Days elapsed since Local Edition's end.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Local Edition: Why Seven should keep their word.

2010, for many people is a momentous occasion, end of the noughties etc.

For some, recent events have tried to rewrite history, but only have been really a revisiting of the past...
Let us take a flashback, that I believe Seven Brisbane is afraid to run on Sunday night's news, a... Local Edition flashback.

The current Deal downturn, has reminded many viewers, and some analysts, of the last 2 & 1/2 months of 2000, where there were two competing local products leading into the 6pm news in Brisbane. The battle at 5:30, that Seven was hoping to win handsomely, but failed at. The great "local content war", started in earnest in the late 1990's, when Seven tried one summer, a "live" weekday edition of their successful Great South East advertorial, during a period when Extra was off-air, packaged up with older stories. It failed, but showed that Seven could do something, as the 7 station in Brisbane was itching to beat Extra...

By the time the Sydney Olympics began, final pilots were shot, and promos were airing, for the debut of Seven's answer, to Extra. Accordingly (but at the same time a silly decision in retrospect, as Nine still leads at 6pm on the Gold Coast) Seven's Gold Coast News service (run jointly with regional affiliate Prime) was axed. So, the stage was set, for what Seven hoped to be, their moment for Frank and Kay to overtake Bruce Paige at 6pm, and return Seven Brisbane to the halcyon days of the 1980's, when anything BTQ touched turned to ratings gold.

But, straight away, when Local Edition debuted, people were very reluctant to ditch Extra. Other flaws included, the hourlong format, from 5-6pm, which was not only competing with Extra, but Ten's 5pm news and Burgo's Catch Phrase (which was on Nine in southern states at 5:30) as well as, the throwing out of schedule in Brisbane of then-Seven gameshow Wheel of Fortune, for the first time since the program's inception nearly twenty years earlier. But people weren't warming to Local Edition, to the point, that Seven were placing fourth, just ahead of SBS in the 5-6 slot, before the inevitable announcement.

Just before Christmas 2000, Local Edition was "axed", but a whole lot of momentum was placed on the hope, that the network would reboot Local Edition as a 30 minute program, sometime in 2001. A rushed pilot was even shot, ready for executives in Sydney to view, but the plug was officially pulled on Local Edition, by Seven in early 2001, without the 30 minute pilot being seen. Local Edition's axing, was in my opinion the spark that set off, the chain of events in 2001 that led to Melissa Downes leaving Seven, and the untimely end of Frank Warrick's glorious run at BTQ-7, along with the station's focus switching from national and local production, to simply propping up the 6pm news with a major newsroom clearout.

Although the 5:30 concept has been looked at post-Local Edition (then BTQ program director David Franken, in mid 2001, saying in the press, that when the right formula was found, Seven would have another crack at Extra, being a prime example), the threat of competition forced Extra to lift their game, with the launch in 2001, of Extra Online (after Local Edition, had a website for it's entire run) and Saturday Extra (which became Saturday Afternoons in 2005, then became Weekend Extra in 2008) right up until the axing in June last year, but it has reminded many viewers, about Seven's final words on the issue, being that it promised to have a 5:30 product in Brisbane, sometime in the future.

That statement was made nearly ten years ago. The only major investment Seven has done in the last decade, has been the recent opening of new Surfers Paradise facilities with a promise of a Seven News service for the Gold Coast, in the future. But, it all should hinge on Seven keeping their word to Brisbane viewers about 5:30. After all, it is Brisbane viewers who caused Deal to start skewing Local Edition numbers, although the population of SEQ has grown in the last decade. Quite simply, Deal's suffering, because of Seven's inaction, and summer has shown that in spades. Paige wouldn't be winning, if Deal weren't losing. Sounds a lot like 2000 to me. So Seven, It is time for Local Edition to make a return, 30 minutes of Queensland stories, sounds a lot better than 30 minutes of suitcases, McGuire or TT/ACA any day. The outpouring of support for Extra post-axing, and the Deal decline caused by the Extra axing is proof.

4 comments:

  1. Everyone makes promises. Many of them are broken, sometimes deliberately sometimes not. People move on. I think you need to move on from this 'oh woe is Brisbane' routine and harping on a token promise that was made a decade ago. TV is a national industry these days. There is no 'local' in TV anymore apart from news and even then a lot of liberties are made. Melbourne is a market of 4 million people, Sydney is closer to 5 million. Like it or not, neither city has a strong 'local' TV scene. Everything is made with a national focus. Brisbane with its 1.5 million or whatever is no more special than these 2 cities.

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  2. It isn't the Sydney/Brisbane divide. It isn't about cockroaches and canetoads either.

    The one thing I never mentioned in this post, but came up recently, is that TV journalism no longer has the breeding grounds, in Brisbane's case Extra to bring up the next generation of great journalists, those who will be winning Walkleys in a decade or two.

    TelevisionAU, take a look at this post by Brisbane's Meshel Laurie: Click here I reckon, people are sick of local journalism being given the cold shoulder.

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  3. Do you realise how expensive it is to produce these shows? I can assume Seven has done the sums and found out it's not really all that cost effective. If it was filled with infomercials, then possibly, but who wants to watch that at 5 or 5.30pm?

    BTQ doesn't have a production crew anymore (their local programs such as 'Great South East' are outsourced), so they would have to hire new people just to work on the show. This would add more cost onto the show. They could use their news studio staff to crew positions in the studio.

    It would be nice if they could produce a show like this, but in this day of age, it's not all that cost effective unfortunately.

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  4. @Anonymous: The initial setup costs would be costly. I have suggested a few times, that 7 Brisbane needs a major upgrade, if it is to survive. HD would be the only way to go.

    I have also suggested a few times, that the weekend advertorials be cut from three to two, to give the 5:30 advertorials a stronger base, and allow network programs that run at 5pm Saturdays interstate to run in that slot in Brisbane.

    Creek to Coast surely costs a whole lot more, than keeping a underperforming (i.e Deal results being down heavily from 2009, and is now thrashed by Hot Seat/GC News and Ten News) national game show, but why can't 7 fix this, and give Brisbane viewers their 5:30 solution...

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