Network Ten will axe local news bulletins in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth in sweeping changes likely to be accompanied by widespread job cuts in three states.
High-profile presenters Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Natarsha Belling, Tim Bailey and Mike Larkin will reportedly lose their jobs as part of the cost-cutting.
Under a major restructure of its news operations, the Brisbane and Perth bulletins will be presented in Sydney from September 14.
Melbourne will present the Adelaide bulletin.
Presenters, journalists and operations staff are all targeted under the widespread cuts.
Among the first to announce they were leaving the network was Adelaide newsreader Rebecca Morse.
“These painful changes reflect the state of the media industry in recent years and the need for all media companies to achieve new efficiencies,” Ten news director Ross Dagan said.
Local weather presenters will be replaced by a national meteorologist. However, the network will continue to employ reporters, camera operators and production staff in every city.
“Everyone is shocked and sad. It’s been a tough year. We’ve all been working hard through fires and COVID-19, especially since the news extended to 90 minutes,” a Network 10 employee in Sydney told The New Daily.
“Disappointing, particularly for the capital cities who are losing some real talent.”
National weekend bulletins and panel show The Project will not be affected.
Television news website tvblackbox.com.au reported staff were informed on Tuesday, with Dagan telling staff: “This is a sad day”.
“Studio 10 will continue to air weekdays from 8am to midday, but Kennerley and Belling will be leaving. The other presenters, Sarah Harris and Angela Bishop, will stay on, Denise Drysdale, Denise Scott and Jono Coleman will continue as contributors, Narelda Jacobs will still present the news,” Mumbrella reported.
Blackbox.com.au published an email sent to staff a short time later written by chief content officer Beverley McGarvey. It said the network would be saying “goodbye” to some incredibly talented colleagues and friends”.
“As part of our ongoing strategy to transform our business for the future, we are restructuring our news, operations and technology departments,” the email read.
“Following an initial period of consultation, a redundancy program will commence for this group.
“We remain committed to providing local news and news gathering in all markets. These changes in our production methodology allow us to be more efficient while continuing to provide important local news services in all states.
“Unfortunately, this means we will say goodbye to some incredibly talented colleagues and friends who have made important contributions to our business.
“We will move to a national weekday weather model which will encompass local and national weather forecasts. A new national meteorologist will be announced soon.
“There will also be some changes to the presentation of Studio 10, the details of which will be communicated to the relevant staff,” the statement read.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s acting director Adam Portelli said it was concerned Ten was “embarking on a round of redundancies that will strip newsrooms and deprive audiences of local news”.
The MEAA said the loss of jobs, particularly editorial positions, would limit the amount of essential news and information available to communities the network was supposed to serve.
The decision to cease weekday news bulletins from Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and replace them with bulletins originating in Sydney and Melbourne showed “enormous disrespect to viewers”, the MEAA wrote.
“The end result of these cuts is that viewers will simply seek their news and information somewhere else,” Mr Portelli said.
“When the network was taken over by ViacomCBS three years ago this month, it was hoped that Network Ten would finally enjoy stability and an injection of new ideas.
“Despite the best efforts of staff who have constantly struggled to do more with less, we are now seeing deep cuts that have cruelled the hard work done by so many loyal employees.
“Concerningly, under the restructuring being introduced by management, we now have the prospect of sports journalists having to film their own news stories. That’s a slippery slope that presents a real danger for news presentation in Australia,” Mr Portelli said.