Nine has raided Seven’s Sydney news room to reclaim a former senior producer. Tony Ritchie, a former EP of the Sydney news in the 90s, was forced out. He did a good job at Sky News and was then picked up by Seven and put into the Sydney Newsroom where his impact was to bring a crispness and a direction to what was a pretty lacklustre operation.

There was talk several months ago of him going, but that subsided only to re-emerge this morning with the news that he had quit Seven and was heading back to Willoughby. This is another move by Sam Chisholm, who knew Ritchie from Sky News. Chisholm is chairman of Sky, Ritchie a director. They both knew each other from when Chisholm was at Nine.

The talk now is about how long it will be before Ritchie’s former Nine News boss, Ian Cooke, is headhunted back to Nine. He left Nine in the early 90s after Seven started beating Nine News in Sydney. He went to London to work for Chisholm at BSkyB. Ritchie will have his work cut out at Nine and may be the pea to replace Max Uechtritz should Chisholm move against him.

Seven won last night narrowly from Nine and Ten in an even battle, but once again the great imponderable of Australian TV emerged. On Sunday night, Nine News was the most watched program with 1.947 million people, thanks to the strength of the lead in of the AFL and NRL games from 4pm. That delivered a lead in audience of 1.183 million.

Come Monday and Nine News ratings slide – big time, with around half a million people lost. Seven News rises slightly to 1.605 million from 1.543 million the night before. Deal or No Deal on Seven rises to 944,000 viewers, well ahead of The Price is Right on Nine, down to 511,000 people.

It’s a commonplace event now, Nine does wonders on Sunday, then slumps Monday. That also hurts A Current Affair. Last night an average 1.430 million people watched ACA, compared with 1.625 million watching Today Tonight on Seven. Meanwhile the Desperate Housewives audience last night dipped under two million for the first time in a couple of months to average 1.9 million, while the Big Brother nomination episode averaged 1.568 million viewers and pushed Nine’s Super Nanny lower, down to 1.37 million. Four Corners on the ABC had its best night for weeks with a strongly produced Chris Masters’ story: 871,000 viewers tuned in. And 733,000 watched Media Watch.

Seven won the night with a 28.2% share to Nine on 26.0%, Ten on 23.5%, the ABC on 17.0% and SBS on 5.3%.