Is all well behind the scenes at the top rating Seven 6pm News in Sydney? On the face of it yes, ratings are up, Nine is being beaten (except for Thursday night of this week and most Sunday nights). It seems a happy ship.

Seven is running rings around Nine at the moment as the latter struggles to convince viewers that Mark Ferguson is a suitable replacement for Jim Waley. Appointing Mike Munro to read the under-watched 4.30 pm news for Nine is a bit of a gamble. It could be a sign that Nine management is running out of ideas and new presenters.

Mark Ferguson though is under no threat from Munro. He and his producers have to convince viewers that he’s a worthy long term successor to the reputation built by Brian Henderson, helped by Jim Waley and the likes of Ian Ross, the former Nine reader now beating his old employer at Seven.

A former very experienced Nine producer told Crikey, “Seven isn’t winning, Nine is losing.”

He says it’s just like politics and that adage that oppositions do not win government, rather government’s lose them. So to an extent, Seven is having its winning position ‘presented’ to it by the poor decision-making at Nine.

But all is not hunky dory at Seven down in Martin Place. Ian Ross, the former Nine reader now fronting Seven News in Sydney was quite vocal in letting network management know last year that he was not happy with some of the writing and technical problems that bedevilled his broadcasts late last year.

News of that reached the gossip columns. After a lunch with Seven TV boss, David Leckie, things quietened down, but now have they re-surfaced in the wake of the very successful live outing to front Seven news Monday night from the scene of the Macquarie Fields riots in Sydney?

It was all a bit hairy behind the scenes at the remote location on Monday afternoon and evening, needlessly so. From reports, not much pre-planning, which could have resolved all the concerns.

There was no TV monitor for Ian Ross and talk of no audio for the quick two-day interview he did live with NSW Premier Bob Carr.How you could do an interview without audio for the person asking the questions is beyond me, and obviously it was beyond some people at Seven.

Read the full piece from Terry Television on the site here: http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/03/004-0001-8176.html

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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