No news is good news for Thiele

TVQ10 Brisbane newsreader Marie-Louise Thiele has announced she is leaving Ten News after 17 years so she can spend more time with her family. A former print journalist, the mother of three is signing-off from the Brisbane bulletin for the last time in December.

Ms Thiele began reading the 6.00pm Ten Eyewitness News bulletin for TVQ10 in 1991 at a time when Network Ten was recovering from a financial fall-out. Thiele followed the bulletin as it returned to its former one-hour format, and then moved to the 5.00pm timeslot the following year.

In 1994, Thiele relocated to Melbourne to replace Jo Pearson at the Melbourne ATV10 newsdesk alongside David Johnston (pictured above). Two years later she returned to Ten News in Brisbane.

Despite reading the news for seventeen years – Ms Thiele will unfortunately be remembered mostly for one incident where she was caught on-air after the end of a commercial break – having a conversation with colleague Geoff Mullins – and referring to her husband as “this arsehole I’m married to”, though Thiele now says the incident was barely a “blip on the radar”.

A replacement for Ms Thiele has yet to be announced.

Source: The Australian

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More moves in the TV neighbourhood

As we know by now, the Nine Network has put its 50-year-old studios in Sydney and Melbourne on the market – but it seems that it is not only Nine that is selling up its history to raise a few dollars into the bank account…

The BBC‘s iconic Television Centre, located in London’s west, has been the national broadcaster’s studio base for over 50 years and the corporation has been given approval by the BBC Trust to sell the premises, expected to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

The decision to sell is part of BBC’s widespread cost-cutting program which will also see staff numbers slashed and a reduction in the number of new productions being commissioned. The cuts are a response to the national broadcaster’s anticipated reduction of income from household licence fees.

BBC purchased 13 acres of land at Shepherd’s Bush, west of London in 1949 and after some delays commenced construction of the building in 1951. The Television Centre was officially opened in 1960 but had hosted some television production when the complex was still partially-completed. The building’s unusual design was inspired by architect Graham Dawbarn who recalled that he drew the triangular shape of the site on the back of an envelope and inside the shape drew a question mark – and realised that the question mark would be the design of the building. The envelope is now kept in BBC’s archives.

The Television Centre, now comprising twelve studios, was home to many famous BBC programs including Top Of The Pops, Blue Peter, The Goodies, Dr Who, The Two Ronnies, Absolutely Fabulous, Keeping Up Appearances, The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain. The studio facilities have also been used for some programs for rival networks Channel 4 and ITV.

Sources: Media Guardian, Unofficial history of BBC Television Centre,

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7HD creeps onto the screen

The Seven Network has undertaken possibly the quietest new channel launch in the history of television with its launch of the high-definition channel 7HD quietly sneaking onto air at 10.30pm last night.

In an industry which is more commonly known for making a song-and-dance of any minor achievement, the fact that a new channel can be launched with barely a whisper is quite astounding. The network chose to wait until today to flaunt their new arrival in a press release which seems worded very much like thumbing their nose up at rivals Nine and Ten by beating their high-definition channels to air – even though 7HD at this point is only offering a couple of hours each night of exclusive programming.

Seven was runner-up in announcing their new channel – just days after Ten made a big announcement of their HD channel to launch in December – and at the time Seven had very little to say about their HD venture, so the last few weeks have probably seen Seven playing ‘catch-up’ to get their HD channel up and running and to be able to be first out of the three networks to do so, even if only by a few weeks.

Programs on 7HD for the remainder of this week include movies Solaris, I Love You Don’t Touch Me and Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale, and a first-run series The Grid – programming that doesn’t quite excite the masses but is at least a welcome step towards full commercial multi-channels which thanks to legislation has been severely lacking in the first six years of digital television.

For more about 7HD: What’s On The Tube, TV Tonight, Give Me The Remote

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Station breakdown

The website is currently off-line for reasons out of my control. Normal transmission will be resumed as soon as possible

UPDATE 15.10.07: Normal transmission has been resumed

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Telethon weekend hits Perth

This weekend, 13 and 14 October, Perth’s annual Telethon returns for its 40th year.

The appeal, raising funds for various children’s charities in Western Australia, began on TVW7 in 1968 and is now a statewide event through TVW7 and its regional affiliate Golden West Network (GWN).

The first Telethon raised $90,182. Since then over $74 million has been raised by the annual event. Previous telethons have featured international performers such as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson in the ’80s, both making the trip to Perth solely for Telethon.

This year’s telethon will kick-off with a live coverage of the red carpet arrivals at Perth’s Convention Exhibition Centre which is home to Telethon. A number of Seven Network personalities, representing shows including All Saints, Dancing With The Stars, Sunrise, Home & Away and The Morning Show, have made the trek to Perth to be involved with the event, joining resident TVW7 identities including local Seven News presenters Rick Ardon, Susannah Carr and Jeff Newman (a TVW7 veteran with 40 years’ service at the station) and Today Tonight host Monika Kos.

The telecast of Telethon begins on TVW7 and GWN, tonight (Saturday 13 October) at 7.30pm (WST) and continues until 9.00pm Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Weekend Sunrise will be broadcast nationally from Perth.

The PerthNow website is also conducting a blog of the event at Telethon As It Happens.

Pictured: Johnny O’Keefe (whose nephew Andrew, host of Deal Or No Deal and Weekend Sunrise, will be appearing at Telethon), Graham Kennedy, Bobby Limb and Stuart Wagstaff go shirtless in the name of charity for TVW7’s first telethon in 1968 (source: The West Australian)

UPDATE @ 23.10 (AEST) 14.10.07: Telethon has just signed-off after announcing its final total, a record this year – $6,527,576 including $1 million donated by the WA Government, and $500,000 from Prime Minister John Howard.

