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Source: Australian Department of Communications

The ABC has outlined how it is keeping the nation informed, educated and entertained in response to COVID-19, with trusted content and services all Australians can turn to.

Managing Director David Anderson said the ABC is playing an essential role in the lives of all Australians impacted by COVID-19.

“Clearly, the challenge for the ABC is to continue providing the essential broadcast and digital services all Australians expect of us,” he said. “There have been some changes to our normal schedule that audiences will have noticed already, such as the suspension of the National Press Club broadcast and a reduction of The Signal podcast. And, like other providers, it will take some time for us to return to normal activity once the threat has passed.

“But Australians should be reassured that we are making every effort to continue to provide our trusted and valued services to audiences, wherever they are.  We are conscious of the important role the ABC plays in our lives. And we are doing all we can to keep Australians informed, educated and entertained in these unprecedented times.

“Contingency planning is well advanced and we are also adjusting our output to meet the rapidly changing needs and expectations of all Australians, covering everything from new box sets to binge on iview to recipes and activities for people staying indoors at home.

“And with so many children now at home, the ABC is helping primary and secondary students and teachers with additional curriculum-linked education content across multiple platforms. No matter the challenges to come, the ABC will be there for all Australians for the long haul, as a trusted friend and companion in a time of need.”

The ABC is providing a wide range of programs and services to keep Australians informed, educated and entertained now and into the future, including:

  • Expanded educational programming for primary and secondary school students.
  • Connecting communities with the latest local news, expert advice, official health information and talkback on the ABC’s Capital City and Regional Radio networks.
  • New on-demand content on iview, including acclaimed drama Les Miserables, the latest series of Killing Eve and true crime series Murder 24/7.
  • Distinctive new Australian content, such as Mystery Road (series 2).
  • Increased support for Australian artists, musicians and creatives.
  • Insider tips on family-friendly games from ABC ME’s Good Game Spawn Point.
  • Keeping Australians fit and healthy, including recipes on cooking with the essentials and tips on exercising in isolation.
  • New weekend sports radio programs and more digital content across all codes.

In a time of rapid change, misinformation and confusion, the ABC remains the nation’s most trusted source of news and information. In particular:

  • Daily editions each weekday of the ABC’s Coronacast podcast, breaking down the latest news and research about how the world is living through the pandemic.
  • Live coverage of federal and state government announcements and in-depth looks at the impact of COVID-19 through key current affairs programs, including 30, Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent, Afternoon Briefing, Australian Story and Q+A, along with key radio current affairs programs such as AM, PM and RN Breakfast and RN Drive.
  • Bringing audiences trusted news, insights and analysis on the ABC News Channel and our digital networks, including our rolling live blog and coronavirus website.
  • Enhancing triple j’s Hack’s news and information for younger audiences.
  • RMIT ABC Fact Check’s new CoronaCheck website and newsletter is exposing fake news and misinformation that is spreading as fast and far as the virus itself.

The ABC is helping people cope with the changes to their daily lives and routines, with additional health and consumer advice and education resources. Initiatives include:

  • The ABC Health newsletter has increased in frequency to three editions a week, bringing subscribers the latest information and advice from here and overseas.
  • ABC Sport is keeping fans of all codes entertained with new weekend radio programs on ABC Grandstand DAB+ and the ABC listen app, including the return of Roy & HG every Saturday from midday AEST.
  • Mindfully’s new Corona Calm podcast, in partnership with Smiling Mind, offers meditation and mindfulness exercises to stay calm amidst uncertainty. Or check out new bonus episodes of kids’ ethics podcast Short & Curly and Parental As Anything with Maggie Dent on helping children cope with the impact of COVID-19.
  • New ABC Science video series in development will share health advice and life hacks for Australians on how to stay well and sane in isolation.
  • For those unable to attend religious services over the Easter period, we will broadcast the Compass special “Easter in Australia” on 7 April and seek to show livestreams of religious services from here and overseas, including the Pope’s Easter Saturday Vigil Mass from the Vatican.
  • Our teams of specialist content makers will give audiences plenty to watch, listen to and read over the months ahead, including ABC TV’s Compass and Catalyst and RN programs such as Conversations, All In The Mind, Awaye!, Earshot and Radio National Fictions.
  • ABC Life is boosting its health and wellbeing content to help Australians navigate the daily impacts of COVID-19, with advice on looking after your mental and physical health while working from home and recipes for cooking with essentials.

