A dozen regional journalists are expected to lose their jobs as Nine Network announces cuts, alongside a new local bulletin.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, an hour-long regional news bulletin was presented in Queensland, southern New South Wales and Victoria.
Channel Nine management announced today that from August 10, the length of the bulletin would be halved and moved to 5.30pm.
Bureaus across Queensland, southern New South Wales and Victoria will move to a two-reporter, two-camera setup under the changes.
The ABC understands the bureaus in Shepparton and Dubbo will close.
In an email to staff, Nine Network’s managing director for Queensland and northern NSW, Kylie Blucher, said that a little over a dozen roles would be impacted.
“We are in the process of pursuing alternate opportunities across the business, where possible, for those individuals impacted,” she said.
“We will endeavour to speak to everyone affected within the next 24 hours.”
‘Blow for regional Australia’
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) regional director Adam Portelli said it was another indication regional media companies need a lifeline from the federal government.
“The loss of those important boots on the ground in local communities is another blow for regional Australians,” Mr Portelli said.
“Coming off the back of job losses at News Corp and stand-downs at Australian Community Media and independent titles, these cuts highlight the need for the federal government to step up and provide the kind of support that ensures local communities retain access to properly resourced local stories.”
Unprecedented advertising downturn
Throughout the pandemic, the Nine Network’s regional bulletins were replaced with the each state’s metropolitan news.
Ms Blucher said there had been no major changes in viewership.
“Changes like this are never easy and I am conscious of the impact this restructure will have on individual people,” she said in an email to staff.
“However, the unprecedented advertising and economic downturn has prompted a review of the functional effectiveness while ensuring our bulletins remain commercially sustainable.”
The remaining bureaus in Queensland will be Wide Bay, Capricornia, Far North Queensland, North Queensland and the Sunshine Coast.
In NSW and the ACT, the Canberra, Illawarra, Central West and Wagga bureaus will remain, while Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland and Border North East will continue to operate in Victoria.
The network indicated that further job cuts were avoided due to the federal government’s recent regional funding.
In April, the Commonwealth announced a new $50 million regional media bailout package.
The funds aimed to support Public Interest News Gathering fund across TV, newspapers and radio in regional and remote Australia.