Southern Cross Austereo will launch 15 regional bulletins of Nine News from early 2017 and compete head-to-head with WIN and Prime for local news viewers in the ACT, southern NSW, regional Victoria and Queensland.
Produced by Nine as part of its $500 million affiliation agreement with Southern Cross Austereo, the hour-long programs will air at 6pm on weekdays and add local news, sport and weather reports to Nine's existing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane bulletins.
The regional editions will be rolled out progressively from February, beginning in Canberra and then WIN's hometown of Wollongong.
WIN currently produces and broadcasts half-hour news programs in most of these markets but has not faced commercial competition for local news viewers in the ACT or the Illawarra since June 2001, when Prime axed its nightly bulletins in Canberra, Wollongong and Newcastle.
In what Southern Cross Austereo and Nine describe as one of the largest rollouts of news operations seen in Australia, more than 110 staff will be employed in Nine’s regional news division.
While journalists, camera operators and editors based in regional areas will gather the news, the programs will be produced and presented from Nine's studios in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Presenters of the bulletins will be announced on Tuesday at Nine's unveiling in Sydney of its 2017 programming lineup.
Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Grant Blackley said almost 80 news staff would be recruited in 18 regional centres.
Another 30 staff in Nine’s metropolitan newsrooms would work on the bulletins.
“We are committed to our local communities and this local news project is an investment in these local economies and local jobs,” Mr Blackley said.
Since it dropped Ten programming and switched to the higher-rating content of Nine, Southern Cross Austereo has reported TV revenue growth of 31 per cent.
WIN, the Wollongong-based broadcaster owned by Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, now shows the lower-rating programs of Ten.
WIN recently warned that the 3000 hours of local content it produced and broadcast each year was "not a profitable exercise" and increasingly at risk without reform of Australia's media ownership laws.
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