With so many children now at home, the ABC is expanding its free education content and resources for key learning stages and year groups to assist students, teachers and parents, including:

  • ABC ME will extend its daily dedicated educational programming from 10am to 3pm, from 14 April, moving from blocks of primary school content in the mornings through to secondary school content in the afternoons.
  • The ABC will offer additional online support through its portal ABC Education, with access to more than 4000 free videos, interactive resources and games mapped to the Australian curriculum across multiple subjects.
  • Working in partnership with state and territory education departments, ABC Education will also create teacher-led mini-lessons to be broadcast on the ABC Education portal and ABC ME, to support students learning at home.
  • ABC iview’scurated collection of educational content for children features informative and engaging programs across multiple subject areas, including BTN, The Storybuilding Tool Kit, This Place, Citizen Code and Teenage Boss.
  • BTN is also expanding its network of Rookie Reporters delivering news, views and opinions via mobile video, so that kids who are working remotely or in isolation will still have a voice in our news. Parents can access BTN’s teaching resources and lesson plans in the “Teachers” section of the BTN website.
  • Pre-schoolers are also in safe hands with trusted content on ABC Kids, ABC Kids listen and the ABC’s Early Education website.
  • Special collections of learning content and family activities are available on the newly enhanced ABC Kids app and ABC Kids Community Facebook page.

The ABC is keeping Australians entertained, curious and connected to the world and each other, with more content that makes them laugh, think and imagine. Initiatives include:

  • New on-demand content on iview to give audiences more of what they want, when they want it, including:
    • Australian free-to-air premiere of the six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables, starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins and Olivia Colman.
    • Australian premiere of five-part new true crime series Murder 24/7, which follows police murder investigations in real time. The British series forms part of our true crime collection on iview, which also includes Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane, Barrenjoey Road and Who Killed Belinda Peisley.
    • Binge viewing of the gripping new British crime drama The Capture.
    • Australian premiere of the new series of Killing Eve fast-tracked from the US (available on iview from 13 April and premiering on ABC TV on Sunday 19 April at 9.30pm).
    • New seasons of the ever-popular Death in Paradise and
  • Boxsets of programs Australians know and love, including comedies Frayed, Black Comedy and State of the Union, dramas and documentaries Stateless, Total Control, The Australian Dream, Doctor Who (series 12), The Heights and You Can’t Ask That, and audience favourites such as Gardening Australia, Back Roads, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell, Hard Quiz and Spicks and Specks specials.
  • Distinctive new Australian content, including the second series of drama Mystery Road (from 19 April), series 4 of heart-warming comedy Rosehaven and new factual series Miram Margolyes: Almost Australian.
  • New arts and cultural content to keep the creative juices flowing, such as daily singalongs on ABC Classic Breakfast.

As the nation’s biggest backer of Australian talent, the ABC is boosting support for local artists and creatives by bringing more of their work to audiences. In particular:

  • The ABC’s national music networks are already well above the industry’s Australian music quotas for radio (triple j plays 60% of Australian music). But we are looking to further increase the proportion of local music featured and played on-air across national and local and regional radio to assist Australian musicians.
  • triple j, Double J and triple j Unearthed have also announced a special edition of Ausmusic T-shirt Day on 17 April to encourage listeners to buy and wear a new T-shirt from their favourite Australian artist.
  • We are working with our partners across all platforms in the Arts to co-host virtual festivals and events, from book clubs to live streaming performances.
  • ABC Music has launched the #covidcoverschallenge on social media to support Australian country music, by encouraging musicians to post videos of themselves performing songs by Australian and New Zealand country music artists.
  • As concert halls go dark across Australia, ABC Classic is keeping the music going as Australia’s Concert Hall, working with Australian musicians to bring audiences concerts and livestreams and a list of online music events.
  • ABC music networks are working with the Australian music industry on the Sound of Silence initiative, which is supporting local artists and music industry workers during the shutdown of live music performances.

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For more information:
Peter Munro, ABC Communications
munro.peter@abc.net.au

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