Regional ABC Radio National music listeners most disadvantaged by Cuts and moves to Digital Platform
Regional ABC Radio National listeners are being asked to ‘up the ante’ on Aunty about the axing of five of its music programs from its 2017 schedule. The ABC Board and management recently sanctioned the decommissioning of ‘The Daily Planet’, ‘The Inside Sleeve’, ‘The Live Set’, ‘The Rhythm Divine’ and ‘Soundpost’ – which offer regional listeners access to music they might have no other way of hearing.
The ABC have said that the diversity of music represented on the axed shows will be catered for on their digital station Double J, a view roundly rejected by music industry representatives and listeners. Additionally, ‘Jazztrack’ will only be available on digital radio from 2017.
Regional listeners have traditionally been able to access Radio National’s music shows via the analogue signal broadcast on radios in the car, the ute, or the transistor out in the shed.
Image: By Colin Suggett
The ABC now recommends they tune into its digital platform to access music (only available to most regional audiences via digital television or by streaming online). This severely disadvantages communities across regional Australia where internet access is slow or in many cases unavailable as is the case in Eurobodalla.
The #saveRNmusic campaign, run by a national volunteer group of musicians and music lovers, has asked that the Board halt the axing of music shows and reconsider the reliance of music programming on the digital platform. Campaign organisers have delivered two open letters to the ABC Board and Management about the program cuts, and are yet to receive an adequate response.
Campaign representative Ruth Hazleton said, “Regional Australians have been loudly voicing their concerns about the cuts and also the ABC’s premature reliance on the digital platform via our petition and Facebook pages. Many regional listeners, however, remain unaware of these changes. This stage of our campaign is focused on communicating with regional listeners so they have the opportunity to make their opinions heard.”
Regional music lovers are encouraged to sign the petition and find out more about the campaign at www.savernmusic.com. To date over 19,000 outraged music lovers have signed the Change.Org petition. The campaign has been publicly supported by major figures in the Australian music industry, including Paul Kelly, Deborah Conway, Archie Roach, Missy Higgins, Sarah Blasko, Gurrumul, and Megan Washington to name just a few, as well as national treasures such as Tim Winton.
To mark the scheduled closure of programs, the Campaign has organised a weekend of action starting Friday, 20th January that will include a mass mail-in to ABC management, protest gigs and various media events, particularly involving regional listeners. FAST FACTS FOR REGIONAL RADIO NATIONAL LISTENERS Radio National is cutting almost all music programming in 2017 Do you live in the country and enjoy or need access to good music programming? Do you like the alternatives to Triple J and commercial radio that Radio National currently provides? The ABC now wants you to: #1: Change your listening habits: get a digital TV! As the ABC shifts its resources to digital platforms, regional audiences are being asked to overhaul their listening habits. Where they have been able to access Radio National’s music shows in the car, the ute, or out in the shed, the ABC now recommends tuning into its digital platform Double J instead – which, by the way, will only be available to most regional audiences via digital television, or by streaming online. And even there, digital radio broadcasts are currently only available in five cities, which means only a minority of Australians will be able to access this music. #2: Pay internet providers for “free” content from the national broadcaster! We all have car radios and cheap transistors, right? Yes, but very few have digital radio receivers, which are costly. And internet can be unreliable and expensive in rural areas. Over half of regional Australian does not have sufficient bandwidth to access RN’s music shows. Listening via computer requires that we pay a provider for a network like NBN (still a mythical beast in most parts of Australia). Should we be beholden to private internet companies to access ABC content – paid for by taxpayers?
Above: The NBN rollout as of 16th December 2016: do you see a problem here? #3: Ignore the ABC’s charter! Section 6(1)(a)(i) of the Charter states that a function of the Corporation is “broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity and inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of, the Australian community”, and education is also a key focus. Beagle Editors Note: At the beginning of the campaign, one of #saveRNmusic team members contacted Julian Burnside QC for his advice on the ABC Management decision to axe these iconic regional programs and whether or not there was a clear breach of charter. Thought some of you might be interested in the response (reprinted here with permission by Ruth Hazelton) .
By stripping back cultural programming on Radio National, the ABC is willing to leave regional audiences at a cultural disadvantage. This is part of a larger plan for cutbacks that includes cutting shortwave broadcast in the Northern Territory, leaving some communities without enough access to emergency broadcasts. As Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, have said, the ABC’s lack of explanation for such cuts seems to show “that the ABC as the national public broadcaster has lost sight of its responsibility to provide services that are accessible regardless of where people live or who they are. "WHAT CAN YOU DO? Quick’n’easy: Sign the petition at www.savernmusic.com (and leave a comment!) Make your voice heard: Cont