Craig McPherson, Executive Producer of Today Tonight, has defended the content of Seven show following a volatile article in the Fairfax press yesterday.
Strongly branded as an “Opinion” piece, the story’s opening paragraph said:
“Today Tonight is a cancerous growth inside Australian broadcasting. The Channel Seven ‘current affairs’ show, which regularly draws an audience of more than 1 million on weeknights at 6.30, is an amoral production house where the race to the bottom has been won with stories that begin as sensationalist and move towards the sordid. The notion that it’s so bad it’s funny is no longer applicable. It’s so bad that it’s a disgrace.”
The article went on to criticise some of the show’s regular topics and style.
McPherson, who rarely gives media interviews, has since told Mediaweek he didn’t know much about the author, of the piece Craig Mathieson.
“Who is he?” he asked.
“From what we can gather he’s an alternate rock music critic who has decided I guess to delve into the more popular domain of television and he’s come at us all guns blazing. Naturally everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Don’t shy away from that.
“But the way it was written, the tone, the vindictiveness, the rabidness of it I think was totally unjustified and unfair.
“He knew the end before he started the means.”
But while the article provoked a reaction, Today Tonight is often accused of the very same agenda.
“The show is relevant to what’s going on out there, as best as we can be, and that’s always a judgmental thing,” said McPherson.
Asked whether TT pushes buttons he said:
“Push buttons? I guess, yeah, we do push buttons. The community often requires buttons to be pushed. We spark debate, we see what they’re interested in, what they’re not interested in and we go with that.
“We don’t deliberately set out to push any particular button. But we’re there to try and be as relevant as we can to the Australian population.”
He was also questioned about his views on A Current Affair, but despite some robust criticism, arrived at one point on which both shows could agree:
“Both shows do serve a purpose. I don’t care what the intelligensia media try and make of either program. They both actually do serve a purpose, in a community that is crying out for somebody to help them on any given topic,” he said.
So far the Fairfax article has attracted over 600 comments.
The interview addresses content, promos, competition, ratings, interstate editions and more.
You can hear more of it here.