News Archive 2016

News Archive 2016

'You need to be prepared to make enemies': Caro Meldrum-Hanna on Four Corners
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 30, 2016

ABC's flagship current affairs show had a blinder of a year - continuing its groundbreaking journalism and grabbing sometimes unwelcome attention.Nine's 60 Minutes might have hogged the headlines with its kidnapping antics in Beirut this year but in Australian TV current affairs it was the ABC's Four Corners that made its presence felt. The program's shocking images from inside the Don Dale detention centre forced a royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory the day after Australia's Shame was broadcast.

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ABC most trusted news source, poll shows, after Turnbull minister accuses it of 'fake news'
SMH - Stephanie Peatling - December 23, 2016

People trust the ABC more than any other news source and would like to see it given more money and protected from political interference, research shows.The poll, conducted by Research Now for think tank the Australia Institute, found voters trusted and were supportive of the national broadcaster regardless of their political leanings.

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Bishop presses ABC on Pacific 'concerns' over shortwave radio cut
Stefan Armbruster - SBS - December 22, 2016

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop has raised the Pacific region's "concerns" about the ABC's planned abolition of Radio Australia's shortwave service with the national broadcaster and will "seek an update in the New Year".A chorus of criticism from the Pacific greeted the decision to pull the plug on the almost eight decades of broadcasting on January 31, with warnings it would deprive the region of "life saving" information.

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

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Cabinet minister Matt Canavan accuses ABC of publishing 'fake news' in bizarre Adani interview
SMH - Stephanie Peatling - December 23, 2016

 

A Turnbull government minister has accused the ABC of running "fake news" in its coverage of the Adani coal mine and treating regional Queensland like "flyover country".In a bizarre interview with the broadcaster's AM radio program on Thursday morning, Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the ABC's coverage of an Indian finance ministry probe into the Adani group was "nothing but fake news".

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Your ABC or your ASX
The Australia Institute - Rod Campbell & Fergus Pitt - December 15, 2016

The ABC is not biased against business according to the recent ABC Editorial Review of business and economics coverage.Far from being anti-business, research released today by The Australia Institute finds that the ABC's ample coverage of business and economics skews towards big business.Big business receives three to five times more ABC coverage than the small to medium businesses that make up a third of the Australian economy.

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Michelle Guthrie, the ABC and the turning of a once-shining jewel into mainstream sludge
Richard Ackland - The Guardian - December 14, 2016

All public broadcasters are engaged in a constant process of chopping, slicing and reinventing, and every boss spreads his or her own brand of unhappiness.The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is going through one of its periodic meltdowns, brought about because a new managing director has come down from the moon and set about doing things her way.Michelle Guthrie has arrived at the public broadcaster via Google and the House of Murdoch, with a mission to trim the budget and to keep pace with technology and its impact on viewing patterns.

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ABC News: End of shortwave radio service 'could be life threatening'
The Swinging Post - December 2016

An Indigenous ranger group in the Northern Territory says the ABC's decision to end its shortwave radio service could be life threatening.The ABC announced this week its three HF shortwave radio transmitters at Katherine, Tennant Creek and Roe Creek (Alice Springs), would be switched off on January 31, 2017.ABC Radio will continue to broadcast on FM and AM bands, via the viewer access satellite television (VAST) service, streaming online and via the mobile phone application.

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Pacific nations lose shortwave radio services that evade dictators and warn of natural disasters
Alexandra Wake - The Conversation - December 9, 2016

Australia's decision to take another step back from international broadcasting by ceasing its far reaching border crossing shortwave radio services has raised questions about who will fill the void.For almost 80 years, Australia has provided such shortwave services, including vital emergency service information, to Asia and the Pacific. But government funding cuts saw Asian services turned off in January 2015. And now the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has decided to cut the remaining services to residents of remote parts of the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and parts of northern Australia by ceasing its shortwave radio services to the Pacific from the end of January 2017.

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Michelle Guthrie's bruising first year atop the ABC: 'The way it was done was brutal'
Matthew Knott - SMH - December 9, 2016

Just four days into the job, it was clear Michelle Guthrie was in for a bumpy start as managing director of the ABC.Guthrie was appearing at the May Senate estimates hearings and had told the committee she wanted to make her 7pm flight to Sydney. This left less than an hour for questions. The senators were not impressed. "Our response: you finish when we stop asking questions," one angry senator texted journalists. "My goal is to make her miss her flight."

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'She doesn't get what we do': has ABC boss Michelle Guthrie got the insiders on her side?
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 9, 2016

Despite an encouraging start, the former Murdoch and Google executive has drawn fire from staff angry at cuts, an allegedly detached leadership style and apparent lack of understanding of some of Aunty's key values.At the Lowy Institute in August, the ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, praised Four Corners for its story on youth detention in the Northern Territory, singling out the investigative journalism program as one of the jewels in the public broadcasting crown."Investigations like the searing Australia's Shame put together by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and her team on Four Corners that prove the adage that real news is revealing what someone else is trying to keep secret," she said in her keynote speech.

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Jaws drop at ABC as Michelle Guthrie defends Radio National cuts
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 9, 2016

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

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

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You say 'elite media', I say real journalism. And now more than ever we must fight to keep it
Denis Muller - The Conversation - December 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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Michelle Guthrie appoints Murdoch consultant to restructure ABC
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

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ABC Exits Shortwave Radio Transmission
ABC Media Release - December 6, 2016

The ABC will end its shortwave transmission service in the Northern Territory and to international audiences from 31 January 2017.The move is in line with the national broadcaster's commitment to dispense with outdated technology and to expand its digital content offerings including DAB+ digital radio, online and mobile services, together with FM services for international audiences.The majority of ABC audiences in the Northern Territory currently access ABC services via AM and FM and all ABC radio and digital radio services are available on the VAST satellite service.

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ABC board demands director of radio explain Radio National cuts
Amanda Meade - The Guardian.com - December 7, 2016

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

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

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ABC chair Jim Spigelman not expected to be reappointed by Turnbull government
Matthew Knott - SMH - December 5, 2016

The ABC is set for more uncertainty over coming months with the Turnbull government not expected to reappoint James Spigelman as the public broadcaster's chair when his term expires in March.The ABC has been beset by tension and controversy over recent months because of changes to television and radio programming for 2017, including an overhaul of TV science program Catalyst and the removal of most music programs from Radio National.

