The Ten Network has pulled the pin on its current affairs flagship 6.30 With George Negus.
Perceiving some public frustration with the often-tacky, high-rotation style of journalism employed by long-running programs Today Tonight and A Current Affair, Ten last year hired veteran journalist George Negus to front the new show that promised a more substantial style of reporting. Also signed up for the program were reporters Hamish Macdonald and Hugh Riminton.
6PM With George Negus was launched in January to a modest public response – attracting 606,000 viewers across the five cities on its first night – but failed to maintain any sort of positive ratings momentum and its figures would continue to fall. A timeslot and name change to 6.30 failed to make any significant gains against the Seven and Nine network giants and even at times struggled to keep above the ratings of Neighbours, the program that it replaced that had been shifted to digital channel Eleven.
Last night 6.30 With George Negus was watched by 340,000 viewers compared to A Current Affair’s 875,000 and Today Tonight’s 1,143,000. Neighbours on Eleven was watched by 295,000.
The final edition of 6.30 With George Negus goes to air on 28 October. Starting the following Monday will be an expanded one-hour format for The 7PM Project – now to start at 6.30pm and be re-named The Project.
Negus will continue to work in an advisory role with Ten’s news and current affairs programs and will return to his former role as a regular panelist on The Project.
In a media statement released today Negus said:
“Working on 6.30 has been incredibly fulfilling. From reporters to production crew, we have worked together to bring viewers a high quality, soil-breaking program and some of the year’s biggest stories and interviews. We are immensely proud of all we have achieved. The truth is that unfortunately a program like 6.30 was ahead of its time, but who knows about the future?”
“Though sadly 6.30 has come to an end, I’m looking forward to getting back with my mates at The Project. They’ve also broken new ground with their irreverent approach to what’s going on around us, it’s my kind of tongue-in-cheek program.”
The cancellation of 6.30 With George Negus comes after the recent axing of Ten Late News and the stand-alone edition of Sports Tonight. The network has also axed its long-running music program Video Hits and walked away from any further commitment to broadcasting AFL.
Ten has a new CEO, James Warburton, and News Director, Anthony Flannery, starting in the new year.
It could be safe to say for now that no one is actually safe in the industry.