Welcome to ABC Friends NSW & ACT

The ABC of budget cuts

Richard Aedy - ABC Radio - May 24, 2018

Funding for public broadcasting is in decline around the world. It's not just the ABC, which will lose $84 million from the middle of 2019 and, when you adjust for inflation, has lost 28% of its funding over the last three decades.

Still, the ABC does cost the taxpayer just over a billion dollars a year. So what are we getting?

How much do other countries spend on public broadcasting? And can we really work out what Aunty is worth? Read more.

ABC has shed 1,012 jobs since 2014, Senate estimates told

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 24, 2018

Michelle Guthrie was a no-show at Senate estimates on Wednesday night as the ABC managing director’s chief finance officer revealed that the broadcaster had shed 1,012 jobs since 2014.

The ABC finance executive Louise Higgins was left to field questions about whether the $84m budget cut, in the form of an indexation freeze, would lead to even more job losses. Guthrie had a "significant family commitment" and could not attend, Higgins told the committee. Read more.

Malcolm Turnbull lodges second complaint with the ABC about Emma Alberici

Michael Kozoil - SMH - May 24, 2018

The Turnbull government has lodged a second series of complaints to the ABC about the network's chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici, this time over her reporting on innovation spending.

However, the public broadcaster has roundly rejected the complaints following an internal review. ABC journalist Emma Alberici.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a list of 11 grievances to the ABC on May 7 about a television story aired the previous evening about research and innovation spending. Read more.

Royal outrage as conservative chorus rounds on ABC

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 19, 2018

Not since Zaky Mallah asked a question on Q&A - prompting then-prime minister Tony Abbott to ask the ABC “whose side are you on” - has the public broadcaster been such a hot topic.

Everything from the ABC handing out executive bonuses, to Aunty sending a TV crew to London to cover the royal wedding, has been subjected to the blowtorch.

News Corp columnists, including the Australian’s Gerard Henderson, the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt and the Courier Mail’s Des Houghton, have all lined up to denounce the ABC in the past few days. Read more.

Government defends ABC budget cuts

Jennifer Jennings - News.com.au - May 9, 2018

The Turnbull government has defended funding cuts to the ABC the morning after delivering a budget focused on tax.

A three-year funding freeze will cut $84 million from the public broadcaster, following a decision to axe $43 million in funding for news and current affairs.

But Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the ABC will still receive $3.2 billion over those three years.

"This is effectively equivalent to the efficiency dividend that applies to nearly all other government taxpayer-funded organisations," he told the ABC on Wednesday. Read more.

Right Royal stoush over ABC coverage

InDaily - May 17, 2018

Cabinet minister Peter Dutton has hit out at "largesse" at the ABC, criticising a decision to send a special crew to London for the royal wedding.

The minister said he couldn’t understand why the taxpayer-funded broadcaster flew presenters Annabel Crabb and Jeremy Fernandez to the UK for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials.

“Why they need to send people across when they’ve already got correspondents in the UK is beyond me. If you have a look at the largesse of their studios at the ABC, these bonuses they’ve just paid out, I’d love to know the criteria,” Dutton told 2GB radio today. Read more.

Time to sharpen the edge of Australia’s soft power

Geoff Heriot - The Interpreter - May 17, 2018

Recent commentary about a changing world order, and the growing influence of China and Indonesia across Australia’s strategic threshold of the south-west Pacific, highlights the incompleteness of this country’s outreach to the “Indo-Pacific”.

In the government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, for example, the chapter concerning “partnerships and soft power” makes no reference to the ABC, which has a legislative responsibility to broadcast to foreign publics and the Australian diaspora. 

Once a significant player in what the British Council calls the Great Game of the Airwaves, the ABC’s purpose-designed, multiplatform international services have suffered near-terminal decline. This has resulted from two decades of yo-yoing government policy and ABC Board decisions. Read more.

Only the support of the people can save the ABC now

Emma Dawson - The Guardian - May 17, 2018

he announcement in last week’s budget that the ABC’s funding indexation will be frozen for three years from July 2019 is the latest in a series of extraordinary attacks by a government that displays an unprecedented level of hostility to the national broadcaster.It represents a real cut to the broadcaster’s operating costs of $84m.

Added to the $254m cut over five years announced by then-communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in November 2014, and a $28m cut to the enhanced newsgathering service in the 2016 budget, this brings the money taken out of our national broadcaster since the election of the Coalition government to over a quarter of a billion dollars. Read more.

$30m to Fox Sports, $84m from the ABC: A tale of two broadcasters

Luke Henriques Gomes - The New Daily - May 15, 2018

As the Turnbull government promised a tax cut to 10 million workers and conspicuously sought to avoid any pre-election "nasties", it was hard to spot too many losers on budget night.

But one did stand out.

In a budget aimed at pleasing everyone, the ABC copped an $84 million cut over three years. Some of that money was redirected to a Captain Cook memorial in Sydney, which has been welcomed by traditional owners despite controversy. Read more.

"It's horrendous": Journalists' union weighs in on SA job cuts

David Washington - InDaily - May 15, 2018

In the midst of a particularly bad month for the media industry in South Australia, the union representing journalists has outlined the "bleak" jobs situation at News Corp's Adelaide office and has questioned the ABC's decision to axe several senior newsroom staff.

MEAA SA branch secretary Angelique Ivanica says she believes News Corp - which publishes The Advertiser, Sunday Mail and Messenger mastheads in South Australia - will outsource or axe almost its entire sub-editing staff, leaving only a small pool of senior editors on-staff at Waymouth Street. Read more.

Why we should be boosting ABC funding, not cutting it

Michael Pascoe - The New Daily - May 14, 2018

It's ironic Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has difficulty communicating. But don't worry, I’m here to help: cutting the ABC's funding makes perfect sense - if you’re pre-empting your own inquiry into competitive neutrality and doing One Nation and media mates a favour.

Fresh from making an undocumented hash of explaining the taxpayers’ $30 million gift to the Murdoch Empire's Foxtel, Senator Mitch Fifield is now at sea justifying the $84 million cut to the ABC’s budget.

"I am not going to pre-empt the outcome of the efficiency review," he told ABC news - but that’s precisely what the funding cuts do. Read more.

Majority of voters oppose budget cut to ABC funding - poll

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 14, 2018

A majority of Australians believe a strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy and oppose a cut to ABC funding, according to a new poll.

The Australia Institute poll found 70% of people wanted a strong ABC and 60% agreed the ABC needed a "boost to long term funding".

