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Ten launches the old, the bold and the obvious

The embattled Ten Network is offering up few surprises in its 2013 programming. A drama shelved this year and a non-fiction show defying budget cuts are the highlights.

The ratings-challenged Ten Network produced its 2013 line-up today, and it’s a sad story of the old, the bold and the obvious. The old in such stalwarts as MasterChef and The Biggest Loser, plus NCIS, the bold in the free-to-air rights for the rugby union (which moves from Nine), plus the Hopman Cup, which used to be on the ABC in summer. And if I was to say to you that The Simpsons was returning to Ten’s main channel, would you be surprised? That’s another example of the old, but not so bold.

Ten started its 2013 sell today after Seven launched its 2013 season last Tuesday night. Nine launches in November. The obvious part of the launch was the hard sell from Ten CEO James Warburton, who said in a statement today:

For 2013 we have developed a schedule that builds consistency for our viewers and advertisers and will build our audience. It is a 40-week plan, consistently targeted with authentic Ten programs. Familiar, successful franchises will be in our schedule week in, week out, as well as a large number of new shows.”

He would say that wouldn’t he? To say anything else would be to throw in the towel.

Among Ten’s new shows is Reef Doctors with Lisa McCune, which seems to have missed the bus this year. Among all the drama of management changes, ratings collapses and terrible shows in the wake of the London Olympics, Reef Doctors has slipped into 2013.

There are two new cooking shows, one called Recipe to Riches described as “innovative”. Shock of the Now is being called a “live, interactive series”. Hamish Macdonald’s The Truth Is is drama of a non-fiction kind. The latter will no doubt be promoted as a ground-breaking current/public affairs program, but it should also be remembered Ten is slashing its spending on news and current affairs and chopping up to 100 jobs.

Rugby union has been on Ten before, and on Seven and on Nine. But next year will be big with the British and Irish Lions tour and the second season of the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup. But it’s no ratings match for AFL on Seven and NRL on Nine (with games from all codes on Foxtel).

The new MasterChef spin-off (the third attempt after the failed kids’ version and All-Stars this year) is MasterChef: The Professionals, to be hosted by Marco Pierre White and Matt Preston. It will see 18 working chefs “in the toughest cooking competition in Australia. The prize? A chance to turn their culinary dreams and ambitions into reality, under the direction of a legendary chef.” The question is, which working chef wants the humiliation of being a loser on national TV? I bet none of the cooking superstars in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide put their hands up. This is another offering from Shine, meaning more money for chairman Lachlan Murdoch and News Corp.

To accommodate the move back to the main channel by The Simpsons at 6pm, The Project moves to a 6.30-7.30pm slot. That’s an admission the 6-6.30 pm version of The Project has hardly set the world on fire. The 6.30-7pm part is much stronger (100,000 to 200,000 more viewers, especially in winter). The 7-7.30 pm part next year returns the program to its first timeslot. It will be up against Seven’s Home and Away and programs such as Big Brother (if it returns to Nine in 2013) and The Block.

Recipes to Riches sounds like a giant product placement/ad for Woolworths (much like MasterChef and Coles), judging by Ten’s gush in today’s release. It said:

Ten is delighted to partner with Woolworths to present this innovative new series. Produced by FremantleMedia Australia, Recipe to Riches gives everyday Australians the chance to share their home-cooked dishes with millions of people, by turning them into mouth-watering products on the shelves of Woolworths supermarkets. Viewers vote in the most authentic way: the day after each episode goes to air; they can walk into a supermarket and buy the featured products.”

Macdonald’s newsy show is described thus:

Hamish Macdonald brings his unique style to The Truth Is, a bold, new way of exploring the world’s most dangerous, difficult and downright jaw-dropping news stories. This series sees journalism meet Bear Grylls-style television in an exciting collision of reportage and experience.”

Oh dear, again.

Local programs returning include Offspring, Puberty Blues, NeighboursCan of WormsSteve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors, Bondi Vet, Bondi Rescue and The Living Room. No sign of Talking’ ‘Bout Your Generation though. But host Shaun Micallef joins Kat Stewart in Mr and Mrs Murder. Sounds like one to take on trust, along with much of Ten’s other offerings. This is Fremantle’s second new 2013 project with Ten, so it wasn’t punished for the Everybody Dance Now flop this year.

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