A broad group of community organisations has protested outside the ABC studios in Sydney today as the ABC board met.
The groups are concerned the ABC is failing to meet its charter obligations and senior management is genuinely not listening to staff or responding to the needs of its audience.
Prior to the protest radioinfo spoke with Murray Renshaw and Margaret Lund from the Friends of the ABC, Blue Mountains Division.
Renshaw had a clear message for Michelle Guthrie, “You’re going to destroy the ABC and the listeners are going to be the losers.”
The CPSU’s ABC Section Secretary Sinddy Ealy was first to address the crowd delivering a message from ABC staff.
“I would like to share with you what the staff want you to hear but they can’t publicly say.”
We love the ABC, we want it to prosper. We are loyal and committed employees. We believe in the intrinsic value of public broadcasting and we strive to provide quality programs and services that deliver n the ABC charter.
We embrace change and adapt and reinvent ourselves on a continuing basis. Don’t be fooled that this is not a change-resistant workforce.
We strongly believe in the ABC’s digital future and will continue to do so but we do not support abandoning our existing communities and audiences to get there.
“The CPSU has a long and proud history of standing up for the ABC and its workers.
It’s been advocating for the ABC and its staff since the ABC was first incepted in 1932 – we have been here from day and dot and we are not going anywhere.”
Radio veteran Geoff Horsnell spoke on the Impact of regional and rural communities on cancelling 95% of music from Radio National.
“We have been told you can access alternatives on DAB+ radio, digital streaming stations, digital TV audio streams but this is premature and ignores rural listeners.
“We know Radio National via its AM and FM signals across Australia reaches most of Australia’s rural community with a strong, portable accessible signal, a great platform for RN music.
“So let’s look at the three alternatives they are telling us to listen to instead of RN. Digital DAB+ Radio – a really nice radio signal but it can only be heard in five capital cities and shortly Darwin and Canberra. There are no specific plans by CRA in conjunction with the ABC to roll out DAB+ to rural communities.
“Digital streaming. Yes, it is part of the future and we are all supporting that but it’s just a delivery system with the usual benefits and problems of any delivery system. Our supporters regularly report problems with reception, loss of streaming, dropping to 3G, slow internet and poor mobile phone reception.
“Not everyone can afford a smartphone with a fat data contract to stream. Digital TV audio. It requires a big aerial in the bush in many cases and its plugged into the wall, it’s not portable and it’s not radio.
“We love the ABC, its content, its character which why we really don’t understand why they deleted 95% of RN music and not replaced it on a comparable delivery system especially to rural and regional listeners.
“This rush to digital platforms is very premature.”
Groups have been invited to appear at the senate hearing of the ABC Rural and Regional Advocacy Bill, at a public hearing on March 6.
“We will be there and we will continue our campaign.”
The ABC has declined to comment on the protestors’ allegations at this time.