WIN TV Mackay, Mildura in shock closures

Updated: WIN TV shuts down Mackay and Mildura newsrooms citing costs, leaving staff reeling in shock.


In a blow to regional broadcasting staff at WIN TV’s Mackay newsroom last night were told they had been axed following their on-air bulletin.

General Manager Andrew Vautier broke the news to crew after the bulletin to announce the closure of the building, effective immediately.

The news impacts on 10 staff, without warning.

The decision is understood to have resulted from the broadcaster’s low ratings against Seven News resources. Sources say sales advertising was down and 2 journalists who left recently had not been replaced.

A source told TV Tonight complained of ageing facilities but were reeling from the news.

“Shocked. Gutted. And little info apart from ‘Don’t come back tomorrow!’ WIN never had money and don’t care about resources,” they said.

“Bruce Gordon (owner) said it’ll now be a combined bulletin for Mackay people from news across Townsville and Rockhampton. The death of local news on WIN.”


Staff at WIN TV in Mildura were also given the bad news last night.

WIN Network CEO Andrew Lancaster said the decision was bases on costs in a changing News landscape.

“As regional Australia’s most prolific producer of local news bulletins, WIN remains committed to local news across the majority of our markets but, in a media environment that has its challenges and is faced with constantly increasing program supply and infrastructure costs as well as a lack of regulatory reform, we need to continue to review our operating model to ensure the ongoing success of WIN as a business,” he said.

“Our first priority will be working with the staff impacted by the closures to redeploy them into other roles across the network.”

30 Responses

  1. Should have always been a licence requirement – local news made in the same place that the transmitter is located. Government allow these companies to do what they like with the airways. It’s all stuffed now thanks to reforms that ensured regional Australia has no local content. Bad enough that capitals outside Sydney/Melb have little zone one content other than news/advertorial.

    1. @newsjunkie, the studios for both 7 Qld and WIN Qld are in Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast. Bulletins for each region across Qld are produced there, with some bulletins prerecorded, while at least one bulletin for each network is broadcast live. There hasn’t been a studio broadcasting news in North Qld for many years. SC10 produces their Qld news from Canberra.

  2. Aggregation is the new obscenity in TV today! If they’d left the incumbent stations in their own markets and allowed one(1) new licence into each market, we wouldn’t see the strife we have now. There’d be no Prime, just Television New England, Country Television Services and the other stations as individual operators. WIN would’ve stayed in its Wollongong base and not gobbled up all those other operators. Each station would’ve retained its autonomy as would the new player in each market. In any given market, the two operators(incumbent and new player) would compete for programmes bought from each of the three metropolitan stations, ATN, TCN and TEN, and would schedule them independently, not dictated to by metropolitan schedules. Thus, as an example, “Home And Away” could’ve stayed on NBN and run at 5.30pm weeknights as it did before 1990.

    1. It all depends how you look at it. As a regional WA viewer, I missed out on having the same choice as metro viewers right up until 2011. I had 2 analog commercial broadcasters to choose from (incumbent being GWN and the new player being WIN). So basically, exactly like your proposal. It sucked, mate. Aggregation may have killed local content, but it brought choice to regional areas. In this day and age with information instantly available at our fingertips and entertainment available on tap, broadcasters can’t afford to restrict programming for their viewers.

      1. The way I descried it, at least we’d have two competing independent stations in each market, that way the regional advertising dollar wouldn’t be stretched so that it ends up like copper wire. And with two competing independent stations, each could take the best of the metropolitan stations’ content, and with digital multi-platforms, the rest of the capital-city stuff could be put on the regionals’ secondary services.

        1. I embarrass myself, not for what I’m writing, but the way my keyboard fails me when letters go missing out of words I’ve typed, in the above, I meant to type “described” but in doing so, the ‘b’ went missing and I had “descried” instead. but the comment remains valid, and reading other comments, there are others that have a similar view. Curse you, Bob Hawke! You’ve totally ruined regional television!

