Film & TV

Jun 24, 2014

Don’t panic, the ABC will be just fine

Peter Lewis has recommended outsourcing at the ABC, but that doesn't mean Aunty will be "gutted". It's time for the national broadcaster to embrace modern practice.

Glenn Dyer — <em>Crikey</em> business and media commentator

Glenn Dyer

Crikey business and media commentator

Do the highlights of the federal government-commissioned report outlined in the Fairfax Media tabloids, sorry, compacts, this morning really “gut” the ABC, as claimed in the headline? Or are they a mixture of current practice in TV around the world (including Australia) that haven’t been fully explained by selective leaking?

It’s more of the latter. The report, written by former Seven West Media chief financial officer Peter Lewis, could save the ABC a lot of money and deliver it far more production flexibility and control. Some of the comments from the review into the ABC and SBS represent modern thinking among media companies, such as more use of rented and outsourced facilities, and buying programs from outside producers. Other suggestions include finding and creating new formats, drama ideas, and comedy programs that can last for a long time and generate income from sales and/or format fees, as Seven does.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t panic, the ABC will be just fine

  1. [email protected]

    Hhhmmm, much of what Glenn Dyer (and Peter Lewis) suggests the ABC should do are done by the broadcaster already. It’s been common place for more than 20 years for the ABC to use outside contractors on in-house programs. I worked on in-house programs for six years straight in the ’90s, and for the entire time I was a run-of-season contractor. There were many of us. It’s gobsmacking how people who have only worked in commercial TV come up with these supposedly brilliant ideas as if they haven’t been thought of and executed already.
    For significantly less than a billion dollars a year, the ABC delivers multiple radio and TV networks, a multi-platform news & current affairs service with correspondents in bureaux across the globe plus an incredibly rich online offering. There is no way a commercial broadcaster could produce as much content for this relatively small amount of money. Yes, it’s always possible to trim costs and find more efficient ways of doing things – try finding any large organisation where that is not the case – but that has been an ongoing project at the ABC for decades, as its greatly reduced head count over the years attests.

  2. zut alors

    By comparison ABC’s existence is safe whereas the Abbott government’s is not.

  3. SusieQ

    There are too many vested interests who want the ABC to fail/be privatised/gutted – all have way to much influence with the current government. (Murdoch, IPA for starters)
    Outsource by all means, especially if it means less repeats of the same old programs (QI and Grand Designs anyone?).

  4. HB

    Key for me in the above is the statement “The costs savings (as long as they are mostly retained by the ABC)….”. My level of distrust is pretty high here! I also don’t take the Seven network as a model of quality television production.

  5. The Old Bill

    Yep, outsourcing is the way to go folks. Saves heaps of money and has a good track record of doing so.

    TAFE fired and then outsourced here in SA many years ago and still does. I now know ex TAFE employees who are doing the same job at three times the cost of their original saleries. Luckily one is my partner and she can now claim her car, phone, etc. etc. as a tax deduction as she is “self employed.” Result, taxpayer pays more and one taxpayer pays much less.

    Then of course there is the privatisation or outsourcing of water and power__ but lets not go there shall we? Some of us can no longer afford essential services now they are so cheap and efficient due to cost savings.

  6. Itsarort

    What sensational ideas. Channel 7 is such a fine exemplary model of puerile twaddle, I can’t wait till Aunty follows suit! OK I get it now, this is actually satire based on Chaser type humour. So we can expect to see some dog rooting images in the follow-up article I suppose…?

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