ABC announces 24/7 News channel

The ABC has announced it will launch a 24-hour television news channel in 2010.

To broadcast on the current ABC HD channel, the news service will effectively become a Free to Air competitor to Sky News, and launches without any additional funds from the Government.

With a with a new state-of-the-art studio in the foyer of the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters, the channel will provide live continuous news coverage of major breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

“No media organisation in the country is better equipped to deliver this channel than the national broadcaster,” Managing Director Mark 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 being developed in world news, national politics and business, while existing television news and current affairs programs will also feature.

Audiences in 44 countries will also benefit from the new channel via the Australia Network.

ABC News Director Kate Torney said,“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.”

ABC is yet to indicate how this impacts on current HD programming of other shows.


  1. First TEN cut their HD channel for more sports. And what stinks about that is they put on a useless SD simulcast of it where TEN HD was, so they basically got rid of that channel for no reason.
    As if we haven’t enough sport and news! ABC could easily free up bandwidth by taking off their simulcast of ABC1 on Ch21, and not broadcast ABC3 during school hours. And they said it would be ABC4, so if it’s not on Ch24, it’d make things confusing when they make ABC5.
    We don’t want channels axing all their hd channels to make things nobody will want to watch 24/7. What did Freeview say? “We shall be quality over quantity. We’ll deliver channels you will want to watch.” Bah, Freeview! Bah!

  2. On the Central Coast (NSW) can’t get ABC digital 24/7.

    What use would a 24 hour news service be to us.

    ABC fix up the basic problems first, then go for the bells and whistles.

  3. OK so each network is giving 23mbps each(thats what they decided with the government when digital first started), ABC uses 21mbps for there channels, the other 2mbps is used for EPG data and the 2 DIG radio stations
    The bitrate of the other channels are(This was on the 4th dec 2009 so it could have changed) Both Min and Max
    ABCHD 7.7 – 10.2
    ABC 2 2.7 – 4.7
    ABC 3 1.6 – 6.0
    & ABC1 stays at 5.9mbps

    So if you add all the Max bit rates there they add up to more then max of 21 used by ABC, the bit rate goes up(the space needed to broadcast the channel) if there is fast moving images such as sport). Now the picture will look better in the next couple of months because “It is expected that sometime after March all ABC digital television channels will move to dynamic bit rates which may help to even out some of the discrepancies currently identified with some of our channels.”
    That is from a ABC email which was posted on

    like i said each network has 23mbits each and there is one extra 23mbits that is used by the Digtal 44 trial in sydney which may go nationwide because Channel 31 would most likely be giving space there. Also when analog tv is switch off that will free up more space(But it may not be used for more tv) Also one analog tv channel i think takes up 23mbps so we are getting more channels then what one analog channel takes up

  4. Chris says:
    January 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm
    Excellent News…can’t ABC1 become ABCHD and ABC1 become the News Channel, you won’t need to show news on the main ABC channel if you have a channel dedicated to news. Will this make Ch 7 and 9 bring Sky News to Freeview (they own it don’t they?).

    ABC1 has to be seen in SD so it carn’t move to a HD only channel, and yes both Ch 7 and 9 own 33.3% each of sky news, But 7/9 & 10 are only allowed 2SD & 1HD channels so unless you want sky news to be available on 7 or 9HD(thats when sky news goes HD) or they could move GO or 7TWO to there HD channel and use there second SD channel for sky news, but who knows sky news may make a deal with the government to use some of the extra space available that Digital 44 trial is using in sydney to broadcast sky news and i guess A-PAC as well, like you i would also like to see sky news available on freeview, O yeah just to add they did just make a 9.1Million net profit in the last year so they could make a lot more over the air i guess but they may no longer get money for every foxtel subscribe then, but im not sure, and i hope the ABC well they should of had the money to do this when digital first launched

  5. I’m going to assume that ABC are going to be dropping Digital Channel 20 down to a SD stream to fit the new news channel on it, and obviously they’d broadcast the new news channel ON D20 so that people don’t have to rescan, but since ‘ABC4’ has been toted a fair bit, are ABC going to start broadcasting on Digital Channel 24 as well with the new channel?

