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The Future of 24-Hour News

New Directions, New Challenges

Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook

Over the last 30 years 24-hour television news channels have reshaped the practice and culture of journalism. But the arrival of new content and social media platforms over recent years has challenged their power and authority, with fast-changing technologies accelerating the speed of news delivery and reshaping audience behaviour. Following on from The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives (Cushion and Lewis, 2010), this volume explores new challenges and pressures facing television news channels, and considers the future of 24-hour news. Featuring a wide range of industry and academic perspectives, including the heads of some of the major international news channels (BBC Global News, Al Jazeera and Sky News, among others) as well as leading academics from around the world, contributors reflect on how well rolling television news is reinventing itself for digital platforms and the rapidly changing expectations of audiences. Overall, the 24 chapters in this volume deliver fresh insights into how 24-hour news channels have redefined rolling news journalism – or potentially could do – in order to remain relevant and effective in supplying continuous news for 21st-century audiences.
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Chapter 5: The View from Australia: How Will We Be Heard?

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← 62 | 63 →CHAPTER FIVE

The View from Australia: How Will We Be Heard?

MARK SCOTT, FORMER DIRECTOR GENERAL, ABC



After noting historian George Rudé’s estimate that Robespierre had made 900 speeches, Hilary Mantel made a telling observation: “He had spoken, of course; but had he been heard?”1 Questions of a similar nature keep me awake at night. What impact can news make, what is its future audience and how will news be heard and seen?

The ABC currently produces thousands of hours of television news and current affairs each year. And, in the context of existing audiences for television in Australia, audiences for TV news are exceptionally good. The evening news bulletin of the ABC, along with those of the two most successful commercial TV services, Seven and Nine, are fixtures in the Top 10 of Australia’s most watched programs. Audiences for the ABC’s rolling news service ABC News24, the home of breaking news on ABC TV, continue to grow.

TV news is in great shape in Australia—whatever happens to it in future, it will have the advantage of coming off a strong base. However, it’s difficult to imagine how this degree of audience interest might be sustained, both now as transformation is underway and later, in 10 to 15 years’ time, when most television will be delivered via the internet.

Over the next five years in Australia, both standard and high-definition channels...

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