Over the past few months, the ABC has published Game of Thrones recaps, a guide to adult acne, run on-air promo ads for news stories and given grants to a very clickable range of projects under its new content fund. The public broadcaster is looking increasingly like its commercial competitors, and journalists feel like there's a top-down push for higher-rating news stories, both online and in TV news programming.
Over a recent weekend, the ABC was running on-air promos for a story on the Sunday evening 7pm bulletin about the dangers of opioid use in rural Australia. The story was solid -- an excellent example of some of the reporting the ABC does best. But the promotions -- not the first of their kind, but a recent addition to the line-up -- show that news and current affairs bosses at the public broadcaster are facing up to falling ratings. It's a well-honed tactic from the Seven and Nine networks. The promo cycle for Sunday and Monday night news bulletins usually starts an hour or so after the Friday night news, and runs relentlessly throughout the weekend. The ABC has also adopted a mid-bulletin promo for 7.30, crossing to Leigh Sales with what's coming up "later this hour".