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Today, often referred to as The Today Show, is an Australian breakfast television program. The show has been broadcast live by the Nine Network each morning since 1982, recently celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2007.The weekday program is hosted by Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson, along with news presenter Mark Ferguson, sport presenter Michael Slater, weather reporter Steven Jacobs, and network entertainment editor Richard Wilkins. Both the Weekend editions, are hosted by Leila McKinnon and Richard Wilkins along with news presenter Amber Higlett and sports presenter Andrew Voss.

History

Officially launched as The National Today Show Today is Australia's longest running morning breakfast news program.The show premiered on Monday 28 June 1982 and is celebrating 25 years of continuous broadcasting in 2007.

The original hosts, Steve Liebmann and Sue Kellaway, spent four years together before Liebmann left to the read the evening news for Network Ten in Sydney. Former 60 Minutes reporter George Negus took over the male anchoring role. After four years, Liebmann returned to the Nine Network, hosting Today with Liz Hayes and Tracy Grimshaw. However, in December 2004, 60-year-old Liebmann suffered a mild heart attack,took over from Liebmann as co-host. Grimshaw then left Today at the end of 2005 to take over from Ray Martin as host of A Current Affair. While, it had been widely speculated in the Australian press that Seven Network news presenter Chris Bath would co-host Today with Stefanovic from January 2006, the position instead went to former Network Ten news presenter Jessica Rowe.

Rowe had mixed beginnings as the co-host of Today with some viewers and commentators attacking her because of her dress-sense and her apparent over-happiness, citing her constant nervous laughter. Following her court case against Network Ten, Rowe was subjected to comments from the media and viewers that she should be sacked and was not right for the role of Today.Rowe's replacement whilst on maternity leave was Sarah MurdochThey both presented until Rowe's departure from the show, when the Nine Network released a press statement on 5 May 2007 saying Rowe had left the Nine Network to 'take up other opportunities for her career'. As of 28 May 2007, former co-host of Weekend Sunrise, Lisa Wilkinson, took over the female co-hosting duties.

25th Anniversary

Today celebrated its 25th year of broadcasting on 28 June 2007, by travelling to five different Australian cities in one week, which had never been before attempted by an Australian television show. Former Today presenters and musical guests were involved.

On the official day marking the 25th anniversary, past Today presenters who made an appearance included Ian Ross, Tracy Grimshaw, Monte Dwyer, Liz Hayes, George Negus as well as Eric Walters, Helen Dalley and Kellie Connolly. Sami Lukis who replaced Monte Dwyer did not appear, nor did original co-host Sue Kellaway. Original co-host Steve Liebmann was also unable to attend, nor was current weather presenter Steve Jacobs, however video messages from both were aired.

Weekend Edition

After the initial success of Today, a Saturday edition was produced in the early nineties. Hosted by Tracy Grimshaw, it featured more news, politics and economic reports. Grimshaw was later followed by Tara Brown and Richard Wilkins, before reporter Helen Dalley joined the program in 1996. These hosts were accompanied by newsreaders Michael Usher, Anna Coren and Mark Burrows. In 2002 Today on Saturday was cancelled due to budget cuts by the network.

In January 2009, head of the Nine Network David Gyngell and head of news and current affairs John Westacott, announced that Today will begin broadcasting on Sunday mornings. The program entitled, Today on Sunday, competes in the same timeslot as the Seven Network's Weekend Sunrise, which dominates Sunday morning television.Launched in February, it is anchored by Today's sports presenter Cameron Williams and network news presenter Leila McKinnon. The news is presented by Amber Higlett and sport by Michael Slater. It also features Nine's chief political commentator, Laurie Oakes in his traditional Sunday morning interview.


In May 2009, after the launch of Today on Sunday, the Nine Network announced via a surprise edition that Today on Saturday would return. The program incorporates the same presenting team as the Sunday edition, being the first Australian breakfast news program to broadcast seven days a week. After the success launch of both Today on Saturday and Today on Sunday, the Nine Network renamed the programs to strengthen its news brand. The Nine Network announced the two separate titles would combine to become Today: Weekend Edition. David Gyngell said the launch of the weekend editions were a part of Nine's plans to strengthen its news and current affairs department and return viewers to it's once leading service.

Anchors

The principal anchors/hosts of the show have included:

The principal anchors/hosts of Today On Saturday have included:

The principal anchors/hosts of Today: Weekend Edition have included:

Substitute presenters and anchors

Cameron Williams,Amber Higlett or Richard Wilkins are the main substitute presenters of the program, often filling-in for Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson respectively. Substitute presenters in recent years have included , Kellie Connolly, Sarah Murdoch, Sharyn Ghidella, Leila McKinnon, Kim Watkins, Helen Dalley, Ali Moore, Amanda Paterson, Peter FitzSimons, Peter Overton, Michael Usher, Ken Sutcliffe, Mark Ferguson, Jennifer Keyte, Garry Lyon, Eddie McGuire, Terry Willesee ,Georgie Gardner and even Clive James on one occasion while the show was broadcasting from London. Former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner has hosted the show on one occasion.

Format

Today, an offshoot of Nine News, predominantly presents news, sport, weather, entertainment and current affairs, focusing on the first news of the day. However the show also features topics including consumer affairs, health, politics, education, fashion, and the business/finance world. The show has daily feedback and topic segments for viewers to send in their thoughts and opinions via email, text message, and the show's website. The program is also home to the network's political editor Laurie Oakes, who presents his weekly interview on the Sunday edition.

