Swapping lines: Nightline’s Sacha McNeil to host Firstline in 2014

From 2014, Sacha McNeil will be swapping her late-night TV slot for early mornings, as she steps in to co-host Firstline with current 3 News business editor Michael Wilson.

This move comes after an earlier report that The Paul Henry Show would replace Nightline from 2014. Following the announcement of the changes, there was initial speculation as to what role McNeil would take, but yesterday’s press release confirms that she will remain as an employee of Mediaworks.

This is the second time in McNeil’s career that she will be taking over a position previously held by Rachel Smalley, who resigned as Firstline anchor in August.

In 2011, when Smalley moved from Nightline to Firstline, McNeil took the hot seat for the evening show. And now, almost three years later, McNeil is emulating Smalley by moving from Nightline to host the morning show.         

Over the last few months, Simon Shepherd has been filling in as the temporary host in lieu of Smalley. And at this stage, it’s still unclear what role Shepherd will take, but it is thought that he will return to his previous role of reporter and back-up anchor.

TV3 director of news and current affairs Mark Jennings described McNeil as “one of our most talented news anchors” and acknowledged Wilson as “one of the country’s leading business journalists.”

Changes were however not only limited to Firstline, with Mediaworks also unveiling Janika ter Ellen as the news anchor for The Paul Henry Show.

“Janika is a real up-and-comer, and one of the talented journalist/presenters who continue to come out of the 3 News stable. We think she will form an excellent combination with Paul in what promises to be the most interesting addition to our news and current affairs programming for 2014,” says Jennings.  

There were also a few shifts behind the scenes, as TV3 confirmed Fiona McMillan as the executive producer of The Paul Henry Show. This change sees McMillan, whose CV includes five years’ executive production experience at Worldwide Exchange at CNBC, going in the opposite direction of McNeil as she leaves her Firstline production role to take up the new position in the late-night show.

Current Firstline producer Rebekah Ferretti has been promoted to executive producer, and she will step into this role in January 2014. The vacant producer role created by this move will be filled by Paul Mayow, who, like McNeil, will be trading his Nightline position for one with Firstline.  

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