4 July 2024

WIN Network pulls plug on Griffith Sky News coverage, upsets local advertisers

| Oliver Jacques
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Erin Molan with Mark Speakman

Erin Molan’s Sky News show is one of many that will not be broadcast in Griffith on free-to-air TV. Photo: Twitter.

Griffith residents can no longer watch the likes of Andrew Bolt, Erin Molan and Piers Morgan beam into their living rooms on free-to-air TV, after the Channel 53 coverage of broadcaster Sky News in this region ended last month.

“The WIN Network’s agreement to broadcast Sky News Regional in their licensed regional areas of Griffith NSW and South Australia ceased at midnight on 30 June 2024,” a Sky News spokeswoman told Region.

“Viewers in Griffith NSW and South Australia can continue to watch Sky News via the SkyNews.com.au streaming subscription that provides streaming access to four 24/7 Sky News produced news channels via SkyNews.com.au and the Sky News Australia app.”

“The full suite of premium 24-hour Sky News channels are also available to watch through Foxtel and news streaming service Flash.”

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Sky News is a British news channel launched by Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Sky News Australia commenced its service in 1996 and began to broadcast Sky News Regional into rural areas for free in 2021.

Those in Wagga and elsewhere in the Riverina can continue to watch Sky News on free-to-air TV.

In the Griffith region, the WIN Network has also decided not to renew an agreement it had with the Seven Network regarding advertising, which means local businesses can no longer book advertising on Channel Seven through WIN.

These changes have upset some Griffith companies who advertise on TV.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the local WIN TV team and we’re just as disappointed as they are, regarding the decision to end Chanel 7’s local broadcast and to lose Sky News altogether. I am concerned about other networks doing the same in the future and our local identity on TV will be gone forever,” Dean Owen of Owen Toyota said.

Paul Pierroti, owner of Caesars Furniture Store, said the new arrangement was giving a free kick to competitor businesses in other regions.

“Last night I was watching companies in Orange and Wollongong advertise on our network without paying for it. This competes with our local businesses,” he said.

“They’re undermining our ability to reach our audience, without any consideration or proper compensation.

“Local advertisers are paying for shows to be on free to air; we can’t understand why they’d decide to undermine that with this decision.”

WIN news grab

WIN News’s nightly Riverina coverage will continue. Photo: WIN News Riverina Facebook.

A WIN Network spokesperson said the company was having to make tough decisions in a challenging environment.

“With the recent changes to broadcast arrangements in Griffith, WIN is still the point of contact for advertisers to book Nine and Ten. Seven is providing a separate feed into Griffith,” the spokesperson said.

“The state of regional television as a whole is constantly under financial stress. Regional broadcasters are at a point where consideration must be given to finding efficiencies and protecting our businesses by making tough decisions on what parts of our business remain viable.

“There is constant assessment for the future of all regional broadcast services … there are several things the Federal Government could do to place regional television broadcasting on a sustainable long-term footing. [Advocacy group] Free TV outlined a four-step plan in a media release on 26 June 2024.”

Both the WIN and Seven networks have told Region they will continue to provide their nightly Riverina news coverage for Griffith viewers. These bulletins are produced in Wagga and occasionally include coverage of Griffith issues.

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