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Cutting on the bias
Jane Goodall - Inside Story - December 5, 2016

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

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'If they don't like it they should leave': tensions escalate between ABC management and staff
Matthew Knott - SMH - December 5, 2016

Some of the ABC's most prominent presenters have urged their colleagues not to resist change as tensions intensify between staff and management over the direction of the ABC under managing director Michelle Guthrie.ABC staff have in recent weeks been openly critical of programming changes for 2017, including an overhaul of TV science program Catalyst and the decommissioning of almost all music programs on Radio National. The changes follow earlier decisions to abolish the ABC Fact Check unit and online opinion and analysis site The Drum.

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ABC wins 5 Walkley Awards in 2016

The 61st Walkeley Awards for Excellence in Journalism announced recently saw the ABC receiving a total of five awards: 

  1. Radio/Audio News and Current Affairs - PM and AM, ABC Radio, "Voices from Besieged Syria"
  2. Business Journalism & Investigative Journalism - Fairfax Newspapers and ABC TV Four Corners, "Money For Nothing"
  3. International Journalism - Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, "Yemen: The War on Children"
  4. TV/AV Daily Current Affairs - 7.30, ABC TV, "Anglican Church Paedophile Ring"
  5. Interview - Four Corners, ABC TV, "Jackson and Lawler"
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Senior ABC staff say Michelle Guthrie 'out of her depth'
Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - December 3, 2016

There are many reasons the ABC comes up in survey after survey as the country's most trusted institution. Robyn Williams, it is fair to say, is one of them.The list of honours and achievements he has collected over more than 40 years with the national broadcaster's science unit is impressive. He has 10 books to his name, multiple honorary doctorates, holds various positions with several universities here and overseas, was the first journalist to be made a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and was voted a national living treasure by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). And that list barely scratches the surface.

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ABC bosses 'morally and spiritually bankrupt' for axing Catalyst, RN presenter says
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 30, 2016

Robyn Williams laments 'trashed' science team as prominent musicians and writers call on Michelle Guthrie to reverse cuts to ABC music.Pressure is mounting on ABC managing director, Michelle Guthrie, and the board as the community backlash to recent cuts to specialist programming on radio and television grows.ABC radio broadcaster Robyn Williams called ABC management 'morally and spiritually bankrupt' for axing the magazine-style science program Catalyst as many of the nation's prominent musicians backed a campaign to reverse cuts to ABC music.

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

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Neither the ABC nor SBS have anything to fear from community forums
Brian McNair - The Conversation - November 30, 2016

Some have questioned senator David Leyonhjelm's demand that in return for his support on the government's bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the public service media organisations ABC and SBS be required to hold regular community forums.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young described it as "a ridiculous suggestion", and accused Leyonhjem of "playing off the ABC and SBS in order to exchange votes in the Senate".Motivations aside, it can't be a bad idea for publicly funded media to be held more accountable to their taxpaying users than has been the tradition in Australia. A community forum seems a sensible way of going about it.

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ABC board meetings emerge as David Leyonhjelm's latest ABCC bargaining chip
Matthew Knott - SMH - November 28, 2016

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has emerged as the latest bargaining chip in the government's frenzied bid to reintroduce a building industry watchdog before Parliament rises for the year.As revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has agreed to support the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in exchange for changes to the way the ABC board conducts its meetings. Senator Leyonhjelm's vote will be crucial for the government to pass its bill to reintroduce the ABCC, one of its double dissolution election triggers.

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Changes to Radio National are gutting a cultural treasure trove
Siobhan McHugh - The Conversation - November 25, 2016

"RN is the home of big thinking, big ideas, and the national conversation," the statement from ABC management said. It seems odd that, in pursuit of that notion, RN intends to halve the output of its documentary program, Earshot; cease almost all music broadcasting; abort its flagship sound art show, Soundproof, and a short-form storytelling show, PocketDocs; and dispense with the services of respected religious broadcaster John Cleary as well as seven music and features producers.Cleary's show, Sunday Nights, deals with "religion and ethics, beliefs and values, as they shape the issues affecting daily life in Australia and around the world".

Given how much religion has informed the geopolitical landscape since 9/11, it is extraordinary that the ABC would terminate a presenter who is not only manifestly expert in this sensitive area, but whose ratings are also remarkable. Often, they were within a few points of the popular host Tony Delroy, who until recently occupied the slot weeknights.

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Meet Fran Kelly, disc jockey: ABC bosses defend their music cuts
Amanda Meade - The Guardian.com - November 25, 2016

Our story last week about the big changes to Radio National in 2017 has sparked a great deal of anger from fans of the ideas network who fear management is dismantling the public broadcaster's intellectual heart with cuts to specialist programming. This week there were emotional scenes at a meeting between staff and management as the changes - including giving a second program to conservative Tom Switzer and cutting most of the music programming - were discussed. Management team members were jeered when they claimed there was still music on RN because Fran Kelly played music on Breakfast.

On Thursday staff passed a no-confidence motion against management - namely the architect of the changes, director of radio Michael Mason.

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ABC staff move no confidence motion against management over radio cuts
Ebony Bowden - SMH - November 24, 2016

ABC employees have fired a warning shot at their superiors, telling them that staff have lost confidence in their ability to manage the organisation.More than 60 Radio National staff met at the broadcaster's Ultimo office on Thursday.They unanimously passed a motion of no confidence, citing "systemic failure" in senior radio management and "the erosion of the editorial and managerial responsibilities of executive producers".

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Poffington, bring me another 11 Pimms. I've been sacked by the ABC
First Dog on the Moon - The Guardian.com - November 18, 2016

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

Cartoon here


Malcolm Turnbull called out on the thought behind 'elite media' criticism
Chris Johnson - The NewDaily - November 20, 2016

Malcolm Turnbull is not the first prime minister to criticise journalists and their editors, but when he described the ABC and other outlets as "elite media" last week, political watchers across the country were bemused.With the nation's very recent history proving that a fight with the media is not one any political leader should want to have, some pundits are describing Mr Turnbull's comments as unwise in the extreme."Has he not learned anything from Tony Abbott?" asked political lecturer at Australian National University, Dr Andrew Hughes.

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Margaret Throsby's Midday to end in ABC Classic FM shakeup
Clive Paget - Limelight Magazine - November 17, 2016

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

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

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Malcolm Turnbull's change of tune strains ABC friendship
Stephanie Peating - SMH - November 16, 2016

From leather-jacketed guest to constructive critic, the PM has all bases covered when it comes to the national broadcaster.On a chilly winter's night in Canberra two years ago, Malcolm Turnbull attended the launch of a new group of cross-party MPs keen to show their support for the ABC.

