Federal member for Page Kevin Hogan has condemned the ABC management’s cuts to regional ABC news and current affairs, in particular the apparent ‘axing’ of ABC’s regional radio Mornings programs.
“I will be taking this up with the Communications Minister today,” he said in a media release on Monday.
“The ABC has a clear responsibility to serve regional Australia, but their Sydney-centric management seems only interested in competing with city-based media outlets,” he said.
“The ABC has four city-based TV channels and numerous city-based radio channels and programs. It also has a significant digital presence competing with a plethora of other outlets.
“Local ABC Radio, on the other hand, is often the only news outlet in regional areas – and this is where they see fit to cut?
“It shows a complete lack of commitment to regional areas, which, given they are publicly funded, is not acceptable.
Meanwhile, the ABC’s new regional director, Fiona Reynolds, has refuted claims the axe is set to fall on the broadcaster’s Mornings regional radio programs.
In an on-line ABC report, she said the programs were “just undergoing a name change”.
“We’re still going to have the same presenters, we’re going to have two programs, two presenters as we do now,” she said.
“It’s just about trying to ensure the resources are put at the times of day when the audiences are strongest, and that’s around breakfast.”
Under the changes, Mornings programs will be folded into longer ‘breakfast’ programs, which will run until 10am, before a new one-hour feature-based program, Local Life, takes over, the on-line report states.
However, four local radio news bulletins will be cut; full bulletins will remain at 6.30am and 7.30am, and the two afternoon bulletins will be replaced with a headline only service
Ms Reynolds told the ABC that “ministers have created a storm in a country tea cup”.
“It’s basically just a shift in the start time of what is now called the Mornings program,” she said.
“I think if we had called that time slot between 10 and 11 Mornings instead of giving it a working title of Local Life, we wouldn’t really be having this conversation.”
She said that Local Life would be presented locally and that there would not be any job losses or a reduction in local broadcast hours as a result of the changes, nor any local budget cuts.