Up to 250 jobs to go at Australian public broadcaster, programming axed

4:37 pm on 24 June 2020

The ABC will axe up to 250 jobs and cut programming as it deals with budget cuts of $84 million.

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Photo: AFP

Managing director David Anderson said 75 percent of ABC content-makers would be based outside the organisation's Ultimo headquarters in Sydney by 2025.

He said funding would be reallocated to ensure the ABC was more relevant to more Australians and better reflect the diversity within the community.

Anderson said redundancies and savings would affect every division across the ABC.

He said there would be changes to executive staffing, but did not offer any details.

"We anticipate we may farewell as many as 250 colleagues through this process," he told staff in a briefing.

The public broadcaster had already flagged that it would shed about 250 jobs due to a three-year funding indexation pause announced by the Federal Government in 2018.

Anderson said the ABC's flagship 7:45am radio news bulletins would end and be replaced by a five-minute bulletin at 8:00am. A 10-minute bulletin at 7:00am will remain.

Other changes include:

  • Lifestyle website ABC Life will become ABC Local and have a "broader editorial direction".
  • ABC News Channel programs will be reviewed
  • Spending on external and independent television productions will be cut by $5 million a year
  • The ABC Comedy television channel will be rebranded to cater for a broader array of programs and content
  • ABC Life editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran said on Twitter that her team would be halved under the change.

"It's devastating news and the details are unclear right now, but what I know for sure is I'm really proud of what we've built, telling diverse stories the ABC has never told before," she said.

The ABC will spend $5 million less each year on external television productions. Its travel budget will be cut by 25 percent.

After the indexation freeze announced in the 2018 budget, then-managing director Michelle Guthrie said the organisation had faced $254 million in cuts since 2014.

Anderson said additional savings would come from the restructure of executive teams and possibly leasing spare office space in the Sydney Ultimo headquarters.

The changes were announced as part of the ABC's new five-year plan, the main focus of which is pivoting the corporation towards on-demand and digital services, and being "more relevant to more Australians".

"To be more relevant we need the ABC to be in more communities," Anderson said.

"This is a difficult time for everyone. But the changes we have announced today are necessary to ensure the continuation of the essential services we provide in an increasingly challenging global media market.

"The changes we make today will strengthen our position for the next five years and beyond."

The ABC job losses come in the wake of a series of cuts and restructures at other Australian media organisations this year, bringing with them hundreds of job losses.

The Australian Associated Press newswire was saved from impending closure after a group of investors and philanthropists stepped in, offering to buy the business.

In May, News Corp announced a major restructure that will see almost all of its community and regional newspaper titles move to a digital-only format.

Earlier this year, online news site Buzzfeed shut down its Australian operations and Network 10 closed its website 10Daily