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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Content Survey Live: Part One, Harbour City Hangover.

 I thought I was having to wait until November to start this mission.
But thanks to Ten, it's being brought forward.

The decision by 10 to axe local presentation of it's news bulletins outside Sydney and Melbourne is effectively 10 raising the white flag to 7/9 in those markets losing local presence.
Tweet by me, August 11, 2020 in the wake of 10's centralization announcement.

The full series:

Welcome to Content Survey Live. A bold return to something, that has dominated Kuttsy's Pitch since 2014, and is now at last, is on it's own. I was expecting to be writing this in early November. Instead, thanks to 10's move toward a even leaner news operation than what exists currently: with Perth, Adelaide and most critically, Brisbane (serving the third largest metropolitan market in the country) having news bulletin production axed and sent to Sydney and Melbourne, that this is being brought forward.

All the changes at 10 is happening under a news management structure that is refusing to innovate, and refusing to invest (the closure of 10daily in May is a example of both refusals), with a head of news who didn't stand up for the newsroom's employees when the beancounters knocked. Any wonder I am fearing that the next step will be 10 outsourcing bulletins to another operator (like how ViacomCBS-owned Channel 5 in the UK outsources it's news to ITN: who also produces national news for ITV and Channel 4), or worse: producing news updates for the five metropolitan markets akin to those run by Southern Cross's 10 affiliates between 2004 (when local content quotas for regional stations were mandated by ACMA in the wake of regional news closures in 2000-01) and their move to showing Nine programming in July 2016 (which led to Nine launching regional news bureaux to produce bulletins on Southern Cross's behalf): effectively giving viewers nationwide a taste of what TVQ in Brisbane had for it's first eight years: poor quality news coverage (highlighted explicitly during the 1974 flood), a situation so dire, Canberra had to act: with a expanded TVQ news service launching in May 1974 in response.

Imagine your city's news reported similar to how Southern Cross did theirs: reduced to rip/read stories, with little/non-existent video journalism.

Examples of Southern Cross 10's "news" output prior to flipping to Nine in 2016.
(from CQtvNews on Youtube)

This is the reasoning why a content survey exists. It's not just measuring output, but measuring what's going to be lost with centralization: a inevitable loss of relevance to the markets served, especially if some markets may well have pre-recorded bulletins or cuts to how many stories sourced locally even get to air.

The Ground Rules and Rankings:

Our focus, in Content Survey Live, will be monitoring Ten’s five capital city news services (a benefit of technological change, now allowing us to watch interstate bulletins on delay), in order of their ratings position within the network (with each market covered once) over a week, using the same criteria we used in the “Great Local News Study” from Kuttsy's Pitch XI last year:

-Locally sourced stories: that is stories reported by local journos. Really big local market stories with national impacts, also fit here (e.g. coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne). Voiced over local stories are counted separately.
-Live crosses: stuff that is used to embellish a story.
-Weather is not counted.
-Sport is not counted if it’s done by obviously freelance journos, or voiced over pieces: you gotta have dedicated reporters there, with their mug on air reporting a sports story for it to count.
And finally: Ten Brisbane will have it’s Gold Coast content tracked again during it’s night: to see if any lessons have been learned by 10 in eighteen months.

How we decided the placings for the survey and which cities were run on which days, was via a two week ratings tracking study, in early July, which compared ratings figures at that time with the same time period in 2019.

The rankings are as follows:

1. (Monday night, i.e. this post): Sydney (with the lowest year on year growth/shrinkage of all five markets: 10% audience growth from the same time in 2019)
2. (Tuesday night): Perth (16% audience growth from the same time in 2019)
3. (Wednesday night): Adelaide (21% audience loss from the same time in 2019)
4. (Thursday night): Brisbane (25% audience loss from the same time in 2019)
And, finally 5. (Friday night): Melbourne (28% audience growth from the same time in 2019: attributable to the beginning of the Melbourne lockdown as the second COVID19 wave peaked.)

Now, we begin the first survey... Sydney.