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Malcolm Turnbull turns attack on ABC and the 'elite media' for distracting people
Fergus Hunter - SMH - November 15, 2016

The ABC and "elite media" are to blame for distracting people from the government's focus on economic growth, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said, at pains to emphasise that he is in touch with the concerns of real people.Grilled by the ABC's Leigh Sales on 7.30 about the persistence of Coalition MPs seeking to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the Prime Minister agreed that the issue is not a priority for the electorate.

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The ABC is failing the people of NSW but Michelle Guthrie has the power to fix it
Sean Nicholls - SMH - November 11, 2016

Six months since her appointment in May, ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie will on Friday wander up to Martin Place from Ultimo for a sit down with Premier Mike Baird.No doubt, like any meeting between a political leader and the head of a media organisation, issues of coverage and balance will be high on the agenda.

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What the ABC's new Catalyst could mean for science on TV
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Joan Leach & Merryn McKinnon - The Conversation - November 4, 2016

The ABC says the run of the popular science television show, Catalyst, has reached the end in its current format.In its place, the ABC has proposed it will deliver a series of 17 one hour-long documentaries that will be aired later in the evening than the current half-hour science magazine style programming.

It would appear that most Catalyst staff will be let go from the new series as the ABC says "up to 9 ongoing staff members may be affected" although "some staff" will be offered other positions.This change is despite Catalyst's popularity and relatively inexpensive costs.

Many documentary makers are somewhat sceptical of the ability of the ABC to follow through on the promise of the 17 documentaries independently produced from outside the ABC.

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ABC boss Michelle Guthrie muddles her answers - then wields the axe
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 16, 2016

It's been the worst week for Michelle Guthrie since she started as the ABC's managing director in May. At Melbourne University's New News conference last Friday she made a couple of remarks which had to be hosed down at the weekend by her corporate minders.

Then on Monday she was at the centre of a last-ditch attempt to reverse a decision by the ABC board to get rid of the award-winning science magazine show Catalyst, which is watched on TV and on digital platforms by 1 million people a week.

Axing a popular show which is made in-house and which is central to the ABC charter is not a good look for a new MD.

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'A fundamental challenge to the ABC's independence': ABC chair unloads on Turnbull government
Matthew Knott - SMH - November 2, 2016

ABC chairman Jim Spigelman has lashed out at the Turnbull government, accusing it of posing a "fundamental challenge to the independence of the ABC" by attempting to influence the broadcaster's staffing policies.The government is furious with the ABC over a new three-year pay deal with its employees that includes 2 per cent annual pay rises, a $500 sign on bonus, two weeks' extra paid parental leave and a new provision for domestic violence leave.

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ABC in 2017: Diversity a focus, but which popular shows aren't returning?
Michael Lallo - SMH - November 2, 2016

As the ABC prioritises cultural diversity, some popular programs face an uncertain future.When Michelle Guthrie took over as managing director of ABC in May, she knew the broadcaster had a problem. "I have heard it said ... that the ABC has captured the hearts and minds of every preschool and aged-care facility," the former Google executive joked in her first major speech.Under her watch, she vowed, Aunty would strive harder to appeal to all Australians.

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ABC axes Friday edition of 7.30 program to make way for Stan Grant show
Fergus Hunter - SMH - October 28, 2016

The ABC has axed the Friday broadcast of the 7.30 program less than two years after it controversially replaced state-based editions of the show.From 2017 the slot will be filled by a current affairs program hosted by veteran journalist Stan Grant, who has also been appointed as the national broadcaster's new editor of Indigenous affairs.

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It's on: government says ABC offered staff a soft pay deal
Noel Towell - SMH - October 28, 2016

A new front has opened in the Coalition's war on the ABC as government ministers accuse the broadcaster of going soft on its staff in a new pay deal.The government says the ABC's workplace agreement snubs the Coalition's hardline public sector bargaining policy being pushed by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.

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Sabra Lane quits 7.30 to host the ABC's flagship radio show, AM
Michael Lallo - SMH - October 26, 2016

If politicians think this is good news for them, they should think again.After three years as 7.30's political editor, Sabra Lane is leaving the ABC's nightly current affairs program. But Australia's politicians shouldn't breathe easy. They'll still cop a grilling from Lane, with a national audience. Only the medium will be different.

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Attacking the ABC is a win-win for conservatives. The latest furore is no surprise.
Lee Zachariah - The Guardian - October 21, 2016

Conservative attitudes to the ABC are best summed up in a single exchange with John Howard on ABC radio to promote his show on ABC TV.Monday night's Four Corners program about the treatment of asylum seeker children on Nauru has seen the program and the ABC attacked by both the Australian and Nauruan governments. These broad swipes - attacking the ABC as an institution rather than addressing the merits of the journalism - is an approach that only works if you've been undermining the national broadcaster through years of culture wars.The entire conservative attitude towards the ABC was summed up in a single exchange last month.

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Sydney Morning Herald Editor Judith Whelan quits Fairfax Media to join the ABC
Georgina Mitchell - SMH - October 14, 2016

The Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Whelan, will leave Fairfax Media to join the ABC.Ms Whelan has been appointed the Head of Spoken Content at ABC Radio and will oversee the capital city radio network, Radio National and sports network Grandstand.

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One Nation's Brian Burston slams ABC
Francis Keany - ABC News - October 12, 2016

A One Nation senator has suggested de-funding the ABC and establishing the "Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation" instead.New South Wales senator Brian Burston has criticised multiculturalism and Muslim immigration in his maiden speech to Federal Parliament.

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The Conversation working with The ABC
Misha Ketchell - The Conversation - October 3, 2016

Today I'd like to fill you in on some work we've been doing behind the scenes. The Conversation's mission is to help create a better informed public debate by making it easier for academics and researchers to take part.One way we do this is by sharing the expertise of The Conversation's academic authors as widely as we can. We make everything we do free to republish under creative commons and work in partnership with key media organisations in Australia and globally.

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

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Michelle Guthrie pushes ABC executives to go for the X-factor
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 16, 2016

The ABC's managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has embarked on a grand plan to reshape the broadcaster, starting with a hand-picked team of executives dubbed Think-X.Shorthand for "Thinking Experience", Think-X has a clear goal: work out how to be more "pan-ABC", whatever that means. "Think-X came from the MD's observation that we need a more strategic, pan-ABC approach to shaping and raising engagement across our three main stakeholder groups - staff, audiences and community," the leaked memo says.

