ABC ALUMNI

Former staff & supporters standing up for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ON BY-ELECTION EVE, AFP PUSHES FOR AFGHAN FILES CHARGES AGAINST ABC JOURNALIST

The Australian Federal Police will push for charges against ABC reporter Dan Oakes, one of the team who worked on The Afghan Files.

The AFP has sent a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, which will now decide whether to lay charges.

In a statement, ABC Managing Director David Anderson called The Afghan Files factual and important reporting, which exposed allegations about Australian soldiers committing war crimes in Afghanistan. He said its accuracy has never been challenged,

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VOTE FOR THE ABC IN EDEN-MONARO

O'BRIEN URGES EDEN-MONARO TO VOTE FOR THE ABC

Former ABC journalist and broadcaster Kerry O'Brien has called on voters in Eden-Monaro to vote for the ABC in this weekend's by-election.

Mr O'Brien issued a personal appeal for the ABC in a statement supported by ABC Alumni and the Friends of the ABC.

He said the national broadcaster has never been under greater threat, at a time it is more relevant and more important to Australians.

Read the full statement

New book tells story of much loved ABC broadcaster

Former ABC broadcaster, journalist and manager Steven Alward features in a soon to be released true story - The Altar Boys

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Congrats Sally & Eleanor

ABC Alumni congratulates Sally Sara on her appointment as new host of the radio current affairs program The World Today

Sally replaces Eleanor Hall - host since 2001. We congratulate Eleanor on her long and distinguished ABC career.

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Sally Sara

Eleanor Hall

WE CONDEMN ABC BUDGET CUTS

ABC Alumni today condemned the ongoing Government cuts to the national broadcaster’s budget, which will soon see another 240 job losses.

“This means ABC staff will have been cut by nearly a quarter since the Coalition was elected,” said ABC Alumni Chair Matt Peacock. “But the Government is pretending there have been no cuts. Just who are they kidding?”

During the recent bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, ABC services have surged in importance and popularity, with expanded emergency, education, health and iview services despite a diminished budget.

But the ABC’s operational budget has been cut by an average of more than $100 million each year since Tony Abbott’s promise in 2013 of “no cuts.”

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ABBOT'S INFAMOUS 2013 CAMPAIGN "PLEDGE"

ALUMNI VICTORIA MEET ONLINE

The Victorian branch of ABC Alumni has held a Skype meeting to discuss the state of the ABC and plan for the ramping up of Alumni activities in the state.

Sydney organiser, Peter Marks, has recently moved to Melbourne and is keen to help coordinate in Victoria.

The meeting covered the continuing deep cuts to the ABC’s operational budget, Government attacks and misinformation, and the ongoing anti-ABC campaign from Murdoch-controlled media.

The Victorian meeting also considered threats to media freedom in Australia, and the continuing risk of stacking the ABC Board.

If you're an ABC Alumni in Victoria, please contact Peter.marks@pobox.com to get involved.

ABC Alumni meet online in Victoria

News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst

AFP SMETHURST RAID HIGH COURT DECISION EXPLAINED

A year ago, the Federal Police raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.

The High Court has found the warrant authorising that raid invalid, but did not order the return or destruction of material seized during the raid.

The decision in Smethurst v Commissioner [2020] has implications for the practice of journalism and for our notions of privacy and freedom to communicate.

Read incisive analysis of the decision from Will Sharpe of HWL Ebsworth Lawyers. Will specialises in public and administrative law.

The Federal Government plan to push Australian TV shows into the Pacific region is the wrong move at the wrong time.

Shows like Neighbours, Masterchef and Border Security will be shown in Pacific nations as part of the $17 million PacificAus TV Initiative, intended to counter the rapid rise of Chinese media in the region.

Our friends at Australia Asia Pacific Media Initiative (AAPMI) have opposed this scheme since its inception, calling for a restoration of ABC services relevant to the Pacific and the inclusion of original Pacific-made material in that offering.

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UNFREEZE ABC FUNDING: ALUMNI TELL PM

ABC Alumni has asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to unfreeze ABC funding, to help the broadcaster respond to the COVID19 pandemic.

Alumni director Greg Wilesmith wrote to the PM, saying it was disappointing the Government did not reverse the funding freeze as part of its response to corona virus.

The freeze came as an indexation pause that took effect in July 2019.