The poll was released after the Coalition slashed the ABC’s budget by $84m last week.

Operational funding for the ABC will remain at 2018-19 levels over three years in what the government has called an indexation freeze and the ABC has called a funding cut. Read more.

The cutting wedge

Editorial - The Saturday Paper - May 12, 2018

What this government hates is scrutiny. That's what these cuts are about.

This is the government whose communications minister is a card-carrying member of the Institute of Public Affairs, a body that lobbies for the ABC to be privatised. It is a government that hates, deeply hates, the public broadcaster.

Its first big lie, Tony Abbott's last promise before he won government, was that there would be no cuts to the ABC. Since then, it has made the persecution of the ABC a running obsession. The most powerful minister in the government, Peter Dutton, mocks its reporters as "crazy lefties". He says: "They don't realise how completely dead they are to me." Read more.

ABC cuts - the gloves are off.

Ranald Macdonald - Pearls & Irritations - May 10, 2018

The Coalition’s latest budget aimed at ensuring the voters return it to the government benches has dropped any pretence of supporting a vibrant, independent and properly funded ABC.

It is now a fight by the ABC and its supporters for its survival as an effective public broadcaster and for it to be able to fulfill its Charter requirements.

Interestingly, the European Commissioner for Human Rights has just issued a report, which begins: Read more.

The politics behind the competitive neutrality inquiry into ABC and SBS

Denis Muller - The Conversation - May 3, 2018

Last September, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson made a deal with Malcolm Turnbull's government: You give me an inquiry into the ABC and I'll support the changes you want to make to media ownership laws.

The government agreed to do this in the form of an inquiry into the ABC's competitive neutrality - and broadened it to include SBS.

It was clear at the time this had the potential to do real damage to the national broadcaster. Read more.

The challenge facing the ABC: Time for a clear channel

Jennifer Duke - SMH - May 12, 2018

Talk about making a bad situation worse. Shortly after the government announced ABC funding would be frozen as part of the federal budget on Tuesday, the national broadcaster's managing director Michelle Guthrie, and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield found themselves arguing about money.

But instead of focusing solely on the merits of the government’s budget decision to cut $84 million from the ABC over three years, Guthrie and Fifield were also debating the future of an unrelated $43 million enhanced news-gathering program. Read more.

ABC reels as Coalition uses budget cuts to declare war on Bolt's 'leftist collective'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 11, 2018

We don't normally agree with Andrew Bolt and Judith Sloan but the two conservative News Corp columnists appear to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to explaining the shock $84m cut to the ABC budget. Speaking on the ABC's The Drum, Sloan said the ABC cuts were "payback" for ABC programming but would not elaborate when pushed by the host, Julia Baird.

Bolt was not so reticent, saying the ABC's “leftist collective” had blotted its copybook once too often with the government "and it’s now open war - war that spilled into budget cuts on Tuesday". Read more.

Budget cuts are an attempt to bully the ABC into silence

Andrew Fowler - The Guardian - May 10, 2018

The bullying of the ABC with the latest round of budget cuts is a stark example of how the federal government wants to kill questioning journalism. Vicious attacks on the ABC certainly came from both major political parties in the past, but whereas Labor, by its political orientation at least pays lip service to dissent, there are no such restraints on the Liberal National Coalition. And as the government has shifted to the right, the attacks on the ABC have been more overt, with the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, pointedly referring to the ABC (and the Guardian) as "dead" to him. Dutton was angry at the role of journalists in holding him to account. Read more.

"Death by a thousand cuts": Eastward drift of ABC jobs puts heritage in limbo

David Washington - InDaily - May 7, 2018

The ABC quietly closed its Adelaide sound library days before the March state election, with new revelations that the drift of jobs away from South Australia over several years played a part in the decision to axe the facility.

Answers to questions on notice provided to South Australian Labor Senator Penny Wong reveal that the library was closed despite it being moved from one floor of the ABC's Collinswood headquarters to another just last September at a cost of at least $20,000.

The closure led to two staff members losing their jobs - a bitter pill for the local ABC, which is also facing the loss of two or three senior staff over the coming months. Read more.

ABC funding slashed by $84m in budget to help broadcaster 'live within their means'

Amanda Meade & Patrick Keneally - The Guardian - May 8, 2018

Funding for the ABC has been cut by $84m with the treasurer, Scott Morrison, saying the reduction is justified because "everyone has to live within their means".

The ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, told staff she was “very disappointed and concerned” about what amounted to a substantial budget cut and it would impact audiences.

"This decision will make it very difficult for the ABC to meet its charter requirements and audience expectations," Guthrie told staff.

The cut comes on top of the government's decision not to continue a further $43m targeted grant to support news gathering and after cuts of the magnitude of $254m since 2014. Read more.

Budget 2018: Turnbull government hits ABC with $84m funding freeze

Michael Koziol - SMH - May 8, 2018

More than $80 million will be cut from the ABC in coming years in the biggest hit to the national broadcaster since Tony Abbott swung the axe in 2014.

The Turnbull government has booked $83.7 million in savings by freezing the ABC's funding until 2022, a move that will upset the broadcaster but please its critics inside and outside Parliament. Read more.

Budget 2018: ABC hits back over funding cuts to bottom line

Rachel Eddie - The New Daily - May 9, 2018

The ABC has called for a staff meeting after the federal government cut $83.7 million from the national broadcaster over three years.

Managing Director Michelle Guthrie sent a "frank" email to ABC staff on Tuesday night after the federal budget revealed the national broadcaster's operational funding would be frozen from July next year until 2022. Read more.

Budget 2018: ABC funding frozen in $84 million hit to bottom line

ABC News - May 8, 2018

The Government has announced it will freeze the ABC's annual funding indexation for three years from July 2019, costing the organisation $84 million.

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie said freezing the indexation amounted to cutting the broadcaster.

She said the $84 million cut would be compounded by a decision to cut $43 million in funding for news and current affairs.

Ms Guthrie said the organisation has faced $254 million in cuts since 2014. Read more.

No Politics at Aunty’s Table

The Australia Institute - May 8, 2018

$83.7 million to be cut from the ABC in the Federal Budget

Our research shows that the ABC is Australia's most trusted broadcaster. At a time when so-called 'fake news' is at an all-time high and journalism jobs are being cut across the country, has there ever been a greater need for a strong, independent and trusted national broadcaster?

The ABC is entering the final year of its triennial funding agreement.  Read more.

