Nine News kicked off its new Illawarra bulletin on Monday night, giving the region’s viewers a choice of local news for the first time since 2001.
Facing off with former TV ally, WIN News, the hour-long Nine bulletin is pitched as a mix of local, national and international news.
While Nine presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon was positioned in front of a photograph of Wollongong’s Breakwater Lighthouse and escarpment, the bulletin favoured national stories for the bulk of its first news break.
A NSW wrap of the bushfire emergency facing parts of the state, the sentencing for murderer Robert Xie and a politics wrap topped the Nine bulletin, before a story on a ram raid at the Albion Park RSL.
The Nine bulletin is produced in Sydney, with Ms O’Hanlon reading similar bulletins for Canberra. The fresh Illawarra-based news team has three reporters and two camera operators that have been stationed in Wollongong for some weeks now.
However, it seems they’re still getting up to speed with some local knowledge: Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery had the first part of his mayoral title lopped off in two separate segments, and there was a misspelling (or maybe just a forgivable typo) in a story about Kiama Downs (not Dowes, as Nine put it).
In contrast, WIN stuck with hyper-local stories – which it has gone to great effort to spruik in recent weeks – running through seven different Illawarra stories, mostly based on crime and emergency services operations, before the first ad break.
While Nine featured the antics of Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra, WIN took the chance to highlight new weather presenter Tanya Dendrinos and viewer images of Sunday night’s spectacular skies.
Some of the content in the two bulletins was similar (both covered the ram raid, the Minnamurra shark sighting and featured the Lord Mayor – at exactly the same time).
However the real test will be how viewers respond to the new choice in TV news.
In Canberra, where Nine launched last week, Prime and ABC won the 6pm timeslot overall, but on two nights WIN attracted twice as many viewers as the Canberra version of Nine News.