ABC News 24 – utopia for news junkies?

The ABC’s 24 hour news channel, imaginatively named “ABC News 24” will launch on Thursday 22nd of July. Apparently they’ve been racing to try and be running before the Federal Election is called.

Apart from the looping promo now running on the channel-to-be, ABC1 is awash with promos, including the tag line “Events don’t wait, and now you don’t have to.”

Which would make sense if the channel was actually running, but since we’re still waiting for it, doesn’t really.

One rumour suggested it might launch on the 24th of July… that is, 24/7. Neat, but no, it’s on Pi day (22/7) instead.

I love the idea of a 24 hour news channel, provided the content is good. It will mean that for a news-junkie like me, there’s always something to watch, even when there’s utter crap on all the other channels.

NewsRadio

As it is I often tune into ABC NewsRadio when I’m in the car, particularly on the weekend. I know they can’t just constantly repeat the same headlines, but they have a good mix of local and international news.

I wonder if this week the Radio Netherlands guys will be bemoaning their World Cup loss. And Deutsche Welle, with their announcers who all curiously seem to have very Anglo-sounding first names, have some very interesting programmes.

Apart from Parliamentary broadcasts (which are often a bit dull, but fortunately only go to air on weekdays, when I’m unlikely to be listening), the only problem with NewsRadio is that at times they descend into half-an-hour of spot. Ahem. Sport is not News, guys.

Hopefully ABC News 24 won’t fall into either of these traps, and will provide good solid actual News.

And what would be really nice is if they give over some time regularly to news from each state, so that it’s not only national and international stories that get a good run.

Channels

Curiously, while the ABC have announced that channel 24 will be the home of the new channel, when I did a rescan on my media PC, it decided that the ABC channels are now all numbered from 100, rather than 2 and 21 to 24, as I expected.

Odd. Anybody else seeing that, or is it just me?

Of course, ABC News 24 will be on the ABC’s one High Definition channel, because all the others are occupied, and I guess they decided they were obligated to keep running ABC1’s Standard Definition channel. Which means, I assume, that there’ll no longer be an ABC1 HD channel, and that News 24 will be the first Australian channel not available on SD — though it will be available online.

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24 Replies to “ABC News 24 – utopia for news junkies?”

  1. “I guess they decided they were obligated to keep running ABC1′s Standard Definition channel.”

    AFAIK government regulations require TV stations to broadcast their “main” channel in SD.

  2. Nah, I think I’ll stick to Fox News Channel- get better news value, even if it is predominately American! Besides, after the ABC’s recent debacle in covering the Rudd-Gillard leadership challenge, where after announcing something was on, they practically ignored it all night, so I can’t see them providing much of worth! Sky News and A-PAC pretty much cover all local news and politics anyway!

  3. Do I read from what you say that you can’t get ABC News 24, that is channel 20, if you don’t have HD? I assumed that channel 20 worked without having a HD set or box, just without the HD factor.

  4. @Andrew V

    Nah, I think I’ll stick to Fox News Channel

    Did somebody just compare the ABC to Fox News?

    Seriously are you out of your mind? Fox is the most Republican biased bullshit news network out there.

    Some of the crap and news opinions they have on there are just dangerous.

  5. @Andrew, yes, you need HD.

    “ABC News24 on channel 24 in High Definition. This channel is currently running a promotional loop and will soon change to our new 24 hour news service.” (ABC TV reception)

    @OzSoapbox, if you have a look around at Andrew V’s other comments, you’ll see that Fox News probably suits him perfectly.

  6. I thought you liberals/progressives/whateversoundsgoodatthetime were all about having an open mind, yet you dismiss a source of news because of what you perceive a conservative bias! Sure, I admit Fox has a conservative leaning, but you guys make comments without watching it for any appreciable amount of time! Is that any different to the overwhelming left-wing bias in nearly all our TV networks, ABC, SBS, and the Age? And before you dismiss those as false, just check out how they all shill for Julia, not even bothering to critics her about the East Timor Solution! By the way, has there been any real coverage on the massive BER forts on these networks, apart from the piece Seven did on Sunday Night a month ago? The biggest waste of taxpayer money in Australian history, and they don’t bother covering it? That’s not bias!?

    And as for Fox, their hard news coverage is fair, covering stories the other media outlets haven’t covered, such as the New Black Panther racist remark story (Google it). It is their opinion shows which lean conservative! As a matter of fact, Bill O’Reilly is not overly biased- he leans conservative, but is very fair to liberal guests, and indeed has many of them on his show to provide balance! He even gives Obama the benefit of the doubt in most cases! The main conservatives are Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and obviously they aren’t for everyone! Indeed, the only FNC anchor who hosts two shows is Shepard Smith, is unabashedly liberal:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard_Smith
    Remember what I said in the previous post, you should endeavor to read diverse sources, indeed seek out the other view, and see how it compares to yours- that’s primarily why I read your blog, Daniel, to get the other point of view, and dispute it if I disagree, in a civil manner, of course! And indeed, I do appreciate that you do let me comment!

  7. Andrew, even with a digital set top box, if you don’t have HD digital and an HD TV, you won’t get anything at all from an HD broadcast.

