Great minds thinking alike? Or a case of fools never differing? You pick the cliché that best applies to the fact that in the space of a month both Seven’s Today Tonight and Nine’s A Current Affair have covered stories that purport to look at what makes TV viewers “mad”, using the same unacknowledged source and the two same bits of talent.

Amazing coincidences or just laziness in using the same people from the one source?

Wednesday night Today Tonight did a story that matched one done last month by A Current Affair. Both used Herald Sun TV writer Robert Fidgeon from Melbourne, and 2UE radio announcer Mike Carlton from Sydney.

Here’s the survey from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Monday TV guide which inspired the copycat stories.

Both stooped a little in their presentation of the survey. For example ACA used vision from mainly the Ten Network and Seven for some of the illustrations of viewer dislike, such as promotions for forthcoming shows in closing credits of finishing programs. There was no vision from Nine.

There was one delightfully ironic moment. Mike Carlton was rabbiting on about how he didn’t like the watermark or network logos on screen. As he was talking, Nine was showing the ABC TV watermark, immediately above the ‘dotty Nine’ that’s the Nine watermark. Without comment!

Nine did rate a small razz from Robert Fidgeon for mixing repeats with new programs, especially Nine’s blockbuster, CSI, but that was about as far as it got.

In the SMH survey, viewers mentioned that they disliked the way programs ran over time, a point illustrated by Mike Carlton who said it was designed to keep viewers with the network. Well guess what A Current Affair did on the night its story on viewer dislikes went to air? Ran past 7pm and went straight into Frasier. At the end of the program Ray Martin looked at his watch and said we’d better be careful we don’t run over time. Too late!

Today Tonight was a little more even-handed, noting that programs such as Four Corners, Enough Rope, Celebrity Circus, Desperate Housewives and Lost had upset viewers by finishing at non-scheduled times or running over time.

Host Naomi Robson admitted at the end of the program that TT ran over time. No coyness like Mr Martin! In fact, TT and ACA are the worst offenders, running past 7pm every night of the week. On the other hand, it’s interesting how Seven and Nine News offend viewers by starting each night at around 5:59pm and 30 second, in an effort to be first on air. Pathetic really!