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Viewers snubbed: Channel 9 scraps late night news bulletin

CHANNEL 9 has axed its late news bulletin, Nightline and made host
Kellie Connolly redundant in a snap decision being blamed on
"beancounters now running the show"

Just weeks after Nine boss David Gyngell boasted the revival of his
network had rested on improving its news service, the program has been
pulled and its presenter given her marching orders, reported The Daily
Telegraph.

Staff have been left reeling after they were told of the axing
yesterday, despite being praised by management earlier in the week for
their role in last Thursday's Federal leadership spill.

The program has been at the mercy of an inconsistent timeslot since
its latest relaunch last November but regularly drew a Sydney audience
of about 100,000 people.

A saddened Connolly told The Daily Telegraph the small team had taken
pride in their efforts and the "drip effect" it had in improving
Nine's breakfast peformance.

"It was a total surprise and shock to the team and we're all very
sad...I am personally desperately sad to be leaving having been with
Nine after 13 years."

Nine's national director of news, Mark Calvert defended the move and
claimed the network was "investing more money in news and current
affairs'' despite having one less program.

"Nightline had a loyal audience, but a small one.

"The reality of our business is that we have to aim our firepower at
those times of the day when people are watching in significant
numbers. We're actually investing more money in news and current
affairs.

"We'll be spending more than we ever have on our federal election
coverage, we're opening a new London bureau to strengthen our coverage
across Europe and the Middle East, and we're hiring additional staff
across the department. All of this will mean better coverage for our
viewers, and help us get where we need to be: number one in the
ratings."

However, Sky News CEO Angelo Frangopoulos told the Diary that the
decision to axe the program, currently hosted by 20-year TV veteran
Kellie Connolly, was at odds with Nine's declared commitment to news
and current affairs.

"We're investing in news and current affairs," Mr Frangopoulos said.
"I thought Nine said they were, too. What happened to that
commitment?"

He said it was no excuse to say Nightline couldn't find an audience
because of the way it bounces around the schedule.

"That's always been the case for Nightline," he said.


CourierMail.com.au