ABC-TV’s Landline program returns to television screens across Australia for the first time this year on Sunday, with reporter Pip Courtney taking on the role as presenter of the long running show.
Landline has consistently been the most-watched show in the ABC News Sunday schedule since its inception in 1991. The important role it plays in highlighting rural and regional issues to all Australians and in helping to bridge the gap between country and city Australia will undoubtedly take on even greater prominence in 2012, the Year of the Farmer.
Pip Courtney is one of Australia’s most respected rural journalists. Her in-depth 2010 analysis of the controversy over coal seam gas developments on prime farmland was judged the best television entry and the best broadcast story overall by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) at its 2011 conference, in Ontario, Canada.
She also won the prize for Excellence in Rural Reporting at the MEAA’s 2011 Queensland Media Awards (The Clarions) and is a finalist for this year’s Queensland Rural Woman of the Year.
Pip dedicated the awards to her cameraman husband, John Bean who’d shot part of her award-winning stories. John was killed along with reporter Paul Lockyer and pilot Gary Ticehurst in a helicopter crash at Lake Eyre in South Australia last August while filming stories for Landline, 7.30 and ABC TV News.
Landline executive producer, Pete Lewis says while the program – like Australian agriculture – had evolved and adapted to changing circumstances and technology over 21 years, it remained committed to covering the issues, events and characters at the heart of rural and regional communities.
“We’ve clocked up a lot of mileage – and not all of it on bitumen – to give people an insight into what makes the bush tick,’’ he said.
“The Landline team’s experience and expertise has always been its point of difference and why it remains one of the ABC’s most popular and respected programmes.”
“Pip and the rest of the team has already the hit the road gathering stories for our 22nd season – which is designated the Australian Year of the Farmer,” Lewis said.
Kate Torney, director, ABC News said: “I’m delighted that Pip will be hosting Landline this year.
“She has worked on the program for almost as long as it’s been on-air, delivering the quality rural journalism Landline is renowned for. Pip has a genuine affinity with the bush and brings a unique style to her reporting of rural and regional issues. She has won a number of awards over the years and is a real asset to the team. We wish Pip all the best for 2012.”
Pip told Beef Central this week she was looking forward to the challenge of presenting Landline, and said she believed John would have been “very proud”.
“He loved doing rural stories and we loved working together,” she said.
“I dedicated the Canada award to him, he shot most of the story I won the prize for.
“He would have been so, so proud of that award and he would be doubly proud about the presenting role.”
This Sunday’s program will feature an interview with National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie, rural woman of the year Caroline Robinson from Western Australia and a profile of 2011 farmer of the year Rob Ruwoldt from Victoria.