Mark Ferguson replaces Chris Bath at Seven News

Mark Ferguson takes the anchor chair at Seven News in Sydney, with Chris Bath moved to Fridays and Saturdays.

2014-01-27_1054Seven has announced Mark Ferguson will read Seven News Sydney bulletin from tonight.

Chris Bath will now read only on Fridays and Saturdays.

The move comes after Seven has been trailing Nine News in the Sydney market, but Chris Bath told The Australian she welcomed the switch.

“For me juggling two prime time shows has always been hard and with Sunday Night now expanding, something had to give,” she said.

“There was no way I could juggle that and see my family. I’ve been with Sunday Night since day one, it’s my show and we are all very proud of how well it has done. It was a no-brainer.

“The figures are in black and white,” Bath said. “We won with Rossco (Ian Ross), and then I won the next three years. I had a good crack at it, that’s all I can do.”

Seven CEO Tim Worner said: “The appointment of Chris to this new role will see the development of the next phrase of her distinguished career. Sunday Night is the flagship program from our News and Public Affairs division, hosted by Chris since the first edition five years ago. Chris is a big part of the success of the program and is perfectly placed to lead Sunday Night into its expanded series in 2014.

“It’s a mark of the depth of skill and ability inside the Seven News team that we have a news reader of the calibre of Mark Ferguson to take up the reins from Chris. Mark’s news gathering experience at home and abroad perfectly qualify him for this new role.”

It remains unclear what expansion Sunday Night will undergo, but the show has been ‘seasonal’ at Seven, making way for Reality shows.

Network Director of News Rob Raschke added: “Chris Bath is peerless when it comes to covering breaking news, and she will continue to play a central role in this for the network.

“Mark is an immensely experienced journalist and presenter who has covered some of the biggest stories in the world. He’s held in very high regard by those who work with him and those who compete against him.”

The move comes at a time of ongoing change within Seven News amid speculation Today Tonight is rife for the axe.

Nine chief David Gyngell told The Australian: “Today Tonight has been cancelled and, if it is not by now it will be, and that’s not a stupid thing,” he said.

“People will criticise Seven for dropping Today Tonight but they will be just as committed to news coverage as before.”

Seven has a one hour News bulletin tonight but Today Tonight returns tomorrow.

42 Responses

  1. @tvwizzkid Thats great that Hitchener engages with the community, it does not necessarily reflect on his abilities as a news reader though. Some of the ratings may have to do with the quality of the coverage & variety of stories etc, might not mean people love the person presenting the stories. But as i said, i suppose it just gets down to people perceiving things differently.

  2. I have great respect for both newsreaders, but like what happened 12mnths ago at BTQ7 with veteran newsreaders Kay & Rod, they were both relegated to fri & sat shift. Personally, let Chris and Sharyn both host current affairs between them . They are both respected professionals that deserve a national audience. And give Kay her mon-fri position back

  3. Tvaddict your observations have me wondering if you need glasses and a hearing aide. Mitchell never had the tone, look, respect and personality to be a brilliant newsreader. With glasses on you will see his expressions don’t match the stories and give the viewers a real sense of confusion of where the program is at and what’s next etc. Hitchener has amazing reading skills that engage the viewers and the common touch which seems to resonate well with viewers, he also spends time in the community with the viewers getting feedback and giving support to people interested in getting into the industry. I saw him at Deakin Uni talking with media and journalism students. That shows my friends and I he cares and supports the community which is more than just reading news. Mitchell hides from public events due to a lack of personality and charisma. The ratings tell the story and for Mitchell…

  4. tvwizzkid i would say Hitchener is the one who is cold & drone looking, he also tends to have a ‘its the end of the world’ tone to his voice introducing alot of the stories. I guess some people might find that appropriate if they are grim stories but i find it overdone. Mitchell smiles when appropriate, Hitchener has openly giggled at things that really aren’t that funny & i find that unprofessional. Guess it just shows people can percieve so differently when viewing tv. Anyway I’d rather Chris Bath, Jennifer Keyte or Jo Hall over the male presenters.

  5. @Pete: what is this “special something that Peter Overton had”?

    Smugness? Arrogance?

    I prefer Chris Bath to Mark Ferguson but, whatever. Seven’s “news” is still going to be news in name only, whoever presents it.

  6. Peter Hitchener from 9 News Melbourne is by far the best reader in Australia and if you check the ratings for the last couple of years 7 News Melbourne have been flogged by 100k – 200k viewers per night. Maybe 7 should move Mitch to Sydney seeing he reads with no emotion, cold, stale and drone looks which may appear to Sydney siders! I’m sorry to say 7 news is 5 plus years off any improvement as they have lost the trust of viewers nationally due to the inconsistent and reactive changes. Mitch proudly promoted the new theme for 7 News and within a week it was canned and forgotten. 7 News is last across Australia however they promote to viewers they are first. How can we the viewer respect such lies and manipulation? David who is the head of 7 news Melbourne? Time for a change?

  7. The crisis Seven is facing with their 6pm news bulletin isn’t disparate to the woes Nine experienced more than a decade ago.

    When Brian Henderson finished his tenure in 2002, Nine experienced an identity problem across most of their news brands. Jim Whaley was the first of many to take up the 6pm news gig devoid of success. Over at Seven, Ian Ross took a big risk which paid off.

    Seven news’s ratings started heading south when Ian Ross wrapped up in 2009. Chris Bath has had four years to resonate with the audience. The only surprise is that Seven has waited this long to respond.

    Katie Couric was the heart and soul of NBC Today but when she took up the 6pm CBS post, look at how that fared. Hiring a woman to anchor a 6pm network news bulletin is a tough caper, irrespective of their historical roots or general popularity.

    As countless others have said through different media…

  8. Certainly is a mess at 7, who could keep up with what they’re doing?? I prefer 7 news to 9 news (in Melbourne) mostly because i much prefer Peter Mitchell as news reader to Peter Hitchener on 9 whom i cannot stand, But i must admit i end up watching 9 at times because there are stories in the opener that aren’t on 7 or they do a better coverage.

    Now they throw in the mix the hour long news, i understand them wanting to get rid of TT but i don’t think 1 hour news is a good alternative. I want it all in half hr & see the weather at the end of it, not waiting another 1/2 hr for it.

    And does anyone know if TT is permanently dropped & an hour news here to stay?? they don’t pre advertise when they are going to have hour news & seem to make up their minds on the day according to whats on other channels at 6.30, it really needs to be sorted out.

    Worse still was Jo Silvagni as…

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