“ABC 2.0” plans to digitise ABC archives

ABC has flagged a rejuvenated broadcaster in which viewers with new digital enhancements, including the ability for viewers to watch content on their phone, pause it and pick it up from the same frame on their TV later.

“ABC 2.0” was described by Chairman Justin Milne as evolving the ABC into an organisation fit for the digital challenges of the next 20 years.

“It is akin to us deciding to go into the television business in 1956,” he said.

It will include digitizing the entire ABC library. But he noted, it would also  “require significant investment and possibly generate some controversy.”

Here is an excerpt from his speech at yesterday’s Annual Public Meeting:

We’ll build new digital platforms that allow us to understand our audiences better and serve content to them exactly when and where they like, on the device they happen to be using at the time, where-ever they are in the world. ABC users will be able to start watching say Four Corners on their phone, pause it when their train arrives at its station, and then continue to watch from the same frame on TV when they get home.

We’ll modernise our production processes for News to ensure that the great trust we enjoy from Australians is carried into the digital world of the internet and social media. The material that news-crews gather will be almost instantly available to editors all over Australia and because we will digitize and catalogue all of our archives, virtually the whole ABC library of images and sounds will be at editors’ fingertips to enhance every story across different platforms.

We’ll Improve our content partnerships so that we can produce more and better Australian content. We plan to constantly increase our investment in Australian production to help ensure both a healthy Australian screen industry and to provide more and new stories for Australian audiences.

We’ll take a multi platform approach to content so that work done for one medium can be adjusted and exploited on another.

We’ll improve our commercial operations so that our content can be seen by more people all over the world and extra funds generated can be ploughed back into more Australian content.

And we’ll improve our relationships with the different communities that make up our great nation.

But ABC 2.0 is not a substitute for broadcast. It is additive. We have absolutely no plans to reduce our presence on TV or Radio. We see both Radio and Television extending for many, many years into the future and we will continue to invest in them, love them and improve them.

ABC 2.0 is however the major strategic initiative for the ABC. It is akin to us deciding to go into the television business in 1956. Just as then, it will require significant investment and possibly generate some controversy. Back then the media barons complained bitterly about the Government funding a TV network – which they saw as competing with them. But we did go into TV, the commercial sector has made billions upon billions of dollars and the Australian public has been the winner because they have had media choice and a trusted, independent, ad-free voice that belongs to them.

In tomorrow’s media environment we can expect ongoing intensity from a number of huge international players. Australia has always been at risk of being culturally swamped by overseas media and I believe that risk has never been greater, so ensuring that the trusted and much loved voice of the ABC can continue to be heard has never been more important. Michelle, the Board and the entire management team of the ABC are deeply committed to investing in ABC 2.0 and doing the work which will ensure that in 20 years the ABC is just as precious to Australians, just as fundamental to our democracy, as it is today.


  1. ABC should jump in with Fetch TV’s $6 per month Variety pack where they have BBC First and UKTV, ABC First and AusTV sound like a good start to me anyway.

  2. “We’ll build new digital platforms that allow us to understand our audience better” The Chinese Communist Party is doing exactly the same thing to monitor and control its population. And they are talking about digitising their News content to fight flame wars on Twitter. Apart from a few things that the ABC considered important and have already been released on DVD, much ABC content from the past is gone because they recycled the master tapes. Treasures such as The Fast Lane survive only on fuzzy home recorded VHS tapes.

  3. IMO this is a hidden agenda for iview becoming pay-per-view. User will have to register, provide a CC number and log-on to watch a show. How else are they going to remember who you are and what you were watching? The digital tracking begins!
    Which of my Internet aliases and pre-paid debit cards should I use?

      • I’ll happily pay a fee if they provide decent archived content ie full runs of shows ( where available).
        I have to admit I’m a little puzzled as to them touting being able to continue watching shows from your phone to the tv. Netflix and others have been doing this for years. What are they doing that’s another different to that.?

  4. Use to be able to stop iview and pick it up from where you left off…any time…days ..weeks later…then it stopped….now you have to start again…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.