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Paul Lobb sacked from reading Newcastle news on NBN just before Christmas

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Outraged television viewers have launched a social media campaign for the reinstatement of a beloved newsreader who was sacked just days before Christmas

Popular Newcastle personality Paul ‘Lobby’ Lobb had read NBN’s 6pm news bulletin for more than a decade alongside fellow presenter Natasha Beyersdorf before his sudden removal.

Nine Entertainment, which owns NBN, sacked Lobb without warning two and a half  weeks ago, announcing he would be replaced by weatherman Gavin Morris. 

Morris, who has a larger-than-life action-man image and is seen as a long-term asset by Nine, will continue to present the weather as well as reading the news with Beyersdorf. 

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The move stunned Lobb’s loyal audience in northern New South Wales who launched a change.org petition demanding his return three days after his sacking. 

Outraged television viewers have launched a social media campaign for the reinstatement of  beloved Newcastle newsreader Paul ‘Lobby’ Lobb who was sacked shortly before Christmas.  Lobb’s loyal audience launched a  change.org petition demanding his reinstatement

Nine Entertainment, which owns NBN, sacked Lobb without warning almost three weeks ago and announced he would be replaced by weatherman Gavin Morris, who will now read the news with Natasha Beyersdorf. Morris and Beyersdorf are pictured

Nine Entertainment, which owns NBN, sacked Lobb without warning almost three weeks ago and announced he would be replaced by weatherman Gavin Morris, who will now read the news with Natasha Beyersdorf. Morris and Beyersdorf are pictured 

Outraged viewers have demanded Paul Lobb return to their screens to deliver the news. 'Paul is the face our news in Newcastle,' one wrote on social media. 'We want him back'

Outraged viewers have demanded Paul Lobb return to their screens to deliver the news. ‘Paul is the face our news in Newcastle,’ one wrote on social media. ‘We want him back’

Some of those to sign the petition have taken to unfairly attacking Lobb’s replacement Morris, with one complaining about the way he pronounces ‘satellite’. 

Angry viewers have threatened to boycott the station as they mourn the loss of ‘a true gentleman’, ‘highly respected newsreader’, ‘born and bred Novocastrian’ and ‘good bloke’. 

‘I just want to say NBN have lost the plot,’ one social media commenter wrote.

‘I’m unsure which direction you’re hoping to take the news, but Paul is our familiar hometown news reader, who was a wonderful, articulate, beautiful natured person.

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‘We might as well just watch the Sydney news with people we have no connection with. So upset by this news.’

Lobb, who had worked as a journalist for NBN for 23 years, responded to his sacking in a video statement released by local marketing company Out of the Square Media on Wednesday.  

In his message Lobb thanked viewers for their loyalty and confirmed his sacking had left him blindsided.

‘After many happy years of bringing you the news I was just as surprised as you were recently to find out that my time on the desk was over,’ Lobb said.

Angry viewers have threatened to boycott the station as they mourn the loss of 'a true gentleman', 'highly respected newsreader', 'born and bred Novocastrian' and 'good bloke'. Lobb is pictured left with weatherman Gavin Morris and fellow anchor Natasha Beyersdorf

Angry viewers have threatened to boycott the station as they mourn the loss of ‘a true gentleman’, ‘highly respected newsreader’, ‘born and bred Novocastrian’ and ‘good bloke’. Lobb is pictured left with weatherman Gavin Morris and fellow anchor Natasha Beyersdorf

‘I just wanted to let you know that from my days on the road reporting and bringing you the stories of the region through to presenting the news, I have loved every minute.

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‘And in recent weeks your messages of support and love have been truly incredible.

Paul Lobb’s heartfelt statement to viewers 

‘Hello, it’s Lobby here.

After many happy years of bringing you the news I was just as surprised as you were recently to find out that my time on the desk was over.

I just wanted to let you know that from my days on the road reporting and bringing you the stories of the region through to presenting the news, I have loved every minute.

And in recent weeks your messages of support and love have been truly incredible.

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From reaching out to me personally on social media. Wow, there was even a petition that thousands off you signed so thank you, I feel so grateful.

