cut by $600m, reports say

Gareth Hutchens - The Guardian - May 31, 2017

Pauline Hanson's One Nation has resuscitated its threat to refuse to support the Turnbull government's budget measures unless the ABC's funding is cut.

Brian Burston, One Nation's party whip, said it had received "unfair treatment" from the ABC and the party would reject "all bills associated with the budget" unless the broadcaster's $1bn a year funding was cut by $600m over four years, according to the Australian. Full story [here]

Separating treasures from the waste of ABC programs

Debi Enker - SMH - May 25, 2017

During a reportedly heated session at a recent conference on content organised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie declared that the TV set was dead. Finished. Kaput. Going the way of the dinosaur.

This is not welcome news for those of us who still prefer to watch most programs on that apparently doomed piece of equipment, rather than, say, squinting at our phones. Full story [here]

The ABC is not siphoning audiences from Fairfax

Axel Bruns - The Conversation - May 27, 2017

Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood has been busy. His company's announcement on 3 May 2017 that Fairfax would sack 125 of its newsroom staff led to Sydney Morning Herald and The Age journalists going on strike, at the worst possible time in the Australian political calendar.

Meanwhile, media reports highlighted Hywood's annual pay of over A$7 million - which at a median reported salary for journalists of just over A$51,000 would comfortably pay for the most of the staff laid off in Hywood's announcement. Full story [here]

Be-Friending the ABC

Tina Faulk - The Spectator Australia - May 27, 2017

It comes as no surprise when you discover that 'Friends of the ABC' is not, like, say, the CWA or Mate for Mates, a support group in the sense we generally know it to be.

Rather ABC 'Friends' is like Get Up, fiercely political, acidly vengeful, in the main, a Labor front, rather than of music and current-affairs fans supporting the national broadcaster. Full story [here]

Tinfoil witch trials

Editorial - The Saturday Paper - May 27, 2017

This is a defence of the ABC. It is a defence against a government with no apparent respect for the independence of one of this country's most important institutions.

It is a defence against the thuggishness of a minister such as Peter Dutton and the madness of a senator such as John Williams, against the blackmail and conspiracies that define politicians' relationships with the national broadcaster. Full story [here]

Radio jobs for the chop as ABC rolls out redundancies

Amanda Meade - Guardian Australia - May 15, 2017

After the ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, confirmed at Senate estimates that 120 more jobs would go, staff in the radio division were given some details on how it would affect them on Thursday. But the letter was so jargon-laden that barely anyone could understand it. Which is unsurprising as it was written by the director of radio, Michael Mason, the man responsible for the "preposterously named executives" last year including "Ideas Network Lead" and "Head Spoken".

Here's a sample: "Building on the success as RN as a podcast innovator this proposal brings together some of our most creative content makers, we are consolidating our current long form Radio Features team and the podcast content team from Content and Digital into a combined team focused on new digital audio content targeting key audience gaps and delivering rich content for RN's linear schedule." Full story [here]

'One down, many to go': Peter Dutton calls for ABC purge after Abdel-Magied axing

Michael Koziol - SMH - May 25, 2017

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has called for a purge of ABC personalities in the wake of the broadcaster's decision to axe Yassmin Abdel-Magied's program, which he welcomed as "a good start".

"One down, many to go," Mr Dutton told 2GB radio's Ray Hadley during their regular Thursday morning interview, in comments that were repudiated by Labor.

Mr Dutton reserved particular opprobrium for the Q&A program and its host, senior ABC journalist Tony Jones, which he said exemplified a cultural problem at the public broadcaster. Full story [here]

ABC bosses defend editorial independence, hiring practices in gruelling Senate hearing

Amy Remeikis - SMH - May 24, 2017

ABC head Michelle Guthrie was forced to defend the broadcaster's editorial independence, hiring practices and marketing, while denying its children's news program was sympathetic to Islamic State in a grilling which has come to characterise her time in front of the Senate.

Ms Guthrie, who celebrated her first year in the managing director role earlier this month, said the ABC was working on "maximising" its benefit to audiences and planned on announcing a $2.9 million spend in "genre programming" on Thursday, which would see its arts, science and education coverage boosted, as well as the return of Catalyst. Full story [here]

ABC axes Yassmin Abdel-Magied's Australia Wide program

Broede Carmody - SMH - May 24, 2017

The ABC is axing the program hosted by Yassmin Abdel-Magied a month after the television presenter and activist sparked outrage over her Anzac Day comments.

Australia Wide is set to be shelved in the coming weeks as part of the national broadcaster's sweeping restructure. As well as programming changes, as many as 200 jobs are being slashed in order to reinvest $50 million a year back into regional and online content. Full story [here]

Quadrant online editor Roger Franklin laments that Manchester blast was not against ABC

Nick O'Malley - SMH - May 24, 2017

The Australian Federal Police has been notified that the online editor of the Australian conservative journal Quadrant wrote an opinion piece saying that, "had there been a shred of justice", the Manchester blast would have "detonated in an Ultimo TV studio".

