After weeks of speculation, the ABC has announced that ABC News 24 will launch on-air on Thursday 22 July.
The first programme to air on the high-definition news channel will be an ABC News special at 7:30pm AEST. The broadcaster indicates that the launch programme would aim to showcase the full range of the ABC's news-gathering capabilities, featuring reporting from journalists in Australia and around the world.
"ABC News 24 will showcase the very best of the ABC’s journalism from Australia and around the world," said Kate Torney, the ABC's director of news.
ABC News 24's broadcasts, including the launch programme, will be aired from a new studio contained in the ABC's Ultimo headquarters in Sydney. Broadcasts will be produced courtesy of the ABC's Continuous News Centre.
As flagged previously by the ABC, the new round-the-clock service will be available to viewers through several media:
- through the high-definition digital channel 24
- on Foxtel (channel 202) and Austar (channel 24)
- via the ABC News website or on the ABC's iView service
- on the ABC's freely downloadable iPhone application
Concerns about ongoing technical difficulties and the need to recruit and train staff had threatened to delay the launch of the new channel, a fact alluded to by the ABC's managing director Mark Scott in an email to staff published by The Australian.
"In preparing to launch big ventures like this, you often feel you could do with more time," he said. "But 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."
In its announcement, the ABC also gave full details about News 24's line-up, some of which had been flagged in earlier promotional materials.
The channel's afternoon line-up will be spearheaded by Afternoon Live, a politics-focused programme anchored by Ali Moore with contributions from Chris Uhlmann, ABC News 24's political editor, and Jeremy Fernandez, who will present news updates.
Scott Bevan and Jane Hutcheon, former foreign correspondents for the ABC, will each host their own programmes on the channel. In addition to hosting the late news on weeknights, Bevan will host a programme entitled The World, "making full use of the reach and quality" of the ABC's foreign newsgathering capabilities. Hutcheon will host One Plus One, a weekly interview programme.
The ABC's online discussion and analysis website The Drum will move into the television medium, with its chief political writer Annabel Crabb anchoring daily broadcasts featuring "opinion and analysis, debate and argument".
News bulletins presented by Joe O'Brien will air in the morning and the early afternoon, while Juanita Phillips will anchor the main evening broadcast.
Existent ABC News programmes airing on ABC News 24 will continue to be broadcast on the ABC's standard-definition channels, including ABC News Breakfast (ABC2), the re-branded Midday (ABC1) and Lateline Business (ABC1). Lateline Business will air at an earlier timeslot on ABC News 24, before being rebroadcast in its usual timeslot on ABC1 after Lateline.
The Australia Network's Business Today, presented by Whitney Fitzsimmons, will also be broadcast on ABC News 24.