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Loss of Radio National's drama department

Estimates & Committees
Scott Ludlam 20 Nov 2013

Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications - Budget Estimates - 29 May 2013 

Senator Ludlam asked:

We have discussed RN in the past and the loss of the drama unit and the value of some of Radio National's specialist radio programming, which is also of a very high standard. Could you provide
us with an update as to what has happened with the creative audio unit?

Mr Scott: I saw a reference to it the other day. Let me take that on notice and come back to you on that.

Senator LUDLAM: So you are not sure what has happened to that?

Mr Scott: I believe it is developing as planned and as announced-I think that was the reference I saw to it-but I will have to come back to you with more detail.

Senator LUDLAM: How much has RN spent on outsourcing programs in the last financial year? I understand it is in the order of a quarter of a million dollars.

Mr Scott: 'Outsourcing programs'-what do you mean by that exactly?

Senator LUDLAM: As opposed to in-house production, how much does Radio National spend on contracting or subcontracting?

Mr Scott: Again, I would have to check that. If you look at public broadcasting around the world, on radio it is often a mixed model. The vast majority of our content is developed in house, but that is not to say that there are not talented Australian producers who do not actually want to be staff members for us that can develop a season of radio content, and we are happy with that in the mix.

Senator LUDLAM: I get that.

Mr Scott: I can come back to you with the detail on it.

Senator LUDLAM: I understand. I am not necessarily speaking about co-production. I mean buying in things like This American Life.

Mr Scott: Our model on Radio National and NewsRadio does allow us to buy in some content. I would be a great defender of the policy that allows This American Life to go to air. It is regarded around the world as one of the finest examples in the genre of factual storytelling. It is very popular online as well; we have a good audience response to it. I think it is a pretty reasonable thing to have as part of the mix. There has always been a level of repeats on Radio National; that has been part of the programming. I am happy for us to put some programs like This American Life into the mix. We will bring details of that to you.

Senator LUDLAM: I am not offering a critique of that particular program, by the way; I was just using it as an example. Could you provide us with the proportion that RN spent on that kind of content?

Mr Scott: Yes.

Answer:

The creative audio unit will be ready for the 2014 program year.

In 2012-13, RN spent approximately $25 000 on outsourced programs. This represents 0.12 per cent of RN's overall budget. Other external content carried on RN is acquired through reciprocal exchange agreements with other public broadcasters or through broader agreements funded by the Radio Division.

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