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Regional TV in jeopardy if rules altered

Changing the rules affecting regional television could be "very dangerous", says Hamish McLennan, Channel Ten CEO.

Changing the rules affecting regional television could be "very dangerous", says Hamish McLennan, Channel Ten CEO. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The future of regional television will be in jeopardy if the government allows major metropolitan stations to buy out regional broadcasters, a parliamentary inquiry was told on Monday.

Television executives gave the warnings when they appeared before a committee investigating proposed changes, including the abolition of the 75 per cent reach rule as part of the suite of media reforms being considered by parliament this week.

They focused on a proposed merger between Southern Cross Media and Nine Entertainment.

Rhys Holleran, Southern Cross Austereo, at Parliament House.

Rhys Holleran, Southern Cross Austereo, at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Newly-appointed CEO of Network Ten, Hamish McLennan, told the hearing: “Our perspective on this matter is that, if the reach rule is pulled away, this merger will happen very very quickly.

“I've been involved in many mergers on both sides of the fence and I think what you'll see is an automatic reduction in diversity."

Mr McLennan said the implications for changing the 75 per cent reach rule, which limits a television network from reaching more than three-quarters of the population, were "very dangerous".

Andrew Lancaster, WIN TV CEO told the inquiry he was concerned about the impact on cricket coverage.

Andrew Lancaster, WIN TV CEO told the inquiry he was concerned about the impact on cricket coverage.

"We think the implications for regional Australia are great and we shouldn't rush it through," he said.

“We're very, very concerned and I just think we need to be clear that mergers are about taking costs out."

Chief executive of WIN Television Andrew Lancaster said axing the reach rule would signal the end of regional television.

He said an end to the reach rule would impact WIN's commitment to local news coverage in regional Australia, while it would also hit regional advertisers who he predicted would be overlooked by the city-centric major networks.

"It would be the end of regional television, to be perfectly honest, because there would be no differentiation between what comes out of Sydney and what is aired in Victoria," he said.

Mr Lancaster told the inquiry he was concerned about the impact the Nine-Southern Cross merger would have on cricket coverage, which WIN now broadcasts into regional areas.

"I'm not entirely sure we would be inclined to run a competitor's product across states where Southern Cross might not have a signal or a licence," he said.

"This gives great fears to those in Perth and Adelaide, and regional South Australia, regional Western Australia."

Southern Cross chief Rhys Holleran dismissed claims that abolishing the reach rule, which he supported, would affect cricket coverage.

Prime Media boss Ian Audsley backed the abolition of the 75 per cent reach rule, telling the committee it would not impact on his company's provision of regional news.

"The 75 per cent reach rule is not a trigger to downsizing local news operations," he said.

3 comments so far

  • Who cares, its all reality crap or 20 year old reruns, not much new stuff.

    Commenter
    MIKE the HAMMER
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    March 18, 2013, 1:21PM
    • Yeah who cares, at least we might get rid of that gap-toothed dimwit who does WIN news. Won't affect the ABC.

      Commenter
      tyranosaurus
      Location
      CBR
      Date and time
      March 18, 2013, 3:23PM
      • The real story here is in this related story:

        http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/ratings-show-the-hit-to-canberras-regional-stations-20130318-2ga9k.html

        The real issue here is not that the viewers will suffer, more that WIN will lose 9 programing and have to run 10 programing instead.

        Clear Southern Cross would be happy with the deal and Prime doesn’t care, So this is just a case of self interest masquerading as concern for the viewers with dire warnings of what will happen to the cricket and the news.

        Commenter
        Jimmy
        Location
        CBR
        Date and time
        March 18, 2013, 4:21PM

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