Seven axes its three Queensland shows
CHANNEL 7 has axed Queensland's stalwart lifestyle programs Creek to Coast, Queensland Weekender and The Great Day Out after two decades on air, in a death knell for the network's local content.
As part of sweeping changes to the network, all three local series will cease production at the end of 2019, along with similar programs around the country, in a bid to better resource new prime-time national shows in Seven's 2020 lineup, including returning reality franchises Big Brother and Farmer Wants a Wife.
Fronted by some of Queensland's best-known presenters, the three weekend programs - which showcase local businesses and locations and are top performers in their timeslots - are among the longest-running shows on Australian television.
The Great Day Out, formerly The Great South East, premiered 22 years ago, Creek to Coast celebrated its 20th anniversary in August, and Queensland Weekender has aired for 16 years.
Seven Queensland boss Ben Roberts-Smith informed the presenters and 71 production staff who work across the titles on Wednesday after the decision was made earlier this week.
"Certainly the Queensland shows were very close to my heart … and to lose shows like that that mean so much to us and we know mean a lot to Queensland community, they are the most-watched shows on the weekend, it is a tough decision to make, but it is in the best interests in the company," Mr Roberts-Smith told The Courier-Mail.
"The industry is at a difficult time and we had to change our strategy.
"When we look at content-led growth, that is at prime time, so we are reallocating our resources so our 7.30 timeslot is maximised."
Episodes already produced will continue to air through early 2020, but no new episodes are planned.
Sally Jenyns and Scott Hillier have presented on Creek to Coast since its inception, while other presenters across the formats include Bridget Adams, Laurel Edwards, Jess Skarratt, Liz Cantor, Sammie O'Brien, Jillian Whiting, Tamsyn Lewis, Lee Carseldine, Luke Kennedy, Kimberley Busteed, Courtney Thorpe, Billy Bentley, Victoria Carthew, Alastair McLeod and Luke and Cody Cook.
The Courier-Mail understands members of the shows were in tears today, with many presenters now considering their options.
Mr Roberts-Smith denied any job losses, saying the production department would stay in operation and staff would be able to pick up work on national programs produced out of Brisbane, such as Lotto draws, lifestyle program Helloworld and a new Queensland surf lifesaving series.
Presenters, employed on a casual basis, will also be considered for future work with the network.
"We are looking to develop fully funded formats to provide those opportunities," he said.
"We still need to work through that.
"It does mean less work for presenters, but we are looking at national formats we will need presenters for."
Early last month Seven West Media's chief executive officer James Warburton, who replaced Tim Worner in August, axed Queensland's publicity department, and those around the county, in a move to centralise the business to Sydney.
Seven also axed its current affairs program Sunday Night and this week announced the remaining Today Tonight editions in Perth and Adelaide were also getting the chop.
"We will continue to make decisions that support our content led growth strategy and focus resources where they will make the most impact," Mr Warburton said yesterday.
Elsewhere, Sydney Weekender, SA Weekender and The Great Weekend in Melbourne also got the chop.