Profile of Market
RATINGS AVERAGE for 10 News First 8-19/07/2019: 101,000
RATINGS AVERAGE for 10 News First 6-17/07/2020: 113,000

Sydney, as a market got off very lightly with the cuts made in 10's news division: with the only major departure being weatherman, Tim Bailey (departing the network after a near 30yr stint, mind you, and is actually on holidays this week) but instead is becoming a hub for three markets (Perth and Brisbane in addition to Sydney) come mid-September.

Let's first look at locally sourced stories:
The first big story of the survey, fittingly led Sydney's bulletin: a apology for NSW Health's failings concerning the Ruby Princess cruise ship by the premier of NSW, along with the stock standard COVID 19 story concerning increasing figures in Sydney hotspots and new rules for schools.
Other highlights include:
-Blakehurst pileup caused by a off-duty police officer:
-Nepean River 4WD rescue:
All that was just in the first segment of the bulletin.

The second segment, gave us a court story concerning a accident in 2019 in the M5 East.

The fourth segment gave us a exclusive story on a bungle with a application for a NSW/VIC border pass from NSW Health, being sent to the wrong person (with a graphic mis-spelling "person" as "persn")

Just before the end of the 5pm hour, there was story about a new type of lamb coming from Oberon.

But we ask a question with these: how many of these stories were rerun at 6pm?
The stories on the Ruby Princess apology, COVID 19 in Sydney (albeit rejigged: with the Maroubra gathering leading the 6pm version) were rerun in full, along with a V/O'd versions of the Blakehurst story and the Nepean River rescue: However, 10's exclusive about the bungled border pass: Nowhere to be seen after 6pm.

Total amount of local stories: 7, however four of those were rerun in some form after 6pm.

Next up, is live crosses:
Daniel Sutton: (no relation to the Victorian CHO Brett Sutton), performed a great V/O'd piece, with a live cross tailing it at the start of the news.
Meanwhile, we had a live cross promoting a story that was plugging 10's upcoming special on the 40th anniversary of the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance at Uluru.
Lachlan Kennedy with more on the health bungle exclusive,
Post 6pm, we had another with Daniel Sutton, with some updated content on contact tracing,
But, sadly, the outsourced traffic reports don't count: Maybe if 10 did them themselves, like Nine should do now the infrastructure exists at their talkback stations, they'd count.
Total amount of live crosses: Daniel Sutton: 2, everyone else that isn't Daniel Sutton: 2, for a total of four live crosses.

Next to come to the plate is sports presentation:
Plenty of shots of NRL press conferences and the like, but no visibility of sports reporters tonight at all, considering the popularity of the NRL in Sydney and no real visibility of local sport other than the NRL.

However, Chloe McCardel's achievement deserved a full story: not the "Play of The Day".

Sports reporter visibility: A big fat zero.

And, finally: Voiced-over reports by the presenter:
Highlights include a:
V/O over a NSW Police video press release about their new training facility,
Warragamba Dam filling
Major Northern Beaches assault case culminating, using vision supplied by NSW Police as background.
V/O'd versions of the Blakehurst story and the Nepean River rescue from segment 1 aired after 6pm.
Sadly, Hugh Riminton reading out petrol prices doesn't count along with a wrap of top stories at 5:30pm and 6pm.

A total of five voiced over reports.

Overall, 10's news in Sydney on Monday night, was comparable to Seven and 9's hour over the whole ninety minutes it aired: but the 5pm hour still resembling the 1hr that people were tuning out of in 2019, and other gripes include the rerunning of content from 5pm at 6, with very little tweaks to make it look fresh, leaving your big exclusive from the 5-6 hour out of the 6pm segment or having no new stories break in the 6pm half hour (just a health alert everyone else also has access to), hell: using a police video press release as a voiced over report is leaving me very very flat, especially as Sydney is the sole market where the only real tangible investment in news has happened since CBS bought 10, the expensive new set, that was promised to be duplicated in other markets especially it's the largest market in the country and is where their national news execs reside.

I'd rate Sydney's news tonight a 6/10.

RATINGS FOR MONDAY NIGHT (Sydney market): 100,000 viewers: 7/9's gameshows combined tripled 10's ratings in that market.

Tune in here, to this site tomorrow for part two: where we go from the east coast to the west coast.

(From ProCopyAustralia1 on Youtube)

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