According to The Australian, management of ABC News and current affairs is reviewing its business coverage “after plummeting ratings for Lateline Business and amid management fears the reporting is “stodgy” and “boring”. The paper neglected to mention that, like 7.30, Lateline Business has changed presenters with start-up host Ali Moore getting the gig on Lateline. Like 7.30‘s loss of Kerry O’Brien, Moore’s departure has played a part in the loss of viewers, as has the advent of extra digital channels. 7.30 and Lateline Business also pick up viewers on News 24 through its simulcast and that’s where an interesting fudge has emerged in the leaks from inside the ABC.
Lateline Business is watched by around 24,000 at 8pm on News 24 and 97,000 on the main channel at 11pm. And, guess what, that 24,000 average on News 24 just about accounts for the loss of audience on the main channel this year. I would have thought the fact that Lateline Business is picking up viewers on News 24 earlier in the evening would be seen as a bonus — it means they’re not going to Sky News’ business programs. But not at the ABC which again seems to be struggling in the new TV environment of multi-channels, which it has so eagerly pioneered.
Another factor is the loss of audience earlier in the evening for the ABC. Its audience is also down this year to 10.9% from 12.6%. As usual ABC management knows the importance of lead-in programming across a nightly TV schedule, but because the ABC isn’t interested in ratings does nothing to help the later evening Latelines.
But the most amazing point of all is that ABC News and current affairs has got Denise Eriksen, the person responsible for the overspending and the poor design of the new set for 7.30, looking at revitalising Lateline Business. Erkisen is responsible for all news and current affairs on ABC TV and Radio — I thought that would have been part of news director Kate Torney’s gig. Somehow the management of this important part of the ABC looks lightweight.
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