First on Nine, First on Seven or just First with a Watermark?

2013-01-22_1708In the competitive game of television News, there’s a lot of emphasis on breaking the news, getting the exclusive and being first.

The word “Exclusive” has become so commonplace these days (due in no small part to 6:30 shows stamping it across almost every story) that is has lost all meaning.

Now Nine and Seven are in a tussle over the use and meaning of “First on Nine / Seven.” But what does it actually mean?

Does it mean an Exclusive story, does it mean airing the story before your competitor? Or does it mean something else altogether?

It’s being used so frequently as a watermark that mistakes are happening and its definition is hard to pinpoint.

TV Tonight asked both Nine and Seven to clarify the meaning of “First” and when it should be used.

Nine maintains it first started using the phrase when Darren Wick took over as Nine’s Head of News and Current Affairs.

A Nine spokesperson said, “Our philosophy with “First on Nine” is that it goes on material that is exclusive to Channel Nine at 6pm. We’ll also use it during the day in various updates where the material is being shown for the first time.”

A Seven spokesperson said, “It refers to an exclusive story, story development or vision which we aired first. It’s used when appropriate.”

So both are agreed it applies to Exclusive vision. But does Exclusive mean you are the only camera crew at a story, or does it mean your vision, your camera angle is unique?

On January 8th, TEN, Nine and Seven all ran stories on a police chase in the Melbourne suburb of Croydon, with Nine watermarking “First on Nine.” A Nine spokesperson told TV Tonight it ran the watermark at 4:40pm in a news Update -technically it’s 20 minutes before TEN’s 5pm News so the “First” would apply as first broadcaster, but not as Exclusive broadcaster.

9_croydon (1)



On January 11th ABC News, Nine News and Seven News ran aerial footage of a fire at Kangaroo Ground, and Nine again used the watermark “First on Nine.” It was undoubtedly before ABC’s 7pm News, but was it really ahead of Seven? If it was it could have only been by minutes as part of a different rundown of stories.


7_kangaroo ground


This week Seven News went one step further by screening a story about a pregnant mother hit by a car in Glebe, using TEN footage and watermarking it “First on Seven” (see top photo). Neither exclusive nor first…

Some news vision is considered “pool vision” in which case all networks share the same footage. But trickery can still involve blurring the watermark of your rival, or branding your network logos right across the screen as if to suggest the footage is your own.

Meanwhile the audience is becoming more confused: “First” no longer means First to broadcast. “First” no longer means Exclusive content.

The audience still understands the word “Exclusive” to mean “we are the only network that has this story / interview.”

Everything else is spin.


  1. Nine did use the ‘first on 9’ slogan first. Seven had ‘only on 7’ to mean exclusive. They copied probably due to ratings slipping.

    I hate the watermarks across the middle of the screen – annoying and unnecessary.

    Seven have copied the Nine supers so much though…when you look side by side above, its so obvious. They need to change their graphics back to the ones they had before so as to provide some distinction between their news service and nine’s. Then they might start getting some viewers back.

  2. I hadn’t watched nine news for a long time and seeing those pictures made me think, when did the graphics departments of 7 and 9 merge!

    Seriously, i had too look twice to figure out which was which.

  3. What is it going to be like in 50 or so years when we look back at the footage of today as see all this branding over all the news footage. I think it will be very embarrassing. You don’t see footage of Neil Armstrong with “first on *insert station here*” down the bottom. I think it’s time the focus went back onto the actual news. Besides I thought only some people on YouTube and Facebook are addicted to saying “first” whenever possible…?

  4. @HardcorePrawn & @IheartABC
    You’re so right, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    I stopped watching commercial TV news when:
    – newsreaders began emoting (frowns, ‘hmmns’, smiles, serious nods)
    – reporters and anchors started boosting their personal stock with throws: “What’s happening down on the streets of fear,Georgie?”
    “Thanks Bill, the situation’s still pretty tense here. Bill?”
    “Thanks Georgie, let’s check with Davo for the latest in sports. Davo?”
    – US pronunciations kicked in (eg demaaand).
    And so much more. Nauseating.

  5. jezza the first original one

    Wouldn’t it be great if the utter contempt and disdain that the vast majority of posters, contributing on this story, could be reflected in the ratings. ABC was sure getting there late last year, just needs another push to get the piffle masquerading as news programmes pushed lower in the ratings..

  6. @IheartABC
    … and don’t get me started on the appalling misuse of intonation and emphasis when they speak.
    “A *regular* day. In. This. Peaceful suburb. Quickly turned. Into a *horror* story”
    All relayed with added head movements for additional emphasis too.

  7. @Jennome – yes its all about the glammed up young female reporter trying to look serious. its easy to see why ABC news is doing so well as they have the real news market to themselves now. ABC should do another Frontline series about the news this time. Would be a hoot.

