It’s the Nine Network’s proud boast that
when big news stories happen, Australians turn to Nine. But anyone
wanting to watch Nine’s coverage of the bombings, first reported on
radio just after 6pm, had to wait almost an hour for the network to
catch up.

Nine was comprehensively beaten by Seven and the ABC
in bringing news flashes and getting continuous live coverage to air.
The ABC did well and Sky News on Foxtel were also quick. So why was Sam
Chisholm’s mob so slow off the mark?

Seven was off and running with coverage from 7:30pm. In fact the entire Sunrise
team was at the Martin Place studio by 7:30pm and interspersed coverage
with the cricket. Seven had a news flash in its 6pm News and Today Tonight had a flash. Nine had nothing in the 6pm news and the decision to screen Getaway at 7:30pm was curious given that Nine would have known what was going on.

It
took Nine another 40 minutes, around 8:20pm, to get constant coverage
up and running. Kellie Connolly did newsbreaks and then Mark Ferguson
came back around 9:30pm and did Nightline later in the night before handing over to Helen Kapalos.

Seven
and Nine went all night and into the morning, while Nine pulled the
plug at 9am and returned to normal programming, but Seven stayed with
live coverage until midday today. That’s continuous bombing and cricket
coverage from 7:30pm last night to midday today.

At the start of the 7:30 Report, there was a cross to London, then some of the 7:30 Report (a
bad move) and then back to BBC World’s coverage from London. Certainly
no sign of Sandra Levy keeping a breaking news story off the air last
night, as has been claimed in the past.

Ten, good ole Ten, stuck with its repeat of Everybody Loves Raymond.
By 8:30pm the ABC had decided to go to BBC World vision with updates,
Seven was continuing, this time with CNN vision, Nine has switched to
vision from ITN News in London, SBS was staying with BBC World – and
Ten was on normal programming.

While Seven did best among the commercials, the ABC was probably just ahead: call it a draw.

Peter Fray

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