Free-to-air television channel e.tv has asked communications regulator Icasa to amend its licence to allow it to broadcast its 6.30pm news bulletin outside of prime time.
Under its current licence conditions, the channel is required to broadcast at least two hours of news programming per day, of which at least 30 minutes must be packaged as a single programme and broadcast during prime time, said parent eMedia Investments in a statement.
“We are living in the digital age, and our viewers are consuming news on demand. The idea of relying on a single prime time bulletin has inevitably become antiquated and e.tv needs to be able to take this into account with regard to its overall programme scheduling,” said eMedia Investments group chief operating officer Mark Rosin.
“We have a long history of broadcasting quality news on e.tv, and while the prime time condition may have catered to our audience’s needs in 1998, when we first launched the service, it no longer makes sense now.”
The company said e.tv “remains committed to delivering a quality independent news service, and broadcasting local content that is in the public’s interest”. However, English news bulletins in prime time have seen a rapid decline in ratings across all free-to-air channels in recent years, it said.
“Having always met and often exceeded our news requirements, we have seen our English prime time news audience decline rapidly, despite numerous attempts to retool the bulletin,” it added.
Said Rosen: “As a commercial broadcaster generating most of its revenue in prime time, this presents serious revenue challenges, which ultimately lead to commercial viability challenges.”
He added that by moving English news bulletins out of prime time, e.tv will be able to “showcase content that has a significantly greater audience demand and curb current revenue losses”. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media