The luvvies inside the ABC and groups like the Friends of the ABC fret constantly over whether it has enough money, whether it can compete and whether it is being neutered by nasty (usually conservative) elements in society, especially the Howard Government.

But in all their hand wringing they have missed the fact that the ABC is now the most technologically adept media group in the country. It is moving deeper and deeper into the digital world and people are following in their millions.

It’s a success story the luvvies ignore because they don’t want to admit to ABC success stories: their place in the world is based on the ABC being under permanent threat from the dark forces of commercialism, conservative government and other evils.

Consider these facts from the ABC’s 2007 annual report:

  • By June 2007, the ABC was registering just under 2.4 million successful and complete downloads of podcast files each month, representing content from all ABC Radio networks, ABC News and audio from ABC Television.
  • In the month of June 2007, audiences downloaded over two million ABC Radio programs and 1.8 million ABC Television and News videos.
  • Lateline and Lateline Business program segments became available for download as vodcasts on ABC Online in late August 2006 and program segments from The 7.30 Report in April 2007.
  • Lateline recorded a total of 146,000 downloads of individual segments and Lateline Business 60,000 over the period since inception, while The 7.30 Report had 9000 downloads between April and June 2007.
  • In 2006–07, ABC Online reached over 2.1 million unique users per month — equivalent to 18.4% of the active Australian internet population — and turned over 102 million page views each month. This represents a 13% increase in users and a 6% increase in page views over 2005–06. ABC Online’s average monthly audience grew by 13%, while the active monthly Australian internet population grew by 5% over the same period.

These figures have obviously impressed ABC management — that’s clear from the corporation’s new three year corporate plan (from July 1 this year), that the online world is now its primary focus, equal to anything done in radio, TV or any other part of the charter.

The annual report states:

Online and other digital delivery platforms are a key part of everything the ABC does.

They have shifted from the fringe of operations ten years ago to the very centre of ABC Television, Radio and News output. Each content division needs to consider how best to deliver content across all platforms.

A core objective of the new three-year plan is that the ABC continues to be recognised as the leading Australian media space where people engage with issues and ideas. Over the planning period, it aims to: deliver more content on additional digital radio and television networks; increase Australian content levels on television; provide current programs and key archival material for download; strengthen national and local news bulletins online; enable more user-generated material; secure more places to see Australia Network across the Asia-Pacific region; and be as relevant and compelling in the digital world as it has been in the era of analog broadcasting.