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The website for Pomeranz and Stratton’s At The Movies, which ran on ABC TV from 2004 to 2014, is no longer maintained or hosted by the ABC.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reviews from this period scattered all over the internet, which now go to a landing page advising that the post is no longer maintained by the ABC.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 Woomera. The 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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