The ABC has committed to a television production studio at its redeveloped Southbank home in Melbourne, rejecting fears that the new premises would be without a working studio.
Yesterday Managing Director Mark Scott advised staff the ABC Board had approved funding for the extentions to its existing Southbank home. The redevlopment will be built at the rear of the current building on property the ABC currently uses for car parking. It will bring together staff and productions from its historic TV home at Elsternwick.
“The new facility in Melbourne will include a large television production studio. As is the case now with our existing Melbourne operation in Gordon Street, the new studio will be utilised for both internal productions and co-productions as well as external hire. The precise size and required studio fit out will be considered as part of the planning process,” Scott advised staff via email.
Fundamental to the development is ABC’s commitment to a mixed television production model, “where we make programs, produce them in partnership with the independent sector and acquire other programs to meet our Charter obligations and fully engage our audiences,” he wrote.
“There is no doubt that the structure of the television industry is changing. Multi-channelling and online content are creating more options for audiences and the cost of meeting the increasing demand with finite budgets is causing pressure everywhere. Key funding support from agencies like Screen Australia and State bodies as well as access to other production incentives like the producer offset in expensive genres like drama and documentary is only available when we work in partnership with independent producers.
“Every year the Television division has to make programming decisions based on scheduling requirements, the audience response to current offerings, competition for acquisitions and access to creative talent, production partners and finance. These decisions will continue to be made, but I am mindful of the importance of communicating with staff in the Television and Resources divisions about our planning for the mix of internal and external production. “
Recently unions have raised concerns about the ongoing production output by the public broadcaster. But while Scott says Melbourne will remain a major hub for ABC television it isn’t clear what, if any, role will be played by the Elsternwick studios.
“The Gordon Street facilities date back to the origins of television in Australia and have been home to many of the ABC’s most memorable productions, from Countdown and Seachange, to Spicks and Specks and Adam Hills in Gordon Street, whose live show has made the location famous.”
ABC Staff in Brisbane will also be located together when a new building is completed at the end of the year, following issues with a rise in cancer amongst staff from other locations.