Staff strike threat over ABC plans

Sue Green

THE Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) new Asian television service is under threat before it begins, because of staff plans for an industrial campaign and work stoppages.

The action is against plans to combine the new, sponsored Asian service with ABC's commercial-free domestic news, which means axing a top staff member in the process.

The move, made without consultation with staff, fulfilled the worst fears of those opposed to allowing sponsorship on Asian Television International (ATVI), which broadcasts to 15 countries including Hongkong from February 17 Last week the ABC board voted to merge the news services for its domestic channels, ATVI and its planned pay-television service under a single controller.

This, in effect, abolished the job of the present news and current affairs controller, Mr Peter Manning The decision was at odds with the ABC managing director Mr David Hill's assurances Late last week, after staff strike threats, Mr Hill devised a compromise; a new head of information services (television), with Mr Manning acting in the job until it was filled.

Mr Manning would move into an editorial job when the new, combined post was filled.

Staff were expected to accept the compromise at meetings on Friday, but they refused and will discuss an industrial campaign against the moves at a national stoppage tomorrow.

Mr Hill has defended the restructuring as necessary for the future of the ABC and ATVI.

It must match the A$5.4 million (about HK$27 million) government funding and be self-funding by 1995.