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Aussie TV viewers' biggest gripes revealed
SMH - Michael Lallo - September 11, 2016

When Labor was in power, Aussie TV viewers had a prosaic list of gripes: shows that started and finished late (or disappeared mid-season) and incorrect program guides. But during Tony Abbott's prime ministership, a bigger concern emerged: keeping our public broadcasters free of government influence. At least, that's what TV Tonight's audience survey respondents say.And for the second year running, they've nominated the independence of ABC and SBS as their greatest worry.

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ABC clarifies Swisse sponsorship after uni 'damned by association'
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 30, 2016

The ABC has had to clarify its sponsorship arrangements with Swisse Wellness after Monash University came under fire for being too closely associated with the vitamin brand on the ABC's international website.Last week the ABC promoted its new commercial sponsorships by displaying three logos - Swisse, Monash and the Victorian government - together in a blue banner on Australia Plus.

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Letter from Lynley Marshall, Chief Executive ABC International

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

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Nielsen Digital Ratings: ABC Leads Unique Audience, Nine.com.au Enters Top Five
B & T Magazine - August 29, 2016

The ABC News websites have surged into top spot for unique audience, overtaking previous leaders of news.com.au and smh. Meanwhile, nine.com.au has made its first appearance in the top five, following its recent rebrand.The ABC’s news sites have seen an increase in unique audience of 30 per cent to 6.5 million, compared to the previous month.

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Landmark study finds diversity lagging on Australian TV
The Conversation - Madeleine de Gabriele - August 24, 2016

In 1999, there were just two Indigenous actors on Australian television: Aaron Pederson and Heath Bergerson. Today, 5% of all main characters on our small screens are Indigenous, while Indigenous people make up 3% of our population.This dramatic turnaround is one of the most positive findings of a Screen Australia survey of all 199 dramas aired on Australian television between 2011 and 2015. On screen portrayal of other culturally diverse groups, such as those of non-Anglo Celtic background and those identifying as LGBTQI lags far behind their representation in the community.

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ABC under fire over deal with vitamin giant Swisse Wellness
SMH - Matthew Knott - August 24, 2016

The ABC has come under fire for signing a sponsorship deal with Swisse Wellness that will help the vitamin giant promote its products throughout the Asia-Pacific.The ABC this week announced Swisse, the Victorian government and Monash University as its three "foundation partners" for its international media service Australia Plus.

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ABC announces partnership with Swisse Wellness
AJP.com.au - Sheshtyn Paola - August 23, 2016

ABC International, a division of the ABC responsible for the broadcaster's international outlets, has announced it has taken on its first partners to support the expansion of its online media service Australia Plus.These partners are Monash University, the Victorian State government and Swisse Wellness, which it refers to in its press release as "Australia's leading natural health brand".Australia Plus Foundation Partners receive exclusive branding and advertising opportunities across all Australia Plus online platforms, digital and social media channels and Australia Plus TV, as well as through regional partners including Beijing TV and Singapore's Mediacorp.

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A Global ABC: Address to the 2016 Lowy Institute Media Award Dinner
Michelle Guthrie - MD ABC - Aug 11, 2016

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

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

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

Read the full address


Nats ‘ignored’ ABC funding concerns
Echonet Daily - July 27, 2016

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

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

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

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Waleed Aly to present the 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture
ABC Media Release - July 27, 2016

The 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture will be delivered by Waleed Aly, one of Australia’s most respected and versatile media talents on Friday 14 October 2016 and broadcast on 702 ABC Sydney.ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie described Waleed as an original voice in Australian national affairs and an outstanding choice for this year’s Andrew Olle Lecture, delivered in memory of one of Australia’s greatest journalists.“The ABC is delighted Waleed has accepted our invitation to deliver the 2016 Andrew Olle Media Lecture,” Ms Guthrie said.

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Changing their tune: ABC news theme update back on agenda
Matthew Knott - SMH - August 6, 2016

It has long been a dream at the ABC: a single theme song played at the start of news bulletins on both television and radio. And now it's back on the agenda.Fairfax Media understands the ABC wants to update its news themes and create a consistent brand across all its platforms.

Having different themes is seen as out-dated in the digital era, as audiences increasingly consume content on their mobile phones and computers.As part of these discussions, the ABC has explored resurrecting a much-loved former theme which has since taken a new life as a dance-floor favourite.

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ABC source dries up as transcripts of news and current affairs shows curtailed
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 5, 2016

Some broadcasters at the ABC are not happy with a decision by management to dramatically wind back transcriptions of news and current affairs programs. The transcripts of AM, The World Today, PM, 7.30 and Lateline are a major journalistic source at Aunty and beyond, and are also widely used by politicians, researchers and the public.But a note from the head of current affairs, Bruce Belsham, seen by Weekly Beast, says only one key interview from each radio program will be transcribed.

"From Monday 8th August there is a change to our transcription set-up and from then only the key interviews from our programs will be transcribed," the note said.

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ABC's Four Corners shines light on NT juvenile justice system
Mark Day - The Australian - August 1, 2016

Even the ABC's sternest critics must grant this: Aunty hit a purple patch last week. Its fearless reporting made global headlines, sparked immediate government action and quite possibly provided us with a glimpse of the future of journalism. It was quite a week.7.30 kicked it off on Monday with a report on age abuse which showed an apparent attempt to suffocate an 89-year-old man in a nursing home. That disturbing incident was quickly overshadowed by Four Corners' scandalous vision from inside Northern Territory detention facilities - a report sure to be another Gold Walkley Award contender from reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna.

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Four Corners' NT justice story exemplar of mainstream media
Chris Mitchell - The Australian - August 1, 2016

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

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

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ABC cleared of 'anti-business' bias in independent review
Matthew Knott - SMH - July 22, 2016

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

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

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Top Liberal aide takes senior role at ABC to ensure 'constructive relationships'
Amanda Meade - The Guardian - July 22, 2016

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

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

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ABC TV appoints Josh Faulks as Head of Partnerships and Policy
Imogen Corlette - Communications Manager ABC Audience and Marketing, ABC TV - July 20, 2016

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

This role will be responsible for identifying and prioritizing opportunities for ABC TV to enhance funding sources and content partnerships.

It will also take on strategy, advocacy and stakeholder communication activities for the TV Division, working alongside the Corporate Communications team.

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

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Celebrate 50 years of Play School with ABC
ABC TV - Safia van der Zwan - Television Publicist

Since its initial broadcast on July 18, 1966, Play School has been entertaining Australian preschoolers, providing them with new experiences and learning opportunities through music, crafts, stories, games, ideas and information.

The series aims to encourage a child to wonder, to think, to feel and to imagine, and strives to reflect a modern, diverse Australian society.