    And like others have said, since they’re dropping ABCHD I hope they put the bitrate up on all the channels. Also, while we’re on the topic of multi-channeling here.. Is ABC2 ever going to become a 24/7 channel? It’s becoming more independant to ABC1 now (thankfully) but overnight they could have repeat screenings of some ABC1 shows overnight to fill the schedule..

  6. Have to say I really like the sound of it. Being Freeview channel 24, it means it is possible that they’ll base it off BBC News 24 (Upscaled, posh version of Sky). Hopefully they’ll link it to NewsRadio as well.

    There’s no need for it to be in HD though. SD will do, and easily allows for ABC5.

  7. Ok, now that the ABC has effectively created “ABC4” on it’s HD channel, could they drop the bitrate on it back to 6 or 8 and bring the bitrate UP on ABC2 and or ABC3.

    ABC2 is almost unwatchable with it’s “new” lower bitrate.
    I’ve got better looking VCDs.

    I really don’t need to be watching a 24/7 news channel in “HD”, especially when most of it’s material won’t be.

  8. I’m happy with the move but it all depends on content. Will they have 24/7 live onair updates and breaking news? Or will it be block programming with only limited live content?

  9. ABCHD is already down to 720 instead of 1080 and ABC2 and 3 still look horrible, they need to get rid of ABCHD all together unless they are granted more bandwidth. this new channel should be on 20 but should not be in HD, if it is SD it will allow for better picture across the ABC suite and will give more viewers access to it.

  10. @tomothy

    That would actually be pretty good. BTN is the only hard news program on Oz TV that explains it’s stories well. It’d be great if the same approach was applied to non-breakfast and dinnertime ABC4.

    What the ABC really needs to make this work, is to win the next Australia Network contract, and get the extra funding for Asia Pacific beuraux it wants. Also, they would ideally find some money to film a few RN programs.

    All live recorded national news/current affairs programs should be shown live, along with the 2 semi-national editions of the Midday Report.

  11. @ Timmuh – “Sourcing of international content may be an issue, depending on the nature of contracts with other networks, especially Foxtel”. ABC already receives far more international content than it can use, from APTN, Reuters, CNN, BBC. SBS doesn’t have exclusive rights to anything. A lot of foreign news material is free of charge, especially to a non-commercial user. English content is available also from VOATV/PBS NewsHour, Al Jazeera, France24, CCTV, NHK, DWTV, TVNZ, and others. I think the only exclusive news contracts are between TEN & CBS and SEVEN & NBC. Even so, NBC content is available thru Reuters and ABCUS thru APTN.

  12. “As a news junkie myself, I’d love to see every state’s 7pm ABC News & Stateline (like ABC2 used to do) rebroadcast across the country, including every Australia Network bulletin too”
    I couldn’t agree more. Plenty of people who live outside their original state keep a keen interest in their “home” state and would appreciate getting Stateline from that state, and the news stories that currently only run locally. Its fin of you’re originally from NSW, everything of importance in NSW gets national coverage. From SA, Tas, or WA, there is nothing available on any traditional media.
    It would be just like how we used to watch Stateline and sport from our own states on ABC2, before somebody decided running nothing on that channel was better than running programming not of national interest.
    Sourcing of international content may be an issue, depending on the nature of contracts with other networks, especially Foxtel.

  13. See response from Sky News

    Seems they don’t like the competion. Hillarious that he states that Sky have 14 24Hour News Channels.
    Hopefully this will inspire Sky to lift their game. I wonder what are the chances of Sky News coming to Freeview like it is in the UK.

  14. Great news! Can we now say Freeview has officially kicked Pay’s a*se?

    Anyway, I think everyone needs to read Timmy’s (4:06pm) comment, below. Beacuse it would make more sense for the picture quality on ABC1, 2 & 3 to be improved by dropping ABC HD altogether, thus freeing up more SD space for the new ABC4 service & the possibility of an ABC5 in the future. Of course, I understand HD viewers will be unhappy about this in addition to the axing of TenHD a year ago.

    May I make a few programming suggestions for the new ABC4? As a news junkie myself, I’d love to see every state’s 7pm ABC News & Stateline (like ABC2 used to do) rebroadcast across the country, including every Australia Network bulletin too! We get some of them streamed via ABC News Online, but not all of them.