  8. And then there’s “9 news can reveal …” – what does that even mean? It’s just extra words. I was taught to write concisely and not to use cliches.
    We watch commercial news very occasionally but we always like to play a game of spot the cliche – they really cannot help themselves and there is obviously no one subediting the reporters’ scripts.
    Shots are always ringing out, suburbs are always in lockdown, traffic is always at a virtual standstill, people are always barricading themselves inside their homes …

  9. What is really getting on my goat are the crosses to glamorous female “reporters”, all dolled up with full makeup and their hair glued so it won’t wave in the breeze … then back to the studio to these extraordinarily plain, ageing men actually reading the news in their comfortable studios.

    I love the ABC’s female reporters at the bushfires, dressed in their blue ABC shirts, hair awry in the wind, actually being part of the story rather than standing on the periphery being more concerned on how they look. (and no doubt reading cheat sheets).

  10. Maev....Sydney

    I am fascinated….I have not watched 7 and 9 news for more years than I can count….also gave up on TEN when they messed around with their news….but I have seen the ads every so often.
    @ Secret Squirrel January 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm –
    Sitting here laughing out loud!!

  11. It’s all the same stories with 7 and 9 News. The only thing i don’t like is when 7 News pinches stories from 9 News. Re- The Bert Newton story and the accident in the Burnley tunnel with a 7 News watermark splashed all over it

  12. Secret Squirrel

    @Craig – yeah, the only thing that Seven breaks is the proper usage of the words “first”, “exclusive”, “live”, and “news”.

    @steveany 2.0 – apologies, Boromir. I assume that by the time my Perth-bound soul gets here, people in the rest of the country have mostly said what they want. You can point out how silly/stuck in their ways a lot of people are next time. :-)

  13. First on…Breaking news… Exclusive To etc.

    Initial details can be scant and very inaccurate, or sensationalised, and just how long can ‘first’ last?
    Its also frustrating where the picture and dialogue maybe relaying and refering to specific details, only to have it partially obscured behind behind sub headings,tickers or water marks etc.
    For me credibility is lost, when they promo news items, imediately(seconds) prior to the actual news being read, and even compounded to the extreme when these promo’s contradict the actual news item itself.
    For example on Sunrise during the Tasmanian Bushfires when fears were held for an unaccounted 100 souls,Sunrise would dramatically promo these fears for the missing 100 as such, but imediately after that, the news item was saying that most of the 100 had been accounted for.
    I understand the changing nature of such details, for this to happen once, but for the same dramatic promo’s to repeated before their next couple of half hourly news bulletins, is nothing but poor performance, or at worst outright sensationalism.

  14. Nine’s ridiculous insistence ensure I reach for the on putting the watermark smack bang across the middle of the screen means you can’t see whatever the video for the ‘first’ is.

  15. 7 Sydney tonight claiming to be “a special one-hour edition…”
    It’s been one hour for weeks. Still 15 mins of news padded out with sport, promos for other network’s programs (Ellen), regurgitated TT fillers and 15 mins of commercials.

  16. Here in QLD Seven (6:10pm) just has ‘Breaking News’ about a prisoner being recaptured, it was just the presenter reading the details. Only problem is just over an hour before TEN has the story, complete with footage and a reporter. So much for Seven’s breaking news.

  17. The use of the “First” nomenclature sits equally with the level of journalist skills.; puerile. “First” is becoming as common as “Now” as the first word in a sentence from a reporter ‘live’ in the newsroom.

    Thank god for the remote control.

  18. I’d be curious to know how many “exclusives” there are using cameraphone footage that was given to them from the public. I’ts too easy now for news to put a callout on Facebook and ask viewers to email footage of storms etc. Should the person taking the footage be paid for their work? I think they should.

  19. I get so confused watching 9 and 7 news shows with their first crap! The only network so far that i trust it’s an exclusive to the network would be Channel 10 news and thats because they are rarley done, and when done it’s something out of the ordinary which others dont seem to show.

  20. Who really cares about first or exclusive? A good news service would leave this mind-numbing race for ratings alone and promote itself as fair, balanced, accurate and reliable even if 5 minutes later than its rivals!

  21. I was watching something the other day with this huge WIN GO ! logo in bright pink, not even semi-transparent. I remember when they first brought in these ridiculous watermarks, and now they are getting bigger and more obtrusive.

  22. Commercial stations long ago stopped showing the news….now they show what the neighbours or someone walking passed thought they saw. They show where else you can see them,Facebook,Twitter or follow us on ….. what other gadget?

    The other problem is do i really need to see some footage shot from someones phone?

    Oh and by the way doing a story about someone in a show that is coming to your network is not news?

    My biggest annoyance is they think newsworthy is how many hits something on You Tube has?

    Sorry David!

  23. Australian news networks are so messed up these days, I don’t know why you people still watch this crap.

    You don’t see any of these type of shenanigans going on with American or Canadian networks.

  24. News24 has its uses, but whoever is responsible for the bottom of the screen (whatever it’s called) headlines must either be asleep, or goes home by 6.00pm. Nothing is ever updated, very little is expanded into a ‘real’ story (so you never find out the details), it’s just the same stuff over and over again all evening.

    e.g. recently they gave basic results of the daytime tennis matches, but nothing about Tomic’s winning match played in the evening. Nuthin’ – zip. Even when I turned it off at 11.30pm, nothing had been updated.