      2. There is no real economy of scale for 3 competing networks in regional areas. The incumbent regional operators should have been granted a 2nd license to start with. And then when digital started, be allowed to run a 3rd, but with added mandated local production beyond local news as a license condition. It was silly for 3 existing operators to compete with each other into each other’s territory, in some cases 3 lots of local news production which was overkill and waste of money in the early days. A single operator with multiple channels would have programmed in a complimentary manner instead of a winner takes all approach which ended up killing many of those stuck with TEN affiliation. As was predicted by many when Aggregation started, it would end up killing regional television, how spot on those predictions will be very soon with a total loss of local news, views, production and jobs.

        1. I partly agree with you, MHA, but not about the incumbent running a second station. A second station in each market should’ve been completely new and operated by a separate locally-based licensee with no ties whatsoever to the incumbent in that, or any other market. Using Newcastle as an example: NBN is the incumbent, a new operator could be called(hypothetically) New Hunter Television(NHTV). The shows that NBN does not currently carry(in 1985 for instance), could’ve been shown by NHTV, and the station would, as a condition of its licence, be required to produce in its own studios, a comprehensive news bulletin of at least 30 minutes’ duration. A mere “parish pump” local news bulletin would not be enough to meet the licence conditions.

          1. What killed regional television was the hair-brained idea of trying to duplicate the metro choices of three competing networks. The way it was set up killed any chance for the regionals to spend any spare dollars they had on local content, instead having to spend on overpriced affiliation deals. If the incumbents were left as monopolies, they would not have had affiliation charges hiked up like they were when aggregation started as they would have been able to pick and choose instead as they did before. Plus, with affiliation, it is 100% pay for all programming sourced. If a regional opted out to do their own thing, as some tried, they still had to pay for the metro programming they did not use, financially unsustainable longterm. Sorry to say, even allowing one competitor into each area still would have led to what is going to be eventual complete loss of localism except for ad breaks.

    2. What if we went one step further, and allowed only 1 commercial broadcaster in each country area, but allowed them to broadcast all the commercial channels found in metro areas. That way, the one company would have a monopoly on commercial TV ad sales and could easily fund local content.

      Wait, that’s exactly the situation in eastern SA. And the monopoly operator axed the local news there a few years ago.

      It’s also the situation in northern SA/Broken Hill, and they still retain their news.

      1. True, but unlike the eastern states, there is no license requirement in regional SA, WA, NT, Griffith, Mildura and Mt Isa for localism. That is why WIN axed long running MTN, SES/RTS, WIN WA and now STV News when they did. That is also why Imparja axed its news bulletin, as legally there was nothing stopping them. To their credit, GWN in Bunbury and Southern Cross in Port Pirie still provide a local news service, as does NTD9 in Darwin. Take Southern Cross for example in regional SA, that is most likely how all other incumbents would have most likely ended up going where the sole monopoly provider transmits the output of all 3 metro networks but still has time and money to provide a local news service on its original incumbent station. This is unlike some aggregated areas in the east coast which have no local news services anymore, not including the rip n’ read 2 minute noodle updates.

        1. MHA, I wanted to respond to your 8.30pm comment but there wasn’t a reply trigger under it so here’s my response: I agree completely that trying to replicate three networks in regional areas was “hair-brained”, as you so accurately described it. As well as a comprehensive(local/national/international) bulletin which NBN still produces from its Mosbri Crescent, Newcastle studios, NBN used to produce its own in-house morning programme presented by Nat Jeffries and in the early 1970s had “Here Tonight” hosted by Neville Roberts, one of three Nevilles at NBN back then, the others being Messres Graham and Fuller. Aggregation has ripped the guts out of our regional stations! What price is choice when the station loses its identity – and its soul?????????

