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ABC to restructure around news, local and specialist content

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie this afternoon announced a major restructure which will see the organisation divided into three divisions based on genres of content rather than platform.

The restructure will see Gaven Morris lead the News, Analysis and Investigations arm, David Anderson run the Specialist and Entertainment arm, and Michael Mason fronting the Regional and Local Team. 

ABC managing director: Michelle Guthrie. “Extended reach and relevance”

Their former roles were director of news, director of television and director of ABC radio respectively. Previously the ABC was broadly split in to TV, radio and digital.

The changes come eight months after Guthrie said she would slash between 150 and 200 jobs by the end of June this year, under a new strategy and transformation program. The broadcaster also axed current affairs programs The Link and Lateline in a programming restructure last month.

Guthrie claims the new structure would not include any job losses, cuts to programs or a reduction in networks.

“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 result will be extended reach and relevance, a better experience for our audience and an ABC that, in a fragmented landscape, provides the critical space for debate, dialogue and ideas.”

In a separate announcement, Guthrie announced the broadcaster is accelerating its ramping up of regional jobs and services under it Connecting Communities plan.

Under the plan, the ABC will fast-track the recruitment of up to 40 regional reporters, producers and presenters which will create up to 80 new content roles as part of a $15.4 million program to boost the ABC’s coverage and services in rural and regional Australia by July 2018.

An additional $4 million is being invested by the ABC in new tools and equipment for the broadcaster’s regional teams to enhance video and digital reporting for local and national audiences.

Since Guthrie’s appointment in December 2015, the managing director has been accused of being a “Murdoch-hatchet woman” and “Google-ising the ABC”, and has told TV bosses to stop “whingeing about the ABC and focus on serving their own audiences”. 

Adding to the broadcaster’s problems, amendments by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to the media reforms package will see the completion of a ‘competitive neutrality inquiry’ into the ABC, and an agreement form the government it will ask the ABC to provide details of the wages and conditions of all staff whose packages amount to more than $200,000, a move rejected by ABC chairman Justin Milne over the weekend.

“By keeping what is central – our Charter, our sense of public service and our presence across the nation – and purposefully adapting the way we work to meet the changing expectations of our audiences, we can deepen our connection to citizens,” Guthrie concluded.

“In a time of unprecedented disruption, the ABC’s role is more important than ever. It means there is a heavy onus on us to ensure we make the right decisions to maintain relevance and value.”

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