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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 22: 24-Hour News in Australia: Public Service and Private Interests



24-Hour News in Australia1: Public Service and Private Interests


The story of 24-hour news provision in Australia is one of a competitive dynamic between two organisations: one public service media provider, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which produces News 24, and one commercial organization, News Corporation, which operates and owns the Sky News channel (alongside commercial operators Seven Media Group and Nine Entertainment Co).2 These rivals attract relatively small proportions of the country’s TV viewers, and like other “legacy” platforms must now compete also with an expanding range of online news providers eating into audience share. This essay considers the ways in which News 24 and Sky News seek to distinguish themselves from each other, and also how they are adapting to the enhanced competitiveness of the digitized, networked media environment.


Sky News was launched in 1996 (Young, 2009), the first domestically produced 24-hour news channel in Australia. ABC launched News 24 in July 2010. Paying subscribers to the Foxtel digital network may access a range of externally produced 24-hour channels, such as Russia Today (RT), CNN and Al Jazeera, but in the Australian public sphere, addressing Australian issues and events, ABC News 24 and Sky News comprise a duopoly of real-time news provision.

These channels have relatively low audience ratings by comparison with Australia’s free-to-air TV. Where an edition of prime-time news...

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