It hasn’t taken long, but the sniping between Nine and Seven over the 6.30pm biff and bash between A Current Affair and Today Tonight is back.

TT is being hosted by the network’s LA correspondent Anna Coren over the summer and has been a consistent, and at times embarrassingly easy, winner over ACA. Coren is negotiating with Seven management about replacing regular host, Naomi Robson, who pulled up stumps late last year after 10 years in the gig.

The Daily Telegraph‘s Confidential section today carried a snip entitled “Clash of current affairs” which reported that speculation over Coren’s ongoing role “fired up” yesterday. The paper claimed that Coren had insisted on some sort of editorial control (“Jana Wendt-style”) over the content of TT; a claim Seven spinners said had originated from ACA over at Nine, which it did. And fancy involving Wendt as some sort of spectre. Talk about being churlish and childish in the same breath.

ACA and Nine would be better served trying to rebuild their declining viewer numbers. Even when it has had the boost from cricket, ACA has been easily beaten by TT. TT won by 200,000 viewers last Friday night even though Nine News had beaten Seven News, thanks to the high audience watching the first session of the one day cricket.

Last night, with Seven’s audience swelled by the first day of the Australian Open Tennis, TT beat ACA by 340,000 viewers after Seven News had won by 238,000. TT was the most watched program nationally last night ahead of the returning Home and Away at 7pm. And if Coren has demanded and got some editorial input into the program, shouldn’t Nine be wondering if that’s a good thing?

After all, host Tracey Grimshaw is a far more experienced journalist than the present duo of Darren Wick and Anthony Flannery running ACA. And David Hurley, now helping Gary Linnell as News and Current Affairs boss at Nine, should know that a strong host is in the program’s best interests. After all Mike Willessee ran his programs on Nine and Seven and they thrived as a result. Coren and Seven management are still negotiating and before anything has been signed, Nine has tried to sledge her with a puerile attack. Not a sign of confidence for the rest of the year.

Peter Fray

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