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ABC cuts: 200 jobs to go as Guthrie restructures

Between 150 – 200 ABC jobs are expected to go by June as part of a major restructure by Managing Director Michelle Guthrie.

Management will be reduced by 20%, with support areas to bear the brunt.

ABC employees learned of the changes just before noon today as part of a national videolink.

The restructure reduces the number of main ABC divisions 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.

Editorial Policies and Government Relations will be specialist functions reporting direct to the MD. The ABC has also proposed integrating staff in ABC International into the ABC.

But there will also be 80 new content roles created in regional Australia within 18 months.

The ABC will invest $50 million in new content across its television, radio and digital platforms, as the broadcaster establishes a Content Fund and Regional Investment initiative.

The key initiatives are:

· Creating a $50 million fund open to all employees to source new ideas for content
· Investing $15 million per year in regional jobs and extra digital and video output as a key part of the Fund
· Implementing a new streamlined leadership team and structure
· Reducing management by 20% and addressing duplication in support roles
· Signalling a transition to a more audience-focussed content structure over the next 12 months
· Delivering additional production and support efficiencies across ABC TV and ABC News.

“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,” Michelle 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.”

ABC TV and ABC News will also reduce production and support roles as part of internal efficiency targets. The changes will also address duplications across support roles.

Guthrie said the ABC was dealing with the challenges of new media competitors, fast-changing audience trends and fixed funding.

“These changes are essential to the long-term health of the Corporation, but I acknowledge that this is 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.

“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.”

ABC also announced new appointments today:

As tipped by TV Tonight, David Anderson, previously the Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning and Director of Digital Network, is the new Director of ABC Television.

There will be a new Audiences Team, led by Leisa Bacon, who was previously the Director of Audience and Marketing. The new Audiences Division has 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, who has experience at the BBC and Nova Entertainment, joins the ABC as Chief Financial Officer. Sam Liston, formerly the Director of ABC People, becomes Chief Engagement Officer. The former COO, David Pendleton, will act as Interim Chief Technology Officer while the ABC recruits for that position.

Alan Sunderland will remain as Director of Editorial Policies and Michael Millett will be Director of Government Relations.

ABC is yet to announce its new Head of Entertainment.

Michelle Guthrie statement to ABC Staff

ABC Board statement:

The ABC Board endorses the initiatives and changes that have been announced today by the Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie.
The ABC has been continuously evolving and responding to the needs of Australian audiences. Today’s announcement represents an integrated and constructive response to the new challenges that confront the national broadcaster, ensuring the ABC is best-positioned to meet its Charter and audience objectives.
The Board has been involved actively in the development of the ABC proposals, working closely with management and Ms Guthrie since her appointment 10 months ago.
The change program over the next 12 months will transform the Corporation. Importantly, it provides content makers with the flexibility and resources they need to address audience and technological changes that are sweeping through the media sector.
The new structure also strengthens the Corporation, with its emphasis on operational efficiency, reduced management layers and the creation of a new Audiences division to align ABC programming and content strategy with audience tastes and trends.
The Board acknowledges that within a fixed funding envelope, choices need to be made on allocating resources. In transforming the ABC, the priority must be on delivering to audiences.
The Board has established regular reporting on the progress of implementation and will provide governance oversight to ensure that the intended benefits are delivered from this change program.
We believe the steps outlined today maintain the ABC’s fundamental commitment to the provision of programming that contributes to a sense of national identity; that informs, educates and entertains; and which reflects the cultural diversity of the Australian community.
In its contribution to the process, the Board has had particular regard to its statutory responsibility under the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 “to ensure the functions of the Corporation are performed efficiently and with the maximum benefit to the people of Australia”.

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