Ten counts down to tonight’s launch of 6PM With George Negus

Tonight sees the beginning of what is likely to be one of the biggest free TV battlegrounds of 2011 – Ten’s attempt to turn the two-way battle of the 6pm news into a three-way fight.

6PM with George Negus puts the network head-to-head with Seven and Nine’s 6pm bulletins for the first time since the early 1990s.

Executive producer Tony Ritchie discusses his plans for 6PM With George Negus with Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes:

The decision by Ten to move to a two-and-a-half hour sweep of news and current affairs comes after this month’s launch of digital channel Eleven saw Neighbours and The Simpsons move across.

Ten’s programmers are banking on viewers who currently watch its 5pm news before switching to Seven or Nine at 6pm sticking around. Ritchie told Mumbrella: “We know a lot of people watch Channel Ten news then go and watch another news at six o’clock. We’ve got to find a way that says to them ‘please stay with us – if you’re seeking more information, stay with Channel Ten and we’ll provide that’.”

Ten now has a news bulletin at 5pm followed by the more in depth 6PM with George Negus with a state-based Evening News at 6.30pm. The pace then changes with the more lightweight The 7PM Project.

The line up is pitted against Seven’s schedule of tennis, News, Today Tonight and Home And Away, and Nine’s 4.30pm-5.30pm news bulletin, Hot Seat, 6pm news , A Current Affair and Two And A Half Men.

The network is also trying to lower expectations over audience size. Ritchie said: “I’d be happy with half a million.”

According to a trailer for tonight’s opener, it will include a report on teenage terrorists in the Middle East.


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