There has been a considerable amount written about Classic FM and changes to their programs. Big cuts of around 50% are taking place with live broadcasts on Classic FM.

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Jazz Up Late, hosted by Gerry Koster and broadcast on Friday nights is not being continued after 16 January.

Jazztrack is being moved to Radio National, which means that it will no longer air on an FM station. Mal Stanley’s program will be broadcast on ABC Jazz Digital from 18 January, online and on the digital jazz TV channel in its usual timeslot. It will also be broadcast on Radio National from 11.05pm Saturdays and Sundays from 31 January.

Other new music programs such as New Music Up late hosted by Julian Day on Classic FM and Sound Quality by Tim Ritchie on Radio National are also being discontinued.

It is a great shame that jazz and new music programs are being removed from the ABC and that the remaining jazz music program, Jazztrack is being transferred to a mono platform.

Broadcasts on an easily accessible platform ie FM radio at a prime time of Saturday and Sunday evenings for Jazztrack provides a wide, opportunity for audiences to hear and appreciate jazz. This will be diminished with the move to digital broadcast and the late night time slots.

Whilst the ABC could argue that they are providing more broadcast opportunities for jazz, which technically they are with the repeats of Jazztrack, there is definitely the loss of a program, Jazz up late and the loss of a FM audience at user friendly time slots. The loss to more experimental music across the ABC appears even greater.

More background on responses from the music industry.

Letter courtesy of AMC, John Davies

Open letter to: Mark Scott, Managing Director ABC Michael Mason, Director of Radio (Acting) Richard Buckham, Manager Classic FM

I write on behalf of the constituents of the Australian Music Centre, our 630 Represented composers and sound artists, our 1,200 members, our 4,000 mailing list subscribers, and a larger constituency who use the AMC’s services, which includes audiences who support and engage with contemporary art music in this country.

This diverse constituency represents a core audience for Classic FM and its various programs which present Australian music, and new music by international composers – in particular Classic FM’s New Music Up Late, but also its concert broadcasts featuring new Australian music, and other programs which regularly feature new Australian works. These programs deliver to Classic FM this diverse, national audience not accessed through any other channels, ABC or otherwise.

Classic FM’s commitment to Australian content, and its long-standing aspiration to include 12% Australian composition and 30% Australian performance in its programs, make a critical contribution to a fragile ecosystem that is the national art music sector. Classic FM provides a national platform for artists, their creative output, venues and events, and promotes and showcases this rich landscape regardless of Australia’s geographical challenges (regional/metropolitan, East coast/West coast, and much more), enabling a better understanding of art music in this country.

Broadcast programming of Australian new music not only provides promotion and profile for artists, but also income. Royalties generated by broadcasts of Australian works on Classic FM make a real difference to artists’ incomes. Removing the opportunity for Australian new music to be programmed on Classic FM removes the key market access point, and also removes an important revenue channel for Australian new music composers and sound artists. This directly impacts the sustainability of professional creative practice.

New Music Up Late is a touchstone for anyone involved in the new music scene, and its demise creates a vacuum that cannot be filled by online services. This program and its predecessor/s on Classic FM have contributed to developing the landscape of new music in Australia, and the expertise and knowledge developed by its presenters and producers over years has served the sector well, and influenced and shaped the lives of many creative artists, from the emerging, to the established.

The decision to remove jazz from Classic FM programming marginalises an informed and open-minded audience that represents an important segment of what the station’s future audience might include. Jazz, and in particular contemporary Australian jazz, is an integral part of the art music sector in this country, with many younger generation artists traversing the contemporary classical, jazz and other genres, bringing similarly flexible audiences with them. For Classic FM to fragment its audience in this way seems ill-considered.

I also highlight issues arising from the decision to discontinue various music programs on ABC RN, where long-form documentary program formats have now essentially disappeared. Programs such as Into the Music have provided valuable documentation on artists and their work, often highlighting important work that is largely invisible, bringing it to an interested and engaged audience.

Please, reconsider your decisions relating to Australian art music on Classic FM and RN, which will have such a devastating effect on our artform!

John Davis CEO Australian Music Centre

Further links

‘Australian music to suffer as a result of ABC cuts’ – a news article on Resonate (27 November 2011)

© Australian Music Centre (2014) — Permission must be obtained from the AMC if you wish to reproduce this article either online or in print.