Mark Ferguson replaces Chris Bath at Seven News

By David Knox on January 27, 2014 / Filed Under News, Top Stories 42

2014-01-27_1054Seven has announced Mark Ferguson will read Seven News Sydney bulletin from tonight.

Chris Bath will now read only on Fridays and Saturdays.

The move comes after Seven has been trailing Nine News in the Sydney market, but Chris Bath told The Australian she welcomed the switch.

“For me juggling two prime time shows has always been hard and with Sunday Night now expanding, something had to give,” she said.

“There was no way I could juggle that and see my family. I’ve been with Sunday Night since day one, it’s my show and we are all very proud of how well it has done. It was a no-brainer.

“The figures are in black and white,” Bath said. “We won with Rossco (Ian Ross), and then I won the next three years. I had a good crack at it, that’s all I can do.”

Seven CEO Tim Worner said: “The appointment of Chris to this new role will see the development of the next phrase of her distinguished career. Sunday Night is the flagship program from our News and Public Affairs division, hosted by Chris since the first edition five years ago. Chris is a big part of the success of the program and is perfectly placed to lead Sunday Night into its expanded series in 2014.

“It’s a mark of the depth of skill and ability inside the Seven News team that we have a news reader of the calibre of Mark Ferguson to take up the reins from Chris. Mark’s news gathering experience at home and abroad perfectly qualify him for this new role.”

It remains unclear what expansion Sunday Night will undergo, but the show has been ‘seasonal’ at Seven, making way for Reality shows.

Network Director of News Rob Raschke added: “Chris Bath is peerless when it comes to covering breaking news, and she will continue to play a central role in this for the network.

“Mark is an immensely experienced journalist and presenter who has covered some of the biggest stories in the world. He’s held in very high regard by those who work with him and those who compete against him.”

The move comes at a time of ongoing change within Seven News amid speculation Today Tonight is rife for the axe.

Nine chief David Gyngell told The Australian: “Today Tonight has been cancelled and, if it is not by now it will be, and that’s not a stupid thing,” he said.

“People will criticise Seven for dropping Today Tonight but they will be just as committed to news coverage as before.”

Seven has a one hour News bulletin tonight but Today Tonight returns tomorrow.

42 Comments »

  1. tvaddict January 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm -

    @tvwizzkid Thats great that Hitchener engages with the community, it does not necessarily reflect on his abilities as a news reader though. Some of the ratings may have to do with the quality of the coverage & variety of stories etc, might not mean people love the person presenting the stories. But as i said, i suppose it just gets down to people perceiving things differently.

  2. newsjunkie January 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm -

    I have great respect for both newsreaders, but like what happened 12mnths ago at BTQ7 with veteran newsreaders Kay & Rod, they were both relegated to fri & sat shift. Personally, let Chris and Sharyn both host current affairs between them . They are both respected professionals that deserve a national audience. And give Kay her mon-fri position back

  3. JohnDoran January 29, 2014 at 8:17 am -

    I’ve watched Seven News since i was a child. I reckon Mark Ferguson is great, give hime time to settle in and he’ll make a meal of it

  4. tvwizzkid January 28, 2014 at 11:33 pm -

    Tvaddict your observations have me wondering if you need glasses and a hearing aide. Mitchell never had the tone, look, respect and personality to be a brilliant newsreader. With glasses on you will see his expressions don’t match the stories and give the viewers a real sense of confusion of where the program is at and what’s next etc. Hitchener has amazing reading skills that engage the viewers and the common touch which seems to resonate well with viewers, he also spends time in the community with the viewers getting feedback and giving support to people interested in getting into the industry. I saw him at Deakin Uni talking with media and journalism students. That shows my friends and I he cares and supports the community which is more than just reading news. Mitchell hides from public events due to a lack of personality and charisma. The ratings tell the story and for Mitchell…

  5. tvaddict January 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm -

    tvwizzkid i would say Hitchener is the one who is cold & drone looking, he also tends to have a ‘its the end of the world’ tone to his voice introducing alot of the stories. I guess some people might find that appropriate if they are grim stories but i find it overdone. Mitchell smiles when appropriate, Hitchener has openly giggled at things that really aren’t that funny & i find that unprofessional. Guess it just shows people can percieve so differently when viewing tv. Anyway I’d rather Chris Bath, Jennifer Keyte or Jo Hall over the male presenters.

