ABC News Radio will air the BBC from 6pm to 5.30am on weekends as three staff in the division are made redundant, the ABC told staff this afternoon.
It’s one of many changes the broadcaster announced as it digests a 3% ($7 million) reduction to the ABC news budget arising from the May 6 federal budget, when a $20 million-a-year grant tied to news coverage was only partially renewed.
About 30 positions will be affected by changes, the ABC says. And the number of job losses will be higher than Crikey reported this morning — 14, not 12. But only 10 will be redundancies — four contract positions will not be renewed.
As previously reported, ABC Fact Check will be axed as a stand-alone unit. It’s expected that only two positions will be entirely removed, with the rest subsumed either within the ABC’s broader news division or into a beefed-up ABC Interactive and Data unit, which will aim to present data in interesting and creative ways.
The National Reporting Team is also taking a hit, with four positions removed, with dedicated reporters in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane to go, and a Canberra position not being refilled.
The ABC had used the tied funding to commission highly acclaimed and expensive documentaries like The Killing Season and Making Australia Great. It won’t be able to do this anymore, it told staff, though it will make a smaller amount of funding available for things like election coverage and sporting events.
The funding had also been used to fund four additional episodes a year of Four Corners, Australian Story and Foreign Correspondent. This has been kept — for 2016. Planning for television shows occurs many months in advance, so it would have been difficult to cut funding in the middle of a production season. For next year, however, other funding sources will need to be found, or the extra episodes will go.
Another three redundancies are expected in the network desk, with a raft of editors and producers. ABC News 24 is also contributing a number of positions to the total, though redundancies aren’t expected — vacant positions will not be filled.
Surviving unscathed are several of the other initiatives funded by the grant, including The Drum on News 24, along with several suburban bureaux and regional divisions.