Joint Select Committee on Broadcasting Legislation - 18/03/2013 - Further reform of Australia's broadcasting legislation
HOLLERAN, Mr Rhys, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Cross Austereo
Senator LUDLAM: What is it about Channel Ten's syndicated content that makes it non-compatible with broadcasting news and current affairs?
Mr Holleran : I think it has a younger based audience. Certainly its emphasis is not as much on news as the other two networks. It does not have a history of that. So you do not necessarily think of news when you think of Ten, with respect. Their product is their product and we are happy to run their product. I think you need to look at that too against the background where there is one or indeed two players already producing news. If you are in a market of 80,000 or 100,000 people, it is just not economically viable. I think that is principally the reason.
Senator LUDLAM: Okay. So how much do you actually produce?
Mr Holleran : As I said, we produce 30-minute bulletins in the Spencer Gulf in South Australia-
Senator LUDLAM: How many?
Mr Holleran : We produce a daily 30-minute bulletin in the Spencer Gulf.
Senator LUDLAM: One?
Mr Holleran : One every day, yes. That includes Port Pirie, Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and Broken Hill.
Senator JOYCE: And that is for the whole lot of them?
Mr Holleran : Yes, 30 minutes a day. A 30-minute daily bulletin like any other-
Mr NEVILLE: Are they individual bulletins?
Mr Holleran : No, what we do is we aggregate. We have a journalist in each town. These are towns of, as you would know, 20,000 people. The whole of the Spencer Gulf is about 100,000 people. So we run a Spencer Gulf news service. We also run a 30-minute bulletin in Tasmania. Then we run what we would refer to as short-form news in the 17 aggregated markets-submarkets within the aggregated markets.
Senator LUDLAM: Is that what has been referred to as rip and read, where you are just posting newspapers to somebody sitting in Sydney?
Mr Holleran : Well, they are certainly short-form news bulletins.
Senator LUDLAM: But that is what we are talking about?
Mr Holleran : They are news updates. I think it is a legitimate way of informing people.
Senator LUDLAM: I am not making a comment on its legitimacy-
Mr Holleran : Yes, it is.
Senator LUDLAM: Let us be clear. This is somebody in Sydney or Melbourne reading press clippings from regional newspapers?
Mr Holleran : No, we do a lot of our short-form news bulletins out of here in Canberra.
Senator LUDLAM: Thank you. Can you shed some light on rumours of a tie-up with Channel Nine?
Mr Holleran : All I can do is refer you to our own statement that we made on 4 March to the ASX. We did say that we were reviewing a number of strategic options as a company and that no decision had been taken by the board, and that is the position.
Senator LUDLAM: Is Channel Nine's content likely to be more compatible with news and current affairs?
Mr Holleran : I think that, if you look at the numbers, demonstrably that is the case, yes.
Senator LUDLAM: Are you guys a member of Free TV?
Mr Holleran : Yes, we are.
Senator LUDLAM: Were you happy with the position they emerged with last year after meeting with the government on this matter and others?
Mr Holleran : Yes. It has been a long-held view of ours that the 75 per cent reach rule belongs to a different era.
Senator LUDLAM: It belongs to a different era-okay. I might hand off and come back if there is time, Chair.