ABC is regularly winning the head-to-head battle with WIN in the Canberra television news stakes, with speculation viewers do not want to watch 90 minutes of news.
WIN News was pushed from 6.30pm to 7pm from October 17 last year when Channel Nine started an hour-long broadcast, initially to provide extended coverage of the Blue Mountains bushfires. It has since made the change permanent. It means WIN viewers have to commit from 6pm to 7.30pm to get their fill of local, national and international news. A Current Affair has been shifted over to Gem.
ABC's half-hour 7pm bulletin in Canberra has been on an upward trend since last year, to the point where it is now regularly winning the timeslot. Ratings for the 7pm to 7.30pm timeslot undertaken by Regional TAM and obtained by Fairfax Media show the ABC news has gone from lows of audience shares of less than 10 per cent and under 10,000 viewers a year ago to audience shares as high as above 40 per cent, with close to 40,000 viewers.
WIN has lost viewers over the same time period and, since WIN News was switched to the 7pm timeslot in October, has fallen to audience shares under 30 per cent and fewer than 30,000 viewers. It used to dominate the slot with sometimes close to a 50 per cent share of the market.
Media expert and Coordinate director Warren Apps said WIN would not be happy about its Canberra news being pushed to 7pm since its hand had been forced by Nine.
''Expecting people to watch an hour and a half of news is too much, particularly at a time when we're more conditioned to getting news bites,'' he said.
Mr Apps said the content and tone of ABC and WIN news had previously been different enough to convince viewers to watch both but the audience was being split, with many opting for the ''tighter'' ABC version because it also offered national and international news in its half hour.
Mr Apps said he did not ''buy into'' speculation WIN's decision to broadcast out of Wollongong rather than Canberra was a factor in the ratings.
ABC ACT news editor John Mulhall said the results were gratifying.
''ABC News is now the only television news bulletin produced and presented in Canberra and we remain committed to providing our viewers with a reliable and comprehensive news service covering local, national and international news and we're very grateful for the ongoing loyalty and support,'' he said.
WIN Television declined to comment on the figures.