The Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed the national tally room will be running for the coming election, despite reports that commercial broadcasters may abandon the $1 million service.
AEC spokesman Phil Diak described the service operated by the commission as a non-integral part of the ‘‘practical business of generating the results’’, but said it would go ahead in September. ‘‘It is an expensive exercise,’’ he said. ‘‘But there’s no suggestion that we would not have the tally room at this election.’’
Asked about the 2016 election, Mr Diak said that after each election the commission made submissions to an inquiry by a parliamentary committee into the conduct of the election.
Mr Diak’s comments follow reports commercial broadcasters were planning to abandon the service in a cost-cutting move expected to save them up to $500,000 each.
Mr Diak said that although the $1million cost was borne by the AEC, networks had to fund their own broadcast and equipment. He said even if some broadcasters chose to abandon the tally room, it would go ahead for other stakeholders including radio and print services.
‘‘We do have preliminary indications that some television channels are attending,’’ he said.
‘‘Certainly we expect that the ABC, and I believe one of the other commercial channels has suggested so ... The kind of coverage, the make-up of the coverage for each channel will differ and I imagine that they would logically review the way they go about that.’’
A spokesman for the Ten Network said its plans for election night were still being finalised. Nine had also not finalised details of its coverage.
Media analyst Steve Allen, managing director of Fusion Strategy, said the state of the polls was a prime influence on the commercial television networks’ decision whether to use the national tally room.
‘‘It is relentlessly tough times in TV land, they are all looking at their expenditure,’’ he told Fairfax Media.
‘‘Based on the polls, you’d have to say the commercial television networks are saying Labor is going to be ransacked so if the election is not going to be close, there’s not a lot of point of being there.’’
Mr Allen said the networks might revise their strategy if subsequent polling indicated the election could be a close race.
The huge change in technology was also a major factor, he said.
‘‘The tally room used to be the only way to get election night information and the [AEC] website didn’t exist four elections ago,’’ he said.
‘‘Now technology has caught up with and surpassed the absolute need to be there on election night.’’
The high costs of election night coverage could prompt further pooling of resources, Mr Allen said.
‘‘Again, it’s a matter of: what’s our difference, is there enough of a difference to justify having our own team there,’’ he said. ‘‘There is also politics here – the networks have got all they are likely to get from this government. Therefore, there is nothing owed and nothing due.’’