Senator the Hon Helen Coonan
Minister for Communications,
and the Arts
Internet Aunty Turns Ten
ABC Online 10 th Anniversary
Friday 12 August 2005
- Thank you Donald [McDonald AO, ABC Chairman]
- Distinguished guests
- Ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure to be here for this very special occasion—the 10 th anniversary of AB C Online.
- This is quite a milestone and yet another example of how the AB C is a leader in Australian broadcasting.
- Not only is the AB C integral to our cultural landscape, it has become integral to technological advancement and innovation.
It has the content, it has the platforms, and it has us hooked.
- Australians all around the nation are enjoying the quality services of the AB C by switching on the television, tuning in to the airwaves and of course, logging on to the web.
- I am told that ABC Online started rather humbly.
An initiative of the former Managing Director, Brian Johns, it was nurtured by a small group of journalists and producers who anticipated the importance of emerging technologies, especially the Internet.
- And how right they were. Ten years later ABC Online is an award winning service.
- It is an integral part of the ABC’s broadcasting activities, providing information and entertainment to a worldwide audience.
The journey so far
- On its journey so far, ABC Online has had quite a few significant milestones.
- In 1996, it presented the first online coverage of an election. The coverage was good but I must say the result was even better!
- In 1998, The Backyard went online. This is Australia’s most extensive network of websites that enables Australians to connect with their local community, other parts of the nation, and the world.
- 2001 marked the commencement of a hosted broadband news service.
- This year, ABC Broadband was launched. This service offers a rich variety of media content including news, sport, music, entertainment and documentaries.
- Podcasting also commenced this year, offering selected radio programs to subscribers around the world.
- Another significant event for 2005 has been the broadcasting of ABC Online content on ABC2 and its cross-platform production model.
- The ability to produce content suitable for a range of platforms is one of the real innovations that digital production methods allow.
- This is becoming an increasingly important part of the business of broadcasting – it is the way of the future.
- And the AB C is at the forefront of this trend, with a generous amount of both radio and television content available on its website.
- By offering these enhanced features that build on traditional forms of media, AB C Online is providing an exciting, innovative experience.
- Some of the features include galleries and forums, as well as transcripts, audio and video.
- For example, The Playground has a great range of entertaining and safe content for children to explore and use.
This includes specialised content like Play School Stories, which features a storytelling interface using interactive animation and video.
- These enhancements are not only engaging - they expand the level and depth of information we can access, and provide valuable resources across key areas like health, education and science.
- I am also impressed with The Lab, which is the award winning gateway to ABC Science.
The site features all of the ABC’s television and radio science programs, as well as original material created especially for online visitors.
- Likewise, the Health Matters site provides a wide range of facts, features and news about health.
In addition to a wealth of original online material including consumer guides, it has the latest health news and transcripts from across ABC television and radio.
- As the rollout and take-up of broadband increases, these innovations can be accessed, and are being enjoyed, by more and more Australians.
- This is thanks to successful Government initiatives like the $158 million Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme, which is helping to deliver broadband to the nation.
- Latest figures show that there are now nearly two million broadband subscriptions in Australia.
- More than one million households were connected to broadband in the past year alone. And it is pleasing to see that take-up continues to rise.
Top ten ranking
- With all this innovation, it is little wonder that ABC Online is so popular.
- So popular in fact, that it is consistently ranked in the top ten Australian sites accessed by audiences around the nation.
- The site carries more than 500,000 individual web pages and the themed gateways offer easy access to a great range of content categories.
- ABC Online is certainly a winner, and I am confident that it will continue to evolve as a very successful and popular resource.
- I know that AB C New Media is committed to keeping a state-of-the-art website by producing quality, innovative, original and engaging content.
- And to date, they are doing a wonderful job of that.
Broadband Production Initiative
- In 2002, the Australian Government provided the Australian Film Commission with funding of $2.1 million over three years for the establishment of a Broadband Content Fund.
- The purpose of the Fund was to finance innovative broadband content, with an emphasis on high-end, high-technology content, and in particular, projects with interactive applications.
- The AFC entered into a partnership with ABC New Media and Digital Services and using these funds, created the Broadband Production Initiative.
- Over the life of the BPI, it has leveraged its funding to produce seven projects with a total production value of $4 million.
- Some of the innovative projects commissioned include UsMob, which is an interactive broadband series that explores the challenges and experiences that shape the lives of four Aboriginal teenagers from the Town Camps of Alice Springs.
- Another is The Life, Times and Travels of the Extraordinary Vice-Admiral William Bligh, which is an interactive online graphic novel that covers the life story of this interesting and controversial figure in Australian and British history.
- I am very pleased to be able to announce today that building on the BPI, the AFC and ABC New Media and Digital Services have agreed to continue the partnership and to jointly provide $1.2 million over two years to produce a further four major multi-platform projects.
- Projects will be documentary or factual in their form and content, and must have an emphasis on multi-platform delivery that includes, at a minimum, the ABC’s broadband and ABC2 digital television services.
- I congratulate the ABC and the AFC on this excellent initiative and look forward to seeing some of the new, and no doubt highly innovative, content that will be produced as a result.
- The Australian Government is committed to the ongoing development of the ABC and 21 st century broadcasting.
- Our vision is for an independent, successful ABC that delivers high quality programming to Australian audiences as efficiently as possible.
- We want to ensure that all Australians have access to the ABC’s services, regardless of where they live.
- And ABC Online has a critical role to play in achieving that vision.
- I would like to congratulate everyone involved with ABC Online and thank you for providing such a fine service.
- I have been talking quite a lot recently about embracing the potential of digital, and ABC Online is a perfect example of how this can be done.
- May the next ten years be just as successful as the last.