Mr Wilesmith said the freeze had already affected ABC capacity to meet its charter obligations, and should be removed now to allow a full response to a national emergency.

Read the full letter to the PM.

ABC vital during pandemic

Former ABC broadcaster Richard Dinnen on why public and Government support for the ABC is more important than ever.

CALLS TO BOOST FUNDS FOR ABC INDO-PACIFIC PRESENCE

The ABC international division is the “voice” of Australia and a major provider of co-operative aid for local broadcasters in the Indo-Pacific region.

But despite the current complex geopolitical environment, funding for the ABC service has been slashed over the past decade.

ABC Alumni is campaigning together with the expert Australia Asia Pacific Media Initiative for a revival and renewal of ABC International.

Read their submissions to to the latest DFAT Expert Panel looking into a new international development policy for Australia.

ABC LOSES AFP RAID COURT CHALLENGE

A politician will now decide if ABC staff will face charges.

Jonathan Holmes analyses the judgment. Read more

ABC science broadcaster Robyn Williams is made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for distinguished service to science as a journalist.

Multi-award-winning investigative reporter Kate McClymont is recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the print media and to investigative journalism.

Dr Gael Jennings - award-winning former ABC TV and radio broadcaster gets a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to science and to the broadcast media.

Former ABC Director of News Kate Torney receives an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the broadcast media, and to the cultural sector.

Better news on media freedom?

2019 was an awful year for Australian media. The AFP raids, funding cuts at the ABC, anti-terrorism laws, defamation laws and suppression orders.

But Jonathan Holmes says we may have turned a corner and better times could be on the way.

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PM should look to Menzies - not Abbott

ABC Alumnus Helen Grasswill argues Scott Morrison should look to Robert Menzies for inspiration on Australian international broadcasting.

It was the Liberal founding father who said in 1939 Australia should speak with its own voice. That voice is still needed.

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Sue Spencer wins Walkley

Congratulations to ABC Alumnus Sue Spencer on her well deserved Walkley Award for most outstanding contribution to journalism.

Sue is renowned for her fearless journalism and editorial leadership on the ABC Four Corners program.

The Walkley Foundation said Sue has upheld the finest traditions of revelatory journalism, and has been a tenacious leader and inspiring mentor.

Sue also pioneered a new form of political journalism, producing and directing the groundbreaking Labor in Power and The Howard Years.

As a woman in a world once dominated by male producers, Sue Spencer has broken through every barrier while maintaining the highest ethics as a leader and program maker. A standard-bearer for the axiom “speaking truth to power”, she has had an enormous impact on our industry.

She is currently ABC Alumni's Training & Mentoring Co-ordinator.

Read the full Walkley statement about Sue's outstanding contribution to journalism

Sue Spencer receives her Walkley. Pic John Donegan/1826

The Frankenstein effect - Quentin Dempster on why we need whistleblowers more than ever

If we’re not properly informed .. we can create monsters. This is called the Frankenstein effect.

Whether you’re a taxpayer, a citizen, a consumer or a shareholder expecting to live in a free and fair society with peace and prosperity, you certainly need whistleblowers and the journalists prepared to seek out and publish their revelations.

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Repatriate Assange: Alumni tells PM

ABC Alumni has called on the Federal Government to seek the repatriation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Australia.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ABC Alumni called on Australia to “actively seek” the repatriation of Assange on legal and humanitarian grounds.

“As well as our grave concerns about Assange’s legal case and his precarious health, ABC Alumni considers that a free media is fundamental to our democracy,” the letter said.

“We are troubled by the potential and dangerous precedent that would be set if Assange is extradited to the US.”

The letter urges Australia to make strong representations to the British Government to stop the extradition of Assange on the grounds that he is an Australian journalist being persecuted for doing his job.

Read the full letter

Scrap TV. iview the lot. And advertise: Gruen

The ABC TV Gruen panel is renowned for insight into all things media. What do you think of Gruen's ideas for the ABC itself?

Todd Sampson called for the ABC to make iview its primary product and television the supplementary. And Russel Howcroft urged the ABC to advertise its programs elsewhere to attract a younger audience.

Full story

Pacific calls for media freedom

The Melanesia Media Freedom Forum says there are growing threats to the freedom of media and journalism in the Pacific region.

