Apr 17, 2013

Regional news a pawn as networks war over reform

Commitments on regional news are just one tactic as Nine tries to persuade the government to drop the key obstacle between it and a merger, while Ten tries to block it.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Nine’s continued courtship of Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has the TV industry puzzled for two reasons: the first is there are few signs the 75% reach rule (which at the moment is blocking the deal) is going to be relaxed or abolished by the current government. And secondly, a fix for the 75% rule seems very easy under the present legislation, raising the question as to why Nine doesn’t use this to free itself from the rule.

Nine’s latest gambit is some proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act suggested to the joint parliamentary committee looking at the reach rule, designed to counter canny objections from the Ten Network to the committee that Nine’s earlier promises about regional news levels in the event of a merger are unenforceable.

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