Jobs go while ABC overhauls commissioning in content

Jobs go while ABC overhauls commissioning in content
  • New Head of Scripted to lead commissions across comedy and drama
  • New head of Factual to be announced
  • Department of New Arts, Music and Events
  • Genre Priorities: Indigenous, Artistic, Children’s, Drama, Entertainment, and Real

ABC announced departmental restructurings of its new Content division, which spans Scripted, Entertainment, Factual, Indigenous, Arts and Childrens across television, radio and online from July 1.

The Content division is led by recently appointed Chief Content Officer Chris Oliver-Taylor, who sits separately from the News division led by Justin Stevens.

As part of the digital transformation changes, a number of ABC commissioning and manufacturing executives will be laid off. Up to 120 jobs are expected to go through the broadcaster today, including in News.

In a note to staff, Oliver-Taylor said the new 2023-28 five-year plan provided context for the restructuring as it meets changing audiences and the reality of rising costs.

“A key challenge we need to recognize is that our audiences are dwindling on our broadcast platforms and the initial growth of our digital products has now slowed on both ABC iview and ABC listen. Today’s retooling of our content teams puts us firmly on a digital footing,” she said.

“All of these changes are important to ensure the long-term health of the organisation, but unfortunately there is an unavoidable impact on some roles. This is not an easy process and we anticipate that some of our colleagues, friends and teammates who have made outstanding contributions to ABC will leave us.”

The new Content Division will focus on Screen, Audio and Digital. Since July 1, ABC Content has been operating according to three fundamental principles:

  1. How we select and commission our content.
  2. A priority on our digital product (ABC iview and ABC listen)
  3. A focus on audience and impact.

“At Screen, the Content Division will continue to commission the majority of its content in partnership with the independent production industry. There will be a reduction in the number of commissioning editor and management roles at Screen and we will shift that funding towards commissioning new content. This simply means less management, more content, better decision making and more accountability,” he said in a staff note.

“ABC will continue to prioritize key genres such as Indigenous, Arts, Children’s, Scripted, Entertainment and Factual, ensuring strong public broadcast values ​​are inherent in what we commission, but ensuring ABC’s content is relevant to all of Australia.

“In the Factual team, we will bring together the Factual shows that were in the R&L and E&S division together to form the largest Factual content commissioner in Australia. This department will be led by a new Head of Factual.

“At Scripted, a new Head of Scripted will lead all of ABC’s narrative commissions across Comedy and Drama and oversee the largest volume of scripted commissions in Australia. Continuing to generate a great impact on the public and building on the success of recent commissions such as Utopia, Mystery Road, Total Control, Fisk AND The journalist.

“At Children’s, probably the most successful children’s commissioning team in the world, certainly in the Southern Hemisphere, will continue under the leadership of Libbie Doherty, and ABC will allocate more funds to appeal to our younger family audience and co- viewer.

“We have created a new department, Art, Music and Events, led by Kath Earle. Using the extensive experience Kath gained during her tenure at ABC, Kath will now lead a combined department focused on ABC’s continued important commitment to the arts, as well as solidify the significant impact of ABC’s events team. Such events include coverage of ANZAC Day, Gallipoli, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and celebration of Australia’s New Year’s Eve. Music continues to be an engine for our younger audiences and we have shifted production to anger from the music audio team to the music screen team.

“Entertainment, led as a separate department by Nick Hayden, will continue to serve our broad audience, delivering hits like The weekly, Gruen AND Difficult quiz and remains a critical audience driver for the ABC.

“Earlier this year we announced the promotion and prioritization of Indigenous content across our content division. This work will be led by Kelrick Martin. Kelrick will work across all genres and outputs to ensure the primacy of Indigenous stories are integrated into everything we do. He will also be a key leader to our Indigenous people and key stakeholder with our external Indigenous bodies, colleagues and the manufacturing sector. Kelrick will continue to lead and be heavily involved in all Indigenous-commissioned content, such as NAIDOC Week and Away.

“There will also be some minor changes to our operations team and our production team, now led by production chief Sacha Gregson. These changes are driven by efficiency and our new content priorities.”

Content Curation and Distribution will waive all responsibility for ABC listening and will focus solely on ABC iview, programming and screen capture.

Sarah McKenzie will join the Content Leadership team, with a role focusing on long-term content planning and commissioning of all content. No changes were proposed to the Commercial Affairs team, led by Helen MacDonald.

“Wherever possible, we’ve separated audio from the screen and reduced handling in the new Division, with the one exception of Sports, where the screen shows how Offside he will remain within the predominantly audio sports team. They are responsible for the coverage of our major sports output including coverage of the AFL, NRL, Women’s World Cup and currently the Ashes from the UK. Sports remain a major audience driver for ABC and our commitment will continue to this key genre,” she continued.

“Angela Stengel leads the new Digital Content and Innovation team and we have brought together as many digital people as possible under Angela’s leadership. Many will remain integrated into their genre program or team, but this centralization will allow us to ensure that we best support our production going forward. Angela’s current team, the Innovation Lab, will move from strategy to the digital content and innovation team, with Arul Baskaran taking the lead in our R&D focused work. Angela will also take the lead of ABC listening curation and work with our product and technology teams to deliver the technological advancements needed to serve our audiences.”

This post updates.