This Sunday the ABC’s Insiders and Inside Business, Business Sunday and Sunday on Nine, Ten’s Meet the Press and Seven’s Sunday Sunrise will all have much higher than normal ratings as people tune in to get the latest on the poll, see who has won and if they appear for an interview and where.

Well, the pre-poll punditry is over for the Sunday morning political and business shows. This Sunday it will be trying to explain why the various experts were right or wrong or just didn’t know, who were the winners and losers in the political parties and who made a big fool of themselves by sawing off the limb they were on.

You get the drift, a bit of post poll pontificating by a group of bleary-eyed, coffee-filled hacks and hackettes who will try to make sense of yet another poll, whoever wins (or if it is TOO CLOSE TO CALL).

And when they have finished frightening the horses and others contentedly chewing on their cornies, and watching the box, the hacks and hackettes will charge off to a barbie or a beer and yet more coffee somewhere to continue the argument, with a touch more truth than you will hear on the morning.

But all the programs, the ABC’s Insiders and Inside Business, Business Sunday and Sunday on Nine, Ten Meet the Press and Seven’s Sunday Sunrise will all have much higher than normal ratings as people tune in to get the latest on the poll, see who has won and if they appear for an interview and where.

That’s why television is rooting for a quick clean kill that sees either Howard or Latham winning about 10 o’clock Saturday night.

The ratings for Saturday night will be fixed up if it’s a slow but decisive result, and then there’ll be plenty of time for the Sphere, chuckling Mark Riley, Paulo the Bongo player on Ten and Bazza the Insider, plus their producers, to try to score the winner-loser interviews on the Sunday morning.

That’s the plot. But in reality Howard and Latham tolerate (as do most pollies with experience) the Sunday morning Tele talk shows as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs when there is no political imperative to appear.

Tony Abbott would be a good get though, with a first question along the lines, “Congratulations/commiserations Minister, what did Cardinal Pell think of the result?”

And to ‘rat’ Ruddock (ask the Sphere about that nickname for our Attorney General). If there’s a Liberal loss, Government overboard, Minister?

And I dare someone to ask Ross Cameron, Well, Ross, your r—-ted whatever the result.” Or, Ross, tough being in a swinging seat?

We could go on.

But during campaigns like the one we have just endured, the talk shows on Sunday morning are very influential, more than usual in fact. For the producers, it’s usually a case of who do we choose And what’s the issue of the week or the week ahead?

Of course the campaign dictators and their spinners try to ration the appearances, or even suggest who will appear!

But that’s just a try on.

In fact the importance of the programs is way out of wack to the actual viewing audiences.

Individually they are small for the six Sunday morning programs that total five and three quarter hours of Television, starting at 8am and ending around 11 am.

Collectively last Sunday they were watched by just over 860,000 people, at the bottom of the range of audiences that tune in regularly to watch Red Kerry on the 7.30 Report Monday to Thursday. Audiences for The Great Red One sometimes top a million people a night, Monday to Thursday, which is clout.

But unlike Red Kerry, the Sundays work on the quietness of God’s day as a news day and the fact that transcripts are available in the late morning and early afternoon. Spooning feeding!

The ABC, AAP and some commercial radio stations monitor the programs and start writing news stories based on what the pollies (and the business people interviewed as well) by 9am, and off it goes, a self perpetuating cycle of news and news and news, culminating with the grabs on the Sunday evening news programs, and then the mentions in the Monday morning newspapers and current affairs programs seeking to follow up stories from the day before.

That is a well-understood cycle now. Plenty of political hacks have to get up early (or tape) and tune in to watch the shows, get the transcripts and follow up the hated (or envied) TV stars, led by the Sphere.

So in the campaign that was announced on August 29 when the nation was still in a post-Olympics golden haze, how have the shows done?

Well, starting at 8am, Business Sunday, on the Nine network’s audience on August 29 was 145,242 people across the network (five major metro markets).

It peaked on the next Sunday, September 5 on 226,801, before finishing at 158,344 people last Sunday. A smallish gain, but with business issues such as high oil prices, and a strong stock market, those factors could have boosted the audience size.

Also at 8am, Seven’s Sunday Sunrise saw its audience open at 139,419, peak at 161,903 the next Sunday (same as Business Sunday), and the finish a touch lower last Sunday on 139,056. No political impact there overall, you could say.

Meet the Press goes to air on Ten at 8.30 and its half an hour. It opened with 96,343 people, peaked at 106,007 on September 19, and then eased to 71,929 last Sunday. A net loss during the campaign.

