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Jul 21, 2011

ABCNews24 wishes itself Happy Birthday

The ABC just put out a media release wishing its 24 hour television service happy birthday. Given my comments over the last couple days (see previous posts) I'd like to see a commitment

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The ABC just put out a media release wishing its 24 hour television service happy birthday. Given my comments over the last couple days (see previous posts) I’d like to see a commitment to respond faster to breaking news.

Having said that, last night the telecast of the UK parliament was good, and it was great that ABC24 stayed with it. But live feed from the BBC is not hard, I would have thought.

Earlier last night I was appearing on The Drum, speaking to an unattended camera from a gas lift chair that didn’t lift in a corner of the ABC offices in Adelaide. (In Adelaide, I don’t have access to Sky News, hence greater than usual frustration). That gave me some insight into just what a threadbare operation News24 is. Not much company in the Sydney control room, I think.

So, it is good that ABC24 is there, I reckon, providing free to air coverage of things that matter.

But a bit more news sense, please. A bit more liveliness. A bit more willingness to take a chance and cut live.

And more money, which will only be resolved if next year’s triennial funding submission goes well.

Here is the media release. Comments invited.

MEDIA RELEASE:

ABC News 24: AUSTRALIA’S MOST WATCHED NEWS CHANNEL

ABC News 24, Australia’s first free-to-air 24 hour television news channel, celebrates its one year anniversary tomorrow.

In the past year, ABC News 24 has become Australia’s most watched news channel. It now reaches more than 3 million viewers per week across both metropolitan and regional areas. In the five major cities it reaches more than double the viewers of any other news channel.

ABC News 24 has grown significantly in 2011. The channel’s average weekly reach in regional Australia has increased from 11.8% in 2010 to 16.7 %, and increased from 10% to 13.1% in metropolitan areas.

It has made news free and accessible to Australians wherever they want it through television and live web and mobile streams. The ABC News 24 live web stream on ABC News online and ABC iview has achieved 2.8 million plays so far this year.

Viewing highlights across the day include: ABC News Breakfast, Afternoon Live, the lively discussion program The Drum and the evening international and national news program, The World.

ABC News Director, Kate Torney said: “It has been a strong and encouraging start for our news channel. ABC News 24 has provided Australians with access to live television news coverage of big stories as well as improved access to the best of our existing news and current affairs content.

“Our aim, on all our platforms, is to provide Australians with the most comprehensive, independent and up-to-date news and analysis of local, national and world events from an Australian perspective, and ABC News 24 is doing that,” Ms Torney said.

“This has been an unbelievable time to launch a news channel. ABC News 24’s national political coverage has tracked Australian politics from the 2010 election all the way to the current Carbon Tax debate,” said ABC News 24 Controller Gaven Morris.

“We have continued to build our audience, reached out to regional Australia as well as the major cities and found new ways to deliver news to Australians.”

ABC News 24 provided immediate and compelling coverage of the devastating floods in eastern Australia and the impact of Cyclone Yasi. The channel’s top rating program this year is the Queensland Flood ABC News Special (broadcast on 12 January) which averaged 110,000 and a 3.5% audience share. During the Queensland flood coverage, the channel’s average weekly reach peaked with 3 million viewers (19.8%).

Using the ABC’s international correspondents and the resources of its international broadcast partners, it provided live coverage of events including: the Chile miners’ crisis, the Pike River mine disaster in New Zealand, the earthquake in Christchurch, the catastrophic tsunami in Japan and the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and across the Middle East.

When the tsunami struck Japan 11th March, ABC News 24 achieved an audience share of 3.3% – its highest prime-time viewing share – as people tuned in to watch the live, rolling coverage throughout the evening.

“The past year has shown us that there is a demand for a 24 hour news channel, free and accessible for all Australians, and people are switching on to it, particularly during times of crisis. We are always working to improve the service and the channel will continue to grow. We aim to make ABC News 24 not only the best possible live news service but also the television home of informed discussion and debate,” Mr Morris said.

In addition, over the next 12 months, ABC News 24 will introduce exciting new content:

Expanded news programs on the weekends.
A thought-provoking series of discussion programs on the big questions facing Australia’s future called ‘Future Forum’, a joint venture between ABC News 24 and the H.C. Coombs Policy Forum at the ANU.
More comprehensive and broader international coverage through partnerships with other international news broadcasters.
The channel will also expand its sports coverage and have a stronger focus on social media.

Source: OzTam
ABC News 24 has grown significantly in 2011 with half a million more viewers tuning in each week. Average weekly reach across weeks 1-29, 2011 is 2 million (13.1% of the 5 City Metro population) compared to an average of 1.5 million (10%) in 2010 (weeks 32-52).

In 2011 YTD (weeks 1-22), ABC News 24’s Regional average weekly reach is 1,156,000 (16.7% of the Regional TV population), compared to an average of 797,000 (11.8%) in 2010.

Margaret Simons —

Margaret Simons

Journalist, author and director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism

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