  6. timmydownawell January 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm -

    @Pete: what is this “special something that Peter Overton had”?

    Smugness? Arrogance?

    I prefer Chris Bath to Mark Ferguson but, whatever. Seven’s “news” is still going to be news in name only, whoever presents it.

  7. bobmar28 January 28, 2014 at 7:14 am -

    Mark Ferguson and Chris Bath reading the news together would be a good idea.

  8. bobmar28 January 28, 2014 at 6:59 am -

    Given a choice between Mark Ferguson and Peter Overton, Mark Ferguson gets my vote. I just don’t like Peter Overton.

  9. buggirob January 28, 2014 at 12:49 am -

    Nine was the one then Seven were no 1
    Maybe its turning to Nine News Again.
    We have Tim in Perth From Melbourne.
    Go Nine News !!!!!!!

  10. jonno January 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm -

    I think Peter Mitchell does a serviceable job but they need a star. Bec Maddern is good but don’t rule out Nick Etchells.

  11. chivasssimo January 27, 2014 at 11:11 pm -

    Well, it’s time to change all the ads

  12. tvwizzkid January 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm -

    Peter Hitchener from 9 News Melbourne is by far the best reader in Australia and if you check the ratings for the last couple of years 7 News Melbourne have been flogged by 100k – 200k viewers per night. Maybe 7 should move Mitch to Sydney seeing he reads with no emotion, cold, stale and drone looks which may appear to Sydney siders! I’m sorry to say 7 news is 5 plus years off any improvement as they have lost the trust of viewers nationally due to the inconsistent and reactive changes. Mitch proudly promoted the new theme for 7 News and within a week it was canned and forgotten. 7 News is last across Australia however they promote to viewers they are first. How can we the viewer respect such lies and manipulation? David who is the head of 7 news Melbourne? Time for a change?

  13. danny January 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm -

    The crisis Seven is facing with their 6pm news bulletin isn’t disparate to the woes Nine experienced more than a decade ago.

    When Brian Henderson finished his tenure in 2002, Nine experienced an identity problem across most of their news brands. Jim Whaley was the first of many to take up the 6pm news gig devoid of success. Over at Seven, Ian Ross took a big risk which paid off.

    Seven news’s ratings started heading south when Ian Ross wrapped up in 2009. Chris Bath has had four years to resonate with the audience. The only surprise is that Seven has waited this long to respond.

    Katie Couric was the heart and soul of NBC Today but when she took up the 6pm CBS post, look at how that fared. Hiring a woman to anchor a 6pm network news bulletin is a tough caper, irrespective of their historical roots or general popularity.

    As countless others have said through different media…

  14. brad80 January 27, 2014 at 10:11 pm -

    I know this is off the topic but would Ten ever consider going back to 6:00PM news..??

  15. tvaddict January 27, 2014 at 8:27 pm -

    Certainly is a mess at 7, who could keep up with what they’re doing?? I prefer 7 news to 9 news (in Melbourne) mostly because i much prefer Peter Mitchell as news reader to Peter Hitchener on 9 whom i cannot stand, But i must admit i end up watching 9 at times because there are stories in the opener that aren’t on 7 or they do a better coverage.

    Now they throw in the mix the hour long news, i understand them wanting to get rid of TT but i don’t think 1 hour news is a good alternative. I want it all in half hr & see the weather at the end of it, not waiting another 1/2 hr for it.

    And does anyone know if TT is permanently dropped & an hour news here to stay?? they don’t pre advertise when they are going to have hour news & seem to make up their minds on the day according to whats on other channels at 6.30, it really needs to be sorted out.

    Worse still was Jo Silvagni as…

  16. Riga January 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm -

    Why should it matter who reads the autocue as long as they’re competent and present well? But the commercial networks insist on transforming their ‘news’ readers into ‘celebs’, and turning the content they read about into little more than a supporting act. The most distasteful part of the commercial TV ‘news’ circus is the way they market it, using other people’s trauma, misery and suffering to promote their ‘celeb’ reporters and autocue readers. They show little respect to the news they present nor to the people they present it to. Real news has been reduced to poor quality ‘Newstainment’ in the rush to be ‘First’ with what is often little more than gossip.

