Closures and mergers rumoured to be under consideration at ABC | radioinfo

Closures and mergers rumoured to be under consideration at ABC

Wednesday 30 May, 2018

Following the $84.7 million in budget cuts imposed on the ABC by the Turnbull government in the 2018-19 budget, reports are circulating that closures and mergers are being considered by the national broadcaster. 

Media outlet Crikey (paywalled) reports that while the proposals are just that at the moment, 'what is being discussed ould bring about the most radical changes for the corporation in decades.'

Reports suggest that the merging of Radio National and ABC News Radio is being actively discussed, along with a proposal to close, or severely cut, Classic FM.

'Another area of possible cuts is in the regional radio and TV networks with offices and bureaus being closed (as regional TV and radio broadcasters have done such as WIN, Prime and Southern Cross).'

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie said when the budget cuts were announced that they could not be absorbed by efficiency measures alone.

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ex ABC
30 May 2018 - 4:01pm
Oh dear, another outlet that don't know the difference between "cuts" and "freeze". You'll be saying the ABC only costs 4 cents a day next (do the math!)
Anthony The Koala
1 June 2018 - 4:31pm
Budget cuts to the ABC are not new. It happened in the 1976-1977 budget where Mr Fraser's government froze funding to the organization. The ABC still survived and will survive.

Consider the financial period 1976-1977 and beyond to the mid 1980s, a lot of ABC TV programming in the mid-morning and afternoons consisted of broadcasting the Philips PM5544 test-pattern with music.Today we seem to be doing more with less.

I've said elsewhere leave Radio National ('RN') alone. The rumour listed above on the possible merger of Radio National and NewsRadio is very vague. Some of NewsRadio's programs are replays of RN's. Does it mean close the NewsRadio frequency and 'lump' it onto RN's programming or vice-versa?

The ABC is broadcasting more content via extra TV channels, 22, 23, 24, extra radio DAB channels, Jazz, Country, Grandstand, 'Extra'/'Kids'. It also has a web-streaming presence not even contemplated in 1976-1977.

Some cuts to consider:
Do we need channels 22 and 23 where the non-evening services are similar? Perhaps amalgamate some of the digital tv services to save costs and put ABC-classic fm on digital-only (DAB) but with a high data rate. With the latter, the ABC could save money and reduce CO2 emissions by eliminating the VHF transmissions of ABC-fm.

Speaking of reducing CO2 emissions, why do the ABC metropolitan radio stations need 50kW transmissions when other stations seem to do well on 5kW transmitters. Some savings there in energy costs. Even ABC transmitters in the rural areas are broadcasting 50kW , the other stations seem to survive running on 2kW and 5kW.

The hierarchical nature of a public service organization:
When there are talks of cuts to ABC services, it seems that the programming output gets the greater proportion of the cuts than the rest of the organization. My academic guess is the real costs are due to the hierarchical nature of a public-service type organization.

During the industrial dispute of the early 1990s, someone I knew working at the ABC then said " the the number of managers have increased at the expense of people doing the work." To put it another way, change the nature of the hierarchical structures. Give the worker more autonomy, pay them a little more and flatten the hierarchy and leave the managers to organize the rosters.

In sum, the ABC when facing costs, could look at amalgamating channels 22 and 23, moving ABC-classic to DAB only, reduce the transmissions costs and reduce CO2 by reducing transmitting power and flatten the hierarchy.

I would rather have that than calls by News Ltd's media outlets to eliminate the ABC because it against News Ltd's interests. Those calls have been around for decades.

Anthony of Belfield
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