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Australians love and trust the invaluable ABC, chairman tells screen producers

The ABC’s free services are loved, trusted and essential to Australia’s national identity as the media industry evolves in changing environment, the broadcaster’s Chairman Justin Milne told the Screen Producers Associations’ Screen Forever conference in Melbourne this morning.

Milne’s comments were made during the 2017 Hector Crawford Oration following the broadcaster’s restructure announcement yesterday, which will see the organisation move away from separating its radio, television and digital activities based on genres.

ABC chairman Justin Milne: “There’s a lot more to do.”

“The vast majority of Australians – over 80% – trust the ABC more than any other media organisation operating in Australia,” Milne told the conference. “That includes the Commercial FTAs, News Ltd, Fairfax, Google, Apple, Buzzfeed – everyone, and about the same number, 80%, think we are ‘valuable’.

“Our deal with Australians is to use a tiny portion of the tax they pay to bring them unbiased, accurate news and to tell them Australian stories – for free and without ads. Australians love that service. We love seeing a full program ad-free and we love getting iView, Radio National and so much more, for nothing.”

Milne pointed out the ABC generates nearly a third of Australian content despite constraints on the agency’s funding.

“The ABC’s contribution to Australian content is occasionally questioned by some but if you follow the money over the last five years you’ll discover that the Commercial free to airs generated a combined total of $1,083M of production on Australian drama but in that same time the ABC has generated $576M of production activity,” he said.

“That’s over 53% of the combined levels of production across Seven Nine and Ten.

“Last year we generated 62% of the levels of production of the FTA combined networks so, through collaboration with industry, the gap is increasing in terms of the investment we make in the actors, writers, technicians, producers and directors of Australia.”

Milne also flagged yesterday’s restructure is only the start of the organisation’s evolution into a new media environment.

“There’s a lot more to do. Only yesterday, the ABC’s Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, announced a reorganisation of our content teams that responds to the dramatic shifts in audience behaviour.

“The more impact we have, the better opportunities exist for the independent producers who help make our great content.”

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