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie writes grovelling apology to Kevin Rudd as 'Cabinet Files' scoop backfires

Latika Bourke - SMH - May 3, 2018

The ABC has issued a grovelling apology to former prime minister Kevin Rudd in a bid to fend off legal action, admitting its much-hyped "Cabinet Files" coverage was botched amid a growing number of "editorial mistakes" by the national broadcaster.

In a letter to Mr Rudd obtained by Fairfax Media, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie "unreservedly apologised" to Mr Rudd over a much-publicised January report that claimed the Labor prime minister was warned of "critical risks" relating to the home insulation scheme. Four men lost their lives installing home insulation under the controversial economic stimulus program. Read more.

Andrew Probyn was right about Abbott - and impartiality isn't ignoring the facts

Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - May 2, 2018

It seems quaint, in a context where journalism faces substantial threats and challenges - from commercial pressure to rising audience distrust - that a prominent Australian journalist can state the bleeding obvious and be pinged by a media regulator.

And yet the Australian Communications and Media Authority has ruled that a news report by the ABC's political editor, Andrew Probyn, breached the ABC’s code for impartiality because he noted that Tony Abbott was "the most destructive politician of his generation". Read more.

Experienced Canberra journalists targeted in 'Hunger Games' job cuts

Megan Doherty - Canberra Times - May 2, 2018

Nine of the ABC's most experienced and respected employees in Canberra have been tapped on the shoulder and told to fight for their jobs as part of a national-wide restructure of the broadcaster's newsrooms.

Despite the Canberra newsroom likely to have only two redundancies, all nine of the employees are being subjected to a process of proving they have the skills to be allowed to keep their jobs. Read more.

The politics behind the competitive neutrality inquiry into ABC and SBS

Denis Muller - The Conversation - May 3, 2018

Last September, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson made a deal with Malcolm Turnbull’s government: You give me an inquiry into the ABC and I'll support the changes you want to make to media ownership laws.

The government agreed to do this in the form of an inquiry into the ABC's competitive neutrality - and broadened it to include SBS.

It was clear at the time this had the potential to do real damage to the national broadcaster. Read more.

ABC reveals more newsroom job cuts

Michael Lallo - SMH - April 30, 2018

Last year, ABC staff reported a "dangerous" level of workplace stress, according to a union survey - with some claiming their workloads had increased.

"Reshaping our newsrooms involves challenges [including redundancies] and we know this would be painful," said ABC's news chief Gaven Morris, announcing the cuts on Monday.

"Against this, new senior editorial roles would be introduced to add to the expertise and skills in the newsroom."

While individual workers may be shown the door, the broadcaster expects newly-created positions will mean no net reduction in staff numbers. Read more.

ABC and SBS forced to justify competing with commercial media in news and streaming

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 27, 2018

The public broadcasters will be asked to justify to a government inquiry why they should continue providing free online news and catch-up TV when they are competing with commercial media players.

The government’s competitive neutrality inquiry is examining the expansion of the ABC’s online news service, ABC iview, SBS On Demand and other services, in the light of complaints from Foxtel, News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media about taxpayer-funded media crowding them out. Read more.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Fair and Balanced) Bill 2017 - Final Report

16 February 2018

This bill would amend the Corporation's Charter to require the ABC's service to be 'fair' and 'balanced'. Read the Final Report [here]

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2017 - Report

16 February 2018

This bill would amend the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 to ensure regional communities are provided for in the functions of the Corporation, and through representation on the ABC Board. Read the report [here]

The Death of Australian Children’s Broadcast Television Programming

Patricia Edgar - John Menadue - Pearls and Irritations - April 18, 2018

How many times must it be said that if we do not take action Australian children's programming will disappear from our screens?

The Director-General of the BBC has now conceded there is a crisis, with young people spending more time viewing Netflix and YouTube than they do BBC programs.  In July 2017 he announced the broadcaster's biggest investment in children's services in a generation - an additional 34 million pounds across the next three years to enable the BBC to reinvent how it serves its youngest audience in the years ahead. The BBC's plan is foundering and as well Australia's children's viewing through broadcast television, is tanking quietly. Read more.

World Press Freedom Day 2018 - 3 May 2018

ABC Friends supports World Press Freedom Day

In 2018, UNESCO will lead the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The main event, jointly organized by UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, will take place in Accra, Ghana on 2 - 3 May. This year's global theme is 'Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law', and will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. The Day will also examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. Read more.

ABC doesn't compete with News Corp, says minister

InDaily - April 11, 2018

The communications minister doesn't believe the ABC competes with News Corp because the public broadcaster doesn't chase advertising dollars.

The Turnbull Government has launched a "competitive neutrality" review to look at whether the ABC and SBS operate on a level playing field with commercial media companies.

The inquiry was part of a deal it did with One Nation to pass media ownership reforms through parliament.

Minister Mitch Fifield told a Senate committee today that several commercial media organisations thought the review was timely and appropriate. Read more.

ABC reduces factual programming hours by 60% since 2014

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 13, 2018

The number of hours of factual programming on the ABC has dropped by 60% since 2014, drama by 20% and documentary by 13.5%, the broadcaster has told a parliamentary inquiry.

Original Australian documentaries and factual programs have dropped from a total of 224 broadcast hours in the 2014-15 financial year to just 110 last financial year.

First-run Australian drama has dropped from 51 hours to 40 and narrative comedy from 24 to 20. Read more.

ABC slashed spending on Australian drama

Broede Carmody - SMH - April 11, 2018

The ABC slashed the amount it spent on drama by 20 per cent in the 2016/17 financial year.

The broadcaster spent $27.2 million last financial year, down from $36.2 million the year before, according to documents tabled with the Senate's committee for environment and communications. Read more.

ABC boss says journalists often make mistakes but publishing Alberici stories was 'unusual'

Michael Koziol - SMH - April 11, 2018

ABC journalists frequently make errors that are caught before publication but editors failed to do so in the "unusual" case of Emma Alberici's company tax stories, the public broadcaster has said.

Fronting a special Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, editorial director Alan Sunderland played down the nine mistakes or omissions of fact the ABC identified in a piece about corporate tax avoidance by its chief economics correspondent, which was savaged by Turnbull government ministers. Read more.

Qantas boss accuses ABC of anti-business bias over Emma Alberici tax stories

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 10, 2018

The Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, has accused the ABC of having an anti-business bias in a letter of complaint about the "slanted analysis" and "poor reporting" in economics correspondent Emma Alberici’s company tax stories.