Fellow national TV treasure Kate Ritchie will present Big Ted's Excellent Adventure: 50 Years of Play School, a documentary that takes a nostalgic journey through Aussie childhood, reliving the laughter and delights of half a century of Play School while charting 50 years of the nation's social history.

Well known Australians, including, Mikey Robins, Hannah Gadsby, Nazeem Hussain, Craig McLachlan and members of the original Wiggles, share their personal memories of the show, alongside anecdotes from past and present Play School presenters, including Benita Collings, John Waters and Justine Clarke.

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Play School presenters past and current share memories of the iconic show
SMH - Nick Galvin - July 18, 2016

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

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

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Veteran broadcaster Greg Keane speaks out about Classic FM
Limelight Magazine - by Maxim Boon - July 13, 2016

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

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

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Major cuts to ABC Classic FM "imminent" say inside sources
Limelight Magazine - by Maxim Boon, Clive Paget - July 7, 2016

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

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

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

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ABC closes opinion website the Drum with immediate effect
The Guardian - Amanda Meade - July 5, 2016

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

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

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

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Nats 'ignored' ABC funding concerns
Echo NetDaily - June 27, 2016

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

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

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ABC Friends Recruits Humphrey B. Bear To Paint Frightening Future Of ABC
B&T Magazine - June 9, 2016

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

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

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

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ABC's Bananas 'trade pyjamas for Nike tracksuits, eat Happy Meals' in new campaign warning
Brisbane Times - Michael Gordon - June 8, 2016

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

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

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Labor promises ABC a trip down memory lane
Screen ArtsHub - David Tilley

ABC marches wearily on, its pack full of bills, as the ALP goes back to the future with its single promise.The theory out in apparatchik-land is that political promises only get made now when they have multiple benefits to an economic bottom line. Hence a symbolic commitment to restoring the battered public broadcasters.

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

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

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Leigh Sales is a reality star and Kerry O'Brien is eating lizards for ratings: Parody video shows what the ABC would turn into if the broadcaster's funding is cut
Daily Mail Australia - Max Margan - June 2, 2016

A parody video has painted a bleak picture of what the ABC could look like if the public broadcaster's funding is not restored.In the video, which is set in an Australian lounge room 'sometime in the future', investigative journalism is a thing of the past.

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

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Social media campaign shows terrifying vision of a future ABC
News.com - Liz Burke - June 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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ABC Friends' independence campaign targets marginal Coalition seats
The Guardian - Elle Hunt - June 2, 2016

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

ABC Friends is encouraging voters to support candidates who are on the record as supporting the national broadcaster following cuts under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull's governments.ABC Friends' first national campaign will target 27 marginal electorates, most held by the Coalition, across Australia: eight in New South Wales, three in Victoria, three in Tasmania, four in Queensland, and one each in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

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ABC suffering slow death by a thousand cuts
SMH- Ranald Macdonald - June 1, 2016

The ABC is needing support and protection because it is severely wounded.Cuts to its funding have continued. One media analyst calculates that by the election on July 2, the ABC will have lost more than $100 million a year in base funding, tied funding and other government contracts for services since the Coalition came to power.

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

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Election 2016: Cashed-up marginal seat ABC campaign another headache for Malcolm Turnbull
SMH - Michael Gordon - June 1, 2016

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

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

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The federal budget and the end of ABC Fact Check
The Saturday Paper - Jim Middleton - May 28, 2016

The demise of ABC Fact Check brings into question government funding and the national broadcaster's right to decide where taxpayer dollars go.Just before Christmas, ABC news director Gaven Morris and one of his offsiders, Bruce Belsham, called together about 20 senior reporters and executive producers.

They had bad news. The Turnbull government was refusing overtures to discuss the national broadcaster's 2016 budget.

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

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New ABC redundancies the direct result of latest budget cuts
MEAA - May 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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ABC Fact Check unit to close following budget cuts
ABC News - May 18, 2016

The ABC's Fact Check unit is set to close as part of budget cuts likely to result in the loss of 14 jobs across the corporation.ABC News director Gaven Morris confirmed the proposed changes in an email to staff on Wednesday afternoon.

On top of the ABC's regular annual budget, the former Rudd government provided $60 million over three years for enhanced newsgathering services.In this month's budget, the Federal Government trimmed that funding to approximately $41.4 million for the next three years.

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Details of Funding Cuts to the ABC - Primary Sources

Dept of Communications - Details of the ABC funding allocation in the 2016 budget here PDF 21pps 228KB.

On page 75 you will see "Total funds from Government 2015/16 is $1,084,413,000 and 2016/17 is $1,036,090,000" = $48,323,000 cut!

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

The cumulative cuts to ABC funding since 2014, according to the February 2016 submission by the ABC to the House of Reps Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts here PDF 24pps 637KB

On page 3 - Table 1. ABC funding cuts 2014-15 to 2018-19 


No cuts to the ABC? Public broadcaster $100m poorer than in 2013
Crikey - Myriam Robin - May 10, 2016

Remember when Tony Abbott promised no cuts to the ABC? "No cuts" turned out to mean $101 million worth of cuts.By the time Australia goes to the polls on July 2, the ABC will have lost more than $100 million a year in base funding, tied funding and other government contracts for services since the Liberal government first came to power in September 2013.

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Promise check: No cuts to the ABC
ABC FactCheck - May 8, 2016

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

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

"This promise was broken when the Government announced cuts to the ABC worth $35.5 million over four years in the 2014-15 budget, as well as announcing the termination of the ABC's Australia Network contract, saving the Government $197 million over nine years.Further cuts of $254 million over five years were announced in November 2014, and smaller ones in the 2016-17 budget. 

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Memo to Michelle Guthrie: expert ideas for the new ABC era
The Conversation - Jonathon Hutchinson - Peter Manning - Vincent O'Donnell - May 9, 2016

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

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Why ABC boss Michelle Guthrie is right about needing more diversity
SMH - Jacqueline Maley, May 6, 2016

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

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

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

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Letter to the SMH Editor
SMH - May 6, 2016

Dear Editor, 
The ABC suffered massive cuts, again, in the Federal Budget. A total of $48m was cut from the corporation, undermining its News, Online and Mobile output. Unfortunately many media organisations wrongly reported that the cutbacks were less serious, because they failed to notice that the government had not included one of the cuts in the budget papers.Please, let there be no mistake, the ABC has $48m less than it had before this budget, and ABC Friends isn't going to stand for it any more. We are gearing-up for the election campaign, drawing on our many thousands of volunteers across the country to target a selection of key marginal seats. Let the record be corrected: The ABC has had a big cut - just one of the thousand which will cause its death.

