Eddie puts changes on hold to steady the ship. Another
poor outing last night for Nine, led by Bert’s Family Feud and
Temptation. Now, the
usual solution to problems like this would be to shake things up, but in the
Eddie McGuire-run Nine Network, things are different. The
purges and sharp management changes-of-mind under Sam Chisholm are now out. Eddie
has realised Nine has morale problems and has made it
clear there will be no more changes for a while. That
means those rumours of Mark Llewellyn, the Network
News and Current Affairs boss, being given the push aren’t on. Likewise gossip that A Current Affair‘s EP, David Hurley may be pushed. The only
way change will happen in the near future is if someone resigns. Eddie’s
edict extends to presenters and/or programs like Feud and Temptation
until he gets a better handle on what the situation is. He has
to decide on his replacement for Millionaire, which will be of high importance
and could signal changes elsewhere, but not change for change’s sake. – Glenn Dyer

Why the Malcolm Turnbull yarn sunk like a stone.
Michael Pascoe yesterday asked (item 4) why The AFR’s front
page story on a possible court case against Malcolm Turnbull by HIH
liquidator Tony McGrath sank like a stone. There are a couple of
reasons. Firstly, the writ hasn’t actually landed yet. Secondly, AFR
reporter Andrew Main has long had it in for Malcolm, such that the PM’s
Parliamentary Secretary sued him for defamation in the ACT Supreme
Court a few years back. Taxpayers have spent more than $100 million on the HIH Royal Commission
and amid the phalanx of reasons that contributed to the HIH collapse
the former adviser to FAI is not exactly near the top of the list. It
wasn’t Malcolm who decided HIH should launch a takeover for FAI without
doing any due diligence, so if he cops one of the dozens of writs that
McGrath is spraying around, it’s no big deal. If Malcolm had really done something wrong, he’d have suffered adverse
findings in the Royal Commission and would have been chased by
ASIC, APRA or the DPP by now. – Stephen Mayne

Jason Koutsoukis leaves Canberra.The Age is losing one of its two political correspondents in
Canberra after Jason Koutsoukis decided he would no longer attempt to
under the towering figure of Michelle Grattan. This will leave Misha
Schubert as the senior correspondent, while Koutsoukis, a solid lefty
in his student days, will start as deputy business editor in March and
presumably be groomed to replace business editor Michael Short, son
of former Howard Finance Minister Jim Short. It’s fair to say that doesn’t leave a huge amount of institutional knowledge on The Age’s
business desk, although the likes of Stephen Bartholomeusz, Malcolm
Maiden and Ian Porter will be able to help out if need be. – Stephen

Malcolm Cole really joins the dark side.The Courier Mail‘s Malcolm Cole was one of four journalist at
this month’s Australian Future Directions Forum,
but just two weeks
later the paper’s state political correspondent has jumped ship to join
the staff of newly promoted Howard Government Minister, Santo Santoro.
As one hack told Crikey yesterday, “There’s joining the dark side and
then there’s going to work for a factional warrior like Santoro.”
Santoro is well known in Queensland for running internecine factional
wars that have contributed to the Liberal Party’s woeful performance in
recent state elections. Outside of Queensland, he’s best known for
running a ridiculous jihad against the ABC through the Senate committee
process. Why any self-respecting journalist would want to work for the
new Minister for Ageing is a little hard to comprehend. Cole was pulled
straight off the political round on Monday. – Stephen Mayne

Journalistic disclosures.
Crikey often likes to bang on about journalistic disclosures and we
take the view that there’s no such thing as too much disclosure. For
instance, AFR hack Alan Jury produced a big feature on
Aristocrat this week but not once did he reveal his role as a former
Aristocrat executive. Similarly, Four Corners on Monday should not have simply
described Paul Mees as being from Melbourne University. Mees was
advocating a propublic transport perspective and should have been
identified as a former boss of the Public Transport Users Association. – Stephen Mayne

Poor old Canberra, poor old Canberra Times. The ACT’s
population is ageing. And as we reported yesterday, The Canberra Times
circulation is dropping. The
Canberra Times
has said it fell victim to one-off hits the last circulation
period, but an email that did the rounds of all the staff at the paper
yesterday suggests that, like the Canberra community, the paper’s getting
wobbly. It flogs
a new feature in Start Living, a monthly section for seniors, profiling people
over 50 – desperately asking staff if they “can think of anyone who has done
anything mentionable, and would be happy to be interviewed”. – Christian Kerr

Another loss for The Canberra Times. The Age, suddenly short of staff after so many took the golden handshake, has started to fill the empty desks. Jumping out of the Canberra Times is Ben Doherty, their ACT political
roundsman who is coming to Melbourne on “Special Projects” for The Age. Doherty is from a well-known Brisbane classical music family and
plays six instruments. In an unusual combination of skills, the big
Ainslie centre half forward was also listed with Melbourne and
Essendon, but never played a senior game due to a string of injuries. – Stephen Mayne

Internet advertising boom rolls on. Almost as much money is
now spent on internet advertising as on magazines and radio, according to the
latest Online Advertising Expenditure Report, released yesterday. A total of $620 million
was spent on online advertising last year. This was a 60%
increase on the previous period, which was in turn 64% ahead of 2003. Online classifieds
accounted for a 33.2% share of the spend, search and directories 35.5% and display or general advertising 31.3%. B&T quotes Fairfax as claiming
that its share of ad expenditure online grew by about 20%, while News
Limited claimed that its growth was ahead of the market due to the number of
online products that had been launched. – Margaret Simons

Last night’s TV

The Winners Seven, by the proverbial country mile. The
return of Dancing With The Stars (2.186 million), the Winter Olympics from 9.30pm onwards (1.528 million to 11pm), Today Tonight (1.409 million), Home and
(1.381 million) and Seven News (1.331 million) simply blitzed the
opposition. Ten’s Biggest Loser continued to do well with
1.122 million, The new Simpsons, also did well for Ten (1.043 million). Nine
News and ACA (1.255 million and 1.232 million) were the Network’s best. An ugly
night for Willoughby.
The Losers Nine, with Bert’s Family Feud again down, 527,000
from the previous night’s 534,000. Nine’s newish Missing Person’s Unit, a
strong performer on previous Tuesdays, managed a million viewers in a solid
effort, but not good enough against the Winter Games. Likewise with CSI New
, a previous hot performer, last night it could only manage 1.019 million against Dancing With
the Stars
News & CA Seven News won narrowly from Nine because of a big margin in Perth, but loses Sydney,
Melbourne and Brisbane. Today
won Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide to win comfortably. ABC
News still weak at 913,000 (they don’t worry about ratings, right!). Ten news
at 5pm was strongish with 877,000 and won the 5pm to 6pm
The Stats Seven with a share of 40.3% nationally, compared to Nine
with 24.0%. Ten on 18.9%, the ABC down to 12.8% and SBS also lower than Monday night with
4.1%. Top share was in Sydney with Seven getting 42.6%. Even Brisbane, where
Dancing wasn’t as popular as elsewhere last year, saw Seven get a share of
Glenn Dyer’s comments Seven now leads the week 32.3% to Nine with 27.9%.
Seeing it won Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday last week and will at
least clip tonight and tomorrow night, Seven looks like racking up another week,
highlighting Eddie McGuire’s management problems. While still losing, Nine News in
Sydney is battling back some share and Today Tonight‘s gap over ACA is
being trimmed – but not by much.