TEN takes time for News

Next week TEN begins a radical shake-up to its Prime Time schedule with the introduction of two news-based programmes from 6 – 7pm.

6pm with George Negus and TEN Evening News represent the biggest change in the network’s News output since introducing TEN News at Five in 1992. It is a move the network insists is not negotiable, regardless of onlookers who question its schedule of 2.5 hours of news and current affairs.

But TEN has always been a risk taker and sticking with The 7PM Project has paid off. TEN was also the first network to abandon the traditional Sunday night movie, which was subsequently followed by other commercial networks.

Chief Programming Officer David Mott told TV Tonight the figures warranted a major overhaul and News was the answer, reflecting a changing landscape.

“As far as we’re concerned, nothing really changes in terms of TEN as a Network. It’s just a change between 6 and 7,” he explains. “For those in the business that understand data and numbers and positions in the market, and globally where the trends are, there’s no question that the News strategy is sound and absolutely right.

“The strategy 20 years ago to move News from 6:00 to 5:00 and have an alternative from 6 – 7 was absolutely right at the time. But we’re talking a long time ago, pre-internet, pre-Foxtel and before the current landscape of multichanneling. So, it was a sound strategy then, but it is not a sound strategy now.”

The demographics for TEN may be well-positioned between 7pm and 10:30pm says Mott, but the 6 – 7pm hour was suffering a 20% Year on Year loss. With the introduction of ELEVEN, it was able to shift Neighbours and The Simpsons.

The network even considered other approaches such as rescheduling The Biggest Loser in their place.

“The fact is they are expensive franchises and also you’ve got them there for 12 or 13 weeks and then what do you do?” he asks.

“We looked at game shows, we looked at buying in other series. But it’s very clear that when people come home they want to see the News of the day.

“Once we had established that News was the right environment for there we started the lengthy discussions on what is the make-up of our various News programmes? We liken this to what happens in the US. Every major broadcaster in the US has News between 4:00 and 7:00 before their Entertainment schedule. So this is not new territory in a global sense.”

While the landscape has indeed changed, News Directors now face the challenge that many in the work force already know much of the daily news before they reach home. As many Australians work longer hours there are also many who are arriving home later than evening bulletins.

“When we look at 6 – 7 there’s a lot of people who do miss the 6:00 News and there’s about a million people every twenty minutes arriving home around Australia. If you come home at 6:15 you’ve missed the main news of the day,” says Mott.

“I would argue that the two News services on Seven and Nine are very, very good. They’re very solid News bulletins, but very similar, arguably, in Presenters and some of the graphic components.”

In television timing is everything. Nine, Seven and ABC have just reminded viewers of their commitment to News with their coverage of the Queensland floods. TEN will have its work cut out to ask viewers to re-evaluate the landscape. But it has poured more than $20m into hiring new journalists and producers.

Hugh Riminton, Hamish MacDonald, Emma Dallimore, Max Futcher, Danielle Isdale and Emily Rice have all joined 6PM with George Negus. It promises to give viewers a deeper understanding of the main stories of the day.

“What we’re looking to do is create a national programme that absolutely gives you all the news of the day, so that you won’t feel devalued in any way. We’re going to go deeper with the main stories. The end result is that by the end of 6PM with George Negus you will be more informed of the bigger stories and with a very clear indication of all of the main stories of the day.”

At 6:30pm local hosts -Sandra Sully, Mal Walden, Bill McDonald, Rebecca Morse and Narelda Jacobs- will present state-based bulletins.

“The 6:30 bulletin creates an opportunity. Yes you’ve got the World News on SBS, and you’ve got, what I would argue, are the very tabloid current affairs shows on Seven and Nine. The ABC really don’t have a lot to offer at 6:30. So we think there is a great chance for the 6:30 News to break ground there and find its feet early on,” he says.

“That feeds beautifully into the lighter tone of The 7PM Project.

Negus will no longer be a regular on 7PM, the show which gave TEN the confidence to move him to 6PM.

“It’s a loss to 7PM but certainly a significant gain at 6:00,” says Mott.

“I was at a bar with him one night having a few drinks over whether he was prepared to come on board, and I was amazed at the number of young kids who came up and were huge fans as a result of The 7PM Project.”

Next week TEN will find out whether the move will pay off. Knowing such a cultural move will require patience, Mott is outwardly pragmatic.

“We’ve all been around long enough to know it’s all about habit, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

6PM with George Negus and TEN Evening News begin Monday night.


