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Justin Milne’s Project Jetstream glides towards an unlamented end at the ABC

Project Jetstream, the brain child of former ABC chairman Justin Milne, appears to be coming to an unlamented end at the national broadcaster.

The $500m digital transformation project to take the ABC beyond the era of terrestrial broadcasting, always appeared to the chairman’s personal brainwave, despite being one of the key reasons cited in the shock sacking of MD Michelle Guthrie, a move that triggered Milne’s own resignation a few days later.

ABC director of audience, Leisa Bacon, outlined a Jetstream-free digital future for the broadcaster

When asked about the status of Project Jetstream at the Mumbrella Entertainment Summit on Thurday, the ABC’s director of audiences, Leisa Bacon, was dismissive about the initiative and its value to the broadcaster’s future.

“Project Jetstream was probably a name coined by the previous chairman of the ABC and I guess has been equated to an additional spend in technology. So I’m going to put that to one side,” she said.

“As our team, our ongoing investment in data, which we’ve had ongoing over the past five years has included building a data lake that’s not at all connected with that sort of increased expenditure. It’s very much a core part of our business in how we take data in and how we best assemble it so the majority of people across the ABC can use it.

“I see that as part of core business. It is part of core business, the team that manage it are part of our core team.”

Bacon’s comments were after she had given an overview of how the ABC is evolving as the 86-year-old institution adapts to an increasingly digital future and changing audience behaviours.

During the presentation, Bacon discussed how the broadcaster is consolidating its digital services, particularly its range of apps and over 600 social media accounts which until recently had presented audiences with a bewildering range of options.

Bacon also described how the broadcaster was automating distribution and relying upon a ‘data lake’ storing content that ABC producers and presenters could tap into, as the broadcaster worked within government funding constraints that are effectively a budget cut.

In many ways, Bacon’s presentation showed the organisation was already well along the path being envisioned by Milne who, in a July interview with The Australian’s Andrew Leigh, said: “To build the ABC of the future we will essentially use a bunch of different technologies.

“There will be a big database into which we will pour audio video assets, complete shows, rushes, news footage, news segments and archival footage. Audio-visual pieces of content will live in that database.”

It’s hard not to surmise that while Milne was talking about this idea, Bacon and others within the ABC’s ranks were actually delivering.

Mumbrella contacted the ABC about the status of Project Jetstream and its future, however is yet to receive a response.

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