Network Ten will telecast the third annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards as a 90-minute show at 8.30 pm on Thursday January 30.

That should ensure a bigger audience than watched this year’s awards which aired at 9.30 pm, limited to one hour, and drew just 318,000 viewers.

“We’re getting a better timeslot and better promotion in the lead-in,” AFI | AACTA CE0 Damian Trewhella told IF today.

The venue for the awards and the January 28 awards luncheon presented by Deluxe will again be the Star Event Centre, which is making a “major contribution” to AACTA, Trewhella said.

He announced renewed sponsorship from Destination NSW and a new sponsor in Event Cinemas, which tonight is opening the newly-christened AACTA Bar at the Bondi Junction cinema, intended as a hub and meeting point for AFI | AACTA members.

The Bondi Junction venue is hosting the AACTA Awards Screenings program. Trewhella indicated a year-round program of screenings, discussions and Q&A is being developed for that location. That will restore the kind of regular programming that was a mainstay of the AFI before it was forced by financial constraints to cut back its core functions.

Ian Sutherland, General Manager Alternate Content at Event Cinemas parent Amalgamated Holdings Ltd, is an AFI director.

The AACTA awards season was launched in Sydney today by AACTA president Geoffrey Rush and NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts George Souris.

There’s no word yet on who will host the awards. Some 14 features will compete in the 2014 awards. Also screening are the four short animation nominees and four short fiction nominees.

The AACTA International Awards will again be held in January, details to be revealed. There was criticism in some quarters about the expense of staging the International Awards in Los Angeles last January and the wisdom of saluting non-Australian films as the organisation was forced to economise after losing its key sponsor Samsung.

Trewhella promises there will be “some incremental improvement” in the International Awards.