    If ABC ever gets up somewhere near an ABC7, maybe Austin Powers owes us a re-working of his ‘BBC Heaven’ song? :)

  15. 100% happy with this. I personally do not care if it is in SD or HD, but the more variety the better.

    I would like ABC to broadcast BBC World News, even if only for overnight. For example, instead of closing ABC2 between 12 and 6, run BBC World News during this time. Still, I’m not complaining, I am really looking forward to this new station!

  16. So no dates as yet? Oh that’s a bit sad on the HD channel I thought it would be channel 24. That means not much longer of ABC NSW into other states!

  17. Exciting News for free-to-air TV, I knew an announcement by the ABC to develop News Channel was bound to happen, and if any network is to develop a News Channel then ABC News is surely the best for that. They have Quality and Real News which is what we need. I hope it will be delivered in HD!

    Cant wait for the Launch!!!

  18. Full HD TVs are really designed for BluRay and games consoles. The quality of the HD signal that is pumped out by the FTA channels is poor.

    I will be interested to hear the bleating about this decision in the News Limited newspapers tomorrow. I bet there is very little coverage and lots of opinions about tax payers money being wasted.

  19. Interesting. Seems unlikely a news channel would be HD, but as I understand the digital transition rules they can’t make ABC1 HD until after analog broadcasts are switched off in 2013 (there has to be a an SD feed of the main analog channels until then) . I guess they could make ABC2 HD in the interim and thus preserve some ABC entertainment programming in HD.

  20. Finally! But ABC3 should have been the 24/7 news channel instead of a kids channel, because kids programs pretty much dominate the schedueling on ABC1 and ABC2 during the day. No need for another kids channel.

    And let’s hope the new news channel will not have a left-wing bias.

  21. What a ridiculous waste of a HD channel. What was the point of shelling out thousands on a panel just to watch News in High Definition. It’s bad enough Ten uses its HD channel for sports, now this. No wonder Foxtel HD’s getting a bigger workout in this household than ever before.

  22. At last a real choice for those of us who demand quality local news at all hours. With a few notable exceptions (Speers, Gilbert,
    Waley) Sky News is regurgitated 7 and 9, presented by a b-grade line-up of readers with scant regard for grammar, quality writing or even the punctuation on the auto-cue.
    If I was Sky News, I’d play to their strengths of political analysis
    and local reports, because as a provider of rolling news coverage, with qualified journos and slick readers the ABC will trounce them.

  23. Mark Scott said in the interview that they’ll be “delivering it on the HD spectrum” for the channel. Given there is no such thing as HD-specific bandwidth, presumably this means they will drop the HD channel altogether and use the freed-up bandwidth for the news channel in SD, as well as beefing up the bitrate of the other channels.

    This would mean an improvement in picture quality on ABC1/ABC2/ABC3. In fact, dropping HD would allow the possibility of ABC5 as well.

  24. Excellent News…can’t ABC1 become ABCHD and ABC1 become the News Channel, you won’t need to show news on the main ABC channel if you have a channel dedicated to news. Will this make Ch 7 and 9 bring Sky News to Freeview (they own it don’t they?).

  25. Good news. I doubt the ABC will be able to fill 24 hours every day with their own content without numerous repeats , so I hope they’ll rebroadcast some material from TVNZ, BBC, CBC, PBS, etc

  26. My guess would be that they would continue to simulcast ABC1 in HD and set up the news channel as an ABC4 – doesn’t seem any point putting news in HD. Over the long term ABC1 or 2 could go to full HD only, perhaps?

  27. @ Richard W

    Each channel has so much available bandwidth. Each stream (2, 20, 21, 22, 23, etc) uses up so much of that available bandwidth. They’re not fixed amounts, it depends on the quality of the image and sound, plus the number of languages made available in a stream.

    For example, a 720p HD stream (ABC, SBS) uses less than a 1080i stream (Ten, Nine, Seven), but either uses more than a 576i SD stream. The sound can come in Mpeg2 or AC3, the former uses less bandwidth but the latter is clearer and full surround (sometime down the track we’ll get Mpeg4 sound that uses even less). Normally we get Mpeg 2 with SD and AC3 with HD, but it doesn’t have to be that way (NBN and Prime both like to mix it up on occasion).

