ABC statement

December 12,2023

The ABC has today announced proposed changes that will focus ABC NEWS Channel on its core roles of continuous news, breaking news and news video production, geared to service strong demand from digital audiences, and also expand the role of the Asia Pacific Newsroom as the home of specialist coverage on our region.   

As part of these changes, ABC TV program The Drum will not be recommissioned after its current season, meaning this will be its last week on air.  

Its three main co-presenters will all move on to key new roles. Julia Baird takes on a new position for ABC News combining writing, podcasting and video. Ellen Fanning will be heard on Brisbane Local Radio as well as presenting out of the Queensland newsroom. Dan Bourchier joins ABC NEWS Channel as a presenter.  

It’s anticipated the changes at ABC NEWS Channel will result in fewer than five positions being made redundant.  

ABC Director, News Justin Stevens paid tribute to The Drum’s great contribution.  

“Not recommissioning The Drum is no reflection on the achievements of the team over the years. Stopping things does not diminish their previous value or contribution,” he said.

“Many talented people have worked on this program over the years, on camera and behind the scenes. I thank everyone who has been involved in this program.

“One of the key successes of The Drum has been unearthing new talent from around Australia, and we thank all the panelists who have appeared. The Drum’s database of interview talent is available to all our teams to call upon.”

The Drum  

The difficult decision not to recommission The Drum was informed by long-term audience trends. This change will allow ABC TV to try other programming in the key 6pm timeslot, which is the lead-in to the flagship 7PM bulletin and crucial for determining the main channel audience across the evening.    

The important ABC TV audience remains very well-served for news and current affairs with News Breakfast, the 7PM News7.30Australian StoryFour CornersQ+A, Foreign Correspondent and Insiders, as well as special programming such as our upcoming political docuseries.  


Stevens said that every media organisation locally and globally faced tough choices in how to deploy effort and resources.

“To fund innovation, while keeping our output and workload sustainable, we need to be prepared to stop as well as to start things,” he said. “The ABC has done this courageously for decades and it’s one reason why after 90 years we’re more relevant today than ever.

“As outlined in the ABC-wide change proposals in June, we’re constantly grappling with budget pressures and rising costs. This is an ongoing challenge for the entire ABC and means weighing extremely difficult options.

“The changes announced today are not just about finding savings, they’re also about positioning us for success. What we do is always based on our Audience-First News strategy, so we can make the digital reinvestment required to be able to connect with the public how and when they expect us to.”

Recent ABC News initiatives include: Launching the Indigenous Reporting Team and the Climate Team; adding digital reporting roles in national news, sport and politics; adding specialist reporting roles, including in health; creating more video content from 7.30 to embed in digital stories; producing podcasts such as If You’re Listening for video audiences; and forming a breaking news team at News Digital.  

There’s more to come, including plans to bring more of our high-quality current affairs and investigative journalism to digital audiences, build our team of outstanding writers, put resources into the key area of verification and improve our web and app experience for audiences.    

ABC News will also be relaunching a digital-first Stateline featuring the strongest state and territory coverage from across our network of regional and metro newsrooms and Local Radio teams, including in-depth investigations, agenda-setting exclusives, long-form interviews and compelling features, across web, app, video, audio and broadcast.  

Asia Pacific Newsroom  

The reporting lines for all ABC News’ specialist programming related to Asia and the Pacific will now sit in the Asia Pacific Newsroom, where we have specialist resources and expertise.   

APN’s content for digital and broadcast channels next year will include the launch of a new weekly news program focusing on the broader Asia region, produced by the team behind The World and The World This Week. Production of the new program will be supported with funding assistance from ABC International Broadcast and Digital Services.  

Other upcoming content includes:   

  • The Pacific, which will be back early next year  
  • The Price of Progress: Inside Indonesia’s Nickel RushA documentary about the impact of the electric vehicle industry on the people and environment of Indonesia  
  • Indonesia DecidesA three-part video/TV series about Indonesia’s elections in February, largely shot on location by our own Indonesian team 
  • Special coverage on India’s election. A six-part video/TV series which will be largely shot on location with a network of local journalists 

Providing dedicated, specialist coverage of our own region is a vital part of the ABC’s service and this change enhances our commitment to Asia Pacific coverage.