Changes at Nine News in Melbourne announced Saturday will see longtime newsreader Peter Hitchener moving to weekend news in January.
Taking on the role of weeknight news anchors will be Alicia Loxley, who has been weekend newsreader for the last 12 years, and 60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort.
From a career starting in Brisbane, Hitchener joined TCN9 in Sydney in 1973, then moved to GTV9 in Melbourne. He hosted a game show, Gambit, before starting as newsreader of National Nine News in Melbourne on 1 July 1974.
By 1976 he was reading News Centre Nine in Melbourne in tandem with Brian Henderson in Sydney in a two-city bulletin. When the bulletin ended, Hitchener stayed on as newsreader beside Eric Pearce, who had come out of retirement.
In 1979, Hitchener became the weekend newsreader when Brian Naylor took over as chief newsreader. When Naylor retired in 1998, almost 25 years to this day, Hitchener was returned to the weeknight newsreader role.
Hugh Nailon, news director for Nine in Melbourne, said: “Alicia and Tom will bring a fresh dynamism to Melbourne viewers as they follow in the footsteps of Sir Eric Pearce, Brian Naylor and Peter Hitchener. We have big plans for 2024 and look forward to bringing viewers the most accurate and informative news that they have come to rely on from Nine News.
“We’re delighted that ‘Hitch’ will continue to be a valuable and much loved part of the Nine News Melbourne family. He has an unwavering passion for delivering news to Melbourne and we look forward to the wealth of experience he will continue to bring to our weekend broadcasts.”
Nine News in Melbourne has struggled to stay ahead of Seven News this year in the ratings but has been a consistent second. In the cut-throat world of television news despite Nine’s recent lavish celebration of Hitchener’s 50th anniversary at the network, its framing of this announcement more around the incoming team, with Hitchener’s move barely a footnote, sends a signal that ratings rather than Hitchener’s own intentions may have influenced this move.