The
Victorian budget leak didn’t really show up in Nine’s ratings on Monday
night, but there was a noticeable effect last night when Nine’s
Melbourne news attracted an average audience of 519,000, well clear of
bitter rival Seven’s 347,000 viewers.

The lesson from this might
be that getting publicity on radio an hour before the news goes to air
doesn’t really make much difference to your ratings: on Monday night
Nine attracted 479,000 viewers compared with 383,000 for Seven.

Melbourne
is easily Nine’s best performing newsroom in the country. While Sydney
regularly loses to Ian Ross and a resurgent Seven, Nine typically beats
Seven by about 100,000 viewers a night in Bleak City, although it used
to be closer to 150,000.

That margin was stretched to 172,000
last night and Nine was lapping up its coup with Brett McLeod doing a
whole separate story on the saga of the leak for last night’s bulletin.
Strangely, Brendan Donohoe failed to mention Nine’s coup in his Seven
coverage, something that Ten, the ABC and most other media did given
the gravity of the story.

Bracks
and Brumby remain very angry
about the leak that overshadowed what they were hoping would be
acclaimed as their “best ever” budget and today they’ve called in
independent investigators from Price Waterhouse Coopers, as the
witchhunt is well and
truly underway. Independent member for Mildura, Russell Savage, running
a book on who was responsible. Bracks’s media director Sharon McCrohan
is currently Russell’s favourite, so the straight-talking Sharon will
no doubt be savaging him some time today.

The damage hasn’t been
too bad in the end, but it was still certainly a negative for the
government and a loyalist like Sharon would certainly not have leaked
it to David Broadbent, Nine’s well-connected state political reporter
and former Seven news director.

Peter Fray

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