ABC Radio National will lose seven programs and 11 staff in a cost-cutting overhaul designed to save $1 million from the station’s budget.
As foreshadowed by Crikey
yesterday, radio drama program Airplay
is getting axed. Other programs to get the chop from the draft 2013 schedule
, The Book Reading
, Sunday Story
, Creative Instinct
, Lingua Franca
and The Night Air
In an email to all staff
sent on Tuesday afternoon, RN manager Michael Mason said, “Radio plays and book readings have, for many years, faced declining audience numbers, while remaining an expensive activity for the network. We continue to believe very strongly that ratings are not the only measure for RN, but the decline in listenership does indicate a lack of engagement in radio plays amongst our audience.”
Mason told Crikey
this afternoon that 11 jobs are expected to be made redundant: five from the drama department, three from features, two from operations and one from administration.
He says the station will continue to promote creative audio storytelling, but in more experimental ways than traditional radio dramas.
The controversial changes to this year’s RN schedule — which included the addition of high-profile hosts such as Waleed Aly, Julian Morrow and former Sydney Morning Herald
journalist Andrew West — were funded by a one-off top-up of around $1 million from the ABC Radio division. Radio National, with an annual budget of $17 million, traditionally runs just over or just under its budget.
Mason’s email, detailing the recommendations of the six-month long Production Sustainability Project, also outlines changes to make staffing levels more equitable across different programs. Producers for feature programs such as 360Documentaries
and Into the Music
will be expected to make more programs and to do so in less time. While acknowledging the targets set for feature producers are "contentious", Mason said: "We simply cannot continue to produce three documentary programs on the current production schedule as budgetary pressures continue to grow."
host Julie Rigg will retire at the end of this year after 24 years as Radio National's movie critic.