CONSOLE: Staff embrace at ABC studios in Ultimo after hearing of the changes. Picture: Wolter PeetersREGIONAL news, current affairs and sports coverage at the ABC will be slashed and more than 400 jobs lost as budget cuts start to bite the public broadcaster.
Managing director Mark Scott has revealed a raft of proposed changes to programming, operations and structures to offset $254 million in lost government funding over the next five years.
About 10 per cent of ABC’s workforce faces the axe, including management, with foreign bureaus restructured and a post opened in Beirut.
“It’s a sad day for all of us – no one takes any joy with the job cuts that we face,” Mr Scott said.
“It’s a very significant job cut and those job cuts are going to have an impact right across the organisation.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied he broke an election pledge not to cut funding to the ABC and SBS.
Mr Abbott insisted his government had “fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people”.
“We never promised special treatment for the ABC or SBS,” he told Parliament on Monday.
Five regional radio posts – in Wagin (WA), Morwell (Vic), Gladstone (Qld), Port Augusta (SA) and Nowra (NSW) – will be shut down, as well as the ABC’s Adelaide television production studio.
As predicted, state editions of the ABC’s 7.30 program will be axed and replaced with a national show on Fridays while Lateline will be moved to a new fixed timeslot on ABC News 24.
ABC TV will scrap its outside broadcast vans, with state-based sports competitions including the women’s soccer and basketball leagues, Sydney club rugby and other state football leagues facing the chop.
Under flagged changes to radio, hourly news bulletins will be halved to five minutes and fewer concerts recorded for ABC Classic FM.
Among the other 40-plus proposals, Radio National’s rural program, Bush Telegraph, will be axed.
Using the savings, Mr Scott said a “war chest” of $20 million would be established to reinvest in online and mobile.
He said he didn’t want the ABC to be viewed as “negligent” down the track when the “revolution was very clear”. AAP