Terry Television reviews Waley’s Baghdad safari and the new hour long Price is Right.
So what of Jim Waley’s broadcast of the National Nine News from
Baghdad? Well, in fashion terms he looked fetching in a blue flack
jacket, while veteran reporter, Robert Penfold was looking more sedate
in a darker coloured number. In ratings terms, nationally it did well,
pushing National Nine News (1.649 million viewers) to the top
of the tree in Monday night’s ratings battle, while Seven finished
third – more than 160,000 viewers behind (1.481 million).

On Seven though, no protection for Adrian Brown, the former Nine
reporter in Asia sacked in a John Alexander cost cut, and then rehired
by Peter Meakin at Seven.

Both Networks had the news of the earlier than expected handover of
power by the Americans, so it was a bit of a godsend, coming around
4.30 pm Australian time. But while newsreader Jim was in Iraq, the
weekend reader in Sydney, weekend anchor, Mark Ferguson was back in the
studio handling the rest of the news here, while Ian Ross read all the
news on Seven from Sydney (in Sydney) and Brown reported from Iraq.

And did Jim help Nine news in his home town? Well no. Nine news
finished eighth in Sydney with only 380,047 viewers, while Seven missed
the Top 10, but was only 9,000 viewers behind Nine. So Nine will
consider that a win.

But Nine’s audience in Sydney was no bigger than a week before and the
half a million bucks Nine is supposed to be spending on the Baghdad
Safari will produce mixed results if Waley can’t boost viewing in his
home town, where the network’s news ratings problems are deepest.
For
Nine nationally it was a good boost from the earlier than expected
handover, but where to now for the rest of the week. It’s all a bit
anticlimactic now.

Using Jim
Waley to try and break the siege of Willoughby by Seven might have been good
strategic thinking, but judging by the initial reaction in Sydney, more
help is needed.

Perhaps the
staginess of it all didn’t help, compared to the smoother looking performances
from Seven’s Adrian Brown and the ABC’s Geoff Thompson in Baghdad.

In fact,
judging by the reaction from Crikey subscribers, there’s more than a smidge of
cynicism about Waley’s Baghdad Safari.

This is how
one subscriber reviewed Jim’s performance

“Oh, the delicious irony of it all. There was poor
old Aunty Jim Waley poncing around all dressed up in his nice shiny new flak
jacket with nowhere to go. The evidence of the sheer tortured desperation
of Channel Nine in sending him to Iraq in the first place was funny enough, but
watching him trying to bluff his way through a story he didn’t have the first
clue about was priceless. In the meantime, for the sensibly dressed ABC correspondent, it was just another day at the
office”

And what about Ray Martin and A Current Affair, no wonder it
got beaten on Monday night by Seven’s Today Tonight.

Today
Tonight
was watched by 1.45 million viewers nationally, compared to ACA‘s 1.37
million.

And in
Sydney Today Tonight finished fourth with 409,600 people, and ACA was out of
the picture, with only 343,475 people, a miserable result. No flow on from the
Baghdad Safari there.

Whatever you say about the lightweight nature of the Seven
product, at least it hasn’t got the unsmiling Ray topping and tailing things,
and introducing a collection of rubbish, like he did on Monday evening.

Here’s another emailer review of ACA and Ray:
“My ears pricked up, pardon the pun when I head Ray’s promos during
the day. A bloke selling his virginity over the internet. An old
story and Shrek 2 visits schools. That’s the best they have got? No
wonder Ray had that ‘welcome back but we have f… all’ smile at the
start of his program Monday. And sex seemed to ‘run’ the program as the
other stories outside of Shrek2 visiting schools showed.”

(Crikey: Who showed the first Shrek a few weeks ago and is using
it in the State of Origin Rugby League broadcasts at the moment? Nine, of
course. And which company owns the Hoyts cinema chain where you can see Shrek
2
? Consolidated Press of course, the private Packer company)

“One of the other stories Monday night was about mobile
phones and male sperm count. Another was a bloke suing his wife
because their ‘son’ was the result of a stray root. Come on Ray, get your mind
above your waistline.”

Whew,
if this keeps up, Terry TV will have to lift his game or take up golf,
both emailers captured Nine News and ACA with Ray in one.

And the Price is still wrong for Nine

Another Monday and another less than brilliant introduction of yet
another Nine Network ‘innovation’ to stop the rot in the news and
current affairs battle with the Seven Network between 6 to 7pm.
The
hour-long, prize-boosted The Price is Right proved to be not much better a
performer than the two week non-rater it replaced, Eddie McGuire’s mini version
of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which did well at 8.30pm Monday
evening though, finishing top in Sydney and second nationally.

Up against The Price is Right was Seven’s Deal or No Deal, it won at 5.30pm, while
at 5pm, Seven’s Wheel of Fortune was beaten by Larry Emdur’s first half
hour of Price.

Here are
the figures.

At 5pm
Wheel had 420,181 viewers nationally compared to 682,577 for Larry. At
5.30 pm, the Seven audience had more than doubled to 865,513 people, while
Larry had added exactly 200,000 viewers (to 682,577 people).

In Sydney
Deal was watched by 239,067 people and Price was watched by 165,530
people, which is lower than Eddie got.

Now Nine
will claim that the Deal national audience was down around 140,000 people on a
week earlier, and coupled with the win at 5pm over Wheel of Fortune, meant that
the expanded hour of The Price is Right worked. Well, it didn’t!

Why? Well
the audience for Price at 5.30 in the second hour was below that Eddie got the
previous week and around the level Price was pulling before it was shunted
off to 5pm.

It didn’t
help the Nine news at 6pm or ACA at 6.30 in Sydney. The news had only 380,000
viewers and ACA 343,000 or so. Both around the levels of last week when doom
and gloom stalked the corridors of the third floor at Nine’s HQ at
Willoughby.

The Baghdad
dash by Jim Waley helped the Nine News nationally (thanks to good performances
by the news in Melbourne and Brisbane, as usual) but gave no boost whatsoever
to Sydney, where Jim is the main anchor.

That will
be worrying to Nine executives, despite what they say in public.

With a
heavily-promoted and revamped Price failing to do the business at 5.30pm Nine’s whinges about ‘poor
lead-in’ hindering the news, will have to be looked at again, because you
HAD a GOOD news story for the 6pm news that attracted viewers everywhere but
Sydney, where the Seven news and current affairs charge has been felt most
deepest.

So the
problem lies elsewhere so far as viewers are concerned in Sydney.

Elsewhere
on Monday night a notable win to Seven’s The Great Outdoors, a veteran lifestyle
program which won its 7.30pm slot, beating yet another repeat of a Friends
episode on Nine, and Ten’s Big Brother and Nine’s Two and a Half Men at
8pm.

Home and
Away
won at 7pm, beating Frasier on Nine.

But the
problems persist for Nine. Its audience jumped by one million viewers from the
second half of Price (682,000 people, to 1.649 million nationally).

But around
260,000 of those had turned off by ACA (1.37 million), and another 100,000
turned off to watch Frasier (1.27 million) at 7pm

With The Great
Outdoors
doing well (1.39 million), Seven extended its winning period to 8.30
when Eddie appeared and boosted the Nine audience from 1.28 million to 1.62
million. The Seven audience fell away to 1.15 million for Las Vegas, which was
beaten by the ABC’s Australian Story episode on ‘Crispy’ Bacon and his
wife Honey, a nice story.

And that
where Seven’s night collapsed. So near and yet so far. And that sums up Seven’s
year.

Nine won
the night nationally and Sydney with 28.1 followed by Ten and Seven.

Peter Fray

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