A Note to Staff Wrapped Around an Axe

By now we’ve all heard the news about even more cuts at the ABC. Didn’t we vote in a Labor government to stop this happening?

ABC has announced departmental restructures of its new Content division, spanning Scripted, Entertainment, Factual, Indigenous, Arts and Childrens across television, radio and online from July 1st.

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

As part of the digital transformation changes, a number of ABC executives in commissioning and production will be made redundant. Up to 120 jobs are expected to go across the broadcaster today, including in News.

Of course, “meeting changing audiences and the reality of rising costs” actually means “a great excuse for management to do whatever the fuck they like while claiming they were forced into it”. Sucks to be Andrew Probyn right now, guess a decade spent getting onside with the LNP and all they stand for was for naught.

What we’re interested in a fuckload more than writing up yet another Vale for The Weekly because that show is shit on a molecular level is how all these changes will affect the ABC’s comedy output. Well, that and getting big laughs out of lines like these:

“Entertainment, led as a separate department by Nick Hayden, will continue to serve our broad audience, delivering hits such as The Weekly, Gruen and Hard Quiz and remains a critical audience driver to the ABC.

But why stop there with the hits from the Entertainment department? What about Win the Week? No love for Question Everything? Tomorrow Tonight was a series that got two seasons! We’re already at 50% duds and that’s just off the top of our heads.

More importantly, who exactly is being driven – rather than being parked there already displaying their aged pension stickers – to the ABC to watch these turds? Gruen is almost old enough to vote; Hard Quiz is a quiz show which has succeeded largely because the ABC – despite usually doing well out of quiz shows for decades – decided not to do any quiz shows for a few years because who needs viewers when you have (goes through Rolodex for 2012)… Marieke Hardy?

And then there’s The Weekly. Let’s not get bogged down here – we still have to write that Vale eventually – but for those looking for a very specific example of why the ABC is a pale imitation of its former glory, look no further. Once, the ABC aired actual satire: Shaun Micallef, John Clarke and Brian Dawe, those decent second season episodes of The Hollowmen, very tiny snippets of The Glasshouse, and on and on – not all of it was any good (hello BackBurner) but it was there, it had a point of view, and it was trying.

The Weekly isn’t even the ghostly remains of a decent satirical program. It’s a news recap delivered in an annoying voice where having the host pull an incredulous face every 90 seconds counts as comedy. Every single joke on The Weekly is the laziest possible joke they could make, every single interview is a pointless puff piece, every single guest is funnier literally everywhere else, and everything else about the show is somehow even worse.

It’s a disgrace, only not in the fun “Ban this Sick Filth” way. Either it goes, or… well, there’s not really anything else left to threaten audiences with, is there?

Apart from axing management of course, but we’ve already established the ABC isn’t about giving viewers what they want.

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1 Comment

  • sven says:

    All those abc ‘stars’ blew it eh. Thought you could hold on until Labor got back and things would improve… yeah, nah. News stories break elsewhere, comedy on abc is stale. Until the abc actually does something transformative/big it will just keep stagnating along. And I don’t care if it fails abc, just surprise me – a three hour comedy spectacular show on Wednesday night ! A five hour policy deep dive on sunday mornings ! Why not, you’re not a commercial station guys…