ABC budget cuts claim iconic news and current affairs department

ABC budget cuts claim iconic news and current affairs department

4 January, 2015. 15:15

ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

The ABC News & Current Affairs department has been axed. PHOTO: Darryl Seymour/AAP/AFP
The ABC News & Current Affairs department has been axed. PHOTO: Darryl Seymour/AAP/AFP

THE ABC has been secretly planning the cancellation of its entire news and current affairs department for at least a month – with their axing likely before the end of this year financial year, a few sources claim.

On Friday, Fairfax Media revealed the national broadcaster has been covertly developing a reality television show in which out-of-work journalists are pitted against each other in a “bloody” battle royal-type scenario – the prize being a coveted internship at the Cowra Guardian and another shot at their beloved trade.

The show is rumored to be hosted by Leigh Sales, inspired partly by commercial projects such as The Hunger Games, it would air at 7.30pm on Friday nights – replacing ABC News 24 and regular news programming on ABC1.

But the fate of the journalists will remain uncertain until June – or possibly July – when the federal government determines how much blood it will let from the ABC. Estimates of the cull have ranged from those who align themselves with socialism (even if they have repented) and anybody who enjoys soccer.

One source claims to have seen – in November – an internal “manifesto” that included a detailed “anti-government assessment” concerning the axing of selected Labor-sympathising journalists.

It explored the likely backlash from various groups including ABC, staff and the media, and concluded that forcing journalists to kill each other on live television was a “high risk” proposition.

An ABC spokeswoman said: “ABC News has been considering a range of ideas to identify savings, find more efficient ways of operating and best position the division for the future. We decided, after a heart-breaking long-lunch at Rockpool, that the whole news department will be scrapped and a commercial venture will take it’s spot. I for one, look forward to Kerry O’Brien taking on Pip Courtney in a hand-to-hand fight to the death.”

It will involve no major political interviews or investigative reports but will feature pseudo-stories alongside “violent”, “funny” and “sadistic” human suffering. It may feature a live audience, a desk and some “amount of barbaric encounters”.

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