ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has revealed the detail of a major organisational restructure that she says is driven by audience behaviour.
As had been widely anticipated, content teams will no longer be divided by platform (TV, radio, online), but will be based on three teams: News, Analysis and Investigations; Entertainment and Specialist; and Regional and Local. There will also be a “content ideas lab”, which Guthrie says will be a “hot-house” for new projects including the content fund announced in March.
Announcing the changes to staff around the country from Melbourne today, Guthrie said it was the “next phase of our evolution as a national broadcaster”.
“The initiatives that will be outlined today will improve collaboration and decision-making. They provide for more flexibility in allocation resources. They address duplication. They put people with similar craft skills into creative teams that better align with audience interests. They allow our story tellers to target audience gaps and to maximise reach and engagement,” she said.
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Guthrie says the changes are not about cutting programs, costs or reducing networks.
“The initiatives that we are proposing today come directly from you,” she told staff. “They are designed to maximise the ability of audiences to discover and enjoy the great storytelling that you create.”
Current head of News Gaven Morris will lead the News team. Director of TV David Anderson will be head of the Entertainment and Specialist team, which will include genres such as arts, science, children’s content and education. Director of Radio Michael Mason will be head of the Regional and Local team, which will include the regional and rural teams, and capital city and regional productions. Fiona Reynolds, who is currently the director of ABC Regional will be taking some time off from early next year, but Guthrie said in her announcement she would welcome her back to a new leadership role.
The ABC has also announced it will fast track recruiting for the second round of regional jobs it announced in March, which had been planned for mid-next year.
“The new structure will reduce overlap between ABC people covering the same subjects for multiple programs and platforms, and instead free them to focus on creating impactful, value adding stories that can reach audiences however and wherever they choose to engage,” Guthrie said.
The new structure will be put in place early next year.
ABC Friends has welcomed the announcement, but said in a statement the success of the changes relied on a strong relationship between management and staff. President Margaret Reynolds said: “Management must value staff for their intellectual and creative capacities, not merely as competent tech-heads. Methodology can be acquired but it is much harder to replace experience and ideas in an organisation that risks losing senior staff that could have a vital mentoring role.”
The restructure is the 13th announced so far this year, and comes as the union representing ABC employees not covered by the journalists’ union has warned about dangerous levels of workplace stress at the broadcaster.