Media watchdog warns WIN over dead air in WA, as Nine urges viewers to live stream

Media watchdog the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has warned regional broadcaster WIN that it has an obligation to provide a broadcast that “appeals to the general public” after the station switched off its Channel Nine signal in regional Western Australia overnight.

ACMaAmid tense negotiations with Nine over a new content deal for the station WIN last night pulled out of discussions and is now broadcasting scenic images of regional Australia.

It is unclear how long the stalemate, which comes after Nine and WIN negotiated agreements in other regional markets such as Mildura and Griffith, will last.

The ACMA issued a warning today reminding WIN that while “the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) does not require commercial television broadcasting licensees to broadcast at all times. However, commercial broadcasters do have to provide a service that ‘appeals to the general public’ and that “when considered together with other broadcasting services available in the licence area of the licence (including another service or services operated by the licensee), contributes to the provision of an adequate and comprehensive range of broadcasting services in that licence area”.

The authority also reminded WIN that it has Australian content obligations. WIN, which is owned by billionaire Bruce Gordon, also owns the content from Crawford Productions and could attempt to fulfil the obligation by broadcasting its Australian shows from the 1970s including The Sullivans, Bluey and The Flying Doctors

“The ACMA is in discussion with the licensees in affected markets about ensuring they meet their obligations under the BSA,” said a spokesperson. “The compliance by individual licensees with their obligations under the BSA will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

The move comes as Nine again took at at WIN, its former affiliate which has now switched over to Ten, issuing a statement urging  consumers in the affected areas of Western Australia to live stream 9Now instead.

Nine is investing in 9Now as audiences increasingly shift online.

Nine is encouraging its viewers in WA to go online.

“The only beneficiaries of this situation are Prime and WIN, who will now broadcast their signals in regional WA with no real competition from West Digital Television (their joint venture and the holder of the third commercial television broadcasting licence in regional WA),” said Nine in a statement.

“This is at odds with the purpose of the licence which West Digital Television has been granted and a terrible disservice to their audience. There will also be fewer options for advertisers in the region and no ability for local advertisers seeking to reach consumers in regional WA in association with Nine’s top ratings programs such as The Voice, Love Child, the Today Show and Nine’s nightly news.

“Fortunately, viewers can access Nine content by downloading the 9Now App to watch programs live or on catch up.”

The move to encourage viewers to livestream is likely to only further aggravate WIN which earlier this year launched a court case trying to force Nine to cease streaming in their licence areas.

WIN ultimately lost that case with the Nine and WIN’s relationship subsequently deteriorating to such a point the two parted ways on their affiliate arrangements. This ultimately led to a complete redrawing of regional TV’s borders and Nine and SCA signing an affiliate deal in April, with WIN and Ten subsequently signing their own deal


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