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Nine and Foxtel score Olympic win

The Nine Network and Foxtel have announced that they have secured the exclusive Australian broadcast rights to the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics from London.

It is the first time Nine has televised the Summer Olympics since it shared coverage rights with ABC and Seven in 1976. Seven has had exclusive rights to the Summer games in 1980, 1992, 1996 and 2000, and shared coverage with SBS for 2004 and 2008. Network Ten covered the games in 1984 and 1988.

The 2010 and 2012 deal incorporates broadcast, subscription, internet and mobile coverage rights. Mobile carrier Telstra is a part-owner in Foxtel, as is Publishing and Broadcasting Limited which is also a part-owner of Nine. The new deal should see a multi-channel bonanza as Foxtel has demonstrated with previous coverage of the Commonwealth Games, and with Nine’s promise of a new digital channel to be launched later this year and under current legislation could have another one on the air in 2009.

The announcement is no doubt a welcome boost to sinking morale at Nine which has suffered all sorts of behind-the-scenes drama and the loss of its long-time ratings crown since the passing of Kerry Packer in 2005.

In the meantime, new Nine CEO David Gyngell is also on the hunt for new game show formats at the international television conference Mipcom to add to Nine’s schedule following the recent popularity of game shows such as Deal Or No Deal which is crippling Nine’s critical lead-in to the 6.00pm news.

Source: Foxtel,

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Moving house is never easy

Anyone that has packed up and moved house will know that it is never always a smooth ride – and it is somewhat comforting to know that even the mighty Nine Network is not immune to these sorts of problems.

The Australian reports that the network was hoping to attract a buying price of around $100 million for the prime piece of real estate which currently houses TCN9 in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby. Their hopes of such a windfall could well be dashed now following the realisation that the transmission tower situated on the property – which broadcasts all three commercial channels for the Sydney area – can not be relocated. Joe Giovenco, chief of TX Australia which owns the tower on behalf of the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, said that the tower has to stay put otherwise viewers would be forced to re-align their antennas and moving the tower could impact on its signal strength across the city.

Also potentially affecting the site’s value is the proposal by the local Willoughby council that redevelopment of the site shall be limited to low-residential housing, with “medium to higher density housing to the centre and east parts of the site” – a prospect that does little to inspire a higher buying price.

In the meantime, the potential sale of Nine’s iconic studio building in Melbourne is also causing some action among the local council. The City Of Yarra is investigating planning options for the site should it be sold. The building, which was a piano factory and then a soup factory before it became “Television City” for GTV9 in 1956, is already covered by a heritage overlay which prevents any external redevelopment of the building structure. The sale of the building could see the building’s heritage status reviewed.

Nine is hoping that the GTV site in Bendigo Street, Richmond would attract a price of around $10 million given its inner-city location, though this figure may vary depending on what heritage restrictions are placed on the site by the council.

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TelevisionAU Website Update 2-Oct-07

FLASHBACK #43: TV’s Movie Men
Some of the people that introduced our favourite movies on television became just as famous as the movies they spoke about.

TV Week, 19 September 1987

Melbourne (1967, 1984)
Melbourne and regional Victoria (1967)
Sydney (1961, 1975, 1981, 1984)
Canberra (1962)
Brisbane (1977, 1980)
Darwin (1998)
Hobart (1960)


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Nine gets Gyngell, and says “me too” to HD

For those at the Nine Network there must be a sigh of relief as the network announces the return of former chief David Gyngell to the fold after three years in the United States.

Gyngell’s return comes after some high-profile executive departures including the stepping-down of former CEO Eddie McGuire and resignation of news chief Garry Linnell.

David, the son of TV pioneer Bruce Gyngell, was in charge of Nine in 2004-05 but resigned after citing interference from senior management at Nine’s parent company PBL. But now, PBL’s new off-shoot PBL Media, which controls Nine’s east coast stations as well as regional operator NBN and Nine Darwin, is a different beast under the control of private equity firm CVC and after conceding defeat to Seven this year, Gyngell has been lured back to try and steer the network back to ratings leadership.

With Gyngell in control, and some promising programs from its supply deal with its American contacts, the network is facing a new optimism going into 2008. Also hoping to boost Nine’s fortunes in 2008 will be their new high-definition channel which has been announced by PBL Media chief Ian Law.

The new channel has apparently been in planning for some time though Mr Law has still been vague about what Nine has in store for the new channel which is apparently launching as soon as November – a month ahead of similar channels planned by rivals Seven and Ten which were announced weeks ago.

There is also some doubt about Nine’s ability to provide a dedicated high-definition program feed given their lack of expenditure to upgrade equipment in the past and also not having control over their whole five-city network – aspects which both Seven and Ten are ahead in. Nine has announced an upgrade of equipment worth $150 million but it is hard to envisage that being in place by November.

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Kate’s leaving Summer Bay

The end of an era in soap-opera land with Kate Ritchie – a soap veteran at the age of 29 – deciding to leave Home And Away after twenty years playing former foster child Sally Fletcher.

Ritchie, then aged 9, was part of the show’s original cast line-up and with fellow cast member Ray Meagher has hit the record books for the longest running characters in an Australian series.

Her departure from the long running series comes after a year that has included a stint as co-host on the drive-time program on radio network Nova, co-hosting Seven‘s popular It Takes Two, and winning the TV Week Gold Logie for most popular television personality. She will be taping her final scenes later this year, but will be appearing on-air until around April next year – which could be enough to inspire TV Week’s younger readership to vote her for another Gold Logie.

Ritchie is reported to be maintaining ties with the Seven Network while pursuing other interests.

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