Sky News' David Speers, Kieran Gilbert and Paul Murray are hitting the regions with Foxtel.
Sky News' David Speers, Kieran Gilbert and Paul Murray are hitting the regions with Foxtel.

Sky News and Foxtel launch road trip to the regions

Do you think mainstream TV doesn't care for the regions?

Two of the big players in pay TV in this country clearly do - as they're doing something about it.

And the renewed focus of Sky News and Foxtel on, in particular, regional Queensland and northern New South Wales is in no small part due to significant media ownership changes in these parts.

NewsCorp now fully owns Sky News,, already had a majority stake in Foxtel, and now owns 15 daily papers and websites from Cairns to Grafton after completing the purchase of Australian Regional Media late last year.

It means this masthead is now working more cooperatively with the pay TV companies and the rewards are already there for everyone to see.

Sky News Australia announced on the weekend it will dedicate more time on the road out of Canberra this year. 

Flagship programs, including First Edition, AM Agenda, PM Agenda, Speers Tonight and Paul Murray Live, will begin broadcasting grassroots shows in the regions.

This kicks off in Queensland on February 23 when Paul Murray Live broadcasts from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

Our paper there, the Sunshine Coast Daily, is running a competition for readers to have lunch with Mr Murray, and perhaps even appear on the show.

We're already working with Sky on where Mr Murray will appear next - from the big cities of Townsville and Toowoomba to some of the smaller outposts out west, we're going to be able to leverage regional coverage to reader advantage.

As well, all 15 of our titles already have First Edition seeing their front pages daily, and some of them are appearing on screen.

Sky is proving it doesn't just care about the big cities. Editors, and readers, should take pride their work, or town, are on national show.

Australian News Channel chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said the cooperative approach was a win for the regions.

"We are delighted to be working so closely with News Regional Media. The combination of their grassroots connection to these communities and our live national television programs bring a much needed fresh approach to the coverage of national affairs, Mr Frangopoulos said.

''This initiative is one of the largest programming commitments in our history and will see five of our leading national affairs programs and their anchors on the road each month uncovering the issues facing the suburbs and regions across Australia.''

At Foxtel, a new league program will hit the road to regional Queensland this month. Fox League On Tour features former Australian big names like Corey Parker, and will do live shows from Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Again, our readers are getting first dibs at being part of the studio audience.

More announcements through the year should prove the changing TV landscape is working in favour of the regions.

The pay TV channels are starting to show they care; and this paper is now able to make sure our readers get their share of that love.


*Bryce Johns is the editorial director for News Regional Media.