kerryobrien After fifteen years as host of ABC’s The 7.30 Report, Kerry O’Brien (pictured) has decided it is time to move on.

In a statement issued yesterday, O’Brien said:

“Quite simply it’s time for a new chapter.  I’ve been in the pressure cooker of daily current affairs hosting and interviewing for 21 straight years including six years at Lateline, and it’s been something of a marathon.”

“It has been an absolute privilege to work with some of the most talented and dedicated professionals in the business, and I leave with confidence that the 7.30 Report will be at the heart of ABC News and Current Affairs coverage for years to come.”

“This has been a great year for the program, and it’s good to leave on a high note.”

O’Brien, who took over as host of The 7.30 Report when the state-based editions were replaced with a national edition in 1996, is planning to leave the program at the end of the year and take on a new role at the national broadcaster in 2011, though details of such have not been announced.

ABC general manager Mark Scott paid tribute to O’Brien’s contribution to the broadcaster, which included six years as host of Lateline before taking on the role of hosting The 7.30 Report:

“As the ABC approaches its 80th year, few journalists have played such an important role, for such a long time, with such integrity and distinction, as Kerry O’Brien.  On behalf of all of his colleagues, I want to thank Kerry for his tireless commitment to the best in ABC journalism through his leadership at The 7.30 Report.”

Some of O’Brien’s political interviews on The 7.30 Report have created headlines, particularly during election campaigns – this year eliciting an admission from opposition leader Tony Abbott that not everything he says on the campaign trail is “gospel truth”, and earlier this year copped an outburst from former prime minister Kevin Rudd after being questioned over the failure of the Copenhagen climate change summit.

This year O’Brien also scored an interview with US president Barack Obama.

In a career that dates back to 1966, O’Brien has also worked on ABC current affairs programs This Day Tonight and Four Corners, has served as a North American correspondent for the Seven Network and presented current affairs programs Public Eye and Face To Face for Network Ten.  He has also been host of many election nights, State and Federal, for ABC.

ABC’s director of news Kate Torney has said that a replacement host for The 7.30 Report is to be announced in due course.  Some of the names speculated as possible successors to O’Brien include Chris Uhlmann, Tony Jones, Leigh Sales and Virginia Trioli.

Source: The Age, ABC, Celebrity Speakers, The Australian

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