ABC blasted for dumping regional news content

THE ABC woke up to widespread condemnation on Thursday as it revealed it was dumping its region-focused Mornings program and cutting back on local news headlines.

Country Australians took to social media to vent their outrage as the national broadcaster said it was shaking up their ABC because staff "wanted to be on the road more".

Regional director Fiona Reynolds said dumping Mornings would all allow local radio breakfast programs to run an extra hour to 9am.

Local news headlines will not be broadcast between 9am and noon.

Ms Reynolds said a feature-based program called Local Life would fill the 10am to 11am slot.The ABC said there would be no redundancies as a result of the change.

"The 2016 schedule improvements are solely based on meeting audience expectations," Ms Reynolds told ABC staff.

"Content gathered from our staff on the road will be fed into the extended Breakfast program and on digital platforms so it can be shared across regions and nationally."

In 2014, the Federal Government slashed the ABC's budget by $250 million.

The five-year cost cutting program resulted in the closure of the Bush telegraph program, some regional reporting hubs have been shut and the production studios in South Australia are gone.

However, the ABC did create 50 new jobs in its new regional division.

Facebook users bombarded the ABC Friends page with their verdicts about Thursday's decision and most pointed the finger at the Federal Coalition Government.

"Maybe, just maybe, the ABC wouldn't be cutting its services if the Coalition had not cut funding to it in the first place,"

Gin Gin resident Rudolf Ondrich wrote on the page.Greg White, from Kurrajong Heights in NSW responded: "This has come about as a consequence of the Coalition cutting funds to the ABC in the early stages of the Abbott regime."

On Twitter, The Australia Institute described it as "sad news" and Amber Elizabeth said she "was still in shock" to hear the news.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the ABC had "lost its way".

"If this is so good, and they claim it will deliver better services to regional communities, well, why not deliver better services for the people in Sydney and do the same thing for them?" he said.

"I think the ABC has lost its way."

North Queensland MP Ewen Jones described ABC management as "piss poor".

"I think that [ABC managing director] Mark Scott has lost the plot completely," he said.

"He won't be happy until the ABC just becomes a bastion of the intelligentsia in Ultimo, Canberra and Melbourne."

"This is piss poor management from the ABC."

ABC managing director Mark Scott said during a speech in Melbourne a few weeks ago that the ABC needed a cash injection if it was to provide better services across regional Australia.

"As commercial media operations struggle with market forces and the slow decline of their business models, the role of the ABC, particularly in respect to news, is becoming increasingly vital to the health of our democracy and culture," he said.

"Nowhere is this being more keenly felt than in rural and regional Australia, where news operations are contracting at an alarming rate."


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