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Local flavour to Ten's taste

A COMMITMENT to raise the profile of AFL in NSW and Queensland has delivered exclusive coverage of the finals to Network Ten next year.

But it’s a commitment to local programming that’s driving the ratings in the network’s key demographic.

Network Ten chief executive officer John McAlpine said he doesn’t expect any major changes to the way football is broadcast in WA, although he mooted a shift in focus away from the commentators and back to the game.

“In the established market it really is just a transition. Where we’ll work hard is in NSW and Queensland … we negotiated for the finals through a push in Queensland and NSW,” Mr McAlpine said.

“Historically it’s been a bit more focused on the commentators. We’d like to bring it back to a greater focus on the game. The punter just wants to watch the game.”

Network Ten has had an exceptional year, with growth in its key demographic, 16 to 39 year olds, up 19 per cent.

And Mr McAlpine is bullish about the future, predicting that Network Ten will be number one in the under 40 age group in 2002.

It’s hoped the commitment to local programming will continue to deliver a strong following in the network’s key demographic in WA.

“Part of the reason we bought the advertising account back to here (Perth) is that at the end of the day if you need someone on the ground, (because) they understand the market better,” Mr McAlpine said.

“Again, it’s a focus on trying to do more local things. In Sydney and Melbourne you don’t have to do it to the same extent, but in each state we are trying to get more local influence.”

Network Ten will work with its local advertising agency, Marketforce, and Clemenger’s on the east coast to develop a brand for the AFL on Ten.

Mr McAlpine claims the game needs to be very strongly branded to capture advertising clients who, for the first time next year, will have a choice of two different stations to advertise on during AFL broadcasts.

“The client has to make a decision whether to do one or both, it really depends on their aspirations,” Mr McAlpine said.

“There’s no better time than this for advertisers, they’re getting genuinely great deals. Nine made an early swoop on the advertising market … it says they’re pretty gloomy about the year ahead.”

Network Ten plans to announce two more local projects before the end of the year, both with a distinctly local flavour.

During the past few years Network Ten has shifted its focus back to local programming following concern about the product content and quality from the US.

Mr McAlpine claims a reliance on Hollywood is dangerous for a network.

With local programming the Network can get “more bangs for the bucks”, and smaller budgets give the Network the capacity to turn around and try something new if a project falls flat.

The appointment of Sue Masters will deliver up to four new dramas for the network, including a feature movie and a mini series.

The position of general manger is still to be filled in Perth, but Mr McAlpine claims it’s a slow process to find the right person for the job.

“We’ve had a lot of interest and there are some good people … it’s a matter of fitting into our culture,” he said.

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