He added that, if such an attack took place, "none of the panel's likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity's intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty". Full story [here]

ABC needs to be included in specific local content rules

Media Release - ABC Friends - May 17, 2017

ABC Friends National President Margaret Reynolds said Michelle Guthrie needed to spend more time watching ABC television if she really believes there is no need for local content rules to apply to the national broadcaster (Crikey 17 May 2017)

The ABC relies heavily on the BBC for a significant percentage of its screening time and has had a long standing commercial relationship with British television . Australian audiences can be forgiven for believing they remain part of the British Empire when they see yet another Antiques Roadshow, Stephen Fry or Midsummer Murders et al repeated ad nauseum in prime viewing time.

The national broadcaster has a responsibility to lead in reflecting Australian content. When quality Australian programs are screened they are well received by local audiences. However one glance at TV schedules reminds us just how reliant the ABC is on imported programs.

Australian Children's TV has suffered with local content being reduced considerably in recent years despite additional funding being allocated by government and subsequently redirected to other areas of the ABC.

Clearly the ABC needs to be more accountable about how it fulfils the role as the national broadcaster Australian shareholders want an independent broadcaster that accepts its leadership role and promotes Australian talent and stories.

Of course the ABC struggles with inadequate funding from government but that needs strong advocacy from the ABC must receive appropriate levels of funding to guarantee Australian content.

If the ABC is not meeting local content standards there is good reason to require it to do so. The new media environment is a major challenge for public broadcasting but taxpayers do not want to see any further subsidies going to the BBC!

Fairfax Media boss Greg Hywood accuses ABC of threatening future of commercial rivals

Matthew Knott - SMH - May 17, 2017

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood has hit out at the ABC for using taxpayer money to boost the profits of multinational corporations such as Google and encroaching onto the terrain of newspaper companies at an appearance before a public inquiry into the future of journalism.

Mr Hywood, who is overseeing a plan to cut 125 editorial jobs at the media company, was also forced to defend his salary and performance bonuses under pointed questioning from senators suggesting his pay packet was excessive. Full story [here]

The Relationship Between the Media and Politics - Forum


ABC Friends Mid-North Coast presents: Rob Oakeshott "The Relationship Between the Media and Politics"

When: Tuesday 30th May at 10:00am Where: Westport Club, Buller Street, Port Macquarie. Download the flyer [here]

Mark Colvin 'too big and too smart' for Walkleys, Tony Jones says

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 12, 2017

Apart from his family there was a handful of friends at Mark Colvin's hospital bedside in his final days. One of those was his best friend Q&A host Tony Jones. Jones, his partner Four Corners host Sarah Ferguson, 7.30 host Leigh Sales and SBS presenter Jenny Brockie were among his closest circle of mates. While he was open about his kidney disease and transplant, Colvin's brief, final battle with lung-cancer was a closely-held secret.

After Colvin's death on Thursday, Jones called for the Walkleys to create a posthumous award for the former host of PM and legendary foreign correspondent. Full story [here]

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

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Advocacy) Bill 2015 (the bill) was initially referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee on 3 December 2015 for inquiry and report by 20 June 2016.1 The bill is a private senator's bill introduced by Senator Bridget McKenzie.

Purpose of the bill (1.9) The bill proposes to amend the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Charter in relation to the delivery of services in rural and regional Australia in each state and territory. In addition, the bill seeks to define the ABC's mandate for its public service function for journalism in rural and regional Australia.

This Senate Committee Report, together with the Labor Senators' dissenting report and recommendations can be downloaded [here]

Mark Colvin - consummate reporter, foreign correspondent, journalist and broadcaster

Media Release - ABC Friends - May 11, 2017

ABC Friends join with Mark Colvin's colleagues, friends and family in mourning his loss, and celebrating an extraordinary life. In over 40 years with the ABC, in a variety of roles, his professionalism, his passion for the truth and his work ethic shone like a beacon. His commitment to bringing to the world the horror of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 cost him his health, and ultimately, his life. His courage in continuing his career as an outstanding broadcaster despite his illness has been inspirational.

As a mentor to so many young journalists, he was legendary.

In the words of colleague Phillip Williams, Mark Colvin represented "the Gold Standard." He will be sadly missed by all of us.

Mal Hewitt
National Vice-President, ABC Friends

Mark Colvin dies after distinguished career at ABC

Damien Murphy - SMH - May 11, 2017

One of the few Australian reporters to have been the subject of a play during their lifetime, Mark Colvin, was an outstanding survivor of an era when journalism eschewed personality for fact.

Perhaps the last "BBC voice" to remain on air at the ABC, his face was certainly well-known to television viewers but it was his voice that continued to echo down the years. Full story [here]

A fortunate life, and an untimely death: A tribute to ABC broadcaster Mark Colvin

Karl Quinn - SMH - May 11, 2017

The veteran ABC broadcaster Mark Colvin has signed off for good. His was a massive intellect and a rare talent.

