ABC to move into tablet publishing with new weekly title

Angela Clark

Angela Clark

The ABC is to launch a new tablet-based current affairs publication offering a mixture of video, audio and written content from across the corporation, Mumbrella can reveal.

While the public service broadcaster already offers a number of apps, including its iView catchup TV service, the new product – as yet unnamed – will be more magazinelike with a weekly publication schedule and intended to be available in the Apple and Android newsstands where it will be next to tablet editions of existing magazines and newspapers.

The project is being spearheaded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s innovation department and is one of the biggest moves to date by Angela Clark who took charge of the unit last year.

The tablet product will focus on current affairs with broadcast material from across the corporation. It will be free.

Clark told Mumbrella the product would be unlike anything currently in the market, describing it as a “long-form tablet app”.

The app will feature eight to ten stories a week told through writing, video and audio content from across the network as well as relevant material from the ABC archives.

Clark said: “Behaviour that we’re seeing around tablets, it is your book before bed, where you go and have some personal space more in-depth time rather than that breaking news habit.

“We have a lot of rich media and video content and a lot of it is in a linear form and we’re looking at exploring that inner form that’s not linear that gives people time to absorb it in different ways to enter the story.”

Clark is currently recruiting for an editor, assistant editor, graphic designer and a data journalist to run the publication during a 12 month pilot period, with the first issue expected to be published in February.

The editor will be paid up to $100k plus super. According to the ad: “The successful candidate will have a strong background in journalism, having lead editorial teams and will possess excellent communication skills, demonstrating an ability to work with a large number of stakeholders to deliver quality products on tight deadline and budgets.”

As well as appealing to people who already engage with ABC content through a tablet the app aims to reach a younger demographic and those who do not regularly access the ABC.

Clark said: “We want to re-imagine and re-express ABC’s existing content in a way that makes sense on a tablet and by doing so can reach a broader audience and learn about what the tablet brings to a broadcaster. Rather than thinking of the tablet purely as a second screen just playing TV, we will look at the attributes people really like about a tablet. Part of those attributes are delight, serendipity, touch, interactiveness, and you don’t get those by just purely replaying video.

“This is an unexpected way of coming across the ABC so we’re trying to target a slightly younger audience than our core audience,” Clarke said.

The ambitions of the tablet appear to be not dissimilar from News Corp’s failed US tablet project The Daily which launched in February 2011 and closed at the end of last year after failing to deliver sufficient subscribers.

Megan Reynolds


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