[ASC-list] FW: Fwd: Re: Defending specialist science programs on ABC

Timothy Thwaites timth at optusnet.com.au
Mon Oct 27 12:11:22 UTC 2008

Posted by Tim Thwaites on behalf of David Horwood


From: David Horwood [mailto:techlines at optusnet.com.au] 
Sent: Monday, 27 October 2008 6:40 PM
To: thwaites at optusnet.com.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Fwd: Re: Defending specialist science programs on


Peter and Nick

Further to the demise of Earthbeat, and the debacle that RN's Saturday
morning programming became, is there anyone who can provide an accurate
chronology of events two (?) years ago?

We need to remember that earlier mess accurately when creating objections to
the current plans. What happened then demonstrates the fallibility (I'm
trying to be kind) of the program planners.

My *hazy* memory is that it went something like this, spread over quite a
few months.

Earthbeat and The Comfort Zone ceased. Replaced with Geraldine Doogue's long
magazine program, containing sparse remnants of Earthbeat and TCZ provided
by Alexandra de Blas and Alan Saunders.

Saunders joins Doogue as a co-presenter, with a bit more TCZ type of

By Design starts. It's virtually a carbon copy of TCZ.

Alexandra de Blas leaves the ABC.

Can anybody improve or add to this record?

David Horwood

At 12:13 PM 27/10/2008, you wrote:

Thanks very much to Nick for alerting us to this additional axing, which was
not bundled with the announcement about the Radio National cuts, presumably
because it comes under a different line of "management". The point Nick
makes about the inadequacy of substituting "podcasts" or "portals" for
regular, broadcast programs is identical to one of the major critiques of
the decision re The Religion Report. But, even this low-ranking placement of
material has not been offered to In Conversation (for which it would be an
entirely inappropriate format) nor for resuscitating Earthbeat, the
long-lost environment report.

Peter Pockley

Delivered-To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 11:50:15 +1100
From: "Lomb, Nick" <NickL at PHM.GOV.AU>
To: <asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au>
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Defending specialist science programs on ABC

Don't forget that another successful ABC Science program has been cut
recently. That is Stuart Gary's StarStuff on NewsRadio. Judging by comments
that people made to me while the program was regularly broadcast, it
appealed to a wide number and range of people including people with
otherwise little interest in science. After complaints to the ABC, the
presenter has been allowed to put together a weekly podcast
http://www.abc.net.au/science/starstuff/ in his spare time. That is an
unsatisfactory situation and the program is likely to be reaching far less
people than in the past.
StarStuff should be included in any expressions of concern about the loss of
science programs on the ABC.
Dr Nick Lomb
Curator of Astronomy
Sydney Observatory/Powerhouse Museum
Phone: 61 (2) 9921 3480 Fax: 61 (2) 9921 3489
Email: nickl at phm.gov.au <blocked::mailto:nickl at phm.gov.au> 
http://www.sydneyobservatory.com <http://www.sydneyobservatory.com/> 


From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [
mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Peter Pockley
Sent: Monday, 27 October 2008 10:31 AM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: [ASC-list] Defending specialist science programs on ABC

ASCers are probably aware of the roiling controversy in the general media
about the ABC's decision to cut nine programs from the Radio National
schedule in 2009. Most attention has focussed on The Religion Report
following the presenter/producer Stephen Crittenden's revelation "live on
air" about the cuts which include that program. Not as much attention has
been given to the axing of In Conversation, Robyn Williams's long-form
interview program with scientists on Thursday evenings, but this is just as
significant a dilution of specialist programming in the ABC. 

As an example of the widely expressed dismay of listeners to the news of
these cuts and the manner of their announcement and defence by the ABC, The
Sydney Morning Herald had six Letters to the Editor on the issues last
Thursday, 23 October, including one by this writer (prominently placed at
top of the page as the "First Word" letter) .


See also Christopher Pearson's knowledgeable and detailed defence of The
Religion Report in Saturday's Weekend Australian. You could almost
substitute "science" for "religion" in his column and it would apply closely
to the parallel specialisation, too.


Here is an issue where religion and science have a common cause and I
suggest it would be highly desirable for the ASC Executive to weigh into a
defence of these and other specialised programs -- publicly and quickly. 

Individual ASCers might consider adding their tuppence worth, too, and might
suggest to their institutional bosses (where they have one) that the
scientific community should express grave concern at these moves and that
the voices of their representative organisations should also be heard, just
as the Catholic bishops came out collectively in defence of The Religion
Report last week.

To anyone who might think this is just a flash in the pan, remind them that,
a couple of years ago, ABC management axed  the excellent environment report
on Radio National  (produced in the Science Unit), just at a time that
environmental issues were coming to the fore as global issues of huge
consequence. Also point out the huge loss of in-house expertise and talent
in the forced departures of 35 producers and the like in TV production,
including the science producer, Dr Richard Smith (of the brilliant "Crude"
documentary fame).


Peter Pockley, DPhil
Science writer & broadcaster

25 Avenue Road, Glebe, Sydney
New South Wales 2037, Australia
Phone: +61 (0) 2 9660 6363; Fax +61 (0) 2 9660 6239
Email: scicomm at bigpond.net.au

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