It was this day, 4 March, forty five years ago that New South Wales’ first regional station NBN3 began transmission from studios in Mosbri Crescent, Newcastle, and transmitter located at Mt Sugarloaf, covering Newcastle and the Hunter Valley region.
NBN was unlike many regional stations in that it was one of the first to have to deal with competition. Most regional areas (up until aggregation) were served by only one commercial station and the non-commercial national broadcaster ABC, however it was quickly apparent that a large portion of NBN’s coverage area also received fortuitous coverage of the Sydney television stations. However in 1979 it was reported that despite the competing signals from Sydney, NBN still managed a 60 per cent share of the local audience – attributed largely to NBN’s emphasis on local production and supporting the local community through such ventures as their annual telethon.
In the early 1970s, NBN launched what may have been Australia’s first one-hour evening news bulletin – combining local, national and international news stories – a format that continues to this day.
In 1991, the implementation of aggregation saw NBN expand its coverage area across Northern NSW and the Gold Coast – increasing its audience reach from 500,000 to over 1 million, in competition with other regional operators Prime and NRTV (now Southern Cross Ten), as well as ABC and SBS. NBN not only continues to dominate in the Newcastle/Hunter region but is also dominant across the Northern NSW market, maintaining market shares not seen in any other competitive market.