ABC slashes 150-200 jobs, names new director of TV

The ABC is expected to slash between 150 and 200 jobs by the end of June this year under a radical new strategy and transformation program announced by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie.

Michelle Guthrie: Transformational change is essential if the ABC is to realise its full potential

Guthrie joined the public broadcaster from Google in December 2015.

Announced today, the program will see management reduced by 20% – that’s one in five ABC manager roles to go – with support areas to absorb a higher percentage of that cut.

Guthrie said: “These changes are essential to the long-term health of the Corporation, but I acknowledge that this is of little comfort to those whose roles are impacted. We will work with unions and with affected staff. We will be open and move as quickly as possible to end the uncertainty in affected areas.”

Guthrie said the changes are part of the ABC needing to adapt to wider changes within the media sector, including challenges of new media competitors, fast-changing audience trends and fixed funding.

“These initiatives recognise that incremental reform isn’t the answer and that transformational change over the next year is essential if the ABC is to realise its full potential. Change that strengthens the organisation, empowers our people and delivers long-term results for audiences.”

The restructure will see the number of main ABC divisions shrink from 14 to eight, with the four existing content divisions balanced by new streamlined support functions.

Sitting alongside the four content divisions – television, radio, news and regional – will be new divisions for finance, technology, engagement and audiences, while editorial policies and government relations will be specialist functions reporting direct to Guthrie. ABC International will be abolished as a separate division and have its functions integrated into the broader ABC.

The savings achieved in the reduction in management roles will go towards a $50m content fund which the ABC says is open to all employees to source new ideas for content.

Guthrie said: “The Fund enables us to respond with flexibility and speed to shifting audience trends and to extend our reach and engagement, especially with audiences who are infrequent ABC users.”

The public broadcaster will also be investing $15m per year in regional jobs, creating 80 new rural and regional roles.

Guthrie said: “Regional investment will be a priority. We’re committing to an injection of funds, ultimately building to $15 million a year, to provide more reporters and content makers, better tools and increased video and digital output. The ABC will recruit up to 80 new content roles in regional areas within 18 months.”

Amongst the leadership appointments, director of corporate strategy and planning and director of digital network David Anderson has been named as the new director of ABC television, replacing Richard Finlayson who finishes up with the public broadcaster at the end of the month.

David Anderson named new ABC director of TV

Director of audience and marketing Leisa Bacon will lead the new audiences team with the division having an expanded remit to oversee the use of the content fund and to provide an across-the-ABC approach to research and audience strategy.

Louise Higgins joins the ABC as chief financial officer after two years in the same role with Tinybeans and was previously the chief operating officer at Nova Entertainment for nearly five years while Sam Liston, formerly the director of ABC people, takes on the role of chief engagement officer.

The former COO David Pendleton will act as interim chief technology officer while the ABC recruits for that position, while Alan Sunderland will remain as director of editorial policies and Michael Millet will be director of government relations.


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