Every new television year they claim it's the year of this or that. Two years ago it was supposedly a game show-led recovery with 1 v 100 facing off against The Rich List. 2009 This year is already shaping up as a battle in News & Current Affairs.
Channel Seven, which has been winning nationally in News for some years, has decided it now wants the Current Affairs title too. Historically, they have been cherished Nine brands, but with dwindling audiences and cost cuts Nine was forced to axe its long running Sunday and Nightline shows last year.
In February, Seven will premiere Sunday Night at 6:30pm on Sundays. Screening an hour before Nine's long-running 60 Minutes could white-ant Nine's potential audience. The Seven show will run to a different format with two co-hosts, airing live, and it would appear, even feature a studio audience. Maybe they can hiss at politicians?
Seven has also managed to secure Mike Munro, who retired from Nine last year, for its new programme, who retired from Nine last year. With his long history in journalism, including on 60 Minutes and A Current Affair, that's quite a coup. Munro will be joined by Chris Bath, who presents Seven's Sydney News on weekends.
With Nine's cricket obligations, Sunday Night is likely to get a head start on 60 Minutes. But don't write off Nine's long-running show just yet. It's survived all contenders, including getting belted by The Comedy Company in the late 1980s and the early years of Big Brother. Not to mention that 2009 is 60 Minutes' 30th Anniversary year -- a very timely reminder it is a powerhouse.
If, as rumoured, the Sunday 7:30pm timeslot becomes a battle between 60 Minutes, So You Think You Can Dance and Australia's Got Talent then Nine should hold up well. Two variety reality shows could divide the one audience, driving plenty Nine's way.
Meanwhile, Nine is also trying to fix its 6pm Nine News which trails Seven nationally. In Sydney, Mark Ferguson has been replaced by Peter Overton, and the network is believed to be readying new formats for its 5:30pm slot: reportedly a "magazine-style" show for Sydney and Melbourne.
Of course, serious pundits know that ABC, SBS and Sky News are home to serious news too, generally without all the fanfare.