When is a News Update not a News Update?

EXCLUSIVE: If you’re watching a News Update at 8:30 or 9:30pm is it acceptable if the news was pre-recorded earlier in the evening?

That’s the question some TV Tonight readers were pondering yesterday after Seven News Melbourne presenter Peter Mitchell was telling viewers at 8:30pm the ClickFrenzy sale was underway online. Huh? Hadn’t he noticed the sale crashed upon launch at 7pm? It was all over news websites and social media.

Another crawler just before 8:30pm had told viewers of local breaking news in which a murder suspect had appeared in a late out-of-court session. But Mitchell shortly reappeared to only advise the man had been arrested by police (the same info as in the 6pm bulletin). It wasn’t until around 9:40pm that Seven reporter Brendan Roberts appeared on location to detail the court session.

By contrast Peter Hitchener on Nine News advised of the court session at 8:30pm with reporter Laura Turner at St Kilda Police Headquarters at 9pm. Both were pre-recorded minutes before airing.

A Seven spokesperson told TV Tonight it takes a fluid approach to the presenter remaining on site depending on the day’s big stories. On Tuesday night, Peter Mitchell recorded his update in the hour after the main bulletin finished.

“All the networks are in the same boat,” they said. “(The) Newsreader records an update after the bulletin, time varying pending the news, then there are in-program crawls and live updates from the scene if the story warrants it. Last night, as with other networks, Brendan Roberts provided an update from the out-of-court court session with the latest news.”

Yesterday Nine News Melbourne director Hugh Nailon told TV Tonight, both Peter Hitchener and weekend presenter Alicia Loxley stay back to record newsbreaks, often as late as 10pm.

“The point is news is always happening and changing. At Nine, a dedicated producer/editor and newsreader stay back to record news breaks and update any developments on stories or to break news. Usually they are recorded about ten minutes before they go to air.

“This enables us to be first to report breaking or unfolding stories.

“Last night was a great example, in our 8.30 newsbreak, we were able to report that Steven Hunter had been charged in an out of sessions hearing. Then at 9pm Hitch was able to throw to a summary of the court hearing from reporter Laura Turner.

“Already this year, Hitch has been in the chair for some of our biggest stories that happened beyond 6 including Jill Meagher’s arrest, the Keilor siege and Prince Charles’ 10pm arrival. Not to mention being able to report countless results from the AFL tribunal.”

Seven also advised Peter Mitchell stayed on site for newsbreaks on the Jill Meagher story.

A TEN News spokesperson indicated it also uses pre-recorded Updates but could draw upon its Sydney-based Late News team for developing stories.

While we have two 24 hour news channels, radio, online news and social media tools, the game is on to provide viewers with up to date information.

Nine’s attention to detail could explain part of the reason why it is thumping its rival in the fickle Melbourne market, sometimes 100,000 in front of Seven.

Buoyed by its current success, Nine has just signed Peter Hitchener to another three years, ahead of his 40th year with the network next year.


  1. David,
    Moments ago I just seen a news update in Sydney at around 7:55pm. Presenting the update was Sarah Harris, who read the news at 6.
    18 Minutes before that she posted a tweet on twitter:

    “Quick change, now racing to Manly to host #manlymasqueradeball.. I’m late. Very late. #Cricket9”

    (Attached was a picture of her in a car)
    Would have been impossible for her to be presenting the update live.

  2. Ten’s evening updates started being recorded immediately after the 5pm news wrapped after Sandra Sully’s version of the Late News was cancelled. Prior to Late News returning the 10:30 update was over 4.5hrs old.

  3. The whole thing was very sloppy by 7. When the clck frenzy thing failed at 7pm a lot of the 2 million people who went to the website would of went to news sites to see what was going on. And a lot of those 2 million people would of also tuned into xfactor. So they already knew the story and when Peter Mitchell came on it really showed up the laziness of 7 news with this changing story. Maybe instead of 7 getting rid of on air staff, maybe they should be looking at off air staff as well. Seven really need to get a better grasp of the new media landscape.

    • Yes X Factor finale combined with 2 developing stories in Melbourne made for a bad final result. Given ClickFrenzy crashed at 7pm and was all over Twitter by 7:10pm I’m very dubious about when in the “hour after the news” their Update was done. It would seem to suggest earlier rather than later. Given these Updates are recorded earlier, yet the background display is night, it also smacks of deliberately seeking to mislead the audience. If Seven thinks recording Updates is ok, then why is it actively changing the background from day to night?

  4. No problem over in South Australia though as we get live local updates til 9:00pm AEDT and then the guys out of Sydney then do the later in the night updates, regularly done by the 4:30 presenter or there weather presenter. Melbourne is the only place this happens, it is to cut back costs.

  5. @AlanPo, yes i do keep an eye on all news figures. 7, 9, 10 and A.B.C. Whats wrong with that? I find it quite interesting.
    All i’m saying is when news in the evenings break, Mitchell is not in the building, on his way home by the looks of things.

