The ABC has announced a range of savings measures and reinvestment initiatives designed to address rising costs and support its transition to a “digital-first” media organisation.
ABC Managing Director David Anderson said the recent content team reorganisation and the release of the new strategy 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,” Mr Anderson 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 continued migration of audiences from broadcast services to digital provides an opportunity to ensure the ABC is a trusted, central part of daily media consumption for more Australians.
“By 2028 the majority of audience engagement will be on the ABC’s digital platforms and we will have a digital-first approach to commissioning, producing, and distributing content. We will enhance our primary digital products, ABC iview, ABC listen and ABC News, to provide personalised services that enable audiences to more easily discover the journalism and content that is relevant to them.
“To make the most of that opportunity, we must better align our resources and invest in the new skills we need in our workforce we can’t create through retraining.
“Achieving these outcomes requires some difficult decisions. While we have targets for savings in support areas, including travel and consulting costs, unfortunately there is an unavoidable impact on some roles.
“These changes are important to secure the long-term success of the organisation, but we acknowledge it is never easy, particularly for individuals who are directly impacted by these proposals.”
Mr Anderson said the proposed changes announced included the creation of new roles to grow the ABC’s digital capability. It is anticipated up to 120 employees will potentially leave the ABC.
The proposed changes include:
- The launch of the Current Affairs Digital Transformation Project to ensure some of the ABC’s best investigative programs have the capability to meet audience demand for long-form on-demand video and in-depth digital content.
- Continuing the shift in the News Operations team from linear television programming to on-demand digital content and modernising the ABC’s skills base.
- The introduction of ABC News Sunday, a new national bulletin bringing the best stories and journalism from around Australia and the world.
- The return of a digital-first Stateline, unpacking the local stories that matter through long form journalism, in-depth interviews and explainers for on-demand and broadcast audiences.
- The establishment of a dedicated Climate, Environment and Energy reporting team to focus on the issues that are consistently rated as critical for the nation’s future, particularly by younger Australians.
- Streamlining of the commissioning editor structure by reducing the number of ABC executives involved in the commissioning and production process with the independent sector, freeing up funds for investment in high-quality distinctive Australian content.
- A digital-first approach to commissioning and choosing content, with a focus on the audience from the earliest development stage.
- Enhancing the ABC iview, ABC News and ABC listen audience experience to drive faster uptake to these platforms.
- Promoting digital output with new roles established in the ABC’s digital teams.
“I want to recognise the contribution everyone at the ABC has made in recent years,” Mr Anderson said. “The ABC has evolved and adapted for over 90 years to ensure it remains Australia’s most trusted media organisation, valued by audiences everywhere, and value for money for the essential services it delivers.
“Increasingly, Australians are primarily using digital media services, and the ABC’s ongoing value and relevance will depend on our ability to change with the audience.
“In an era of rapid technological change, today’s announcements will ensure we continue to remain trusted, relevant and valued by all Australians into the future.”
The announcement follows the release of the ABC Five-Year Plan 2023-2028 which sets out how the ABC will respond to rapid changes in technology, audience behaviour and society to continue to deliver value for all Australians and remain the most trusted media organisation in the country.
The central purpose of the Five-Year Plan is to ensure the ABC remains relevant, delivers value for Australians, and continues to be the most trusted media organisation in the country.
It sets out the priorities for the ABC over the next five years to deliver this outcome and ensure that the ABC continues to have an essential role in Australian life.
Over the next five years, the ABC will undergo a significant transition from maintaining both traditional broadcast and digital processes towards becoming an integrated digital operation. While broadcast will remain important, this Five-Year Plan is a first step to build an ABC that is prepared for a digital-majority audience.
The ABC will enhance its primary digital products, ABC News, ABC iview and ABC listen, to provide a seamless, personalised service that enables audiences to more easily discover content that is relevant to them.
The plan sets out a vision for the ABC to be an essential part of everyday life for all Australians through news and entertainment that appeals to different ages and interests. It is a strategy that prioritises strengthening the trust of our audiences and commits the ABC to being more local.
The Plan also reaffirms the ABC’s commitment to a culture of inclusion and diversity, and the imperative to better reflect contemporary Australia.
Mr Anderson said the next stage of the strategy means the ABC will meet changing audience needs while maintaining the commitment to quality, relevance, independence and its role as Australia’s most trusted media organisation.
“By 2028, the ABC will serve more Australians on the platform of their choice with made-for-digital content and journalism on ABC News, ABC iview, ABC listen and on major third-party platforms,” he said. “Australians trust and value the ABC and this will not change. As we move through this period of digital evolution, Australians can continue to rely on us for the content and services that inform, educate and entertain.
“Our audiences can be assured we will safeguard traditional broadcast services as long as these remain essential for keeping Australians informed and entertained.
“As Australia changes, so must the ABC. This means changing to meet the needs of our audiences wherever they live. We will continue to serve all Australians, contribute to our national identity and remain an essential part of daily life.”