60 Years of QLD TV

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Kuttsy's Pitch 4: Beyond "20 Years of Hell"

The Twitter hashtag for this post is #kpitch4
You have seen the teasers on Twitter since June... and it is now here: the tradition is back for it's 4th instalment. Welcome to Kuttsy's Pitch 4: Beyond "20 Years of Hell". It was on the previous instalment of Kuttsy's Pitch, in 2011, I coined the phrase "20 years of hell", in direct reference to 7's long term issues at half past five in south east Queensland outside weekends. It in-turn inspired, the post "20 years of hell at half past five", a definitive history of Extra, intertwined with 7's various moves in the preceding two decades. But this instalment, is designed to help give "20 Years of Hell" a definitive end.
These ideas are only theoretical.

And how will the "end" justify the means? Let's show a quick diagram:
What 2012 has been for Seven at 5:30: a squashing... while,
the winds of a Nine resurgence at 6pm blow. 
Quite simply, 7's problem is that they need to counter the impact Bruce Paige is having for Nine at 5:30, along with developing the "insurance policy" Seven needs in Brisbane against a Nine news resurgence in 2013. Already, the suffering has begun, with Today Tonight slowly losing ratings in 2012: with viewers tuning in increasing numbers, to The Project on Ten, at the expense of TT and ACA: but yet numbers for TT are stronger than ever in Adelaide/Perth. The counter: exchange 4:30 news, for a new program for 5:30, that is streetsmart, and is in tune with 2013 audiences, partnered with a Gold Coast news service, that is needed now, not in time for the Commonwealth Games. The "insurance policy": is keeping 7's promise 10 years ago, that a local Today Tonight will return.

Countering Bruce Paige: 5:30 split between Gold Coast local news and Brisbane local product.
Seven's strategy recently, has been to revisit the "gameshow hour" concept, of the 1990's, with a revival for the umpteenth time, of the Price Is Right alongside Deal. But, besides a couple of sporadic wins for Deal in Brisbane: Seven has suffered a major flick-off factor. Add to that, Bruce Paige's return to full-time newsreading, for Nine's Gold Coast news service, bringing Gold Coast news ratings up for Nine, propping up Hot Seat's figures. The major look from here, is towards 2013, provided Nine hasn't done research, that points to the same thing that will be raised here: that Brisbane 6pm figures could perform better if a fully localised lead-in (like Extra/GC News was for fifteen years) was restored. And the first thing that must happen is: that SEQ 5:30 figures must be divulged to the people running the newsroom in Brisbane and to the news execs (i.e Meakin) in Sydney, as well as the Mt Coot-tha ad sales department, and other interested parties (such as advertisers, TPD Media and potentially the general public). The second thing that must happen is that 7 should open itself up to greater scrutiny through social media, especially if the the new 5:30 local program involves the Brisbane audience, something Extra (due to it's axing) only just missed out on using. And finally: Seven should realise, that if it were to launch a combo product (Brisbane local product/GC news optout) that Nine could be planning a similar strategy revolving around a revived Brisbane Extra to beat 7 into submission.
Hence, why it is of the utmost importance, that any GC news/Brisbane local product by 7 needs to be kept behind closed doors, even if it's only a Brisbane local product, with GC news following if Brisbane 5:30 product is successful. After all, if corrective action on the 5:30 slot isn't done, or worse: Nine has done research, and gone and revived Extra... 2013 could see the end of the golden run at 6pm for 7. Brisbane's ready to ditch Eddie, it's only a matter of whether anyone at 7 has the will to sacrifice Deal in Brisbane, for a much larger payoff for the network, and advertisers if Brisbane went ahead alone.

The Insurance Policy: Reviving a local Today Tonight:
Anyone who has been a long time reader of this site, should know that I have made reference on occasion to another 7 decision that was never fulfilled. Back in 2003, Seven ditched, the QLD edition of Today Tonight, in favor of a east coast edition filmed in Sydney, even though they committed to a local TT returning. A decade has nearly passed, and the time has come, to expand back Today Tonight, to have a seperate Queensland edition again. The justification is that Seven have inadvertently made a blunder. By calling the program "Queenslands's Voice", even though the east coast edition is filmed in Sydney, and usually only has a few QLD produced reports a week. Adelaide/Perth's TT's still thrive, because they have the local presenters to back the "Adelaide's/Perth's Voice" claim, and utilise local reporting heavily, much like the various Today Tonight's on the east coast used to before the gradual amalgamation into a "east coast edition" ten years ago. Most importantly, a devolved, Queensland-produced edition of Today Tonight can be the forerunner to potentially launching a devolved TT in Melbourne, with the current east coast edition reverting to a Sydney-specific version of TT as it was prior to amalgamating with the original Melbourne TT in 2002.

