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.
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.
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.