OPINION: Today Tonight Axing Another Blow To Local Content

OPINION PIECE BY: Martin Turner, Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance WA Media Section President

The bad news just keeps coming. At least for those who value local content. West Australians are getting used to the concentration of media ownership, particularly since the sale of News Corp’s The Sunday Times to Seven West Media, as well as Fairfax being acquired by Nine, resulting in a new owner for WA Today.

But the ructions across the industry never seem to result in the quelling of movement within companies. Now it’s the turn of Seven’s Today Tonight. After 25 years on air, this WA institution gives way to a national one-hour bulletin starting next week.

Sure, there are hard business decisions required to be made every day by large media companies adapting to a dynamic, increasingly brutal market.

But it comes at a cost that can’t be glossed over with PR exercises. We lose local jobs in this process and not just in the immediate aftermath of a few headline numbers and talk of redeployment.

Locally produced shows like Today Tonight service a local audience and in turn produce all sorts of skilled workers to create the work, from reporters to presenters to editors to camera operators to technicians.

They are fast-paced shows, hungry for content. Staff learn a lot of skills in circumstances that can’t be duplicated easily. They are great training grounds for younger workers.

Seven no doubt believes its new format will better cater for its audience and provide ratings dominance in a competitive time slot.

But let’s be clear. Today, tonight, tomorrow, there’s one less uniquely West Australian show available to the people of this State. Vale Today Tonight.

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