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Q&A creator Peter McEvoy to depart ABC

The creator and executive producer of ABC’s flagship panel show Q&A is leaving the broadcaster at the end of 2019.

Peter McEvoy has been with the ABC for three decades and created the headline-generating show in 2008.

McEvoy has been with the ABC for 30 years

The show has an average overnight metro audience for the year so far of 380,571. Its average national audience, including regional viewers, is 551,786.

Its highest-rating episode was on 4 March, which had 548,000 overnight metro viewers and 769,000 in total. That episode focused on the verdict against Cardinal George Pell and the ramifications for the Catholic Church, and featured Jim Molan (Liberal senator for NSW) Kristina Keneally, (Labor senator for NSW), Francis Sullivan (Catholic Lay Leader) Dr Viv Waller (the lawyer for Cardinal Pell’s victim), and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (author and TV host).

Monday’s episode had an overnight metro audience of 327,000, and a national audience of 458,000.

Long-time Q&A host Tony Jones announced back in February he would be leaving the program this year.

While Jones is heading to Asia with his wife, journalist Sarah Ferguson who has become ABC’s China Bureau chief, McEvoy said he was simply ready to move onto other challenges.

He was, however, full of praise for both the program, and the ABC.

“In 2007 we set out to make an innovative, audience-focused program that would challenge, explain and shape national discourse. I’m proud of the way we have achieved that consistently in such an entertaining way over the period,” he said.

“The aim was to create a live, nationally televised event that brings political leaders face to face with Australian voters and allows interaction with hundreds of thousands in the viewing and online audience as well as the hundreds in the studio audience.

“We not only achieved that, but have seen Q&A become a weekly part of the national agenda.”

He also paid tribute to the audience-facing and the behind-the-scenes teams.

“It’s been a great run and I want to thank the ABC for three decades of opportunity. I want to especially thank the wonderful team I have worked with over the last 12 years.

“The inimitable Tony Jones of course, but also the faces you don’t see. The indefatigable audience production team who recruit a balanced and engaged audience every week. The senior producers who share the editorial load. The studio team who make the show look great whether we’re in Mackay, Launceston, Garma or Shanghai.

“A flagship program like Q&A is only possible at an ambitious public broadcaster with the skills and enthusiasm of hundreds of my ABC colleagues who have been part of this great project over the last 12 years.

“I look forward to watching Q&A as it continues to evolve in the future.”

McEvoy joined the ABC in the late 1980s at radio station Triple J. He went on to work as a reporter and producer for ABC TV and ABC Radio on programs including RN Breakfast, Late Night Live, Background Briefing and Four Corners. He was an executive producer on Media Watch before creating Q&A.

ABC’s managing director David Anderson said McEvoy was respected across the industry.

“Q&A is the most successful discussion-based national affairs program in ABC history.

“Peter has made an incredibly significant contribution to public broadcasting and national current affairs.

“Within the ABC, he is renowned and respected as a journalist and creative program-maker. He has mentored many younger journalists and producers in their careers, and I know his departure from the ABC will be felt by many of us.”

The ABC has run more than 400 episodes of Q&A. It has attracted high-profile commentators and politicians, however has also frequently finds itself in the headlines with many right-wing politicians arguing the show is left-leaning and biased.

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