  1. A great idea to have more in depth world news with the George Negus 6pm. But they just had a story about the usual Israeli Palestinian hatred. This is news that the lazy journalists put together. It has been going on for over 30 years so I hope it is not regurgitated again. Why not have more stories on what the people think of different news topics. Many people do not tweat so get their opinion on the camera. EG. Tony Abbot keeps ranting about the NBN. Yet 77% approve of the NBN so why do we have to re hear Abbots irrelevance?

  2. Toasted TV on ELEVEN would be a great idea and a Breakfast show similar to Sunrise and Today will air on TEN from 0600 to 0900, followed by the 9am News.

  3. @Tasmanian Devil: They are branding if you didn’t notice. Network 10, ONEHD, and 11, 5pm News, 7pm Project, and 6pm with George Negus. Or is this too subtle for you?

  4. What I like about this is that we have a network looking towards the furture/long time not a network only looking at the short term what will make that executive the most money at the time. TEN are looking at what is going to take time but in the end reap the rewards, I mean the main thing that always makes TEN come third is the fact it gets flogged 6-7 slot so by doing this its hoping to marginalise that gap. TEN have even stated that in this article, they expect to be number one over night but simply make the gap smaller. People get home at all different times and now TEN has them covered (like stated in the promotions) Finally a network has spent the time to set this up properly, get the right people and then market the hell out of it, because lets face it people will be hard to switch. At our house we will just keep the channel because during that time family come home, you cook dinner so TV is almost a back ground thing.

    Another thing you only have to look at nine and seven who all of a sudden now do their 4.30 news service for an hour, one did than the other followed, another throw against the wall to compete so TEN can’t win. Also that means we get 2hrs of news from 9 and 7 from 4.30 to 7 with game shows in the middle which IMO is more ridiculous (then again you can’t exactly call the 6.30-7 news)
    All I need from TEN is to move the Toasted TV to Eleven in the morning and put a morning/variety show of some type to compete with 7 & 9 and I’ll never change channels, and I’m sure if this is a success and I have no doubt it will be, they may just look at it.

  5. @Tasmanian de√il
    You’re absolutely right, I’m not using the word properly.
    That’s faintly embarrassing actually, I’m something of a pedant myself!

  6. @Secret Squïrrel
    This is not about me – or an issue between us for that matter.
    Go back and re-read the nasty blog you wrote to @Jay-Jay for absolutely no justifiable reason.
    If you’d explained your position then as you did in your latest blog there would have been no problem. I just can’t abide internet bullies – that’s why I weighed in.

    Anyay let’s all live and learn.

  7. My only request is. That since George will be on around dinner time. Can someone tell him to button his shirt up please. It may of got all the housewives back in the 60′ and 70’s all hot n bothered. But that was a 100 yrs ago. It’s all grey wrinkly and saggy now.

  8. Elliot Carver (James Bond villain-Tomorrow Never Dies, 2007 ) : “The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”

    George Negus in 6pm promo: “I’ve gotten away with asking just one question for a long time, why. I actually think its the best question any journalist can ask..”

  9. Secret Squïrrel

    @Steveany – I think we both know that there’s only one arbiter of comments on here.

    I have nothing against brevity providing it is an accurate summation. The trouble with just posting an overused netism such as “fail” is that it really adds nothing to the discussion.

    I presume that when you say that “we’ll all be watching”, you are in fact just referring to yourself.

    @Ben – I’m up for another round of the pot calling the kettle black if you are.

  10. To the people who keep complaining about 2.5 hours of News

    I say half your luck if You get to be at home in front of the TV from 5pm onwards. Personally i arrive home a little later than that and am looking forward to a 6.30 bulletin.

    I’m in Sydney so i get Sandra whom i love. I really enjoyed watching her on Ten Late News but the time slot kept changing day by day, 10.30 one night, 11.30 the other and then after that 10.50 ect ect so i grew tired of trying to ‘catch’ that bulletin.

    I think TEN’s CEO said himself, they only need 300,000 viewers to break even regarding the cost. I believe it’s a smart move. They couldn’t keep starting their prime time lineup with 15 yr old episodes of the Simpsons – ridiculous!!!

  11. Once upon a time, ACA and TT were state of the art news bulletins (somewhat). Each state had it’s own current affair editions. Until Today tonight went national (except Adelaide and Perth) in 2003.

    A Current Affair produced by WIN for Channel 9 in Adelaide and Perth was axed only just Nov 2009. Even Nine Network-owned Brisbane station had their own – named Extra – until it was axed after 18 years to make way for ‘This Afternoon’, in the lead up to 6pm. It lasted only 12 eps (2 weeks). And ACA is all national.

