A page one report in The Australian claiming the ABC has issued a “rescue plan to lift dire ratings” at its 7pm News had misconstrued and mischaracterised normal program processes, the ABC has said.
The story in question, written by journalist Stephen Brook, was headlined “ABC in rescue plan to lift dire ratings” and sought to lift the lid on a document sent to staff from ABC news director Gaven Morris which detailed the new “7 keys for 7pm rescue plan”.
In the article, Brook writes, “ABC journalists are being sent back to training in a bid to improve the flagship 7pm news, which is suffering from declining ratings.”
Adding, The Australian had obtained the ‘7 keys for 7pm’ document, which addresses ABC’s “sharply declining TV news audiences”.
Now, an ABC spokesperson has issued a statement correcting Brook’s article, which points out the correct information was “provided ahead of publication to the journalist”, though seemingly ignored.
In the statement, the ABC dispels any rumours the ‘7 keys for 7pm’ document was new, instead stating it was a routine update.
“The “7 keys for 7pm” document referred to in the article is not a “rescue plan”, or even a new document.
“It was sent out to our people earlier this year and is the annual update of a document that goes out every year setting out the general approach for the program, which each state and territory then adapts to suit their market.”
The statement then addresses Brook’s inference ABC journalists are being sent back to training “in a bid to improve the flagship 7pm news”.
“ABC journalists are not ‘being sent back to training in a bid to improve the flagship 7pm news’.
“Training and workshops are a routine, ongoing process across the Corporation to develop the capabilities and knowledge of our teams.”
It adds, “While it is technically correct to say that the ABC ‘is pondering how to attract younger audiences’, the story left out examples of myriad ways this is already occurring.
“The recently launched news podcast Signal, the long-running and successful Facebook Messenger bot, and our Facebook content — 42 per cent of people watching content from Four Corners posted on Facebook are aged under 45,” it adds.
B&T has contacted News Corp for comment.