Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Long, Slow Death of Weekend Current Affairs

Today's revelation that Jana Wendt has resigned from Channel 9's `Sunday', which will be relaunched this week in a `faster moving, chattier format' is the death knell for weekend current affairs.

As you probably know, I'm a rusted-on Insiders viewer myself, but that's not to say I don't often tape one while watching the other to ensure I'm fully up to date. As I've said before, Sunday, along with Channel 10's Meet the Press are extremely valuable programmes. In many cases, it is on these shows - and only on them - that we are able to see politicians and public figures discussing the big issues of the day. The political agenda for the following week is sometimes even dictated by what is said on these shows (indeed, now that Meet the Press has moved to an earlier 8am timeslot, it even dictates the agenda on its fellow current affairs shows only an hour later).

The transformation of Weekend Sunrise into a clone of the abhorrence to human intelligence that is its weekday show deprived us of one more avenue of communication. Given that this show is being named as the model for the revamped Sunday, the future looks dim. Sunday certainly isn't the crucial viewing it once was - the hard edges have long since been knocked off - it's still often an agenda-setting programme.

Nine's new CEO, He Who Is Everywhere, just doesn't seem to get it. It's not always about ratings. Kerry Packer ensured that shows like Sunday and magazines like The Bulletin remained, not because they rated or sold well, but because they allowed him to keep a hand in the setting of the agenda. Sunday will never rate its socks off - its importance lies in the information it provides, which, as I said, often forms the agenda of the day or week.

Without Sunday - or at least, without a rigorously intellectual Sunday - the credible sources of access to our elected representatives is cut to just two, Insiders and Meet the Press, and our ability to form opinions and make decisions about our politicians - democracy, when it comes down to it - is reduced yet again.

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