Andrew Probyn among suite of ABC redundancies as MEAA calls for restructure clarification

Public broadcaster ABC has made 120 redundancies as part of its transition to a digital-first organisation, including high-profile political editor, Andrew Probyn.

Announced on Thursday afternoon, the broadcaster made “a range of savings measures and reinvestment initiatives” designed to support the transition, and address rising costs.

Last month, ABC flagged the restructure and saw its regional bureau folded into the news division, with warning of redundancies to come.

Probyn told The Guardian he was “pretty flabbergasted” to be made redundant.

“I’ve been informed that the national broadcaster no longer need a political editor and that the want to reinvest the money into social and digital reporting roles”, he said.

Andrew Probyn is among the redundancies made yesterday

In a statement released on Thursday, ABC managing director, David Anderson, said the restructure required “carefully made decisions on reinvestment and savings to strengthen the ABC into the future”.

“Along with media organisations here and overseas, the ABC is operating in an environment that is subject to inflationary pressures,” he said.

“We also need to increase investment in digital transformation to improve our efficiency and meet the needs of audiences.

“We have made clear our vision for the ABC to be an essential part of everyday life for all Australians through our high-quality journalism and content, wherever they may live across the country.”

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s (MEAA) media director, Cassie Derrick, said the alliance called on ABC management for clarification on the restructure.

“This restructure has been poorly communicated by ABC management which has caused days of anxiety and anguish for ABC employees,” she said.

“Under its EBA [enterprise bargaining agreement], the ABC is required to consult with unions about any significant changes, and we will be invoking these obligations.”

She said the MEAA has concerns for ABC’s future: “The ABC has been running on empty for the past decade and we are concerned about how the ABC can deliver quality public interest journalism with even fewer staff following these redundancies.”

Derrick also noted that ABC’s five-year plan contradicts its funding from this year’s federal budget.

“In this year’s federal budget, the ABC has had continuation of the Enhanced News Gathering program with an allocation of $52.4 million over three years.

“This program has supported the opening of new regional bureaus and hiring of more regionally based journalists, and taxpayers would rightly regard any cuts in those areas as a breach of the ABC’s obligation in receiving that funding.”


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