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

David Horwood techlines at optusnet.com.au
Mon Oct 27 01:57:31 UTC 2008

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 content.

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 
>>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
>>PO Box K346 HAYMARKET NSW 1238
>>Phone: 61 (2) 9921 3480 Fax: 61 (2) 9921 3489
>>Email: <blocked::mailto:nickl at phm.gov.au>nickl at phm.gov.au
>>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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