EXCLUSIVE: Eleven years of David and Margaret disappear from ABC website

The ABC has removed eleven years of reviews by David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz from the internet, leaving audiences unable to access one of the most significant records of modern Australian film history.

The website for Pomeranz and Stratton’s At The Movies, which ran on ABC TV from 2004 to 2014, is no longer maintained or hosted by the ABC. The site could formerly be found at abc.net.au/atthemovies, but the URL now links through to a page advising the site has been removed because: “The site has outdated content, The site is not accessible to all people… The experience is compromised on modern browsers and devices.”

Many older websites for TV shows are no longer hosted by the ABC, but the content from the At The Movies site has proven hugely valuable for critics, audiences, filmmakers, historians, and academics.

There are links to Pomeranz and Stratton’s reviews from this period scattered all over the internet, which now go to a landing page advising that the post is no longer maintained by the ABC. For example, if you visit the Wikipedia page for Warwick Thornton’s 2009 masterpiece Samson and Delilah (one of just seven films to receive a five-star rating from both critics on At The Movies), the link which refers back to Pomeranz and Stratton’s review now goes to this page.

The ABC says it is looking at how it can bring back content related to older TV shows as part of a new archive site. It’s currently restructuring its online presence for TV shows and moving content to a new system, which it says will take about a year.

The At The Movies website featured transcripts of almost 2000 reviews by Pomeranz and Stratton, taking in all of the biggest local and international new releases during their period on air. The website for their previous SBS series, The Movie Show (1986 to 2004) has also been removed by SBS, although many of their reviews from this time are still online.

Content from the At The Movies site can still be found by using public internet archive The Wayback Machine, as well as the National Library of Australia’s Trove, but those archives are certainly not resources known to every internet user wanting to access their reviews.

The ABC faced criticism earlier this year for removing other important arts and culture writing from the internet. Much of the content that was published on the ABC Arts portal, which ran from October 2009 to early 2016, has now been deleted.

Work from journalists and critics such as Dan Golding, Alison Croggon and Jane Howard wasn’t migrated to a new site when the portal was closed.

One of Golding’s pieces was a 2013 feature about the landmark political video game Escape From WoomeraThe feature was a significant source of knowledge about the controversial game, and is cited on various pages online and in several academic articles.

Another piece by Croggon and Howard was a major piece of research into the balance of Australian plays, international works and adaptations on Australian stages. Their data and analysis is no longer able to be accessed.

After some pressure from writers and artists, the ABC restored the Arts portal content as an archive in May, but it’s recently been discovered that the content has been removed again.

NOTE – An ABC spokesperson has provided the following statement to Daily Review:

“The ABC has not deleted or lost any content from At The Movies. We are currently in the process of moving archived online content onto a new publishing system and reviews from At The Movies will be available again once this process is complete.

“While the site that hosted the content had a very low number of visits, the ABC values the content produced by At The Movies and looks forward to sharing it with fans in the future.”

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26 responses to “EXCLUSIVE: Eleven years of David and Margaret disappear from ABC website

  1. I so totally agree with all of the above. The new ABC RN radio format DRIVES ME SPARE!! The previously much-admired Fran Kelly now has a Me-No-Listen-But-Talk machine gun delivery in interviews (a la the unbearable women reporters on BBC TV); in spite of my eagerness to know what he’s saying, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND a word that the TV reporter (Dan Garrett?) turkey-gobbles in his pronouncements and kindy class mispronunciations of words that aren’t English; and even still-stalwarts like Michael and Sara struggle to keep their heads above water in ‘Books & Arts.’ They do for the moment — so please don’t change — in this seemingly new ABC directive to flog people to death with tweets of the mind. Even the formerly unbearably ponderous James Carlton sounds like he’s had an Our-Way-Or-Else fire lit under his Vocal Chords.

  2. For all my adult life (70 years)the ABC has been a source of untold enrichment for me – with out it, my horizons would have been much more limited. I love good humour, but in the last few months the ABC has become juvenile, trivial, cheap and repetitive. Silly promos, ad nauseum, for stuff that just isn’t worth watching, with over-reliance on audience feedback – well, it’s free, after all, even though 90% useless. If only the decision makers could realize they have a critical responsibility for our cultural heritage – and development.
    Wake up, ABC Board!

