April 19, 2008
A bizarre and worrying rumour has emerged.
Crikey is reporting that the ABC is secretly planning to sell off it’s 40+ ABC Shops, possibly to Dymocks, which already operate some of the more than 60 ‘ABC Centres’, within their bookshops.
Such a move seems ridiculous. Why would you sell off the only aspect of the Corporation which makes, rather than spends, money?
Could it perhaps be an identification by ABC Commercial Head Lynley Marshall of the inefficiency and poor management quality of those at the top of the ABC Shop hierarchy? Possibly. Or could she have lookd at the BBC Shops, which were recently closed in favour of an online store? Already ABC Shop Online makes more profit per annum than any other ABC Shop, with the exception of the flagship ‘Queen Victoria Building’ store in Sydney’s CBD.
This news comes on top of the plan to outsource production staff at the ABC (which Crikey estimates could involve the sacking of around 800 staff). The ABC will certainly be a far leaner organisation if these plans come to fruition…but will it be for the better in the long run?
April 19, 2008
On the eve of the 2020 summit in Canberra, the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott, has unveiled his vision for the state of the National Broadcaster in 2020.
Mr Scott aims to have 6 television channels, including the previously announced ABC3 children’s channel, ABC4: a 24/7 News Channel, ABC5: an educational channel and ABC6: a ‘best of’ channel.
Expansion of the radio networks is also planned, with new stations focussing on Country, Jazz, Swing, Hip-Hop, Metal, Childrens, Rural, Sport and Health.
Further expansion of online services is also advocated.
The central aims of the Corporation will be under the following banners: Universal, Local, International, Quality and Diversity, Innovation and Australian.
Of course all this is only possible if the ABC funding is increased to an adequate level, with July 2009 the date of the next triennial funding agreement starting.
The full vision is avaialble to read here: http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/documents/2020_ABC_in_the_Digital_Age.pdf
April 19, 2008
A thought-provoking fantasy novel offering a highly imaginative perspective on Jesus, betrayal and death has won the 2008 ABC Fiction Award.
The winner of this year’s ABC Fiction Award is Adelaide-based high-school teacher Kain Massin. His novel God for the Killing follows the story of heroine Judith, who was snatched from Nazareth as a child and trained as an assassin by the Romans. Judith finds herself in Judaea 30 AD. charged with a mission to kill the new Messiah, whom she soon learns is actually Joshua, her childhood sweetheart.
Beating 400 entries, God for the Killing was selected by four judges who unanimously agreed upon God for the Killing as the winning entrant for 2008. The judges this year were Lindy Burns, Luke Davies, Murray Waldren and Jo Mackay.
God for the Killing will be published later in 2008 by ABC Books and Kain will receive his cheque for $10,000 and the Award from Mark Scott, ABC Managing Director, at a function in Sydney on Tuesday 22 April.
(Source: ABC Media Release)
March 26, 2008
Today ABC Managing Director Mark Scott revealed that recent rumours about ABC outsourcing television production were true.
”I think the future for the ABC is to create some programs on its own, to create other programs of partnership,” he said.
“When we do that though, we need to ensure that all the productions we do – done in partnership or done internally – are done to the high standards that the ABC sets – our editorial policies, high standards for integrity and quality.”
However others, particularly the ABC staff union, are concerned that this will mean a loss of the ABC’s unique programming streams.
Graeme Thompson from the union explains: “If the ABC becomes nothing more than a broadcasting stick or tower for other people’s programs, it’s going to be increasingly hard to distinguish what’s different about the ABC from its commercial competitors.”
Worrying indeed. How would ‘Compass’ be altered if created by an outside production company? Less willing to be honest? Less broad in its spectrum of interest? We already know what a ‘Catalyst’ programme would look like if made by outsiders – it happened in 2001 when Jonathan Shier axed ‘Quantum’ and replaced it with a bought programme. The resulting disaster of a programme led to ‘Catalyst’ being commissioned. Let us hope that Kim Dalton learns the lessons of history…
March 25, 2008
Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC has announced that ABC Radio journalist Elizabeth Jackson (not to be confused with Liz Jackson) has been awarded the 2008 Donald McDonald ABC Scholarship to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford.