Speaking of amalgamation... Merging the two QLD news operations into one.
I'm about to raise a idea, that could revolutionise the way 7's news is produced, and save money at the same time. It came to me a while back, when 7 Queensland thought it was wise to let Melissa Mallet go (after only hiring her, nine months earlier), after she took leave without permission to see her boyfriend get named in the Australian basketball team that went to the London Olympics (an great achievement, and a major overreaction by 7's regional staff, who should have realised, it could have made a great news story for the Townsville bulletin). What I am suggesting is, that the current structure of two news departments, (Brisbane metro + Gold Coast and Queensland regional, producing local news for Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Capricornia, Wide Bay and the Sunshine Coast) is merged into one news department, run by one news director. With newsroom unification, it can remove some costs to the network, that it doesn't need, such as duplication of resources, when major news stories break in regional Queensland, a term, I call: FIFO (Fly in, fly out) journalism. Basically, this means, that Seven often sends out two crews, to report on the same story, one from the nearest 7 Local News bureau, and one from Brisbane, who usually fly in, and fly out. By ending FIFO journalism, it would allow, the 7 Local News reporters a chance to have their stories aired on a bigger stage, while keeping Brisbane's team in Brisbane, to give the Brisbane news service, a stable lineup. The next benefit of newsroom unification, is that the 7 Local News studio facility in Maroochydore, can get re-designed by the same people who did the 7 Brisbane rebuild this year, jointly with the people, who design the virtual environments, used by 7 Brisbane, for their flashback segment, and for last year's highly acclaimed documentary "The Flood of 2011", to overhaul the 7 Local News studio, to allow for virtual "local sets" to be developed for each market, as opposed to the current set-up of a background projection, as part of a generic set utilised by all markets. Another major move would be to allow two live bulletins every night, produced out of Maroochydore, with the FNQ news service going live at 6, and the Sunshine Coast news service airing live at 6:30 following live Brisbane 6pm news, along with the news bulletins made to more look like a newshour, with the replacement of "Seven Local News" with, "insert region here's" Seven News, reflecting the metropolitan operation. And the final major change, will be that, the two news directors would be replaced by a two-tiered management structure: with a head of QLD news (answerable to network bosses, and also in charge of Brisbane's 6pm news) as the first tier, and the second tier being: a regional news producer and Gold Coast news producer: with most decisions in the various news bureaus (from employment decisions and some news stories, to what coffee brand the local office uses), directed to head of QLD news. The complete streamlining of the QLD news service will revolutionise the way 7 carries itself out, and eliminating most of the waste (duplication, FIFO journalism), to be redirected to where it's needed, the news service, including improvements for the regional side (e.g. news helicopter for FNQ), and for Brisbane (better content for 6pm, and more content journalists).

Ending the analogue era: May 28 2013.
The final part of this edition of Kuttsy's Pitch, is looking at the end... of analogue television. For Brisbane, it's due on Tuesday May 28 2013 (You probably already saw the countdown, that this site has run since the start of December last year). I'd love for 7 to end the analogue era, with one big celebration. It will simply begin, with the slow reintroduction of "Brisbane" back to promotional branding, with a eye towards reusing Kim Durant, for a major nostalgia push towards digital switchover, culminating in a major event on the weekend before digital switchover (special on 7, perhaps, even a return of a old school TV station open day), and the 6pm news on the last night on analogue, opening with the 1980's Seven National News theme, as a tribute. The switchover itself, should entail a extended version of a Sunday flashback, and culminating in the last image of the analogue era, being the end of the Kim Durant "Love You Brisbane" ID, from thirty years earlier, while digital viewers will be able to see a in-studio, live, version of LYB after the analogue transmitter is turned off. 

(Incidentally, this site, will be celebrating the end of analogue in Brisbane next year, it's actually a case of whether the commercials do anything major to mark the milestone, or not (A very similar thing happened, earlier this year with the 2nd part of the 2012 Vision, where people have turned to this site in lieu of a official celebration from South Bank Corporation, for South Bank Parklands's 20th birthday). Details of this site's plans for the weekend of 25/26 May 2013, will be revealed, on the 29th December, and even this far out, I feel that whatever we put on, will be exciting as the lead-up to Brisbane TV's fiftieth, in 2009.)

So, Seven. The "Pitch" is finished for 2012. I just hope, that we can end the analogue era, with a return to better local content, more local content, while making the savings needed to survive.

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