ABC Television has come under fire for changes to its locally-produced arts programming.

The ABC has faced accusations of “cultural vandalism” from staff and the public this week following the cancellation of three arts programs. Art Nation, The New Inventorsand The Collectorswill be discontinued at the end of their current season run, with Collectorsto be replaced by a more general program called  Auctions.

The national broadcaster’s decision to drop  Art Nation, the Melbourne-based, half-hour show hosted by Fenella Kernebone and the ABC’s only dedicated local arts program, has been met with criticism.

Although head of television Kim Dalton insists that the ABC will be “moving some of these resources into increased primetime arts programming,” detractors claim the demise of internally-produced arts content has called into question the cultural and intellectual integrity of the organisation. Glenys Stradijot, spokesperson for the community group Friends of the ABC, believes the loss of distinctive local arts coverage in favour of outsourced commercial material threatens the broadcaster’s independence. “This is privatization by stealth,” she said.

Dalton cited “increasing, ongoing financial pressures,” “falling audiences” and a focus on “primetime programming” as factors in retiring the shows – Art Nationratings have dropped by more than 30...