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TV network WIN blames commercial viability as it closes Mildura and Mackay newsrooms

Win

The WIN Network has announced the closure of two regional newsrooms in Victoria and Queensland, with the network suggesting it was not commercially viable to continue operating them.

Staff in the Mildura (Victoria) and Mackay (Queensland) regional newsrooms were told of the closure yesterday and have been assured WIN will “work to redeploy them within the network”.

It is unclear how many staff are employed within the two newsrooms.

WIN Network CEO Andrew Lancaster said in a statement: “As regional Australia’s most prolific producer of local news bulletins, WIN remains committed to local news across the majority of our markets but, in a media environment that has its challenges and is faced with constantly increasing program supply and infrastructure costs as well as a lack of regulatory reform, we need to continue to review our operating model to ensure the ongoing success of WIN as a business.

“Our first priority will be working with the staff impacted by the closures to redeploy them into other roles across the network.”

For journalism in regional Victoria, the closure of the Mildura newsroom follows Fairfax Media’s announcement of a proposal for 80 redundancies of full-time positions in the state in March this year.

Media owners are watching carefully for long-mooted changes to media ownership laws from the government, which could see metro TV networks swoop in to acquire regional affiliates such as WIN.

Update 2:20pm:

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEEA) has condemned the decision by WIN TV to close the Mackay and Mildura newsrooms, describing the move as a “huge loss for local communities who are being starved of a local news service”.

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said in a statement: “WIN’s actions, to inform Mackay staff that they had produced their final bulletin last night only after the program had gone to air and to tell Mildura staff that this evening’s bulletin will be their last, are callous and deserve to be condemned. To treat many long-serving employees so shamefully and to disregard them in this manner is appalling.

“WIN has behaved outrageously towards everyone in the communities it purports to serve. The affected employees should have been consulted about the company’s actions in advance, not least to canvas any ideas about how to save newsrooms, but also to allow staff to prepare for the future. Instead, the company opted to spring this dreadful surprise on its people.”

The union described Win’s statement about remaining committed to local news as “hollow”. The body has written to WIN to voice their concerns and to seek consultation over the closures.

 

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