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ABC confirms news channel plans
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ABC confirms news channel plans - 24-January-2010, 17:06

ABC confirms news channel plans

Australia’s public broadcaster the ABC will launch a free-to-air 24-hour news channel this year, representing a challenge to the dominance of Sky News in the rolling news channel market.
New programmes are in development for the channel, focusing on world news, national politics and business. Existing TV news and current affairs programmes will also be featured. The channel will provide “live continuous coverage of major breaking stories from Australia and around the world,” the ABC said in a statement.
No new cash will be available from the government for the channel, which the ABC said would be funded through “significant changes” the ABC has made to news and TV production processes, including taking advantage of new technology, which are allowing the broadcaster to invest in new programming. By putting cameras in radio studios, the broadcaster has already extended radio interviews to television and online.
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.
“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.”
The channel will be part of a multi-platform ABC News service, ensuring that audiences are able to keep up to date with news developments in different formats and across an array of devices, such as PC and mobile.
And the channel will also feed into Australia Network, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ diplomatic broadcast service that the ABC wants to follow the BBC World News model. The ABC has run that network until now, but Sky News Australia also seems likely to bid for the next contract.
Sky News, which in Australia is a joint venture between BSkyB, Seven Media Group and PBL Media, is available in 2.5 million homes in Australia and New Ze****d. The channel is the only home-grown news channel currently operating in Australia, so has had the luxury of having news-driven viewers largely to itself (although BBC World News is available on pay-TV platforms, as is CNN).
Australia’s digital-terrestrial Freeview platform has as yet no news channel, and the launch of ABC News is likely to make the platform more attractive for those wanting to switch to digital. The news channel will launch on the ABC’s allocated high-definition channel. The ABC already operates digital services ABC2 (general entertainment) and ABC3 (kids) as well as main channel ABC1.
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