News Archive 2017

News Archive 2017

Restructuring the ABC

Michael Bodey - The Saturday Paper - December 16, 2017

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

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

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

Books and Arts axed as ABC makes massive radio changes

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

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

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

Books and Arts axed as ABC makes massive radio changes

By Daily Review December 7, 2017

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

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

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

Why changes are not 'dumbing down' the ABC

Judith Whelan - SMH - December 11, 2017

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

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

Stop the dumbing down of the ABC

Kerrie O'Brien - SMH - December 9, 2017

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

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

ABC shake-up at Radio National worries former senior managers

Comment - SMH - December 9, 2017

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

ABC RN Announces 2018 Lineup

Media Release - ABC - December 6, 2017

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

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

ABC announces 2018 radio line-ups

Media Release - ABC - December 6, 2017

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

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

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

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

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

ABC local radio to become less local

David Washington - INDaily - December 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - December 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

MEDIA RELEASE FROM ABC FRIENDS - [here]

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 28, 2017

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

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

Public Broadcasting in the Pub


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


Attacks on the ABC: In whose interests? The ABC's independence and funding is under threat, with an "inquiry" prompted by Pauline Hanson and powerful private media interests attempting to undermine it. Come and hear:

Ranald Macdonald, former editor-in-chief of The Age, broadcaster - and Collingwood Football Club President

Together with Canberra's own David Kilby as MC

Further details [here]

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 17, 2017

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

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

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

Karl Quinn - SMH - November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

Karl Quinn - SMH - November 14, 2017

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

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

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

Big picture, few hilltops

Margaret Simons - Inside Story - November 14, 2017

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

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

Michelle Guthrie unveils major ABC restructure

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 14, 2017

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

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

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

Amanda Mead - The Guardian - November 14, 2017

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

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

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

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - November 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - November 13, 2017

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

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

ABC management taken to task over 'dangerous' stress levels

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 13, 2017

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

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

John Clarke Birds 2018 Calendar

Tribute to an ABC Legend

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

Makes an ideal Christmas Gift!

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

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

Melissa Cunningham - SMH - November 10, 2017

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

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

Veteran ABC reporter Matt Peacock farewells colleagues

Broede Carmody - SMH - November 10, 2017

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

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

Hands Off Radio National Music (#saveRNmusic)

Ruth Hazelton - change.org - November 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

Alan Sunderland - ABC - Nov 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

ABC 2016-17 Annual Report

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

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

Broede Carmody - The Age - November 1, 2017

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

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

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

Birds, a satirist's 'natural' quarry

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

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

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

Inquiry into Australian content on broadcast, radio and streaming services

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

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

The Hanson plot to kill the ABC

Mike Seccombe - The Saturday Paper - October 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

RadioInfo, October 18, 2017

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

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

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

Open letter to Communications Minister, The Hon. Mitch Fifield

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

Can we just be serious just for a moment?

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

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

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

After Lateline, the brave new world of better broadcasting

Jane Goodall - Inside Story - October 13, 2017

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

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

Jennifer Byrne farewells ABC, The Book Club Axed

Broede Carmody - SMH - October 13, 2017

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

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

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

Karl Quinn - SMH - October 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

Debi Enker - SMH - October 12, 2017

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

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

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

Broede Carmody - SMH - October 10, 2017

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

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

ABC Managing Director speech at the ABC Friends Public Conference Dinner

By ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie - 6th October 2017

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

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

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

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

Daily Review - October 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debbie Cuthbertson - SMH - October 8, 2017

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

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

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

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - October 7, 2017

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

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

Al Gore embroiled in ABC's inconvenient audit

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - October 6, 2017

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

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie attacks commercial rivals, media law reforms

Andrew Taylor - SMH - October 6, 2017

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

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

Lateline, The Link to be axed in ABC overhaul

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

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

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

ABC axes Lateline as part of current affairs journalism overhaul

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - October 5, 2017

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

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

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

Guthrie's content shake-up threatens ABC empires

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

Tony Wright - SMH - September 26, 2017

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

Birds were his great delight.

