PRIME television’s decision to shift its local news to 6pm with a host from Canberra has proven a first-night ratings flop.
The Border-centred bulletin moved 30 minutes later from 5.30pm for the first time on Monday with former weatherman Daniel Gibson replacing Helen Ballard who has continued as a reporter with Prime7 News.
Ratings figures show 15,321 viewers tuned into Prime7 News compared with 28,574 watching National Nine News at the same time.
At 6.30pm, WIN News hosted by Ballarat-based Bruce Roberts drew 27,244 viewers while Seven News was seen by 21,422.
Prime network news director John Rudd was not surprised by the loss, saying the ratings battle would be won over the long haul.
“We expect to make strong progress, we don’t expect things to change overnight,” Mr Rudd said.
“We’re doing things in a planned way where we have improved the way we’re doing things.
“We’ve improved our means of transmission, we’re re-equipping our station so our journos and camera operators have better equipment to do their work and all those things are coming together.
“If you’re playing football the objective is to win rather than get beaten; we have a plan we’re pursuing that plan and we’re happy with how that’s going.”
Mr Rudd said the reaction to Gibson had been positive overall.
“We had some response to Daniel, I can’t tell you how many people contacted us, we perhaps had half a dozen calls and emails,” Mr Rudd said.
“He seems to have been accepted quite well.”
WIN Television general manager for Victoria Michael Taylor cautiously welcomed the ratings.
“From my perspective it’s the first night of two local news offerings now in peak time and we’ve got off to a good start but it’s only one night,” Mr Taylor said.
The decision to shift Prime’s local news to 6pm has resulted in current affairs show Today Tonight being taken off the air as the Melbourne news replaces it at 6.30pm.
Asked if that move was likely to boost A Current Affair’s ratings, Mr Taylor was optimistic.
“A Current Affair is still one of our strongest programs and if there is only one offering in that genre I think it will help,” he said.