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7:30 Report gets major revamp

When Kerry O'Brien announced his retirement from The 7:30 Report in September, it signalled the end of an era -- and the opportunity for the program to take a new direction in 2011.

In March, The 7:30 Report will return with a new name, new presenters and a new focus.

Shortening its title from The 7:30 Report to 7:30, the current affairs show will place ABC journalists Leigh Sales (Lateline) and Chris Uhlmann at the helm. Sales will anchor the program in Sydney, while Uhlmann takes over as political editor, reporting from Canberra. Current political editor Heather Ewart will remain on the team, moving into the role of national affairs correspondent.

ABC director of news, Kate Torney, says the network's two most respected journalists will serve well in the home of quality daily current affairs:

"Leigh Sales has a string of major interviews to her credit, including Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair. Chris Uhlmann has established himself as one of the most respected political interviewers and journalists in the country. We are proud to have them leading this flagship show."

Sales and Uhlmann are equally excited about leading the program next year.

"I’'m really excited by this opportunity and I can't wait for us to bring our audience the best interviews and the most important stories," said Sales.

Uhlmann added, "The producers, editors and reporters at The 7:30 Report set the gold standard in television current affairs and I’m optimistic that the changes planned for 2011 will maintain their proud tradition and continue the epic work of Kerry O'Brien."

While continuing the program's "tradition of high-profile interviews and political coverage", Kate Torney thinks it is time to "draw attention to the reporting firepower on the program".

The new 7:30 promises more coverage of major state-based issues than the current format, combining the national and Stateline programs to reinforce the ABC's strength in state-based current affairs. The program will continue to air each weeknight, with the Friday edition "state-based, presented locally and featuring coverage of local issues".

"By combining the resources of all the existing program teams, there will be increased opportunities for each state to provide its own local edition of 7:30 on other nights when the news agenda demands it. We can and will break out of national programming to cover major state-based stories, using national resources," explained Torney.

Changing the format of the program is one thing, however; ABC representatives expect that the new 7:30 will also set a new standard for the entire news agenda nationally.

"Our team of reporters, producers, researchers, editors, directors, graphic artists, and field and studio crews will be exploring new ways to report on the stories that matter, breaking out of the traditional mould of TV current affairs. The program will travel more often, leaving the studio to take the audience to the stories where they are happening.

"The aim is to deliver a broader range of great stories to the audience -- stories that explain, stories that challenge, and stories that tell you more of what matters to state and national audiences," said Torney.

The revamped 7:30 premieres March 7, 2011 on ABC1.

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Whenever I need a snack, I grab myself a Tim Tam from the fridge, and munch away while I read the paper and from time to time take a sip of my coffee.
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