Journalism sent Mark Colvin out into the world, and when he became too ill to travel, it allowed him to keep bringing the world to us. The veteran broadcaster's rich tones, quick wit and easy grasp of a vast array of subject matter - from pop culture to politics, from foreign affairs to the affairs of the famous - made him a one-stop shop for what was going on in the world, whether on Radio National's flagship current affairs program PM or on Twitter, a medium he took to like a fish to water. Full story [here]

Mark Colvin: Respected ABC journalist, PM presenter and former foreign correspondent dies aged 65

ABC News - May 11, 2017

One of the ABC's most respected journalists, Mark Colvin, has died aged 65 after struggling with a rare auto-immune disease for more than 20 years.

Among Australian journalism's most authoritative voices, and a master interviewer with a depth of knowledge in world affairs, Colvin held a number of overseas postings with the ABC, working as a correspondent in Europe and Africa. Full story [here]

The ABC's unchartered waters

Kim Dalton - The Saturday Paper - May 6, 2017

In Ken Inglis's forensic history of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, he quotes then communications minister Neil Brown as saying in the early 1980s that the ABC "jealously guarded their independence and resented any intrusion". It "went into paroxysms of rage if a minister sought to intervene in any of their activities".

Actual, perceived and alleged political interference is a theme running through the national broadcaster's history, in regard to politically sensitive issues, in particular programs, coverage of contentious or contested issues, internal industrial relations and management practices, certain high-profile program-makers, producers or presenters, and the expansion or curtailing of services. Full story [here]

Play School isn't enough: children need more local stories on our screens

Jenny Buckland - SMH - May 2, 2017

Ten years ago the Australian Children's Television Foundation joined forces with the ABC to lobby for funding to establish a children's channel.

At the time, the ABC screened limited Australian children's content. Apart from Play School they commissioned six to 13 hours a year of children's drama and filled their children's schedule with imports. Full story [here]

Kim Dalton accuses ABC TV of shifting funds from Australian content

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 1, 2017

The ABC's budget for local drama, Indigenous, documentary and children's TV has been quietly shrinking since 2013 as management siphons off millions of dollars into other areas of the public broadcaster, according to the former head of ABC TV Kim Dalton.

In an essay published on Monday Dalton said ABC management and boards were ultimately not called to account for diverting money from Australian content.

Dalton ran ABC TV from 2006 to 2013. In his essay, Missing in Action: the ABC and Australia's Screen Culture, he has blamed the absence of transparency in the ABC's allocation of funds to different areas - such as news, digital, radio, regional and management - as well as a lack of public discussion or public policy. Full story [here]

Missing in action: the ABC and Australia's screen culture

Kim Dalton - The Conversation - May 1, 2017

Achievements by the ABC to significantly increase levels of local drama, comedy, documentary, Indigenous and children's content, as well as expand partnerships with independent production houses and creative talent, have in recent years been reversed.

The problem lies with a lack of governance, an inadequate, outdated Charter and the ABC's poor relationship with the independent production sector.

Between 2006 and 2009, the Howard and Rudd governments increased ABC TV's budget by almost 30%. The new funding was for additional Australian content. Full story [here]

ABC 'disrespecting' viewers and producers, says former TV boss Kim Dalton

Michael Lallo - SMH - May 1, 2017

Aunty's ex-TV chief accuses ABC of habitually ignoring criticism - and says it must change its ways.

The ABC is failing viewers and external producers, its former TV chief claims, while using its statutory independence to deflect valid criticism.

Kim Dalton, who served as ABC's television director from 2006 to 2013, says the national broadcaster has stripped an estimated $40 million from it TV budget since 2013 - without detailing where this money went. Full story [here]

The ABC's self-proclaimed independence is letting down its audience

Kim Dalton - SMH - May 1, 2017

The debate around the ABC for the most part is binary and sterile. One side claims that the ABC is simply underfunded and that any suggestion of imposing on it a set of expectations is a threat to its independence. The other side focuses only on the news and current affairs output and claims that the ABC is politically biased and overfunded.

But there is a profound disconnect between the ABC and its public policy settings concerning Australian screen content, and its contribution to Australian culture and identity. What we have seen consistently is that our most significant cultural institution is vulnerable to unilateral internal change, contrary to stated government policy and in the absence of any public discussion or review. Full story [here]

ABC cracks second behind news.com.au

NewsMediaWorks / 26 April, 2017

ABC News Websites has moved into second place behind news.com.au in Nielsen's digital news ratings in March, bumping nine.com.au into third place.

The public broadcaster received a 19 per cent increase in unique audience traffic with 4.85 million visits, the highest number since August 2016. Nine.com.au had no change in unique audience from February. Full story [here]

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.

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]

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]