- The ABC announced its five-year plan for the company, which includes about 250 job cuts.
- The national broadcaster is changing ABC Life into ABC Local and focusing on digital services.
- It's also looking at leasing space at its headquarters in Ultimo.
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The ABC has unveiled its five-year plan, which includes efforts the national broadcaster has in place to reduce costs amid budget cuts.
ABC Managing Director David Anderson highlighted the federal government's indexation pause, which cut the national broadcaster's budget by $84 million over three years, as well as an ongoing $41 million a year reduction from 2022. These losses are on top of the $64 million in ongoing cuts placed on the ABC in 2014.
In its new five-year plan, the ABC includes saving strategies it has in place as it moves from traditional broadcasting to more of a digital content provider.
"This strategy lays out the next steps in the ABC’s proud 88-year history, ensuring that now and into the future we remain the home of Australian stories, trusted information and conversations that connect us all," Anderson said in a statement.
The cost-saving measures, however, will mean the company expects to let go of more than 200 people.
"We anticipate we will farewell as many as 250 people through this process, valued colleagues who have made tremendous contributions to the ABC and to our audiences," Anderson said.
"This is a difficult time for us, as it is for the broader economy and community as we all struggle with the events of this year."
The ABC's proposed savings measures
The ABC's new plan will focus more on accessibility and its digital and on-demand services.
It will change ABC Life into ABC Local – giving it a new "editorial direction" – gathering content from across the ABC.
ABC Life Editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran said on Twitter that the change to ABC Life was "devastating news", confirming up to half of her team could be let go.
I hope we can keep doing that under a new banner but right now I am thinking of this incredible team of winners. A team of the most thoughtful, caring, creative people.
— Bhakthi (@bhakthi) June 24, 2020
As part of its plan, the ABC will also axe its 7.45am broadcast-only radio news bulletin and instead provide news across all its audio platforms.
It will rebrand ABC Comedy to include other genres like arts, science, education and religion, and cut down independent production by around $5 million a year – mainly from its factual and entertainment range of programs. Drama and children's shows will be the main priority.
Other changes include more investment in regional centres – with a plan to have 75% of the ABC's content makers outside of Ultimo by 2025, slashing travel budgets by 25% and looking more closely at ABC's property.
The company is weighing up whether it should lease some of its vacant space or relocate. If the ABC leased some of its spare space at its Ultimo headquarters, it could potentially save the company $4 million a year, some of which would be reinvested into its services.
These changes come on top of the ABC reducing its management and support team numbers.
"The ABC Five-Year Plan 2020-2025 is just the start of this next stage in the ABC’s history," Anderson added. "We will uphold the highest editorial values, remaining Australia’s best and most trusted source of news and information and continuing to deliver the best public interest journalism that strengthens our democracy."