So what’s next? Well, I am going to take a bit of a break but hopefully I will be seeing you somewhere soon.

Thank you again for your love and support and bye for now.’

Source: Out of the Square Media 

‘From reaching out to me personally on social media. Wow, there was even a petition that thousands off you signed so thank you, I feel so grateful.

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‘So what’s next? Well, I am going to take a bit of a break but hopefully I will be seeing you somewhere soon.’

Lobb’s sacking is seen as part of a cost-cutting exercise being foisted on the regional station by its capital city masters. 

Nine management has continued to downsize NBN’s operations in Newcastle and let go more than 20 station employees in the past 12 months. 

The Newcastle news is now controlled out of Brisbane. 

Lobb’s brother Andy Lobb was removed on July 12 as the NBN newsroom’s long-serving chief-of-staff, along with head of news Blake Doyle.

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Reporter Olivia Grace Curran was brought in from Adelaide to replace Andy Lobb and Perth’s Darius Winterfield was promoted to director of regional news.

The station moved from its home of almost 60 years in Mosbri Crescent to new studios at the harbourside Honeysuckle precinct in early November. 

Viewers have complained of technical difficulties plaguing the bulletin ever since, noting audio problems and awkward pauses between the increased number of live crosses.   

The NBN bulletin now also opens with the Nine news theme music, an edited version of a piece known as Tar Sequence from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke. 

The high-rating NBN bulletin is broadcast through the Hunter and covers northern NSW, inland across the New England region and into parts of the state’s north-west. 

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Kylie Blucher, Nine’s managing director in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, described Lobb’s sacking as a consolidation of NBN’s news presenting line-up.

In an email to NBN staff on December 13 Ms Blucher said the decision did not reflect on Lobb’s significant contribution to the station and had been ‘a tough one to announce’.

Weatherman Gavin Morris, who has a larger-than-life action-man image and is seen as an asset by Nine, will continue to present the weather as well as reading the news with Natahsa Beyersdorf (pictured). Beyersdorf has co-anchored the NBN news since mid 2006

Weatherman Gavin Morris, who has a larger-than-life action-man image and is seen as an asset by Nine, will continue to present the weather as well as reading the news with Natahsa Beyersdorf (pictured). Beyersdorf has co-anchored the NBN news since mid 2006

Lobb was named journalist of the year in 2008 at the Northern NSW Journalism Awards for his reports on the grounding of the Pasha Bulker cargo ship on Nobbys Beach the previous year. He is pictured right with veteran Nine journalist Ray Martin

Lobb was named journalist of the year in 2008 at the Northern NSW Journalism Awards for his reports on the grounding of the Pasha Bulker cargo ship on Nobbys Beach the previous year. He is pictured right with veteran Nine journalist Ray Martin

‘Paul has been front and centre in loungerooms across Northern New South Wales delivering the local, national, and international stories our audience depends on,’ she wrote.

‘Over the past decade Lobby had built an enviable relationship with our viewers based on trust and his recognised commitment to the news.

‘It’s not only the audience who have come to love and trust Lobby, for nearly 24 years he has always been the first one to put his hand up to lend-a-hand, support his mates, and always does it with a smile on his face.’

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Blucher said she expected Morris, a keen surfer and paraglider who has been NBN’s weatherman for 13 years, to be a success as Lobb’s replacement.

‘I have every confidence that Gavin will be embraced by the audience in this new role and alongside Natasha deliver continued success for NBN News,’ she wrote.

How viewers reacted to Paul ‘Lobby’ Lobb’s brutal sacking

Lobb began his career at NBN in 1993 as a trainee librarian and chyron operator - responsible for the text that runs at the bottom of the screen during news broadcasts

Lobb began his career at NBN in 1993 as a trainee librarian and chyron operator – responsible for the text that runs at the bottom of the screen during news broadcasts

‘Paul is such a gentleman and a born and bred Novocastrian. This is poor form NBN.’

‘Paul is a much loved and professional part of the Newcastle family.’

‘We love Lobby.’

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‘We need relatable humans on our television. Lobby is one of them.’

‘I love him.’

