Pissed orff

I’ve been listening to ABC “Classic” FM since it started broadcasting in 1976.

Until 2012, programs and music listings were published on a monthly basis.  After that you could still look up the music listings on the internet though by last year these were only being posted a day or so in advance.

About last November, I noticed that the listings were getting patchier. I filled out the contact form to ask about it.

They say “We will reply as soon as possible, but please note that we’re not able to respond in detail to all messages.”

There was no reply. I filled out the form again. I didn’t receive a reply to that either.

Then I saw on the “FAQ” page something to the effect of “We are currently experiencing difficulties with our music listings.”

Now the music listings are no more. So much for the technical difficulties of last year – obviously they were on the way out even then but the ABC didn’t want to give anyone any opportunity to complain by announcing the decision in advance. Now the FAQs page says:

Where can I find the music listings?

Our Music section of the website includes information regarding Recently Played pieces and is searchable by program, date and time. The recently played section replaces our old music listings page and is more accurate, being automatically updated when a piece is played in the studio. If you are listening on ABC Listen or Digital Radio, you will find that information about what is currently playing will now appear on your device. If you want to source a particular piece of music to enjoy again, the music details provided can be used at your local music retailer or for an online search.

How do I find out what music is going to be played in the future?

Have a look at our Concert Schedule which has details of our upcoming concert broadcasts. You can also head to our Program Schedule and check out what programs are coming up through the day. Because we have moved our focus to providing accurate information about what is played at the time that it is played, we no longer offer our draft broadcast plan. If you are after specific information regarding what pieces will be played through the day, please stay listening as our presenters often talk about what is coming up!

So what do we get now?

The Youtube/Spotify links are for the musical work, not the performance or performers which/who are broadcast.  And as the second FAQ acknowledges, you’ll only find out about something in advance if it comes within the very limited categories of being a concert or something you actually hear about on the station itself. Even then,  the concert links can be pretty uninformative. For example, for 24 January (as at 22/1):

  • 1pm Melbourne Recital Centre Sutherland Trio: The Heart Speaks

  • 8pm Australian Youth Orchestra AYO Music Camp 2018: Concert 3

The Program Schedule is just a list of ABC “Classic” FM’s scheduled programs.

The links for these provide no guidance about what will be played in the future. Indeed, when I clicked on it on Monday, the “Sunday Opera” page still did not say which opera had been broadcast the day before.  It’s one opera a week. How hard would it be to give an indication of what is planned for, say, the next 5 or 6 weeks? Surely they have some idea of what they are going to be broadcasting? Apparently not.  Actually, I think it’s just that it is nobody’s job to publish this information.  It’s as much as the regular presenter. Deborah Cheetham,  can do to recount about a quarter of the plot.

Basically, I get the issue. The ABC is being squeezed and within the ABC “Classic” FM is being squeezed even tighter. They’ve let most of their long-term staff go and the increased casualization of the workforce is taking its toll. Measures of internet “hits” probably tell them that (helped no doubt by the labyrinthine website) the music listings are not much used. So they’ve decided to give them up. They’ve worked out an automated fix for at least answering those questions of “what was that I heard at 5pm last night?” which will save them the trouble of even not answering such inquiries as (from my own experience) is their usual practice.

Why not tell it as it is?

Instead we get Panglossian spin, starting with the penultimate sentence:

Because we have moved our focus to providing accurate information about what is played at the time that it is played, we no longer offer our draft broadcast plan.

moved our focus to providing accurate information” –it may be accurate but it is very partial. The disrespect to the musicians is huge.

“we no longer offer our draft broadcast plan” – this particularly riles me, with the suggestion that the music listings were only a “draft plan” and therefore are no loss at all. We can judge that for ourselves.  You can have a draft plan of a building, but music listings are a plan.

And as for:

If you are after specific information regarding what pieces will be played through the day, please stay listening as our presenters often talk about what is coming up!

In other words, there are no more music listings but announcers might sometimes say something about an item which is coming up.

Please spare us the “!” at the end. I, for one, am not jollied along by it.


4 Responses to “Pissed orff”

  1. lamaliminalbeing Says:

    Plus this

  2. Eliz Says:

    I very much agree with you … I often looked up what was coming. With all the cuts I suppose we should count ourselves lucky the station survived at all. So much for kulcha.

  3. JohnH Says:

    Well done on taking up cudgels re ABC denial of information to listeners. It is certainly specious of them to talk of a ‘draft broadcast plan’. Certainly no-one expects them to stick rigorously to the program, and I doubt that many or indeed any are upset when they depart from it from time to time – e.g. when they play the music of a conductor/composer/musician who has recently died.

    But that’s no reason at all not to let the taxpaying public know what is planned and what is normally played.

    Moreover I can’t accept any suggestion such as hinted at by Eliz above that cost savings are behind it. There would in fact be very little cost in continuing to provide this service online (for weeks or even months in advance), and certainly it would cost much less than the laborious effort of staff looking up Youtube listings of each work (something that any individual listener could easily do in any case).

    What we are being denied, for unknown reasons, is information on the actual work that is broadcast, and advance notice as to what is coming up – a most retrograde step given the long tradition of sharing this information with listeners. (My only comfort is that, thanks to the miracle of daylight saving, I’m able from Queensland to have an hour’s notice of what is to be aired. But that loophole will end in a few days.)

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