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ABC Australia to extend a ‘helping digital hand’ to commercial peers

Australia’s public broadcaster ABC will push consumers through to other news media as it redefines itself as a ‘safe harbour’, The Guardian UK reports.

The ABC is to pilot new technology that will allow it to better support commercial peers hit by a challenging digital landscape.

In a spirited speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia in Sydney this week, the ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, launched two pilot schemes under which the ABC will direct readers and viewers to other news organisations.

In an effort to support commercial peers, Scott announced two new digital initiatives that will push consumers towards other news providers: a project based on the successful Newstracker from BBC News; and another that tailors content for a specific region.

“The ABC, as the public service broadcaster, can help by providing a counterweight to some of the market-driven turmoil of these disruptive days for media,” he argued.

Newstracker, which provides links to other news services alongside BBC stories, results in the corporation acting as “the fifth highest feeder of readers to UK commercial websites, sending many more visitors there than Facebook”. An equivalent ABC pilot project will be run later this year.

It’s also intended that Spoke, a smartphone app being trialled, which showcases ABC local, national, and international content for audiences in a specific region, will include links to content produced locally by other media outlets.

The results of these trails will be shared with others in the media sector, as part of the broadcaster’s commitment to sharing the benefits of its R&D, Scott said, and experiments with universities, technology companies and the digital media industry are also being considered.

“The ABC is a publicly funded safe harbour, where investment can continue to be made in content that the public greatly values, but which may not be able to drive a viable return to shareholders,” Scott said.