‘A really poor choice from new management. Paul Lobb is a highly respected newsreader, such a silly decision.’

‘What has he done to deserve that?’

‘Lobby is a good bloke who has been part of the Newcastle landscape for over 2 decades.’

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‘This man is Newcastle, our news presenter, our family every night. He cannot be dropped, he cannot be replaced.’

‘Let’s hurt them with the ratings. Don’t watch the nine news.’

‘That’s another reason not to watch the NBN News.’

‘This is such a waste of such a talented caring person – although if a company treats staff so poorly with such disrespect would you really want to return to work under that type of management.’

‘Paul is not only a newsreader but an ambassador for your company.’

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‘Paul Lobb is a top bloke and an awesome news reader. He deserves to be back on NBN. The news is not the same without him.’

‘We need relatable humans on our television. Lobby is one of them.’

Lobb began his career at NBN in 1993 as a trainee librarian and chyron operator – responsible for the text that runs at the bottom of the screen during news broadcasts.

He became a reporter in 1998 working out of the station’s Port Macquarie office.

In 2008 he was named journalist of the year at the Northern NSW Journalism Awards for his reports on the grounding of the Pasha Bulker cargo ship on Nobbys Beach the previous year.

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Lobb was a back-up newsreader for several years before joining Beyersdorf on the desk permanently in December 2010 when local broadcasting legend Ray Dinneen retired.

Dinneen had been at the news desk since joining Murray Finlay in 1975 and over the decades was paired with Anna Manzoney, Tracey Reid, Chris Bath, Melinda Smith and then from mid 2006 Beyersdorf. 

Lobb was a back-up newsreader for several years before joining Beyersdorf on the desk permanently in December 2010 when local broadcasting legend Ray Dinneen retired. Dinneen (pictured) had been reading the news on NBN since 1975

Lobb was a back-up newsreader for several years before joining Beyersdorf on the desk permanently in December 2010 when local broadcasting legend Ray Dinneen retired. Dinneen (pictured) had been reading the news on NBN since 1975

One Newcastle media personality with several decades’ experience in the industry said Lobb was an outstanding newsreader who was unfortunate to lose his job. 

‘Newsreading in subjective in some ways in that you like people or you don’t,’ he said. 

‘But technically, he was flawless. Clear and clean. He was not sacked because he couldn’t do the job.’

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The insider said Lobb’s sacking came down to money, but it was likely the outgoing newsreader had not received a pay rise for years.

‘They wanted to cut someone,’ he said. 

‘Why him? Dunno. But I have two theories. 

‘They either focus-grouped and his replacement polled better. More likely, his replacement has been doing tons of crosses for Today and other Nine product.’

Another Newcastle media veteran said Lobb and Morris were both ‘top blokes’ but Morris might have been seen as providing better long-term value by Nine.

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‘Seems they didn’t want to keep on spending money on two readers,’ he said. 

‘Gav does weather as well as read news.

‘Lobby wasn’t a blonde female and is a bloke.’

The high-rating NBN bulletin is broadcast throughout the Hunter and covers northern NSW, inland across the New England region and into parts of the state's north-west. Newcastle is pictured

The high-rating NBN bulletin is broadcast throughout the Hunter and covers northern NSW, inland across the New England region and into parts of the state’s north-west. Newcastle is pictured

The television and radio veteran said most of NBN’s production problems were coming out of Brisbane. ‘

Sad days for the region, he said. 

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‘Accountants run the show.’

Former NBN cameraman David Threlfo signed the petition calling for Lobb’s reinstatement and fired off a broadside at the Nine network. 

‘Paul is one of the finest, most loyal, ethical and professional colleagues I’ve ever worked with,’ he wrote. 

‘This makes no sense. 

‘NBN News is only a brand name now as Nine Newcastle continues what appears to attack on our local news service. 

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‘Many would have seen the “new direction” of NBN News since July. Amplifying the negatives, finding drama where there is none, chasing coffins. 

‘This is why I resigned from NBN News recently…  Nine misread their amazing local viewers at their peril.’ 

Nine has been contacted for comment.

Beyersdorf will be joined at the news desk by Morris on January 31. 

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