Sunrise’s Boland plays up news credentials and hits back at claims it’s too “fluffy”

Adam BolandSunrise executive producer Adam Boland has hit back at critics labelling its relaunch as an attempt to replicate rival the Today show’s strong news credentials, telling Mumbrella the comments are a “cheap shot”.

It comes as Seven prepares to unveil the revamped breakfast show on Monday with a yet-to-be announced new addition to its line-up of presenters.

Changes to the show, which Today’s executive producer Tom Malone has described as “fluffy” and entertainment focused, includes a new set and format.

From Monday, Sunrise will have a greater focus on news in the earlier part of the three-hour show which will now be divided into three parts in a bid to target different demographics during different parts of the morning.

Its core audience is primarily female in the 25 to 54 year old age group.

From 6am to 7am there will be less focus on the show’s hosts David Koch and Melissa Doyle who are known for their in jokes and on-set banter.

Boland said:

Sunrise can’t lose its warmth – the personalities are who they are but there needs to be a right place and time for that style of personality-based segments.

So in the first hour you won’t see that softer style segment play an active role as it has in the past.

I’m not putting them in strait jackets, but I want to deliver tailored segments to the target audiences and I don’t think we have time to be indulgent in the first hour.”

Instead it will be a faster paced programme focused on breaking news, with new correspondents reporting from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Between 7am to 8am the show will then be more focused on opinion making, including a weekly Friday segment at 7:10am featuring Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Adam Boland Sunrise executive producer, said from 8am the pace of the programme will slow down and have more in depth and longer segments;while the last half hour will feature lifestyle and entertainment content.

Seven has hired Robyn Foyster, former editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly, to drive the content between 8:30 to 9am and attract the female 40-plus audience who primarily watch during this timeslot.

The changes at Sunrise follows a year which has seen its arch rival Nine’s Today show make up ground to the Seven show, which has been the breakfast TV leader for six years.

While Today’s national audience rose 7.5 per cent last year, Sunrise saw a 2.3 per cent drop. It is weakest in the Melbourne market, where Boland said it will be launching locally-produced segments, particularly once the AFL pre-season kicks off. The segments will be woven into the live show.

Melbourne’s weak for a number of reasons. From my personal view breakfast radio is particularly  strong in FM and that particularly hits our demographics. So it’s not just a race in television, but a media race with radio,” Boland said.

He added that Today has been less affected by this in Melbourne given that its core audience is skewed to a much older demographic than Sunrise.

Today’s co-host Karl Stefanovic last year admitted that part of its success had been because it had replicated Sunrise’s chatty and more informal format. And some observers are now saying that this time, Sunrise appears to be taking a leaf out of Today’s book.

But Boland has hit back at claims that it’s “fluffy”, pointing to its news credentials.

I don’t accept that at all. Sunrise has always had a good news pedigree. It just gets misunderstood because we have the ability to laugh at ourselves and have fun.

Sunrise is there when news breaks. Beaconsfield is a good example of that. The day the news about Haiti was a breaking we had continuous live coverage, while at the Today show they were singing karaoke.

It’s very easy for our opponents to take cheap shots but maybe they should look in the mirror.”

Sunrise is also due to announce another addition to the show’s list of presenters which is expected to be unveiled on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sunrise’s revamp will also see changes to The Morning Show set – which airs at 9am – and Weekend Sunrise. Both shows are led by executive producer, Michael Pell.

He said that the changes in format on Sunrise will be reflected in the Sunday programme, while for The Morning Show, it will look to play to its strengths and feature more in depth discussions about the day’s breaking news.

On The Morning Show, he said: “There will be more live content around big news. But in terms of how we present it, that won’t change, we’ll still have a very relaxed approach.”

The programme has less competition to contend with. Last year, it increased its audience share by 9 per cent year on year to an average of 202,028, while Nine’s Mornings with Kerri-Anne’s audience decreased slightly by 1 per cent to 126,462.

Over at Network Ten, 9am with David and Kim has been replaced by the morning news bulletin, followed by its new chat show, The Circle.

Launching February 9, it is Ten’s version of the popular all-women chat show The View, and comes two and a half years after Nine’s failed attempt to emulate the US show’s success with The Catch-Up.


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