Unfortunately, the price has been paid in Darwin by only one commercial broadcaster, that now finds the need to more efficiently deliver services to its community – and that’s Channel Nine.
Despite the emotion and clamour over closing studio facilities here and presenting news from another broadcast centre, Nine will continue to fully staff its Darwin newsroom and base reporters and crews here to keep covering the Territory, as it has always done.
Our competitors will, presumably, continue to do what they’ve always done – bugger all. In 1982 when NTD8 launched its News At Seven program the Commonwealth demanded that every television station had a commitment to broadcast news relevant to its community.
As Channel Eight and since 2003 as Channel Nine, Territory Television has continued to do that, to the highest possible standard, at great cost.
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More than a decade ago in other parts of regional Australia, broadcasters were “aggregated” – they shared each others’ markets to introduce more signals to their audiences and to offset the costs of competition.
In the Top End, NTD was forced to face competition with no such luck. Despite legal battles and appeals to the Commonwealth, in Australia’s smallest geographic broadcast market it was a case of cop it sweet. Nine did – and continued to invest here in people and program, but that can’t be sustained by a private company needing to return the investment of its owners, many of them mum and dad shareholders.
It’s understandable that there’s upset about losing a local resource, but reality is that our news will continue to be broadcast with local people, local priorities and local input.
Most Darwin residents would be unaware that the daily broadcast of Nine’s program, with the insertion of local commercials, news updates, our local bulletin and all other material, in fact comes not from The Gardens, but from Nine’s National Broadcast Centre in French’s Forest, New South Wales.
Nine’s Darwin team ensures the material for our market is accurate, audience relevant and – for our advertisers who pay the bills – the right message in the right program to support business.
And business is, after all, the bottom line. We don’t get government money to foot our bills. Our staff live here, work here, play and pay here because this is their home. We cannot continue to be viable and relevant as a commercial entity in a shrinking economy without planning to be future-proof. The devastating process of seeing friends and colleagues lose roles in this process cuts all of us in the Nine family to the quick. Having been in management in this company for more years than many of the staff have lived makes it more distressing to be the bearer of such change.
The strategy of regional news that Nine is rolling out across Australia in unparalleled commitment to local communities and our continuing pledge to remain a news leader in this market is part of that effort. While we are doing that, how many people in Darwin will get their news from stations other than Nine?
Other than the ABC – of which we are all shareholders and who pay an indecent amount for its sometimes skewed values – in Darwin, almost none.
The lip service that the newer broadcasters pay to our community is blatant in its lack of real effort and value and that shows. Nine’s intention in Darwin is to continue to invest and be a major contributor to the fabric of this – our home. It’s my fervent hope that the many willing to criticise our efforts look to those who don’t live here, but merely pipe program in on one line and the money out on the other.
•Andrew Bruyn is the general manager of Channel Nine Darwin
Originally published as Nine News Darwin ‘not going anywhere’...Read more