ABC defends decision not to switch to rolling coverage of tsunami

The ABC has defended its news coverage of the Japanese tsunami disaster, pointing out that ABC News 24 was the most watched digital channel on Friday night –  the first time this has occurred.

ABC News 24 – which carried BBC News 24 for much of that period along with content from Japanese broadcaster NHK – rated an audience share of 3.4% in the 6pm to midnight slot. The same time the previous week saw the network with a 0.3% share.

Within that, ABC News 24’s average audience topped at 162,000 – well ahead of Sky News top audience of the night of 114,000. Previously ABC News 24’s highest prime-time share was 2.3% on February 2.  

However, ABC News 24 was criticised for filling much of its weekend schedule with archive content rather than switching to rolling coverage.

However, an ABC spokeswoman said the the organisation has taken a similar approach to fellow public service broadcaster the BBC. She said: “The reality is ABC News 24 did exactly what the BBC did – we had live coverage then went back to the regular schedule then crossed back into regular news updates throughout the day.”

For contractual reasons, the ABC was not able to carry a constant feed from BBC News 24. She said: “Most of our feeds over the weekend came from the BBC and NHK. The ABC operates under a quota system with the BBC which means we are limited in the amount of coverage we can run from them.”


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