News & Commentary, Screen, TV

ABC axes Lateline in Guthrie’s current affairs overhaul

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ABC’s news and current affairs program Lateline will be axed at the end of this year after 27 years on air.

The move is part of Managing Director Michelle Guthrie’s overhaul to the structure and schedule of the broadcaster’s news and current affairs programming. According to Guardian AustraliaLateline’s host Emma Alberici will stay on in a new role in ABC’s national news and current affairs team.

Alberici tweeted earlier this morning to say that she’ll be discussing the announcement on Radio National’s Drive program tonight.

The program, which airs on weeknights at 9.30pm on the ABC News channel and at 10.30pm on the main channel, has won multiple Walkley Awards over the last two decades. But rumours that the show would be axed have been circulating since the show had its budget cut significantly in 2014.

There’s also been some concern of “doubling up” with the ABC’s flagship 7.30 program, given that both programs have a similar remit and focus on current affairs reporting and interviews.

Lateline was first hosted by Kerry O’Brien, and has been headed up by presenters including Maxine McKew, Virginia Trioli, Leigh Sales and Tony Jones.

The move comes as part of a major restructure to the ABC, which will see a 20% reduction in management staff. It’s rumoured that an announcement will be made next month that will see editorial staffing restructured along the lines of content and genre areas, rather than designated specifically to TV, radio, digital platforms. The restructure follows a series of redundancies throughout the year.

UPDATE: ABC announces plans to create ‘the largest dedicated daily investigative and specialist journalism teams in the country’.

The ABC has this afternoon put a “proposal” to staff and unions concerning the restructure:

“ABC Investigations: Led by Editor Jo Puccini, formerly 7.30 EP, and including 10 top investigative reporters, Australia’s most formidable daily investigative journalism unit would work across programs and platforms, uncovering exclusive stories and breaking new ground on big issues.

“Specialist Reporting Team: Under Editor Lisa Whitby, formerly Lateline EP, a team of reporters and producers would bring in-depth, expert reporting to core rounds including: Technology & Science; Regional Communities; Consumer Affairs; Education; Health; Arts, Culture & Entertainment; Social Affairs; and Indigenous.

“Two new television programs would also launch in changes proposed for the 2018 season: a prime-time news discussion show at 9pm on the ABC News channel, presented by Stan Grant, and a half-hour late edition national news bulletin at 10.30pm on the ABC TV main channel.”

Alberici will be ABC’s Chief Economics Correspondent, and Grant will be, in addition to his presenting role, the broadcaster’s Chief Asia Correspondent. The ABC says the move will strengthen its flagship current affairs program 7.30.

8 responses to “ABC axes Lateline in Guthrie’s current affairs overhaul

  1. I remain unconvinced of the logic of this latest move by the ABC.
    Emma Alberici strikes fear into lame politicians .
    Why would ABC management stop that ?
    Michael Lynch AO CBE
    Former ABC Board Director

    1. If this kind of “nutty as a fruitcake” comment was what passed as serious discussion while Mr Lynch was on the ABC board, no wonder Mark Scott’s rule over the organisation was a period of such a decline in standards and quality.

  2. *Yes, to getting rid of the Link. Yea!!
    *No, to retaining Stan Grant – esp not as “prime time news” discussant

    *I hope Emma takes a VERY wide view of what constitutes “economics”

    *Where is the interrogation/reporting of public affairs, policy and politics in the list of soft subjects – eg”Technology & Science; Regional Communities; Consumer Affairs; Education; Health; Arts, Culture & Entertainment; Social Affairs; and Indigenous.” If the new Catalyst show is an example of approach to science and technology them “soft” is very apt description.

  3. When they start saying things like they are strengthening the news team two seconds after announcing the abolition of one of the main news programs I smell double speak. This whole business with Guthrie looks to me like a re-run of the Jonathan Shier experiment. We know how that turned out.

  4. Another example of a weak government trying to stifle the free speech and democracy they fear so much. Killing critique is no substitute for effective government and meaningful policy.

  5. I have to agree with the article when it says “7.30” and “Lateline” are “doubling up”. The shows are basically identical. I would suggest keeping Lateline but add elements of the Drum & The Project so that it appeals to younger people and is not so incredibly dull.

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