Did you
see the AFI Awards on the Nine Network on Saturday night and early
Sunday?

I know
I didn’t because when I looked the TV guides I discovered they were to go to air
after the Harry Potter movie.

So did
a lot of other people and they were watching Harry Potter. Some watched, others
pottered and then went to bed, while a small few stuck it out to the
end.

In case
you missed it like I did, here’s a story from the Sydney Sun-Herald yesterday,
a good result for a brave woman and a great, insightful movie.

According to the Oztam figures
an average of 399,000 people watched the awards from when they started just
before 11 pm to when they finished around 1.30 am Sunday.

Now
that’s not a big audience.

They
peaked at the start between 10.45pm and 11pm with an audience of 895,000 for
that quarter hour. People hung about for around an hour in decreasing numbers
and then went to bed.

The
telecast finished on an average audience of 154,000 for the last quarter hour
between 1.15am and 1.30am.

The
decision by Nine to show the awards after Harry Potter
had already set off a controversy earlier last week
in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The
AFI’s general manager, Geoffrey Williams, replied that
he expected the broadcast, which follows Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
would be ‘the largest audience ever exposed to the AFI Awards and a larger
audience than the IF Awards have ever attracted, even if you were to add their
last several years on SBS together’.”

Explaining the AFI’s thinking yesterday, Williams said the craft awards had
been presented to a half-empty theatre previously.

‘That’s seriously disrespectful in my view.
What this is about is giving all the craft awards their place in the sun so
they’ve got a huge event with the same host, the same presenters and the same
production values as the rest of the awards.’

As well as Crowe as host, Nick Cave will perform and Geoffrey Rush and
Catherine Martin will present awards.

On the late telecast, Williams said Nine expected more than 2 million viewers for the Harry Potter premiere.

‘If it drops by 50 per cent, there will
still be a million viewers,’ he said, adding that the AFI was hoping for a
prime-time slot next year. ‘The important thing about the awards in my view is
it’s the chance to promote the film and television industry to the widest
audience possible.’

Well Geoffrey shouldn’t have listened to
the Nine Line.

Did that Line from Nine have anything to do
with PBL’s half ownership of the declining Hoyts cinema chain? Is that why Nine won the AFI awards in the first place?

Harry Potter peaked around 8.30pm at 1.616
million people. That’s nowhere near two million, despite
the claims by Nine.

There’s no easy answer, but it’s not
listening to the siren song of a conflicted TV network with big noting claims
about audience figures, when some serious research could have provided another
view.