ABC facing calls to relinquish New Year fireworks coverage after renewed criticism

The ABC’s coverage of the New Year fireworks in Sydney has come in for major criticism from hundreds of viewers and media outlets for the second year in succession, and calls to relinquish the rights to a commercial broadcaster.

ABC NYE coverage

It was the second year the public broadcaster has shown the event after taking over the rights from commercial rival Channel Nine, with Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today publishing an editorial headlined “ABC’s New Year’s Eve coverage needs a cracker up its clacker”, a reference to a famous headline from News Corp stablemate the NT Times.

In it Claire Harvey wrote: “I’m a devoted ABC viewer and even I found the coverage patronising, amateurish, tedious and intermittently baffling.”

ABC criticisms facebook

Viewers took to social media to vent their anger at the coverage (click to enlarge)

Hundreds of viewers took to Facebook and Twitter to criticise the coverage, which at one point saw HG Nelson’s head blocking a camera showing the fireworks, labelling it amongst other things “embarrassing” and “awful”.

Among the criticisms were too many mentions of the ABC’s funding cuts, and poor vision of the fireworks at midnight and overly long and uncomfortable interviews with guests.

The show was hosted by Julia Zemiro and actor Toby Truslove, with crosses to Tom Ballard, Lawrence Mooney, Charlie Pickering and Adam Zwar amongst others. At the end of te broadcast Zemiro was heard saying “oh thank God” when she thought her microphone had been turned off.

Yesterday the ABC had promised “unrivalled coverage” of the event with nine cameras, a helicopter and “Australian first” use of drones to capture footage.

This morning the ABC claimed the broadcast was watched by 4m viewers nationally, up from 3.7m last year for the whole broadcast, with 2m tuning into the main channel and ABC News 24 for the fireworks coverage between 11.55pm and 12.22am, giving it a 19.7 per cent audience share.

In a statement on the ratings Justin Holdforth, ABC head of sport and events said: “The Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks are an iconic and much loved event. I’m delighted that the ABC was again able to deliver a spectacular night of family entertainment to audiences across Australia”

Last year the ABC’s director of television Richard Finlayson defended its coverage from similar criticism of the four hour broadcast.

The ABC has been contacted for comment.

Alex Hayes

Some of the reaction on Twitter (click to enlarge)

Some of the reaction on Twitter (click to enlarge)


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.