A media insider writes:


Holidays are over for many in TV.
Newsrooms are cranking back to full strength. There are decisions to be
made and ambitions and egos to be fed and stymied.

Seven
newsroom insiders are fascinated by the jockeying that’s started for
the second-string Sydney news reader slot. Main reader and star, Ian
Ross, is only going to read the 6pm news from Monday to Thursday. He’s
being paid a million bucks for this, compared to the $800K he was paid
to read five nights a week. Tasty for the rest of the Martin Place
establishment.

Seven’s Sydney news bosses Chris Willis and
Peter Meakin, with CEO David Leckie, have started a beauty parade of
contenders for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights: a considerable
gig in itself. The lucky winner will get all three nights and position
themselves as the dauphin to the Sun King in Ian Ross.

Will it
be Chris Bath, or Sam Amytage, or Anne Sanders, or that bolt from the
blue, Mark Riley, the network’s political correspondent who apparently
intends spending more time in Sydney this year? Or will it be Los
Angeles correspondent, Mike Amor, who’s returning to Sydney after next
March when his time is up? So many contenders. Amor’s return sets up
all sorts of jockeying for the LA gig. So many moves, so much ambition.
It’s frightening at the moment in Martin Place.

Over at Nine
they’re watching this closely: they know that when Ian Ross leaves at
the end of the year there’s a chance of snatching back the winning edge
in the 6pm news battle. So will Nine take the gamble and continue with
Mark Ferguson five nights a week, or return to Sunday to Friday? Old
stager and expensive talent, Mike Munro, is filling in at the moment
and doing reasonably well. But he’s no long term solution.

Seven,
if its ratings stumble, will make Ian Ross another offer to remain in
2007 – but how many dollars can one man earn for four nights’ work each
week?

Meanwhile, Network Ten has to decide who will replace Jessica
Rowe in the Sydney 5pm slot. Deborah Knight is filling in at the
moment and is worth a big bet on maintaining that role this year.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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