The painful truth that can no longer be ignored at Nine.
Bert’s Family Feud is a walking stiff: dead, but Nine won’t or can’t
kill it off. If there was anything that confirmed its passing it was
last night’s average audience, 431,000, the lowest since it debuted at
the start of last week. Last night’s figure was half the 869,000
average for Deal or No Deal. Now Nine people say Bert is being held
back by being shown in Brisbane at 5pm because of Brisbane
at 5.30pm. Brisbane Extra is also being beaten by Deal and
there’s a move to get it flicked and put Bert into 5.30pm. But one
reason why Nine News still whips Seven in Brisbane is the solid lead-in
given by Extra. Another problem has quickly emerged in Melbourne: Seven News is in the process of passing the once
mighty Nine News. Seven has won three nights in a row in Melbourne and
will win the week for the second week in a row. It’s what happened in
Sydney in late 2004. The hacking and slashing at Nine in Melbourne last
year has taken its toll on morale and the willingness of people to go
the hard yards.

Dangerous times for Nine and
this profits before ratings approach coming from Park
Street. – Glenn Dyer

The real story behind the Foxtel figures. Once
again all those who write on matters TV missed the important part of
the figures from Foxtel for the six months to December 31, which were
sort of impressive, if a bit predictable. There was a lot of reporting
about Foxtel finally reaching some semblance of profitability, even if
it was on earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization,
which was apparent last August when Foxtel moved to a break-even
position. But not one reporter stopped to question the timing of the
release which was made the day that PBL, 25% owners of Foxtel, made its
interim profit announcement. So why this timing? The previous figures
have come with News Corp earnings results. News used to have
management responsibility at Foxtel, however now that it’s
based in Delaware it no longer has managerial responsibility. That has
now fallen to PBL and the Packer empire. Some reporters also picked up
on the performance of Premier Media Group, co-owned by News Corp
and PBL. Premier, which runs the Fox Sports channels, plus a couple of
other offerings, is the way News and PBL offset the losses from
Foxtel and rip money out of Telstra. Premier Media is also the best way
to check on how Pay TV subscriber numbers are going because it is
offered in every subscriber package on Foxtel, Optus and Austar. The
PBL statement put the figure at 1.7 million, That was up 20,000 on the
1.68 million given in the PBL annual result last year. For all the
comment about growth by Foxtel and Austar, Pay TV subscription levels
still aren’t setting the world on fire: it’s the price rises, and
efforts to move existing subscribers on to more expensive packages,
that are driving
revenue and profits at Foxtel. – Glenn Dyer

Who’ll hang at Machiavelli? More details today on the plans of Sydney restaurant Machiavelli to
line its walls with pictures of business heavies. Word is the new 32 images
to hang in the legendary spaghetti joint are coming from the Packer empire courtesy of the photo library
at The Bulletin. There’ll be James Packer, John Alexander, union-buster Chris Corrigan, Gail Kelly of St
George Bank, Nine toe-cutter Sam Chisholm and quite a few other movers and shakers like Frank Lowy and Sandra Yates. The

supplied the original pictures of politicians that currently adorn the
walls back in 1998 when its claimed circulation was closer to 100,000 a
week (it’s now closer to 60,000). Oh, and Eddie “Everywhere” McGuire is
taking one more step toward total ubiquity with his pic also slated to hang
among the 32. – Glenn Dyer

Did Simone Warne throw in the towel? Producers at Seven’s Dancing With The Stars
were apparently in crisis on Tuesday night after Simone Warne threw a hissy
fit, bawled her eyes out in the studio corridors and quit the show, a Seven
source has revealed. “She was in tears after the show and told
them she wasn’t coming back,” our deepthroat revealed. But it appears the situation was salvaged.
A Seven spokeswoman told Crikey today that Warne had not quit. Interestingly, a report on the same
network’s Today Tonight program, only noted that Warne had cut short
celebrations at an after-show gathering to head straight to the exit, leaving
out her more newsworthy post-show effort. Meanwhile, during an interview on
Wednesday morning, Warne revealed that her naughty ex, star cricketer Shane Warne, had
used his text messaging prowess to send her “cheer up Charlie” messages on the
night that her mediocre effort on the show produced a score so dismal, that
only Derryn Hinch has scored lower in the show’s history. And AAP was on the money when it
reported that: “If Simone Warne thought doing the cha-cha
to I Will Survive was making a statement to her ex-husband Shane, she
was unconvincing.” – Anthony Stavrinos

Last night’s TV

The Winners Seven again but there are enough portents popping up to suggest some interesting changes are just around the corner. Lost was the tops again with
1.654 million people (its lowest audience on a night when viewing levels
were noticeably lower than normal). Seven News was second (1.392 million), followed by Today
(1.370 million) and Home and Away (1.339 million). Venerable
Getaway was Nine’s best with 1.270 million, followed by A Current Affair with
1.181 million. The ABC’s best was the 7pm News, still stuck well below a
million with 871,000 viewers. Ten’s best was Medium with 1.051 million and The
Biggest Loser
with 1.042 million.
The Losers Nine had its best night since Sunday but still lost
easily. Bert’s Family Feud and Temptation are not helping. Midsomer Murders, the
world’s most boring police detective series, was watched by an average 953,000
people from 8.30 to 10.40pm, beating the Winter Olympics on Seven by a smidge
with 942,000 from 9.30pm to way past midnight. Bomber Crew on the ABC at 8.30pm was watched by 567,000, just in
front of West Wing which debuted on the ABC at 9.30pm with an average 501,000.
It was a bit depressing watching West Wing: so out of touch
with what’s really happening in the White House these days. We’ll see Monday
night if escapism works when Commander in Chief starts on Seven at 9.30pm.
News & CA Same old; Seven News and Today Tonight clear winners on a
low viewing night particular in Sydney. Sydney is a bigger market than
Melbourne and yet the audiences for the news and current affairs programs were
noticeably larger down South: up to a 100,000 more for Seven News
(422,000 in Melbourne versus 323,000 in Sydney). Nine News’ burst in
Sydney has faded with the News averaging 276,000 last night. Normal
service resumed?
The Stats Seven with 32.3% to Nine with 27.8%, Ten with 21.1%, the
ABC with 13.9% and SBS with 4.9%. Seven won everywhere bar Brisbane, which is
odd being a Lost Thursday night. Nine won narrowly 31.0% to
Glenn Dyer’s comments Thursday night and Lost have been synonymous with Seven wins
and so it was. Brisbane was an oddity and because viewing levels were down,
especially in Sydney, the 1.6 million audience for Lost could be a
one-off. The next couple of weeks will tell though. Lost
is facing the same problem that dogs all non-episodic series-based
programs that require contant viewing: viewer fatigue and boredom with
the story. It undermined the 24 to the point where it’s now spackfilla here. If Lost
was to go down this route in coming months then Seven will have an unwanted
problem to fix. But at the moment all the problems rest with Nine and Eddie
McGuire. How
will Backyard Blitz go tonight buried at 7.30pm against Better
on Seven and the funny Friday Night Games on