Do not adjust your set. Your set is adjusting itself.
From July 1 when you switch on your television set to watch Offspring or MasterChef, you will find them on channel 8 on your remote control, not channel 5 as they are now. And the regional network showing the programs will be WIN, not Southern Cross Ten as it is now.
Likewise, when you flip over to watch The Voice and The Footy Show from Friday, you will find them on channel 5 on your remote, not channel 8 as they are now. And the network showing them will be called Nine, not WIN as it is now.
Welcome to The Regional TV Switcheroo – the biggest realignment of commercial free-to-air TV since the aggregation of regional services in the early 1990s and the biggest change of channels for viewers since the free-to-air networks launched digital channels like GO!, One and 7mate.
Here's what you need to know about how, and why, your favourite TV shows are changing channels.
WHO IS AFFECTED
Viewers in: the ACT and southern NSW centres of Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Orange, Dubbo and the South Coast; Victorian regions like Ballarat, Bendigo, Albury/Wodonga, Shepparton, and Gippsland; Queensland centres like Cairns, Townsville, Toowoomba; and Tasmania.
WHY THE CHANGE
Regional broadcasters WIN Corporation and Southern Cross Austereo have swapped feeder networks.
For the past 30 years WIN has broadcast Nine's programs and Southern Cross Austereo has broadcast Ten's. WIN's five-year affiliation agreement with Ten comes into effect the same day that Southern Cross Austereo switches to Nine under a $500 million deal.
Nine's deal forced WIN, owned by Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, to sign a content supply agreement with Ten. Gordon, with holdings in Nine and Ten, has since moved to increase his Ten stake.
The winners out of the swap appear to be Ten, which gains access to WIN's strong market penetration in regional areas, and Southern Cross Austereo, which gets the generally higher-rating Nine content.
Southern Cross Austereo is dropping the "Southern Cross Ten" brand to carry Nine's name, its primary channel with shows like The Voice, Love Child and 60 Minutes, and offshoot channels GO! and Gem.
Viewers in regional Victoria, Queensland, ACT and southern NSW who currently press channel numbers 8 and 80 to 84 on their remote control to find those shows and channels will, from Friday, find them on channels 5 and 50 to 54.
Southern Cross Austereo's relay of Nine's primary channel will be on channel 5. Gem will be on 52, GO! on 53 and 9HD – a high-definition simulcast of Nine's main channel – on 50.
Lifestyle and reality TV channel 9Life will be off-air from the July 1 switch-over until "mid-August" when it re-appears on 54. Shopping channel Aspire is on 56.
After 30 years with Nine, WIN will pick up Ten's primary channel, which will be named WIN and show the likes of MasterChef, The Project and The Bachelor, and Ten's offshoot channels ONE and Eleven.
Regional viewers currently press numbers 5 and 50 to 55 on their remote controls to find those shows and channels. But from Friday they will be found on channels 8 and 80 to 84.
WIN's relay of Ten's main channel, including the local bulletins of WIN News at the new time of 6pm, will be found on channel 8. The ONE channel will be on 81, Eleven on 82 and WIN HD – a high-def version of WIN's main channel – will be on channel 80. Shopping and lifestyle channels TVSN and GOLD will be on 84 and 85.
WIN News will still be found on channel number 8 on your TV remote but it will come on at 6pm, after Ten Eyewitness News First At Five and before The Project.
Family Feud fans will have to switch over to ONE (81) or Eleven (82) for their daily dose of Grant Denyer.
Meanwhile, if you flip over to channel 5, National Nine News at 6pm will be followed by A Current Affair, hosted by Tracey Grimshaw, who for years has been banished to Gem so WIN could find a prime slot for its local news.
WIN says it's committed to retaining its 16 local weeknight news bulletins in regions, despite the lower ratings, and therefore revenue, Ten's programming is expected to deliver for WIN.
The timing of Friday's switch – the day before the federal election – is awkward for WIN which swaps its proud association with Nine's news credentials – think the Today show or Laurie Oakes – for the Ten Eyewitness News format.
Southern Cross Austereo is launching into the new Nine arrangement with its existing local news updates in commercial breaks, which the company points out meet the legal minimum local content requirements.
But Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley has said expanded local news bulletins are planned.
On June 30 rugby league fans will press channel 8 on their TV remote to watch the Sydney Roosters play the Canterbury Bulldogs on WIN. The next night they will need to switch to channel 5 to watch the Broncos play the Storm on Nine.
As well as NRL, WIN loses Nine's Test cricket coverage but picks up the Big Bash cricket, a ratings hit for Ten.
YOUR TV SET
WIN and Southern Cross Austereo say you don't need to retune your TV but there's a chance your set will need re-tuning to receive all channels.
If you record using the series link function you'll need to change the recording on your PVR. For example, season six of Offspring begins on Southern Cross Ten – channel number 5 on your remote – on June 29 but moves to WIN from its second episode on July 6. If you series link Offspring, make sure you change your PVR after July 1 so you are recording channel 8 for Offspring on WIN.
James Joyce is the News Director at The Canberra Times