New content positions created as Guthrie’s strategy implemented
It was in March the ABC announced a significant restructure, cutting up to 200 jobs to create a $50 million Content Fund and new positions in regional areas as part the ABC’s Investing in Audiences strategy
Managing director Michelle Guthrie delivered the news the ABC would cut management positions by an average of 20% across the organisation. Other positions would go as part of an attempt to reduce duplication in support roles.
Regional positions have since opened up and today ABC Head of Radio Michael Mason announced further moves as the strategy continues to be implemented.
In a memo to staff it has been revealed that nine ABC Radio management position would go, two of which are currently vacant, with new content positions created. See the full text of the memo, obtained by radioinfo, below.
The announcement also includes the creation of ABC Audio Studios in Brisbane to build on Radio National‘s podcasting platform.
You will see from the MD’s email this morning we are progressing with our Investing in Audiences strategy that was announced in March. This is a very exciting time for the ABC, with investment in content and audiences being the focus for the whole organisation. In radio, we are at a pivotal point in realising our 2020 goal of being the home of First Choice Audio.
Michelle has announced a further $2.9 million investment in new content and digital development for science, education, and the arts, which will result in new content positions across the corporation. The level of investment in Radio is very positive: six new content roles in Science (based in RN) and one in Music (based in triple j networks) producing content for the benefit of broader ABC audiences.
These are tangible results of the ABC’s refocus away from management and support layers and into content.
The Investing in Audiences strategy outlines our vision for the ABC. While there is a strong focus on investing in content and audiences, it also foreshadows a streamlined leadership group, a reduction in management layers, and removal of duplication where it exists in the business.
The new ABC structure has been designed to help us to move faster and be more effective in delivering this new strategy, reduce silos and work more collaboratively. It will also allow us to return money to content, by contributing the savings to the new GIG content fund. Once individual proposals have been finalised and consultation is complete, we anticipate that around 80% of the savings will come from support teams with the remainder coming from content teams.
In Radio, like all parts of the organisation, we need also to reduce management and invest in content creation. We have our own challenges, including audience retention, maintaining relevance in the coming years. We also have the most passionate and committed people in the ABC. You all know our audiences intimately. You also understand the speed of change that is happening around us and you always work hard to make the changes that are needed to realise our goal of being the source of First Choice Audio.
Today I am sharing with you Radio’s proposal for making the changes we believe are needed to contribute to the Investing in Audiences strategy. All content teams have already or will be doing the same this week. Our support team are close to completing their contribution.
Our proposal is the result of an intensive process over the past few months to align the structure of our music teams and to collect and assess the feedback of the RN team in workshops we’ve been running this year.
The proposal will open for a period of consultation for affected staff. It represents an overall reduction in staff of nine roles, two of which are currently vacant.
A further seven staff will transfer from Radio into central ABC support teams, which have already commenced the process of reducing management layers.
Introducing these types of changes is never easy. I will work with the impacted teams over the coming weeks to ensure that we work through this proposal constructively and respectfully. Following is a high level summary of the proposal and more detail will be provided to impacted team.
Linda Bracken will move from Content & Digital to take on a senior role in the Audiences team. We are delighted that her understanding of radio can be applied to a wider ABC audience. We will not be replacing her in this role.
Jeremy Millar will move to a central ABC position within the Strategy and Transformation team. We will not be replacing this role in Radio. Similarly, Deb Moriceau, from the Project Management Office (PMO), is moving to a role within the Strategy and Transformation team and will also not be replaced within Radio.
As mentioned earlier in the year, Jane Connors, Head of Editorial Quality and Governance, has moved to the Editorial Polices team. Our other editorial policy advisor Mary Masey has left the ABC, and won’t be replaced. The role of Strategic Communications Manager, Radio, moves into the Engagement Team.
Radio’s Business Management positions held by Sam Guthleben and Van Tran will move into the Finance Team.
You can review the current and new Radio Executive organisation charts here.
Spoken Content team
It is proposed that RN genre specialisation will be managed by a group of Editors. Within the current structure there are Editors and Content Directors who both manage teams of staff. Therefore, it is proposed to remove the management layer of Content Directors and Deputy Editor Journalism and Topical.
The duties of Content Directors will be absorbed by existing RN Editors. These Editors will be strong editorial leaders who will manage our specialist genre output.
This will result in three management positions leaving RN. Staff impacted by this change have been spoken to this morning and have been informed of the process that will follow in the coming days.
Removing this duplication will allow for greater autonomy and faster, more audience-focused decision making. The redirection of resources away from management positions will contribute savings from which contribute directly to the GIG content fund to produce creative and innovative ideas in programming and services that will help us reach new audiences and broaden the reach of the ABC.
