Canberra Times gets new editor.
Rural Press has finally selected a new editor for The Canberra Times: Mark Baker, who is presently Diplomatic Affairs Editor of The Age.
In
a memo to staff last Friday General Manager Lloyd Whish-Wilson said,
“We
believe that Mark is a person of great experience who will suit the
Canberra environment and who understands the needs of the newspaper.”
De-coded, this means that Rural Press has finally accepted, thanks to
falling circulation, that The Canberra Times
is not like any other country town newspaper. There is now a
recognition that when the town’s main industry is politics and
government, a different approach is needed. Baker’s appointment
is about journalistic quality and solidity. Baker has been a foreign
correspondent, chief of staff and opinion page editor for The Age.
It is not yet clear when he will take up his appointment, but he is
expected in Canberra within days to meet the staff. Rural Press would
like The Canberra Times
to be a flagship to be proud of. Whether they are prepared to spend
enough money to give Baker the resources he needs is another thing
entirely. – Margaret Simons

Aunty’s lacklustre arts coverage.
We’re not sure whether new ABC managing director Mark Scott knows much about art but here’s hoping that
he does something to ensure his broadcasters are better briefed about matters
artistic. With the excellent exception of the revamped arts coverage on Radio
National, Aunty is almost wilfully dippy when it comes to the reporting of
culture. In yesterday’s Spy column in the Sunday Age,
John Mangan had a wonderful piece about Melbourne 774 drive-time
presenter Lindy Burns happily admitting she’d never heard of Charles
Blackman. As Burns was interviewing NGV curator Geoffrey Smith about
those missing Blackmans, the following exchange occurred: “Who is
Charles Blackman? Should I know? Should he be famous?” Smith replied:
“Blackman is famous.
He’s very well known, he’s one of the most important living Australian
artists.” To that Burns responded: “I feel absolutely belittled.”
Believe me, in the eyes of ABC management, Lindy’s ignorance in this
regard won’t count against her. If she were covering arts for Aunty on
TV, not knowing about art would almost be a prerequisite for the job. – Stephen Feneley

Putting the soccer in SBS. In the lead-up to the World Cup, everyone’s
getting into soccer – even the oval-ball Footy Shows. But at SBS, the round ball’s
traditional home, things are about to get even more soccerish. The multicultural broadcaster already has The World Game, Nerds FC and Song for the Socceroos.
But SBS seems to be counting on post-World Cup soccer
madness, because it’s developing a new comedy/drama series of 13 half-hour episodes that’s shaping up as
The Secret Soccer Life of Us. Produced by Esben Storm (Round the Twist)
and Adam Bowen (Orange Love Story), and with a grant from the NSW Film and Television Office, the show’s working title is Kick. Here’s how it’s pitched on the Storm Productions
website:

Wog St is a poor street in the
outer suburbs. Australian Migrants and Refugees have settled there from all
over the world. All ages, all
sexes, all colours. All into soccer. Somehow they
have to keep it together or else their little club’s going to fall apart.
International and interpersonal relationships at a grassroots level.

The show was being cast in Melbourne this weekend and
shooting is scheduled from October-December, with the final series
airing in the middle of next year. The young, “good looking and
funny” cast touches a lot of ethnic bases – Greek, Maori, Croatian,
Lebanese,
Afghani and Vietnamese. Writer/producer Adam Bowen describes Kick as a “light drama” in the mould of Bend It Like Beckham. “It’s basically a comedy with a strong dramatic base … It’s not Fat Pizza.” SBS has a great track record on original Australian comedy – can it
kick another goal? – Melissa Campbell

Nine the One, except on Friday.
A ratings win for Nine
last week but Friday night saw Seven win, despite Nine having the AFL
and NRL. It probably a one-off but it did take analysts by surprise.
Seven won with 28.6% to 28.0% for Nine despite not having any football
but it did have the four top programs: Seven News (Nine was beaten by
around 350,000 nationally), Today Tonight, Better Homes and Gardens and Home and Away.
Seven effectively won by dominating from 6pm to 8.30pm. Nine then took
over with the football, which attracted solid audiences, but was let
down by poor results for the News, A Current Affair and Temptation. Nine
won the week with 28.1% to 27.3% for Seven, 24.9% for Ten, 14.6% with the ABC
and 5.0% for SBS. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners:
The miners, of course, and Nine. You would have been underground
yesterday and last night to have missed it. It was the most watched
show with 2.58 million, followed by 60 Minutes with 2.029 million, Nine
News
with 1.838 million, Seven’s Where Are They Now with 1.623 million,
Seven News with 1.523 million, Ten’s Big Brother Eviction with 1.371
million, Nine’s Backyard Blitz with 1.371 million (a half million turn
off from the News to Blitz, which was held up by a turn-on to 60
Minutes
in the last quarter hour), Seven’s Ghost Whisperer with 1.192
million, Ten’s Law and Order episode (Crossover) with 1.160 million)
and Nine’s 4pm Football with 1.123 million. Big Brother at 6.30 pm
averaged 1.074 million but didn’t go to air in Brisbane according to
the Oztam figures.

The Losers: Nothing really last night
because the Miners, News and 60 Minutes on Nine were so dominant. Seven
did run dead as did the ABC but SBS had a very high share of more than
7% for a Sunday night. So perhaps there was an opening for a
good, commercial program that offered a real viewing alternative to
viewers. And SBS had one just like that: the Eurovision Song Contest,
which averaged 459,000 viewers from 7.30 pm to 11 pm.

News & CA:
With all the hoopla of the miners special, Nine News won the battle
with 1.838 million viewers from Seven with 1.523 million. ABC News
averaged 929,000 and Ten’s News at Five, 662,000. Earlier in the day
Seven’s Weekend Sunrise again won the morning news and chat battle with
an average 360,000 between 8 am and 9.30 am. Sportsworld averaged
286,000 from 9.30 pm to 11 am. Nine’s Sunday edged above 300,000 to
305,000, after Business Sunday had averaged 164,000 at 8 am to 9 am.
The ABC’s Insiders averaged a lowish 129,000 at 9am, Inside Business
likewise at 10am with an average audience of just 78,000 and Offsiders
(Barrie Cassidy in sporting mode) 70,000. Meet The Press on Ten
averaged 47,000 at 8 am. David Koch’s My Business averaged 184,000 at
11 am and Nine’s repeat of Business Success (a sort of infomercial)
averaged 89,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of
40.3% (30.5% a week earlier) from Ten on 22.5% (28.7%), Seven with 19.5
% (25.0%), the ABC with 10.3%(11.7%) and SBS with 7.3% (4.9%). Nine
however did better two Sundays earlier with the Beaconsfield/Logies
night (The day Richard Carleton died) Nine averaged 45.6% share that
night and the final of Dancing With The Stars 13 days ago saw Seven end
with a winning average of 44.9%. So the miners were very good for Nine
but not the huge winner that Nine had been hoping for. The audience
size was muted for all the publicity that went on for two weeks before.

Glenn Dyer’s comments:

The miners special was far more competently done than our last great
paid for news event: the Douglas Wood thingy on Ten. Tracy Grimshaw’s
effort should be compulsory viewing for all those news stars and
starlets on free to air and pay TV (especially Sandra Sully at Ten).
It was a good example of how to do something and not be the star
because the stars were in front of you. How would have the late Richard
Carleton handled it? (where’s the choccie bar perhaps?) Pity the Nine
news promos didn’t reflect the understated content of the special. But
Nine will win the week, with the Rugby League State of Origin game up
on Wednesday night.