So much news; so little time


All major nightly TV news bulletins around the nation – both commercial and government owned – will begin extended services from tonight.

I can break this industry exclusive after talking over recent hours to my spies across the Nine, Seven and 10 Networks and at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

For example, Peter Overton’s main bulletin out of Sydney will now run from 6pm to 7.30pm before Overton gets to hope his viewers enjoy the rest of their evening.

Nine News in other capitals will to the same as will Channel 7’s capital cities network.

Channel 10 stations across the nation will now run their major evening news services from 5pm until 6.30pm.

And the various ABC news programs, such as Juanita Phillips’s bulletin beamed from Sydney, will now run from 7pm to 8pm.

Peter Costello, chairman of Nine Entertainment Ltd, owners of the Nine Network, summed up the collective decision of news producers around the nation.

“Yesterday proved that we had a problem that we needed to do something about – and do it quickly,” Costello told me.

“With just an hour bulletin – and there’s sport and weather in there at the end as well, mind – we simply could not do justice to the number of breaking stories throughout the day concerning Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“We firstly had to cover him at Toyota’s Hydrogen Centre in Altona announcing his excellent new policy supporting electric vehicles. With most stories involving Mr Morrison, I know our production people in our various state studios like to use at least three to four separate quotes from our national leader interspersed during that segment.

“Then we would have had full coverage of Mr Morrison at that Melbourne restaurant being taught how to make pasta… if he’d been in Sydney, of course. That would have soaked up crucial news minutes.

“As would have the exciting news that Mr Morrison had ducked into a barbershop for a haircut. How good was that?

“Luckily we still managed to run video from both those in a later separate story that was, I thought, a little overcritical of the PM.”

News editors and producers at other stations explained how difficult it was becoming for bulletins to fit in all of Mr Morrison’s activities in the traditional timeframe, especially “now that the federal election campaign had clearly begun” as one senior news executive up on Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane explained to me.

Another senior network executive told me: “There’s going to be a lot of haybale throwing, truck-horn tooting, thumbs-up from cockpit windows, footie kicking and schooner quaffing that average Australians are going to be so keen to see and what is basically a 40-minute news service was simply not going to cut the mustard.”