dumped as Nine scrambles for No. 1, by Conrad
Walters - 12th January 2009
The Sydney Morning Herald)
The Nine Network, conceding the
need to rebuild its 6pm news bulletin if it is
to have any hope of dethroning Seven's ratings
supremacy, has dumped the newsreader Mark Ferguson
in favour of the 60 Minutes journalist Peter Overton.
night it began trumpeting the journalistic background
of its new frontman, who claims ownership of the
anchor desk at Channel Nine tonight, with Mark
Ferguson remaining as reader of the weekend news.
promotional shots featuring footage of Overton
in some of the world's hot spots is a clear attempt
to distinguish him from Seven's frontman, Ian
Ross, also a former Nine news reader.
analysts yesterday gave the network cause for
optimism, saying Overton was likely to be well
received and respected.
Nine to start to get a bit of traction of Seven,
this is where they've got to make the inroads,"
said an analyst at PHD, Barry O'Brien.
given Mark Ferguson the opportunity. It hasn't
quite worked out. So I suppose in 2009 you've
got to try things. Overton's got appeal, [but]
television is always a roll of the dice."
media analyst, Greg Tingle, agreed that Overton's
appeal would help Nine. He predicted an initial
boost as curious viewers tuned in. He believed
that community work done by Overton and his wife,
Jessica Rowe, would extend the appeal.
would definitely expect the ratings to boost up,
and I think the Australian public is ready for
the change," Mr Tingle said.
move was a "calculated risk", he said
of the station that once seemed unassailable in
the ratings. "Because, let's face it, Channel
Nine can't afford too many more stuff-ups."
Network executives yesterday stressed Overton's
journalistic credentials. "[Overton] is the
undeniable choice for us," said the director
of news and current affairs at Channel Nine, John
the past eight years Overton has been a presenter
on 60 Minutes, where he has reported from Afghanistan,
Iraq, and Indonesia and as anchor of the September
11 coverage in 2001. He will continue to file
stories for the network's flagship current affairs
change in personnel is directed at Channel Seven,
where Ian Ross has consistently won the 6pm competition
for viewers. "As commercial television always
is, we're locked in a very demanding fight for
ratings," Mr Westacott said.
combination of Peter Overton and Mark Ferguson
gives us the best crack at rebuilding our 6 o'clock