From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

ABC radio jobs on the line. 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”.

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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.


DFAT out of Mardi Gras after Turnbull snub. Employees at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are no longer certain the body will be participating in its first official appearance at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, after the Mardi Gras membership passed a motion calling for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be “uninvited” from the parade.

DFAT was planning to participate in the parade for the first time in 2017, but those plans are now on hold following reports from the organisation’s AGM. As reported in Crikey, the PM has not been banned from attending, but a motion was passed asking that the board not invite him as an official guest of the parade. Although Turnbull was invited in an official capacity in 2016, he chose instead to attend as a guest of broadcaster SBS.

Along with DFAT, two other government organisations are also considering their involvement. The Australian Federal Police and Defence, both of which have been involved in the parade before, are also considering their involvement after the report.

The departments have not been contacted by the Mardi Gras board and are reacting to media reports, many of which mistakenly said that Turnbull would be “banned” from the parade. In the past, Defence participated in the parade based on advice from Mardi Gras that its intent and status is as a “community festival” and not a “political event”.

Government departments and law enforcement bodies have participated in the Mardi Gras parade for years, including the AFP, NSW police and other emergency services, and the Defence Department.

Mardi Gras board said on Monday that it had received “a vast amount of feedback” about the motion, and it would be one of the first items on the agenda for the new board when it meets later this week.

Defence reconsidering its role in Mardi Gras is likely to please reservist Bernard Gaynor, who has been fighting against Defence members being allowed to march in the parade in uniform for several years.

KittyLeaks. As the media outside the Ecuadorean embassy wait while WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange is questioned by Swedish chief prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, they have been treated to a view of another member of the embassy’s household. A cat has regularly appeared in the window of the embassy where the media waits for photos of Isgren, or even of Assange himself. We are unsure of the cat’s name, but its existence has been well documented by Fairfax correspondent Nick Miller. First the cat appeared to check out what the fuss was all about:


Then protesters decided to try and get in on the cat’s fame:


With all the attention, the moggy decided it was time to up the fashion stakes:


The cat has more than one tie, with Miller tweeting that it has also been seen in a blue tie.

Twitter and Instagram accounts exist with the name “Embassy cat”, but it’s unclear if they are operated by Julian Assange himself (although he does feature in many of the photos) or if that is the feline’s actual name.

Fairfax Made Up. Much of the media is moving towards native advertising and sponsored posts, and Fairfax is no different, with the offshoot Made By Fairfax in the business of making content for other brands. Content marketing is considered a future cash cow for many traditional media outlets and generally pays the people who write it far better than journalism, which is why Ms Tips was surprised to receive a tip that contributors had been told they could only be paid in gift cards in lieu of remuneration. We put that to Fairfax and were told by a spokesperson “this is untrue”.

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Peter Fray
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