Regional TV broadcaster WIN has launched legal action against Nine Entertainment over its decision to begin live streaming its channels into regional areas.
WIN has triggered a hearing in the Supreme Court which is expected to test whether Nine’s live streaming on its 9Now services constitutes broadcasting and is therefore a breach of Nine’s licence agreement with WIN.
WIN is owned by media mogul Bruce Gordon who is also the largest shareholder in Nine Entertainment, following a share raid last year in which he picked up a 15% stake.
Regional stations have already registered concern at the rise of live streaming from their metropolitan affiliates, claiming it will undermine their advertising base. Seven started streaming its content at the end of last year.
The surprise legal actions comes a little after a month after the two sides reached a six month deal for WIN to continue carrying Nine content while the they “agreed to work together on a range of opportunities relating to their content and to the mutual growth of their respective businesses”.
The legal manoeuvring is happening at a time when all the regional TV networks Prime, Southern Cross Austereo and WIN are pushing the government to act on media reforms that would allow them to merge with the metropolitan stations.
It is thought that struggling WIN is eager to merge with Nine, while the metro broadcaster is less keen on a deal with Southern Cross Austereo also thought to be a potential dance partner for Nine.
It is believed that WIN will argue that Nine should be geoblocking access to the 9Now service to ensure it does not undermine its affiliate agreements.
None of the other regional networks have launched legal action but it is expected that Southern Cross Austereo and Prime will both watch the case with interest.
Both WIN and Nine declined to comment on the matter which is set for a directions hearing on Thursday.