The Nine Network and Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) have confirmed plans to expand regional news coverage across Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT and Victoria.
The introduction of 15 regional news bulletins was agreed between Nine and SCA as part of their new programming affiliation agreement, effective from July this year, with Nine covering the necessary employee and capital expenditure costs.
Nine is employing more than 110 staff, to be based in Sydney, regional NSW, Brisbane, regional Queensland, Melbourne and regional Victoria to produce and put the bulletins to air.
The one-hour bulletins will be broadcast across the Southern Cross Nine outlets — the first to launch in Canberra in February, followed by Wollongong and then other regions at dates to be announced.
Former ABC News Breakfast presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon (pictured above right) will present the bulletin in Southern NSW and Canberra. Nine News‘ Jo Hall (left) will front the bulletins to be broadcast in regional Victoria.
Samantha Heathwood, a former newsreader for WIN News in Queensland, will front the regional Queensland bulletins.
In a statement issued today, Grant Blackley, Chief Executive Officer of SCA, said: “We are committed to our local communities and this local news project is an investment in these local economies and local jobs. Nearly 80 dedicated news staff including journalists, camera operators and editors will be employed and located in 18 regional centres to bring the news to our regional viewers, with another 30 working on the bulletins in Nine’s metropolitan newsrooms.
“If there is breaking news in Cairns, in Orange or in Albury, National Nine News will be on the ground to cover it and our viewers in those communities will be able to rely on Nine News to bring them the best television coverage.”
Mike Dalton, Head of Nine News Regional, said: “This is a big win for regional Australia. The Nine News brand is synonymous with bringing viewers an unrivalled news service, with a proud history going back 60 years.
“For the first time, our brand will be extended into country areas, offering regional viewers the very best in news gathering and reporting. We can’t wait to start telling the stories that matter the most to people in the new regions into which we’ll be broadcasting.”
The expansion of regional news coverage by SCA and Nine presents a major rival to WIN, which provides local half-hour bulletins across most of its Network Ten outlets in Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. WIN News has recently shifted its local bulletins to 6pm, fitting between Ten Eyewitness News and The Project.
The new bulletins will also be in competition with Prime7 News, which covers selected regions in New South Wales and Victoria, and Seven Local News in regional Queensland.
Source: Nine Network