UPDATED 11:30 am, 26 June: The ABC will cut 250 jobs – including at least two in Canberra – to help make up an $84 million budget shortfall.
Locally, three positions are likely to be affected. Staff at 666 ABC Canberra were shocked to hear the news via a Greens press release before being formally informed about the plans*.
Other changes include cutting the 7:45 am news bulletin, although management was quick to assure listeners that the beloved Majestic Fanfare theme would be retained for other bulletins.
In Canberra, the 7:45 am news bulletin will be replaced by an extra 15 minutes of local programming on Lish Fejer’s breakfast show and there will be a new local five-minute radio news bulletin at 8:00 am, according to the announcement yesterday from ABC senior management.
The Canberra job losses may include a director, an editor and a camera operator, but due to a current vacancy, it is likely only two staff will be affected. An administrative position could also be cut.
Many staff at ABC Canberra reportedly learned about the cuts via a press release from ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury earlier this week after ABC Canberra editor Michelle Ainsworth emailed Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s communications team with information about the national announcement.
The email was confidential but recipients misunderstood its contents, which included a press release from managing director David Anderson, as already being public knowledge.
“I’m hoping you can pass this onto the CM [Chief Minister] as well as your wider team,” the email said. Many Canberra media outlets, including Region Media, then received the message in error.
“Below are the proposed changes that would affect ABC Canberra,” the email reads.
“The 7.45 radio news bulletin would cease. It would be replaced with an extra 15 minutes of local programming on Lish Fejer’s Breakfast Show. As well, there will be a new local 5-minute radio news bulletin at 0800, with AM still to follow.
“It is proposed that we also lose 3 positions in News Operations, a director, an editor and a camera operator (due to a vacancy two staff will be potentially affected).
“It is proposed that we also lose an administrative position.
“These are not easy decisions to make but we will continue to serve our local community via our radio, digital and news platforms.”
Ms Ainworth is understood to have apologised to staff and assured them that those likely to be directly affected had already been informed.
Across the organisation, ABC Life will now become ABC Local and have a “broader editorial direction” as the ABC aims to become “more relevant to more communities”, its newly released five-year plan said.
Three-quarters of staff will be working in locations other than the current ABC headquarters in Ultimo by 2025, the ABC said.
The ABC Comedy channel will also be rebranded and offer a broader range of content while programs on the ABC News Channel will be reviewed.
The travel budget will be cut by 25 per cent and $5 million has been cut from external and independent television productions.
Leasing space at the ABC’s Sydney headquarters will also be explored, which could reignite debate about ABC Canberra’s Dickson building.
Last year the ABC said it had no plans to sell the site after the land was rezoned under the City and Gateway Strategy, allowing for 13-storey developments on parts of the 1.5-hectare site.
Hundreds of media jobs have been lost in recent months, and hundreds of regional newspapers run by News Corp and Australian Community Media have been furloughed or closed permanently in recent months.