Royal Baby News Whips Australian Media Into a Frenzy

10:51 PM PST 07/22/2013 by Pip Bulbeck
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Kate Middleton and Prince William

The arrival of Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child was timed perfectly for breakfast television, but a little late for the daily newspapers Down Under.

The timing of the birth of Britain’s new royal baby couldn’t have been better for Australian breakfast television programs, which carried extended editions early Wednesday morning local time, to mark the birth of the Prince of Cambridge who, for now, could be Australia’s future king.

After more than a 10-day wait, and with Kate Middleton’s labor confirmed in the evening Australian time, Aussie TV production teams on the ground in London were ready to go when the news was announced via e-mail, with the Seven Network’s Sunrise program, rival Nine Network’s Today show and the ABC’s Breakfast News programs all starting at 5 a.m., one hour earlier than regularly scheduled.

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Today was also streamed live on companion website ninemsn.com.au.

The announcement of the royal birth was made officially at 5:30 a.m. local time.

The top-rated Seven Network, in a tight battle for ratings with the Nine Network, had four people on the ground: Sunrise host Mel Doyle, reporting from Buckingham Palace, foreign correspondent Mike Amor outside the hospital and two British “royal correspondents,” one at the back entrance of the hospital and another at Kate Middleton’s home village of Bucklebury.

The debt-heavy Nine Network had only two reporters on the ground and an army of commentators in London, while Lachlan Murdoch’s Network Ten, currently in development on a new breakfast program launching later this year, provided news updates while running its regular CBS morning television show. Ten’s evening programs Wednesday night, however, will have four people live in London to cover the birth.

Breakfast presenters at the normally more serious public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corp. also enjoyed the flurry of royal activity, crossing regularly to their U.K. bureau chief Phillip Williams.

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Certainly it was a tall order to fill four hours of live rolling coverage of a birth, but they did it. And if breakfast TV viewers (Sunrise and Today average around 320,000 capital city viewers each every morning) weren’t sated enough this morning, the networks are all planning special evening programming to air Wednesday night local time to mark the occasion.

Seven is providing a special hourlong news bulletin starting at 6 p.m., Ten is following up its 5 p.m. news bulletin with a half-hour special titled Will and Kate: A Royal Arrival, replacing The Simpsons, and the ABC will run a documentary, Born to Be King at 8 p.m., followed by a repeat of the QI: England special.

The birth was too late for daily newspaper deadlines, although the story of Kate’s labor made the front pages of all top-selling newspapers’ “Royal Baby” special editions at both the Murdoch press and Fairfax Media.

Fairfax Media’s quality daily the Sydney Morning Herald site had been “live blogging” the birth on its website since Kate’s labor was announced, while the paper printed an infographic on its front page of the new line of succession, under the heading Game of Thrones.

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News Corp Australia’s online portal, news.com.au, carries two banners today under the headers:  The Royal Baby: Full Coverage and Couldn’t Give a Royal Toss: Other News Here.

And the recently launched Guardian Australia’s site gives readers a similar choice asking readers to click on a tab named Republican or Royalist for the type of news they want to read.

Meanwhile, Conservative politician Malcolm Turnbull, a future possible Prime Minister and former head of the Australian Republican Movement, hasn’t entirely dropped his royal affiliations. Posting on his Facebook page, he said, “In the midst of all our political strife, a moment of joy as the Duchess of Cambridge is (as they say) safely delivered of a baby boy. All Australians, whether they be republicans or simply harbouring mild resentment over the Lions Tour (let alone the cricket) will be united, as Lucy and I are, in sending congratulations to Will and Kate and best wishes for a long, healthy and happy life for the little prince.”

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