At 9am Sunday and the Insiders go head to head on Nine and the ABC respectively. Sunday is the pack leader, with the Sphere the big selling point in politics. If he was to leave Nine, Sunday and The Bulletin at ACP would have their biggest franchise removed!

Sunday opened the campaign at 241,748 people, peaked the next Sunday on 332,348, had a couple of more 300,000 plus mornings, and then sagged badly last Sunday to finish on 267,789 people. A small gain over the campaign overall.

The ABC’s Insiders is really for Insiders, but it does well and is now number three on Sunday mornings Behind Sunday and Business Sunday (in terms of audiences). Bazza and his team opened with a 140,344, peaked at 149,968 on September 12 and finished at 148,921 last Sunday. Clearly the Insiders are second in politics and have an impact on Sunday.

The last place is held by the predominantly business-orientated Inside Business on the ABC. It opened with a 55,005 audience on August 29, peaked at 102,520 on September 19, and then eased to 73,994 last Sunday, the biggest gain of all but from a small base.

To get an idea of the differences in the respective audiences, Red Kerry’s 7.30 Report was watched by a network(five major metro markets) audience of 897,019 people last Monday, 774,902 on Tuesday, 872,024 on Wednesday and 918,243 on Thursday.

Description

STN

Dates

Network

Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

Adelaide

Perth

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 08/29/2004

145,242

50,988

41,155

26,564

13,694

12,841

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/05/2004

226,801

59,825

66,959

56,308

20,935

22,773

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/12/2004

195,927

69,900

65,431

36,863

15,690

8,043

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/19/2004

153,602

49,964

36,378

36,849

10,863

19,548

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/26/2004

176,911

47,785

59,867

35,766

16,947

16,547

BUSINESS SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 10/03/2004

158,344

39,975

48,975

29,537

22,145

17,712

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 08/29/2004

55,005

9,624

20,505

8,489

5,124

11,262

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/05/2004

54,589

10,416

19,974

9,117

6,339

8,744

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/12/2004

83,749

14,950

30,278

15,523

7,137

15,861

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/19/2004

102,520

22,909

39,033

20,458

9,421

10,699

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/26/2004

70,864

18,873

22,852

5,477

13,218

10,445

INSIDE BUSINESS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 10/03/2004

73,994

17,956

20,524

21,167

3,972

10,374

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 08/29/2004

140,344

22,707

63,051

21,904

12,173

20,510

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/05/2004

143,536

29,733

56,380

23,979

13,476

19,968

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/12/2004

149,968

28,919

58,266

25,371

11,032

26,380

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/19/2004

146,069

24,641

55,482

32,739

15,671

17,536

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 09/26/2004

139,171

33,485

41,507

21,921

22,663

19,595

INSIDERS-AM

ABC

week Sun, 10/03/2004

148,921

42,627

43,928

35,443

11,634

15,288

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 08/29/2004

96,343

22,099

40,025

15,262

11,698

7,259

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 09/05/2004

86,476

16,135

27,759

12,479

18,432

11,671

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 09/12/2004

90,486

19,808

19,369

28,535

9,016

13,758

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 09/19/2004

106,007

32,375

29,188

19,304

13,443

11,697

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 09/26/2004

92,239

19,058

33,115

26,101

8,156

5,810

MEET THE PRESS

10

week Sun, 10/03/2004

71,929

13,541

29,147

11,123

6,015

12,103

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 08/29/2004

241,748

64,793

82,502

42,606

25,587

26,260

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/05/2004

332,348

73,624

95,990

83,938

39,980

38,816

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/12/2004

306,158

88,122

105,921

60,687

31,692

19,736

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/19/2004

251,213

72,314

82,518

42,728

22,848

30,805

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 09/26/2004

322,055

80,063

122,668

62,680

32,349

24,294

SUNDAY

9

week Sun, 10/03/2004

267,789

52,020

110,806

59,125

23,299

22,540

SUNDAY SUNRISE

7

week Sun, 09/05/2004

139,419

29,458

48,284

33,898

14,665

13,114

SUNDAY SUNRISE

7

week Sun, 09/12/2004

161,903

50,198

42,143

35,462

16,000

18,100

SUNDAY SUNRISE

7

week Sun, 09/19/2004

127,553

42,304

27,432

26,019

13,729

18,069

SUNDAY SUNRISE

7

week Sun, 09/26/2004

133,809

41,033

35,247

35,664

10,624

11,241

SUNDAY SUNRISE

7

week Sun, 10/03/2004

139,056

51,956

33,081

23,543

16,199

14,276

Peter Fray

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