ABC cuts radio current affairs programs. Two of the ABC’s flagship radio current affairs programs will be halved in length next year. Staff in the radio current affairs division yesterday were told that The World Today and PM would both be cut to 30 minutes. TWT will finish at 12.30pm instead of 1pm, to be followed by a new entertainment program hosted by Myf Warhurst. PM will start at 6.30pm instead of 6pm, with the preceding local radio Drive programs extended. The new head of audio current affairs Tanya Nolan — who also oversees Radio National’s Breakfast, Background Briefing and RN Drive programs — told staff the changes were based on audience research that showed listeners were increasingly listening to on-demand services rather than traditional radio.

An ABC spokeswoman told Crikey the line-up for radio next year would be announced tomorrow, but said there would be no changes to resourcing.

Managing director Michelle Guthrie announced a massive organisational restructure last month for the public broadcaster, which will remove the long-standing divisions between TV, radio, news and online for staff to work within genres instead. 

Studio 10 EP sues over alleged sacking. The former executive producer of Studio 10 is suing the Ten Network for breach of contract after he says he was sacked. Rob McKnight said he was sacked from the program last month, and sent an email to staff saying his passion had been his downfall: “Recently, I was very close to a breakdown (let’s be honest, I was going through a breakdown) which led to my four weeks off. While that was a good opportunity to recharge, the ongoing pace of our under resourced show has shown the strains once again. Unfortunately, I am not Ten material. I have been informed my services are no longer required.”

In the email, McKnight said he wouldn’t “spin a BS line that I resigned”.

McKnight is suing Ten for breach of contract, and the Daily Telegraph has reported that he was sacked after one of the show’s hosts Jessica Rowe complained about the filming of a Christmas special where Denise Drysdale allegedly threw a bowl of Brussels sprouts at Ita Buttrose.

McKnight’s lawyer John Laxon said McKnight was suing for breach of contract over a failure to pay contractual notice.

Manly Daily cut to two editions a week. News Corp’s Manly Daily will be cut back to two editions a week, under what the paper has called a “bold and exciting new direction”. The local paper for Sydney’s northern beaches had previously published every day except Sunday and Monday. The “unmissable print editions” will be published on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the note to readers from editor Steve Howard said breaking news and sport would be published on the paper’s website and social media profiles seven days a week. He said the decision was based on reader research.

Howard took over as editor two months ago, replacing Nick Calacouras, who is now the Daily Telegraph‘s digital editor at the News Corp HQ in Sydney.

In a statement, NewsLocal (the News Corp division responsible for local newspapers) John McGourty said the new-look paper would be “bolder, bigger, brighter, better, more entertaining and informative in all media channels”. “Just as our readers lives and needs have changed, so too must the Manly Daily evolve to keep in step with its readership and its advertisers,” he said.

News Corp did not comment on whether there would be any redundancies related to the changes.

The revolving door. The ABC has announced the new executive producer of 7.30. Justin Stevens will take charge of the flagship current affairs program from the beginning of next year, taking over from acting EP Sharon O’Neill, who has been in the role since Jo Puccini was appointed as head of the new ABC Investigations unit. O’Neill will be the supervising producer of Stan Grant’s new nightly program on the News channel.

Defamation lawsuit lodged against Fox. Fox News producer Rachel Witlieb Bernstein is suing former anchor Bill O’Reilly and Fox News for defamation and breaching a 2002 settlement agreement struck over harassment Bernstein endured from O’Reilly. The legal action flows from The New York Times story on April 1 that revealed O’Reilly and FNC paid out around $13 million to blunt lawsuits over O’Reilly’s actions over the years.

“Defendant O’Reilly portrayed himself as a ‘target’ and claimed that complaints against him aec extortionate,” the suit seeking $75,000-plus in damages says of O’Reilly’s widely publicised push-back statements after the NYT article and the news of another $32 million settlement was made public in October. “This is false,” the filing adds. “In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms Bernstein’s complaints about him were far from extortionate.” — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. Day two of summer ratings and it was Nine’s night again, thanks to the third day of the Adelaide Ashes test as the pink ball dominated proceedings, especially in the evening session. Tonight it will be the pink ball v The Good Doctor — we think the threat that he may walk out is a bluff, because it is successful and there is always another series for a successful show.

The ABC’s line up did well, while Ten was weak and Seven ran dead. The third session of the Test had 1.86 million national viewers (1.30 million in the metros and 561,000 in the regions). The second session had 1.39 million national viewers (970,000 in the metros and 426,000 in the regions). The first session had 926,000 nationally, with 649,000 in the metros and 277,000 in the regions.

In regional markets, Seven News was tops with 607,000, the third session of the Ashes test was second with 514,000, then Seven News/TT with 489,000, followed by Nine/NBN News with 447,000 and the second session of the Test cricket was fifth with 426,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Peter Fray

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