The proposed investment into specialist genres will result in the creation of six new roles in the Science Digital Team, reporting to the Editor, Science. This includes four digital reporters covering specialist science, health and lifestyle, environment and technology, as well as a Video/Social Media Producer and a cadetship to be recruited from Regional Australia. Though based with the Science group in RN, these new roles will produce content on behalf of the wider ABC.
We have decided not to fill the currently-vacant role of Manager, Capital City Radio Group. James O’Brien, who’s been acting in the role, will return to his substantive position which has been re-designed to include leadership of Radio Australia and Operations for the Spoken team.
Following this decision, Local Managers of capital city stations will report directly to the Head of Spoken. They will collaborate as a national team on strategy, logistics, and vision. They will also be more closely engaged in Emergency Broadcasting in their capital cities. As a result, it has been proposed to remove the Manager Emergency Services and Community Development position. This change has no impact on our commitment to emergency broadcasting; it is simply a better use of resources which allows a more localised response.
There is work underway with the JACA (Joint Audio and Current Affairs project) and Capital City project which will see News and Radio collaborating more effectively with each other in each State and Territory. As a result, it is anticipated that further changes will be announced once the detail has been worked through on these projects.
Radio & Regional Training
The Radio-Regional Training Team of Roisin McCann, Justine Kelly and Fiona Churchman will move to the Engagement Team. The role of Manager of Radio and Regional Training is no longer required in the centralised structure and Justine McSweeney will be taking a redundancy as of 26 June.
We propose to make changes to Operations reporting lines across Local and RN teams to a shared service model, forming one Operations group that works across the entire Spoken team. Uniting network technical and production support together under one area will allow more efficient sharing of resources across the Spoken group. Under this new combined Operations structure it is also proposed to abolish the Radio Facilities Manager position.
ABC Audio Studios
Continuing our focus on audiences and content, this proposal sees the creation of ABC Audio Studios. Building on the success as RN as a podcast innovator this proposal brings together some of our most creative content makers, we are consolidating our current long form Radio Features team and the podcast content team from Content and Digital into a combined team focused on new digital audio content targeting key audience gaps and delivering rich content for RN’s linear schedule. This is an exciting development that will showcase the work and celebrate their expertise. Kellie Riordan will move across from Content & Digital to lead this new department from Brisbane.
We are still planning the final structure and workflows for the new Spoken Ops and Audio Studios teams. We are very keen to get your feedback and involvement so we can achieve the best possible output. Spoken Ops, RN Features, and the podcast content team will shortly receive invitations to join a series of workshops. Please get involved.
Content & Digital
We are proposing to move the content teams that currently sit in Content & Digital over to the Spoken team. More detail on this will follow in Judith Whelan’s email. FollowingLinda Bracken’s new senior role in Audiences, Angela Stengel will step up to the Radio Executive as Product Development Lead with carriage of digital product development and distribution. Angela will continue the focus on digital strategy, particularly around the development of ABC Listen.
Today’s proposal seeks to simplify the leadership structure of ABC Classic FM to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the team.
It is proposed that the Content Director position will no longer be required as part of this change. There will be a new position called EP Programs which will support the Classic FM senior team. This will streamline editorial processes and communication, and align the Classic FM management roles with their network music counterparts at triple j.
We propose to abolish the position of Senior Producer in Melbourne. We will combine this responsibility with the Senior Producer in Sydney, and evolve the role to a national Executive Producer of Music Production.
I appreciate that there has been a lot of change over the past year or so, and that we’re asking you to work with more. As already mentioned by the MD in other communications this year and again today, over the next few months we will be looking at what the right content structure is for the ABC to deliver on our audience strategy.
Some of our colleagues have received the news today that their positions will be affected by these changes. It is always hard to lose strong, committed staff and I do want to acknowledge how difficult this process can be.
Your Input – Shaping the New Structure and Getting Your Feedback
We will send invites out shortly to RN teams who are impacted by this proposal. These feedback sessions will take place next week and are your opportunity to feed back on the proposal.
Classic FM teams will be spoken to individually or in location groups on Thursday and Friday.
Teams within Local, triple j networks and Content & Digital should use their scheduled regular updates to provide feedback.
As ever, please take the opportunity to speak to your manager if you would prefer a 1:1 conversation.
We will also be sending out workshop invitations shortly for staff who will be working in the Audio Studios and Operations teams. I strongly encourage you to take part. These facilitated workshops will map out the final objectives, purpose, shape and structure of these teams and your input is critical. More information about these workshops will be shared by Judith Whelan in her note to the Spoken Content team.
Judith, Chris, and Linda will write to their teams today with more detail about what these changes will mean.”