    May I wish TEN not only luck, but success.

    Until then, the ABC remains the only news service in Australia with integrity and quality journalism. (ABC24 over SKY News any day.) Only because commercial networks are no longer willing to afford proper “journalist”.

    Long live Kerry Packer. And lets take this moment to remember what Australians use to do: Wake up to Sunday. (1981-2008). Stay tune…

  12. @Tony
    Are you doubting the experience and credibility of Hugh Riminton – political correspondant, worked at Nine as reader, reporter and foreign correspondant and also worked for CNN.

    The other reporters have proved time and time again of their worth by covering the big news events for Ten and also having expereince as foreign correspondants.

  13. I’m going to watch this because i think negus is excellent at his job and asks the questions that should be asked! plus just the way he puts it to people is way we can all understand so im really looking forward to this cause im sick of perth 7 and 9 news hosts!! boring with no personality

  14. The interesting point to be made is that all the journalists ( apart from mcdonald), have been promoted from within the network. It poses an interesting question in terms of does the journalists working on negaus show have the crediability and skills to put forward the style of journalism that the show is trying to represent.

  15. My news watching habits won’t be changing just because TEN is doing more news at night. Wil continue to watch TEN News at 5 , switch to Seven at 6 for their news and then at 6.30 will watch Neighbours on ELEVEN.

    Good on them for trying something different, but I personally think that 2 and half hours of news is too much

  16. Goonies,

    The first thought I had when seeing that promo is TEN managed to get their hands on archived Nine Sixty Minutes footage to advertise their own product. Haha!

    PS: I’m on Secret Squïrrel’s side.

  17. The best thing about all this is the ad showing old school footage of Mr Negus with his shirt unbouttoned to the waist – who knew news was so sexy in the 70’s? ha ha ha

    Will we be getting a repeat performance for 2011?

  18. I say well done Ten for this and hope it does well for them. I usually watch Ten news at 5 and then 7 news at 6pm, but i’ll be watching Ten right through now. I have no time or tabloid trash at 6.30 so never have anything to watch. And i watch the 7PM Project instead of soaps or lame sitcoms. So it Ten for me from 5-7.30

  19. Fail.
    And hey, @SecretSquirrel – who died and made you the arbiter of how people register a comment on this site? I suppose You feel we could solve all of the world’s problems if, in place of brevity, we simply bat out your pseudo-intellectual brand of sarcasm-dipped smarta*sery instead?
    We’ll all be watching for your future comments to see if you practice the well-structured and deeply thought-out analysis you demand of others.

  20. I think this is way too much news.What Ten should have done is kept the news the way it was but introduce an hour of dating shows between 6 and 7pm followed by 7pm Project like what we had when News first went Five back in 1992 on 10 to keep the younger viewers happy.
    You can also now download your States Daily News Online to catch up with anything missed Newspapers.
    I see another Hinch or Alan Jones live coming in that it may last a while but could tank and we could go back to American Sitcoms at that time of Night.

  21. Would have liked to have seen George at 6.30 up against Trash Tonight and ACA, so i’m disapointed with the time slot. Good luck to 10, it will be interesting to see if it works.

  22. @Secret Squrrel – I comment on here all the time. I think 2.5 hrs of news is such a bad idea that I felt ‘fail’ summed it up. Sorry I did not submit my comment for your approval beforehand.
    Anyone who thinks 10’s news will be hard-hitting investigative journalism is kidding themselves.

  23. It’ll be interesting to say the least. However i still think TEN will come third in the timeslot. It takes a lot of time to try and make this work and in the long term it might but short term i don’t know. Will wait and see i guess.

  24. Secret Squïrrel

    @jay jay – anyone that just writes “fail” without even attempting a critique or even actually thinking about what they’re commenting on, is saying more about themselves than anything else.

    We could solve all of the world’s problems if we just tapped into the amazing prescience of some of the commenters on here. With your razor-sharp mind’s ability to assess anything in a few seconds, and see complex interdependent variables with laser-clarity, why aren’t you solving the energy crisis or making a killing on the stockmarket – still waiting for someone to notice and give you a call?

  25. Did the people bagging this read the article. Do you understand why they are doing it? Nothing else will work in the slot. It’s a bloody investment that has been researched and planned and all you do is bag it – sight unseen.

    This is great. I can’t wait for it. I love news and love this strategy.

    In the US most stations have between 3-4 hours of news back to back and it’s a big success there. Most people here just do not understand how TV works.

    Ten was losing 400,000 viewers soon as the news at five finishes. This is going to rectify that lost.