    Last time I checked, each station had around 24meg of bandwidth to play with. An HD stream used around 7-8meg of that and an SD station around 3. That allows for about one HD stream and 4 SD streams per station, currently. These figures vary, new broadcast equipment is released with better compression algorithms, stations may play with variable bitrates and other tricks. Plus my info is a bit old, but you get the general idea.

    I’m pretty sure the original government submission called for the ability to multi-channel 1 HD and 9 SD streams per station, or something along those lines (I could be wrong there, I can’t find the documentation). Anyhow, numbers like that are theoretically possible with the DVB-T standard we chose, just not right now, not for a variety of reasons.

  28. This is the silliest idea I’ve ever heard. All these large screen TVs being sold and there is almost no HD content to watch on FTA. I read last year that the ABC was going to take HD seriously in 2010, and this is a funny way to go about it. A lot of news footage is still in 4:3 and there wouldn’t be too much in HD.

    Once again Blu-ray to the rescue.

  29. As one of the few who wont ever pay for tv because it’s just not that important in the great scheme of things I really like the idea of a 24 hour news channel. I don’t care it’s HD or SD, I just like it !

  30. Are you sure about this information? The ABC had a 4th SD stream approved some time ago now, I’d imagine they’d use that for a new “channel” (a News one or otherwise), not their one and only available HD stream (though stranger things have happened). Given that they’re scratching for bandwidth as it is, it would be a very strange decision.

    Also, for those wondering about image quality (particularly on ABC2), I have received a reply from the ABC. At the moment, at least two of their legacy streams (2 and 21) are being broadcast with a fixed bitrate. This causes them to use up more than their fair share of available bandwidth. The ABC have stated that sometime after March 2010, all ABC television streams will convert to a dynamic bitrate, which should fix up a lot of the pixellation issues we’re seeing now (fingers crossed).

    If you ask me, they should can the two DVB-T radio stations to free up even more bandwidth. I certainly don’t know anybody who listens to them. You’d still be able to receive them via the Internet, or on a Digital Radio receiver (which makes more sense anyway).

  31. I’m not sure if it is the best idea to have their news channel on HD since a lot of overseas footage, satellite crosses or footage taken from other networks might probably be in SD or worse. The only thing that would be in HD would be the news studio or press conferences, footage filmed by ABC cameras and who wants to see our politicians in HD anyway.

    But it’s still great to have a government funded news network to go against Sky News.

  32. I really hope they have lots of American focused news of the more intelligent variety. What happens there influences us so much. I don’t want to just see endless boring Australian news.

    People on the internet, when they have a choice, 99% of the time head to US based sites. This is the only Australian site I go to from the hundreds I visit. Australia is a bit boring really and people can only take so much.

  33. I already have a news channel….Sky News, so I guess it’s bad for me since I would rather have a channel dedicated to television shows but I guess ABC already gave me ABC2…

  34. ABC don’t even release their own HD shows on Blu-Ray (the only one that has been released is The Librarians)…so we’ll lose HD entirely for these shows!

  35. Can someone please explain to me the deal with “freeing up bandwidth”? Is that an issue with too many ABC channels? Or and issue for the whole Digital network that it can only have so many HD channels?

    If so, what the point in digital if its not very expandable and also whats the point in my TV having a possible of 999 channels??

  36. Hope this means that viewers outside NSW/Vic will get to see the breakfast without a delay (as is the case now on ABC2). Hopefully the channel will be like TVNZ7 (an ad free state funded news channel on freeview in NZ) that will also show quality docos as well as news.

  37. Rupert won’t like this one bit…but this is great news for competition.

    Fox News and Sky are rubbish and it’s time we had a news channel that really is ‘fair and balanced’- to coin a Fox News phrase.

  38. As a major fan of the breakfast show – this is just absolutely fantastic news. I agree that it’s wasted on a HD channel, but that doesn’t take away from my excitement :)

  39. I think this is a great idea – the right channel run by the broadcaster with the right journalistic resources to make it work.

    Finally a channel that doesn’t just appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    I just hope they will use their common sense and broadcast it live across the country.

  40. Yes, great news. Finally a FTA news channel.

    They can change the HD channel to an SD channel, therefore freeing up more bandwidth for the other 3 SD channels.