  3. At this rate, WIN’s All Australian News will only be sourcing content from Wollongong? As Nine now runs 60 min 6pm bulletins on all its stations across the country, can’t be long until WIN axes all its standalone bulletins? And instead run a 10 minute insert in the middle of the Nine 6pm bulletins? WIN Tasmania would most likely stay a full separate composite of local, state, national and international news as it is now? Even WIN Canberra could end up being a 10 min insert in the 6pm Sydney bulletin? Regional TV died when Aggregation commenced with round the clock networking of metro stations. Instead of being forced to compete against each other, all regional stations should have gone down the supplementary license route with a 2nd station in each market, but with each station mandated to increase local production as a trade off for being monopoly operations. Regional TV is all but dead.

    1. Of course WIN could do what Prime does and produce their own local/national/international news hour, since 7 forced them out of their 6:30-7pm local news slot – or as NBN Newcastle has always done, from day #1. They “could”, but they won’t. As for TEN News in Wollongong, why bother? Three sentences covering 3 stories from yesterday’s Mercury and local ABC in 20-seconds. What a joke.
      No mandated local content or local news in their licences, unlimited advertising, repeats of repeats called “encores” (which they are not). Yes Bob Hawke, your wonderful “aggregation” plan killed regional TV, as you were told by many, many more knowledgeable, that it would.

      1. Prime produces a “parish pump” local news segment out of Canberra for each of its regions, they simply record one version for Newcastle/Hunter, another for Tamworth/New England… and so on. They should be doing the full service out of Both Tamworth and Orange studios, Tamworth for Northern NSW and Orange for Southern NSW, as these are original pre-aggregation installations. Prime in Canberra should have, at most, only a sales office. And yes, Jason, it should be strictly mandated that all regional commercial stations produce their own bulletins, as well as locally-produced entertainment shows(remember NBN’s “Here Tonight” presented by Neville Roberts in the early 1970s?) Give us back our regional TV autonomy.

    2. Well now you know what I’ve been talking about all this time! Aggregation was a curse for regional TV, the stations themselves knew it and have been proved right. WIN should be forced(and I stress, forced) to relinquish all the stations it has greedily swallowed up since the beginning of aggregation, and concentrate their attention on their one legitimate coverage area, South-East NSW.

      1. Not if it means they still have the ability to have monopolies in some areas. In Griffith NSW because WIN have a monopoly there is no ability to get alternative programming produced because they own all the stations (of course with the exception of the public broadcasters ABC and SBS but they don’t have the resources to launch local content in small regional areas). So not only would there need to be a mandate that local content be produced, but also that not all stations can be owned by one network and yet all stations must be offered (which is impossible as you can’t force a network to buy a regional affiliate so it wouldn’t work). But one can dream…

  4. Mildura also closed after 60 years of operation – now left with no local television news service.


  5. They’re an attractive looking team in the pic, young enough to find other work in the industry but just not in the bush. Now that Bruce has sold his Perth and Adelaide stations to Nine he’s lost some negotiating leverage to try to keep a lid on the affiliation fees he pays to Nine. “the ongoing success of WIN as a business” says it all.

  6. Sad to see more regional journos and crew put out of work. But at least Mackay still have a local bulletin on Seven which is more than can be said for other WIN regions (e.g. Griffith NSW, who is in a WIN monopoly, saw WIN axe the local news in 2006 opting instead for the Wagga bulletin which was to add Griffith content – something which now is a rarity – ultimately meant there was no local alternative).

    1. That’s no worse than say WIN’s western Vic news which puts Ballarat, Warrnambool, Portland and Horsham all in the same news bulletin. And they shared a bulletin pre-aggregation too.

      WIN’s Mackay news has only existed for 6 years. WIN’s Mildura bulletin has been going for 60 years.

  7. Being a Mackay resident most people watch Seven Local News and Seven News from 6pm and there is no need to watch WIN News at 7pm not to mention that is Home And Away time 🙂
    Mackay won’t want to watch news from Townsville and Rockhampton why would they if they don’t even watch the WIN News with Mackay content.
    WIN should just air ACA at 7pm instead.

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