ABC axes Abdel-Magied program one month after controversy

The ABC is axing the program hosted by Yassmin Abdel-Magied a month after the television presenter and activist sparked outrage over her Anzac Day comments.

Australia Wide is set to be shelved in the coming weeks as part of the national broadcaster's sweeping restructure. As well as programming changes, as many as 200 jobs are being slashed in order to reinvest $50 million a year back into regional and online content.

Abdel-Magied has hosted Australia Wide since 2016. Last month, the presenter courted controversy after publishing an Anzac Day Facebook post that suggested Australians should also remember the suffering of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

The retribution was swift and brutal, with many accusing the part-time ABC presenter of politicising a day designed to remember those killed defending their country.

At the time, an ABC spokesman stood by Abdel-Magied - arguing her views do not belong to the national broadcaster. However, as part of the ABC's ongoing restructure, staff were recently told it is time for Australia Wide to go.

Sources inside the ABC told Fairfax Media that management were using the the axing of the community-focused program as a convenient opportunity to show Abdel-Magied the door, or at least minimise her on-screen time.

An ABC spokeswoman, meanwhile, has strongly denied that was the case.

"This decision has been under consideration for some time and was not to do with any controversy over presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied," she said. "Yassmin was aware the program was under review, and we are discussing with her future opportunities at the ABC."

While management has been looking to get rid of Australia Wide months before the Anzac Day furore in favour of boosting its regional bureaus, ABC staff still believe Abdel-Magied's comments all but sealed the program's fate.

Australia Wide's axing has left some staff at the ABC concerned that regional stories - particularly those filed for television - will struggle to find a national home in the new financial year if the Melbourne and Sydney bulletins aren't interested.

"The loss of Australia Wide sets the direction for cuts to other long-form programs like Lateline," one staffer said. "We're seeing camera and sound positions disappear across the country, diminishing broadcast capability. What will be left in small cities like Hobart, Darwin and Adelaide?"

For its part, the ABC says it will showcase its best state-based long-form pieces across the entire news channel - including the extended 7pm news bulletin.

Australia Wide's last episode is set to air on July 1. The program appears on ABC News 24 on Saturday mornings and on ABC TV on Sundays.

Abdel-Magied was approached for comment.

The story ABC axes Abdel-Magied program one month after controversy first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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