Keo Films Australia produced 'War on Waste' for the ABC. 

After delivering War on Waste, the ABC’s highest-rating show among audiences under 50 this year, Keo Films Australia is being thrown on the scrap heap.

Parent company Keo Films UK today announced the Sydney-based production office will close; nominally at the end of the year, although MD Brendan Dahill is departing shortly.

The UK company attributed the closure to an “organisational review to realign the business” and stressed it is “committed to building partnerships that ensure its shows will still be seen in Australia”.

Keo Films UK chief creative officer and board director Andrew Palmer said: “This decision has not been easy, especially given the incredible successes that our Australian team have enjoyed – most recently with the ABC’s huge hit War on Waste. Operationally, however, this decision best serves our corporate interests at this stage.

“We have enjoyed a highly productive and effective period of activity in Australia. Keo will work closely with our Australian partners throughout this transition period to deliver all the projects currently in production.”

The Aussie company is delivering the second series of Struggle Street to SBS and re-versioned half-hour episodes of Foxtel’s River Cottage Australia to the same broadcaster, which will be stripped in the 6 pm weekday slot. SBS has indicated that it may commission a new series if this initiative works.

A small number of Keo Australia staff will be laid off, symptomatic of the challenges facing independent production companies that do not have the scale that comes from having long-running series.

However the closure may also be a reflection of the parent company’s travails as Debbie Manners, the CEO since 2012, announced earlier this month she is stepping down. Manners will focus on running Field Day Productions, previously a Keo UK joint venture.

The highly regarded Dahill took the helm at Keo Australia last October after serving as the ABC’s head of non-scripted production, and before that as head of programming and controller of ABC1.

Presented by Craig Reucassel, the 3-part War on Waste reached 2.6 million viewers in the five mainland capitals and clocked up more than 450,000 plays on ABC iview.

The #WarOnWasteAU social campaign has been the biggest in ABC’s history with ABC’s Facebook video highlighting ‘Banana Wastage’ achieving 14 million combined views, 432,522 reactions, comments and shares and a reach of 18.6 million. On twitter, #WarOnWasteAU has achieved a reach of 15.6 million.

The ABC has commissioned a War on Waste special to air later this year, which will gauge the impact the show has had in changing Australian habits.

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