Seven’s Sunday Sunrise program is going “soft”, abandoning the hard-edged questioning of leading political and business figures and interesting longer format stories for something closer to the lightweight but successful weekday Sunrise program. Is this just the latest confirmation that being ‘hard’ – in Australian TV, news and current affairs – is rapidly going out of fashion.

The Nine Network has been long drifting that way with a distinct softening in the approach of Business Sunday and Sunday, the two traditionally tough-minded programs the Network has.

Since John Alexander moved into power, first at Nine and then PBL, soft has been in, with an emphasis on cross-promotion (such as the linking of the floundering Bulletin with Nine’s Business Sunday).

John Lyons, as executive producer of Business Sunday and Sunday, has taken a distinctly flossy approach to both programs. Gone from Business Sunday are the long and well researched interviews on corporate situations. They are still there, but in reduced length and intensity. In come stories on issues like water, superannuation and Telstra.

On Sunday there has been a mixed approach to hard and soft, but the latter predominates, as evidenced by the interview with Australian swimming captain, Grant Hackett on last Sunday’s program. That was more a cross-promotion for Nine’s poorly watched coverage of the swimming titles and selection trials the previous week.

Laurie Oakes is still a beacon of strength in the hard-edged interviews, but Sunday has been little light on the tough-minded investigative reports this year. It will gall those at Sunday to realise this, but Four Corners is grabbing back its reputation as the investigative journalism leader.

Read more about the slow death of quality TV news on the website here and email you thoughts into [email protected]

Peter Fray

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