One of the ABC’s more interesting programming decisions lately has been to quietly launch a new weekly sports show, Sideliners, at 6pm Fridays which is hosted by swimmer-turned-sports broadcaster Nicole Livingstone and relative newcomer Tegan Higginbotham.
Livingstone has a long media career including many years working with the Nine Network and calling Olympic Games on radio. However, in recent years she has worked mainly for international broadcasters and sees the ABC gig as a welcome move back to reach a local audience.
While Higginbotham may not yet be a household name, she has been working as a comedian for over 10 years.
Livingstone told Mediaweek: “For the last couple of Olympic Games, I broadcast for the Olympic Broadcast Service, which is the world coverage. I’ve done the opening ceremonies, the closing ceremonies, the swimming commentary, and a few other sports, but not in the domestic market. I haven’t really been on Australian TV since December 2013 when I last hosted The Project.”
More recently Livingstone has been working in sports administration. Her management company, TLA (formerly Elite Sports Properties), got her an audition for the new ABC TV sports show.
“I was happy to be screen tested and have a look, in my head thinking, well, it may or may not happen, but I’ll go along and give it a go. I screen tested on the Friday and by the Monday, I’d been called by the producer to say they wanted me involved.”
Livingstone said the program did two live-to-air pilots prior to launching.
The program features Livingstone and Higginbotham as the regular studio hosts with Amberley Lobo on the road meeting people and filing stories. Lobo is a former host of ABC ME program Studio 3 and has also worked for the BBC.
While the three regulars are women, Livingstone stressed the show has male guest panellists too and the program covers all sports, men’s and women’s.
She did note that when she started in TV in 1993 there were not a lot of women’s sports commentators or reporters.
“Anne-Maree Sparkman was the first trailblazing woman on Nine’s Wide World Of Sports.”
Livingstone said she was happy to see Australian sportswomen finally getting some time on FTA TV. “Australian women in sport are succeeding almost like they never have before. It’s probably the best time since the golden era of the 50s and 60s when our Australian women were at the forefront on the international stage, but this time it’s in so many different sports.”
Photo: Tegan Higginbotham, Nicole Livingstone and Amberley Lobo [rear]
This is an excerpt of the full article, which appears in the latest issue of Mediaweek magazine.
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