Mal Hewitt 
President ABC Friends NSW

 


Half of ABC staff don't think Aunty lives up to its values
Crikey - Myriam Robin - May 5, 2016

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

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Budget 2016: Michelle Guthrie calls for more diverse ABC as fact check unit faces chop
SMH - Matthew Knott, May 2, 2016

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

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

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The biggest challenge facing the ABC's new boss

The New Daily - Quentin Dempster - April 27, 2016

The ABC's new managing director Michelle Guthrie faces an immediate challenge in her first full week in command at the national public broadcaster.Ms Guthrie, a former Google Asia, Foxtel and News Corp senior executive, will be sweating on Treasurer Scott Morrison's first federal budget next Tuesday.If the ABC loses a $20 million special annual budget supplementation initiated by former treasurer Wayne Swan, Ms Guthrie will have to sack 10 per cent of her workforce of 1000 journalists. Full story [here]

 

 

Coalition Risks Marginals with ABC Closures

ABC Friends Media Release - April 26, 2016

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

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

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

 

 

Outgoing ABC chief Mark Scott takes parting shot at Murdoch empire

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 25, 2016

In a wide-ranging interview, the managing director reflects on a decade at the helm of Australia's public broadcaster, the importance of an independent ABC, his battles with News Corp and the future of media in the digital age.Mark Scott has rounded on the ABC's critics at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, saying their opposition to public broadcasting is commercially motivated and out of touch with the public's great affection for it. Don't blame the ABC for problems of commercial media, says Mark Scott."I think there are some who actually don't want a strong public broadcaster," Scott told Guardian Australia before his final week as the ABC's managing director. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Michael Lallo- April 25, 2016

When Mark Scott was put in charge of the ABC, one columnist sniffed that he had "risen without trace".A decade later, the Financial Review called him "the most attacked managing director" in Australia.Everyone knows him now.His admirers say he has dragged Aunty into the 21st century, with its News24 channel, iView, and opinion and news websites. They praise him as an aggressive defender of public broadcasting. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC Friends Appoints National Campaign Coordinator

ABC Friends Media Release - April 22, 2016

Distinguished former ABC journalist, videographer and author Jeff Waters has joined ABC Friends as its National Campaign Coordinator. The appointment signifies a major push by the Friends leading into the Federal Election, aimed at putting future funding of the ABC on the political agenda.ABC Friends, the national lobby group supporting increased funding and independence for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, sees his as a significant appointment, as it tries to ensure that the continuous funding reductions are not allowed to continue. Full Media Release [here]

 

 

Mark Scott blames govt for ABC's Sydney focus

Crikey - Cassidy Knowlton - April 22, 2016

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

 

 

ABC Managing Director Blames Government for Sydney-Centrism

Media Release - April 22, 2016

The ABC's outgoing Managing Director, Mark Scott, has admitted today that the corporation has become "Sydney-centric" as a direct result of government funding cuts.ABC viewers and listeners across the continent have been complaining, over recent years, that news and programmes were starting to concentrate too much on Sydney issues, at the expense of the rest of the country. Taking talkback calls on ABC774"s morning programme with Jon Faine, Mr Scott said the move of jobs and resources to Sydney was a deliberate undertaking. Full Media Release [here]

 

 

More hits than misses for Mark Scott's ABC

The Age - Jonathan Holmes - April 20, 2016

I've worked for the ABC, off and on, since 1982. Mark Scott was the seventh managing director during that time, and in my view incomparably the best. Here are a few reasons why I think so.Next week will be Scott's last as the ABC boss. Through it all, he has managed the Canberra public service and his political masters supremely well. For the first part of his tenure the ABC board had several members who seemed to have been appointed by the Howard government simply on the strength of their outspoken criticism of the ABC. They had no other visible qualifications. Scott coped. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC rejects criticism its Chinese web portal bows to Beijing censorship

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 16, 2016

The ABC has strongly rejected criticism its Chinese web portal, AustraliaPlus.cn, helps Beijing to silence critical voices in the region.An opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review by Prof John Fitzgerald, director of the Asia Pacific program in social investment and philanthropy at Swinburne University of Technology accused the ABC of selling out its news values in order to get a foothold in China."The ABC has not, and never has, entered into an agreement with China or any country in regards to censorship of its content," the ABC said in a strongly-worded statement. Read the full story [here]

 

 

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

The Border Mail - April 11, 2016

Regional jobs will go first if funding for the ABC is not renewed in the 2016-2017 budget, according to ABC Friends national spokesman Ranald Macdonald.Mr Macdonald addressed concerns about funding shortfalls with a crowd of about 100 people at a public forum at The Cube, Wodonga, on Thursday evening. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC Friends back senior broadcasters over management

ABC Friends Media Release - April 10, 2016

ABC Friends has expressed outrage at a new level of radio management being installed at the ABC, at the same time as the corporation is facing a funding-cuts crisis.Friends Spokesman Ranald Macdonald says the reported re-structuring of ABC radio management, which included a number of new high-level jobs, was of "grave concern."Mr Macdonald was speaking from Albury-Wodonga, where ABC Friends has been holding special campaign meetings ahead of a pre-election push in the marginal seat of Indi."I've just spent two days at public meetings about the ABC and its ability to maintain services, particularly in regional areas," he said. Full Media Release [here]

 

 

Veteran broadcasters condemn ABC radio restructuring plan

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - April 8, 2016

Veteran broadcasters Fran Kelly, Margaret Throsby, Robyn Williams, Norman Swan and Geraldine Doogue have written to the ABC board condemning a plan to add another layer of "preposterously named executives" which would be at home in an episode of the ABC satire on bureaucracy, Utopia.Don't blame the ABC for problems of commercial media, says Mark Scott. The restructure will see an effective management merger between the ABC's five radio networks Radio National, Classic FM, Triple J, News Radio and local radio.The letter, signed by 17 of Radio National's most senior broadcasters, expresses "profound concern" about a plan to restructure the radio division that could have "serious consequences" for ABC radio listeners if implemented. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Jonathan Holmes, April 5, 2016

ABC management has failed to recognise a clear problem among some capital city presenters.Ten days ago, on ABC TV's Media Watch program, presenter Paul Barry quizzed departing ABC managing director Mark Scott about his 10 years in the job. Scott's responses to Barry's more predictable questions caused apoplexy in even more predictable quarters."How can the man heading our biggest media organisation be so blind to the ABC's unlawful and dangerous Leftist bias?" frothed Andrew Bolt."Mark Scott has clearly failed to enact his promised reform agenda", fumed Gerard Henderson in his Media Watch Dog blog. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Matthew Knott, April 5, 2016

