Helicopter leases offer better value & news independence, says ABC.

ABC has rejected criticism it has splurged on purchasing new helicopters at a time when 200 jobs are set to go from the broadcaster.

Senator Eric Abetz labelled the move an “extravagance” whilst media articles note Seven and Nine have previously done a deal to share pooled footage.

In a statement, ABC says it is extending its helicopter operations to include regional areas, following the recommendations of a review.

“With the ABC’s former helicopter leasing contract in NSW and Victoria coming to an end, we took the opportunity to review the entire operation to ensure it was value for money and delivering to our audiences,” the statement read.

“Senator Abetz has today claimed that the ABC ‘has purchased an additional three helicopters taking their fleet to five’. This is incorrect.

“After a lengthy tender process, the ABC now has an agreement that delivers an efficient, fit for purpose and scalable model for leased helicopters across five States – delivering a better deal operationally, editorially and financially.”

ABC considered a pooling model with Seven and Nine, but this covered footage only, not the transportation of crews and / or journalists, and would have inhibited ABC’s independence.

“It was estimated this arrangement would have covered about one-third of the requirements. For example, newsgathering in regional areas would not have been covered. Due to these operational limitations, as well as lack of editorial control and independence and other considerations, the model was not suitable,” ABC said.

“The ABC is confident the final decision, which was supported by the ABC Board, represents the best interests of the ABC and its audiences in terms of content outcomes and cost savings.


  1. The ABC’s standing is not what it used to be. Readers comments pages in the media see the organisation as a waste of public money and full of lefties pushing the politically correct line. How ABC News thinks a leased helicopter fleet will improve ratings is anyone’s guess.

    • I guess it depends what you’re reading. Aside from regularly topping reader surveys here at TVT, the ABC regularly tops most trusted media organisation in the country. Which are you suggesting ranks higher?

  2. daveinprogress

    I don’t believe this issue is as black and white as the critics/commentators are making it out to be. Although the ABC charter is on thin ice in recent years, if it can’t effectively venture into regional parts; then it can’t offer the point of difference between its coverage and the more urban/mainstream focal points of its rivals. Historically, it’s choppers have been instrumental in the quality coverage of news stories as well as investigative pieces. I remember only too well the ABC chopper crash which killed the wonderful Paul Lockyer, John Bean and pilot Gary Ticehurst in 2011. They need to maintain safe but broad coverage using their assests such as choppers.

  3. Both 7 and 9 don’t use their shared chopper to get crews out into regional areas and they still do OK. What makes the ABC different, considering that there are already ABC crews across 50+ regional offices/areas already which the metro commercial networks don’t have (exceptions being regional QLD for Seven and northern NSW for Nine)? Loss of independence my bottom considering there are already ABC crews in regional areas. Ah, that’s right, regional ABC program makers work for ABC Rural, not ABC NewsCaff. The silo mentality at the ABC is still in full force despite Guthrie’s announcement last week.

  4. So is anyone going to ask how much this is costing…………….? or is that going to embarrass the ABC when they say they had to cancel content because of costs!!

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