Generations of regional Australians might remember being told to go to bed by a cartoon figure known as Prime Possum. But after decades that tradition could come to an end.
Seven West Media, the new owner of regional broadcaster Prime Media, is planning to drop the Prime and GWN brands from their markets in the coming months. The change, which will also count as a cost efficiency from the acquisition of Prime by Seven, will be made on June 6, ahead of the Commonwealth Games in mid-July.
Seven boss James Warburton said in an internal note to staff that the time was right to create “one brand”. From June 6, Seven will migrate viewers from Prime7 and GWN7 logos to a Seven logo.
“7NEWS will become the one brand across all the Prime7 News service and GWN7 News at the same time the other network changes take place,” Warburton said. “The opener graphic slide will still include “The voice of (market)” but under the 7NEWS brand. The language and content within our local content will naturally remain as we currently do.”
Warburton said microphone cubes will also be changed to 7NEWS as well as physical signage.
“We have set the Commonwealth Games as the moment that the Seven branding is reflected across the country, as together we continue to bring Australians closer to the moments that move us,” he said.
The move will come more than six months after the Kerry Stokes-controlled media company bought its regional affiliate Prime for $131.9 million. The deal allowed Seven, which aired shows such as SAS Australia and The Voice in regional areas on Prime, to sell national advertising packages to clients. Seven said at the time it would generate between $5 million and $10 million in cost savings annually. Seven has since spent the last six months integrating sales and other functions into the broader network.
The removal of the Prime brand from regional markets follows a similar move from WIN Corp which quietly dropped its name after securing a new long-term deal with affiliate partner Nine Entertainment Co (the owner of the masthead).
It is unclear whether it will mark the end, or a rebrand, of iconic figures like Prime Possum. Media sources familiar with the changes said a decision about Prime Possum and other key figures such as Doopa Dog and Fat Cat had not been made.
“I can recall a couple of generations of Australians have gone to bed as children to the tune of Prime Possum,” former Prime chair John Hartigan said in 2019 when Seven first tried to buy the regional media player.
“Prime Possum used to come on all the screens at 7.30pm and tell the kids to hop off to bed and invariably they took that direction so much so that many parents used to tape it and put it on earlier, thinking that kids would not recognise it at 6pm instead of 7.30pm, so that they had to oblige everything that Prime Possum did.”
The planned changes to the Prime name come as another regional broadcaster, Southern Cross Austereo, tries to sell its television assets. Seven West Media, affiliate partner Paramount (which own Network Ten), Anchorage Capital Partners, Allegro Funds Management were among the bidders lining up. However, it is unclear whether any actually bid by the May 13 deadline. Multiple sources have said Southern Cross is expecting to make about $70 million from the deal.
Source: Thanks smh.com