More change for Nine News?

It’s a tough game in telly.

Just days after Nine’s Sydney newsreader Mark Ferguson was moved from weeknight to weekend newsreading, now there is a story circulating that the network’s new boss himself, John Wesacott, could be next to go.

The Daily Telegraph reports that CEO David Gyngell “is poised to point the bone at his henchman.”

According to the newspaper, Westacott’s position has been undermined by the promotion of former British TV boss Mark Calvert to a new role of national director of news.

Calvert, who was hired by Gyngell to freshen up the Today show and advise on its programming about 18 months ago, has been given the reins to improve news ratings in the key markets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Sydney news director Ian Cook, who championed Michael Usher for the 6pm job, has been all but demoted in the reshuffle, now answerable to the former BBC and Sky News reporter.

Calvert’s rise was played down by Nine publicity yesterday as “a nuts and bolts appointment”.

He is to report to Westacott, who – relieved of key duties – is said to be returning his focus to current affairs flagship 60 Minutes.

Last year Westacott was at the centre of a discrimination case brought by former Nine reporter Christine Spiteri, a claim that dragged on until it was eventually settled out of court.

Calvert, whose wife Belinda Russell is a reporter on A Current Affair, has won high praise within Nine, with an insider stating he is “in thick” with Gyngell.

Meanwhile, the always insightful Tracy Spicer writes today that Nine’s issues are not solved by switching presenters.

“… is it just the bland leading the bland? Why bother respraying the car when you really need to overhaul the engine?” she asks.

“Colleagues watch in sadness as the once mighty Nine News serves up graphics with spelling mistakes, poor writing and, at times, incorrect information. It never would have happened in Kerry’s day.”

She adds: “Economic rationalism, the internet, fragmentation of the mass media, the shrinking advertising dollar and bad decisions have created a perfect storm, holing Nine’s once-mighty news service.

“This leaves Channel 7 in the box seat, with perennially popular Ian Ross anchoring a bulletin that often features genuine exclusives.

ABC News is enjoying its best ratings in years. Each night the 7pm bulletin consists of well-written, interesting and important stories from Australia and around the world, presented by the cool, calm and credible Juanita Phillips.”

Source: Daily Telegraph


  1. These two openings highlight a core challenge of any pilot: demonstrate how the show will feel both freshly distinct and familiar enough to be recognizable and comfortable, the delicate balance between similarity and difference that structures commercial television as a format. ,

  2. Hello, re presenters, I am a little hearing impaired and use a small amount teletext and it is also very annoying for my husband who is not hearing, when your presenters continue to “wave hands about and use many hand gestures, eg using this to express themselves. This makes for hard to read and hear and is very distracting even for people who are not hearing impaired. also pleae ask your presenters to face the camera when presenting especially the weather segments. I await your reply. Mrs Tina Mills

  3. My comment is this. Regardless of channel, does anyone expect a quality news show at 6pm?

    More and more it’s the timeslot for kids or entertainment. BBC1 have intentionally dumbed down their 6pm evening news in recent years (newsreaders showing excitement, etc). Of all the German main evening news programs the most popular is ARD with 35% at 8pm, then ZDF with 26% at 7pm followed by RTL with 19% at 6:30pm. Notice the trend? And supremacy in News is a battle fought by the two most poplar TV channels in France just like it’s fought between 7 and 9 here – but at 8pm, not 6pm.

  4. Thanks for respsonse Spunkymonkeycaesar.
    My major concern with your posts was “your avoidance to post in any “bad programming news threads involving Nine (like McLeods & Flashpoint ep 5, then 4, then ?) and your complete pro 9 stance.Maybe if you posted in those type of thread my opinion would alter.
    Well that’s how I and others had seem it.
    I appreciate your point of view – just don’t agree.
    I think most FTA networks need to lift their game but Nine are by far the worst at the moment along way from when they were the One..

