ABC drops HD shows for ABC News 24

High definition drama and entertainment will become another victim of network restructuring when the ABC turns the ABC HD channel into ABC News 24.

The few programmes that aired in HD will be relegated to SD in the same way as TEN’s decision to introduce ONE HD impacted on its entertainment shows.

The good news is that the news channel will air in high definition when it airs in July.

The Sydney Morning Herald notes, in theory, the ABC could have converted one of the existing SD channels to HD, but the ABC’s director of TV, Kim Dalton, said there was a problem in finding enough suitable content.

It could be three years before entertainment shows are restored in true HD.

In 2013, when the digital switchover is complete and when HD was more mature, Dalton said the ABC would review the balance of SD and HD programming.

Networks must air a minimum of 1000 hours of HD content to meet licence requirements, around 3 hours per day. ABC will meet this with ABC News 24 when it launches in July.

The new channel will air content simultaneously around the country regardless of timezones.

The newspaper notes shows like Doctor Who will be one of the shows no longer airing in HD on ABC HD. However, TV Tonight understands the show has not been airing in HD because ABC does not purchase the more expensive HD version.



  1. I never understood the point of the HD requirements for ABC or SBS, with the requirements able to be met with out ever actually screening anything HD. The government needs to remove the HD content requirements from ABC and SBS ASAP so that the bandwidth can be better utilised. (If the ABC news channel was SD the resulting spare bandwidth could be allocated to ABC1, ABC2 and ABC3 resulting in 4 SD channels of reasonable quality.)

  2. Can’ t please everyone it seems. If you only have an SD box, then time to upgrade anyway as the new channels from Seven and Nine will be in HD only as well.

    Having to keep analogue on the air for so long is the main reason holding back the full development of digital TV in Australia. 2014 – when we are all digital will see major changes.

  3. I will certainly be adding this to my favourite channels lists, probably won’t watch it too often, but will switch whenever I am stuck in the 2-4am home shopping zone or when I want to get some news, although with a few news apps on my iphone now that isn’t such a problem as it used to be for me.

    The whole house is digital now, as we bought new devices the old STB’s that I was using have been spread around the house to other tv’s we don’t intend to replace and to the vcr’s, there is only 1 SD only device left but I don’t see any reason why this will cause a problem given which channels are HD only.

  4. ka86: have you heard of something called the Internet? With the Internet, no one is left ‘out of the loop’ on breaking stories, as stories go up immeadiatly and are immeadiatly accessible to the whole world.

    But even if did happen to be stuck in the 90s and had not Internet access on you computer, all tv stations have at least 4-5 news bulletins every day. An early morning, a late morning, an arvo, a night and a late night. Not to mention hourly updates. If that wasn’t enough, channels do air, in some form, breaking news that is of significant public interet (such as the death of a high profile public figure), this is normally done by putting scrollig text on screen during a show.

    Also, I’d rather have less channels that have a high pic quality, than more channels with YouTube like picture quality.

    All that said and done, I still do look forward to checking out Abc4: News.

  5. I really don’t get what all the fuss is about. Yes I do enjoy watching things in HD. But I value more channel over a few high quality videos anyday.

    ABC News 24 will revolutionise news broadcasting in Australia. No longer will people feel they are out-of-the-loop on issues that are breaking immediately.

  6. HD set top boxes are cheep now and really unless you’re on a very tight budget you’d be a fool to get an SD box (or TV for that mater)

    I watch mainly F1 on ONE HD and yes you can see the difference when switching back to TEN. As others have said the reason ABC did this is they legally can’t have more than on HD channel and it’s a marketing thing. Just like ONE HD or Ten, ABC can claim to be the only HD 24/7 news channel on FTA. Even if a lot of content would be YouTube quality.

    It is an irony of today with 1080 HD and big TVs that much of the content on them is no better that what you’d get watching the clips on you computer from various web sites. Same goes for music with MP3 players v CD quality.

  7. tasmanian devil

    It’s easy for HD viewers to say “…oh, Channel X should be HD only to free up bandwidth etc…” but spare a thought for the SD viewers who’ve chosen not to buy an expensive HDTV fallaciously thinking the only benefit would be a sports channel they aren’t going to watch anyway, and now are missing out. And I can’t see what’s so great about having a news channel in HD. If anything it’s bad news because 1) Much of the footage will probably be SD anyway, 2) Using their HD channel for news seems like a waste, and 3) Having it HD only means a large proportion of viewers won’t be able to receive it.

  8. I own a HD TV and can’t tell the difference, for most shows, between ‘HD’ and ‘SD’ versions of the same show on 7 and 9. No real problems here on my part. Bring on the news channel, it might actually be ‘news’ (unlike the crap on 7 and 9)

  9. So no SD simulcast like ONE does? Pretty disappointing considering alot of people have purchased standard definition set top boxes, and one would think a 24/7 news channel would be available in standard definition as it doesn’t need HD picture quality and/or sound. Waste of bandwidth in my opinion

  10. For those wondering, the ABC actually has had quite a few HD shows that were actually screened in HD – both local drama (Rain Shadow, Bed Of Roses), and many documentaries, and even John Safran’s last series.

    I had wondered why the locally-produced “Voyage To The Planets” isn’t being screened in HD – and now we know. They’re pulling HD content, Ten-style, so viewers don’t notice anything going missing. But it was indeed there, usually not promoted aside from a tiny HD logo at the start but very much there.

    720p is a perfectly valid HD format, by the way. If you watch anything on ABC or FOX in the US – including Lost, Fringe, etc etc – you see it in 720p.

    This is a very, very bad decision by the ABC. And yes, just promotes more piracy.

  11. Currently no network has enough bandwidth or content for more than one HD channel (and until the analog switchoff in 2013 they’re not allowed more than one HD channel anyway). Also, one of their SD channels has to be a digital simulcast of their analog channel (in the ABC’s case that’s ABC1 Digital). Which means that the only channels the ABC could switch to HD now are ABC2 (which wouldn’t have enough HD content to meet the minimum 1040 hrs/yr govt HD content rule), ABC3 (ditto, and it’s a kids channel) or ABC News 24. QED.

    Post-2013 the networks can have as many digital channels, SD and HD, as they like and split them up between HD and SD however they like (though realistically they don’t have enough bandwidth for more than one HD channel each, so not much is likely to change). But the ABC will then be able to make ABC1 their HD channel (without the need to broadcast it in SD as well as they have to now).

  12. The question I’ve wanted to know for a while now is when the government licensed out the spectrum, why didn’t they include more HD channels in the package? To me, it would make more sense to license each “channel” as a SD + HD package. It doesn’t make sense (to me, but then again I’m no expert – maybe someone can fill me in) that each network gets one HD channel, but multiple SD channels. And that the networks (well 10 and soon the ABC) aren’t using it to simulcast their primary content in HD. Does anyone have a logical explanation?

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