Stephen Feneley was right on the money with his theory about why fewer people are watching commercial TV news services in Sydney. People aren’t stupid. They want more than what they’re getting – and if they don’t get it, they’ll simply turn off or switch over to the ABC or SBS.

But just count yourself lucky that you’re not in a regional television market like Southern NSW/ACT. We were the first market to be “aggregated” in 1989, under a government policy meant to give us more diversity in programming. We got more channels all right, but the price was our local identity, and our right to be kept well-informed.

WIN has a half-hour nightly bulletin, but it’s very ordinary. It also concentrates mainly on the ACT. Queanbeyan, Goulburn and Yass rarely get a look in. Southern Cross Ten and Prime have a series of five-minute bulletins during the day, but no footage, which is basically just radio with pictures.

Ten also has a current affairs show called State Focus, but it does a terrible job generally of discussing local issues. So certainly in southern NSW, we don’t have high quality news programming on commercial stations any more. And we’re all the poorer for it.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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