ABC restructures divisions around content not output

As a result of new proposals outlined today by ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, there will no longer be a Radio Division within the ABC.

In future, program makers will be organised around content rather than transmission output.

Guthrie held a short staff meeting in Melbourne at midday today announcing the beginning of a consultation process to implement the new proposals. The meeting was streamed around the ABC internal network and was viewed by staff at similar meetings in all state capitals. Regional staff were able to view the presentation on their desk tops.

Once the MD finished her ‘chat’ with staff, then senior Director level managers continued on with state based staff meetings to explain the details of the new structure and how it would affect program makers and other staff.

Content makers will be organised into teams of subject matter specialists which produce creative outputs across all ABC formats, devices and platforms. The proposed new structure does not include any job losses, cuts to programs or any reduction in networks.

The proposed new structure will be based on three main teams:

  • News, Analysis & Investigations, led by Gaven Morris, currently Director, News. The team will be responsible for state coverage, network news and investigations and in-depth reporting.
  • Entertainment & Specialist, led by current ABC Director Television, David Anderson. This team will include children’s content, music and creative development, factual and entertainment, drama, comedy and indigenous programming.
  • Regional & Local, led by current Director Radio, Michael Mason, will include rural and regional teams, capital city and regional productions.

The ABC will also introduce a new Content Ideas Lab responsible for incubating initiatives to introduce ABC content to new audiences, led by Angela Stengel.

In Sydney Michael Mason and David Anderson hosted the NSW Staff meeting, while Gaven Morris hosted the Victorian meeting. Other Directors held similar meetings in other states.

Staff who attended the meetings have told radioinfo they were expecting the restructure to shift the focus from transmission outputs to content creation because there has been internal discussion about that for some time. Most of the discussions in the staff meetings centred around how the changes would be implemented in practice. Smaller meetings are now continuing this afternoon in each state to discuss the changes in more details with individual program making groups.

“Technology is unlocking new ways for consumers to be informed, educated and entertained,” said Michelle Guthrie in her presentation today.

“Australian audiences are responding by embracing new formats, devices and platforms and increasingly demanding control of their viewing and listening schedules. The changes we are announcing today adapt to meet these shifts in technology and audience behaviour, and give our people the freedom to grasp the opportunities that await.”

One of the common criticisms of big national broadcasters such as the ABC is that there is a lot of duplication of content creation processes across various platforms. The restructure aims to minimise that, according to Guthrie:

“The new structure will reduce overlap between ABC people covering the same subjects for multiple programs and platforms, and instead free them to focus on creating impactful, value adding stories that can reach audiences however and wherever they choose to engage. The result will be extended reach and relevance, a better experience for our audience and an ABC that, in a fragmented landscape, provides the critical space for debate, dialogue and ideas.”

Michelle Guthrie says the structure delivers on the ABC’s Charter at a time of rapid change.

“By keeping what is central – our Charter, our sense of public service and our presence across the nation – and purposefully adapting the way we work to meet the changing expectations of our audiences, we can deepen our connection to citizens.

“In a time of unprecedented disruption, the ABC’s role is more important than ever. It means there is a heavy onus on us to ensure we make the right decisions to maintain relevance and value,” she said.

The new structure has been developed in consultation with ABC content leaders and follows the Investing In Audiences strategy announced in March 2017.

It will take effect early next year following consultation with ABC employees.


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