The Nine Network's Sydney 6:00pm weekday news bulletin has snatched the ratings crown from Seven for the first time in seven years.
Robert McKnight, Nine's creative services manager of news and current affairs promotions, today tweeted: "It's official: Nine News Sydney has won the 2011 ratings year! It's the first time in seven years! In weeks so far Nine News: 21 weeks [to] Seven News: 14 weeks."
With only five weeks remaining in the 2011 ratings year, the result means it's now impossible for Seven to catch up in terms of annual weekly wins. Despite this, the audience average remains fairly narrow between the two bulletins.
It's been a long road back to victory for Nine, having first lost its long-held number one news position to Seven in 2005. Since then, it has said goodbye to presenters Jim Waley and Mark Ferguson, before settling on current anchor Peter Overton in January 2009.
However, it wasn't until Ian Ross left Seven News in November 2009, that Nine began to claw back at Seven's lead. Ross' replacement Chris Bath has largely failed to retain its audience.
While Nine can claim a news victory in Sydney, it remains behind Seven in Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as WIN Television-owned markets Adelaide and Perth.
UPDATE, 23 October | According to The Sunday Telegraph, Nine's Sydney 6:00pm Sunday news bulletin has also been victorious over Seven, giving Nine a strong Sunday-to-Saturday lead of 27 weeks to Seven's eight.
"I'm in the face of the news, but it's all about the team and the support on and off camera," Overton said.
"It's a joy to go to work. We've got fabulous producers and reporters, and everyone is motivated and all determined to head in the right diction."
Seven's director of news and current affairs, Peter Meakin, responded by saying: "There are no excuses, we are have to do better new year and we will."
Meakin said it was hard to find a reason for the loss, but noted that the accusations from 2GB radio personality Ray Hadley that its political reporter Mark Riley had a perceived bias towards the government didn't help.
The performance of its 5:30pm game show Deal or No Deal has been a blow to Seven as well, which has now lost its lead-in dominance to Nine's Hot Seat.
Meakin also signalled a possible contributing role for 2GB breakfast presenter Alan Jones on Seven in 2012.
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