ABC has finally announced the launch date for its new 24-hour news channel, ABC News 24.
The new channel, broadcasting Australia-wide on digital channel 24, will launch at 7.30pm (AEST) on Thursday 22 July.
In an email to ABC staff, General Manager Mark Scott acknowledged the effort in getting the channel to air and looked forward to a new era in news broadcasting:
“It has been a remarkable effort to get us to this point and my thanks go to all concerned.”
“We are keen to get on air and provide what I am sure will be outstanding coverage of the 2010 federal election campaign on News 24.”
“A 24/7 news channel is a significant challenge and doubtlessly we will face intense scrutiny from our competitors, but we are looking to make a strong start and to get better every day.
“I know our audiences are going to appreciate having the great work of ABC journalists in Australia and around the world available free of charge, at all times – on television, online and on mobile.”
Launching the channel will be ABC News 24 Launch – ABC News Special which will be on ABC1 at 7.30pm and on ABC News 24 at the same time in the eastern states. The channel will broadcast from new custom-built studios in the broadcaster’s Ultimo headquarters in Sydney.
ABC News 24 will be broadcast live across Australia, regardless of timezone and will be instantly available through all ABC digital TV transmitters which currently cover around 97.7 per cent of the Australian population.
Viewers will need a high-definition digital TV or set-top-box to access the channel. Those with existing digital TVs or tuners may need to complete a re-scan to pick up the new channel.
ABC News 24 will also be facing some fierce opposition, both on and off screen. Since the channel was first announced back in January, News Limited (who is a joint venture partner in Sky News Australia with the Seven and Nine networks) has criticised the national broadcaster and through its newspapers, such as The Australian, has questioned and attacked the ABC’s ability to provide a 24-hour news channel and its appropriateness in doing so as a taxpayer-funded venture.
ABC and Sky News Australia will also soon be competing for the Government’s multi-million dollar contract to operate the international television service, Australia Network, on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the next five years. The network, which broadcasts to 44 countries, is currently being operated by ABC.