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Media briefs: stay tuned: Ten results … GOT love … Letterman retires …

Ten’s own moment of truth … Why Game of Thrones is must-watch TV … David Letterman announces his retirement …

Ten’s own moment of truth. The finale of the Ten Network’s struggling reality series The Biggest Loser will air on Palm Sunday, April 13. The programming switch (from Tuesday and Wednesday nights) is the latest sign Ten’s management is losing is grip on its schedule and its confidence in its programming. TBL has also been ejected from next week’s line-up, due to weak ratings for the program, which is in its fourth year of the current contract with Shine Australia, part of the Murdoch family-controlled 21st Century Fox.

But before TBL airs for the last time, Ten’s real moment of truth will arrive next Thursday, April 10, when its first half-year results (we can’t say profits) are due for release. It will be a baptism of fire for new executive chairman Hamish McLennan after Lachlan Murdoch bolted to be co-chair of the family companies. There will be a lot of talk about the big audiences for the T20 Big Bash and the Sochi Winter Olympics, and no doubt a bit of boosterism ahead of the Commonwealth Games later in the year (which lost Ten money when broadcast from the more timezone-friendly New Delhi in 2010).

The move to push TBL off to the weak Sunday night will not please its core fans (around 450,000 to 500,000 or so nationally), who have stuck loyally to the series this year. Replacing TBL will be another food program, Jamie & Jimmy’s Food Fight Club, in which Jamie Oliver and farmer Jimmy Doherty open a “pop-up cafe” and serve up “the best of British food”. The decision to move the finale of TBL to the start of the non-ratings period could cost Ten money, with advertisers demanding make-goods, or bonus ads, to make up for any difference from moving a program from an official ratings time slot to a non-ratings period (or lower-rating slot). So You Think You Can Dance Australia has moved from Sunday to Thursday nights (where it is rating a touch better, but getting higher share figures because Thursday night is the third-lowest night for viewing in the week). You can bet that impact is something Ten management won’t want to talk about next week. — Glenn Dyer

What’s his book called again? Maybe they need more fact-checkers at The Australian  — or maybe some errors are deliberate? In a report in today’s Australian about Media Watch host Paul Barry’s appearance at a Politics in the Pub gathering in inner-city Sydney, his book is called “Breaking the News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession” (italics ours). Which is close, but not quite right. His book is titled “Breaking News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession”. This follows on from a report in February 25 that called his book “Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Obsession” (the article has since been fixed online). Freudian slip, or willful error?

Why Game of Thrones is must-watch TV. There was a time when Game of Thrones wasn’t a household name, although it’s difficult to remember. How did it get so big? When did the release of a new season become a national event? What’s so good about a show new enough that The New Yorker was still passing it up at the start of last year?

Game of Thrones came to the small screen in 2011 trying to prove there was space beside the bullet-riddled, gritty realism of headliners like Breaking BadThe Walking Dead and Homeland for something involving dragons and Sean Bean wearing a leather dress. It has become the most universally appealing show currently screening on television. The infamous season three finale pulled in around 5.5 million viewers at peak and 6.3 million total in the United States. It’s stupidly popular. How did this happen, and will the fourth season be able to keep the crown?

In 2011 Breaking Bad was well underway, and it was literally impossible to have a conversation about TV without being asked if you’d seen the most recent Mad Men. The Walking Dead and Sherlock were about to make a splash; even Sons of Anarchy hadn’t jumped the shark yet. The new “Golden Age” of TV had arrived.

But none of those shows were on what used to be the go-to network for cutting-edge TV, HBO. The network’s answer was to take the works of fantasy author George R.R. Martin and make a show of almost universal appeal. Some might argue that it’s an unremarkable achievement for a TV studio to take someone else’s work and realise it as HBO has done. But from the opening season — a series of episodes that sketched a beautifully imagined world in a way that is only possible on screen — the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones has created a world of its own and a show whose genre cannot be defined with fewer than nine adjectives.  — Peter Green (more at Daily Review)

Front page of the day. The home-town daily in Killeen splashed with another base shooting …

Video of the day. After 32 years on late-night television, including the last 22 at 11.35pm on CBS (and various timeslots on Nine and Ten in Australia), 66-year-old David Letterman told fans on his show today that next year will be his last behind the desk …

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