The future of the ABC – time to refocus and revitalise?

Respected Children’s Television pioneer Patricia Edgar has called for a complete reset of the ABC guided by a new strategy developed through a national summit attended by “the most fertile minds across all areas of knowledge, not just broadcasting and media”.

The ABC’s 90th anniversary on 1 July, and the election of a less ideologically opposed Albanese government, have provided an opportunity for new thoughts and ideas about the ABC’s future. ABC Friends Victoria members were asked to share their own ideas in the lead up to the anniversary.

Ms Edgar says that the ABC’s future will not be assured unless there are significant changes made.

With an institution as vital as the public broadcaster to our national and democratic well-being, you do not tinker, you have a fundamental rethink. Success and advancement do not follow from grafting new things upon old.

The ABC must either redefine their role, refocus, be strengthened and revitalised, or public broadcasting will fail and die.

Ms Edgar says that any new strategy has to acknowledge the world the ABC is operating in today – a media and social landscape indelibly affected by the internet; a much bigger and culturally diverse population of more “knowing and demanding beings”; a gig based working economy and a world changed forever by the global pandemic.

The audience is a completely different beast, in fact multiple beasts.

And while there are roles that the ABC must continue to fill – national reach; comprehensive news and current affairs; pre-school educational programming and restrengthening of the ABC’s `soft power’ in the Pacific, the broadcaster “cannot be all things to all people” and cannot ignore financial realities.

… budget considerations constrain choices. Comprehensive programming and entertainment may not be achievable, but well-chosen comedy and drama are great ways to explore our narrative.

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