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Darren Wick talks Nine News’ set refresh

TV’s most popular presenters get new primetime homes

Peter Overton on the new Sydney set

Nine News showed off a new set for its Perth news late last year as part of a nationwide set refresh. News and current affairs director Darren Wick last week revealed the new Sydney set and this week it was Melbourne’s turn.

Adelaide and Brisbane both get their new sets later this year.

Wick told Mediaweek the news set redesign was very important to the news offering. “It has got to reflect the brand, what Nine News stands for.”

But he and the set designers need to walk the line between radical and boring set designs. “We can’t be too flashy because the audience could think we are all about bells and whistles with not enough substance.”

Peter Hitchener with Tony Jones and Livinia Nixon at Nine News Melbourne

Wick then used a Kerry Packer quote from his days running the network: “Sets are great, but they don’t bring you ratings. Content is always going to be king.”

Wick added: “In terms of the overall package, content remains critical, but in a modern world we need a modern presentation area.”

Although Nine is careful not to make too much noise about the changes because of the reason above, Wick said they are great new sets. “We have looked at various options over the past two years. We took a look at a lot of European news sets and were also influenced by the BBC World News set. We also like the way our Today show uses a big screen.”

Keen viewers might notice small changes to the city backdrops where the cameras have been reset with everything now in HD and a much wider shot.

Peter Overton with Cameron Williams and Amber Sherlock at Nine News Sydney

The previous Nine News sets have had a good workout, hosting the news bulletins since the middle of 2009.

Viewers don’t get a lot of chance to dwell on the new sets – they get a flash at the start and the end of the bulletins, plus during sport and then again on weather.

And Wick’s instructions to his metro news directors? “They have a new car and we tell them just to drive within the speed limit.”

Otherwise Nine News has surrendered part of its afternoon schedule to give Millionaire Hot Seat the chance to compete head-to-head with The Chase between 5pm and 6pm.

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