Concert no display of ABC commitment. There’s “supreme irony” in successful doco Mrs Carey’s Concert airing on ABC1 this Sunday, according to a TV insider. It was rejected by ABC’s documentary commissioner, they rightly point out, but “snuck in through the door of Arts & Entertainment led by Amanda Duthie”. The film has generated some $1 million at the box office to become one of the most successful documentaries in years. And in a subject area the ABC is under fire for neglecting — the arts. Writes our mole:

“The irony is Connolly learnt his trade in the documentary department of the ABC making dozens of documentaries in-house in an environment that nurtured talent and paid them a living wage. This world that believed that excellence came with training, practice and rigour has long been replaced by the ABC freelance model which delivers documentaries cheaply to the ABC but creates a world of underemployed, underpaid and poorly resourced documentarists.

“If ever there was an argument for re-establishing a centre of excellence back in the ABC it would be in documentary. It would not prevent the ABC from still commissioning documentaries from the independent sector but would provide a hybrid model of production. The board should be clambering for it. The cost would be small and the impact great. Or is this melody just going to be silenced by expedience and mediocrity?”

Manne v The Oz: response soon. Apart from some sniping in Cut and Paste, The Australian has been strangely silent on Robert Manne’s forensic Quarterly Essay work on the News Limited broadsheet. But we’re told a published response is forthcoming — “chapter-by-chapter” according to one source. Stay tuned.

Job cuts at News? Union nervous. The journalists’ union is seeking urgent talks with News Limited executives over reports — first published in Crikey — of significant cost cuts across its titles. “We note that the company intends to implement a staff hiring freeze and cost reduction targets. These moves are clearly decisions which trigger your consultation obligations,” the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance writes to News Ltd Group Editorial Director Campbell Reid. Could we see News hacks rise like the disgruntled Fairfax workforce?

Caps grounding flights in Sydney. Are ready-to-fly flights sitting idly on the tarmac in Sydney because of government-mandated movement caps, as we suggested yesterday? Seems so, writes another frequent flier: “I was on a morning flight to Canberra several weeks ago and we were in a line of about 10 planes on the taxiway with engines running waiting to take off. The pilot came on and told us we would have to wait for about 20 minutes before our turn would come; after about 20 minutes he came back on and said we were next but that nobody could go for another 10 minutes as the 80 movements per hour cap had been reached and we had to wait 10 minutes until a new hour opened up, so we sat with engines running for another 10 minutes and then took off right on cue.”

And another: “I flew from LA last night to Brisbane, but there was a flight an hour earlier to Sydney. Both were held up an hour due to, the announcer said, the pilot not wanting to arrive before the curfew time in Sydney. The Sydney people boarded on time and then sat in loading dock for about 45 minutes I think.”

Time Sydney had a second airport? We’ll ask our aviation man Ben Sandilands for an explanation …

Red-y for new Qantas fleet. Will Qantas’ new all-frills Asian service been dubbed RedQ, as several sources are saying today? We know there’s plenty of aviation moles out there — let us know what you’ve heard.

Peter Fray

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