Australians woke up to the news the Queen had died as TV networks launched their breakfast shows as early as 3.30am AEST and hosts donned black suits, ties and dresses which had been waiting in wardrobe departments for the occasion. Normal programming was halted and blanket coverage of the historic event was uniform across ABC, SBS, Nine, Seven, Ten and Sky News Australia.
The formal announcement from Buckingham Palace was too late to make the front page of Friday’s newspapers, coming as it did at 3.30am. But Saturday’s front pages will mark the end of an era and editors are planning to make a splash with special editions.
On Thursday evening, Seven was the first network to go to live with rolling coverage until 12.30am, and then switched to CNN. The ABC News broke into its midnight bulletin from Perth with the news just after 3.30am. Nine took the BBC feed overnight.
ABC News Breakfast was on air before 4am with co-hosts Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar, who is a former Europe correspondent, dressed in formal black outfits and discussing the importance of her legacy. They had come into work early after the palace said “doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health”.
Sunrise was quick off the mark too, launching its coverage from 4.30am, with co-hosts Natalie Barr and David Koch anchoring rolling coverage and live crosses to correspondents and royal commentators Victoria Arbiter and the Daily Mirror’s royal editor, Russell Myers. Today’s Karl Stefanovic and Alison Langdon also anchored from 4.30am and remained on air until midday.
ABC RN Breakfast had comprehensive coverage too, and Patricia Karvelas interviewed Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. Viewers can expect live rolling coverage across the weekend on the main channels at least.
Top marks for Tingle
We finally have confirmation of what we all knew: the addition of Laura Tingle to 7.30 four years ago was a masterstroke.
An external editorial review of the ABC’s economic election coverage, by the press gallery legend Laurie Oakes and the former head of the Australian Industry Group Heather Ridout, had only praise for 7.30’s political editor.
“The importance of Laura Tingle to 7.30 was demonstrated in the campaign,” Oakes and Ridout said. “The way she used her knowledge, experience and authority in reporting, analysing and providing context for issues and events helped to solve what used to be a real difficulty for the program – how to differentiate its coverage from what viewers had just seen on the news.
“Her economics expertise and Financial Review background were particularly valuable because of the dominance of economic issues in the campaign.”
The program’s political reporter, James Glenday, former host Leigh Sales, and Alan Kohler were also given passing praise. The ABC’s political editor, Andrew Probyn, received a mild rebuke for his characterisation of the then opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s inability to recall the official cash rate and the national unemployment rate: “Andrew Probyn, like many others in the media, drew too long a bow by suggesting the twin gaffes ‘could derail Anthony Albanese’s election.”
“The regular presence of the ABC’s very experienced senior business correspondent Peter Ryan brought authority to AM and to other ABC programs, particularly in radio current affairs.”
Oakes and Ridout delivered a smackdown to a non-ABC journalist in their report, picking up on criticism of the ABC’s reporting in the Australian.
In his media column, the paper’s former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell had taken umbrage at what he called the ABC’s “overblown reporting” of the response by borrowers to mortgage rates going up. He was amazed that the ABC interviewed people complaining about retail rates of 3 and 4% when rates were so much higher in earlier decades.
“If Mitchell had a point, it was a very small one,” they said. “In the 80s and 90s very few people would have borrowed six times their annual income to buy a house.”
Farewell to Basia
Basia Bonkowski was a pioneering woman in music television in the 1980s when she hosted SBS’s Rock Around the World and became the coolest TV host around. Her spiky hair and quirky style made her an unlikely TV presenter and endeared her to fans. So popular was Basia that she was the subject of a memorable tribute by Melbourne band Painters & Dockers.
Basia – who changed her name to Rendall when she married Kimble Rendall from rock band the Hoodoo Gurus – died in Sydney on Saturday after she was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2021.
She spent most of her career behind-the-scenes in television: as a producer, writer, movie reviewer and recently as an executive producer for production companies Screentime and Endermol Shine. She wrote two nonfiction books and graduated with a master of letters from the University of Sydney in 2006.
SBS executive John Godfrey: “Basia entertained and opened up a world of music to Australians, and her passion left a lasting impact on the musical tastes of all who tuned in to watch her.”
Age sticks by Wayne Carey
The former AFL great Wayne Carey has stood down from Channel 7 and been taken off air by Triple M Footy following news he was asked to leave Crown Casino in Perth, after a packet of white powder fell from his pocket while he was gaming.
But newspaper the Age, where he is a columnist, is sticking by him. Editor Gay Alcorn was quoted in her own paper saying there was no reason to suspend Carey from his weekly column.
“He denies the suggestion he was carrying an illegal substance and investigations are ongoing,” Alcorn said. “We will closely monitor the situation.”
Carey is part of radio station Triple M’s AFL coverage too.
“Triple M Footy commentator Wayne Carey and Triple M have agreed for Wayne to be relieved of his on-air duties pending an internal investigation being conducted following an incident at Crown Burswood in Perth,” a Triple M spokesperson said.
“Wayne remains off-air from Triple M while any internal and external investigations are ongoing.”
Piers cast off
We had an inkling last month that Sky After Dark had given up on Piers Morgan ever finding an Australian audience. We were told the channel had launched a new program, The World According to Rowan Dean, into the 9pm time slot occupied by the global show Uncensored.
We wondered if Murdoch’s £50m man, who suffered from terminally low ratings since launching in late April, had led to a cancellation. Morgan has had a ratings challenge on the UK’s TalkTV, a new channel launched by News UK, and in Australia the program also failed to attract big numbers – sometimes it had under 20,000 viewers.
Dean is up on that to about 30,000.
Sky originally said Morgan was on a five-week summer break, during which he filmed a true-crime documentary, but now instead of returning to his spot on 5 September he has been moved into the graveyard shift of 10.30pm.