In the letter to the ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, Joyce wrote: "Any reasonable person consuming the ABC's coverage would incorrectly be led to believe that Qantas (along with other large corporations) was in some way shirking its tax responsibilities and not contributing to the Australian economy. This could not be further from the truth." Read more.

AFP raid home of tax office whistleblower over ABC investigation

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - April 4, 2018

The Australian federal police raided the home of a debt collector for the Australian Taxation Office who is a key whistleblower in a joint Fairfax/Four Corners investigation into the extensive powers of the tax office.

The raid came just days ahead of the broadcast on the ABC of the program, Mongrel Bunch of Bastards, which is set to air on Monday 9 April. Read more.

Inquiry into the competitive neutrality of Australia's national broadcasters

Media Release - Minister for Communications - March 28, 2018

The Turnbull Government has appointed an experienced panel to conduct an Inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the national broadcasters.

The Inquiry will examine whether Australia's national broadcasters - the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) - are operating in a manner consistent with the principles of competitive neutrality.

The Terms of Reference and further information on the Inquiry are available [here]. Read the full Media Release [here]

Head of ABC and SBS review says viewers have 'no reason to worry'

Michael Koziol - SMH - March 31, 2018

The economist appointed by the Turnbull government to head its review of the ABC and SBS has assured fans and viewers they have nothing to fear from his probe into the public broadcasters.

Robert Kerr, a retired competition tsar, will examine whether the networks are complying with the principle of "competitive neutrality" - that is, ensuring they do not enjoy advantages over commercial rivals purely because of their public ownership.

The inquiry is expected to deal with concerns raised by commercial publishers, including Fairfax Media, about the ABC's involvement in free online news, as well as its expenditure on promotion through Google. Read more.

Murdoch press hails the inquiry it demanded into ABC's 'privileged status'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 30, 2018

The Coalition has handed Rupert Murdoch something his outlets have been lobbying for pretty hard recently: an inquiry into whether the public broadcasters are “using their privileged status to smother commercial operators”. That’s how the announcement of the terms of reference for a competitive neutrality inquiry was reported by the Australian this week.

The communications minister, Mitch Fifield, appointed economist Robert Kerr, commercial TV lobbyist Julie Flynn and former ABC TV executive and producer Sandra Levy to examine whether ABC and SBS are "operating in a manner consistent with the principles of competitive neutrality" which require that public entities shouldn’t enjoy a competitive advantage. Read more.

ABC refuses to reveal secret ‘Cabinet Files’ talks with government

John Power - The NewDaily - March 28, 2018

The ABC is refusing to release its correspondence with the Prime Minister’s office in the days surrounding its publication of a trove of misplaced Cabinet documents that it later returned to the government.

In January, the national broadcaster revealed the partial contents of a collection of 1500 Cabinet papers that had been accidentally sold at a government auction, providing a rare glimpse into the inner workings of five past governments. Read more.

Businessman Joseph Gersh tipped for ABC board role

Jennifer Duke - SMH - March 27, 2018

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is looking for new directors for the ABC board, with well-known Melbourne business personality and property investor Joseph Gersh believed to be among those approached for the job.

Mr Gersh is the founder of boutique investment bank Gersh Investment Partners, has an Order of Australia and is director of not for profit current affairs forum The Sydney Institute. Read more.

National Broadcasters Legislation Amendment (Enhanced Transparency) Bill 2017 - Report

March 26, 2018

About this inquiry - This bill would amend the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 and the Special Broadcasting Services Act 1991 to provide more transparency on how the national broadcasters allocate Government funding in relation to salary and allowances paid to employees, and payments to on-air talent contractors where the total amounts paid exceed $200,000 annually. Read the report.

Is 'internationalism' the only way forward for cash-strapped ABC dramas?

Craig Mathieson - SMH - March 19, 2018

Harrow is the television series the ABC gets when it cuts its coat according to the cloth it has, or more precisely with the cloth provided to the national broadcaster by its financing co-partners.

The story of a brilliant forensic pathologist, Dr Daniel Harrow (Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd​), who outrageously bends the rules to solve the murder case on the slab before him, the crime mystery plays as if it was constructed for an international audience. Read more.

Margot Robbie signs on to produce new female-focussed ABC series

Susannah Guthrie - The NewDaily - March 23, 2018

Margot Robbie's production company has partnered with the ABC to produce a new local 10-part series, indicating the Gold Coast-born actress's commitment to the industry where she cut her teeth.

The ABC announced on Friday it had signed a deal with LuckyChap Entertainment, the production company Robbie founded with her husband, Tom Ackerley, friends Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr and producer Brett Hedblom. Read more.

While viewers abandon Sunrise and Today, ABC bucks the trend

Michael Lallo - SMH - March 22, 2018

Since 2016, Today's metropolitan ratings have slumped by almost 16 per cent - while Sunrise has shed nearly one-fifth of its city audience. This isn't surprising.

In 2018, most long-running shows are losing viewers. If they experience only a small decline - as opposed to a precipitous drop - they're doing well.

Which makes ABC's NewsBreakfast - presented by Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland - an interesting case study. Read more.

ABC executive apologises to Kevin Bailey over Tonightly skit

Broede Carmody - SMH - March 23, 2018

A senior ABC executive has apologised to Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey after he was labelled a "c---" on Tom Ballard's Tonightly program.

The ABC's head of entertainment, David Anderson, phoned Mr Bailey this week after the controversial skit made headlines. Read more.

Wil Anderson on Tonightly: 'People more offended by C at end of AB than about C-bomb sketch'

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 23, 2018

Communications minister Mitch Fifield and Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi complain about ABC show that called candidate four-lettered word.

Conservative politicians who complained about a sketch on ABC TV's Tonightly comedy show are serial critics of the public broadcaster who are pushing a political agenda, comedian Wil Anderson has said. Read more.

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

The April 2018 edition of Update is now available [here]

Minister rebukes ABC over Tonightly's 'vitriolic' Australian Conservatives skit

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 21. 2018

The communications minister, Mitch Fifield, has asked the ABC to investigate a TV comedy segment in which a candidate for Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives party was lampooned in a skit about the name of the electorate of Batman. Read more.

Communications Minister takes aim at Tonightly with Tom Ballard skit

Aja Styles - SMH - March 20, 2018

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is demanding the ABC apologise and investigate a skit in which an Australian Conservatives candidate got labelled a "c---".

Tonightly with Tom Ballard ran a skit last week about renaming the Melbourne electorate of Batman after concerns about the history linked to founder John Batman and his involvement in the murder of Aboriginal people. Read more.

