Murmurs have been building for some time that ABC Radio is the next area ABC management plans to squeeze for savings. Concerned informants within the ABC are operating with the understanding that the ABC will announce redundancies at Radio National and ABC Radio in the very near future — some say as early as tomorrow. No one is very clear on how many or where they’ll be, but Crikey is told the paperwork is being prepared.
When we asked the ABC whether it was conducting redundancies in radio in the near future, how many there would be and where they would be concentrated, the national broadcaster did not issue a denial. An ABC spokeswoman didn’t directly address the redundancies at all in her response, apart from a statement that “ABC Radio will announce its 2017 content and presenter lineup this week”.
The aim of the redundancies, sources say, is to take $3 million to $5 million out of Radio National’s $23 million annual budget — the “Project Management Office” is looking into it, we have been told. The ABC did respond on this point, but it did not to comment on the $3 million to $5 million budget reduction. Its response says ABC Radio “established a PMO some years ago”. “This small team works on a range of radio projects across all ABC Radio networks and platforms.”
The ABC has already cancelled the four-hour Sunday Nights religious program presented by John Cleary on ABC local radio stations. That was one of the points of contention at meetings between managing director Michelle Guthrie and religious leaders last week.
Meanwhile, on science show Catalyst, where the axe has already fallen, sources say the ABC has agreed to a meeting with staff unions on the changes this week — they’re hoping not all the staff who currently work on Catalyst will lose their jobs. Our impression from a fortnight ago had been that the ABC wasn’t seeking a specific number of redundancies from the team. An open letter calling on the ABC to retain the experienced team who work on Catalyst has been signed by 64 scientists.