Two months to the day since launching its radical news overhaul, Network Ten has today made some significant changes in response to poor ratings figures.
The network knew from the January launch that the ratings would be a struggle but had perhaps not quite expected them to settle where they have. In last night’s ratings, 6PM With George Negus was watched by 335,000 viewers across the five major capitals, compared to Nine News (974,000) and Seven News (1,190,000). The Evening News was watched by 337,000 compared to A Current Affair (921,000) and Today Tonight (1,144,000).
From Monday 4 April, 6PM With George Negus moves to the 6.30pm timeslot (and re-titled accordingly) as the 6.30 news half-hour essentially moves to 6.00pm as an extension of the existing 5.00pm news hour.
The change will now see the serious George Negus (pictured) program placed directly up against tabloids Today Tonight and A Current Affair – two programs whose ongoing rivalry hit new lows this week as each program accused the other of pinching footage, a public battle that could well end up in the courts after ACA played an interview conducted by TT without any attribution or commentary.
The changes to Ten’s 6.00pm hour will not result in any job losses as the newsreading roster will be adjusted accordingly – in particular, Melbourne’s 6.30 newsreader Mal Walden goes back to the 5.00pm bulletin while Sydney’s Sandra Sully (pictured) moves back to the national late night bulletin.
Ten’s programming chief David Mott said in a media release that the change is due to audience response to the news line-up:
“We are making this alteration in the early evening news schedule based on feedback from viewers who value competitive, intelligent and incisive news and public affairs programs. We are strong supporters of quality news, comment and analysis and believe that Network Ten should remain a leading player in this space.”
Earlier this month Ten was forced to reinstate its 5.00pm national news bulletin on weekends after it suddenly moved the bulletin to 6.00pm, leading to rival Nine starting up its own 5.00pm weekend bulletin to fill the gap.
The changes may be seen as a premature panic move – inspiring changes to news viewing habits requires a lot of time and Ten had previously promised its commitment to this line-up “for the long haul” – but the audience appears to have spoken and Ten have taken that on board. Now it will be up to those viewers to justify the changes that have been made.
Source: Ten Network