    Its not like colour TV, which you could watch in black and white on a black and white TV.

    I think the failure to broadcast this in SD is a pretty big failure.

  8. I’m very happy to have a free to air 24 hour news channel to watch here in Australia. We have had 24 hour news and weather in the US for about 30 years but it is only on pay cable TV. This is one thing I have missed here in Australia since cable TV service is not available in my apartment building.

    I often find myself watching the foreign language news on SBS when nothing else good is on to watch. I was watching Chinese news this morning. Even though I don’t understand the foreign langages I can still get a good idea of the story being told and learn about parts of the world not often shown on English language news.

    One of my favorite news programs both in the US and here in Australia is the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer(sp?). It is well produced and balanced news program without the sometimes sensational antics some other news programs have.

  9. Daniel
    are you sure ABC News24 will be on channel 24? Currently, we are getting the looping advert for the news service on the ABC HD channel 20.
    PS We can get ABC 20, 21, 22 and 23. But there is no 24!

  10. enno, the ABC and other free-to-air broadcasters were hemmed in by legislation mandating the main channel be broadcast in SD. owing I guess to SD digital only TV’s and set-top-boxes around. Also the commercial stations were allowed 2 × SD and 1 × HD channels (the ABC squeezed in a third SD channel and SBS have unused SBS3 and SBS 4 channels showing SBS1). The result is that the so-called 16 Freeview channels are wasted with SD and HD simulcasts of the same thing (7/7HD; 9/9HD; ONE HD/ONE SD).

    The ABC therefore got around the channel restriction by dropping the HD simulcast and putting the news channel there. Ideally the main channel would the one in HD but the above legislation means it is in SD. I believe later on this year or next year Ten will similarly drop its One SD simulcast and replace that with a general entertainment channel so One will be HD only with Ten having remained in SD as per the main channel SD compliance

    The take-up of digital had been glacially slow without extra channels – improved picture alone did little to encourage it when the analogue for many was perfectly okay on existing CRT’s. Remember it was introduced in 2001 with an anticipated analogue switch off in 2008 which never happened. At the time there was only ABC 2 (2005) and the SBS World News Channel (2002, now SBS2) introduced late in the piece after a failed experiment with FlyTV (2001–2003). The extra channels are now having an effect with increased digital take up and a more definite analogue switch off in December 2013 for capital cities.

  11. Coming out of Sydney, I hope it doesn’t become too Sydney-centric.

    If you’ve ever caught the Channel 10 late night news they’ll report things like ‘A Sydney ferry was delayed today’, Rugby League star jailed’….hmm, OK. But I guess it IS the Channel 10 ‘news’ afterall.

    (On the subject of Channel 10 news, if the ABC can somehow hire Tom Piotrowski without the Commsec ads, he’d provide great entertainment).

  12. @enno – I have an HD capable DVR (Topfield 7100) which does downsampling to my SD CRT TV without any issues … the picture looks crisper even so, since the compression artifacts are reduced as well …

  13. @PaulW, I don’t have a problem with a sports report within a news bulletin. But NewsRadio does an hour of sport on Sunday mornings at 10am. That’s not news, that’s a sports show.

    @Donna, yeah I love how the National/Sydney 10 news bulletins will report on something in some corner of Paramatta (or whatever) but when it’s in Melbourne, just say “Melbourne”. WHERE in Melbourne??

    @Josh, ??? ABC News 24 is the first channel which will ONLY be available in HD.

  14. >> @enna – I think the failure to broadcast this in SD is a pretty big failure.

    enna it’s not the ABC’s fault – the (current*) Australian digital (terrestrial*) TV set up only provides enough bandwidth for each network to have 1xHD and 3xSD channels. For the ABC to now have four completely different channels means they have no choice but for one of them to be exclusively HD.

    *current – for now that is, as the goal is down the track we’ll switch from MPEG2 to MPEG4 which will provide significantly increased bandwidth. That’s why all “freeview” specification settop boxes have inbuilt MPEG4 capability so they’re ready for that change.

    *terrestrial – obviously this only applies to conventional terrestrial TV transmissions. Point a satellite dish at Optus D3 or Optus D1 and you can tune into every ABC channel from every state which also includes SD and HD versions for both ABC1 and ABC4. Nifty when you miss something – switch to the Perth ABC feed and because of timezones you can catch it several hours later.

  15. I’ll reserve judgement.

    When I was working on shift I watched a lot of the 24hr news channels – and if you watch too much of it in one day it REALLY gets monotonous. Think about the lame “news” stories that just leave you scratching your head thinking “what, slow news day?” – well, there are a lot of those on 24hr news.

    I just hope that being a non-commercial, non-pay tv news channel that the banter is slightly less inane.

  16. Dammit! My pedantry has backfired. Of course March 14 is Pi Approximation Day, that’s what I get for trying to be clever early in the morning.

  17. I was right. Tonight, Channel 24 appears on Channel 20 on my Topfield PVR.
    I did a re-scan for channels (it picked up C31) and it allocated ABC24NEWS to Channel 20. There is no ch 24.

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