Nine’s Today has launched a furious attack at The Daily Telegraph after it reported Today’s viewers were tuning out because of co-anchor Georgie Gardiner.
Nine’s director of current affairs, Darren Wick, has issued a statement lambasting the media coverage of the network’s flailing brekky program, Today.
The statement was issued after The Daily Telegraph published an article about Today’s continued ratings slide.
A mere 168,000 viewers across the five metro cities tuned in to the program on Monday — which is a record low — compared to 287,000 for Seven’s rival Sunrise.
The Telegraph reported Nine held “closed-door crisis meetings” following the result, in which groups had found audiences were not taking to the show’s new co-anchor, Georgie Gardner.
In a statement issued to the media today, Darren Wick said the report was “deliberate bullying”.
Wick said: “I don’t shy away from the weaker numbers the Today show has recorded in 2019. But just five weeks into a new team on-air, we’re not about to hit the panic button.
“We’ve been through this battle before with other programs, where a section of the media is quick to write us off. We’re in for the long haul”.
Less than 200,000 people tuned in for the first show with Gardner, new co-host Deborah Knight, Tom Steinfort, Tony Jones and Brooke Boney on January 14.
The new team was assembled to shake up the Today program following the infamous sacking of Karl Stefanovic last year.
Less than a month later, the ratings dropped further with just 177,000 people tuning in on February 6.
David Knox, from industry website TV Tonight, told news.com.au earlier this month that Nine had a major uphill battle to face.
Knox said: “Breakfast TV is notoriously habitual, and it would be easier to turn around the QEII than an underperforming show.
“Viewers are rusted on and do not like change. That said, Nine had to respond to a year of poor figures and bad headlines.
“There is still room to tweak but Nine has to hold its nerve”.
Nine morning TV director Steve Burling also spoke to news.com.au after the low figures from February 6, yet remained positive.
Burling said: “It’s very early days and rating figures will continue to fluctuate, but I’m absolutely thrilled with the dynamic between Georgie, Deb, Tom and the entire on-air team.
“And, I’m confident that the audience will be turning to us in the weeks and months ahead”.