The full report from the Senate Inquiry into the ABC’s commitment to reflecting and representing regional diversity is available here.
I have listed the Recommendations below.
First, the five Recommendations from the full panel (with explanatory paragraphs), then additional Recommendations from Government Senators, followed by the Greens.
3.19 The committee recommends that the ABC Charter should be amended in order to ensure that, given the new convergent landscape, the ABC is producing content across all platforms that reflects regional diversity. Such content should be responsive to new and emerging target audiences, including audiences of regional difference.
3.20 The committee believes that the ABC should provide as much information as possible to maximise the capacity of regional Australia is to produce content. To this end, the committee recommends that the ABC regularly conduct consultation with regional stakeholders in the film and television industry to enhance the mutual understanding of ABC production, planning, production priorities and regional capacity.
3.21 The committee recommends that the ABC:
conducts an annual program of consultation with regional stakeholders in the film and television industry so that they gain a mutual understanding of ABC production, planning, production priorities and the capacity of regional Australia to produce content; and publish the outcomes of this consultation.
3.22 As evidenced by two inquiries in three years, the Senate is agitated to ensure charter obligations are met and the ABC should fully expect its commitments regarding continued production outside Sydney or Melbourne to be monitored and a more interventionist approach to be recommended in future if these commitments are not honoured.
3.23 Related to the ABC’s responsibility to reflect and represent regional diversity, numerous submitters raised concerns about the apparent trend of centralising ABC television production in Sydney and Melbourne.26 The proposed closure of the ABC production unit in Hobart, combined with the previous closures of production units in Adelaide and Perth, was cited as evidence of this centralisation to Australia’s two largest cities.27 … ……In the last few years we have seen a dramatic reduction in programs being produced within the ABC at centres other than Sydney and Melbourne. This is in addition to the increase in the number of programs being produced outside the ABC.
3.40 The committee recommends that the ABC annually publish its regional content production performance for ABC television, including data on the amount invested, number of programs produced, hours of production produced and number of independent companies used.
3.41 In addition to publishing the details of its regional content production performance, the committee recommends that the ABC makes a commitment to maintaining production in regional Australia be establishing a regional television production fund for production outside Sydney and Melbourne, for the purpose of stimulating production in the regions.
3.42 The committee recommends that the ABC establish a regional television production fund for production outside Sydney and Melbourne. This fund should be available to regional production exclusively and may be used as part of cofounded projects within the region with the aim to stimulate regional independent production.
3.99 The committee recommends that the ABC make and publish at regular intervals its future financial commitment to investing in production outside of Sydney and Melbourne.
Government Senators Additional Comments
That ABC maintain a commitment to regional television production by guaranteeing that a percentage (50% of television production budget, tied funding) of total Australian ABC television production output, excluding news and current affairs, is produced in the regions. This regional production should attract a significantly higher point allocation as part of the Australian content provisions.
Labor Senators note that there is considerable amount of skills and expertise possessed by ABC employees and significant facilities owned by the ABC. These skills and expertise are being increasingly centralised to Sydney or Melbourne, or are being lost to the Corporation.
That as much as is practically possible the ABC’s share of co-productions should come from ‘in kind support’ through utilising the skills and facilities of the ABC, rather than using the ABC solely as a source of revenue.
Australian Greens’ Additional Comments:
Recommendation 1: The ABC reverses the decision to close production facilities in Tasmania and instead establishes a hub for the ABC’s digital productions.
Recommendation 2: The ABC Charter be amended to ensure that the Corporation is required to take account of the benefits of maintaining robust levels of production capacity across all states and territories.