ABC News dominates journalism awards

ABC Media Release - March 18, 2018

ABC News has again demonstrated why it is Australia's most trusted news source with a standout performance in two of the nation's top media awards: the Rural Press Club Awards and the Quill Awards for Excellence in Victorian Journalism.

Dominique Schwartz and Alexandra Blucher were the overall winners of the Rural Journalism prize as well as taking out the category for Excellence in Rural Journalism Online at last week’s Rural Press Club Awards. Read more.

ABC must spend 'more time talking to ordinary Australians' about hip pocket issues, internal review finds

Michael Kozoil - SMH - March 16, 2018

ABC journalists should focus more on economic and hip pocket issues and "spend more time talking to ordinary Australians", an internal review at the broadcaster has found.

An audit of the network's news coverage, designed to investigate claims of left-wing bias and "elitist" story selection, has concluded the ABC should be more concerned with the effect of issues on "average citizens". Read more.

Read the full ABC Report [here]

ABC news should cover more human interest stories, Michelle Guthrie says

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 16, 2018

The ABC's main television and radio news bulletins should cover more human interest stories, local news and hip pocket issues, the managing director Michelle Guthrie has said.

Guthrie was endorsing an internal editorial review which found the 7pm ABC TV news and the 7am radio news bulletins assumed public broadcasting audiences were more interested in major national and international events than they were in their own community. Read more.

A public broadcaster that bows to political pressure isn't doing its job

Johan Lidberg - The Conversation - February 20, 2018

The ABC's chief economics correspondent, Emma Alberici, did her job the other day. She wrote a well-researched analysis piece investigating whether the Turnbull government's proposed company tax cuts would grow the economy and break Australia's wages deadlock.

Alberici's article came in for a lot of criticism from the Turnbull government for its one-sidedness and lack of balance. Later, the ABC took down the article from its website.

If you read her piece, you’ll see that, yes, she could have included more voices, and yes, the case for company tax cuts was forcefully argued against. But the argument and analysis was built on sound research, as Saul Eslake (one of Australia's most senior and respected independent economists, who was quoted in Alberici's story) has pointed out. Read more.

It's the golden age of television drama. So why has the ABC gone MIA?

Lauren Carroll Harris - The Guardian - March 8, 2018

Since diving into the ABC’s drama offerings for 2018, I’ve thought often of the words of Sandra Levy, the former ABC director of television, more than 10 years ago: “I think the future for ABC television is very bleak.”

We speak a lot now about the golden age of television. But as longform, serialised storytelling has emerged as a global point of cultural interest, the ABC has stepped away from drama as a staple of its programming. How ironic that in a period of intense global creativity and demand, the predicament of Australian drama is that it’s missing in action on the ABC. Read more.

ABC should rise above the rancour

Tom Switzer - SMH - March 5, 2018

The other day a general member of the public - let’s call him Darren - forwarded me a group email from Q&A staff. Headlined "Tony Jones wants your questions!", the message was a laundry list of topics for the studio audience to consider before they ask questions at tonight's episode in Ultimo, which Darren will attend.

Darren was incredulous. Here was one of the ABC's most popular shows, he complained, taking for granted a set of left-liberal assumptions and setting political debates within a set of  suggested boundaries.

To which I replied: why the surprise? Conservatives, like some social democrats, have long believed that the public broadcaster all too often flouts the statutory guidelines that insist on impartiality. Read more.

The ABC should be independent, but not above scrutiny

Tony Walker - The Age - March 4, 2018

Let me rise in defence not of the ABC itself, nor ABC management, nor the ABC board, nor Emma Alberici in particular, but of a fundamental principle. This is the editorial independence of the national broadcaster.

If those in authority - supported by their allies in the media - are encouraged to believe ABC management will fold at the first rustling of official disapproval then we would quickly lose confidence in the organisation’s ability to hold politicians to account.

Under pressure, the ABC’s hasty return to the government of two filing cabinets of classified documents that had ''fallen off the back of a truck'' is a case in point. Read more.

Senate estimates: ABC grilled over Emma Alberici’s tax cuts analysis piece

Luke Henriques Gomes - The New Daily - February 28, 2018

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has denied the broadcaster's chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici was "hung out to dry" when her controversial tax cuts analysis piece was taken down amid complaints from the Turnbull government.

Ms Guthrie and the ABC’s Head of Editorial Alan Sunderland were grilled about the controversy at a late-night Senate Estimates hearing on Tuesday.

The ABC boss also revealed that, aside from a 1000-word complaint letter from the Prime Minister's Office, and separate complaints from the Treasurer and the Communications Minister, she had also been contacted by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce and the Business Council of Australia about Ms Alberici's article before it was taken down. Read more.

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie says broadcaster 'clearly failed' in Emma Alberici controversy

Michael Koziol - SMH - February 28, 2018

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie has conceded the news outlet "clearly failed" by publishing a pair of controversial articles about corporate tax by its chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici.

In a repentant letter to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield on Tuesday, Ms Guthrie promised to do better in the future and indicated Alberici's material was subject to an internal investigation.

And in a late night appearance before Senate estimates, the ABC boss failed to express confidence in Alberici, saying only that she would continue in her role as chief economics correspondent. Read more.

ABC admits mistakes over Cabinet Files, Emma Alberici controversies

Michael Koziol & Jennifer Duke - SMH - February 27, 2018

One of the ABC's top bosses has issued a mea culpa over the broadcaster's handling of several recent controversies in its news division, acknowledging it needs to bolster editorial oversight.

The ABC has copped criticism this month over the execution of the so-called Cabinet Files series, its subsequent apology to former prime minister Kevin Rudd and the publication of taxation stories by chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici.

In an email to staff on Tuesday, the ABC's head of news Gaven Morris announced a restructure of senior positions at the broadcaster and conceded there had been "a number of editorial issues" and indicated a need to improve processes, particularly with regard to the ABC's online output. Read more.

Furore at the ABC

Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - February 24, 2018

There are still some senior managers at the ABC prepared to drop the management speak and arse-covering and tell things with brutal, even profane, honesty.

It's fair to say he would not get much argument from senior journalistic staff about at least half of that statement. Two issues - first, the way the organisation dealt with a huge trove of sensitive government documents that fell into its hands; and second, the controversy over a couple of stories by chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici - have played out disastrously for the national broadcaster and seriously damaged staff morale. Read more.

