People are watching less commercial news across the board, not just in Sydney, because they’ve woken up to the fact that it’s crap. Nine gave up being a news service a good 14 years ago, Seven was only in the game for a very brief period way back in the 80s. Nothing Seven does nowadays resembles news. Nine has a handful of people who could be described as journalists – Laurie Oakes obviously and Mark Burrows when he gets a chance to perform.

But I don’t think Seven News and National Nine News are meant to be news services – both these supposed news offerings are very effective vehicles for dumbing down and de-skilling voters in a democracy. I know because I used to work for both of them in the days when they had more than a passing interest in journalism.

There was once a time when commercial networks, as part of their licence conditions, had to be publicly accountable for the quality of their news services. Now, thanks to both Liberal and Labor de-fanging the regulator, the networks don’t even have to do news if they don’t want to. While the right gets itself into a lather about bias and lack of accountability at the ABC, it’s been a long time since anyone asked serious questions about the commercial networks complete lack of accountability regarding the standard of their news services.

The overall audience for commercial news has been falling for more than a decade – it’s down by more than 33% since the late 80s. It’s the story the TV critics in print have failed to report, blinded by the contest for an outright winner and ignoring the fact that the networks are fighting for a diminishing market. Dummies. A good proportion of the audience wised up ages ago.

Read Glenn Dyer’s original story on Sydney’s 6pm news on the site here: Why don’t Sydneysiders watch more news?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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