THE ABC’s director of news, Kate Torney, has ruled out asking the government for more money to launch the national broadcaster’s 24-hour news channel, saying she is confident it can be created from existing resources.”There are many hours of content produced by the ABC that does not make it to a national audience,” Ms Torney told the Herald. ”This is about value for money and ensuring the audience has access to the full breadth of the content we generate every day.”Ms Torney told ABC staff last night the channel, to be named ABC News 24, would launch midyear and harness more than 800 journalists in nine metropolitan and 50 regional newsrooms, 12 international bureaus and 21 foreign correspondents.Ms Torney said the ABC had made significant savings by streamlining its news-gathering processes, introducing studio automation and desktop editing, and those savings would be reinvested in the new channel.”Audience demands have changed and we need to ensure we’re providing a service that is relevant,” she said. ”I truly believe this is value for money – the rich content that is coming out of our regional, state and international newsrooms will have a much broader audience.”The channel will feature rolling news, current affairs programs and high-profile ABC journalists including the newsreader Juanita Phillips, ABC2 News Breakfast’s hosts, Virginia Trioli and Joe O’Brien, the Lateline Business host, Ali Moore, the 7.30 Report’s political editor, Chris Uhlmann, a former Moscow correspondent, Scott Bevan, and ABC Online’s chief political writer, Annabel Crabb.The ABC’s plans have provoked fierce criticism from commercial and pay television, particularly Sky News Australia, a smaller operation (see panel).Ms Torney said ABC News 24 would be ”something quite different” from Sky. ”We produce original news content all day, every day. We have direct access to our reporters on the ground and we’re offering a free-to-air service,” she said.The clash of commercial and public news cultures recalls the launch of BBC News 24 against the incumbent Sky News, owned by the deep-pocketed Rupert Murdoch, in Britain in 1997.Its Australian counterpart, however, is a joint venture with channels Seven and Nine, neither of which is likely, in an increasingly competitive broadcasting landscape, to invest in a pay-TV channel that is eating into its own market share. ABC More than 800 journalistsNine metropolitan newsrooms (capital cities and Newcastle)50 regional newsrooms12 international bureaus21 foreign correspondents SKY NEWS More than 110 journalistsOne metropolitan newsroom (Sydney)Seven metropolitan bureausPlus resources of BSkyB in London and its joint venture partners PBL (Nine) and the Seven Network.
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