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News Commentary

Oct 11, 2010

George NegusAs many of you may have read over the weekend, George Negus has been signed to front the national Ten News 6pm show that is set to launch next year. I’d suggest that very few people were surprised at the announcement of Negus taking on the role. He’s been a familiar face on The 7PM Project over the past year, giving that show a stronger sense of news credibility.

With Negus taking on the primary hosting role and Chris Masters signed in a part-time capacity to advise on investigative stories, it is apparent that the news program will not simply serve as a dry stock-standard news report program. On taking the role, Negus stated:

“What Ten has in mind for the 6pm time-slot is seriously different,” he said.

“It could well change the landscape of free-to-air, prime-time national and international news and current affairs in this country for the better. When a network talks about restoring credibility to commercial news and current affairs, I listen.”

If this show lives up to its promise, Ten may quite possibly be set to launch the country’s premier news program. Half an hour each night of serious national and international news, legitimate current affair reportage, and interviews. This could be Australia’s equivelant to the PBS News Hour. Only with a budget and the possibility that people will actually tune in.

The appointment of Negus has changed the perception of the value of this new 6pm national news program. Previously, it was just a curiosity to see whether Ten could put together a well-resourced quality news program. With Negus at the helm and the added promise of the programs intent, this has suddenly developed into one of the more interesting offerings on the evening schedule.

That said, it’s all very good and well for Ten to be launching this news service, but the real question is whether it will be of interest to viewers. Are audiences looking for a harder edged, more thoughtful news service at 6pm? Let alone on one of the commercial channels? Media pundits and news enthusiasts often complain at the lowest-common denominator approach taken by the FTA news and current affairs shows, but they do rate. This will be the test to see if a more substantial service can attain a significant viewing audience.

Consider the fate of Lone Star in the US earlier this month. Critically praised and applauded by TV nerds everywhere, Lone Star was one of the sharpest, HBO-like high quality dramas broadcast on US FTA television. The show lost almost a million viewers on its second week out and cancelled the next day. Audiences just didn’t take to content with such high-brow intent. A different television market to be sure, but there’s potentially still a lesson to be learnt from it.

Is high-brow content doomed to only ever cater to the niche? Ten are putting that notion to the test. Hopefully it won’t be a glorious failure.

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11 comments

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11 thoughts on “Ten Snares Negus

  1. joanjett

    I hope very much that this project succeeds, but that Ten don’t put The Simpsons on at the same time slot on Eleven. I really want young people to engage with politics so hopefully his appearances on the 7pm project will lure them to the earlier news timeslot. Australia cannot afford another generation of apathetic, disengaged voters who swallow hook, line and sinker all the guff dished out to them by the MSM. George has some integrity and balance (I hope).

  2. DWL

    Ten is being very brave (as Sir Humphrey said), both with Negus and the concept. He could be brilliant or he could bomb – if he throws himself into the stories and the interviews no doubt the former is possible. But guesting at 7pm is very different from being Walter cronkite at 6.
    Presumably the concept will be a la the US evening network bulletins or may be BBC Newsnight – half what Australia regards as national current affairs: a couple of long-form pieces, often breaking a story, in-depth interviews by the presenter, plus a smidge of news from here and there to cover the day’s highlights and make up time and pace.
    But will the 6pm commercial audience as a whole tune in, literally?
    If Ten gives it a chance, perhaps so. But the pull of the tabloid and strictly local fare (plus the succession of 21 year old blonde reporters!) on at the same time on 7 and 9 will be a serious obstacle.
    But then, look on the bright side – maybe George and Ten will change the rest of them for the better.

  3. David

    Will have to work out how to get 10 here on the Sth Coast of WA. Hate to miss it. Goerge is a long standing favourite, a real pro.

  4. Simon

    um, i think you’re making a lot of assumptions off a very small quote…

    1. Dan Barrett

      My thoughts were based off a number of articles I’d read on the hire.

      Negus gave quite a few more relevant quotes here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sunday-telegraph/by-george-hes-back-at-6pm/story-e6frewt0-1225936466094

  5. sickofitall

    I think the Ten audience is a slighter smarter one. The 7pm Project isn’t great, but at least it’s a try – removing Dave Hughes would help. But it’s relatively smart, snappy and miles ahead of Bogan tonight and a Bogan Affair on the other channels. Sunday rated well (albeit on Chl. 9) for many years, till it was dumbed down and started insulting its audience. 60 mins, too.

    So, I welcome any improvement, however incremental, tot the australian media.

  6. BH

    Sounds great and best wishes to Ten for this.

  7. Dan Barrett

    The Simpsons are moving to (presumably) the same timeslot on the new digital channel Eleven. You may have to fork out for an STB, Fiona!

  8. Millie

    I have my fingers crossed for it.

    1. Dan Barrett

      I have high hopes as well that audiences will take to it. Ten went slightly higher-brow with The Circle and that seems to be doing okay in the mornings.