Central Australian TV viewers will now lose a few regular programs from their schedules with the Alice Springs-based Imparja Television now aligning itself solely to the Nine Network for its national programs.
For almost the last decade, Imparja has had program supply from both the Nine and Ten networks. Prior to the aggregation of Imparja’s service area with Queensland-based Seven Central, Imparja was able to ‘cherry pick’ programs from all three commercial networks.
Imparja has decided that it was costing too much money to have dual affiliation status, even though it gave them access to programming from two networks, they only have one channel to use it on so a lot of content that was being paid for wasn’t going to air.
The change means that viewers in Imparja’s coverage area will not have access to Ten programs such as Neighbours, So You Think You Can Dance, House, Rove, The Biggest Loser and Big Brother. Significantly, for AFL supporters, the change will also mean that Network Ten’s AFL coverage will also be missing from local screens. This could be a blow for viewers in the Northern Territory and South Australia where AFL has a strong following, though Imparja claims that most of its viewers reside in Queensland which, being NRL territory, means the loss will be less felt. It also puts into doubt access to the AFL Grand Final every second year, as Imparja’s rival Seven Central will relay this year’s telecast from the Seven Network but may not have access when it’s Ten’s turn next year.
In aligning itself to Nine’s program, Imparja is now structuring its schedule in line with the eastern states’ timezone whereas in the past it had scheduled according to Central Standard Time.
Imparja is also said to be increasing its news capacity using the savings made by not paying for Ten’s affiliation, but curiously has used this change to program structure as an opportunity to axe its nightly Alice Springs-based news bulletin and replace it with National Nine News fed from Brisbane. The local news component will now be comprised of 10 one-minute daily updates, and a new weekly current affairs program.
Imparja CEO Alistair Feehan said that losing access to Network Ten programs was regrettable but was hopeful that a third commercial outlet will be licenced to the region in coming years, enabling access to Ten Network programs. However it may also be possible for rival Seven Central to instead take on a dual Seven/Ten program affiliation as its sister station Southern Cross Television in Darwin had already done after the Darwin-based NTD8 dropped its Nine/Ten schedule to a solely Nine-based lineup.