Investment in ABC international services delivers audience growth

Investment in ABC international services delivers audience growth

Increased funding for ABC International programs has already led to audience growth across television, radio and digital services.

The globe with Australia at the focus

After the ABC’s International Service was stripped of $200 million in 2014, ABC Friends campaigned for funding to be restored so the ABC could resume its vital role as Australia’s trusted voice in the Asia-Pacific. 

ABC Friends President, Cassandra Parkinson, said that the ABC service enables Australia to play a major role as a responsible democratic partner in the Asia-Pacific.

“We were pleased when the Albanese Government announced funding increases in both its October 2022 and May 2023 Budgets. While there’s a long way to go to restore full funding, it’s good to see how effective the additional funding has been,” she said.

In the October 2022 Budget, the Government announced an additional $32 million over four years to expand regional transmission, content production and media capacity training in the Indo-Pacific. In May, the Government allocated a further $8.5 million over four years under the Indo-Pacific Broadcasting Strategy to expand transmission infrastructure in the Pacific.

In data compiled for the ABC’s 2022/2023 Annual Report, the ABC’s international television network, ABC Australia, increased its monthly viewers by 8% from 3.62 million to 3.91 million and ABC Radio Australia also increased its monthly listeners by 12% from 287,300 to 321,225.

ABC International Services Head Claire Gorman said the data shows that increased international investment is “starting to deliver concrete results” among audiences “increasingly coming to the ABC for trusted, informative and inspiring content”.

The ABC says the growth reflects the scaling up of bespoke content production made possible by the increased funding. 

Recent initiatives include a new weekly news television program The Pacific, special international editions of popular ABCTV programs Gardening Australia, Landline and Back Roads and the tripling of Pacific-focused sport, music and cultural programming on ABC Radio Australia.

ABC Pacific, a digital offering for Pacific audiences launched last year, also achieved significant audience growth. ABC Pacific Facebook achieved an average monthly post reach of 5.9 million over the past 12 months and its followers have increased by 19% to 407,000.

The ABC has announced that Radio Australia will expand its FM transmission footprint to cover all Pacific Island Forum nations within the next two years, based on research showing that FM radio transmission is the most cost-effective medium with the highest potential to reach audiences in the region. 

ABC Australia will also begin transmission of separate Asia and Pacific streams later this year to better serve regional audiences across diverse time zones.

ABC International Services

ABC International Services, through ABC Australia, ABC Radio Australia, and ABC websites and apps, reaches unique overseas audiences of some 14 million each month. ABC Australia television is available in 38 countries. 

The ABC has been providing international broadcasting for some 85 years.

In his book, Now more than Ever: Australia’s ABC, Managing Director, David Anderson wrote that “ABC International tells Australian stories, reports fairly and fearlessly, teaches different generations to speak English, and delivers critical information in times of crisis".

Sophie Arnold
E-news Editor