ABC faces more questions as Emma Alberici's disputed article is restored

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 23, 2018

A week after it was taken down from ABC Online Emma Alberici's contentious analysis piece on the government's proposed tax cuts for business went back up on Thursday. Unusually, the amended article carried a prominent editor's note at the top, rather than at the end as is common practice. "This analysis has been revised and updated by our chief economics correspondent. Passages that could be interpreted as opinion have been removed. Our editorial processes have also been reviewed. Emma Alberici is the ABC's chief economics correspondent and is a respected and senior Australian journalist." The revised piece added comments from the Business Council of Australia and finance minister Mathias Cormann, loud critics of the original. Read more.

How Emma Alberici stared down the ABC on controversial article

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - February 22, 2018

After a bitter dispute, Emma Alberici has succeeded in getting the ABC to repost her 'analysis' of the Turnbull government's tax cut plans with the help of lawyers, The New Daily can reveal.

ABC sources told The New Daily that lawyers were involved as the former Lateline presenter, now the ABC's chief economics correspondent, fought for her credibility, reputation and career.

ABC News director Gaven Morris had ordered her critical article on the claimed wage flow-on benefits of corporate tax cuts to be removed from the ABC website last Friday. Read more.

Why the ABC was right - eventually

Peter Brent - Inside Story - February 19, 2018

right and early last Wednesday morning the ABC published two articles by its chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici. Each of them strongly criticised the Turnbull government's corporate tax cut, which faces a less than enthusiastic Senate. Both articles enjoyed roaring circulation on the internet via social media; both were leapt on by the Labor opposition during question time.

Malcolm Turnbull reacted in fury. He and two of his ministers complained to ABC management, and on Friday one of the articles, the analysis, was pulled and the other tweaked. (You can still read the analysis on John Menadue's Pearls and Irritations.) Read more.

Turnbull’s attack on Emma Alberici’s tax-cut analysis doesn’t add up

Greg Jericho - The Guardian - February 18, 2018

The battle over company tax cuts is hotting up and the response by the government and the business sector to analysis by ABC's Emma Alberici - on the impact of such tax cuts and evidence that one in five of the largest corporations in Australia paid no tax over the past three years - shows how worried they are that they are losing the fight.

On the same day Alberici's article was published, the prime minister referred to it during question time as "one of the most confused and poorly researched articles I've seen on this topic on the ABC's website". Meanwhile, the Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, argued in the Australian that there were good reasons why the airline hadn't paid tax in the past and that whether it did or not was irrelevant when it came to the issue of arguing for a lower tax rate. Read more.

Save ABC libraries and librarians

The ABC has decided to close sound and reference libraries in Adelaide, Hobart and Perth, to reduce the service in Sydney, and to make 10 specialist librarians redundant.

The Australian Library and Information Association are organising submissions to the Minister for Communications and ABC Board. You can read their key points on the issue [here]

You can read ABC Friends' submission [here]

ABC downhill for thirty years - here's how

David Tiley - ArtsHub - February 2018

As part of its branding campaign, the ABC produced a document called Efficient, trusted, valued. It articulates the key defensive statements, but with clear graphs which provide additional data. These factoids have been whispered for a long time but the ABC is now armed with a new sense of outrage, and prepared to think in terms of constant dollars.

It can demonstrate that the real income to the ABC has declined by 28% since 1985. That amounts to $336m/year in 2018 dollars. But populations have increased as well, so the legendary 8c/day of 1985 has now halved in real terms. In 2017 numbers, the 1985 figure was 19.2c/day, which is now 9.7c. Read more.

Turnbull, Fifield and Morrison wrote to ABC boss before tax cut analysis was removed

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 17, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull, his communications minister and the treasurer all wrote to Michelle Guthrie to complain about coverage of corporate tax policy by Emma Alberici before the ABC removed the contentious piece on Thursday.

The letter from the communications minister, Mitch Fifield, is quoted in the Weekend Australian, which also reports the prime minister and the treasurer, Scott Morrison, wrote to the ABC boss.

"This coverage contains multiple factual errors and misrepresentations in breach of the ABC's editorial standards," Fifield said. "It is neither fair, balanced, accurate nor impartial. It fails to present a balance of views on the corporate tax policy." Read more.

ABC removes corporate tax cut analysis after complaints from Malcolm Turnbul

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 16, 2018

After complaints from Malcolm Turnbull, ABC News has removed an analysis piece about the government's proposed corporate tax cuts by economics correspondent Emma Alberici.

An accompanying news story by Alberici - which said Qantas hadn't paid corporate tax for close to 10 years - has been rewritten and reposted.

"Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, one of the most prominent supporters of the Turnbull government's proposed big business tax cut, presides over a company that hasn't paid corporate tax for close to 10 years," the news report said. Read more.

ABC removes article criticising Turnbull's tax cuts, citing 'editorial standards'

James Fernyhough - The New Daily - February 16, 2018

The ABC has removed an article by one of its most high-profile journalists criticising the Turnbull government's proposed company tax cuts, on the grounds that it "did not meet ABC editorial standards".

The article, written by economics correspondent and former Lateline host Emma Alberici, was published on Wednesday under the headline "There's no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five corporations don't pay it". Read more.

Laura Tingle named chief political correspondent for ABC's 7.30 program

Broede Carmody - SMH - February 12, 2018

Laura Tingle has been made chief political correspondent of the ABC's 7.30 program.

The Walkley-award winning journalist, who is currently the political editor for The Australian Financial Review, will join the nightly current affairs program in the coming weeks. She said in a statement that after 35 years as a print reporter it was time for a new challenge. Read more.

ABC proposal to shut down sound libraries draws fire from staff

Paul Wallbank - Mumbrella - January 31, 2018

A proposal by the ABC to restructure its sound and reference libraries, resulting in the loss of 10 staff has been blasted by current and former employees.

The proposal, which will see the state-based libraries centralised in Melbourne and Sydney with most of the CD and print collections digitised, is part of the national broadcaster's efficiency drive under CEO Michelle Guthrie.

The host of current affairs show PM, Linda Mottram, described the proposal as “ripping the heart out” on Twitter, following reports of the move in The Guardian. Read more.

The Real Facts about your ABC


A two page flyer produced by ABC Friends you can download & print [here] (300KB PDF)

Can ABC be trusted to hold the government to account?

