‘Equal digital life’ the new mantra to drive ABC content says managing director

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has announced plans for the public broadcaster to extend its digital news reach, including a new Facebook Messenger service which will go live next week.


Guthrie: ‘The ABC cannot be frozen in time’

Speaking at the New News conference in Melbourne Guthrie announced plans, and rejected arguments the ABC should stick to broadcast and allow commercial players to dominate the online world.

“The ABC cannot be frozen in time, no matter how much some stakeholders would like it to be. Our commitment to quality cannot be measured through a line by line defence of every program,” she said.

“As I have repeatedly stressed to our teams programs and program schedules can and will change.”

But Guthrie said the ABC’s approach would be to challenge teams to create an “equal digital life” for all its radio and TV content.

“This is, of course, quite different to the “digital first” mantra that still echoes through many news rooms,” she added.

She pointed to figures from the Reuters Institute showing that “in 2013 72% of people reported that they had used television in the last week as a source of news. In 2016, that figure has declined to 66%”.

In the speech Guthrie also signalled ABC radio would have a brand refresh “to ensure we resonate with current and future audiences”.

She added: “A new-look ABC Local Radio Capital City network will from early 2017 offer a nationally consistent, refreshed sound and look.”

One initiative she announced was a collaboration with distribution service Chatfuel to create a service to deliver ABC news wraps direct to subscribers through Facebook Messenger each morning.

“Time-pressed users have the choice of simply skimming news summaries, or can dive deeper and read the whole story if they wish,” she said.

“Users can message the service whenever they want to find out the news they want to know, and opt-in to receive breaking news alerts. You can also choose topics you want to focus on: such as sport, business and the US election.”

That service will be live from Monday, with Guthrie stating the commitment to personalisation was a key differentiator from other similar services.




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