Meeting in Brisbane, the Forum called for action to address increasing threats to media freedom, and the professional, personal and health impacts on journalists across Melanesia.

Read the full statement

ABC funding - the perennial problem

In 1980, Professor Henry Mayer wrote: "ABC funding is a perennial ‘problem’. Endless disputes over funding and the use of funds are built into the system."

We're reminded of this in a new research paper on ABC funding by Dr Tyson Wils, social policy specialist, published on the Federal Parliament website.

It's a timely and important paper, taking a long view of the politics and contention that attach to ABC funding, and puts some recent developments into their proper context.

Read the research paper

Asia Pacific broadcast review delivers report

The Federal Government has quietly published the report of its review of Australian broadcasting services in Asia and the Pacific.

Supporters of Australian Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific say it falls well short of what's needed to give Australia the voice it needs in the Pacific.

And former ABC Pacific correspondent Richard Dinnen says the report misses the point, and the moment.

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Holmes and Dempster represent Alumni at Senate press freedom inquiry. The "stolen" secrets travesty and the case for a media freedom act. See our full coverage

ABC annual report tabled in Federal Parliament

The ABC annual report was tabled in Parliament on 16 October. Chair Ita Buttrose prefaced the report by saying the ABC continues to be the home and source of Australian stories, told across the nation and to the world.

She said the Corporation’s commitment to innovation in storytelling and broadcast delivery is stronger than ever.

Managing Director David Anderson said the ABC can be confident of its ability to respond to the significant challenges that it, like all media organisations, faces in the next few years. Mr Anderson said the AFP raid of the ABC in June cast into sharp relief the legislative regime under which journalists at the ABC and other media organisations operate.

The ABC is adamant that it cannot fulfil its obligation to deliver accurate, impartial and objective journalism if its staff are intimidated or treated like criminals for simply doing their jobs.

Read the annual report

Ita calls for more ABC Asia Pacific funding; announces international iview - read more from our friends at SABAP

What is the future of the ABC?

ABC Managing Director David Anderson tells ABC Newcastle about the challenging start to his role, ABC funding, and the day-to-day job of running the national broadcaster. Listen here

Science broadcaster Sharon Carleton meets ABC Friends on NSW Central Coast

What have HRH Prince Charles, rapist butterflies and mauve bloomers got in common? They've all appeared on RN’s The Science Show, courtesy of journalist Sharon Carleton.

Sharon, a member of the Alumni, gave a talk to the Friends of the ABC on the Central Coast. Perhaps they were expecting a rundown on the painful cuts to RN, instead they were regaled with amusing anecdotes and an insider’s optimism for the future of science broadcasting.

ALP says Coalition misleading on ABC funding

Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland says the Government has ignored at recommendations from two separate inquiries that there be stable funding for the ABC.

Ms Rowland says both the Senate Inquiry into allegations of political interference in the ABC and the ACCC’s 18-month Digital Platforms Inquiry examined recent Liberal budget cuts to the ABC, and both recommend stable funding for the ABC. Read more

The Federal Government is again trying to compel the ABC to further increase its regional coverage and involvement.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has re-introduced legislation to require two ABC board members to have regional links or experience and the creation of a regional advisory council to reflect the views of local communities. Read more

There were many ABC alumni at the farewell for veteran TV executive Marena Manzoufas who died in July.

The former ABC & SBS programmer was one of the first female executives in the male-dominated TV industry.

She had been an early champion of multiculturalism in NSW which led to her being recruited to SBS when it was founded in 1980.

Marena joined the ABC in the late 80s as Head of Acquisitions and ABC International. Under her guidance, Bananas in Pyjamas went international and the ABC purchased a huge catalogue of movies.

She left in the mid-90s to work for production company Beyond, where she developed and sold Australian content for audiences here and overseas. Marena returned to the ABC in 2001 as Head of Programming until retirement in 2010.

ABC Alumni welcomes the establishment of a second parliamentary inquiry into media freedom.

The Senate narrowly voted to have its communications committee examine laws on whistleblowers and journalists.

The issue has been fiercely debated since the Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC Sydney headquarters and the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.

The Senate inquiry will look at the disclosure and public reporting of sensitive and classified information. It will also examine the laws relating to the use of warrants for journalists and media organisations.

The Government opposed this inquiry, saying the issues will be adequately covered by an investigation now underway by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.