Mayor of the Dubbo Region, Ben Shields has labelled the Nine Networks’ decision to withdraw their locally based video news journalist as ‘dismissive’ and ‘tone deaf’ to the community who rely upon local news services for information, especially in times of crisis.

“It truly is remarkable that a region of our size is being discarded and treated as irrelevant by another local television news provider,” said Councillor Shields.  “Nine’s own statement on their corporate website about their commitment to their audiences reads, ‘When it comes to television in Australia, the Nine Network has been there every step of the way’… except now if you live in Central West NSW and rely on their news.”

“Places like Dubbo need reliable and community focussed news and media services, so I implore Nine to reconsider withdrawing the Dubbo based news position.  This city, and our region, is substantial enough to warrant decent locally-based television news coverage.”

The local job loss and withdrawal of the Dubbo staffer now leaves the region to be covered by crews out of Nine Regional’s Orange newsroom.

“Coronavirus (COVID-19), without doubt, has not helped the media landscape nationally,” said Andrew Parsons, Dubbo Regional Council’s (DRC) Manager of Corporate Image and Communications. “We’ve seen regional media – and national media – travelling on a pre-existing trajectory to significantly shrink further, or close completely, since before the start of 2020 - exacerbated as COVID-19 gripped the nation and the world. The root cause: plummeting advertising revenue across all commercial media vs operational costs.”

“While providing news isn’t cheap, it is essential, especially in times of boom, bust and crisis,” said Mr Parsons. “The media industry has dramatically changed during the 31 years that I’ve worked in it; in recent years, a shrinking media has seen many organisations -- like Council -- invest in their own in-house capabilities to share vital information, tell their own stories, and become more self-reliant on their own digital platforms. But not everyone can do that, and that’s where mainstream media is still so critical to local news.”

It’s been just over 12 months since another local news service, WIN Television Network, withdrew from the Central West all together.  The departure of Nine from Dubbo leaves a dwindling television news and media presence in the region to cover an array of issues affecting locals; one less way of promoting a great region.

“It’s not just Dubbo that is affected by this latest retreat from regional NSW by a major broadcaster,” said Mr Parsons.  “Nine’s local news departure from Dubbo means it’s a huge stretch on the Orange-based crews to adequately cover areas like Nyngan, Warren, Cobar, Coonamble, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra and so on.”

“Council will fill the gap where we can with news across our platforms about Council operations, the work Council is doing with the community and the work we do with our valuable community groups. We’re committed to making sure we provide the community with important information relevant to our region during a crisis – just like we did during the ‘first wave’ over the COVID-19 emergency.”

“Council plays a significant and ongoing role in the community via the provision of services, support, programs and grants.  Being able to share news about how Council can help the community (individuals and groups) or being able to provide public information to the community during an emergency, like COVID-19, has been a key outcome of Council’s work with local media,” said Councillor Shields. “Promoting the region to a wide audience and local issues in general become a little harder to communicate as, yet another, media channel withdraws from our populous, prosperous and strategically important region.” 

Last Edited: 30 Jul 2020

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