Its flagship program is the daily evening newscast ABC World News Tonight with David Muir; other programs include morning news-talk show Good Morning America, Nightline, Primetime, and 20/20, and Sunday morning political affairs program This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
In addition to the division's television programs, ABC News also has radio and digital outlets, including ABC News Radio and ABC News Live, plus various podcasts hosted by ABC News personalities.
ABC began in 1943 as the NBC Blue Network, a radio network that was spun off from NBC, as ordered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1942.
The reason for the order was to expand competition in radio broadcasting in the United States, specifically news and political broadcasting, and broaden the projected points of view.
The radio market was dominated by only a few companies, such as NBC and CBS.
NBC conducted the split voluntarily in case its appeal of the ruling was denied and it was forced to split its two networks into separate companies.
Regular television news broadcasts on ABC began soon after the network signed on its initial owned-and-operated television station (WJZ-TV, now WABC-TV) and production center in New York City in August 1948.
Broadcasts continued as the ABC network expanded nationwide.
Until the early 1970s, ABC News programs and ABC in general consistently ranked third in viewership behind CBS and NBC news programs.
ABC had fewer affiliate stations and a weaker prime-time programming slate to be able to support the network's news operations compared to the two larger networks, each of which had established their radio news operations during the 1930s.
By the 1970s, the network had effectively turned around, with its prime-time entertainment programs achieving stronger ratings and drawing in higher advertising revenue and profits to ABC overall.
With the appointment of then president of ABC Sports, Roone Arledge as president of ABC News in 1977, ABC invested the resources to make it a major source of news content.
Arledge, known for experimenting with the broadcast "model", created many of ABC News' most popular and enduring programs, including 20/20, World News Tonight, This Week, Nightline, and Primetime Live.
ABC News' longtime slogan, "More Americans get their news from ABC News than from any other source."
(introduced in the late 1980s), was a claim referring to the number of people who watch, listen to and read ABC News content on television, radio and (eventually) the Internet, and not necessarily to the telecasts alone.
In June 1998, ABC News (which owned an 80% stake in the service), Nine Network and ITN sold their respective interests in Worldwide Television News to the Associated Press.
Additionally, ABC News signed a multi-year content deal with AP for its affiliate video service, Associated Press Television News (APTV), while providing material from ABC's own news video service, ABC News One, to APTV.
In 1976, unscrupulous managing editor of The Ring, Johnny Ort, fabricated records of selected boxers, to elevate them, thereby securing them lucrative fights on the American ABC television network, as part of the United States Championship Tournament, orchestrated by promoter Don King to capitalize on the patriotism surrounding the United States Bicentennial and the American amateur success at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games.
King's idea was to defeat the non-American boxers who held the vast majority of world titles below the heavyweight division.
Keeping in line with the patriotic theme of the promotion, King held shows at "patriotic" locales—such as the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, as well as on an aircraft carrier stationed off Pensacola, Florida.[
Despite the above, the 1977 Ring Record Book contained the fictitious additions to the records of the boxers in question and were never taken out of their records of the boxers. Those dubious bouts would continue to appear in subsequent Ring Record Book editions.
The Ring Record magazine scandal was uncovered by boxing writer Malcolm "Flash" Gordon and ABC staffer Alex Wallau.
After Gordon and Wallau's evidence was presented to ABC executive Roone Arledge the United States Championship tournament was cancelled.
Despite being hoodwinked and manipulated by Don King, in 1977 ABC made Arledge president of the then low-rated network news division, all while Arledge retained control of the Sports Division.
The ABC Ring Scandal would lead to the eventual resignation of New York State Boxing Commissioner James Farley Jr.
who had lent his name to the Championship fights and who was the son of former New York State Athletic Commissioner and former Postmaster General James Aloysius Farley, who had died one year prior to the scandal.
Farley Jr., had accepted a hotel room which had been furnished by King.
This was used by David W. Burke who at that time was a secretary of Governor Hugh Carey, to force Farley Jr.'s eventual resignation form the New York State Athletic commission.
In August 1977 Arledge announced the appointment of Burke as his new assistant for administration, with the title of vice president. Burke helped develop programs including This Week With David Brinkley and Nightline, and had no prior television or journalism experience prior to his hiring by Arledge.
Scandal would erupt around Arledge again in 1985 from a decision by Arledge, president of ABC News and Sports, to kill a 13-minute report about Marilyn Monroe possibly due to his close ties to Ethel Kennedy.
20/20 drew criticism from the co-anchors of the program, Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters, and the executive producer, Av Westin.
Arledge said that he had killed the piece because it was "gossip-column stuff" and "does not live up to its billing." Downs, however, took issue with Arledge's judgment.
"I am upset about the way it was handled," he said in an interview. "I honestly believe that this is more carefully documented than anything any network did during Watergate. I lament the fact that the decision reflects badly on people I respect and it reflects badly on me and the broadcast."
Additionally, Westin said: "I don't anticipate not putting it on the air. The journalism is solid.
Everything in there has two sources. We are documenting that there was a relationship between Bobby and Marilyn and Jack and Marilyn.
A variety of eyewitnesses attest to that on camera.
Two other aspects of the unaired report, according to an ABC staff member who has seen it, are eyewitness accounts of wiretapping of Monroe's home by Jimmy Hoffa, the teamster leader, that reveal meetings between her and the Kennedy brothers, and accounts of a visit to Monroe by Robert F. Kennedy on the day of her death.
Arledge's decision to kill the broadcast resulted in the subsequent decision of Geraldo Rivera to leave ABC entirely. Rivera was a 20/20 correspondent but did not work on that story. He had been publicly critical of Arledge’s decision. Arledge, who was both a champion and defender of Rivera, said he thought the story needed more work. The story probed purported affairs between actress Marilyn Monroe and President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy.
On August 7, 2014, ABC announced that it would relaunch its radio network division, ABC Radio, on January 1, 2015. The change occurred following the announcement that Cumulus would replace its ABC News radio service with Westwood One News (via CNN). On September 20, 2019, ABC Radio was renamed as ABC Audio as the network has evolved to offer a podcast portfolio and other forms of on-demand and linear content.
In April 2018, it was announced that FiveThirtyEight would be transferred to ABC News from ESPN, Inc., majority owned by The Walt Disney Company. On September 10, 2018, ABC News launched a second attempt to extend its Good Morning America brand into the afternoon with Strahan, Sara and Keke. In May 2019, ABC News Live, an news focused steaming channel, was launched on Roku. Following an reorganization of ABC's parent company, The Walt Disney Company which created the Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International segment in March 2018, ABC News Digital and Live Streaming, including ABC News Live and FiveThirtyEight, were transferred to the new segment.
ABC World News Tonight (1978–present) 20/20 (1978–present) America This Morning (1982–present) Good Morning America (1975–present) Good Morning America Weekend (1993–present) GMA3: What You Need To Know (2018–present) Nightline (1980–present) Tamron Hall (2019-present) The View(1997-present) This Week (1981–present) What Would You Do? (formerly Primetime: What Would You Do?) (2008–present) World News Now (1992–present)