Up to 11 Radio National employees may potentially be redundant as a result of recent budget decisions at ABC Radio.
The Manager of Radio National Michael Mason has told radioinfo that findings from the ‘Production Sustainability Project’ (PSP) and the draft 2013 schedule mean that “up to 11 Radio National employees may potentially be redundant. Radio National management is consulting with staff on the potential impacts as a result of the proposed changes and will take all reasonable steps to avoid or minimise redundancies.”
Redundancies could come from areas including Administration, Drama, Features and Operations, and a new network schedule will change a number of program timeslots.
Following a “rigorous analysis and review” of all aspects of RN’s functional areas, including production, operations and administrative support, a Production Sustainability Project (PSP) report discussing the cuts, was recently distributed to staff.
The purpose of the PSP, according to Mason was to “examine and review how RN does what it does to ensure there are equitable and reasonable benchmarks for production standards across the network.”
The aim is to ensure the network is resourced, supported and managed in the best way possible, “so every dollar allocated to the network is spent wisely and effectively.”
Radio National “must operate within its annual allocated budget and it is within this context the PSP review was conducted, with the goal of improving budget management and ensuring diverse production methods are sustainable for the future,” says Mason.
This will assist the network to “operate more effectively within its existing resource footprint.”
The findings of the PSP have suggested that some traditional production models “are not sustainable” according to Mason, who says one of the review’s outcomes will see the network move away from its historical focus on radio plays, which have aired on ABC Radio for the last 80 years.
“Unsustainable production models highlighted in the PSP mean that Airplay, Sunday Story and the Book Reading will not be recommissioned in 2013.”
But radio drama may not be completely dead. Mason says: “A new Creative Audio Unit is being proposed to commission innovative audio performance programs for short, roughly 6 week runs. Today Radio National has announced that audio performances by The Sound Library and Paper Radio will be heard on the network in 2013.”
“RN is strengthening its capacity to generate creative, innovative radio which will showcase a range of interesting new talents for our contemporary audience.”
The draft 2013 Radio National schedule was this week released internally to staff for consideration, with a final schedule to be released in mid November. The schedule is really about choice, says Mason. “We’ve asked what is the best programming we can offer listeners in 2013 and we’re confident the proposed line-up delivers on this.”
The refreshed schedule in 2012 has contributed to an upward trend in listeners tuning in across the year. “It takes time to build an audience and the network is confident that over time Radio National will continue to build its reach and share as new listeners discover the broad range of programming,” says Mason.
The draft schedule features new programs including two new Sunday programs which will air innovative short-run commissioned audio performances such as The Sound Library and Paper Radio.
Several international programs will commence on RN such as the Strand and the Naked Scientists. Refreshed programs include Common Knowledge which will feature more screen culture and the Health Report which will include broader health and wellness issues.
Seven programs will not be returning including the Night Air, the Book Reading, Lingua Franca, Movietime, Airplay, Sunday Story and Creative Instinct which will make way for new programs.
A number of programs will be shifted in the schedule including Common Knowledge which will air at 5.30pm on Friday.
The schedule features “substantial first-run specialist programming, innovative arts coverage, and the return of audience favourites,” says Mason.
“The network remains committed to arts and culture with substantial programming and a range of new programs airing in 2013. RN will feature 18% more original first-run arts and culture programming than last year (2011).”
Australians want to be part of an intelligent dynamic conversation and RN’s hallmark news and current affairs, analysis, ideas and debate, remains strong, according to Mason. “Radio National is not interested in dumbing-down to chase more listeners – the station is strengthening its role as the network for audiences who want a deeper understanding of the world.”
See more on this topic from Tom Morton in our other story.