  6. This is disgraceful stuff, really poor form from 7.

    Isn’t there a Steve Martin film where he plays an LA weatherman who pre-records his updates so he can take a weekend off? I never thought I’d see the day where this scenario might actually happen.

    I’m with Jezza on this one, if you want proper news look at SBS or ABC. The commercial networks and their “news”are just cross-promotions, lurid speculation, and tabloid gossip.

  7. Very legitimate story – well worth highlighting too, as I think journalistically it’s this is more than a little ‘dodgy’.
    As I suspect (though can’t definitively prove) that 7 News Melbourne’s mid-evening ‘News Update’ inserts have been predominantly pre-recorded – i.e. sometimes (perhaps, mostly?) potentially going out several Hours after being taped and Peter Mitchell has driven home. So in other words, these updates are not only not live (which they don’t claim to be, but do kind of heavily imply) but they are well, let’s say, rather stale by the time the later ones have aired. Most of the time, frankly, this probably won’t actually matter too much (if at all) but for a big / breaking story then surely it’s only a matter of time before 7 News Melbourne end up looking a bit silly. Because there’s absolutely no way that any newsroom can always know – with any certainty – When there’s going to be a big story unfolding or developing…

  8. I know this isn’t quite the same. On Tuesday I was waiting to watch Ellen at midday and use Nine Morning News was running nearly 20 minutes over time as they waited for the result of the man who put the fake collar bomb on a girls neck last year. Now being in Perth this was 3 hours late and we already knew the result. I was thinking in this instance instead of running overtime with “old” news they could of just went to the midday update from the Perth newsdesk.

  9. 7 have been caught out on this a few times in the past I recall.

    Although it reminds me of a report (on Media Watch I guess) that indeed the regional stations like Prime7 record their morning news “updates” the night before… even to the point where the news presenter has to do a change of outfit so that he/she is not seen wearing the same thing the next morning.

  10. @Sanndy, as someone who claims to be a loyal 9 viewer, you seem to keep a rather close eye on 7.
    I have not noticed 7 calling itself the number 1 news for a while. Their current slogan is the rather lame “Melbourne’s news first”.
    7 news was winning under the same team of presenters. Thier current problem has got more to do with thier TT style content and weak lead-in from DOND.
    As far as I can see, 9 news is also full of fluff pieces and Hollywood gossip. The only genuine free-to-air news service is still the ABC.

  11. jezza the first original one

    The comm chs so called news is often just a load of brain rotting mush with the majority of ‘news updates’ being pointless drivel containing a couple of sound bites. Anyone who wants sensible well balanced news watches either ABC or SBS

  12. Brings to mind an old joke that was made on ‘Full Frontal’ way back in the 90s by John Walker (playing news anchor Ian Goodings):

    “And of course there will be further updates throughout the evening … which I am going to pre-record right now.”

  13. “his 40th year with the network next year”. Congrats Hitch. Remember you fondly at TCN9 in the mid-70s until you defected to GTV.
    And love seeing Jo Hall in NSW on Sunday updates.
    ““All the networks are in the same boat,” they said. “(The) Newsreader records an update after the bulletin …”.
    TEN have their Late News presenters on tap, who do updates. ABC (NSW) often have Ian Henderson (Melb) updates, and Lateline presenter available.
    SBS has live presenters til 10:30-11.
    ABC24 is always live.

  14. What a big free kick for Ch9.
    7 News are struggling so much you would expect them wanting to be working back to midnight.

    What amazes me 7 has had the strenght of the last 2-3 months of a strong rating section between 7pm-10pm why wouldnt you want all those eye balls seeing a fresh news update?

    I fear Peter Mitchell is on his last legs. Which is a shame because I dont think its his fault.

  15. If they aren’t going to have “live” or near live updates then why not call them summaries i.e. “News Summary”, “Sports Summary” and “Weather Summary”. If you don’t like the word “summary” then look something up in a thesaurus. Because as I’ve mentioned I like those “summaries”. But I’d prefer you’d admit the truth. So the actual updates are really updates.

  16. @Kenny, agree totally with you. 7 news (Melb) keep saying number 1 news and they haven’t won 1 week for the year 2012. 9 news (Melb) have been thrashing them.
    And they wonder why they have a huge problem with news in (Melb).
    Change presenter.
    Great 2 see that Mr Hitchener has signed for another 3 years. 7 have lost my family. We look forward 2 watching live news from 9.

  17. If it is past their bed time and they can’t do a live update at the news desk and have to always Pre-record them then i’ll step in and do the updates live.

    I don’t mind working into the late night if it means news is reported when news happens

  18. ” a fluid approach to the presenter remaining on site depending on the day’s big stories”. So, nothing new happens after 6:30 according to HSV7? Do they look in the crystal ball and say “nope, all clear, see ya tomorrow”?
    And 7 is still promoting itself (in NSW at least) as “Australia’s Number 1 News” (?)

  19. When the Seven spokesperson says ““All the networks” what they really mena is all the _commerical_ networks. ABC updates are always presented live.

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