Was there more to the surprise decision to appoint veteran Mike Munro to read the grossly under-watched 4.30 pm News on the Nine Network? Nine said last week that CEO David Gyngell asked Munro to fill the spot.
Munro started yesterday, but that decision still perplexes many people. Was there also more to the re-appearance last Saturday night of Georgie Gardiner reading the 6pm News in Sydney for Nine?
Was there more to the increasing use of Kelli Connolly, the former A Current Affair reporter, now back in the Sydney newsroom as a reader of news broadcasts at Nine, including the 11.30am and the 4.30pm broadcasts?
Is there a common factor in all of this? Well, where is newsreader Kim Watkins? She no longer reads the 11am regularly and no longer has any chance of doing the 4.30 pm or the Saturday 6 pm news for Nine.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Since going on maternity leave last year and having her third child and returning, Kim Watkins has gone on a sort of ‘swingshift’ roster at Nine, that’s gradually seen her almost disappear from the screen. That’s puzzled quite a few in the Nine Newsroom.
George Gardiner, the 6pm weather person, with ambitions to read news, was slotted in last year while Watkins was on maternity leave. This was part of a deal arranged with the former News and Current Affairs boss, Jim Rudder.
But now Georgie Gardiner is pregnant and has been scaling back her duties as she moves closer to full term. Kim Watkins and then Kelli Connolly were getting more of the shifts.
But that changed last week. Last Thursday afternoon Kelli Connolly read the 4.30pm News, then on Saturday it was Georgie Gardiner, who had wanted not to do it because of the increasing physical strain. So why wasn’t Kim Watkins used?
These are questions being asked in the Nine newsroom and in the other TV newsrooms across the city. Is there something else in the air?
Footnote: The Mike Munro Debut Monday afternoon at 4.30pm added viewers, with the audience rising to 123,800 from the 99,000 last Thursday. But unfortunately for him and Nine, the audience watching the competing news on Seven also jumped 24,000 to 323,500, from around 299,000 last Thursday.
Seven News finished 43rd on the list of most watched programs because it is networked across the country. Nine’s 4.30 news is hamstrung by only going to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.