  5. Spunkymonkeycaesar

    Zambora, you are too quick to point a finger, and jump straight down my throat! – I do not have any involvement with Nine whatsoever! – So I therefore cannot tell you what life is like in the PR Department at Nine, nor can I tell you why Nine switched Mark with Peter – I too am wondering the same question, however common sense would have it, it is in the hope of getting bigger and better ratings considering Peter Overton is seen as being more credible than Mark…

    Also, Nine have tried working with the 5.30 timeslot with shows as Bert’s Family Feud and Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune, both of which have evidently failed – After both have been costly mistakes Nine have had to sit back and look at a serious way they can dent Deal or No Deal. They are trying to work with the 5.30 timeslot, as seen with their replacement of Antiques Roadshow with The Zoo as of next Monday. Also, the new magazine style show is a way of giving viewers something different…

  6. Spunkymonkeycaesar

    Zambora, I try my utmost hardest to respond to each criticising comment you or someone else may write in response to a comment of mine. Likewise do I try my hardest to respond to such articles as the random order of Flashpoint etc… I lead a very busy life, and don’t always have access to the internet, and as I have only just gotten back from spending a few months working in an Orphanage in India, I have been busy catching up with months of TV news!

    If you give me a chance to do so, I shall air my opinion. I think it is an absolute disgrace the way Channel Nine have treated the 8th season of McLeod’s Daughters considering it is in my view the best TV program on Australian free to air TV. As David (I think) mentioned there pretty much was no point to Nine making the 8th season at all! – But hey there is no point dwelling on that, move on, and get over it. Likewise with Flashpoint, what the hell is the point to showing a series out of order, considering a series is a series and needs to be followed on from where it left off! – Obviously though, with that said, there must be some reason as to why Nine have decided to go the way they have…

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very critical of some of Nine’s moves and actions, such as the replacement of Mark Ferguson (which I feel was totally unneccessary), and the pretty much axing of McLeod’s Daughters, but praise needs to be given where necessary which people don’t seem to do with Nine unlike Seven!

  7. I’ve said this previously, but it’s timely to repeat it… in my experience of dealing with Network publicists they are so overworked and understaffed they have more important things to do than write comments in blogs and messageboards. Some barely have time to read the article let alone the comments.

    I think we simply have to accept that there are people with favourite shows / personalities / networks and they are entitled to enjoy and / or defend them.

    Less targeting of individuals and returning to article content would be good for all. It’s a free world. We won’t fall apart if somebody does or doesn’t like our favourites.

    Seven, Nine, Ten, ABC, SBS and Foxtel (et al) all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

  8. Must be plant season or Nine’s PR dept back here.
    Note how some users just back up others [point of viewx echoing how good nIne is – Spunkymonkeycaeser, billy, Irishbabe & michael
    Shame how noneof them around to answer criticism at Nine over Fashpoint handling or McLeods shambles. Gets beyond a joke when same users trot out similar garbage then say “5-30 lead in is the problem or “look at Seven network or Ten..
    Main thrust of this article is another change at nine in regards to news – here in Melbourne we are stuck with “an ex swimmer who can;t read an autocue, can ad lib and is hopeless at reporting sports.
    Just for the heck of it – hey “Spunykymonkeycaesar” if Nine’s lead in is the problem, why don’t they fix it. Why did Nine change Ferguson & Overton. Wh change news director if all is well. Why pick a doubleact for Weeked today when neither has appeal with the public.

    Maybe you lot should address problems at Nine instead of tring to deflect and throw mud elsewhere.get your own house in order. BTW, what islife like in the PR dept ?

  9. Overton is not overly polished like Ferguson, Ross even less so. The more gloss male presenters are provided the less cred they have, that’s why old foges like Hendo, Roscoe, Wilson and Webster keep doing it.

    Viewers want hot chicks and crusty old blokes, why – because women viewers can compare themselves to them or complain about the female presenter while blokes like hot babes to watch. The old bloke behind the desk makes the average male think better about themselves, whereas an average female presenter gets criticised because women think she’s too ugly for TV (the i’m better than her syndrome) and blokes think she’s not r**table. In saying that, when will there be a swing away from crap news to something closer to ABC News or SBS or even regional style (like Prime or NBN) because the content is getting worse and the gloss presentation is merely that hiding poor content.

  10. 7 easily have the most dumbed down news and push many agendas, Can’t stand it. Mark Riley has to be the worst journo that covers anything on any channel. How did he get a job?

  11. I agree 9 news and 7 news are practically the same. Though I find 7 is slightly less trashy than 9. Take Overton’s lead story for last night which was more suited to ACA.

  12. 7 seems to have more content and actual news stories leaving the fluff for Today Tonight. Doesn’t matter who presents 9 news, its just not as good and not as much on it. Seems they read slower and drag the stories on too long. Even 10 news is better I think.

