June 29, 2006
I've been watching the tumultuous upheaval at Nine for some time:--the slow decline of Channel Nine from being No 1, the costcutting ($15 million budget cuts), the extensive sackings (100 redundancies in news and current affairs), the cut shows and repeated programs, and the bullyboy blokey culture being exposed behind all the glitzy glamour. It's a pretty big crisis isn't it. Nine looks tawdry with the sheen gone--almost tabloid even.
Many commentators say that Nine's decline is the effect of the forces of competition in the media marketplace working away. So Seven replaces Nine as No 1 in the battle for news and current affairs supremacy and the ratings race this year, because it is more competitive. Seven rules for now.
Sure, ruthless competition exists in the media industry and this means winners and losers. But this competition is taking place within the overall decline of free-to air television, despite the extensive government protection and the blocking of reform. It is a structural shift as free-to-air television is no longer the centre of the mediascape. This structural shift is also affecting newspapers: their circulation continues to drop, classifieds move online, and they too engage in costcutting.
Has Nine thrown in the towel? Or will Chanel Nine's news and current affairs programmes be revamped or remodelled. How so? Go the middle class tabloid route? They were already on their way there weren't they? However, that would make them one of a pack. How about becoming an Australian version of Murdoch's Foxtel in the US? That would distinquish them from the pack would it not?