- 14 jobs go with the closure of the NSW Government’s Media Monitoring Unit.
- Sources say this leaves the government vulnerable nine months out from a state election.
- Ministers’ offices will be without critical information.
The NSW Government, facing an election in the next nine months, is dismantling its Media Monitoring Unit, potentially making it slower to react to breaking news.
The move will mean the loss of 14 jobs within the next two weeks and an end to a service which started 34 years ago.
The unit, using a team to monitor television and radio broadcasts, and scan the internet and newspapers, creates up to eight NSW-centric news summary bulletins each day.
Government sources say the move, designed to cuts costs, came from the the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The sources say a consultant brought in after the fact described the plan as “catastrophic”, and will reduce the government’s ability to react fast the breaking news, especially when it comes from talk-back radio.
“The press secretaries weren’t consulted. They were as surprised as anyone. The whole thing came out of the Premier’s [department],” an insider told Business Insider.
“The government isn’t long out from an election and so minister’s offices will be without critical information which is a problem.”
As part of the process to get rid of the monitoring unit, long-time media monitoring supplier Isentia has been dislodged by a relatively new players Meltwater.
Isentia had provided the whole of Australia coverage, while the local media monitoring unit concentrated on local NSW issues and building the news summaries around the interests of ministers.
Sources say Meltwater, confronted by the size of the job, is now seeking to vary the terms of the original $9 million, three-year contract.
Business Insider understands the department’s plan had been to use a commercial provider instead of an in-house unit, but none of the industry players could provide the same level of service.
A spokesperson for the Department of Premier and Cabinet confirmed that Meltwater Australia was awarded the whole-of-government media monitoring contract after a competitive tender process because “they offered both savings and innovation”.
But the spokesman didn’t answer questions about the closure of the state government’s own Media Monitor Unit.
Meltwater said: “As a matter of policy, Meltwater does not comment on the terms of client agreements. We are happy to be engaging with the NSW Government on its Media Monitoring services.”
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