ABC MD outlines changes to Radio following cuts | radioinfo

ABC MD outlines changes to Radio following cuts

Monday 24 November, 2014
ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott. image: ABC

There's some good news amongst the bad for Radio in amongst the ABC cuts

Main Points

  • Closure of outposts in Wagin, Morwell, Gladstone, Port Augusta and Nowra.
  • Classic FM to cut back on live concert recordings
  • Establishment of a new Regional Division
  • News Radio will now be run by ABC News instead of ABC Radio
  • Acting head of Radio, Michael Mason, has been confirmed as Director of Radio 
  • Radio streaming to be extended to regional areas

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott today addressed staff with the most positive message he could muster under the circumstances. But if you’re one of the 400 (roughly 10%) of staff likely to lose their jobs Mr Scott agreed he could offer little comfort. “We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who may lose their positions,” Mr Scott told staff in a detailed communique that outlined the impact of the cuts on a “whole-of-ABC basis.

As for ABC Radio, Mr Scott foreshadowed that, “There would be programming changes and staff cuts in Radio National and Local Radio. The changes to Radio National aim to reshape the structure and flow of programming across the middle of the day and to rethink our delivery of documentary content. However, the majority of proposed radio savings are in the administration and management areas. 

Specifically the cuts will mean the closure of five small regional radio posts in Wagin, Morwell, Gladstone, Port Augusta and Nowra. “These sites need continual maintenance, the number of staff impacted is minimal and there are no content implications. The ABC will always have and need a strong regional footprint. But we need to be responsible in how we allocate resources and maintaining these sites is not best practice,” said Mr Scott.

In another cost saving measure ABC Radio plans to cut back on the number of concerts recorded on Classic FM. “This is a prudent efficiency measure that still ensures a quality service for the Classic audience,” said Mr Scott.

Mr Scott then went on to outline plans for a new Regional Division, “With new digital technologies and better organisation, we can be smarter and more focused in our approach to rural and regional audiences. The new division would bring together regional radio and news staff and look afresh at how we best deploy our knowledge, skills and technology. 

“We have committed to a period of consultation with staff and to engagement with regional communities in crafting the new division. We will maintain our level of content investment while acknowledging that in this new environment, not everything should or will remain as it has been,” he said.

In a major structural change, Mr Scott announced, “We propose transferring responsibility for News Radio from ABC Radio to ABC News. A reshaped Radio Division would then consist of the local radio stations in the capital cities, Radio National, Classic FM and triple j, offering strong audience focus through both national and localised programming. 

Michael Mason, who has been acting head of Radio for some months, will be the new Director of Radio. His long leadership experience across many of the Radio networks makes him perfectly qualified for the job,” he said.

“Broadcasting is not and never has been a static industry,” Mr Mason told his audience. “Each year, our content divisions sit down to map out their plans, taking into account audience trends, technological developments, budgets, and the tactics of others in their respective markets. Programs are changed, cancelled and replaced. Staff are reassigned, resources re-allocated. This is part of the normal cycle of business.

“But, in responding to the audience challenge, the divisions have identified programming savings that they can reinvest in new content priorities.

“I need to stress this: there will be programming changes, but money saved will be reinvested back into programming,” said Mr Mason.

A reinvestment fund will be ramped up to $20 million for the whole of ABC over a few years. Among the priorities for the fund as outlined in Mr Scott’s communique is the extension of radio streaming to regional areas and the development of the personalised radio player that enables listeners to draw in content from across the ABC’s array of services and to access it in one location.

 

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