The Nine Network has canned its quasi-news program, THISafternoon from today — within three weeks of it starting weekdays at 4.30pm.

It’s a humiliating back down for the network and its new News boss, Mark Calvert, who championed the program and the hosts, Andrew Dado, Katrina Blowers and Mark Ferguson, who resigned at the end of the program first week to go to Seven in October. Andrew Daddo left ABC local Radio in Sydney for this gig. He had been the Monday to Friday evening host.

The last program yesterday averaged a low 219,000 from 4.30pm and was easily beaten by programs on Seven’s 4.30pm News and MASH and Ten’s The Bold and the Beautiful and the first half hour of the Ten News. It started at 321,000 12 days ago and sank straight away.

In the statement issued late this morning Nine Network Director of News, Mark Calvert said:

While this is regrettable, our attitude is that it is better to have given it a shot. In the short time it was on air the team worked hard, but it was clear the program was struggling to attract a sizeable audience. It is vital that we recognise this and act swiftly.

From today, Nine will broadcast a half-hour news bulletin at 4.30pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow at 5.00pm. Millionaire Hot Seat continues its successful run at 5.30pm.

Nine will be talking to the THISafternoon team in the comings days about redeployment across the network’s extensive news and current affairs programming.

Our absolute focus remains on placing news and current affairs at the very heart of the network and its resurgence.

So its back to the future for Nine. Tens of thousands of dollars wasted on a ill-thought out program, careers truncated by the lure of Nine’s loot and the ambitions of people who couldn’t organise a chook raffle. Blind Freddy could have told Nine and Calvert the program wouldn’t work. After all, Live At Five died after being called dead At Six and the Extra programs it became died, except in Brisbane where it lasted until Calvert killed it to accommodate THISafternoon.

Nine has given up valuable revenues to THISafternoon and wasted the money that was being earned from 5pm to 6pm by boosting the costs of the programming from 4.30pm to 6pm: all for nothing. It sounds so much like situation normal at Nine under David Gyngell: just more of CVC’s money to be wasted, but don’t worry, there’s more to be spent