ABC local and regional radio will be back under Sydney control next week when all of the senior management roles are taken up by people in NSW.

On Monday Michael Mason, the Melbourne based head of local and regional radio, will be replaced by two Sydney based managers as Mason becomes group program director.

He will be replaced by the new head of metropolitan radio, Jeremy Millar and the new head of regional radio, Tony Rasmussen, who will share offices in Sydney’s Ultimo studios.

The director of radio, Kate Dundas, is also in Sydney, as is the national local radio editor, Andy Henley.

In its defence, the ABC argues that Mason’s new role is not a demotion and that he will be “the person who firmly steers and shapes the sound and the programming of networks.” The ABC says he will “work closely across all networks, national and local, and with all the senior managers who are spread across all states.”

But one ABC broadcaster has told Crikey that Mason will not run any network and that therefore Melbourne has effectively surrendered control to Sydney.

For a while Melbourne had enjoyed some clout, when Sue Howard was director of radio and was based at the ABC’s Melbourne headquarters in Southbank.

As of next week the only major radio management roles based in Melbourne will be head of ABC International (due to the city’s association with Radio Australia), the acting head of ABC Classic FM and the manager of digital radio.

ABC Melbourne insiders have criticised the Sydney takeover of metropolitan and regional radio because they argue that Melbourne’s 774 is much more successful than Sydney’s 702 and because it is unhealthy for a national broadcaster to be so Sydney centric.

They say the ABC has reverted to form, despite years of criticism about its centralised structure. In the 1990s the ABC was often labelled the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation and was the subject of a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria when the Kennett Government was scathing about its failure to serve states outside NSW.

An ABC spokesperson told Crikey that neither of the roles replacing Mason’s old job “were advertised as Sydney based” and “people applied from five different states but the two successful candidates, based on merit, were people residing in Sydney. Had they been from elsewhere, they and the position would have been located there.”