The ABC is bracing for a $20 million a year budget cut the broadcaster says would put the jobs of investigative journalists and reporters in regional areas at risk.Funding, equivalent to around 10 per cent of the ABC's news budget, will expire this year unless the Turnbull government provides extra money in the May budget as part of the ABC's triennial funding deal."If the tied funding is not renewed, it will inevitably result in cuts to programming, content and personnel" Read full story [here]

 

 

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

The Conversation - Brian McNair - March 30, 2016

As the ABC's managing director Mark Scott approaches the end of his decade-long tenure, Media Watch this week provided a platform for him to highlight his achievements and fire off a couple of parting shots.It's not ideal to see the ABC CEO using an ABC program to defend the ABC, but presenter Paul Barry did a reasonable job of representing the other side. "Too rich, too powerful, and biased" was the gist of it.Before responding, Scott emphasised two key achievements: the launch of ABC News 24, and the move online. iView in particular, he said, had led the Australian media market in streaming technology. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC MD Mark Scott on Media Watch

Managing Director of the ABC Mark Scott appeared on a special edition of Media Watch on Monday 28 Mar 2016. Watch it on iView [here] - 22 min videoYou can download the program from [here] (MP4 80MB)

 

 

Update Newsletter - April 2016

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

 

 

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

The Australia Institute - Fergus Pitt - March 2016

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

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

 

 

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

The Age - Debi Enker - February 29, 2016

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

 

 

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

ABC News - Matthew Doran - March 4, 2016

The ABC has hit back at claims it is not providing adequate services to regional Australia, describing a bill to amend its charter as demonstrating "a paucity of understanding of the ABC's operations".The broadcaster has also made a pointed reference to Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie's demand for country-based board members, when the Senator herself lives in the city. Full story [here]

 

 

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

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - March 4, 2016

The ABC already spends more than $385m - a third of its annual budget - in rural and regional areas and a National party push to amend the ABC charter is unnecessary if not dangerous, the broadcaster says.A private bill from Victorian National party senator Bridget McKenzie proposes to promote regional news services and journalism in rural and regional Australia by forcing the ABC to reallocate its resources. Full story [here]

 

 

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

Amends the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 to: amend the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) Charter in relation to the delivery of services to rural and regional Australia in each state and territory; impose certain requirements on the ABC and the ABC Board; and provide for the establishment, functions and membership of the Rural and Regional Advisory Council.The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications is calling for submissions - you can download any of the submissions [here]You can download ABC Friends' submission [here] PDF 10 pps 775Mb

 

 

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

The Guardian - Amanda Meade - February 25, 2016

Mark Scott wasn't kidding when he told the National Press Club on Wednesday that losing 10% of the ABC's $200m news allocation in the May budget would mean "significant cuts to jobs and programming" . On Tuesday ABC News's executive producers were briefed on possible budget cuts and asked to start making contingency plans should their budgets be trimmed again. (The word from Canberra was that the Turnbull government would not be as forthcoming as the Gillard government had been in topping up the ABC's news coffers three years ago.)At risk is an additional $20m in tied funding allocated to the ABC each year for three years to create the national reporting team, establish the fact check unit and boost resources for the regions and digital content. "It also funded major, award-winning, in-depth prime-time documentary series like The Killing Season and George Megalogenis's TV series Making Australia Great - compelling award-winning work, unlike anything else on Australian television," Scott told the press club. Full story [here]

 

 

One Sure Bet: The Future of Public Broadcasting

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

The full address is available [here]

 

 

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

ABC News - Jane Norman, February 24, 2016

The ABC's outgoing managing director Mark Scott has called for a "grown-up conversation" about merging the nation's two public broadcasters, arguing it could save the Federal Government $40 million a year.In his last National Press Club address as ABC boss, Mr Scott also made the case for the Government to at least maintain the ABC's current level of funding, warning the only way the broadcaster will be "strong and relevant" in the future is with adequate financial support. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 23, 2016

Mark Scott has used his final major speech as ABC managing director to ramp up the case for the ABC to merge with SBS, saying it would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year and stop the broadcasters "tripping over each other".Mr Scott, who departs the ABC in May, also revealed he and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown had secretly agreed there should be a "friendly merger" between the two broadcasters and were prepared to make the case to government. But the idea was rejected by the SBS board and Mr Brown retired in 2011. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 23, 2016

Mark Scott will use his last major speech as ABC managing director to propose an overhaul of the way the ABC and SBS transmit their television channels, a move that could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year.The change, if implemented, could see the broadcasters reduce their number of television channels and eventually move some channels online. Full story [here]

 

 

What will media reforms mean for regional Australia?

ABC Rural By Lucy Barbour

The debate about media reform is confusing, but changes to media laws could affect what regional audiences get to watch, read and listen to.There are concerns proposed changes could mean fewer voices in rural media than ever before.The Coalition is likely to introduce media reforms to Parliament next month and it is widely expected the proposal will include scrapping the reach rule and the two of three rule. Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Matthew Knott, February 10, 2016

Departing ABC managing director Mark Scott has questioned whether SBS should be merged with the ABC, a move that would see the multicultural network lose its special status as a standalone public broadcaster.At his final appearance at Senate estimates hearings, Mr Scott said SBS was an "analogue solution in a digital world" and argued the broadcaster was losing its distinctiveness. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC appoints Michelle Guthrie after flawed selection process

The Saturday Paper - Quentin Dempster - January 30, 2016

The problems facing the ABC's incoming managing director, Michelle Guthrie, are various and substantial. There's a bush backlash. A decline in locally made drama and programming.The declining share of free-to-air TV and radio audiences. A now frenzied, competitive online and mobile news and video streaming market, with aggressive global players trying to dislodge and divert your eyeballs. Full story [here]

 

 

How Australian is the ABC?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hand Off Our ABC Campaign

Hands Off Our ABCHands Off Our ABC is a community and advocacy campaign co-ordinated by the two unions that represent the vast bulk of employees at the ABC: the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union."Our goal is an editorially-independent ABC that is fully-funded by the government and meets its charter as a comprehensive national broadcaster, that is resourced to tell Australian stories across multiple platforms, and positioned to take advantage of new technology to retain its position as the most trusted and reliable source of news and entertainment in Australia". Full details [here]

 

 

