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ABC to move 300 staff from Ultimo to Parramatta after securing lease on new Sydney studio | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The ABC has secured a lease for its new flagship studios in Parramatta where 300 TV, radio and news staff will relocate from inner-city Ultimo to western Sydney in 2024.

The ABC managing director, David Anderson, told staff the new home of Aunty, at 6-8 Parramatta Square, will be a “state-of-the-art fit out” that will put the ABC “at the center of a dynamic, purpose-built precinct” in Sydney’s western suburbs.

The content makers who will have to move include ABC Sydney Radio, ABC Radio National and ABC News.

The ABC will have space on the promenade and in the office tower, and passers-by will be able to see the broadcasting studios through the windows, similar to the Channel Seven studios in Martin Place in the Sydney CBD.

The move was flagged a year ago when it was welcomed by the then communications minister Paul Fletcher as a “good first move” after criticism from the Coalition that the ABC focused too closely on inner-city Sydney. “Sydney is not Australia and Ultimo is not Sydney,” Fletcher said.

But the ABC chair, Ita Buttrose, has denied the move has anything to do with Coalition criticism.

“It’s not designed to appease any government, it’s a move that David Anderson and I and the board have decided is in the best interests of the ABC,” Buttrose said last year.

“You can’t live remotely from the rest of the community and I think because our headquarters in Sydney are based in Ultimo we’re a bit remote from the rest of the community.”

The relocation plan, which has been funded by the sale of ABC property, is to have 75% of journalists and producers working away from Ultimo by 2025.

“Establishing this new facility in Parramatta is a significant step in meeting our commitment to be more local and engaged with the community and less centralized in the Sydney CBD,” Anderson said.

“As a new facility, ABC Parramatta provides a rare opportunity to build something from the ground up. It will be a home for innovation and collaboration, designed and equipped to help us better serve Australians, now and into the future.”

Anderson sought to reassure staff they would be consulted about the move.

“Our audiences can expect to see and hear from their favorite and respected presenters and journalists from ABC Sydney, ABC News and ABC RN,” Anderson said.

“We anticipate that the process to develop ABC Parramatta, and relocate staff, will be complete by early 2024.”

Parramatta Square has been developed by Walker and its executive chairman, Lang Walker, said the ABC would become “an integral part of Parramatta Square”.

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The ABC has a long-term plan to relocate more content-makers closer to the communities they serve and recently significantly expanded its regional and rural coverage by recruiting 57 regionally-based journalists.

The new hires were made possible by the news media bargaining code. Under the Coalition the ABC lost $526m in funding, resulting in the loss of 640 jobs, from 4,704 staff to 4,064.

The ABC has welcomed plans for a new five-year funding term from 2023 which will give the ABC financial stability and safeguard against arbitrary cuts and political interference.

Labor pledged before the election to extend the ABC’s funding from three to five years, and the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, said the move would “take it beyond the three-year election cycle” and “safeguard against those arbitrary cuts and political interference that we’ve seen”.

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