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Mass production aim with business shows

IT’S not just business people who have cast aside the suit and tie for a more relaxed image. Business journalism also has undergone a bit of a sea change, driven by superannuation and growing share ownership among the masses.

The launch of The Business Show on SBS this month signals a major shift in the audience for business programs, away from the old boys at the top to a younger, ambitious group of workers keen to make their money work.

Sunday has traditionally been a big day for business programming, with Channel Nine’s Business Sunday and Sunday Sunrise on Channel Seven competing for viewers over breakfast.

Sunday and Business Sunday executive producer Stephen Rice said there had been a definite shift in the audience demographic for Business Sunday.

“The demographic in terms of our audience has grown fairly steadily and levelled out over the last few years, but the demographic overall has come down,” he said.

“Principally it is due to more people owning shares and more young people owning shares.”

Despite a format that includes detailed interviews with company chief executives, the station recognises its audience is much broader and includes individuals working in the business world and people more interested in managing their superannuation or investment portfolio.

“I’ve been here seven years now and the content has pretty much remained the same – we still do long interviews,” Mr Rice said.

“The reason our audience wants detailed information is it’s looking to make judgements on how well companies are run, who is running then and whether that will affect the share price.”

And advertisers recognise the value of Business Sunday’s audience, investing in advertising targeting the high net worth of the individuals the show attracts.

“Despite the fact we run long interviews they’re pretty watchable and the show makes a profit for Channel Nine, it’s got the A-B demographic so it appeals to people who buy BMWs,” Mr Rice said.

SBS director of television news and current affairs programs Phillip Martin said SBS had long believed there was a hole in its sche-

dule due to the lack of a business program.

“We recognised a need in the market for a program that not only provides a forum for discussion of business issues, but a chance for business people to have a bit of fun with issues,” Mr Martin said.

“From time to time business takes itself far too seriously and we set out to create a program that was slightly irreverent but treated issues that concerned business very seriously.”

Hosted by Richard Ackland, formerly with the Australian Financial Review, and Sydney Morning Herald writer Emiliya Mychasuk, the program has been developed to appeal to a broad range of people

Aired at 6pm on Sunday evenings, The Business Show aims to provide something different for this burgeoning market – appealing to everyone from self-funded retirees to the movers and shakers in boardrooms around Australia.

The changes to the superannuation law and big public share floats such as Telstra have introduced a host of new players and driven the groundswell of public interest in business locally and in the global market.

“We are very serious about doing a business program and it’s in the schedule until the end of the year. My fervent wish is that it will continue … for the next 25 years,” Mr Martin said.

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