Australian public broadcaster unveils vast shake-up

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian public broadcaster ABC announced Tuesday (Nov 14) that it was ditching its traditional television and radio divisions in a vast restructuring aimed at improving digital innovation at the embattled media company.

"The restructure is intended to break down what ABC management sees as increasingly irrelevant platform silos as more people get both their news and entertainment via the internet in both written, audio and video formats," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

From early next year, television and radio staff will be reorganised into three main teams - news, analysis and investigations; entertainment; and regional and local content, it said.

A "content ideas lab" will also be created to foster innovation in new programmes and ways of storytelling, it said.

ABC news director Gaven Morris said the overhaul was a reorganisation and not another downsizing of the company, which has some 4,700 employees.

"It's a very rare time at the ABC when you're allowed to announce ... change to the way we organise ourselves that isn't attached to a big budget saving or job losses," he told a meeting of staff to announce the changes.

"This exercise today is about making sure we work collectively and in better and smarter ways to serve our audience," added ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie.

The ABC has had to shed hundreds of jobs in the past four years as conservative governments cut its funding by more than A$250 million (S$260 million). Its annual budget now stands at around A$1 billion.

The public broadcaster has also come under attack from commercial media, which say it is using taxpayer funds to compete with them for online audiences in an industry already struggling to make a profit.