Sorry I’m late


Morning coffee

I wish more people would come into work saying: “Sorry I’m late, I had to watch…”. While I’m not advocating rampant workplace tardiness, I’d love Australia’s breakfast television to be so good you just can’t switch it off!!!! (exclamation marks necessary!)

Why can’t Australia’s morning airwaves be more like their big brothers and sisters in the US? While the US shows aren’t perfect, they certainly know how to keep people engaged, informed and entertained. And I should know, I’ve watched plenty of episodes both while travelling in the US and back in Oz during the 4am shift.

Australia’s breakfast television shows have proved their ability to provide us with important news during national crises or natural disasters, but it’s time they pick up the pace and engage, entertain and enthral us on a daily basis.

Breakfast television or morning shows are infotainment television programs, broadcast live typically between 6:00 and 10:00 am. They’re hosted by small teams of male/female hosts (think Matt Lauer and Katie Couric, Karl and Lisa and Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowling), and watched by people getting ready for work and school.

NBC’s Today was the world’s first national breakfast show and set the tone for the television genre when it began broadcasting on 14 January 1952. Nearly 60 years later, it remains number one with many shows from around the world copying their successful format.

Last year, Morning Glory (a film by the folks who made magazines come to life with The Devil Wears Prada) took us behind the scenes of shows like Today with their 4am wake-up calls, breaking news and celebrity interviews. The fictional show, Daybreak (which coincidentally is the name of  UK breakfast show), was fighting for survival up against Today and Good Morning America (GMA).

But that’s not fiction. Everyone wants to be like GMA and Today – and everyone wants to be the host. The shows are the breeding grounds for some of the finest news people in America. For example, Diane Sawyer recently left her long stint at GMA to host ABC’s evening news (following in the footsteps of NBC Today’s Katie Couric).

There were further changes to the guard of morning television in the US this year. In June, Meredith Vieira left the anchor desk at Today after five years, and the tributes that flowed in demonstrated her ability to deliver a mix of hard and soft news on a daily basis. Following Vieira’s departure, long-time news anchor Ann Curry took the reins.

In Australia, we’ve seen Today and Sunrise battle out the breakfast show slot for the past decade with Mel and Kochie going head to head with Karl and Lisa. But they still seem to lack the gravitas of their American counterparts.

In 2008, we welcomed the ABC’s version of the breakfast show, ABC News Breakfast, which has since moved to ABC1 and seems to be going from strength to strength. The show draws on the quality journalism of ABC TV and radio with the highly respected hosts Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland.

And now Channel 10 has announced plans for a new breakfast show. I wonder if they’ll be able to capitalise on the success of the 7pm Project and claw back their dominance in the news space. It will be good to have some more competition in the morning space – hopefully it will have more people coming into work saying: “Sorry I’m late”.

So what does the future hold for breakfast television? What would you like to see in your 6:00-10:00am slot each day?


the c word crew

PS. We got a chuckle from these French & Saunders parodies of morning shows.

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