Film & TV

Dec 17, 2012

ABC TV head quits with drama up but production out

Kim Dalton has quit the ABC as its television head with ratings and local drama production up. But critics say he's outsourced the heart of Aunty's production to do it.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

Seven years ago Kim Dalton inherited a single ABC TV broadcast platform and a drama production unit largely sitting on its hands. The broadcaster’s TV chief quit yesterday as the controller of five digital broadcast channels and a burgeoning on-demand service, with ratings and local content both up.

Since his appointment in 2006, Dalton has fought relentlessly, and successfully, to boost the amount of Australian drama on our screens. Most importantly, he’s managed to get the dough to do it — both by cutting costs and prising more money out of Canberra. Even if many inside the ABC decry the outsourcing of production to independent producers.

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6 thoughts on “ABC TV head quits with drama up but production out

  1. Holden Back

    I know it’s good for Matt Peacock to frame the debate in terms of popular content, but Spicks and Specks (despite a slated comeback) and The New Inventors had actually run their respective courses and were looking a bit tired. And I’m speaking as a fan of both shows.

    What is next as a in-house productions and their predicted success or failure is harder to mount a positive argument about.

  2. paddy

    When someone actually claims Q&A as one of his biggest triumphs???…..It’s probably a good thing he’s moving on.

  3. Jan Forrester

    If Redfern Now is an example of outsourced Oz drama, bring it on. I’ve never understood the opposition to the national broadcaster outsourcing drama, even when I worked there. Allows for experiments – some work, some don’t. As a taxpayer I see a great role for the ABC to be a catalyst, via commissioning decisions, co-productions and some risk taking, to strengthening the independent sector as well as ABC programs.I DO want more docos, so lets argue the case. And we have some great independent documentary makers. I’d love a natural history unit back too, that’s about policy decisions and consequent allocation of resources.

  4. Jan Forrester

    ps thanks Kim.

  5. JennyB

    The”outsourcing model” has been a huge bonus for audiences, and the only “critics” of this model are internal. It makes no sense for the ABC to make drama in-house. If it does, it has to fully fund the cost of production and is unable to access Screen Australia, state film funding bodies, or the producer tax offset. When it outsources production, it therefore pays (in the case of adult drama) about one-quarter the cost of production, or (in the case of children’s drama, one-fifth. It is also freed up to work with the widest possible range of creative producers all over Australia. The audience therefore gets the benefit – many more high quality productions including Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Jack Irish telemovies, Paper Giants, Dance Academy, etc. The argument that when the ABC is commissioning from independent producers it loses editorial input and is supporting “commercial” activity, which is somehow improper, is never properly scrutinised by media commentators because the issues are not understood. Kim Dalton should be commended for having the courage to attempt to transform the ABC for the benefit of audiences – the stakeholders that really matter.

  6. Bean Lynn

    I think Kim has done a marvellous job, dragging Auntie kicking and screaming (or at least some at the ABC) into the 21st century. And the evidence is the quality of Australian programming that is now being broadcast. Well done Kim – you’ll be sorely missed.

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