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The rivalry between Seven and Nine to be No.1 is far from over

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How successful this particular brand of ferocity will be remains to be seen. But some areas have already emerged as key 2020 battlegrounds.

Breakfast wars

This hotly contested slot, a lucrative zone for commercial networks, has seen a long-running duel between Seven’s Sunrise and Nine’s Today. It’s likely to attract a lot of early attention, not just because Nine will launch its new hosting line-up on January 6 but because it’s been such turbulent territory.

Illustration by John Shakespeare

Illustration by John ShakespeareCredit:Sydney Morning Herald

Not for Seven, which has had the clearly dominant performer, but because of the headline-grabbing ructions at Today, which are especially problematic in a zone where consistency is an asset. Today has been rocked by a run of upheavals: the departure of Lisa Wilkinson; the sacking of Karl Stefanovic; the audacious but unsuccessful attempt to reshape the show with female co-hosts Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight; and now the return of Stefanovic, with 60 Minutes reporter and Weekend Today co-host Allison Langdon by his side.

There’s likely to be an initial curiosity bump in the ratings as viewers check out the new team. But Today needs them to stay as it has a lot of ground to recover, with Sunrise averaging 275,000 metropolitan viewers nationally in 2019 to Today’s 197,000.

The moveable feast

The Three Musketeers are no more. While food shows remain a popular prime-time staple, the long-standing MasterChef trio of judges has disbanded, with Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan moving to Seven to host the international cooking competition, Plate of Origin, without George Calombaris.

New Masterchefs Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.

New Masterchefs Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.Credit:Edwina Pickles

At Ten, MasterChef enters a new era with a fresh judging panel: food writer Melissa Leong and chefs Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen. Meanwhile, Seven’s long-running cooking contest, My Kitchen Rules, has been tweaked into MKR: The Rivals, which sees Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge heading opposing teams, while, the promotions suggest, Pete Evans will helpfully be on hand to carry a box of kitchen implements.

Reality bites

Reality TV franchises have demonstrated a portability and perhaps-surprising durability: they can run on one network, be discarded and subsequently revived by another, sometimes successfully.

Network-defining formats such as MasterChef, Married at First Sight and The Block are rare. Big Brother, for example, is set to launch on Seven, its third network home. Australia’s Got Talent has bounced between Seven and Nine, while Farmer Wants a Wife previously spent nine seasons on Nine. Dancing With the Stars and The Amazing Race, now on Ten, both originally appeared on Seven, and Ten has made a hit of Australian Survivor, which fizzled on Nine and Seven.

Australia's Got Talent judging panel are expected to return for 2020: Shane Jacobson, Lucy Durack, Nicole Scherzinger and Manu Feildel.

Australia’s Got Talent judging panel are expected to return for 2020: Shane Jacobson, Lucy Durack, Nicole Scherzinger and Manu Feildel.

The commercial free-to-air networks regard these shows as essential tentpoles for their prime-time schedules. First out of the blocks will be I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! which has become Ten’s answer to filling the gap left by its lack of cricket or tennis coverage: it’s attempted to turn the guessing game about who’s going into the jungle into its summer sport.

Dwindling drama

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Drama series are risky and comparatively expensive, but a good one lends a network the kind of prestige that a reality TV show never will. Sadly, the number of locally produced drama series is diminishing. They’re no longer the main game for FTA networks, which appear to be leaving that territory largely to the streaming services and doing the bare minimum required by the quota system.

Nine has a healthy looking crop with Informer 3838, Halifax: Retribution and another season of Doctor Doctor. Ten has more of Five Bedrooms, Playing For Keeps and How To Stay Married, as well as The Secrets She Keeps, starring Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael. Seven’s newfound ferocity doesn’t appear to extend to drama: it has announced only two series, Between Two Worlds and The Flying Doctors’ update RFDS.

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WA heatwave threatens emergency level bushfire

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WA heatwave threatens emergency level bushfire

A bushfire burning north of Perth is entering its fourth day burning at an emergency level. Hundreds of firefighters are trying to gain the upper hand on the blaze which is threatening homes and lives. An emergency alert is in place for a 45 kilometre stretch of coast including the towns of Two Rocks, Guilderton and Seabird. The inferno has ripped through 12,000 hectares, destroying one home and several structures, as a heatwave grips the state. Image: Getty

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Presidents Cup live: Final day’s play at Royal Melbourne

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Late on Saturday morning with a scoreboard being dominated by black and gold – which is not uncommon in Melbourne – there’s one United States pairing who don’t need any help, writes Adam Pengilly.

Tiger Woods is hanging with them. The earpiece is in, the message he’s projecting is muffled. Read more here.

The Ryder Cup had the Miracle at Medinah, but how about the Presidents Cup’s own Miracle in Melbourne, writes Adam Pengilly.

It wasn’t quite the mass-scale final-day heroics which helped Europe snatch victory over the United States in 2012, but this was an unlikely comeback as you will see an individual match. Read more here.

Patrick Reed’s caddy has been banned from the final day of the Presidents Cup over a heated altercation with a fan.

Tiger Woods will tee off first at Royal Melbourne this morning, up against the in-form Abraham Ancer.

Match 19: Abraham Ancer v Tiger Woods

Match 20: Hideki Matsuyama v Tony Finau

Match 21: C.T. Pan v Patrick Reed

Match 22: Haotong Li v Dustin Johnson

Match 23: Adam Hadwin v Bryson DeChambeau

Match 24: Sungjae Im v Gary Woodland

Match 25: Joaquin Niemann v Patrick Cantlay

Match 26: Adam Scott v Xander Schauffele

Match 27: Byeong Hun An v Webb Simpson

Match 28: Cameron Smith v Justin Thomas

Match 29: Louis Oosthuizen v Matt Kuchar

Match 30: Marc Leishman v Rickie Fowler

Good morning and welcome to the final day’s play at Royal Melbourne.

There will be 12 match points up for grabs, with the Internationals taking a 10-8 lead into day four. They’ll need to win at least five-and-a-half matches today to win the Presidents Cup.

Play is expected to start just after 10am.

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Printed photos making a comeback

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Printed photos making a comeback

Printed photos continue to make a strong comeback, led by a younger generation seeking a physical connection to their memories. Sky News tech expert Djuro Sen chats Polaroid-like prints and printing on-the-go, for some last-minute Christmas gift ideas. Image: Getty

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