Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Australian broadcaster set for massive restructuring

AFP, SYDNEY

The Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) yesterday announced that it was ditching its traditional television and radio divisions in a vast restructuring aimed at improving digital innovation at the embattled media company.

“The restructure is intended to break down what ABC management sees as increasingly irrelevant platform silos as more people get both their news and entertainment via the Internet in both written, audio and video formats,” ABC said.

From early next year, TV and radio staff will be reorganized into three teams — news, analysis and investigations; entertainment; and regional and local content, it said.

A “content ideas lab” will also be created to foster innovation in new programs and ways of storytelling, it said.

ABC news director Gaven Morris said the overhaul was a reorganization and not another downsizing of the company, which has about 4,700 employees.

“It’s a very rare time at the ABC when you’re allowed to announce ... change to the way we organize ourselves that isn’t attached to a big budget saving or job losses,” he told a meeting of staff to announce the changes.

“This exercise today is about making sure we work collectively and in better and smarter ways to serve our audience,” ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie said.

She said the move was not a “dumbing down” exercise, but an “evolution” for the digital age.

However, the ideas network Radio National split up between will be made to compete for budgets with television and digital, a development that radio executives said would diminish its specialist knowledge and creativity.

The ABC has had to shed hundreds of jobs in the past four years as conservative governments cut its funding by more than A$250 million (US$190 million). Its annual budget now stands at about A$1 billion.

The public broadcaster has also come under attack from commercial media, which say it is using taxpayer funds to compete with them for online audiences.

Additional reporting by the Guardian

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