  17. mistaken January 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm -

    Newsreaders are something a lot of viewers are very fussy about. Seven have taken a massive risk with Ferguson and I believe ratings will further decline. He’s awfully beige. If Seven felt Bath had to go, which I certainly don’t believe, then they needed to bring in someone with a big status. Ron Wilson would have been a good choice.

    Hate to play the gender card, but there have been three significant demotions for females at Seven recently. If media reports are true and things such as “sexiness”, “hair, make up and wardrobe were distracting” are true then I’m horrified.

  18. SAgr8 January 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm -

    It’s become quite messy at 7 . . .I was watching their news tonight but it became so boring after 6.30 and I don’t have time to watch filler stories (e.g., a story about a Sydney mansion for sale) so I switched to The Project to get the basic news headline. 7 had the perfect opportunity to have a point of difference by filling the 6.30 – 7pm timeslot with something interesting . . . but have just decided to follow 9. It’s disappointing, and as a long term 7 news viewer, I think it’s time to make a switch or just read the news online.

  19. Jock January 27, 2014 at 6:36 pm -

    @ TVScene – Chris Bath was the only thing holding Sydney news together, and just take a look at what happened to her (after ten years as a lead anchor, including 6-7 of those as number one).

    Peter Mitchell is on the way out, it’s just a matter of when.

  20. MM January 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm -

    I prefer 7 news to 9 any time, don’t like Peter Overton so don’t watch him, but don’t mind Chris or Mark reading the news, both have a sense of humor which is sometimes needed with so much gloom and doom around these days and they can keep some stories very light hearted.

  21. David Knox January 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm -

    But how do you know how well regarded Rebecca Maddern “thinks she is?” I’ve always found her to be well regarded by those I have spoken to.

  22. TVScene January 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm -

    @SNNWMD – No way in hell that Seven would replace Peter Mitchell with Bec Maddern. Bec is not as well regarded as she thinks she is sometimes. Peter Mitchell is the only thing holding Seven News Melbourne together. It’s those around Mitch that disappoint.

  23. Redhead January 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm -

    Love Fergo – the only good looking man on the Seven network and a proper journalist. I’m not sure seven can brag about being good at Current Affairs, The Sunday show wheels out interviews with people like Julie Andrews and stories about Anzacs, they are always going to bloody Kakoka. As for TT, I would rather poke my eyes out with a stick than watch another story on a houso and sunrise has always been naff.

  24. MJL January 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm -

    Clearly Chris Bath is not working but Mark Ferguson is definitely not the answer. Couldn’t stand him as a newsreader at 9.

  25. Maev....Sydney January 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm -

    Chris Bath has been keeping a lots of balls in the air …for sometime now…both professional and personal…I imagine it would suit her….
    I went back to TEN news last year…and like it best…but I am not a regular news watcher…
    Also use to watch 60Minutes regularly…years ago….I now find Sunday Night a better program..but again…really only watch when there are stories I am interested in…
    @ David Knox….January 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm..
    He he…You may be right!

  26. Pete January 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm -

    Mark Freguson failed at Nine because he does not have the special something that Peter Overton had who replaced him and has made the Sydney news his own.

    I agree that Chris Reason would have been the better option.

  27. Justin228 January 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm -

    I don’t get why they just don’t team them up or have 2 presenters. In Melbourne i think it would be good to have Peter Mitchell and Jennifer Keyte present together.

  28. D@GP January 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm -

    A bad move 7.

    Maybe they’re trying to fix things as best they can before Mr Meakin arrives at TEN?

  29. SNNWMD January 27, 2014 at 2:01 pm -

    Right decision to give Chris Bath the chop, although they choose the wrong replacement. Chris Reason would be the best man for the job not Mark. Seven are competing against Peter Overton on Nine, perhaps even a Chris Reason and Mel Doyle double header would be the best option to take Nine on. But if I was Peter Mitchell in Melbourne I would be worried, Bec Maddern could be taking your Nightly News spot.