Initially, the program was only a two hour broadcast, airing from 7am until 9am each morning. After dropping Nine's Early Morning News, the network moved Today to a 6am start. Again in 2008 the show was lengthened to three and a half hours, starting at 5.30am. This move included an exteneded news, sport, finance and weather segment, prior to the main program at 6am. Today: Weekend Edition airs on both Saturday and Sunday from 7am. While the Saturday edition is a two hour show concluding at 9am, the Sunday edition broadcasts for three hours ending at 10am.

News

The idea of providing the latest news has been critical to the function of the program. Under the current format, seven main bulletins are delivered, once every half-hour. News anchors have included the following:

Sarah Harris or Peter Overton usually fill-in as news anchor, while Majella Wiemers, Kim Watkins, Ben Fordham , Helen Kapalos, Allison Langdon, Heather Foord,and Chris Smith have all among others read the news on occasions.

Sport

Before 2006, the Today newsreader presented the sports report. However in 2006, the show introduced a separate sports presenter and bulletin. Cameron Williams presents live and current sports news after the news bulletin every half-hour. In addition to the sports bulletins, Today each day presents a segment named Best of the Back Pages referring to the sports news in a newspaper, where Cameron Williams is joined by a sporting expert to discuss and analyse sports news. Andrew Voss presents the sports reports on Fridays, due to Cameron Williams hosting Today on Sunday. Weekend sport is hosted by Tim Gilbert (Saturdays) and Michael Slater (Sundays).

Weather

Currently, Today presents weather after each news and sport bulletin, every half-hour. Steven Jacobs is the current weather presenter and he travels the country and occasionally the world, presenting the weather from somewhere new each day or in the studio. Jaynie Seal, Joseph May, Gorgi Quill and Giaan Rooney have all presented the weather on various occasions too. Weather presenters have included:

Entertainment

Today's entertainment presenter, Richard Wilkins (Nine Network entertainment editor), presents daily features, interviews, movie and television reviews, and reports, from right across the world of showbiz. Additionally, Richard Reid is the show's Hollywood Entertainment Reporter. He delivers daily reports live from the studio or somewhere new each day around the country or occasionally in Hollywood. twice each day, along with his own "Hollywood Minute" where he is timed to get all his news in within 1 minute if he fails to do so they cut him off and continue with the rest of the show. Other things he does are "best dressed of the week", Ask Richard and Spray of the Day segments.

Traffic watch

A number of traffic reporters present reports during the program from the Nine Network helicopter. They are scheduled generally each half an hour before the news bulletins in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Competition with Sunrise

For 20 years, Today consistently won the morning breakfast ratings period. However, since the 2002 revamp of the competing Sunrise on the Seven Network, Today suffered a slump in its ratings.In an instant effort to improve these ratings, the Nine Network attempted to make radical changes to the program's format. Additionally, the Nine Network has employed a large budget re-vamping and shifting the Today set several times, in an effort to find a formula that can compete with Sunrise's Sydney CBD street-side setting. Despite this large expenditure, Sunrise has achieved greater financial and viewing success.

In the last three years, Sunrise has won the ratings battle, averaging more than 150,000 more viewers than Today.However, during 2007 Today has slightly improved its ratings and made significant gains in audience. With a 9% rise year-on-year between 7 and 9am, and a 16% hike in the key 6 to 7am newshour.In contrast, Sunrise has slumped four per cent year-on-year in the 7 to 9am timeslot. While, in Melbourne (where Today is the most dominant) alone Today has won the morning breakfast slot for most weeks since May in the 2007 ratings by a large and considerable margin.

During the 2009 Australian rating period Today continues to eat into Sunrise's lead. On Friday the 12th of April 2009, Today beat the Seven Network's Sunrise. Today rated 279,000 viewers to Sunrise's 275,000 viewers. This had not been achieved by Today in almost 5 years. They also won Sydney 107,000 to 96,000, not achieving this since 2004.

Broadcasting

Due to the fact that Australia has more than one time zone, Today is not always broadcast live to the entire nation. New South Wales (including ACT), Victoria and Tasmania have Today aired live all year round. However, during daylight saving time, Queensland receives Today delayed by one hour. However, in 2007 Today began a trial and aired live into Queensland between 5:00 - 8.30am, with an extra Queensland-only half an hour. This was unsuccessful and in 2008 returned to its previous delayed telecast. However, in the case of major breaking news (eg. Cyclone), the program goes live into the state, to help provide residents with up-to-date information. Additionally, the Northern Territory, has Today delayed thirty minutes during winter and one-and-half hours during daylight saving time. Some parts of South Australia are also delayed by thirty minutes and in Western Australia the program is delayed by two hours all year round.

Other national and international broadcasts

Imparja and WIN Television air Today between 5.30 and 9am on the eastern coast of Australia. They also air the show weekdays between 5.00 and 8.30am local time in other Australian locations. In addition to Australia, Today is broadcast in Papua New Guinea,Fiji and Charlatan. Papua New Guinea on EMTV,in Fiji on Fiji Television and on Charlatan on CEN.

International connections

Even though the name of the show is the same as America's NBC Today Show, it has no link to its American namesake. But ironically, Today airs Good Morning America between 4.00 and 5.00am due to affiliate agreements.- Transdiffusion, 07 November 2007 However, its rival on the Seven Network, Sunrise, follows the American NBC Today Show format, including a streetside studio. The Seven Network also airs much of the American version between 4 and 6am, preceding Sunrise.


December 25,1998

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