Sky News says a major overhaul of one of its most popular “after dark” programs will make it “more relevant to modern Australia”.
Sky spokesperson Noah Subskrybehs said the hour-long Paul Murray Live would be revamped to merge it with the following PML Later, making a single two-hour program running Thursday to Sunday from 9pm.
“We will also be introducing a co-host for Paul and, in line with contemporary expectations, it will be a woman,” Mr Subskrybehs said.
“In addition to providing a better gender balance, the move also gives us a chance to have the new program better reflect the diverse cultural make-up of modern Australia and the issues our audience wants to see aired on their screens.
“We’ve searched high and low for the right person to complement Paul and we finally found a very well-informed young Middle Eastern woman in western Sydney.
“We couldn’t use her real name simply because it’s too long and we know our audience too well for that. So she’ll be adopting the stage name, so to speak, of Shari Alaw.
“We think the new Paul Murray and Shari Alaw Live will become one of, if not the, most popular of our so-called ‘after dark’ programs.
“Basically it will consist of Paul Murray doing his usual interviews and commentaries about the issues of the day while also engaging in discussion and debate with Shari Alaw.
“We’ve done a couple of unscreened pilot shows and the way Paul brings Shari Alaw into discussions on issues like national security, immigration, and multiculturalism is just masterful.
“He’s a real pro and really knows his audience and what they want to see on Sky News.
“It’s a pity that Shari doesn’t understand or speak English and we can’t afford subtitles, but we don’t think our audience will mind that at all.”
Mr Subskrybehs said Sky News research showed the new program was likely to see a double-digit increase in viewers between 9pm and 11pm.
“I must clarify that the double-digit rise refers to a rise in absolute viewer numbers and not in percentage terms,” he said.