Bracing for job losses: The ABC. Photo: Peter Braig
The ABC will examine cutting back television and radio programs aimed at older viewers as part of a major review of the public broadcaster's programming.
ABC staff are also bracing for heavy job losses this year as part of a seismic restructure of the broadcaster's structures and operations.
Hundreds of jobs could go in the overhaul, which is being driven by government funding cuts and recognition that the ABC's structures have become outdated.
Median viewing age by television channel.
ABC managing director Mark Scott said in a speech on Friday the ABC would ''robustly review its programming and services'' to ensure the broadcaster remains relevant to modern audiences. ''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,'' he said.
It is understood boosting engagement with the 20 to 50-year old demographic will be one of the priorities of the programming review. There has long been concern within the ABC - which airs popular programs such as Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Antiques Master - that its audience is weighted too heavily towards older viewers.
Research by Fusion Strategy released last year showed that, with a median age of 61, the ABC has the oldest audience of the major TV networks - ahead of SBS on 57, Channel Seven (49), Nine (45) and Ten (41).
Mr Scott said in his speech that the ABC would be ''targeting new spending in online and mobile where the audience growth is''. ''We will need to increase our investment to match that audience shift,'' he said.
The federal government is expected to announce deep cuts to the ABC's budget following an efficiency review into its operations that identified about $60 million worth of continuing savings. The government has described the $35.5 million worth of cuts handed down in the budget in May as a ''down payment'' on the efficiency review.
In a question-and-answer email to staff last week, ABC management flagged heavy job losses at the broadcaster later this year. ''For the ABC to build a sustainable future, it must modernise and change,'' staff were told. ''The challenges we confront mean this necessarily goes beyond a narrow back room cost-cutting exercise. This potentially means changes across the board. Regrettably this is likely to mean job losses on top of [the 80 job losses] already announced as part of the restructure of ABC International.''
Mr Scott is expected to dismantle the ABC's traditional television and radio divisions and create a platform-neutral structure based on genre (such as drama, comedy and children's content). IT, human resources and other roles are expected to be outsourced to the private sector.