The production of all ABC television shows, except news and current affairs, would be outsourced under radical proposals put forward by the Abbott's cost-cutting review of the national broadcaster.
Even celebrated programs such as Play School and At the Movies would be produced externally.
Reports that TV production at the ABC could be outsourced is a 'code for cuts to quality' says Labor MP Terri Butler.
Fairfax Media has been briefed on the confidential report and can reveal it has estimated the ABC would save a net $70 million by outsourcing all television production to the private sector. On top of $90 million reaped by selling off production facilities, the proposal would save $400,000 each year. Implementation costs would be $20 million.
There is "significant scope" for savings through increased use of external production studios rather than filming television programs internally, the review finds.
The ABC increasingly relies on programs purchased from the independent production sector, but still makes such signature programs as Spicks and Specks in-house.
The ABC has traditionally had a ''build and own it'' culture that is out of step with the modern media, the review says.
The $70 million estimate does not include news and current affairs programs - which would remain in-house - and would be offset by redundancy costs.
The review advocates selling the broadcaster's fleet of outside broadcasting vans and abandoning the expansion of digital radio services.
The office of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the review, announced in January, is focused on back-office operations and that programming was explicitly excluded.
Any decisions on changing the ABC's levels of internal and external television production would be made independently by the ABC board and management.
Community and Public Sector Union president Michael Tull said outsourcing television production to the private sector would "sound a death knell for the ABC's distinctive Australian voice".
"If that in-house capacity goes then Australia can say goodbye to the great dramas and edgy comedies which are such a central part of who we are," Mr Tull said.
Sources who have read the draft review say it is more speculative than prescriptive in nature. The
review includes estimated savings for various cost-cutting proposals, but does not make firm recommendations on which measures should be adopted.
It is understood ABC managing director Mark Scott is planning big announcements on savings measures and changes to ABC structures around August. The changes, which flow from the efficiency review and a secret overhaul called "Project 21", are expected to involve a dismantling of the ABC's traditional television and radio silos and other modernisation efforts.
The efficiency review also proposes subjecting ABC and SBS spending to greater parliamentary scrutiny and bringing employees' pay and conditions more closely into line with workers in the private sector. Back-office operations - including switchboard services - would be centralised in the ABC's Sydney headquarters in Ultimo. The ABC and SBS would share headquarters for the first time, a move former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has said would lead to the eventual ''death'' of SBS.
The broadcasters would share a catch-up online viewing service rather than maintain ABC iView and SBS On Demand separately.
The review takes a dim view of digital radio, in which the ABC has invested heavily, saying money could be saved by simply streaming radio programs online.
In an interview with Fairfax Media earlier this month, Mr Turnbull foreshadowed deeper cuts to the ABC and SBS, saying the ''age of entitlement'' for the public broadcasters is over.
Former ABC director Quentin Dempster said speculated budget cuts of $40-$50 million a year would lead to hundreds of job losses.