National

Regional broadcaster shuts four newsrooms

By AAP Newswire

Regional broadcaster WIN is facing pressure from a multi-million-dollar advertiser in the wake of the closure of four newsrooms.

The broadcaster will close its newsrooms in Orange/Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Wide Bay next week, which the journalists' union said could cost up to 40 jobs.

The NSW Nationals have suspended advertising from the broadcaster until they reverse the decision.

NSW Nationals director Ross Cadell says the party spent close to $3 million on advertising with WIN in the first half of this year, during which the state election was held.

"Rural and regional people need strong and diverse media coverage and moves to reduce those services will only weaken our communities," he said.

WIN said in a statement that changing content consumption habits and increased competition from digital content providers had led to a reduction in demand for local news bulletins in the five regions.

But in its other markets "nothing has changed".

"WIN remains committed to local news and content, but in a regional media environment that has its challenges and faces increasing program supply and infrastructure costs, WIN needs to continue to review its operating model to ensure the ongoing success of the business."

Nationals leader and acting prime minister Michael McCormack, a former regional newspaper editor, said he was saddened by the decision to axe the newsrooms.

The Wagga Wagga newsroom in his own electorate had been operating for 30 years, he said.

"We want to make sure the community hears the stories, hears the news and sees the local faces - we just don't want to be force-fed metro news from metro stations ... in our regional centres," he said.

Mr McCormack said he appreciated it was a commercial decision, but this did not make it less disappointing.

Asked whether the ABC could step up its regional efforts, he said the national broadcaster "spends a lot of money in rent with its Ultimo premises in Sydney".

Moving out of Sydney could save money, he said, which could then be re-invested in regional programming, which the ABC excelled at.

"The ABC could look at some of their programming, (and) invest more in regional Australia ... and they probably wouldn't get the criticism they receive."