JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

ABC should charge for iView, Lewis review recommends

EXCLUSIVE

Malcolm Turnbull says the ABC board will make the final decisions on how the broadcaster spends its budget.

Malcolm Turnbull says the ABC board will make the final decisions on how the broadcaster spends its budget. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The ABC should adopt a more commercial approach and charge users to access select content on its iView online catch-up service, according to the Abbott government’s efficiency review into public broadcasting.

And multicultural broadcaster SBS should be allowed to air more advertisements during its television programs to raise extra revenue, the confidential study recommends.

Most ABC iView content would remain free on the grounds taxpayers have already paid to produce it. But Fairfax Media can reveal the executive summary of the review suggests a paid subscription model could be introduced for users who want greater access to archived programs and special content.

This would help supplement declining revenues from DVD and CD sales in ABC shops.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann played down the prospect of the recommendation being adopted, saying the review was a ''report to government, not a report from the government''.

''This is not a policy of the government. This is not something that we've put out there,'' he told ABC radio.

Asked if he would pay to watch the ABC, Senator Cormann declared himself a regular watcher of the broadcaster. ''That is obviously not something that is on the table right now,'' he said.

The review also suggests the ABC and SBS should also share the same catch-up viewing service.

ABC director of television Richard Finlayson last year described the ‘‘spiralling’’ costs of iView, which averages more than 3 million visits a month. The ABC pays a charge each time a video is initiated.

The review, led by former Seven West Media chief financial officer Peter Lewis, also recommends loosening restrictions on SBS’s advertising criteria. This idea is likely to prove controversial among keen viewers of the multicultural broadcaster, which introduced in-program advertising in 2006. Free-to-air commercial television broadcasters, who are competing fiercely for advertising revenue, are also likely to oppose the idea.

The review suggests the ABC should abandon digital radio, in which it has invested heavily, and focus instead on streaming radio programs online.

ABC and SBS could make their operations more efficient by forming a separate, centralised company to employ all their back-office workers.

Fairfax Media revealed on Tuesday the Abbott government’s efficiency review into the ABC had identified ‘‘significant scope’’ for savings by increasing the use of external production studios rather than filming television programs internally.

The review found the ABC could rake in about $70 million by selling off its production studios and outsourcing more work to the private sector.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday the review was designed to protect ABC programming from budget cuts.

In an email to staff on Tuesday, ABC managing director Mark Scott said he had established a project management office to investigate the review’s findings and how the broadcaster could make savings.

‘‘The Lewis review is not prescriptive and final decisions on how the ABC operates and spends its budget lies with the ABC board,’’ he said.

The ABC Friends lobby group called for the review to be made public.

Follow us on Twitter

146 comments

  • "The review suggests the ABC should abandon digital radio, in which it has invested heavily, and focus instead on streaming radio programs online"

    I bought a digital radio to listen to the ABC.

    Commenter
    RobJ
    Date and time
    June 25, 2014, 5:29AM
    • What's needed is MORE investment in digital radio.
      The coverage is woeful with many blackspots in Melbourne.

      Commenter
      JohnB
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 7:09AM
    • The review suggests the reviewer(s) just don't get it.

      Australians support the ABC and SBS because they provide services of a type and in a style we want and appreciate. Australians are sick to the stomach with the intelligence insulting dross offered as programming and the mindless, screaming and far too frequent advertisements of commercial television.

      The 'savings', things once known as 'cuts', are also insignificant in the scheme of the public broadcasters overall quantum of funding however, because the ABC and SBS have had to provide 'efficiency dividends' as well as sufffering funding cuts, they are broadcasting on the monetary equivalent of the smell of the proverbial oily rag. Services, programming and local employment and training of the various required talents will suffer and so will we Australians, City, regional and remote, alike.

      This government has trashed an effective and world class fibre to the home internet (and is ballsing up their thought bubble alternative) in a country with great disparity in Internet quality, speed and availability. A very many cannot access Internet only based products such as iview/sbs on demand, but want not only those to be charged for but also for broadcasts to be taken from the airwaves and delivered via the Internet. I imagine the Nats are too myopic and Luddite- esq, not to mention sycophantic of the Libs, to get that it's their constituents who will suffer the most. Turnbulls constituents of Wentworth, will undoubtedly manage just fine but most Australians don't enjoy their level of infrastructure and access.

      More so for me, we pay for the ABC and SBS and consistently support them. They are a significant part of the Australian ethos and there is absolutely no mandate to dismantle them. We've earned our public broadcasters.
      So, hands off, you ideological driven fools!

      Commenter
      Warwick
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 7:54AM
    • So the Government that canned the NBN is suggesting we should all get into internet streaming of radio.
      Hysterical.

      Commenter
      Rex
      Location
      Turramurra
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 8:40AM
    • Out here in the regions we rely on the ABC. Digital radio is only available online or on TV. The AM and FM signals can be fairly good some days but the ABC is probably the most reliable.

      I work nights and weekends and the LNP are attacking my penalty rates and now they want me to pay to watch the shows I miss while I am at work?

      They wonder why people pirate programs off of the net .........

      Commenter
      Paul01
      Location
      Riverina
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 8:54AM
    • Thanks for the laugh Warwick. Apparently $1.2Billion is 'the smell of an oily rag'. The ABC already has a far greater media footprint across the country than any other business is legally allowed.

      Commenter
      BG
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 9:12AM
    • 'They wonder why people pirate programs off of the net .........'

      By using a proxy server you can access British TV stations and the BBC news service, even without the NBN. The joke is that the LNP believe they are holding all the cards. British discussion forums are not too bad either. In a minute there will be another Mirabella Moment in Euroa thanks to social media - see you there.

      Commenter
      adam
      Location
      yrrawonga
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 9:19AM
    • I am so glad the lefties are getting what they deserve. Looks like there was far more at stake at the last election than simply fighting for the rights of people on rickety boats who have absolutely zero invested in the future of the country. Oh how the right broke the issue right over the lefty noggin.

      Welcome to Abbott's Australia - courtesy of the Greens and Labor.

      Commenter
      Malik the magic sheep
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 9:44AM
    • Why should One be charged for iview! So we can watch channels Seven, Nine or Ten (Who by the way each have free online viewing as well)… Why would I want to watch those commercially biased and idiotic ideological 'big media' shows that play crap constantly. Is this an attempt to make me watch these crappy television channels?

      If commercial channels stream programs for free absolutely no change should be made to the ABC. What we are seeing is a sustained attack on the ABC from right-wing ideological fanatics who wish to screw Australia up for the sake of entrenching their right-wing power base and supporting their 'big business' vested interests rather than espouse the Australian community. Disgusting!!!

      Commenter
      DigitalViewer
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 11:16AM
    • iView isn't radio and also it is funded by taxpayers.

      The Liberals seem to want taxpayers to fund the ABC while asking taxpayers to pay for the service they already paid for.

      If I want to view BBC iPlayer I can, and that is the BBC.

      It seems like the Telstra privatization all over again. Next will be Ziggy as CEO of the ABC.

      Commenter
      SimpleLan
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 11:48AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo