Your ABC… now with ad breaks

ABC has begun screening promotions during programmes in primetime.

A week ago ABC ran both network promos and OxFam ads during the Comedy Festival Gala. While some viewers reacted to being asked to Text an automated phone line at $5 a pop, it was all for a good cause as a charity event.

But on Sunday’s Comedy Festival AllStars Supershow, which was not a charity event, promos interrupted just 20 minutes into the programme. ABC teased “Coming Up” acts before running promos for comedy titles.

Promos mid-programming are not new on ABC but in the past they have largely been confined to extended events such as New Year’s Eve or during News Breakfast where presenters have no break across three hours of Live broadcasts.

But under the new ABC management they have crept into primetime without explanation, at a time when advertising ABC is a hot topic.

“Mid program promos are unacceptable,” Margaret Reynolds, National President, ABC Friends told TV Tonight.

“ABCFriends will be raising this issue with Management along with a number of other issues relating to ABC Television programming.”

ABCFriends acknowledge their concerns about the way public broadcasting is being challenged in the current landscape but reiterate a need to keep viewers on side.

“The ‘advertising’ of ABC TV programs is repetitive and tedious so that by the time the program actually appears viewers have already tired of the promotion,” said Reynolds.

“We are of course totally opposed to any form of advertising on the ABC and its self promotion is not popular either.”

Promos are just one area of Programming that concerns ABCFriends.

“Clearly ABC television programming needs urgent review to ensure a greater focus on Australian content.

“ABC Friends continually advocates for a commitment to the screening of Australian documentaries and the experimental work of emerging local film maker.”

SBS lobby group Save Our SBS has also been opposed to mid-programme advertising, preferring them to run at the end of a programme.

ABC declined to comment.


  1. The promo department at the ABC is now run by ex-commercial TV promo staff. Nothing wrong with that, except they are using metrics not entirely suitable to the format and platform. This is why the number of different promos has decreased whilst the rotation of one or two spots has increased to be annoying and counter productive. They will spout ‘recall rates’ and ‘industry best practices’ and collect their 6 figure salaries and say “that’s how you promote a show!”. The promo breaks within programs is a softening up exercise just as they started 8 years ago with squeezed credits. Here comes a commercial ABC

  2. Maev....Sydney

    It has been annoying the heck out of me….I use to have ABC News 24 on in the back ground most of the day….It is now getting it’s new form….find myself looking for something else….and all that black….arrgh….on TV ….online…is just…over powering…
    I loved all things ABC…now it just constantly raises my BP….Maybe that is what they want….for us to turn off?

  3. I’m glad you flagged this David. A few decisions over the last few months at ABC have intrigued / annoyed / confused me….I’ll add this to the list.

    • The removal of the News ticker on ABC News (24) is also an annoying thing that’s happened. And the design needs tweaking still to be effective.
      It is sleeker than before but doesn’t gel enough

  4. Self promos drive me nuts. All ABC radio do it and it is a constant repetition of the same promos promoting the same presenters, and telling us each and every time it is on digital, streaming, pod cast blah blah blah scattered throughout each and every programme all day. At least commercial radio and TV have variety in their ads!!

    Think its too late to object. Present management of the ABC ignore all complaints.

    • To some extent I don’t think the ABC cross promotes itself enough. ABC radio and News Breakfast in particular are filled with people promoting books, movies, exhibition openings and other things. They should promote ABC things when they are at least as valuable to the listeners and viewers as the other things. ABC News 30 min bulletins (or the time immediately afterwards) should promote new long form ABC factual programming.

      This said, I agree there is far too much monotonous mention of the various formats each show is available in.

  5. Secret Squïrrel

    This needs to be strongly opposed before it becomes just the way that things are done. No in-program advertising, no pop-ups.

    Even iView has been annoying me the last couple of months. If I watched 2 or 3 things in a row I would get the exact same ad before each show. Even worse, until recently, it was for Newton’s Law which I was not going to be watching no matter how many awful ads I saw.

    Got in the habit of starting the pre-program stream, going off to do something else, and then rewinding to the start of the program when I came back.

  6. You can vote against ads on Foxtel by cancelling your subscription, and make sure they know why you’re leaving – I did.
    In the ABC’s case it will take more effort in the form of writing to the Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, and by employing social media – I will be.

  7. I object most strongly to advertising during shows. I also don’t like the ‘pop-ups’ that distract me during a show. I’d like to remind the new management that they are not running a commercial network and that we have the right to know how our money is being spent. I can assure you we don’t want it spent on advertising, especially during shows. Cut it out!

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