ABC News 24 is the ABC’s 24 hour news channel and fourth digital channel for the national broadcaster. The idea of the ABC presenting a 24 hour news channel had been around for a number of years.
ABC News 24 was announced in January 2010, before ultimately being launched on air from July 22, 2010. In April, the announcement was made that ABC News 24 would replace ABC’s HD channel ABC HD which had been broadcasting a simulcast of ABC1 allowing some ABC1 content to be seen in HD.
Putting the 24 hour news channel on the HD channel was not the ideal arrangement according to the ABC. But the current limitations on both technology and legislation which states that all broadcasters must provide one high definition channel meant that the ABC’s fourth channel had to occupy their HD stream. With ABC1 having to remain a standard definition channel, and ABC2 and ABC3 also already committed as standard definition channels, the fourth channel could only be the HD channel.
The commercial networks are only allowed two standard definition and one high definition channel – a total of three channels. Until analogue switch over is complete, main channels must be offered in standard definition. Both ABC and SBS are allowed as many channels they can technically fit – which is really only three standard definition channels and one high definition. While the commercial broadcasters offer their HD channel in 1080i, the HD channel for ABC and SBS are 720p.
Commercial networks have the added restriction of having to provide 1040 hours per year of material in true high definition, while ABC and SBS only have to upscale – this means that ABC and SBS do not have to show anything in HD – they simply have to upscale so shows appear to be in HD. Most people would be hard pressed trying to tell the difference.
What this means for ABC News 24 is that the channel is actually airing in 720p HD at all times. As far as we know, there is no true or native HD content broadcast on ABC News 24. There are no shows designated as HD in those guides that indicate HD status of programs and there is no promotion anywhere from the ABC relating to HD programming.
Therefore the answer to the question as to how much HD content there is on ABC news 24 is that there is none – but seeing that the channel is upscaled to 720p, it appears to be in HD at all times.
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