The Sunday morning chats on Nine, Ten and the ABC rejoined Seven’s Weekend Sunrise yesterday in informing us of the things we had missed or not appreciated over the previous week.

Weekend Sunrise had soldiered on over the break, exposing the oft-quoted network myth that nothing happens over summer. That’s just what they want us to believe. In reality the summer break from early December to early February is a way of reducing staffing costs and giving everyone holidays at the same time. If you are going to be serious, news is 24/7, 52 weeks a year.

So how did the likes of Sunday, Meet the Press, Insiders, Inside Business and Offsiders do?

Weekend Sunrise won easily with 453,000 viewers; Sunday had a modest 234,000; Insiders on the ABC, 113,000; Inside Business at 10am, 94,000; Offsiders at 10.30am, 86,000 and Meet the Press on Ten, 45,000.

Weekend Sunrise was crisp, populist and had energy. The studio-based suburban Sunday was flat and fairly predictable, even with jazzed up music and set.

And they still haven’t closed the physical gap on-set between presenters Ellen Fanning (who should have been in bed, she sounded so rough) and Ross Greenwood (what does he do again?). The gap is to allow the name of the program to appear in shot, but there was a promise by Nine News and Current Affairs boss, Gary Linnell, at the Sunday Christmas party late last year to reframe the shot. It was obviously too hard.

But Laurie Oakes did prove to Kerry O’Brien (in chairing the debate between Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Garrett last Thursday on The 7.30 Report), that questions need not be convoluted and tedious. He also showed Virginia Trioli, who questioned Finance Minister Nick Minchin and his ALP opponent, Lindsay Tanner in her debut on Friday night, that short, well-informed questions are better (she didn’t know that the Federal Budget is always delivered in May).

Barrie Cassidy was back on Insiders and he too showed O’Brien and Trioli how to ask pithy, pointed questions in his interview with Julia Gillard. Both Insiders and Weekend Sunrise are more vibrant programs than Sunday, which is stuck in a time warp.

Ten’s Meet the Press had Kevin Rudd in his first major media interview of the ratings season. He did well, while over on Insiders Malcolm Farr made a slightly snide remark about Rudd appearing elsewhere.

Sunday did have a good story by Adam Shand on the Victoria Police and the Victorian Police Association, which at times resembles the Queensland Police Association in its intransigence and resistance to change. Was it a spoiler for tonight’s story by Liz Jackson on Four Corners? Regardless it was done well.

So: Weekend Sunrise rules, Insiders OK, Offsiders a bit predictable, Sunday OK (barely so), Meet the Press OK.

Peter Fray

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