The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has released its 2022 Annual Report with Managing Director, David Anderson, reporting that the organisation is well positioned to continue to be the nation’s most trusted and valued digital content provider, and provider of broadcast services.
Funding for the 2023-25 triennium, announced in February 2022 by the previous government, included the resumption of indexation and continued support for the ABC’s Enhanced Newsgathering (ENG) program and audio description services.
The Albanese Government, elected in May 2022, has committed to providing the Corporation with additional funding for its operational base and pledged to increase the ABC’s funding period from three to five years.
“The Corporation welcomes this funding boost and its enhanced financial certainty,” says Anderson. “The ABC will engage with the Government in the second half of 2022 in relation to these changes and will invest additional funding in line with its strategic priorities.
The Government has also committed to increased funding for the ABC’s international services. The Corporation will apply the additional funding to increase the number of ABC Radio Australia transmission sites in strategically important locations across the Pacific, increase the volume of bespoke programming in priority content areas and build media capacity with partners across the Pacific.”
MD David Anderson says the ABC’s activities in the coming year will continue to be guided by the ABC Five-Year Plan 2020-25. As a “living document”, the Five-Year Plan is updated to respond to the evolving media environment and the Corporation anticipates adding further priorities and initiatives to that Plan during the year.
“The ABC will continue to prioritise the delivery of personalised digital media experiences that meet the needs and expectations of contemporary audiences,” he says. “The introduction of ABC iview login and unified user accounts in 2021-22 created a foundation for a seamless viewing experience and allows audiences to easily discover relevant content. In 2022-23, the Corporation will build on these foundations and core capabilities. It will embark on data-driven initiatives to encourage audiences to try new ABC products and use a wider variety of the content that the ABC offers on its digital platforms, including content relevant to their local area. It will also continue to develop the software platform and APIs that enable audiences to discover ABC content and continue to enhance privacy protections.”
David Anderson says the Corporation is strongly committed to ensuring access to public interest journalism across Australia. Throughout 2022-23, he says it will continue its commitment to regional, rural and remote Australians, including the additional services in regional Australia that it established as a result of commercial deals struck with Google and Facebook in 2021.
According to Anderson, “The ABC will consider evidence-based adjustments to these services in 2023 in light of data collected over the first 12 months of activity. In addition, the Corporation will explore models for partnerships and collaboration with small independent outlets to support media diversity and invest in research that will assess local news needs and propose potential solutions.
“Consistent with the decentralisation objective of ensuring that at least 75% of content-makers work outside of its Ultimo headquarters, the Corporation announced the location of a new Parramatta office in Sydney’s west in July 2022 and began planning the relocation of up to 300 employees to new site. The move is expected to be completed by 2024. In parallel, the ABC will reduce its footprint within the Ultimo building, creating a rental income opportunity to offset the operating costs of the new Parramatta facility.”
In addition, a review of commissioning, begun in the first half of 2022, will identify opportunities to promote quality over quantity and maximise the efficiency of the Corporation’s investment in original Australian content. The review will consider the content strategies and commissioning models of leading international public service media organisations.
“To strengthen the implementation of the Five-Year Plan, the Corporation has appointed a Chief Transformation Officer to enhance implementation of the ABC’s strategic priorities and continue to find efficiencies across the organisation to support investment in content,” says the ABC Managing Director. “In line with its commitment to make financially and environmentally sustainable choices, the Corporation will develop a plan to significantly reduce its environmental impact by the end of the decade.
“Throughout the year, the Corporation will continue to work with government on future directions for broadcast services, particularly the important issue of prominence [on connected devices]. It will likewise continue to work with other media organisations to make the case for media freedom in Australia.”