Nine revives and restructures regional bulletins, resulting in around 12 redundancies

Nine will reintroduce its regional news bulletins, which had been replaced with metropolitan versions in response to COVID-19.

The network said the return of the local bulletins was thanks to strong audiences for its 6pm news programming, but will need to make around a dozen redundancies in the process of the restructure.

The media company is working through the job cuts with impacted employees, but has restricted the number of redundancies thanks to recent government funding to boost a struggling regional media market. Five TV companies received a share of the $50m Public Interest News Gathering package.

“We are in the process of pursuing alternate opportunities across the business, where possible, for those individuals impacted. We will endeavour to speak to everyone affected within the next 24 hours,” Nine’s managing director of Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Kylie Blucher, told staff in an email.

The regional bulletins across will be reduced from an hour to half an hour, and run before the 6pm Nine News.

“For the past three years, Nine has produced a one-hour bulletin under the brand of Nine News for the Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) regional television markets across the aforementioned regions,” Blucher wrote.

“In the wake of COVID-19, we then moved to statewide bulletins where we recorded no detrimental shifts in audience ratings during that time compared to last year. With that as a foundation, we have come to the decision to restructure our bulletins permanently for our regional audiences.”

Audience demand for news content – including TV news bulletins – has spiked in response to coverage of the pandemic. Both Nine News and its competitor, Seven News, frequently attract more than a million metro viewers, but this engagement has not been rewarded by advertisers, as brands struggle with their media budgets and broader financial health.

Blucher said this “unprecedented advertising and economic downturn” led to the restructure, which is designed to preserve their “functional effectiveness” and commercial sustainability.

“The new regional news model of operation will commence on Monday, August 10, 2020 where a local bulletin will air each day, Monday to Friday, at 5.30pm for half-an-hour and lead directly into the state-based metro bulletin at 6pm,” Blucher said.

“This restructure will not only offer SCA premium local news content but also protect the well-rating metro news bulletin nightly at 6pm.”

Each of the bulletins will feature a local presenter, two short packages, and two voiceovers from each sub-market. Nine will continue to “service our SCA license obligations for regional Australia and will retain two journalists and two camera operations on the ground in the following submarkets, who are able to cover local news as it breaks”.

The NSW bulletins will be: Canberra, Illawarra, Central West, and Wagga. In Victoria, they will be: Border North East, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Gippsland. And in Queensland, the bulletins will cover: Wide Bay, Capricornia, Far North Queensland, North Queensland, and Sunshine Coast.


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