Hands Off Our ABC

Hands Off Our ABC

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Hands Off Our ABC is a community and advocacy campaign co-ordinated by the two unions that represent the vast bulk of employees at the ABC: the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union.

Our goal is an editorially-independent ABC that is fully-funded by the government and meets its charter as a comprehensive national broadcaster, that is resourced to tell Australian stories across multiple platforms, and positioned to take advantage of new technology to retain its position as the most trusted and reliable source of news and entertainment in Australia.

Read more about this campaign >>

Hands Off Our ABC is a community and advocacy campaign co-ordinated by the two unions that represent the vast bulk of employees at the ABC: the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the Community and Public Sector Union.

Our goal is an editorially-independent ABC that is fully-funded by the government and meets its charter as a comprehensive national broadcaster, that is resourced to tell Australian stories across multiple platforms, and positioned to take advantage of new technology to retain its position as the most trusted and reliable source of news and entertainment in Australia.

Read more about this campaign >>

Save science on ABC TV

The weekly science program Catalyst and 11 specialist staff are to be axed under a radical plan by ABC management. Take action to convince ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to retain specialist science journalists for ABC TV by adding your name to this open letter, signed by 64 of Australia’s most eminent scientists.

Dear Michelle Guthrie,

The ABC has a proud record of specialist science journalism and program-making, built over half a century, across all media. This unique reputation in science communication is hard-earned and highly valued by Australians.

Catalyst is the flagship of science programs made by the ABC. It is the only weekly TV science show in Australia and the 10th most popular program on the ABC.

We are deeply concerned by the damaging impact of the ABC executive’s recent decision to both cut the variety and number of science stories that people can choose to watch on the ABC. Further we are concerned about the long-term damage to ABC content by the removal of the entire ABC TV science team, with at least 100 years of specialist knowledge and experience.

The result is that a new program will not be made by specialist science producers and journalists who are ABC employees. The skills of these expert short-form science video makers, specialist journalists and producers, will be lost to the public broadcaster.

It’s important to ensure accuracy and balance in science stories, and this means the ABC needs to retain experienced science journalists and producers to make them.

Since 2001, 16 seasons of Catalyst have produced more than 480 episodes made by the ABC, comprising more than 1400 stories. Each year, that's an average of 30 weekly episodes and 88 science stories, enjoyed by around one million viewers each week.

But the announcement proposes that in 2017, the tried-and-tested weekly magazine program will be replaced with a vague promise of 17 one-hour documentaries, and there is a great risk that the ABC will not own the science content that will replace it.

This will drastically reduce the number of stories told, and the breadth and diversity of the science topics covered.

While they may add up to the same duration as the 34 half-hour episodes of Catalyst in 2016, the new format represents only 17 stories (at most), compared with more than 60 science stories produced by the current Catalyst format in 2016.

The proposal means that for more than half the year, there will be no new specialist science content produced for TV that’s made by the ABC. In addition, one hour documentaries are not the most accessible format for family viewing and school use.

We urgently request that the ABC executive reconsiders this decision, before it’s too late, and that it establishes a process to enable the ABC’s audience, community and stakeholders to be consulted and provide feedback about these changes.

We expect the quality, diversity and amount of science TV to be increased, with both documentaries and a regular magazine program made by the ABC.

Now is the time when we need more science, not less, informing our lives and society.

Sincerely,