As a news nerd, rolling 24 hour news channels are regular fixtures in my TV viewing habits. For the most part, I am generally quite happy with the coverage offered by Sky News and by ABC News 24. While I tend to favor the political coverage on Sky over ABC News 24 (if only because there is a great deal more talking head action on Sky), my preference usually goes to ABC News 24 as it is free, in my home (I don’t subscribe to Foxtel), and offers a very good quality service on a regular basis.
Neither service is perfect.
The Australian today criticised ABC News 24 for not providing enough live coverage of the Christmas Island boat disaster, citing the Sky News coverage that covered the news event between 1:30pm and 5pm. Is it a just criticism? The ABC have stated that they provided live coverage of a press conference with Wayne Swan and an in-studio interview with Scott Morrison, but did run a repeat of their midday news and a best-of Stateline program as scheduled.
Beyond Swan and Morrison being interviewed, there was very little new information coming through yesterday. Yes, the story is weighty and deserves considerable coverage, but did it require 3.5 hours of rolling news coverage? Probably not. Regular updates would suffice. That said, it is disappointing to find repeat programs between business hours on the news service. Regular rolling news of the Christmas Island story and the other news of the day would be far more preferable.
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For what its worth, and to provide a certain sense of balance, I don’t believe that Sky News yesterday ran NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal’s press conference live yesterday morning where he provided details on the breaking news of NSW’s electricity privatization. While it may not have national interest, it was certainly significant enough to warrant live coverage over the sports program that Sky News ran instead. ABC News 24 offered a live broadcast.
Yes, I’d suggest that ABC News 24 did their viewers a disservice by running repurposed content instead of a significant news story. Is it an issue worthy of this beat-up? I’m not convinced.