Battered broadcaster's Bolt delusion

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

Last week, Fairfax reported that Andrew Bolt was in the midst of travelling the country 'filming an ABC documentary on Indigenous constitutional recognition'. Margaret Simons The Content MakersBolt might seem a strange choice for such a program. Yes, he opines regularly about Indigenous issues. Yet, in the famous Eatock v Bolt case, Justice Bromberg found Bolt's writings on that subject to contain 'errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language'.Not much of a recommendation, one might think - particularly since the ABC is ushering Bolt back into its fold just as the Bolt Report (the show for which Bolt abandoned his regular segment on ABC's own Insiders) collapses for want of viewers.To put Bolt's new gig in perspective, consider Liberal Senator Eric Abetz's press release on 21 December last year about the appointment of the ABC's new managing director. Full story [here]

 

 

The voice of regional Australia needs to be heard

The Drum - Chris Earl - January 21, 2016

Any debate about media reform and the ABC must acknowledge the fact that Australians who live beyond the capital cities deserve to have their stories told just as much as those living on the eastern seaboard, writes Chris Earl.A showdown is on the horizon in the latest battle to sustain the identity, character and voice of regional and rural communities across Australia. Full story [here]

 

 

ABC should provide local television news: Warren Truss

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

Nationals leader Warren Truss has backed sweeping changes to the charter and board structure of the ABC, while calling for the public broadcaster to be forced to air television news services in regional areas as well as radio broadcasts.Mr Truss, currently serving as acting prime minister, also said he would push for local content requirements for commercial television networks to be included as part of a forthcoming deregulation of the media sector. Full story [here]

 

 

'Media Interests' snapshot

From the ACMA Website - Jan 16, 2016

The Media Interests snapshot below provides an overview of the main interests in major commercial television and radio networks and associated newspapers. From this snapshot, you can click through to maps showing the location and details of the relevant media operations. Click [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Karl Quinn - January 8, 2016

Gaven Morris, the ABC's recently appointed director of news, has some sage words for anyone expecting the broadcaster to drop all that lefty "bias" of which it has been accused now he's overseeing things."I think the point where politicians or corporations or the powerful stop calling the ABC biased is the point where we're not probably doing our job," he says. "They call it bias but I call it independence. It's the job we were put here to do." Full story [here]

 

 

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

SMH - Parnell Palme McGuinness - January 7, 2016

New ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has been criticised for having no plan for the organisation, but the public broadcaster seems to have no clear sense of its purpose.New ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie is entering upon one of the nation's most important and influential jobs as an unknown quantity. So far, she has offered a few motherhood statements about the organisation that she will lead and the innovative technologies on which she plans to focus. Full story [here]

 

 

How Australian is the ABC? - Media Release

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

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

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

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

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

We must remind all existing and potential Federal parliamentarians that we expect them to guarantee ABC funding, which prioritises Australian content and regional services.

And the ABC Board and Management must listen to Australians’ priorities for THEIR ABC.

The ABC needs to halt its declining focus on Australian program content and responsibility to regional Australia.

It is unacceptable that ABC TV relies on mediocre BBC repeats when it should mainly feature quality Australian made programs.

The Sydney based ABC bureaucracy cannot manage regional Australia unless decision making is returned to state managers who work with local communities.

2016 can be a year of reform for the ABC with new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie taking on the leadership.

But all Australians need to insist that the ABC and Federal Government respond to the community’s priorities.

During 2016 ABC Friends will be working in a variety of ways to ensure that our public broadcaster is able to continue providing services to all Australians.Margaret Reynolds
ABC Friends National Spokesperson and Tasmanian President

 

How Australian is the ABC?On Australia Day this year I checked the choices available on ABC TV. 

At prime viewing time 7 to 10pm on ABC1 I could only watch News/7.30 Report/Kangaroo Dundee /Restoration Man/Inside Men and ABC 2 offerings were similarly limited.This is typical of so much current ABC television programming.

Just how many times must the Australian taxpayer accept endless repeats of BBC programming and why is Stephen Fry such a hero within ABC management?

Where is the celebration of Australian film?

Who is responsible for this regular display of cultural irrelevance?

It is true that ABC Radio is thoroughly embedded in Australian culture with its wide range of local content.

But if the ABC TV cannot even make an effort to showcase Australian programs on Australia Day it is scarcely surprising that so many ABC viewers are turning off and establishing new entertainment viewing options.

As shareholders of the national public broadcaster we need to ask “How Australian is the ABC?”

Who is responsible for monitoring Australian content on television?

Why are so many elderly British chaps constantly appearing for the ABC when we could be watching young talented women and men representative of multicultural Australia?

Australians greatly value our ABC and guard its independence

But we are entitled to question why the ABC’s independence is not evident on television because its programmers constantly rely on British content.

What has been spent on British programs in the past ten years? How much revenue has been returned to the UK from the sale of British content which has overwhelmingly dominated the stock in ABC Shops?

The ABC’s Annual Report does not answer these questions so we are left wondering just how much more Australian content could have been funded instead of these dollars being invested in the British television industry.

Of course the ABC should be much better funded and the savage financial cuts to the ABC made by the former Abbott government has seriously impacted on the ABC's professional staffing capacity. The Federal Government must now face the consequences of its attack on the public broadcaster and start to rebuild and reprioritize what is important for the ABC as it moves into new communications territory.

This is a conversation for all Australians and must not be dictated by either ABC management nor by critics of public broadcasting. The ABC is indeed a national icon which provides vital services and entertainment to many Australians.

It must adapt and change to suit new technological and social demands but it must not become so driven by such change that it loses its essential focus to communicate with the Australian community. This year will be both a challenge and an opportunity for the ABC with a new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie taking on leadership and triennial funding finalized in the next few months. Certainly the ABC must be funded at a level that enables it to fulfil its responsibilities. It needs stronger links with regional Australia and with the Asia Pacific region. 

It has been refreshing to hear Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss speak out against the way the ABC’s Sydney centric decision making is alienating regional Australia. Of course fundamental national broadcasting policy must be made centrally but what is the role of State Managers if not to advise and action local priorities?Sydney based decision makers will never be able to assess and reflect the mood of distant communities which have such different priorities. The recent restructuring of some regional programming, downgrading of state offices and closure of local television production are signs that ABC management is retreating into an urban safe haven. Australian stories must be told by “our ABC “and only a national broadcaster can effectively provide this leadership by decentralizing its decision making and listening to local communities.

As we approach a Federal Election we must remind all current and potential parliamentarians that we expect them to guarantee ABC funding which prioritizes Australian content and regional services.Margaret Reynolds
ABC Friends National Spoke person and Tasmanian President