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News February 12, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: CBAA sacks Amrap staff following rift over restructure

Lars Brandle
EXCLUSIVE: CBAA sacks Amrap staff following rift over restructure

The CBAA has sacked the six staff of Amrap, including its manager Chris Johnson, after the team went “rogue” and accused its parent of advancing a damaging restructure, TIO has learned.

Johnson and his colleagues no longer work with the CBAA, the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, which holds an annual management contract for Amrap, which they receive from the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

It’s understood the six Amrap staff, who briefly reunited under the “Republic of Amrap” banner a month ago, represented roughly a third of the CBAA’s headcount.

A spokesperson for the CBAA confirmed to TIO the six staffers had been let go.

It’s unclear for what reasons the staff have been dismissed, though it immediately followed them disclosing a range of governance and management issues that the entire Amrap team regarded as threatening the transparency and viability of the publicly-funded project. Johnson could not be reached for comment.

The CBAA, it would appear, is taking back control. On Friday, Amrap clients received a message which introduced radio veteran and former 2ser’s Music Director Andrew Khedoori as the new point person for Amrap. The memo mentioned “some recent issues with Amrap services,” and that “most things are now back in action,” but didn’t address the fate of the Amrap team. Earlier in the week, the Amrap Facebook page was reactivated with a post on its newly-published AIRIT Charts. It marked the first social media update from Amrap in three weeks.

As of late last Friday, Johnson and two of his colleagues were still listed as employees on the CBAA website. The official CBAA website has since been updated to reflect this new role of Khedoori, who has been hired on a contract basis.

Music industry professionals who spoke with TIO say they were alarmed by the accusations and the fallout over the past several weeks.

The developments come after Amrap’s staff addressed financial wrongdoing and left the CBAA’s offices, which they had rented for many years. “It has become untenable to perform Amrap duties under the management of the CBAA,” announced the Amrap team Jan. 9, as the six insiders vowed to continue steering the ship as a “peaceful action.”

When Amrap’s crew went public last month with their grievances, the team called on the Community Broadcasting Foundation to “cancel the CBAA’s management of Amrap, place Amrap into caretaker mode, and identify a new management structure that includes community radio, and music sector representatives.”

The CBAA hosed down the claims with its own statement, issued later on Jan. 9. “Some issues raised today relate to ongoing work that the CBAA is doing internally and with others like the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF),” it read. “We are in a consultation phase of a review aimed at reducing administrative overheads, increasing collaboration and maximising outcomes for our stakeholders. The goals of the review are specific and not intended to impact the availability of CBAA services for musicians and stations.”

The Amrap crew also posted a string of videos detailing their concerns, though the clips were subsequently taken down.

Amrap, the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project, was revitalized with federal government funding ten years ago with a mandate to get more, new Australian music on the airwaves, and to promote homegrown acts through station websites and social media.

Since 2009, more than 2,500 broadcasters from 250 stations have subscribed to Amrap’s AirIt music delivery platform and have ordered over 250,000 tracks for airplay. The CBAA says the organisation is “fully committed to delivering Amrap and its services.”

A CBAA spokesperson says the board made a decision to remove the staff “due to breach of contracts,” though full details weren’t given on request.

Keep an eye on TIO for more developments.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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