Thursday, February 23, 2006

Eddie gets it!?! (In other news, pigs to commence daily flights between Sydney and Melbourne.)

Newly rewarded (the poisoned chalice perhaps?) CEO of Channel 9, the guy who was all over your TV screen for the last five or so years, Eddie McGuire has his say to "the Australian" about his long term views for the network now that he's got one of the most heavily scrutinised jobs in Australian television.

McGuire admits that while his initial concentration is short-term, his mind wanders over the big-picture issues. Attracting viewers back to FTA is one of them. "We have to be more nimble on our feet, keeping up with what people want," he says. "That can be difficult when on one hand you have people getting their television on tiny phone screens, while others put massive plasma screens on their walls. Television has always been about information and entertainment. Meeting both needs at the same time is the trick."

"I absolutely believe free-to-air television can maintain its mass audiences. There are still a lot of things that haven't changed. TV is interesting in that it's had an image of being new and flash for a long time, but it has also been very conservative.

"People my age have grown up with traditional television, but kids these days are into mobile services, watching television, texting and using the internet at the same time.

"They are now their own programmers, and the challenge is there to try to get that iPod generation to bring their ideas to us, so we can be their portal of choice. The trick is to be relevant to them again. That is not to say you're going to jettison the generation before them, but there's a mix there somewhere."

And that, of course, is the trick. Channel 9, the darling of the blue-rinse set over the last 20 or so years, has been accused before of dismissing younger viewers in favour of where the money was. So how does Channel 9 face this brave new world of Generation C while maintaining a link to audience members that have trouble dealing with their remote control? Moreover, given former Nine supremo Sam Chisholm said last year that his view of the future was TV, only smaller, will there be a change in thinking now that the iPods of Eddie's kids have his attention?

Maybe he could phone a friend.

All this is yet to come in our brave new post-Kerry TV world...

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