The Seven Network will begin a bold experiment to revive its news fortunes when it launches local 4pm news services in Melbourne and Brisbane next week.
The local news bulletins will replace Seven’s current national 4pm service which until recently was hosted by Melissa Doyle. It’s a move Seven is hoping will help provide a stronger lead-in for its 6pm bulletins, which are performing well behind Nine in overnight ratings.
While viewers in Victoria will receive a one hour Melbourne produced bulletin, viewers in Queensland can expect a 90 minutes of news produced from Seven’s Brisbane studio. Rival Nine has been broadcasting a local morning and afternoon news service into Queensland since October. The additional investment has seen an increase in audience loyalty for Nine's 6pm bulletin.
Nine was undeterred when learning of Seven's plans with a Melbourne Network spokesperson telling this website “Nine’s local bulletin at 6pm dominates the timeslot, averaging around 100,000 more viewers every night over Seven. Our scheduling remains as is."
Viewers in N.S.W and South Australia will still receive a 60 minute national bulletin at 4pm produced from Sydney, while WA viewers will continue to receive a national bulletin at 4pm followed by a local Perth bulletin at 4:30pm
This website understands Seven is also likely to reveal new sets and graphics for its evening news bulletins within weeks. Seven has recently been using Helicopters to film stunning aerial footage of Melbourne to compliment the new look.
As previously reported, Seven also intents to overhaul its 5 o’clock schedule by dumping the current game show line-up of Deal Or No Deal and Million Dollar Minute. Seven has recently filmed several pilots of a localised version of UK gameshow The Chase with Andrew O’Keefe as host. An official announcement of the new series is expected within days.
The last three years have been disastrous for Seven News, having seen its audience share decline drastically. Nine has already claimed victory at 6pm for the ratings year in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Nine is now also routinely achieving nightly wins in Adelaide, a market once dominated by Seven.
Last week it was revealed Seven had poached Craig McPherson from Nine to become Seven’s Director of News and Public Affairs. Rob Raschke whom has been Seven’s News Director for the past two years remains with the network but will now report directly to McPherson.