Channel Seven cancels Sunday Night: True Stories as part of major restructure

Program hosted by Melissa Doyle had less than half the ratings of Nine’s 60 Minutes some weeks this year

Seven West Media’s flagship current affairs show Sunday Night: True Stories will be axed as part of a major restructure at the media company.

Melissa Doyle, a former co-host of breakfast show Sunrise who has hosted Sunday Night since 2015, will retain her news reading roles at the network.

The tabloid TV Sunday evening program was created 10 years ago to challenge Nine’s 60 Minutes, and occasionally it did out-rate it, but the original has outlasted its rival.

Some weeks this year Sunday Night had less than half the ratings of 60 Minutes.

Molly Meldrum is a legendary figure of the #music industry. This week, we pay tribute - we look back on his most influential interviews as he reveals the secrets behind the scenes with the biggest stars. Join us for an #entertainment event - Sunday 8:30pm on @Channel7.

— Sunday Night (@SundayNightOn7) October 1, 2019

Sunday Night, which was recently rebranded Sunday Night: True Stories, had a string of executive producers since 2009 including Adam Boland, Mark Llewellyn, Steve Taylor and Hamish Thomson. Thomson left the program several months ago.

It was originally hosted by Chris Bath and Mike Munro.

The program was no stranger to chequebook journalism, paying Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion reportedly as much as $150,000 to talk about their affair.

Seven’s head of news and current affairs, Craig McPherson, said the program would remain on air until the end of the year with a skeleton staff.

“After 11 years at the forefront of our public affairs offering it is with much sadness I announce the closing down of the day to day operations of Sunday Night: True Stories,” McPherson said. “I want to thank the exceptional team of reporters; producers; camera operators; editors and many others who have helped produce more than 500 hours of quality public affairs programming over its lifetime.”

The wider restructure was unveiled on Wednesday morning by the new chief executive and managing director, James Warburton, who replaced Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner last month.

Warburton told staff he was introducing “a leaner and more agile company” with a “flatter structure”.

Last month’s financial results revealed a loss of almost $445m, down from a profit of $134m the previous year.

Warburton criticised the former management for failing to invest in programming and and “holding us back from growth and leadership”.

“With the new organisational structure, we have focussed on simplifying the [Seven West Media] organisation to enable our content-led growth strategy,” Warburton said. “This new flatter structure will cement our position as Australia’s leading media group with content at the heart of the business, digital growth maximised, duplication of roles removed in all areas and operating efficiencies implemented.

“We have had to make some tough decisions in order to build the network for the future. I take very seriously any decision that impacts our people and I am grateful for the loyalty and commitment shown by our team over many years. Anyone impacted by changes will have dedicated support and respect throughout the process of transition”.

Executives who have already left the company include corporate spokesperson Stephen Browning and the head of sport, Saul Shtein.

A new chief content officer, chief marketing officer and chief digital officer will be part of the eight-member executive reporting to Warburton.

A former Seven chief digital and sales officer, Warburton was sacked as managing director by the Ten board in 2013 when Lachlan Murdoch was the chairman.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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