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.

59 Comments:

  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!

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