60 Years of QLD TV

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Content Survey Live: Part Four: What Did Brisbane Do?

Welcome, to Part Four of a week long mission, that is Content Survey Live. Today, we are now looking at 10 News First's Brisbane bulletin from Thursday night.

In case you are reading this series out of order:


But first:

Reiterating the Ground Rules

Our focus, in Content Survey Live, will be monitoring Ten’s five capital city news services (a benefit of technological change, now allowing us to watch interstate bulletins on delay), in order of their ratings position within the network (with each market covered once) over a week, using the same criteria we used in the “Great Local News Study” from Kuttsy's Pitch XI last year:

-Locally sourced stories: that is stories reported by local journos. Really big local market stories with national impacts, also fit here (e.g. coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne). Voiced over local stories are counted separately.
-Live crosses: stuff that is used to embellish a story.
-Weather is not counted.
-Sport is not counted if it’s done by obviously freelance journos, or voiced over pieces: you gotta have dedicated reporters there, with their mug on air reporting a sports story for it to count.
And finally: Ten Brisbane will have it’s Gold Coast content tracked again during it’s night: to see if any lessons have been learned by 10 in eighteen months.

Now, we begin the fourth survey... Brisbane.

Profile of Market
RATINGS AVERAGE for 10 News First 8-19/07/2019: 86,000
RATINGS AVERAGE for 10 News First 6-17/07/2020: 69,000

10 in Brisbane, has been the ugly duckling within it's network for around twenty years ratings-wise, with some highs and lows, yet their news was never even considered for centralization in the 2000's by Canwest because of the role the station on Mt Coot-tha played for the network: home base for most childrens television production, that wasn't named Cheez TV, along with the success of Big Brother being shot around a hour away.

The TVQ facility also played a vital role in keeping the ABC running in Brisbane for half a decade after the Toowong closure: the former TVQ newsroom (vacated for a updated facility within the building that is still used today) served the national broadcaster while they waited for their new South Bank facility to be completed in 2012.

At the same time however: TVQ's facility in Brisbane also became the oldest asset operated by the network, when 10 Adelaide left Strangeways Terrace in 2007. The TVQ bulletin took many blows from the news budget cuts 10 has had to endure in the last decade, and led to many talents TVQ had tried to nurture, heading elsewhere. Meanwhile, both 7 and 9 ramped up local investment, in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast to not just tackle the opposition (the GC spend by Nine, was in response to 7 launching their own GC news product) but to also improve their own product as well.

However, TVQ's news was left in the dust that both 7/9 created with their news extensions, and ratings slowly fell, to the point that TVQ's 5pm news is now well behind the ABC, let alone 7/9 because 10 was never able to respond to the advances 7/9 made in SEQ (where now every weekday, both 7/9 have 2hrs of local news for Brisbane: at 4pm and at 6pm, and a half-hour Gold Coast news bulletin) which simply gobbled up any potential audience for 10, and suddenly left the door open for 10's news executives who didn't stem the flow or attempt investment to spoil 7/9's chances to simply cut production back: something not foreseen for Australia's third largest metropolitan market

Let's first look at locally sourced stories:
The lead story for night four, was the COVID scare at a Brisbane youth prison, and the Jam Pantry at Greenslopes.
-Another piece of the warmup act to the QLD election in October.
(A weak first segment for TVQ's news, possibly the weakest so far: eighteen minutes, with just two local reports that weren't dressed as live crosses)
-A honorable mention for the border story in segment two that mentioned the Qantas profit announcement and Alan Joyce's comments on borders, ten minutes after a full story on Qantas's profit announcement and Alan Joyce's comments on borders aired as part of segment one! (doesn't get a tick, as local: but is surely a issue of poor story choice)
-Crestmead Logistics Estate ramping up development,
-Orange Sky fundraising campaign
After 6pm: the Peter Foster arrest live cross got a full story, along with the Toowoomba fatal fire and the piece on the warmup for the Queensland election.
A total of, six local stories, with three reruns (two of those only had live crosses in segment 1) post 6pm.

