June 18, 2016 11:00am
THE Voice, The Footy Show and 60 Minutes could all be missing from Tasmanian TV screens from next month unless an eleventh-hour deal can be struck for Nine Network programs to be broadcast in the state.
Nine has been left without an agreement for Tasmania two weeks out from the biggest shake-up of regional television in decades.
The uncertainty comes after the network’s home of 30 years, WIN, switched its affiliation nationally to Ten.
From July 1, Network Ten programs including MasterChef, The Project and cricket’s Big Bash League will be seen on WIN.
Southern Cross will continue to broadcast Seven Network content.
Nine is in negotiations with Tasmanian Digital Television (TDT), a joint venture between WIN and Southern Cross, but told the Sunday Tasmanian little progress had been made.
“We have failed to date to make meaningful progress with the joint venture but continue to press for a solution to ensure Tasmanians continue to get the Nine programming they have enjoyed,” a spokeswoman said.
TDT boss Stephen Giles confirmed the negotiations were ongoing but declined to comment on what might fill his station’s schedule.
It’s believed TDT would be rebadged as Nine if an agreement were reached with its digital affiliates to be called 9GEM and 9GO!.
“We recognise the fee available for a single market is not what we would have previously received for a national affiliate agreement with WIN and so have approached the negotiations from that financial expectation,” the Nine spokeswoman said.
A host of TV’s mainstays could disappear while sports nuts would be without Nine’s flagships — international cricket, State of Origin and NRL.
The changes came about after Nine ditched WIN in favour of a deal with Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) in mainland states.
WIN then did a deal with Ten nationally, freezing Nine out of Tasmania.
Southern Cross’s agreement with Seven for Tasmania will run for another two years.
Its Tasmanian CEO Craig Davies said that could be extended further.
“It’s been the leading product for nearly 20 years,” Mr Davies said.
“It’s such a strong offering, particularly with AFL footy in a state like Tassie.”
The lack of a deal between TDT and Nine has meant few public announcements have been made alerting the public to the major changes.
WIN promotions for its new sports offerings may be confusing viewers but UTAS media lecturer Claire Konkes said they would soon adjust.
“When they want to watch MasterChef, they’re going to have to change the expectations of their remote control,” Dr Konkes said.
In other changes, WIN’s hour-long news could be replaced by Ten’s 5pm national bulletin to be followed by 30 minutes of locally produced news at 6pm.
The Sunday Tasmanian repeatedly asked WIN to confirm its news arrangements, and an announcement is expected to be made this week.
“WIN produces 16 half-hour news bulletins and an hour-long All Australia News bulletin each weeknight — no other network matches that,” CEO Andrew Lancaster said.
“Ten have been supportive of our desire to ensure regional Australia continues to have local regional news each weeknight.”
A trend towards cutting news services on regional channels, despite local content quotas, was a major concern, Dr Konkes said.
“It leaves the question for the commercial regional television stations of how many reporters they’ve got on the ground,” she said.
“When there is something like a flood or a natural disaster, something big, this is when people notice that they don’t have the news they thought they had.”
WIN and Nine are involved in a bitter legal stoush over internet streaming of content in regional areas.
But advertising revenue and a potential buyout of the powerful SCA network if media ownership laws change were more likely behind Nine’s ditching of WIN, Victoria University’s Marc C-Scott said.
“It’s just a massive shake-up and no one’s sure what the future is with television,” he said.
“It’s a really unsteady landscape at the moment.”
Experts agree Australia needs broadcasting laws that better reflect the rapidly changing digital environment.
The last major shake-up of Tasmanian television occurred in 1994, when Hobart-based Tas TV (now WIN) and Launceston-based Southern Cross both expanded statewide and affiliated with major networks.
They jointly created TDT, Australia’s first digital-only station, in 2004, ensuring Tasmanians could watch the three commercial networks.
Industry regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority said affiliations were a matter for the networks.
Source : The Mercury