60 Years of QLD TV

Days elapsed since Local Edition's end.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kuttsywood's Couch's 10 defining Queensland TV moments of the 00's

Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana from "The Life of Reason" published in 1905.

As we exit this decade, this blog aims to present the 10 defining moments of the last decade (a first of a series leading to the end of 09... and the beginning of the tenn's), in the Queensland industry, that one way or another is following that saying, possibly many southerners who have moved up here (and some locals too) are to learn from in order for the saying not to become a self-fullfiling prophecy for our industry. I must also inform you of my favorite paraphrase of this saying...
Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, are destined to repeat them.

10-Local Edition (2000)
Seven Brisbane's attempt at winning the 5:30 slot, that was a failure from the beginning. It was a hour long, had two hosts and expensive production values. Despite all the Olympic promotion, even a ad was published in the 2001 Beacon to Beacon directory, the program was axed, and Seven promised a replacement, which up until this day, the network has not fulfilled this promise to Brisbane viewers.

9-Ten Queensland (the former QTV) cutting local news in Cairns/Townsville (2001)
Southern Cross Broadcasting's rapid expansion in the 2000's, began with the acquisition of Telecasters Australia, a mainly Ten network affiliate group, consisting of Ten Queensland (originally QTV) based in Cairns and Ten Northern NSW (originally NRTV) based in Coffs Harbour, as well as the second commercial station in Darwin and a valuable satellite licence running out of Mt Isa. The first major decision was to axe the Cairns/Townsville news service, taken at the same time as Ten Capital axed their local news. It was these decisions, that led to a inquiry into regional news standards, while SCB officially dropped local branding in 2002, followed by full Southern Cross branding in 2005.

8-Frank Warrick departure from Seven (2001)
Frank Warrick, became a icon of a station, and the McGrath/Warrick duo was the ultimate sign of staying power in TV news (even more than Des McWilliam and Geoff Mullins). But come late 2001, some tectonic shifts were happening, a precursor to the arrival of Peter Meakin at 7 in 2003. The BTQ newsroom was cleaned out, including the news director, and ultimately, Frank Warrick was forced out. Soon after, Kay read solo, a Sydneysider was running the newsroom, and Seven was intent on beginning it's highway to revival...

7-Brisbane viewers V Seven, round 1: Local Today Tonight axing (2002-03)
Seven's second major change in News/Current Affairs in Brisbane set Seven's news revival back three years, with the axing of Today Tonight's Brisbane version. It started so innocently, with local TT host Michelle Reiken going on maternity leave, so Seven began to air the Melbourne/Sydney edition (the Sydney version was dropped, in similar fashion, but the host, Mellissa Doyle went on to bigger things) during summer, and was widely expected that Brisbane's TT would return with a fill-in host, but suddenly, in May 2003, the local version was axed. There was a major outcry in Brisbane, but Seven never relented. As a result, Seven had broken it's second promise to Brisbane viewers, on local content in three years.

6-Mike London controversy (2003)
A real controversial incident (we can't say the finer details), that wrote finis to a career. Mike London (brought up through regional television) and Bruce Paige (brought in from the ABC) had a "great" relationship. Rumor spreads in the TV industry and it was taken to the point, that the Courier Mail exploded some off-camera incidents, and eventually Mike resigned. This loss, forced a major change to the news service, with Heather Foord and Jillian Whiting switching roles.

5-Marie-Louise Theile gaffe (2000)
This mid-2000 incident, sums up Ten's image problems in Brisbane, in the 00's to a "t". Simply, a ad break (last ad break before the end of the bulletin) ended early, and we get treated to Marie-Louise going off about her husband, and the sheepish reaction by her co-anchor Geoff Mullins, before floor director alerts them to the end of the break. As a result, Marie Louise, had to apologise, and in the process become typecast as a typical Australian blooper, although it has been overshadowed recently, by of all things, a seagull appearing in front of a newly installed live cam, for Nine News in Melbourne.

4-Nine Brisbane weather flux (2006-09)
John Schluter has something to be thankful for, as if it weren't for him, all these events concerning QTQ would have never happened, had he not defected to 7. Schluter's departure from Nine simply caused a major headache. Simply, from September 2006 through to January 2009, Nine Brisbane went through four weekday weather presenters, before committing to Garry Youngberry, a southern import. Each one fell to different misfortunes, Joseph May was given the chop by Nine, in June 2009, Doug Murray quit "amicably" in June 2009, Frank Warrick quit, for the open road in late 2008 and Sami Lukis, left for Sydney (for a radio project) in late 2008. All the while Schluter's laughing away like a kookaburra.

3-Brisbane viewers V Seven, round 2: (Gotta) Love (It) You Queensland (2007-09)
Love You Brisbane was a very successful campaign, for Seven in the 1980's. When Seven decided to revive the campaign as a "Queensland" orientated push, it succeeded... to a point. But a new wave of viewers discovered the original campaign, and found it to be superior to the revival, and asked for it back. The station's fiftieth special delivered, but also renewed the push for the older slogan's return as Seven fights in a tough slot, and one it wasn't expecting to lose.

2-Brisbane viewers V Seven, round 3: the Deal decline (2009-)
Come July 2009, there was tectonic shifts again, but this time, the viewership showed their power. Remembering what Seven had done earlier in the decade, Brisbane abruptly turned off Deal or No Deal six weeks after beginning head to head competition with Eddie McGuire. Brisbane voted with their remotes, and by the end of 2009, Deal was embarrassingly coming last in the network at 5:30, even having Perth beat Brisbane's 5:30 figures.

1-Brisbane Extra axing (2009)
But all this problems with Deal could not have happened without the axing of the golden goose, that led Seven to produce Local Edition to share in the glory. Brisbane Extra was not axed locally by a station manager, but a Sydney beancounter's decision who overruled the Brisbane "viewership". The Extra axing was a clear example, how much the audience had changed (still parochial, but more internet-based), since the TT axing six years earlier. Instead of writing in to the then broadsheet Courier-Mail, Brisbane used the web as their soapbox. Comments flooded in, not just to a Nine-controlled OurBrisbane website, but to the Courier-Mail, talkback radio, and the implements of a new technological age, the websites that shaped Web 2.0, Twitter and Facebook.

Do you agree with this list, or is there other contenders? Just leave a comment.

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