THEY were always going to be big shoes to fill but Sky News anchor David Speers is set to launch a new program in the style of the man who once preached from the same Sunday TV pulpit, Laurie Oakes.
The Canberra newsman's retirement this year, after a 50-year broadcasting career, has paved the way for Speers to claim his mantle today - launching a new marquee program, Speers, (4pm, Monday to Thursday) which will build to the premiere of Speers On Sunday (from January next year).
Inspired by the media veteran, the award-winning Speers said his ambition for his new Sky flagship shows was to take the time to be more "reflective" rather than just reacting rapidly to the unfolding events of the day.
"I was always a huge fan of Laurie Oakes, no doubt about it," Speers said.
"That Sunday morning interview that he did for many years was just a must-watch for me, certainly. I just loved his interviewing style.
"I've got my own style, everybody does, but it is still a really important point of the week when people are tuning in, not just the political class, but when I think a lot of Australians are catching up about what's been the big issue of the week …just to watch someone put through their paces who has played a pivotal role in those issues."
The new format will include Speers prosecuting a major single interview each Sunday but he said: "beyond the headline interview, we really hope to break some news and also not just analyse from our perspective, what's happened, but try and look at how voters are feeling about big issues as well and bring some sense of what people are thinking 'outside the [political] bubble'."
The new programs are part of Sky's extensive investment in new programming for 2018, as well as a state-of-the-art, 24-hour business studio and channel at News Corporation's Holt Street headquarters in Sydney.
Michael Miller, NewsCorp's executive chairman said: "The new studio creates, for the first time, a dynamic business hub delivering high value business news video content across all NewsCorp Australia platforms and brands."
In other programming news, Tony Abbott's former chief of staff Peta Credlin will fly solo with her own weeknight program, Credlin (from November 20); while her one-time Sky News counterpart, Kristina Keneally moves to Canberra to host a weekday analysis show, To The Point.
The former NSW Labor premier said shifting to the nation's capital would put her and her viewers at the centre of the political conversation.
"It's not just about being there for the big events like we saw on Friday (when the High Court handed down its decision on the Citizenship Seven), it's about decisions being made in Parliament …they're not made on the floor of Parliament," Keneally said.
"They're made in the hundreds of conversations that happen, the chance encounters, the chats people have over coffee, the meetings they have in offices.
"Taking To The Point to Canberra will put the show and our viewers right in the point of power and inside decision-making in this country."
As part of its expansion of regional news coverage, Sky confirmed it will also open a bureau in Townsville with Sky News reporter Olivia Grace-Curran covering issues affecting far north Queensland.
It follows the launch of a new Gold Coast studio earlier this year, adding to Sky's portfolio in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Hobart, Geelong, Cairns and Wellington, New Zealand.
Further investment announcements regarding Sky News Weather and the Sky News digital platforms are expected to be made soon.
SKY NEWS MAKING NEWS IN 2018
FIRST EDITION with Keiran Gilbert and Brooke Corte (5am AEST weekdays)
AM AGENDA with Keiran Gilbert (8.30am weekdays)
LIVE NOW with Ashleigh Gillon (9.30am Mon to Wed)
LIVE NOW with Samantha Maiden (9.30am Thurs to Fri)
NEWSDAY with Laura Jayes (12pm to 4pm, Mon to Thurs)
TO THE POINT with Kristina Keneally live from Canberra (1pm, Mon To Thurs)
SPEERS with David Speers (4pm, Mon To Thurs)
CREDLIN with Peta Credlin (6pm weeknights)
THE BOLT REPORT with Andrew Bolt (7pm weeknights)
BEATTIE & NEWMAN with Peter Beattie and Campbell Newman (8pm, Mon)
JONES & CO with Alan Jones and Peta Credlin (8pm Tues)
RICHO with Graham Richardson (8pm Wed)
OUTSIDERS with Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean (8pm Thurs, 10am Sun)
POLITICS HQ with Nicholas Reece (8pm, Fri)
PAUL MURRAY LIVE and PML OVERTIME with Paul Murray (9pm weeknights)
HEADS UP with Janine Perrett (11pm Mon to Thurs)
PYNE & MARLES with Christopher Pyne and Richard Marles (returns 2018)
THE FRIDAY SHOW with Janine Perrett (4pm, Fri)
SATURDAY EDITION and SUNDAY EDITION with Jaynie Seal and Greg Thomson (7am, Sat and Sun)
SPEERS ON SUNDAY with David Speers (8am Sunday)
KARVELAS with Patricia Karvelas (7pm, Sunday)
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