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New look Lateline returns to ABC TV - But some Q&A fans left unhappy

NewsKevin Perry
Lateline hosts Emma Alberici and Tony Jones. image - supplied/ABC

Lateline hosts Emma Alberici and Tony Jones.
image - supplied/ABC

Award-winning current affairs program Lateline returns to air on Monday March 9th after an extended break in a new home, with a refreshed format and at a more accessible time.

Viewers nationwide can watch Lateline on dedicated news channel ABC News 24 in the earlier timeslot of 9:30pm AEDT. A repeat of the program will be broadcast on ABC TV at 10:30pm (local time).

The decision to move Lateline onto ABC News24 mean’s that Q&A will no longer be broadcast live into SA, NT, WA and also QLD during summer. Q&A has built a strong social media following with many viewers wanting to contribute to the live conversation online. An ABC spokesperson told this website,

“It was a complex decision with competing requirements that a lot of thought went into. It is important to have consistency for viewers and for Lateline as a daily program, so going to air at the same time every night serves our audience better. The earlier timeslot is more viewer-friendly and makes the program accessible to a larger audience. It also works best for the News 24 evening line-up on all nights of the week.
"Q&A will continue to be streamed live nationally on the ABC’s iview service, so viewers in all states can still watch it live-to-air and participate in the social media conversation. People seeking live engagement with Q&A through Twitter are already digitally savvy and accustomed to accessing programming online. The iview service launched in 2008 and is extremely popular and well-used – by far the leading internet TV service in Australia – and growing. People are already taking advantage of being able to watch it this way. It will also continue to be simulcast live on ABC NewsRadio and is live-streamed through the Q&A website.  And those who don’t want to engage live can still watch it on ABC TV at the usual time.”

Hosted by Emma Alberici and Tony Jones, and marking its 25th anniversary this year, the program hopes to continue its tradition of breaking stories and setting the news agenda in 2015 despite the recent staff and funding cutbacks.

The new Lateline will have a more flexible format featuring interviews, stories and investigations. The changes make it less of a news bulletin; a gap already filled by the 7pm News and the continuous news services on ABC News 24 and ABC News Online.

Lateline has updated its format several times since its 1990 launch, from a single-issue interview show to offering an overview of the day’s key events.

Led by Head of Current Affairs Bruce Belsham and EP Lisa Whitby, its latest reworking refines the program’s format while preserving the elements that have made it great: major news-breaking interviews and original investigations.

“We are very appreciative of all the hard work Lateline staff have put into the relaunch and we are excited by its imminent return,” said Belsham.

Tony Jones said helming Lateline was a privilege.

“With a rich broadcasting history of 25 years Lateline remains essential viewing and we’ll be reaching an even broader audience through increased engagement with social media,” he said. Emma Alberici adding "we are looking forward to re-engaging with the audience and bringing them a fresh take on current events."

ABC Director of News Kate Torney said: “Lateline represents a commitment to in-depth analysis and current affairs on News 24 in the evenings. 

“It will have more time for longer investigative items, the ability to tackle stories from more diverse angles, and our interviews with politicians and industry and community leaders will be extended, allowing us to advance the news agenda and dig deeper.”