A Current Affair to getaway?

The
Nine Network is considering sending A Current Affair on holidays for around a
month in December-January as a way to cut costs. Sources say the decision hasn’t been set in concrete but the odds are
slightly in favour of a break as a way of trimming budgets and cutting
back on holiday leave costs. This
would enable Nine to make a clean break with Ray
Martin, if it’s decided to change him for another host. Tracy Grimshaw has been suggested. It’s
thought one option is to go on break from just before Christmas and return in
late January with a new set, new host (if that happens) and new look, and
possibly a new timeslot of 7pm. There
are also thoughts Nine might go to an hour news between
6pm and 7pm.

Rival Seven is planning to keep Today Tonight on air through the break
with Anna Coren hosting in place of Naomi Robson. Chris Bath will host
the week night news in Sydney over summer. Nine
has its 2006 program launch at head office at Willoughby tonight with Liz Hayes of 60 Minutes
– and not Ray Martin or Jana Wendt – hosting. The
reports about ACA come as rumours increase that Nine’s
chief programmer, Michael Healy, is not happy. They
surfaced in the Melbourne Age today.

Healy
though is known to have been unhappy for some months now, since Sam Chisholm
took control in May. He has
had internal discussions with chief operating officer, Ian Audsley (and CFO Brent Cubis) over
program budgets and how much can be spent on new programs for next
year. These
discussions (more like disagreements) are known to have caused delays to a lot
of program commissioning that Nine should have been
doing. Nine
has officially said that these delays are due to Sandra Levy arriving as the new
head of Development. But
these delays were being reported before she arrived in
October. And industry reports say she is known to have been surprised by the lack of money at
Nine.

Missing Persons finds a place

The Nine Network has finally found somewhere to put two
long-heralded programs, Suspicious Minds and Missing Persons
Unit
. Tonight, the programs will
appear in Nine’s 2006 schedule, despite the fact that this time a year ago, they were touted for the 2005 line-up. Nine
has very little in the way of new local shows in the pipeline. There’s a series called Twisted Two starring Bryan Brown in a
reprise of the Twisted Tales program and Nine is also promising that the UK-US mega series Rome will now be in the 2006 schedule because it didn’t need it this year.

Suspicious Minds
is being done at Nine by the group behind RPA. It’s an hour long and according to Nine, will “examine Australian stories involving mystery,
murder and crime. It will feature interviews with real victims and their
families, as well as the witnesses and investigative teams involved”.

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners A narrow win for Seven in something of a turn up. It was less
than 1% but a win is a win. House was number one with 1.457 million, then Home and Away (1.360 million), McLeod’s Daughters (1.333 million), Today
Tonight
(1.308 million), Seven News (1.263 million) and Nine News (1.207
million).
The Losers

Not so much losers as underperformers: for
Seven, Blue Heelers, down to 1.037 million – ok but not brilliant. Forensic Investigators
on Seven easily accounted for a new episode of Without a Trace with 1.038
million viewers. For Ten, Australian
Princess
(930,000) did ok, while Merrick and Rosso lost 110,000 people on a week earlier to 586,000. However the sleeper on Ten, The Ronnie Johns Half
Hour
, only lost 17,000 viewers (503,000) and
again showed signs of strength. Ten still won the 16 to 39 group with
Neighbours and Princess, plus House, doing the job.

News & CA Seven won nationally with wins in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth
over Nine in both the news and current affairs battles. The ABC News was watched by
933,000 and The
7.30 Report
finished with 905,000.
The Stats Seven won with a share of 28.8% to 28.0%
for Nine. Ten was on 21.2%, the ABC 16.9% and SBS with
5.1%. Seven won Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, while Nine won Brisbane
clearly and Adelaide narrowly.
Glenn Dyer’s
comments
Now that was a bit of a
turn up. The week before Ten had cost Seven a win, but last night Seven snuck
home thanks to a big win in Perth and a solid result in Sydney. Tonight
though its Nine’s with Getaway, 20 to 1 and RPA, plus the Medical Stories re-cut
at 10pm expected to dominate. Seven leads the week 29.4% to 27.7% but Nine will
move back into the lead after tonight. Seven has a wacky wedding videos show,
Billy Connolly still lost in Kiwiland and the season finals of 24 and Alias. Not
many viewers will be bothered about the latter. Ten has the Surgeon at 9.30pm,
which is still struggling but hanging in
there.