The Director of Television at the ABC, Kim Dalton has blamed “financial pressures” for the axing of more in-house production and staff redundancies that were announced yesterday.
ABC has issued redundancy notices to staff around the country as it winds down production facilities in Perth and Adelaide and axes long-running shows The New Inventors and Collectors, weekly series Art Nation (presented by Fenella Kernebone, pictured) and the production of documentaries under the Artscape banner.
In an email sent to staff yesterday, Mr Dalton said
"ABC TV management recognises that this can be a very difficult time for some staff and will ensure all the appropriate support is offered. However in the face of an increasingly competitive broadcasting environment and increasing financial pressures, ABC TV must ensure it uses its Government funding as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver maximum value to its audiences and the Australian taxpayer."
Mr Dalton has said that arts programs will now mostly be sourced from independent producers, or from overseas, rather than in-house – while prime-time programs At The Movies and First Tuesday Book Club will continue.
The Australian reports that production staff for the Sydney-based The New Inventors will be redeployed or may be made redundant, while staff behind the Tasmanian-based Collectors will be shifted to a new series, Auctions. The Age reports that Mr Dalton has denied suggestions that as many as 100 staff will be made redundant but would not offer a more precise figure.
The Age also reports that Mr Dalton has said that the announced changes will have no impact on the construction of new studio facilities at Southbank in Melbourne.
The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents ABC staff, has branded the axing of Art Nation as “cultural vandalism” and has warned that the wider cutbacks will lead to a breach of the ABC’s Charter, while the Friends Of The ABC has claimed that the broadcaster "is being transformed into a platform for carrying commercial content. This is privatisation by stealth."
In recent times the broadcaster has also cancelled Talking Heads, Can We Help? and The Einstein Factor.
The New Inventors will make its final appearance with its series Grand Final on 17 August, while the Sunday afternoon Art Nation will continue until late November.
This round of cutbacks at ABC comes after recent changes at the Ten Network, where 60 positions were being targeted for redundancies and the axe was put to the long-running Video Hits.