ABC in Oz overhauls content & news teams, with job losses expected

Chris Oliver-Taylor

The ABC in Australia has unveiled more details about the overhaul of its news and content operations, with job cuts expected.

The content division will be led by former Netflix and BBC exec Chris Oliver-Taylor, while the pubcaster will ditch its regional bureaus and move staff into a single, central news unit led by Justin Stevens.

Content division

The new content arm will house all TV programming execs and some radio units such as its Triple J operations, with almost a dozen new senior roles being created. Job cuts are also expected as a result of the reorg, but the ABC has not confirmed details.

Jennifer Collins, who had been in interim charge of entertainment and specialist, has been named head of screen content, with a remit that includes oversight of a new scripted unit, which combines the drama and comedy divisions.

She will also oversee factual, while Nick Hayden will lead entertainment. Libbie Doherty retains oversight of kids, adding family programming to her remit, and Robert Allan becomes head of programming and acquisitions for streaming and linear.

Sarah McKenzie has been named head of commissioning & content planning, while Kelrick Martin is head of indigenous and Angela Stengel leads a new digital innovation unit, including some audio output. Sacha Gregson is head of production.

Oliver-Taylor’s appointment was revealed in March, with the exec having previously been director of production for Netflix ANZ. Prior to that, he had been MD of Matchbox Pictures and CEO of Fremantle Asia Pacific, having joined ABC in 2005.

‘Streamlined approach’

ABC said the changes would simplify the commissioning process and streamline its operations, following recent confirmation of a new five-year funding agreement with the government that will see A$1.1bn allocated each year.

The restructuring of news means regional journalists will be moved into the central news team, led by Stevens.

ABC MD David Anderson said: “Change is never easy. Clearly this restructure impacts some of our leaders. Where this occurs, we will seek to redeploy as many affected employees as possible. But we expect there will be some redundancies and consultation with those leaders who are impacted is under way.”

Anderson added that the changes would enable the broadcaster to adapt to increasing digital consumption and “respond to significantly rising costs of running the organisation which are generating ongoing budgetary pressures.”

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