Andrew Fowler - The Guardian - February 10, 2018

Hundreds of pages of cabinet documents, some of them marked secret, others with an even more restricted circulation, are handed over to the ABC. It's the kind of information journalists can normally only dream about, a cornucopia of documents dealing with high level national security and an insight into the internal workings of government over six administrations. But what emerges from this treasure trove of 1,500 documents? A few interesting, but mainly rather ordinary stories.

So what happened to the material that many journalists spend so much of their lives trying to discover - documents involving national security? On 1 February, the ABC news director, Gaven Morris, explained all on the network's AM program: "We haven't gone anywhere near, you know, stories or issues that may have a national security implication." Read more.

ABC now costs each Australian four cents a day - half of what it did 30 years ago

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 9, 2018

The ABC now costs every Australian just four cents a day, half what it cost in 1987 when the famous "eight cents a day" campaign was launched by then managing director David Hill.

"We've learned to do a lot with our few cents a day," the ABC's chief financial officer, Louise Higgins, told an audience of 400 members of the public in the ABC TV studio usually the domain of Tony Jones' Q&A. "In other words, our per capita funding has halved in real terms." Read more.

Read the ABC Friends Media Release [here]

'Has the ABC adopted a policy of dumbing down?' ABC leadership fields public's questions

Brooke Wylie - ABC News - February 9, 2018

The ABC's editorial board has fielded criticisms from members of the public during its first annual public meeting at the broadcaster's headquarters.

Repetitive programming, partisan coverage, staff cutbacks, cross-program advertising and cuts to current affairs program Lateline were among the concerns raised during the 90-minute public meeting.

Members of the public were invited to attend the broadcaster's first annual public meeting at the ABC's headquarters in Sydney, as well as at events held in Tasmania and Queensland.

Three-hundred-and-fifty questions were submitted from members of the public across the country in the lead up to the meeting. Read more.

Turnbull's Cuts to the ABC in WA

www.youtube.com - February 6, 2018

Federal Labor member for Fremantle Mr Josh Wilson spoke in Parliament 6 Feb 2018 about ABC cuts and the impact on the ABC in WA.

View the YouTube video [here]

Read the Handsard transcript [here]

Senate Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism: report

February 5, 2018

On 10 May 2017 the Senate established the Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism, to inquire and report on the following matters: (a) the current state of public interest journalism in Australia and around the world, including the role of government in ensuring a viable, independent and diverse service; (b) the adequacy of current competition and consumer laws to deal with the market power and practices of search engines, social media aggregators and content aggregators, and their impact on the Australian media landscape;(c) the impact on public interest journalism of search engines and social media internet service providers circulating fake news, and an examination of counter measures directed at online advertisers, 'click-bait' generators and other parties who benefit from disinformation; (d) the future of public and community broadcasters in delivering public interest journalism, particularly in underserviced markets like regional Australia, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities; (e) examination of 'fake news', propaganda, and public disinformation, including sources and motivation of fake news in Australia, overseas, and the international response; and (f) any related matters. The Report is now available [here]

ABC plans to send entire book collection to Samoa to save money

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 6, 2018

A last-ditch attempt to prevent the dismantling of the ABC's sound and reference libraries will be made at a board meeting on Thursday as it emerged that management is planning to send its entire book collection to Samoa.

Guardian Australia revealed last week that the ABC is breaking up its historic music and reference libraries and making 10 librarians redundant to free up floor space and save on wages.

Sources say management plans include packing up all 22,000 books in Sydney and Melbourne - apart from a few "special items" - and sending them to Samoa. The books have been targeted because management wants the library space for the IT division. Read more.

ABC to "cull" CD collection, cut staff, in Sound Libraries consolidation

Angus McPherson - Limelight Magazine - January 30, 2018

The ABC is consolidating its sound libraries in a move that will see physical libraries dismantled and library staff made redundant, The Guardian reported this morning.

As part of ongoing changes at the ABC, Sound & Reference Libraries around the country will be dismantled in favour of a centralised library in Melbourne. In an announcement to staff dated January 16, obtained by Limelight, the ABC said collections will be "culled to remove duplicates and CD's [sic] no longer required, (approximately 50% of current holdings), with only a single copy held in Melbourne. Changes to the CD collections will be the initial focus as this is the area of key impact and demand." The Sound Libraries serve music stations including Classic FM and Triple J, as well as providing music for documentaries and other programs across the ABC. Read more.

ABC's business guru heads for exit

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - February 2, 2018

Michelle Guthrie's handpicked business transformation expert, who spearheaded the ABC's content restructure in November, has left the ABC before the plan could be bedded down.

Debra Frances was originally brought into Aunty as a consultant to work on the restructure of the organisation but Guthrie was so enamoured of her skills she brought her in-house, giving her a staff card and the newly created title of "head of transformation".

But just two months into the project - which will see the old TV, radio and news divisions broken up - another exec, Anne Milne, is stepping up to complete "the execution phase of the restructure", according to an email to the executive team from finance chief Louise Higgins. Read more.

ABC dismantles sound libraries and axes staff to improve budget

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - January 30, 2018

The ABC is dismantling its historic sound and reference libraries across the country and making 10 specialist librarians redundant to free up floor space and save on wages.

Radio National, Classic FM, JJJ and all the other ABC programs rely on the Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart libraries, which are packed full of CDs and vinyl as well as books and journals after 85 years of collecting.

The librarians know the collection intimately and suggest music for documentaries and other programs.

The libraries will be "culled and packed" to reduce duplication and to "align with production requirements", according to the staff announcement. Read more.

Why Radio National's fans fear death by a thousand cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - January 28, 2018

Australia's opinion makers wake up to Radio National. The three-hour live RN Breakfast, presented for 12 years by Fran Kelly, reaches half a million listeners across the major capital cities alone. It lands the key political interviews and helps set the news agenda but also has the time and space to examine issues in depth. As the flagship RN program, Breakfast is well-resourced and has the largest share of the RN budget.

When Kelly moves away from the mic at 9am, RN begins its daily mix of news, live topical shows, specialist content and features. Unlike the ABC's local radio stations, RN is labour-intensive radio. It's an expensive exercise to create original, well-researched programs that look beyond the daily news cycle and explore the arts, philosophy, science and the law, as well as drama and music, long-form features, book reading and creative audio. Sadly, management cuts in recent years have seen drama, music and book reading fall away. Read more.

Restructuring the ABC

Michael Bodey - The Saturday Paper - December 16, 2017

The ABC has a demographic problem. And it knows it.

A recent major research project for the public broadcaster divided its viewers and listeners into the kind of archetypes so loved by digital types - "influencer", "me-timer", "binger", "innovator" and so on - and those derided in the digital world - "time-filler", "company seeker".