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

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

ORDER THE CALENDAR [HERE]

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

Denis Muller - The Conversation - September 27, 2017

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

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

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

ABC cuts jeopardising safety of remote communities - study

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - September 19, 2017

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

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

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

How the 'No' case is abusing the ABC

Alex McKinnon - The Saturday Paper - September 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Remeikis - The Guardian - September 15, 2017

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

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

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

The program that changed Australia (Four Corners)

Jane Goodall - The Inside Story - August 31, 2017

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

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

Dick Smith to campaign against alleged ABC bias

Nick O'Malley - SMH - September 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC Defenders Campaign

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

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

Read all our Defenders' messages [here]

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

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

Laura Brierley Newton - ABC News - September 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Broede Carmody - SMH - August 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

Quentin Dempster - The New Daily - August 17, 2017

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

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

Making war with the ABC

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

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

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

ABC Chairman Justin Milne address to ABC Parliamentary Showcase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 16, 2017

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

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

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

Tell the Government the ABC is not their Political Plaything

Tell the Minister for Communications that the ABC is not the government's political plaything!

Unknown deals in the Senate challenge the independence of the ABC as Australia's most trusted institution

The people of Australia are ABC shareholders and guardians of independent public broadcasting.

If the Minister wants the ABC to change he must first conduct a major survey of what Australians expect of "their ABC"

It is certainly not the role of minority political parties or indeed outside critics to dictate policy based on their personal prejudices

We need informed and rational debate about the future role of public broadcasting in Australia not behind the scenes manoevering.

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

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

Katharine Murphy - The Guardian - August 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Holmes - SMH - August 17, 2017

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

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

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

Matthew Doran - ABC News - August 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Nation wins ABC changes in media reform deal

Lucy Battersby - SMH - August 15, 2017

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

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 15, 2017

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

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - August 10, 2017

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - August 11, 2017

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

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

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

ABC deal comes back to haunt Government

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

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

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

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

ABC deal comes back to haunt Government

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Remeikis - SMH - August 4, 2017

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian- August 4, 2017

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

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

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

Celebrating Aunty's 85th Birthday

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

Opinion journalism and clickbait

Santilla Chingaipe - The Saturday Paper - July 29, 2017

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

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

ABC Friends' Newsletter - Update

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

ABC foyer closed to public after controversial Quadrant article

Jenna Price - SMH - July 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Australia Institute - Media Release

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

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

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

South Australians want more funding for ABC: poll

Tom Richardson - InDaily - July 13, 2017

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

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

Why we need an independent ABC more than ever

Ranald Macdonald - The Age - July 12, 2017

Sometimes being an ABC Friends officeholder is difficult.