    Then when analogue is switched off they can think of having a HD channel. At the moment the HD channel is pretty useless as very very little native HD content is shown on this channel.

  41. @Andrew: I agree…what I was getting at was that the HD channel should not be wasted on a 24/7 news channel.
    and it looks like it may get it’s own digital channel anyhows…

    @tomothy: hehe

  42. News Corps Fox News has competitors in CNN and MSNBC Stateside, and with BBC News in the UK against his Sky News. he can handle it.

    This is the best thing ever that could happen to force Sky News to lift their game.

    Those cocky untalented mediocre leaders at Sky finally have a competitor.

    Let the fun begin….

  43. Interesting from – maybe ABCHD is safe…

    “The channel, expected to be on ABC4, will offer free-to-air audiences continuous coverage of breaking and live news, and will feature many of the station’s news programs such as The 7.30 Report and Lateline.”

  44. @quokka: You can’t force ABC1 to become a news channel as it is the primary analogue service and there are still many viewers who are not or can not access digital.

    @Ellis: one would hope that this channel will be live in real-time across Australia in the same way that ABC News Radio is.

  45. Wow, I’m suprised it is not a 24/7 News channel which is made up of episodes of childrens news show BTN.
    I dont see why the HD channel cant be the primary channel for all networks. We should not sell any SD-only boxes/TVs.

  46. We’ve been hearing about this for some time now- this is great news (pun!). ABCHD was a waste, especially since we see Sydney news in Melbourne…

    I don’t know exactly how these things work, but could they not split the channel into two SD channels, making way for an ABC5, if the gov’t allowed it?

  47. current HD content?? heh. the way HD is being treated on FTA at the moment currently it doesn’t really matter too much. until we get better digital TV tech like the UK, i’d rather see more new channels personally…

  48. tasmanian devil

    I’m pretty sure that this channel was meant to be ABC4, and presumably SD, but that plan seems to have been thrown out the window. I don’t see the point of using their HD channel for it because not only does it prevent any other programme from being broadcast in HD, but it also means that not everyone will be able to receive it because up until now, HD just seemed like an unnecessary waste of money as it didn’t offer anything extra compared to SD. And anyway, how much of the content is going to be HD anyway? They might as well downgrade the channel to 576 for ABC2’s picture quality’s sake.

  49. Should be using ABC3. They already have enough animated pap and crap on ABC1 & ABC2 for kids. Can “mummy’s favourite baby sitter” ABC3 for this new channel.

  50. @gavin – One suggestion – carry Al Jazeera English overnight as done in NZ & Fiji. AJE is not just news bulleting but usually top class docs in the bottom half of the hour. It’s service is available free to broadcasters. also available free is DW-TV, France24, and PBS NewsHour (free from VOATV) – plus other free content.
    This is great news. They also have the large amount of news content on Australia Network to draw on, like “NewsHour with Jim Middleton” which goes out in the wee small hours AEST to service broadcasters from the Cook Islands to the Middle East. Plus all of AN’s half-hour bulletins.

  51. Will this be aired live in Perth as well? We are already stuck with delayed versions of the 7.30 Report, Lateline, Breakfast and others. I want to watch these live!

  52. Surely they can use material from ABC America, PBS (if SBS allows it), BBC News 24 (probably not BBC World), CBC Canada plus a myriad of other sources as well?

    I’d like to see them video record AM and PM plus some other radio current affairs programmes and show them as well, give mug punters a fascinating insight into what we poor radio people have to do to get things on the air! 😛

  53. I would say if anyone can do this it’s the ABC, of course it will rate higher than SkyNews for the simple reason its on FTA.

    I guess like TEN ABC HD will now be news 24/7 like ONE HD is 24/7 sports.

  54. Given that the existing 24 hour radio news channel only sources original material for about 115 hours a day and carries BBC evenings and overnight, how are they going to fill a (more costly) 24 hour TV news channel? The promo talks about “more opportunities to see your favourite news programmes” but surely they need more than just repeats of the 7.30 Report to fill all that airtime?

  55. Wow! This is great news, though not totally unexpected.

    This will no doubt fuel Rupert’s hatred of public broadcasters even more as Sky News now has a full on competitor. Can we now expect to see ABC Breakfast moved onto this channel?

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