ABC continues campaign to fight funding freeze | radioinfo

ABC continues campaign to fight funding freeze

Thursday 21 June, 2018

Following the $84 million ABC funding freeze announced at the Federal Budget in May, the national broadcaster has launched the 'Future of your ABC' webpage as part of its campaign to fight the cuts.

The transcript of ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie's Tuesday 19 June speech at the Melbourne Press Club takes top billing on the new webpage, in which Guthrie addressed two 'fallacies':

"The first is that the ABC should be stripped back to servicing gaps in the media market, basically becoming a market failure operator. The second is that the ABC serves only sectional interests.

"Every day I’m reminded how important the ABC is to all Australians. Some commentators and politicians like to pigeonhole our audience as being of a particular political bent or social strata.

"In the two years since I’ve been in this role, I have been constantly reminded how wrong that is. Of course, there are the undisputed figures: the 12 million Australians who will watch ABC TV this week; the nearly 5 million who will listen to ABC Radio; the 13 million ABC podcast downloads that now happen every month.

"If all those listeners and viewers were on the one side of politics, there wouldn’t be much politicking left to do."

The new ABC site also links to a collection of news stories, broadcasts and ABC research, including a recent Fairfax article, 'Commercial interests out ot get the ABC', and two Radio National stories, 'The ABC of budgest cuts' and 'What good is public broadcasting?'

Veteran ABC Melbourne broadcaster Jon Faine took aim at Guthrie following the Federal Budget, telling the Conversation Hour:

“I’ve been here since 1989 busting my guts for a vision and a set of values and quite frankly I’m sick of getting it ripped apart because of the failure of our managers,”

“[Guthrie] has been remarkably quiet and reluctant to engage in what she herself previously has described as megaphone campaigning."

“She says ‘No, the best way to protect the ABC is to work quietly behind the scenes’. And that’s obviously delivered a terrible outcome in the last budget round.” 

The government says the reduction is aimed to ensure the national broadcaster "finds efficiencies." The ABC says there are no more efficiencies to find and that the cuts will mean job cuts.

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Anthony The Koala
22 June 2018 - 7:57am
First this is not a comment about MD Michelle Guthrie, but rather a comment on how managing directors or higher management is appointed not only in the ABC but in other corporations. Having followed the ABC since childhood and how its MDs are appointed, there has never been one MD (from the 1970s onwards) appointed from within the organization. I can presume that higher level managers have been appointed externally without having worked in the organization.

The effects of external appointments are twofold.

One is that workers within the organization with aspirations for higher level responsibilities are locked out of the 'game'. Those in lower ranked positions with suitable qualifications have the opportunity to move up a level. With these external appointments it may well create a lot of disappointment amongst workers who aspire for greater responsibility and reward but their expectations for higher level responsibility is thwarted because of external appointments.

Two, one of the disadvantages of external appointments is no corporate memory of the culture and the dos and don'ts of an organization. This may explain the frustration of Mr Jon Faine's frustration of "....frankly I’m sick of getting it ripped apart because of the failure of our managers,” because they may well be externally appointed. I need more evidence for that.

There may well be a need to change the culture and external appointments may be necessary. But then aren't there people within an organization with a vision to change the culture and practices? That is beyond the scope of my response.

If I had it my way, I would flatten the hierarchical structures of the ABC. That would save money. I have said elsewhere, that I knew a person who worked at the ABC during the large industrial dispute in the early 1990s who said that they recently employed more managers than people doing the actual work. That may go against my earlier statement of promotional prospects for higher positions. I qualify it by promotions for productive work. The ABC is not the only organisation.

In sum, productive managers and the MD should be employed from within to cater for highly motivated and aspiring staff from within. Appointments from within may reduce the frustrations of lack of corporate memory created by upper management encountered by Mr Faine. In addition flattening the hierarchy to productive jobs increases efficiency resulting in lowering costs.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield

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