Remember those horrid budget cuts to Radio National last November which axed all but one music program? And were made without ABC members’ or artists’ knowledge? Well, there’s a protest against them happening outside of the ABC today.
“ABC senior management has failed to acknowledge the devastating blow they have delivered to Australia’s music culture and diversity as a result of these cuts, made without industry or artist consultation,” said Ruth Hazelton, spokesperson for community group Hands Off RN Music.
Musicians including Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, philanthropist and patron of the arts in Australia Janet Holmes a Court, Music Australia and APRA AMCOS are included among 23,000 petition signatures collected by the Save RN Music group.
Hands Off RN Music, members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and ABC Friends believe ABC is failing to meet its charter obligations and that senior management is not listening to staff or the station’s audience.
Managing director of the ABC Michelle Guthrie did not brief board members before announcing in November that ABC would ditch the magazine-style science program Catalyst, along with all but one of Radio National’s music programs and end shortwave transmission in the NT.
Last November, ABC radio broadcaster Robyn Williams famously called ABC management “morally and spiritually bankrupt”.
“Senior Management has failed to acknowledge the impact this decision has had on rural and regional audiences with its premature reliance on digital formats,” said Hazelton in a statement released today. “We believe management is using the digital strategy as a smokescreen for crude cost-cutting. It has drastically underestimated community outrage.”
Today’s protest outside ABC in Ultimo is expected to get underway shortly after midday. It will call on the ABC Board to ensure Radio National is managed by people who are genuinely committed to public broadcasting.
Protesters will also call for the ABC Board to not sign off on Guthrie’s restructure plans, which were set to be announced this month. According to The Guardian, an early version of the restructure noted the demotion for the heads of news (Gaven Morris), radio (Michael Mason) and television (Richard Finlayson).
CPSU’s ABC Section Secretary Sinddy Ealy said, “Hardworking ABC staff have raised concerns with their bosses about the impact of cuts and illogical changes, but they seem to have fallen on deaf ears. The ABC Executive needs to start listening to staff and the community about what’s needed for the ABC.”
The protesters have said they will lobby the cuts until “the ABC Executive starts listening to the people they are there to serve.”
Image:Save RN Music’s December protest byViv Reiss
All are invited to take a placard to today’s event at ABC Ultimo, “a media event; not a rally”. Find out more info on the Hands Off Radio National Music Facebook page.