Neil Mitchell: ‘the ABC has gone downmarket’

Staff Writer

3AW's Neil Mitchell has spoken openly about the competitive nature of Melbourne radio, specifically his battle with the ABC.

Speaking about the 2013 survey tally, where he has come out on top in 2 of them, while ABC's Jon Faine has 4 to his name (one was a tie), Mitchell believes:

"I think the ABC has changed. It's gone downmarket, it's become a bit more commercial in its approach, which will horrify them, but it's true. I hope it's not long term," Mitchell has told the SMH.

As Mitchell prepares for 2014, how will he approach it ?

"I change every week, I certainly change every year and we've already had discussions about what we'll do next year but I don't do that against a background of how we'll fight off MTR or the ABC or Eddie McGuire or anything – I do it against a background of how do we keep improving and how do we keep testing ourselves."

"That sounds a bit self-indulgent but I think you've got to keep testing yourself to give yourself an edge and keep yourself on top. I've got to go out and do things that I haven't done before, I've got to do things that the audience enjoy and get involved in and I've got to test myself, provoke myself a bit."

"We're working [on] a few things and given the ABC's propensity for copying what we do I wouldn't be making it public."

When asked about the competition between 3AW and the ABC in Melbourne, Mitchell says:

"I don't think any competition's unfair, they're entitled to do it. I must admit, I'd love to have their budget, I'd love to have their staff – not their specific staff, but I'd love to have their staff numbers. We're a pretty lean organisation and at times I'm jealous that they're not so lean and they don't have to go out and make a quid. People just throw money at them. But that's the nature of the beast. You can't knock it. We need a national broadcaster and they're entitled to compete in any way they wish, whether it's actually their role or not."

With 12 months left on his current 3AW contract, what happens after that ?

"Every time I've come out of contract for the past 25 years I've thought about what I'm going to do. I remember after about my first two-year contract I thought, 'I'll go back to newspapers' and after the next one I thought I'll do something else. But I can't see me doing anything else."

Read more in The Sydney Morning Herald.

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