Is David Gyngell just following in his Dad’s footsteps, or is this just another move that’s more symbolic than important.
On Monday Nine announced that it was opening two new news bureaus, one in Parramatta and one in Liverpool, a move that will get good publicity in the free papers in the area judging by the speed in which way the Mayors in the area were roped in to give it the thumbs up.
Nine moves to the West is in stark contrast to Seven’s move into the city’s heart, and could been seen to show that it’s more in touch with viewers than Seven. That’s certainly the sort of symbolism that Nine CEO, David Gyngell was raising in his statement.
For Gyngell, it was a case of returning to something his legendary father, Bruce Gyngell, did when he was imported from the UK 12 years ago to take charge of Nine after Packer had bought it back from the master thief, Alan Bond.
Bruce Gyngell, who preferred to live in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, as does his son, opened a Western Sydney Bureau at the then AM radio station 2WS at Seven Hills.
It was shut down a year later in a cost drive because there were no ratings in it. The news boss at the time was Ian Cook.
Two bureaus will add to costs, but will they add to ratings? With the cost cutters out in force next year, another 12 month wonder to try and differentiate Seven from Nine?
And operationally it will be Monday to Friday and being on call on the weekend. That will make for difficult coverage at times. And what about camera staff? That was one of the reasons why the last effort was chopped. Or will the two reporters concerned be reporter/camera/producer people as Jim Rudder envisaged?
And the inflexibility of staffing a camera crew out west and to the southwest (and cost) when on most days the news is happening elsewhere and not being able to use the west crew properly.
That will now be doubled, and even if there are freelance crews on call, its an added cost and inconvenience when those crews either have other gigs to do (and be paid for) or Nine has to pay an on call fee (and drives up its own costs).
Nine has now reacted at least three different ways to the pressure from Seven. Today is under pressure from Sunrise, despite constant fiddling.
The latest will occur in a fortnight when Karl Stepanovic returns from Los Angeles to again host the show when Steve Liebmann is away. This is a real test, given that he’s already had a go two months ago and looked the part. But a bit young.
Now to find the female. Stepanovic has got the gig next year if he tests as well as he did last time.
But Nine have changed EPs on Today, changed the set, changed the look to no avail, it still trails in the ratings.
In News Nine has already had two revamps to one at Seven this year. The first was the kiss of death makeover driven by the departed Jim Rudder and signed off by all manner of experts and higher ups, including Gyngell and John Alexander who was in charge of Nine at the time.
Now Nine has done something that Rudder and the experts rejected. Go to a full screen Sydney moving screen type background for the News. It has opened it up and looks good.
But with the Network boasting about the new coverage of the west, why does it have the really identifiable backdrop of Sydney, Circular Quay for the nightly news? A bit of each way betting there! That was in response to Seven’s move to Martin Place.
Monday night’s win by Seven in Sydney was a small step back for Seven which is having to rebuild momentum after the Olympics.
Martin Place is helping and forcing Nine to react. Since the games Nine has done well at 6 pm, especially on Sunday night after the big hail storm in Sydney.
Seven says more changes and different looks are coming at Martin Place as it beds the facility down and full control is switched from Epping to the new studio.
The cost isn’t as much as Terry TV thought. Seven points out that all the equipment was ordered for the makeover of Epping’s studios. That has been moved to Martin Place and there hasn’t been much in the way of added costs from duplication of facilities. Seven says it would have had to spend a lot of the money on fitting out Epping. It’s been switched to Martin Place.
And with the sort of buzz and reaction Sunrise is picking up from the facility and from the perv factor of people outside, how long will it be before Kerry Packer discovers that it’s a good idea and wants Nine to do something similar?
There are many cases of other stations doing something that Nine poo poos only to have Packer pressure management to do something. This has ranged from an early news, a late news, covering stories, changing personnel, finding ‘young’ people and personalities etc etc. Ian Dickson from Australian idol is one of the latest of Packer’s second guesses of Nine management.
Could Nine ever be forced out of Willoughby and into the city? It has been discussed many times at Nine and PBL!
Copying is the sincerest form of flattery
Subscriber email – 6 September
Sometimes the Nine Network shoots itself in the foot, and then does it again. After bagging Seven’s move to Sydney’s Martin Place, especially for a lack of oomph for the 6pm News, Nine has turned around and paid Seven the ultimate compliment. Ripping off the idea.
What Nine has talked about is the added traction Martin Place gave Seven’s Sunrise Show, putting a bigger gap between it and the faltering Today Show on Nine.
Last week Sunrise’s audience was up 51% on a year earlier, Today’s was down around 12%.
Last week Sunrise attracted people to the Martin Place area of Sydney where the Seven Studio is located, while Nine continued to operate from the Willoughby Studios of Nine, from a studio the size of the foyer at Nine, actually.
But all those people watching Sunrise proved too much, so Nine sent its dynamic Today Show due Steve Liebmann and Tracey Grimshaw to Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne on Monday.
Nine will of course deny that it was an imitation and that it was planned all along. But it does show a lack of consistency from the Packer Network.
But then consistency is the thing that anchors Sydney news anchor, Jim Waley to the Sydney news studio, with the camera-derived backdrop. Although on Sunday evening, in the evening air after a big hail and electrical storm had swept over Sydney, the shot behind reader, Mark Ferguson was glorious. A clear panoramic city scape.