  30. Guy January 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm -

    @carolemorrissey

    Sunday Night is one of the few shining lights in Seven’s news and current affairs programs. It has some of the best stories each and every year and easily beats the stories shown on 60 Minutes.

    I keep thinking though if they cut Bathie from Sydney why haven’t they cut Mitchell from Melbourne yet? He fumbles so much with the news and is so uncomfortable yet somehow he still has his job? Sure he is a good person but his newsreading skills suck. Makes no sense for me.

  31. danny January 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm -

    “Sunday Night is an ok show, but it will never be 60 Minutes, it is just a cheap imitation of it.”

    “Sunday Night” is a first-class public affairs program and certainly one of the Seven Network’s best. It features stories covered by Australia’s most esteemed correspondents including Ross Coulthart and Mike Willesee.

    60 Minutes on the other hand is unreserved debris. Whichever newspaper columnist labelled it as cheque book journalism is right on the money because quite frankly that’s what it is.

  32. laurie January 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm -

    Of course she wouldn’t be smiling on the next pay day !!

  33. David Knox January 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm -

    Maybe if they get enough complaints they will reinstate her after 4 days?

  34. carolemorrissey January 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm -

    Sunday Night is an ok show, but it will never be 60 Minutes, it is just a cheap imitation of it.

    It’s funny, late last year they were bragging about what a good team Chris Bath & Jim Wilson were with the news & sport, now they are dumping her & maybe him too. I always liked Mark Ferguson when I lived in Sydney when he was doing 9 news, then he switched to 7 just when I moved to the Gold Coast.

  35. Mr. J January 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm -

    These network statements are getting more and more laughable. It doesn’t even look like SN is returning until for a few months as 7s Sunday lineup appears to be MKR at 6:30, Tricked at 7:30. So the fact she is happy about a demotion in one job in order to commit to hosting a show that isn’t on air makes no sense. Even sillier than Grant Denyer and Dave Huges respective press explanations.

    But if Sydney is anything like Melbourne, the readers take so many weeks off, so many fill ins that you can barely notice who is the weekday and who the weekend reader is. I doubt the general public would realise the change if this announcement was never made.

  36. Nick January 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm -

    He might close the gap slightly but he won’t be number 1. Peter Overton is just too good.

  37. Jock January 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm -

    Sorry Seven, but after twenty years of dedicated loyalty I think I’m done with the trash you now label as news. Let me know when you’ve got your act together (and when Mark Ferguson is gone!) and I might think about returning.

  38. deedeedragons January 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm -

    As it should be. Never really understood why 9 got rid of him in the first place.

  39. mistaken January 27, 2014 at 11:53 am -

    The statement from Seven reads very similar to when Melissa Doyle was boned from Sunrise – a load of hogwash. The most coveted role for a journalist is the main news bulletin. Chris Bath has been used as the scapegoat for terrible production and choice of content which has seen a drop in ratings. Have Seven forgotten Mark Ferguson was overlooked for the top job at Nine because he didn’t resonate with audiences. Seven News is imploding.

  40. danny January 27, 2014 at 11:23 am -

    For the first moment in time ever, The Sunday Telegraph was in point of fact honest. There was an article claiming Mark Ferguson would be promoted in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper. It also claimed Jim Wilson would be replaced in lieu of Ryan Phelan.

    Now on to David Gyngell’s annotations which I have no respect or regard for- he’s the last person that should be commenting on Seven’s news ratings woes. A Current Affair is a mockery. The only time I will ever mull over what comes out of his mouth is when his network has depth and consistency across all programming, something the network hasn’t had since the beginning of the last decade under the reign of David Leckie.

  41. davis January 27, 2014 at 11:10 am -

    And so Ferguson comes to at Seven to where he left Nine.

    Except he was first punted from weeknight news on Nine Sydney because he apparently couldn’t build/retain audience.

  42. Guy January 27, 2014 at 11:02 am -

    Wow really? I don’t like Mark. Nothing against him but I think he is a boring everyday run of the mill newsreader. They should have put Mel Doyle in instead. I guess this change was coming though.

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