Elizabeth has worked for the ABC for 16 years, and hosts Correspondents Report on Radio National, as well as being the host and Executive Producer of Saturday AM.
As part of her Oxford studies, Elizabeth will investigate international Freedom of Information legislation as a fundamental part of investigative journalism. Elizabeth will have the opportunity to study the FOI laws in the UK and Europe, and closely analyse the ability for this legislation to allow journalists to break significant national and international stories.
The award has been given each year since 1999, and was renamed in 2006 in honour of Donald McDonald, the former Chairman of the corporation.
March 13, 2008
Not quite, but as part of the previously mentionned ‘Continuous News Centre’, the ABC is planning to launch a breakfast news service on ABC2. This service, which will be quite distinct from ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Today’ will essentially use new means to deliver existing news content to the channel.
An example would be broadcasting an interview whcih aired on ABC Radio’s ‘AM’ programme. This type of delivery will be essential, as the ABC is funding all its new ventures from existing revenue.
Regardless, it will be an interesting development, and could be a stepping stone to a fuller service down the track.
March 12, 2008
The ABC today has begun the process of launching some brand new channels.
First was the launch of ‘ABC playback’. ‘ABC Playback’ allows internet users with fast (ADSL2) download speeds access to tv quality downloads of ABC programmes.
Second is the ‘ABC Shop Player’, which allows internet users to purchase programmes which are on sale at ABC Shops. This service bridges the gap between the old style of retail, and genuine online trading. This service will expand in time and include many archived programmes.
Finally is ‘ABC Real’, which will allow users to watch the ABC’s huge natural history documentary archives, in all their glory.
A further, and some would argue more interesting development has also come to light – the ABC is launching a 24 hour news service….but only internally. Not in any way a traditional channel, more of a resource, however it lays the groundwork to enable a future news channel to operate. Something which would be most welcome by many people.
In addition, the local radio website relaunches, as mentionned in previous blog posts here has launched today, though with errors on most pages. Working to a deadline for a massive project can do that. No doubt the web development team will be hard at work over the coming weeks fixing the errors. Regardless, it is a fantastic addition to the ABC’s online presence.
March 11, 2008
Fresh from renaming ‘JTV’ to the cumbersome ‘Triple J TV’, Triple J have launched a brand new website. www.triplej.net.au now utilises far more flash animation, and integrates all of the Triple J operations.
A facelift for the ’4 Corners’ website, which has a new producer, Sue Spencer, and has increased its viewers this year, is in the works. The model will be that of other news sites such as the ’7.3O Report’ site, with greater emphasis on video.
By far, though, the biggest facelift will be for local radio. www.abc.net.au/local will be launch pad for the biggest web development task the ABC has undertaken. Each local radio station will get a new site (Perth being first) and each site will offer not only local radio details, but specialised local news and information pages. As well as a greater emphasis on podcasting and streaming. The red colour scheme will be retained for the radio stations, but the overall look of the local sites will be green and black.
The ABC is also close to launching a website where viewers can download or stream classic ABC programmes…for a fee. The need to raise revenue coupled with the demand for archival material is behind the move. New programmes will continue to be free to watch online, for the time being.
The ABC has received more than 2400 formal complaints since the introduction of the new ‘prominant’ watermark last month. Changes have already been made, and there are suggestions that more radical changes are on their way in response to the complaints.
The ABC has joined with a consortium which includes Deloitte, Intel and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association in a bid to find new and unique digital content and concepts. The group sought and gained the input of the ABC, due to its unrivalled success in the digital and new media environment. More information is available at the group website www.aimia.com.au/innovatives
January 26, 2008
Dr Ron Brunton, who has been a controversial member of the ABC’s board is about to depart the organisation.
His term will come to an end in just 3 months, and will give the Rudd Government it’s first opportunity to make an appointment to the ABC Board, since it formed government in late November.
Dr Brunton’s appointment was criticised due to his conservative background. This criticism was to continue for several years as the former Coalition government made repeated appointments to the board from conservative ‘Cultural Warriors’, who were often some of the largest critics of the ABC.
It will be a test of the new government to see if it can avoid making a ‘political’ appointment. During the election campaign the Labor Party promised to make board appointments fairer….it will be interesting to see if that promise is fulfilled.