ABC CUTS | Broadcast channels under review – ABC Comedy gone – Foxtel access slashed – 250 staff depart

The ABC has confirmed it will rebrand the ABC Comedy channel and remove state-based television feeds from the Foxtel satellite platform as part of a series of service cuts announced today.

The ABC announced the cuts today which will see approximately 250 staff depart the government broadcaster as it looks to achieve $84 Million in savings over the next three years.

Currently, the ABC broadcast’s four television channels and four radio networks across the country. As part of today’s announcement, ABC Managing Director David Anderson confirmed there would not be “a reduction in the number of broadcast channels across radio and television,” in the near future.

The organisation will however continue to focus its investment in moving content online and, “across the next 5 years, we will advance our planning to achieve transmission savings by reducing broadcast services as audience behaviour continues to evolve.”

As part of the changes, the ABC Comedy broadcast channel will soon be rebranded and relaunched with a new format including content from across Arts, Science, Education and Religion genres. The ABC Comedy brand is expected to remain as a dedicated section within iview.

Also confirmed today was a decision to replace all state-based television services on the Foxtel satellite platform with a single national feed from Sydney.

The move means Foxtel satellite customers outside of NSW will soon need to use a free-to-air antenna, or access live streaming via iview if they wish to watch their local 7pm news service, or watch content programmed for their local timezone.

The ABC recently launched a version on the iview app for Foxtel iq3 and iq4 users.

The cuts will also see reduced spending in independent production by approximately $5million p.a. The cuts will predominately affect factual and entertainment programming. The ABC has indicated it will look to give priority to Drama and Children’s content.

The ABC has also indicated it seek to reduce costs by focussing the commissioning of first run content across a reduced 42 week period of the year. A move that will see the ABC rely more heavily on repeat content during the summer non-ratings period.

Commenting on the cuts, Managing Director David Anderson stated:

Announced in 2018, the indexation pause will reduce our budget by $84 million over three years and result in an ongoing reduction of $41 m per annum from FY2021-22, which comes into effect in July next year. This is on top of $64 million of ongoing cuts that were imposed on us in 2014.

In real terms this means our operational funding will be more than 10% lower in 2021-22 than it was in 2013.

It is true that many traditional media businesses are facing revenue challenges at present.

In common with those commercial businesses, the ABC also needs to evolve our digital services to stay relevant. We will always look for efficiencies to reinvest in services.

Unlike other commercial providers, the ABC is a public good. We are a public media service with our independence enshrined in legislation, and a Charter to serve the interests of all Australians.

While digital disruption would have brought change to the ABC in any event, there is no doubt that the cumulative effect of funding cuts are an extraordinary strain on our ability to meet community expectations.

You can read the full statement here.

Kevin Perry
Co-Creator and Editor of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. | Call/Text 0428 275 111

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