ABC announces dedicated comedy channel
LAUGHS all night long are on the cards with the ABC announcing it will rebrand digital channel ABC2.
The new ABC COMEDY channel will feature a nightly news show, Tonightly with Tom Ballard, and a 70 per cent boost in comedy content from December 4.
This is the first of many major initiatives expected under managing director Michelle Guthrie, who took up the role in May.
Media analyst Steve Allen has described the decision as "an odd move".
"No one, other than pay-TV, has done wall-to-wall comedy in peak night before," Mr Allen said. "So it will be a real test."
The ABC's Director of Television, David Anderson, has backed Ms Guthrie, saying the move was "nothing but good news".
"Michelle is on the right track, she's willing to invest more in Australian content," he said.
"We're building on our strength, delivering great Australian comedy, helping to break new talent. We saw an opportunity to rebrand ABC2, which lacked a bit of identity."
Children's programming during the day will remain unchanged, though it will finish half-an-hour later at 7.30pm.
The ABC's main channel will continue to air audience favourites including a 10th series of Wil Anderson's Gruen, Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell (series eight), The Weekly With Charlie Pickering and Comedy Next Gen.
New international titles include season two of critically acclaimed Fleabag (in 2018), Catastrophe season three and Inside Amy Schumer seasons three and four.
Further announcements about the ABC's direction are expected in November.
ABC Comedy - What will we gain?
■ New Aussie series' including Back In Very Small Business starring Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler, a reboot of Very Small Business; Squinters, a narrative series about commuters from the makers of No Activity and Wilfred); and Virgin Bush in which city slicker comedian Neel Kolatkar test drives life on the land.
■ Tonightly with Tom Ballard, a news and pop culture breakdown from Monday to Thursday at 9pm, with a Best Of on Fridays.
■ International titles including Fleabag (s2), Game Face, Catastrophe (s3), Episodes (s4-5), Murder in Successville, Inside Amy Schumer (s3-4).
■ New iview titles such as #CelesteChallengeAccepted with comedian Celeste Barber, and The Chinaboy Show with John Luc (aka Mychonny).
■ Podcasts including Santo, Sam and Ed's Total Football season 2 and Positions Vacant with Susie Youssef and Ray Badran.
■ Stand-up comedy - lots of it, including Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala, opening night supershow and The Great Debate.
ABC Comedy - What will we lose?
■ Factual programming, docos, niche programming.
■ Louis Theroux specials will move back to the main channel.