Rumours of station axing and mergers at ABC denied by management

Senior executives at the ABC are rumoured to be in secret discussions to consider whether to merge some existing radio stations and axing another.

It is said to be part of an effort to find savings in response to a further $84 million in funding cuts to be imposed by the Turnbull government. 

Following speculation that first surfaced in Crikey last month, several ABC sources who spoke to radioinfo on condition of anonymity confirmed that their understanding was that management is considering a merger between Radio National and News Radio. 

Speaking exclusively to radioinfo, ABC Director Regional & Local, Michael Mason strongly denies any such developments. 

“There are no plans to cut or merge existing ABC radio stations, to turn off transmitters, or to replace programming with podcasting,” says Mr Mason.  “The ABC continually assesses the most effective and efficient ways to produce and distribute audio and radio content against fast-paced change in the media environment that is seeing large-scale shifts in how audiences access content.”  

Also under consideration, according to rumours, is the scrapping of ABC Classic FM which would not only save some money but provide the higher rating stations on the ABC Local Network the opportunity to move to the FM band.

“ABC Radio is rightly looking at the long term trends that show a move from AM to FM and from linear broadcasting to digital platforms,” says Mr Mason. “It is wrong to link these discussions with budget cuts.  The pause to the ABC’s indexation announced in this year’s budget won’t come into effect until July 2019.  

“In the meantime, the ABC is preparing its next triennial funding bid for the May 2019 Budget.  We will be presenting the very best case possible for funding that will allow us to continue to produce the range and quality of programming currently offered,” said Mr Mason.

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