ABC chief executive David Anderson said cutting nearly 60 archivist and librarian positions as part of a digital restructuring will not compromise the national broadcaster’s ability to tell local stories.
The ABC announced the layoffs planned for Wednesday as part of the digitization of much of its audio and video collection and the rollout of systems that journalists and producers would use to source their own archival materials.
“We don’t think it will compromise our ability to tell local stories…we value our archives,” Anderson told media after attending an event in Parliament on Thursday.
“This is a change we are putting in place that is transformational for the future.”
The ABC, which last year converted around 90% of its audio content and 35% of its videotape collection to digital files, said the technology meant that content could be collected, managed and reused more efficiently and that, therefore, certain roles were no longer necessary.
He proposes to remove around 58 roles and introduce 30 new ones and says the final number of redundancies will be determined after consultation.
But Community and Public Sector Union ABC Section Secretary Sinddy Ealy said the proposal would result in the loss of more than 1,200 hours of archival work per week, “potentially jeopardizing national archival footage, music and work.
“The ABC developed this proposal even before consulting program creators about what they need from the ABC archives to do their job,” Ealy said. “This proposal is technology-driven, not content-driven, which is very problematic when it doesn’t have a realistic view of where the organization is at.”