Several things emerged from last night’s launch of the ABC’s 2008 schedule.

It’s a male network: the three most important people involved in the launch were Kim Dalton, head of ABC TV; Andrew Denton, who topped and tailed the video promo and Tony Jones, who will be the face of news and current affairs at the public broadcaster. The most prominent female presence in the promotional material was actor Georgie Parker who has probably the toughest gig of all on Play School.

It was also clear last night that it was the Kim Dalton show. Courtney Gibson, the new head of content and her deputy, Amanda Duthie, were there, but strangely not mentioned by name. From the chat, their recent cover story in the Weekend Australian Magazine did put noses out of joint. After all, it was another head of TV, Sandra Levy, who commissioned and nurtured the likes of the Chaser gang.

ABC management will deny it, but Jones will be the “intelligent face” of ABC TV, in the way that Kerry O’Brien has been in the past. Jones has clearly been positioned ahead of O’Brien but the ABC has to watch the “Ray Martin factor”. 

Jones could be on three or four different programs this year including regular hostings, say two nights a week, on Lateline, the new program Q & A and specials like the one on homeless youth in April and “Sorry” day from Federal Parliament next week.

Leigh Sales and Virginia Trioli will share the Lateline hostings when Jones is absent: Ms Sales will emerge as the winner there.

Q & A sounds an interesting idea. It will be overseen by former Media Watch EP, Peter McEvoy, so it will have more of a chance than Difference of Opinion last year.

And surprisingly, the Seven Network is a winner with the ABC deciding to support its TiVo digital platform with an unspecified amount of programming:

This year the ABC will continue to redefine television. We have deliberately chosen a different path to the other networks – embracing true multi channelling. ABC1 and ABC2 will offer distinctive Australian programming as well as a range of quality overseas programs.

Our content will be available on demand, online, as downloads and streamed. Our channels and a range of our content will be available on the Tivo platform when it launches. And later this year, we will make some exciting announcements about Internet TV.

It will add credibility to Seven’s attempts to establish TiVo as a digital platform for Australian TV. Seven had thought Ten would be the first network to join, but they went off to join the Foxtel Electronic Program Guide first up.

Last night also saw the launch of the ABC’s new logos for its ABC1 and ABC2 (digital) networks, as well as specific promos for each channel.

The famous “wave” was there, despite claims in The Australian last week (refuted in Crikey) that it had gone.

Peter Fray

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