The different consumers were graphed in four quadrants, divided by axes representing engagement and emotion. Unsurprisingly, the quadrant of actively engaged and emotional users was dubbed the area of greatest value and growth potential for the ABC. The quadrant represented by reactivity and mere utility was marked as the least value and, on the analysis, represented by a dead fish. Read more.

Books and Arts axed as ABC makes massive radio changes

The ABC is launching a new country-wide rural affairs program three years after axing Radio National's Bush Telegraph.

The new radio show is expected to hit the airwaves on January 22. Like its national predecessor, it will provide in-depth news and analysis of issues important to rural and regional Australians.

The show is tentatively titled The Dirt and is set to be hosted by Perth-based broadcaster Sinead Mangan. It will be broadcast on all regional ABC radio stations from 6.05pm to 6.30pm Monday through to Friday, before being replayed on Radio National and Radio Australia. Read more

Books and Arts axed as ABC makes massive radio changes

By Daily Review December 7, 2017

Changes to breakfast, afternoon and drive slots across the ABC's radio network have been announced this week by its director of radio, Michael Mason, who said they were in response to the changing needs of its audience.

One of the big changes is the cancellation of Radio National's Books and Arts to make way for a daily arts program called The Hub and the reduction of hosting duties by Michael Cathcart from five days to one day a week.

The Hub will be presented by a different person at 10 am each weekday "with contributions from an ensemble of artists, makers, writers and critics, and delve into the creative worlds of the visual arts, theatre and performance, literature, film and TV as well as popular culture" the ABC announced. Read more

Why changes are not 'dumbing down' the ABC

Judith Whelan - SMH - December 11, 2017

In its 85 years of service to Australians, the ABC has achieved a remarkable and enviable record as a broadcaster renowned for its quality of coverage, its relationship with its audiences and innovation in both programming and distribution.

This strong tradition has continued in more recent years, as broadcasting has become increasingly digitised, audiences have been given many more program choices from many more media providers, and technology has allowed them to choose how and when they will read and watch and listen to what they what. Read more

Stop the dumbing down of the ABC

Kerrie O'Brien - SMH - December 9, 2017

Two of Australia's best current affairs programs have just been slashed in half. Both flagship offerings on ABC Radio, they are unique in our broadcasting line-up and critical to our collective education. The World Today, the lunchtime wrap, and PM, in the evening, will run to just 30 minutes, down from one hour. One has to ask, where is the logic?

"Leave the audience wanting more" was one memorable quote justifying the change. What does that mean when it comes to current affairs? How is it relevant? To provide compelling, insightful, well-crafted stories is no doubt expensive but surely the cost of losing such educational, informative shows is far greater? Read more

ABC shake-up at Radio National worries former senior managers

Comment - SMH - December 9, 2017

The ABC's recent organisational restructure to take effect early next year raises serious concerns about the future of Radio National (RN). The network is arguably the most distinctive part of the ABC, and embodies many aspects of what the ABC is required to do under its charter. New arts and culture programs on Radio National in 2018 are to be warmly welcomed however this program line-up will be the last to be devised by a dedicated network executive. In future years, this structure will be fragmented and focus on RN as a coherent network will falter. Read more

ABC RN Announces 2018 Lineup

Media Release - ABC - December 6, 2017

The ideas network welcomes an ensemble of new programs to 2018 schedule.

In 2018, ABC RN will continue to nurture the intellectual and cultural life of all Australians by introducing dynamic new voices and programs to its impressive suite of specialist content. Read more and download the full 2018 RN Schedule

ABC announces 2018 radio line-ups

Media Release - ABC - December 6, 2017

A new national music and culture show presented by Myf Warhurst; an early evening regional current affairs program; and extended co-hosted Breakfast shows are among some of the changes announced by the ABC today for its 2018 station and network radio line-ups.

The ABC's capital city radio network, its triple j and RN national networks and its regional stations have unveiled their 2018 program schedules which will launch on-air from January 22 next year.

Director of ABC Radio, Michael Mason said the changes to the program schedule along with a move in some capital city stations to co-hosted breakfast shows reflected the changing audience needs. Read more

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

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

ABC local radio to become less local

David Washington - INDaily - December 5, 2017

ABC local radio stations are set to lose more locally produced programming only weeks after the national broadcaster's head of radio promised an Adelaide audience there would be no more networked shows.

Head office will tomorrow reveal the 2018 line-up for all of the ABC's radio stations, with one of the changes expected to be a syndicated new national program hosted by former Triple J announcer Myf Warhurst.

The new show is part of controversial moves revealed in The Guardian today, including trimming the PM and World Today current affairs programs by half an hour. Read more

ABC radio programs PM and The World Today to be halved in length

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 5, 2017

Staff told shortened formats will 'leave the audience wanting more' as Myf Warhurst fronts a lighter offering

The flagship ABC radio current affairs programs PM and The World Today will be halved in length next year and Business PM will be axed, staff have been told.

PM and The World Today will both be reduced from hour-long programs to 30 minutes, radio current affairs employees were told at a meeting on Monday by Tanya Nolan, the managing editor of audio current affairs. Why Radio National's fans fear death by a thousand cuts

From 22 January The World Today, hosted by Eleanor Hall, will end at 12.30pm instead of 1pm to make way for a new "entertaining" national program on ABC Local Radio hosted by the former Triple J presenter Myf Warhurst. Read more

MEDIA RELEASE FROM ABC FRIENDS - [here]

Why Radio National's fans fear death by a thousand cuts

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 28, 2017

The ABC's flagship radio station is expensive, esoteric and - its supporters say - essential to Australian public life. Now it is facing more upheaval

Australia's opinion makers wake up to Radio National. The three-hour live RN Breakfast, presented for 12 years by Fran Kelly, reaches half a million listeners across the major capital cities alone. It lands the key political interviews and helps set the news agenda but also has the time and space to examine issues in depth. As the flagship RN program, Breakfast is well-resourced and has the largest share of the RN budget. Read more

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:
  • 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]

Special laws needed to budget-proof the ABC, says former PM Kevin Rudd

Peter Hartcher and James Massola - SMH - November 25, 2017

The ABC needs to have its budget protected from future attack by special legislation, according to former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

The former Labor leader said that while the national broadcaster's independence was enshrined in law, its $1.04 billion annual budget was vulnerable. Read more

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.

For earlier news posts go to 'News', 'News Archive'