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

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

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

Karl Quinn - SMH - July 11, 2017

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

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

Defending the ABC

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

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

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

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

ABC Visit to Alice Springs

Media Release ABC Friends - June 27, 2017

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

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

ABC comes up short with Catalyst revamp

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - June 23, 2017

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

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

The ABC gets it wrong on its South Pacific service

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

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

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

One Plus One - Michelle Guthrie

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

ABC boss Michelle Guthrie spooks Foreign Correspondent... again

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - June 9, 2017

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

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

Gay Alcorn - The Guardian - June 2, 2017

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

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

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

Stan Correy - ABC News - June 1, 2017

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

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

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

A disgrace: One Nation's ABC blackmail threat

Editorial - SMH - June 1, 2017

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

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

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

Gareth Hutchens - The Guardian - May 31, 2017

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

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

Separating treasures from the waste of ABC programs

Debi Enker - SMH - May 25, 2017

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

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

The ABC is not siphoning audiences from Fairfax

Axel Bruns - The Conversation - May 27, 2017

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

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

Be-Friending the ABC

Tina Faulk - The Spectator Australia - May 27, 2017

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

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

Tinfoil witch trials

Editorial - The Saturday Paper - May 27, 2017

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

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

Radio jobs for the chop as ABC rolls out redundancies

Amanda Meade - Guardian Australia - May 15, 2017

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

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

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

Michael Koziol - SMH - May 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

Amy Remeikis - SMH - May 24, 2017

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

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

ABC axes Yassmin Abdel-Magied's Australia Wide program

Broede Carmody - SMH - May 24, 2017

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

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

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

Nick O'Malley - SMH - May 24, 2017

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

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

ABC needs to be included in specific local content rules

Media Release - ABC Friends - May 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - May 17, 2017

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

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

The Relationship Between the Media and Politics - Forum


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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Release - ABC Friends - May 11, 2017

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

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

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

Mal Hewitt 
National Vice-President, ABC Friends

Mark Colvin dies after distinguished career at ABC

Damien Murphy - SMH - May 11, 2017

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

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

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

Karl Quinn - SMH - May 11, 2017

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

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

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

ABC News - May 11, 2017

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

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

The ABC's unchartered waters

Kim Dalton - The Saturday Paper - May 6, 2017

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

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

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

Jenny Buckland - SMH - May 2, 2017

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

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

Kim Dalton accuses ABC TV of shifting funds from Australian content

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - May 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

Kim Dalton - The Conversation - May 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

Michael Lallo - SMH - May 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

Kim Dalton - SMH - May 1, 2017

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

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

ABC cracks second behind news.com.au

NewsMediaWorks / 26 April, 2017

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

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

Abdel-Magied Anzac row is a storm over not much

Michelle Grattan - The Conversation - April 26, 2017

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

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

The slow death of Australian children's TV drama

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

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

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

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

ABC congratulates its winners at the 2017 Logie Awards

ABC Media Release - April 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

ABC News - April 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

Craig Mathieson - SMH - April 20, 2017

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

Despite Fears, ABC Shuts Down Shortwave Broadcasts

James Careless - RadioWorld - April 17, 2017

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

Federal politics: Hostile governments starve ABC of funding

Gael Barrett - The Age - April 18, 2017

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

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

Tony Walker - SMH - April 17, 2017

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

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

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

Paul Karp - The Guardian - 12 April 2017

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

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

Vale John Clarke

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 27, 2017

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

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

Nine key questions for new ABC chairman

Editorial - SMH - March 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

Lucy Battersby - SMH - March 22, 2017

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

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

ABC wins top honours at Quills

ABC Media Release - March 18, 2017

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

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

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

Martin Hirst - Independent Australia - March 18, 2017

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 17, 2017

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

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

ABC farewells Chairman James Spigelman

ABC Media Release - March 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

Michael Lallo - SMH - March 12, 2017

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

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

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

Emilia Terzon - ABC Radio Darwin - March 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 10, 2017

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

Guthrie's ABC shapes up, but fears linger

SMH Editorial - March 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC to cut 200 jobs as Michelle Guthrie restructure revealed

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 7, 2017

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

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

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

Michael Lallo - The Examiner - March 8, 2017

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

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

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

ABC restructuring: leaner, but hopefully not meaner

Brian McNair - The Conversation - March 7, 2017

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

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

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

Matthew Knott - SMH - March 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

Amanda Meade - The Guardian - March 7, 2017

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

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

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

$50 million audience investment in ABC transformation

ABC Media Release - March 7, 2017

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

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

Building the ABC's services in regional and remote AustraliaABC Media Release - March 7, 2017The ABC has announced its biggest ever single investment in regional and remote Australia, to expand the broadcaster's coverage of news and information for audiences across the country.The Connecting Communities package builds quickly to an extra $15 million a year ongoing, with almost $4 million more to be spent on new tools and technology.Up to 80 new jobs, delivering regional news and information, will be recruited within 18 months as part of a broader content fund announced by the ABC's Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, today. Continue reading [here]