Established in 1964 as a non-profit, non-government, professional association to assist the development of broadcasting in the region, the ABU promotes the collective interests of television and radio broadcasters and encourages regional and international co-operation between broadcasters.

The ABU Secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is headed by a Secretary-General appointed by the General Assembly. It has over 30 staff, of whom more than a third are broadcast professionals recruited from among ABU members.

ABU works closely with the regional broadcasting unions in other parts of the world on matters of common concern, and with many other international organisations to exchange information on the latest developments in broadcasting, undertake activities to improve the skills and technologies of its members and encourage harmonisation of operating and technical broadcasting standards and systems in the region.