ABC decimated

I know: no actual executions, but there is a certain poetry about the idea of every tenth ABC employee “getting the chop” – as indeed is the case.

Key points:

  • Federal Government cutting $254 million over five years from the ABC budget
  • More than 400 ABC staff – close to 10 per cent – could lose their jobs
  • Adelaide TV production studios to close
  • State-based 7.30 programs on Friday to be scrapped and replaced with national 7.30 program
  • Lateline moved to a new timeslot on ABC News 24
  • Foreign bureaux will be restructured to create “multiplatform hubs” in London, Washington, Jakarta and Beijing
  • The Auckland bureau will close down and a new Beirut post will be opened
  • Regional radio posts in Wagin, Morwell, Gladstone, Port Augusta and Nowra to close
  • ABC Local, Radio National and ABC Classic FM programming changed, with programs including Bush Telegraph scrapped
  • State-based local sports coverage scrapped
  • New regional division and ABC Digital Network, to begin in mid-2015, and a $20 million digital investment fund

A local take on all this:

…Of the two full-time staff in Nowra, an open producer will moved  to Wollongong and journalist Ainslie Drewitt-Smith will reportedly work from home.

On Monday she tweeted: ‘‘Feeling for all of my ABC colleagues on this dark day. Such devastating news for so many. #OurABC #ABCcuts’’.

Politicians on all sides were quick to play the blame game.

In an open letter to Mr Scott, federal Member for Gilmore Ann Sudmalis called the decision ‘‘deplorable’’ and pointed the blame at ABC management, who she said took ‘‘the easy way out’’ by targeting rural and regional services.

‘‘If this closure goes ahead, it will be almost geographically impossible for the ABC to cover, in person, local news events between Nowra and Moruya on the NSW South Coast,’’ she wrote.

Liberal Member for South Coast Shelley Hancock also expressed her disappointment with the decision, describing the office as a ‘‘major asset’’ for the Shoalhaven.

Member for Throsby Stephen Jones laid the blame squarely with the Coalition government and MPs who had campaigned under a platform of no cuts to the ABC.

‘‘The decision to close ABC Nowra and four other ABC Radio sites is a slap in the face for regional Australia,’’ he said…

Spin it is they may, this is not a great look. Tony Abbott in 2013 just before getting elected:

So far as words might be thought to mean something that would seem rock solid, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t you buy a used car from this guy? Well, looks as if we did…

Meanwhile it is true that ABC isn’t the only show in town. Here in The Gong back in 1962 something called WIN Channel 4 came into being – unfortunately with no sound being transmitted while compere Max Ambrose was speaking; Max I later had a bevvie or three with back in my Oxford Street days. In between his Gong days and then he had been on ABC Classic FM.  I find too that as a mere lad he had been on Wollongong’s former radio station 2WL – and had a bit of an adventure it appears.

ANNOUNCER’S CONDITION COMPLICATED

The condition of 2WL announcer, Max Ambrose, who was severely burnt in Friday morning’s fire at the ‘Seaview’ guest house,Church St., Wollongong, has been complicated since he caught pneumonia. His condition may still be considered as serious….

Read a fascinating transcript of Max Ambrose interviewing Prime Minister R G Menzies (PDF) on WIN in July 1962.

WIN has grown and morphed several ways. I do watch the Wollongong News on WIN very regularly. It really is very good – aside from which one of the presenters, Geoff Phillips, does appear at Diggers from time to time. That is part of being local!

But it isn’t actually done live. “WIN broadcasts to a larger geographical area than any other television network, in the world, through owned-and-operated stations including RTQ Queensland, WIN Southern New South Wales, VTV Victoria, TVT Tasmania, MTN Griffith,STV Mildura, SES Mount Gambier, RTS Riverland, and WOW Western Australia.” There is an “Australian News” at midday that draws on the best of the regional news programs – and it is worth watching. But back to The Gong:

…Wollongong no longer has a live TV news broadcast after WIN Television began pre-recording its Illawarra bulletin.

The move comes after the television station announced two weeks ago that it would produce its Canberra bulletin at the company’s Mount Saint Thomas headquarters.

The Canberra news is read live at 6.30pm by Wollongong presenters Kerryn Johnston and Amy Duggan. As a result, Wollongong’s bulletin has been pre-recorded  about 5pm since last Monday.

WIN remains the only Wollongong-based television news service, after Prime and Channel 10 closed their Illawarra newsrooms more than a decade ago….

And on that first night in 1962:

6pm News, Newsreel, Weather. Includes opening message from WIN4 general manager Robert Lord

6.30 High Adventure
7.30 Movie: Destination Tokyo. 1944 [IMDB]
9.30 Playboys’ Penthouse
10.30 Interlude
10.35 Close

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4 thoughts on “ABC decimated

  1. Can’t something be done on the lines of what was done to the BBC to make it an economically viable operation? The All India Radio is our government broadcaster with hardly any impact on the urban listener where the FM stations have taken over. Leaving aside the competition from the TV channels, to run a government department financed by tax money does not seem to be fair to the taxpayer. There are many like me who are not exactly too far to the right of the center who question the need for such a broadcaster in the modern scheme of things.

  2. Neil, pleased to see that somebody actually knows what ‘decimated’ means 🙂 I sort of agree with Turnbull’s comment that any company faced with the need to cut 5% of budget is simply not trying if they complain it can’t be done. And I also could probably nominate several high flyers at our ABC who I’d be happy to see the last of. But then, there’s the chance that what I see as ‘waste’ is the breath of life to others, and who am I to make that sort of decision? We are a nation of decent law abiding differences – and I see that as a strength rather than as a weakness in our system.

    Anyway, while I can accept the need for economies, I can’t help thinking that the specific economies being suggested by ABC management are more designed with an eye to gaining political advantage, than actually carrying out the remit of the government of the day.

    And reading Ramana’s comment, I am perplexed by his “to run a government department financed by tax money does not seem to be fair to the taxpayer” statement. I’m wondering just which of our many government departments are *not* financed by the taxpayer?

  3. Thanks, DVD: I have occasionally taught Latin and Ancient History. Do note everyone that while I go off at a bit of a tangent in this post — and my fondness for WIN Wollongong News is genuine — I have tagged it “lying bastards” for obvious reasons. I am pleased to see perhaps a backbone reappearing in Malcolm Turnbull too. “Communications minister says broadcaster using government as a ‘bogey man’ to give it ‘cover for changes it wanted to make anyway’” So self-evident, Malcolm! But thanks for stating the bleeding obvious. So, Ramana, this is only tangentially about economics. The ABC is an amazing national treasure to be nurtured and loved. Which is not to say efficiencies can’t be found — but this smells like an ideological attack, because that is EXACTLY what it is. Nice one, Rupert!

  4. WIN has made Bruce Gordon, the Reg Kermode of Australian TV, very rich indeed. In WIN they call BG “the proprietor,” but Wollongong is only a tiny part of the picture these days.

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