The Ten Network announced today that it would be moving George Negus' current affairs programme to 6:30pm, in an effort to address persistently poor ratings for its early evening schedule.
The change, to take effect from Monday 4 April, will lead to Ten's local news bulletins at 5:00pm being extended by a further half-hour. Negus' current affairs programme will be retitled 6.30 with George Negus, going head-to-head with the long-standing tabloid offerings on Nine and Seven.
Announcing the change today, Ten admitted that it had erred by placing Negus at 6:00pm, stating that audience research had "revealed a preference for it to be scheduled in the more traditional public affairs timeslot".
But despite viewing figures below the 400,000 mark, it insisted that there was an appetite among audiences for the "unique" offering.
"We are making this alteration in the early evening news schedule based on feedback from viewers who value competitive, intelligent and incisive news and public affairs programs," said David Mott, Ten's chief programming officer.
"We are strong supporters of quality news, comment and analysis and believe that Network Ten should remain a leading player in this space."
Local anchors of Ten Evening News will be "reabsorbed into the presenters roster", a network spokesperson said. Sandra Sully, currently the main presenter of the 6:30pm evening news in Sydney, will move back to her previous position as the anchor of Ten's late-night edition.
In Melbourne, Mal Walden will anchor Ten's 5:00pm bulletin alongside Helen Kapalos from Mondays to Thursdays. George Donikian will co-present with Kapalos on Friday, as well as presenting 6:00pm editions on Saturday and Sunday.
Today's changes represent the second major revision to Ten's overhauled news strategy. Earlier this month, the network restored its 5:00pm national bulletin on the weekends, admitting that it had been "giv[ing] up ground" by axing the programme as part of its January changes.
The blunder had been highlighted by Nine's decision to launch its own 5:00pm news bulletin and appropriate Ten's traditional "first at five" slogan.