The new face of the ABC?

Staff Writer

“A change is coming”….. Mark Scott.

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, gave a lecture to journalism students last Friday at QUT’s Creative Industries – The Opportunities are Many. You can read the entire lecture here

“We want the ABC to be among the winners. And that means accepting the blunt reality and paradox within the famous line from The Leopard: “If we want things to remain as they are, things will have to change.”


Mark outlined the ABC’s vision and purpose – and highlighted the dramatic shift in the media landscape. That today, we can be “overwhelmed by the available media choices: video, audio and text, through television and radio, online and mobile.

The shear fact that now every media operator, government or commercial is competing on the global stage – global content – global distribution channels – and some with very deep pockets. But, he said:  There are fewer and fewer media proprietors, few survivors willing to sacrifice earnings to deliver a broader, less tangible asset back to the community: one that benefits us not just as consumers, but as citizens.”

Mark talked about the ABC’s willingness to invest in new content saying: “We are willing to create content in all these different areas and seek to find the best way to deliver it on the platform our audiences choose”

“The ABC represents a continuing public commitment to programming that informs, educates and entertains, that tells Australian stories, and which increasingly opens up our airwaves and our websites to the voices in our community and the views of our audiences.

“And all without having to make a profit, boost the share price or exceed market expectations.”

When it comes to radio, you can look at any surveyed market in Australia and see the strength of the collective ABC radio brands.

A report released last week by Bob Peters of Global Media Analysis, Ratings Winners 2014, also highlighted their success. The five metropolitan radio networks of the ABC, out-performed their commercial counterparts during the financial year of 2014. There was a small decline in the average 10+ share, but the ABC saw a 1.4% increase in FM listening – their biggest hit was a fall in AM listening.

From Mark Scott’s perspective, when it comes to the radio side of the ABC, he said: “The challenge at the ABC is to ensure networks provide high quality content whilst ensuring investment is at the right level, work processes are efficient and effective and programming is relevant and engaging to audiences.”

When it comes to serving the audience, he also realises the changing competitive space, saying: “We must accept that in the fierce contest for audiences, where old alliances no longer work and where friends can become rivals, the ABC has to robustly review its programming and services, find new ways to keep the audiences we have and to attract new ones. We will make the investment necessary to deliver quality programming. But it will be prudent and we will need to make careful judgments about the audience return.”

When it comes to that investment, you could say we are all shareholders as taxpayers. Mark Scott was also realistic on the final pressures that have come to bare on the ABC.

“We face the immediate future knowing that funding cuts are coming, but their size has not yet been determined.”

“At the ABC we must develop cost-effective and audience-focussed solutions to both these challenges: the renewal of a media organisation in light of pressures created by technology, audiences, markets—and the reduction in funding. The ABC is accustomed to challenges, accustomed to change. And having been at the ABC for eight years now, I know that whatever the challenge is, it will be met.”

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