Next up, is live crosses:
-Live cross #1, straight out of the lead story at Greenslopes,
-Live cross #2 from the CBD watchhouse, a report on the arrest of Peter Foster,
-Live cross #3 from the newsroom: a report on a fatal fire in Toowoomba.
-Live cross #4 from Washington: Still wondering: When does Eammon Atkinson get some sleep?
-Live cross #5 
at Greenslopes in place of a lead story repeat.
A total of, five live crosses: with two of those at Greenslopes.

Next to come to the plate is sports presentation:
-A heavy Broncos focused piece in sports segment 1, especially with a game coming up tomorrow combined with other pieces.
-Lions, cricket, Supercars and SC Lightning match (with a first ever sendoff in Super Netball history) get V/O'd pieces.
-Josh McLean lands the scoop interview with Jeff Horn prior to his upcoming fight, and scores the first visibility by a 10 sports reporter within their own story in any market this week of survey.
Post 6pm sports segment was simply a rushjob, but yet fitted in a full story about Australian cricket team's trip to England.
-Sport reporter visibility was a solo effort by Josh McLean, but sports presentation overall (outside highlights like the Horn interview) looks like a dogs breakfast compared to other markets.

And, finally: Voiced-over reports by the presenter:
Traffic reports, how I've missed you... not!
-Carina hacking scam arrests (using QLD Police-sourced vision)
-Snake catcher removes python behind a TV set in Cleveland:
-A weather check leading into 5:30pm: aka. the time when 7/9's GC news services start.
-Recaps at 5:35 (5 mins later than other markets) and 6pm.
A total of two v/o'd pieces by the newsreader, both in the 5-6pm hour.

The Gold Coast Stopwatch stopped at: 0:00. In fact, it didn't even start. To borrow the line from Josh Holt's first weather cross during the first segment: "The view of the Gold Coast, today is very murky indeed". Seven and Nine meanwhile both delivered 24 minutes of Gold Coast news today.

This review for my local 10 News bulletin, is as brutal as it is frank. Overall, 10 News Brisbane is effectively presenting the same style of product that it was presenting last year, just thirty minutes longer. At least in 2019, when we surveyed the Brisbane bulletin for a whole week, there was some Gold Coast news reported each night. Tonight there was none. The opening segment for TVQ's news going for eighteen minutes and only delivering two local stories is something to not write home about. At least Sydney and Perth was able to run four local stories, in their first segment: and Sydney's first segment on Monday night was of similar length to TVQ's tonight.
Although the interview with Jeff Horn was a highlight, sadly the sports presentation outside that bright spot, left a lot to be desired: TVQ needs to take notes from Adelaide, and start presenting the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys as equals, not just having what looks like constant shots from Red Hill: and quick flashes of everyone else.

With centralization a reality for a TVQ news product stuck in old ways of presenting, the big fear is how many more journos will leave, and how much more stress will be placed on those who remain. This can be clearly seen in TVQ's news now, and will likely hit home come October, when the Sydney-produced Brisbane bulletin may indeed lose the one strong asset it has: the ability to be live when others simply aren't there: something that may well be a struggle especially if the first half hour of Brisbane's 5pm news may well have to be pre-recorded due to DST constraints.

However: I would rate, Brisbane's news tonight: a 4.75/10. If the Horn interview wasn't on tonight, this rating would have been a 4/10. And, that's saying something for my local news service on 10, especially after watching others this week.

RATINGS FOR THURSDAY NIGHT (Brisbane market): 56,000 viewers: well below it's competitors in it's slot, a stat with shades of how Local Edition on 7 performed nearly 20 years ago: something TVQ's news thrashed in a market with half the population, and half the choice of today.

Tomorrow night: That's Melbourne...
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