It’s another nail in the coffin of regional television production with news that Prime7 plans to shift production of Prime7 News’ Tamworth and Taree bulletins to Canberra.
With five newscasts ultimately to be produced from Canberra every weeknight there will be a certain amount of pre-recording of bulletins, meaning that reporters will now have earlier deadlines to get stories prepared for airtime. But Prime7 chief Doug Edwards told ABC Radio that this would still not impact on the standard of local news reporting and that late breaking news will still get to air.
Mr Edwards said that the move to centralise its news production is to take advantage of digital facilities installed in Canberra and also gives the network scope to adopt new technologies such as mobile apps and online streaming of news stories. He also said that the three production staff to be made redundant in Tamworth are looking to be redeployed to Canberra. There is not expected to be any change to news reporting staff in Tamworth, although newsreader Fiona Ferguson will not be making the move to Canberra – with the newsreading role to be taken over by Daniel Gibson, weather presenter for Prime7 who is also newsreader for the Albury bulletin.
The move out of the Tamworth studios located in Goonoo Goonoo Road will mark the end of almost fifty years of production from the site. The station opened in April 1965 as local channel NEN9. The channel later partnered up with Taree station ECN8.
In the late 1980s, NEN9/ECN8 became part of the Prime regional network. From December 1991, NEN9/ECN8 formed Prime’s move into the expanded Northern NSW/Gold Coast market with aggregation as the Seven Network affiliate.
Last year, Prime changed its on-screen branding to Prime7.
Apart from Prime7 News the only other local television news into the Tamworth-Taree regions are inserts into the Newcastle-based NBN News and brief updates broadcast throughout the day from Southern Cross Ten’s Canberra news room.