  13. Have to agree with Spunkymonkeycaeser, 7 news and 9 news are actually very similar, most of the time they report on the exact same story. I actually thought that Peter Overton did a great job last night. And i wonder what pay roll Tracey Spicer is on …. hmmmmm.

  14. The lead in is definately a problem with Seven already winning come 6 o’clock… Explains why Nine always wins with a Cricket lead in or a League lead in…

    Edu you are exactly right – Nine have a brilliant line up of News Presenters and Reporters, who unfortunately aren’t being utilised well enough…
    Nine needs to get rid off the fluff celebrity stories in order to distinguish themselves from Seven and get a competitive advantage by looking more credible and serious – Put the fluff stories on ACA where they belong! The order of the news sometimes can be scrutinised. The way the story is written and presented is an issue. Oh and the News Presenter is a factor as well, but Mark did just as good a job as Peter has already!

  15. This is what I like bout Nine; there are more drama happening behind the camera; it’s better than what they are presenting, lol. Seriosuly, Nine should really look at the contents. It’s got a very good lineup of reporters and newsreader, I reckon it’s the packaging of the news which is the problem.

  16. i’m with tony, the other day i watched 9 news for the first time in a long time. the 3 heading stories, cricket, sydney to hobart, and some rescue. all 3 ended with the BBQ in the carpark, yes, aussie values are important but don’t have their place in the 6:00 news.

    absolutely no reason to swap, and what is with their fake blue-screen spaceage sets, and no desks!!! the readers never know what to do with their hands, it quite distracting. don’t even get me started on grant hackett, soooo painful to watch, give the job to someone with talent that cares.

  17. While we’re on the subject of Nine and their shoddy news and current affairs reporting what about the appalling stories and reporting on A Current Affair-Last week they opened the show with an absolute ‘beat up’ about Jennifer Hawkins and her new pad in Coogee – according to ACA the Jen’s neighbours has been complaining about her ‘noisy parties’. Now one would have thought the reporter would have managed to gain an interview with the complaining neighbours and with Jen herself to make it a credible story. Not on this occassion, instead a dodgy reporter in a suit starting vox poping people on Coogee Beach who all praised Hawkins and didn’t know of any complaints – the reporter was obviously struggling to get anyone to say anything nasty so decided to turn it into a comedy peice that wasn’t in the least bit funny. Essentially ACA were out to discredit Hawkins with a nothing story and their motivation was so obvious – Hawkins is contracted to Seven!

  18. Spunykymonkeycaesar

    Too right you are Andrew! I must question two things in this article of Tracy’s: Firstly, in what way are Nine’s Exclusives not as genuine as Seven’s?! – Laurie Oaks’ Fuelwatch Exclusive, that wasn’t seen anywhere else other than Nine, not even the ABC, sure was genuine! Secondly, I must ask when Nine has “served up graphics with spelling mistakes… incorrect information”…?

    The problem in my opinion goes back to the root or the stem of the network as a whole, which people seem to have completely lost faith in… If people don’t have faith in the network as a whole to deliver, then they definitely won’t have faith in the networks’ news service to deliver!

    Sure, Tracy’s questioning “Why bother respraying the car when you really need to overhaul the engine?” is legitimate, but that is just the tip of the iceberg… For the lead in is clearly a problem, Nine desperately needs to address rather than dishing up a show nobody wants to watch! It is quite interesting to note at the same time, as Josh mentioned in a previous post, Nine News’ ratings dropped quite significantly, as soon as Brian Henderson departed Nine and went into retirement – Surely just because Hendo left, the quality of the news didn’t diminish! Viewers simply flocked from Nine to Seven, at a time when Nine was extremely vulnerable and things haven’t changed as of yet…

    Seven News is no better than Nine News, if anything it is worse in my opinion.

  19. Watch SBS news and sport at 6.30pm! Last night’s Ch9 news was terrible. All the stories were fluff pieces, including their opening ‘exclusive’ about the guy that lost his house. Dear god. They tried to manufacture a story out of nothing and it went nowhere. Exclusive yes – because no one else gave a sh*t about it. It is obvious that they are aiming the news at yobbos – simple aussies who care only about smokes and drink. They may as well have Reg Reagan reading the news. Do yourself a favour and watch ABC and SBS news before it is too late. The days of Hendo are long, long gone.

  20. I watched NINE news for the first time for many years last week. What a shambles! Lowest common denominator viewing with stories aimed at simpletons. It was embarrassing to watch.

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