Ovation on the block. Today’s Fin Review carried a nice
ad for the Optus-owned Ovation Pay TV channel which is on the market,
although the Optus spokesman quoted in the story was very coy about
that fact. In fact the story made Ovation seem like a seamless cottage
industry catering to the Australian view of the “Yarts”. A small group
of buffers and enthusiasts pottering around the old Ten Network offices
at North Ryde. But if you google Ovation, this interesting hit
comes up from the website of the Screen Producers’ Association of
Australia, and the real story about Ovation’s future emerges. This is a
letter from the SPAA to the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission which has called for submissions from interested parties
about a submission from Optus seeking to vary the terms of the
undertakings signed off on back in 2002 when the now controversial deal
was done with Foxtel that effectively removed Optus from the
subscription TV industry and made Foxtel a monopoly supplier.

Optus
approached the ACCC last December seeking to vary the terms of the
undertaking which said it had to supply seven non-Optus pay TV channels
and two Optus compiled channels to Foxtel. Optus wants to drop this
requirement and redirect the $1.1 million a year it is supposed to pay
for Australian programming on pay TV to paying for digital set top
boxes for its customers so they can join the digitisation push started
by Foxtel of the Pay TV network.

It would have been a more
interesting story if the AFR had looked into why Ovation was on the
market. According to the SPAA and its executive director, Geoff Brown,
Foxtel would be left as the only player in subscription TV in the
country and he asks when it would seek to vary the undertakings it
signed back in 2002 when Optus signed its undertakings. From some of
the disclosures in the C7 case in the Federal Court, the 2002 deal
between Foxtel and Optus in Pay TV has proven to be wrong and bad for
competition. – Glenn Dyer

Seven’s newsreading issues.
The Seven Network’s attempts to sort out its news reading gig on
Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in Sydney is being frustrated by
some well played defensive work by the incumbent weekend hostess, Anne
Sanders. Sanders, a former weather girl at the Ten News in Sydney back
in ancient times before being poached by Seven, is fighting attempts to
replace her with Dancing With The Stars fav, Chris Bath.

Bath
has started reading the Friday 6pm News for Seven, a role made
necessary by the great deal Ian Ross struck with desperate Seven
management last year. The deal calls for him to read Monday to Thursday
and to have a long weekend: all that for an extra 20% pay and a million
bucks. It all looked as though Bath would read the three nights (she
has been a weekend reader in the past), but Sanders struck back citing
a contract and some friends in very high places. Things are being
“negotiated” and change will happen, but someone isn’t lying down. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners

Seven and Ten, but not Nine. Seven’s Prison Break was the
top program with 1.46 million viewers, but that’s down half a million
on its opening of 1.9 million two weeks ago. Seven is hoping it
steadies around this level next week. Ten’s House was second with 1.425 million, which isn’t bad, but both programs are shredding each other and Nine’s Without a Trace with 1.014 million. Ten’s Biggest Loser bounced a bit at 7pm with an average 1.157 million, while Jamie Oliver’s Italian Escape at 7.30pm did 1.186 million. Nine’s only success was the return of McLeod’s Daughters with an average of 1.315 million. Ten’s Bondi Rescue struggled on its debut with 1.014 million at 8pm. At this rate the R7R boys will be called in to haul it ashore.
The Losers

Nine, Bert’s Family Feud,Temptation, ER. A sorry list of shows seemingly dying after their first or second outing of the ratings year. ER
was shifted to Wednesdays at 9.30pm from Thursday to try and give it
new lease on life. No go, same sort of numbers, around the million mark
(994,000 actually). Temptation failed , for the second night
this week, to end above the million mark (934,000). Maybe its the
comedians who aren’t working compared to ordinary people? Seven’s
Olympic coverage with an average of 888,000 is sort of spackfilla now,
going to air at 9.30pm and propping up the rest of the night.
News & CA

Seven News beat Nine nationally, and importantly in Sydney,
Melbourne and Brisbane. The news win for Seven in Melbourne was quite a
surprise: no help from the suddenly struggling Bert’s Family Feud. Today Tonight won nationally, and in Melbourne and Brisbane but lost Sydney to A Current Affair. The ABC 7pm news is being scrunched in the three way arm wrestle between The Biggest Loser, Home and Away and Temptation. It’s running fourth with 906,000 viewers, just behind Temptation last night.
The Stats

Seven won with solid 29.4% to Nine on 26.4% and Ten with 26.2%. the
ABC was on 13.5% and SBS on 4.6%. Nine won Sydney but finished third in
Melbourne behind Seven and Ten. Seven also won Brisbane, Adelaide and
Perth.
Glenn Dyer’s comments

Well, tonight it’s Kerry Packer versus the rest. The 63 minute ad-less special at 8.30pm entitled The Big Fella up against Lost on Seven. Me, I’m watching Medium
on Ten in case there’s a bit of cross channelling and KP comes in loud
and clear. Now, what’s that rumour about Kerry Packer and the CBS
Network in the US and The Big Fella saying no, a decision that no doubt
left Rupert Murdoch in stitches. If you are lucky enough to miss The Big Fella, the taxpayer funded memorial service is on at 12.30pm tomorrow. Can’t wait

Peter Fray

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