  3. And a searchable archive of ten years of Arts Alive stories from the Community Radio Network was dropped by the SLV some years ago.

  4. Shortsighted, destructive and backward approach by a thoughtless ABC management with no regard for history or enjoymrnt of Australians,

  5. Alas, this crazy decision appalls me but doesn’t surprise me. No doubt David and Margaret are considered too old-fashioned for the shiny new ABC. The ABC has been going down the drain since about the time Ms Guthrie took over with her populist and corporate approach to both ABC tv and radio. It’s out with the old (excellent programmes, experienced announcers, anything with gravitas) and in with the new (kiddy staff, shiny happy promotional rubbish, programmes that state-the-bleeding-obvious, sentimentality, gratuitous music in the background of everything). Who are all the cheerful children reading the news in the early hours on ABC RN? The ones who make the ABC sound like a commercial radio station. When will they be trained to read and speak properly? David and Margaret could show them a thing or two. Oh wait. Too late.

  6. Heads must roll! Head of the ABC for starters – and of the relevant Minister for seconds. For dessert – why not that puff-piece leather-jacket man PM Tremble.

  7. No announcements, no apparent consultation, and no hope for us ABC lovers or those concerned with preserving history as it unfolded. China tried to erase Tienanmen Square and failed, thank heavens. This, on top of stripping ABC finances (twice) and interfering in the running of the ABC justifies my position of never trusting the Liberal/National Coalition with Government ever again.

  8. I would like to know on what grounds this decision was made???? I know that I have accessed this site many times so I’m sure others have done the same. It’s another terrible decision by the ABC!! If it’s going to be deleted then make it available somewhere else. Is there no respect for history??

  9. How ridiculous, this and other programs like the New Inventors provide a valuable teaching resource for high school teachers and students. We want access reinstated NOW.

  10. Looks to me like Michelle Guthrie trying to exert her authority again. The same as her decision to shut down Radio Australia’s short wave service to the detriment of audiences in Asia and remote Australia.

    1. This was a very big mistake.
      Other than muck-ups, and major disasters, Australia doesn’t enter the mind of the rest of the world.
      Shortwave transmissions to Asia and the Pacific, even extending to Europe in many languages put Australia up with America (VOA, RFA) and the UK (BBC-WS) in the world’s mind.
      Australia loses the top-of-the-mind branding that Radio Australia provided.
      Stupid mistake that should be reversed.

  11. So very disappointed with the ABC for doing this. I wonder upon whose directive this sad sad decision was acted upon. Can we do an FOI? Does anyone know. Surely we can some how get this sordid act of cultural vandalism reversed. Are the friends of the ABC doing something about this?

    1. Quite right. The Pandora project is most important. For example, a UK journo recently lost several years of work published online after the site closed.

    2. This is an excellent example of how easily the past can be ‘erased’ on the internet. It begs the question of how much vital information – even if not popular – has moved out of reach. It isn’t a new problem, as anyone who has had to migrate data from old to new software/media will attest. The information may still exist, but is inaccessible. As we rely more and more on digital media, the risk of losing our history becomes greater. And the value of libraries becomes more urgent.

  12. Don’t really care. I note that David has downgraded his original 3 and a half stars to just 2 stars for “Suburbicon” in this weekend’s Australian, possibly as a result of almost universal negative reviews. This means the film now has less stars than “The Snowman”, which many consider to be the worst film of the year! Talk about integrity!!!

  13. I do hope the ABC hasn’t removed it for fear comparison with the appalling “Screen Time” panel show. Come on ABC. We don’t necessarily need a clone of Margaret and David , but a good “serious ” film review show is sorely missed.

    1. Agree Bevan, appalling ‘ show’ Agree with most of above comments. Just more destruction of the ABC. Devastated at loss of music on Rn. Replaced by repeats, ghastly American low brow content. Hope Guthrie’s daughters enjoy it. Sure is juvenile enough.LNP tenure can’t come on enough.

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