    And 7pm is not a lemon. It does good numbers and is a quality show.

  26. Tasmanian de√il

    The fact that George Negus isn’t even hosting every day of the week justifies just what a careless name ‘6pm With George Negus’ is, probably thought up by someone in a couple of seconds. Clearly they can’t be bothered in the branding department, so hopefully the journalism quality is better.

  27. Looking forward to news services that give the days stories without being too busy trying to outdo each other with meaningless exclusives or the constant “see it first” or “why we are number one” promos.

  28. To all those saying “fail” – all this new newshour has to do is improve on Ten’s previous Simpsons/Neighbours hour in key 18-49 and 25-54 demos and it will be a success.

    Ten has stated many many times they are not expecting to be #1 at 6 or 630. They are hoping to narrow the gap

  29. I don’t like the line where David Mott says: “As far as we’re concerned, nothing really changes in terms of TEN as a Network”. I thought Ten was rebranding to appeal to wider and older audiences? If they want thier 2.5 hours of news to be a success they should have ovrehauled their whole network and only then would they get older and a wider scope of viewers tuning in.

  30. I’ll looking forward to the 6-7pm news block and will be watching it instead of ABC News. To me it seems to be the middle ground between the tabloid 15 second sound bites of Seven/Nine, and the sterile coverage of the ABC.

    @andy ABC News 24 is not state based. On of the great things about the nightly news is that they can focus more on news for that State.

  31. Bringing George Negus on to host the bulletin is a stroke of genius. I cannot watch Nine and Seven’s tabloid hour of news/caff as I find it embarrassing that grown people actually produce that kind of rubbish. Ten’s offering could prove to be a very interesting alternative.

  32. It will be interesting how Ten’s new primetime news line-up goes. As of new week on Eleven Simpsons will only be shown 7.30pm Wednesday and Tuesday with new episodes at 8.30pm Wednesday and double episodes 7.30pm Thursday. I thought that with Simpsons moving to Eleven the show would still be on at 6.00pm.

  33. Great interviews, I do feel this new programming will, for this viewer, anyway, be a pick and mix sample of it. Unless there is a major crisis – political, natural disaster etc, i would not – could not tune in for all of it. Negus brings a distinctive input – 10 are counting on it, methinks. For weeks when little is going on (parliament not sitting e.g) it could be as boring as yesterdays porridge! Lots of eyes will be on this – executive eyes.

  34. Way too much news in one block.If anything they should have moved the hour bulletin to 5.30 & 7pm P to 6.30 with a new less teenage oriented soap at 7.

  35. Speaking for myself I’ll try 6PM but I’ll still watch World News on SBS at 6.30pm. Plus getting rid of the Sunday Movie Night meant I no longer watch Ch 10 on Sunday. That said a lot of the films weren’t interesting me either. But it’s why Sunday is the deathslot for me with most commercial television channels. Except Sherlock and sometimes Castle. I watched Smallville this week but that will change depending on the ABC and SBS (plus the exceptions). Too bad as anything other than the weekend and I could be loyal to it as long as it isn’t against Fringe. I guess DVDs it is then. Although thank you for airing them. I also liked both episodes. I’ve heard it’s mainly a good season with some exceptions. I hope I like the news show. Good luck and I hope it is serious and not just the latest celebrity gossip or whatever passes for news these days.

  36. Great work David, and um, David.

    Very much looking forward to 6PM, I am imagining George Negus doing the whole show with one foot on a chair, like those American political campaign ads. I hope it’s not like that – ideally there will be a desk, regular Prime Minster grillings, and lots of Australian and American political stories.
    Also, asking “why” and providing an in-depth understanding is all well and good, but don’t patronise us! The 7PM Project explains everything as if we’re all 6 year olds. Be Kerry O’Brien, not Behind the News. Cheers.

  37. i applaud what they are trying to do…and i admire the fact that they are seem to want to produce a high quality news service, as opposed to what 7 and 9 offer…

    …but really, who will turn to channel 10 for news when there is ABC News 24?

  38. Good on 10 for taking such a bold step but in some respect I see them handing 7 and 9 a loaded gun here.

    If this whole thing tanks then it will ultimately kill 10s momentum at a time it can ill afford it

    But if it works then here’s what will happen: 7 or 9 will move Hot Seat or Deal into 6pm, copy 10 by moving their bulletins into 6:30pm then smash the 7pm Project with Aca/TT at 7pm as we saw during the Qld floods 7pm struggled with the onslaught of Abc News and Aca/TT at 7pm

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