    As for the watermark issue – who cares who’s first. I find the commercial TV networks just pathetic in their ridiculous rivalries – it’s all about them. Never about their viewers.

  25. @Secret Squirrel
    Damn it Faramir, you’ve beaten me to the draw again! :-)
    As I read the above article I kept wondering why it was relevant to any thinking person, as surely those viewers with any discrimination would not be watching commercial TV for their news.
    It’s like the unceasing stream of stories about that breast feeding “brouhaha”, wtf cares?
    How do these ‘nothing’ stories get so overblown?

  26. Secret Squirrel

    What surprises me the most is the number of apparently intelligent and erudite commenters below who are obviously still watching 7 or 9 “news” despite being irritated so much by the watermarks. There are so many better alternatives (such as snorting a line of ants or hitting yourself with a hammer).

  27. With unnecessary captions obscuring the lower 1/3rd of the screen, and silly deceptive “First”/”Only”/”Exclusive” graphics it’s hard to see the picture – which is why I get my news from ABC24 now – who is usually “first” anyway. That TEN News First on Seven is a classic.

  28. I completely ignore this ‘First’ and ‘Exclusive’ rubbish. As long as I get the news, I do not care who shows it a few seconds earlier than the other. What I am absolutely sick of is that every single news story has multiple puns throughout. It is unnecessary, embarrassing and unprofessional.

    And what is with the use of slang on the news now such as ‘servo’ or ‘crim’. How about ‘service station’, or ‘criminal’. Why do we have to dumb down the news so much? Do not get me started on the quality of the articles on AdelaideNow. It is a total embarrassment, no spell checking, no grammar checks, no fact checking. Dreadful.

  29. Well I remember from Times I’ve gone into the city and they have had Camera’s out for an event the only way that you can see whom the camera belongs to is the external microphone with there sign on it, apart from that there really is no way to tell as personalities do move around a fair bit.

  30. It does not sit well with me when they use the word First during a story that is a tragedy. Its like they are bragging about bringing this tragedy to you first.

  31. Is anyone else rather disgusted to see the commercial networks using news stories to advertise their news programming too?

    Their overblown “See it first…” and “Experience is the difference” ads that pop up during shows tend to use clips of reporters speaking about recent, high-profile, usually sensitive stories.

    They can advertise their news by all means (I’ll still get mine from the ABC, SBS, and online services I trust, thanks), but stories about murders, crimes, deaths etc. need to be reported on appropriately, not used as advertising material.

  32. Nine run news promos in the evening with a few seconds from some stories of the day and transition each with First on Nine and end with see it first on Nine. None of the stories shown are first on Nine just general news.

    Another tactic is to run a fluff piece that no other news service else is interested in with First on Nine across it.

  33. I think the media watchdog needs to step in and put all the channels in place when it comes to things like these, they all seem to do what they want. In the advertising arena wouldn’t this be classified as ‘false advertising’ etc? we as viewers deserve to know the truth and not be tricked by the networks in regards to news fullstop.

  34. bashing the networks is so 2012, but your point is correct, Nine are bad for it, but the others are just as bad… onlu makes me laugh that in at least the example you have given in the Channel 7…that credibilty would be bought into question…when you can clearly see the TEN Super… i shot a massive fire this one time (over 15 years ago), and was the only mainstream media there, and our opposition ran “exclusive” on their vision shot by a guy 10metres behind me with his handycam… the funny thing was that i was in every shot of their story… so my point being its been happening forever…

  35. I was very annoyed when Ch 9 showed some fire footage of Victoria the other day with that annoying watermark banner across the middle, along with the regular news frames/logos/banners around it. If it wasn’t for the 3 pixels to the far top right side corner of the screen, I wouldn’t have been able to see the flicker of fire. So I turned the TV off and continued to listen to the radio for fire updates.

  36. jezza the first original one

    Ch7 & 9 news are crap anyway so who cares if one of them gets a crappy news story to air 10 seconds quicker than the other. The only positive about their 6pm news is that it is about the only show that starts on time. There are so many news sources these days that their shows are largely irrelevant to the vast majority of the population

  37. carolemorrissey

    I find it so irritating when watching the news on either 9 or 7 seeing that big banner across the screen saying first on. It’s distracting and usually bullshit.

  38. I dislike it when channel nine writes in big white letters accross the screen first on nine. It detracts from the story and is quite annoying. I ignore the story because it is going too far. Nowadays because of its overuse the more a news story saysnfirst on or exclusive I am less likely to believe it or care.

  39. Those supers look nearly identical between seven and nine. They should just produce the one news service between themselves and just individually change the logo on the footage as it goes to air.

  40. You’re possibly missing the point. It’s advertising, nothing more…

    After all, it’s Important that you, the viewer, sees something First – wouldn’t want to be the Loser that sees it Second, would you? So you watch Nine News because you’ve always seen that it’s First on Nine.

    Or maybe I’m simply too cynical to watch much TV news…

  41. Most times when I see ‘first on…’ its just a turn off for me, especially when it’s plated across the center of the screen making it all but impossible to see the footage they are trying to promote.

    I get the need to protect their footage/story but their should be a better way.

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