The ABC will launch Australia’s first free-to-air 24-hour television news channel in 2010.
The ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott, said the ABC’s commitment to quality news and current affairs would enter a new era with the creation of the new digital channel.
The channel will provide live continuous news coverage of major breaking stories from Australia and around the world. Broadcasting around the clock will enable the ABC to increase its in-depth coverage of local, national and international affairs through background features and analysis, combined with the ABC’s unrivalled long-form current affairs reporting.
“No media organisation in the country is better equipped to deliver this channel than the national broadcaster,” Mr Scott said.
“We can draw on the investment already made in the ABC, through its major newsrooms in every state and territory, 12 international bureaux and 60 regional newsrooms, to deliver to Australians a top-quality 24-hour news service that is comprehensive, independent and up to the minute.”
New programs are also being developed specifically for the channel, focusing on world news, national politics and business. Many of the ABC’s existing television news and current affairs programs will also be featured.
A continuous news centre with a new state-of-the-art studio, in the foyer of the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters, will serve as the engine room of the new channel. The ABC will also take advantage of its multi-platform capabilities, ensuring that audiences are able to keep up to date with news developments in different formats and across an array of devices.
The ABC’s capacity to “go live” with in-depth, continuous news coverage will extend to Australia Network, ensuring the ABC’s audiences in 44 countries also benefit from the new channel.
The channel will commence with no additional funds from the Government for content. Significant changes the ABC has made to news and television production processes, taking advantage of new technology, will allow the broadcaster to reinvest in new programming.
The news channel will be launched on the ABC’s HD channel, adding to the suite of services offered by the broadcaster on ABC1, ABC2 and ABC3. Further details of the new channel, including the program schedule and launch date, will be outlined in coming months.
Mr Scott said the ABC had been systematically preparing for the establishment of a 24-hour news channel in recent years. He said the project was a vital part of its charter obligation to inform the public and provide “innovative and comprehensive broadcasting services of a high standard”.
“ABC News Breakfast on ABC2 has shown how effectively the ABC can deliver live breaking news, tapping into the full resources of the national broadcaster,” Mr Scott said.
“By putting TV cameras in radio studios, we have already been able to put on television some of the outstanding agenda-setting radio interviews from ABC programs such as AM, PM, Radio National Breakfast and a range of local radio programs.”
“And over the past week we have witnessed the ABC’s capacity to cover breaking news with the crisis in Haiti. Our correspondents have provided dozens of live crosses into radio, television and online bulletins and programs.”
The ABC’s News Director, Kate Torney, said the News Division was committed to delivering news of the highest standard to audiences across a range of programs and platforms.
“ABC journalists around the country and around the world produce hours of original, quality content each day. The news channel will give Australians more flexible access to our best reporting and analysis, along with an opportunity to watch breaking news as it happens,” Ms Torney said.
“Australians can tap into news from the national broadcaster when they want it and where they want it through the new 24-hour news channel and also from services like ABC News Online, ABC News Radio and ABC Mobile.
“Our audiences look to the ABC to provide independent, quality news reporting and analysis they can trust. With the launch of this channel, Australians will be able to access the country’s most comprehensive news coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Director of Television, Kim Dalton, said ABC TV was fully embracing the benefits of digital television by creating another genre-specific channel.
As the country’s leading multi-platform broadcaster, ABC TV offers viewers true choice – be it landmark Australian programming on ABC1 or our kids channel, ABC3,” Mr Dalton said. “The addition of a news channel to our current line-up ensures that viewers can select the type of quality Australian content they want to watch and enjoy it both on digital television and online.”
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