SKY NEWS missing in action for regional viewers during Bushfire Crisis

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With savage bushfires burning in New South Wales and Queensland, TV news services have spent the weekend providing additional bulletins. However, there was one notable exception.

Despite being broadcast directly into the regions worst affected by the blaze, viewers tuning into the Sky News on WIN channel on Saturday and Sunday evening were presented with back-to-back repeats of Fox Sports News programming

TV Blackbox received several complaints from viewers regarding the lack of fire coverage on the dedicated news channel. Commercial broadcasters Nine and Seven provided additional bulletins throughout the weekend, while the ABC used its 24-hour news channel to provide rolling coverage of the crisis.

Established last year, Sky News on WIN is a hybrid of pay-tv channels, Sky News, Fox Sports News and Sky News Weather.

TV Blackbox understands the regional FTA channel was prevented from simulcasting the extensive Sky News fire coverage which was being shown on the Foxtel version of the channel due to affiliate rights agreements.

Sky News has agreements in place to rebroadcast news vision from Seven and Nine on the Foxtel version of the channel. However, this vision is only allowed to be shown on the free-to-air channel at select times. WIN is the regional affliate for the 10 network.

On Sunday, the regional news channel was only able to simulcast the Sky News bushfire coverage between 8am to 9am, 10am to 11am, 1pm to 2pm and 3pm to 4pm.

A spokesperson for WIN Television clarified the situation telling TV Blackbox;

“Sky News is providing selected bushfire coverage for the Sky News on WIN channel. Due to supply agreements Sky News has in place with metro newsrooms, not all coverage is available to the Sky News on WIN channel.

As an example, there may be vision from Seven or Nine that Sky News runs, but it can’t be used on Sky News On WIN as it would breach affiliation partnerships for the broadcasters.”