End of an era as GTV9 moves house

Iconic Richmond studios to become inner city apartments.

It has been the home for In Melbourne Tonight, Hey Hey It's Saturday, The Footy Show, The Paul Hogan Show, Sale of the Century, The Don Lane Show -- but Bendigo Street Richmond will no longer be home to Channel Nine from 2011.

The site that has been home to GTV9 for 53 years will be vacated early next year as the Melbourne channel moves to new premises in the Docklands region. In vacating the studios Nine bids farewell to a legacy that is unsurpassed in Australian television.

"Television City", as it was fondly called, has been the centre of TV -- particularly live variety -- for decades. It has been the spiritual home for stars including Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton, Don Lane and Daryl Somers.

Across the years it has also been home to New Faces, Family Feud, Temptation, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and dramas such as Division 4, The Sullivans and The Flying Doctors.

In the days when Kerry Packer ran the Nine Network and the network was "Still the One" GTV9 was its heartland.

It is still used today for shows including The Footy Show, Hey Hey It's Saturday, Nine News, A Current Affair, Hot Seat and Footy Classified.

The building was constructed in 1908 as a piano factory by the great grandfather of former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett and opened by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. After 1935 it became the Heinz tinned food factory until the Nine Network took possession and began broadcasting in 1956.

The site has a Heritage overlay on its exterior shell, but the interiors, including the renowned Studio 9 are not protected and likely to be gutted for apartments. The value of the property in the middle of the residential area has no doubt been a deciding factor for Nine's parent company PBL Media, owned by equity partners CVC Asia, which has significant debt repayments.

Nine has previously looked at selling its TCN Willoughby site to property developers too.

Nine will relocate to a high-tech, purpose-built facility in the Docklands region, not far from Seven Melbourne at Etihad Stadium and Central City Studios.

Its new address will be as a tenant in a corporate building, housing management, administration and smaller studios, while it will hire larger studios for big event shows such as Hey Hey It's Saturday and The Footy Show.

"We've got a number of external studio options available to us and Nine will be crewing those studios," managing director Jeffrey Browne said.

"Production will not decrease -- in fact it's likely that production levels will increase. No shows will be lost."

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