Nine gets heavy with ad-dodging TV service. It was
only a week ago that James Packer was berating
the Government and anybody else involved for not giving Australia the
fastest possible broadband links. Of course he was speaking for all
Australians and not as the executive chairman of a company with a big
interest in broadband through its involvement with the Nine Network,
Ninemsn and Foxtel: all big technology-based businesses. “Broadband
penetration is a key driver of this [online advertising] growth,”
Packer told a Ninemsn digital market summit. “But Australia’s position
in this area is embarrassing. We need faster broadband to stay
competitive with the rest of the world.” No one would disagree with
that and with faster broadband will come new services and products that
Packer and his companies will no doubt be looking to introduce. But not
if that involves a bit of competition – like from the small
Sydney-based company IceTV, which is a start-up trying to build an
electronic program guide. The company has 1800 subscribers for its
service that allows you to set programs to record from your computer or
mobile phone, the recording of two shows at once and fast forwarding
through the ads. Nine has sued, claiming IceTV is infringing on its copyright in
creating a program guide that looks like Nine’s. IceTV says rubbish and produces
three legal opinions which say its program guide doesn’t breach copyright: One of
those opinions is from Nine’s main corporate lawyer, Gilbert and Tobin. Nine and the Packer Empire are acting on
the old Australian business adage that
any competition is dangerous and has to be stopped before it becomes,
well, dangerous. Glenn Dyer

What’s happening with Nine’s foreign
posts shuffle?
At the
moment there are three Nine reporters working in Los Angeles, which seems
a bit top heavy. Bureau chief Rob Penfold is there, along with regular
reporter Christine Spiteri, and they’ve been joined by Leila McKinnon,
wife of former Nine CEO, David Gyngell. The original plan was for
Spiteri to move to London to replace Michael Usher (who is now back at
HQ at Willoughby). But for whatever reason that is all on hold; all
three will be working in LA for the next ten months. Spiteri’s contract
is up in ten months time which might produce a solution. In London, Nine
is continuing to use a freelancer but there’s less and less reason for
an Australian commercial TV network to have a London bureau. Seven and
Ten don’t and as we have seen recently, the big stories of interest to
Australians are to be found to our north. In Indonesia, East Timor, and
earlier in the month, in the Solomons.Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A close night,
with Nine winning thanks in part to two new programs. Nine will be
happy with both debutants: Sigrid Thornton’s quasi medical program, What’s Good For You, did well to win the 7.30pm timeslot, while the Jerry Bruckheimer CSI-type program Close to Home
also won and did the sort of numbers (1.111 million) Nine would have
wanted. Seven News was the most watched program on the night with1.592
million people, followed by Desperate Housewives (1.560 million), Cold Case (1.550 million), Today Tonight (1.538 million), Nine News (1.480 million), A Current Affair (1.437 million), What’s Good For You (1.409 million on debut), the Big Brother live nomination (1.336 million), the regular Big Brother (1.320 million) and Temptation was 10th with 1.276 million, ahead of Home and Away with 1.247 million. So quite a competitive and even night.

The Losers:Bert’s Family Feud back up to 693,000 but Deal or No Deal was well over
the million viewer mark and so was Ten News, so a distant third for
Nine. Seven’s Commander in Chief lingers below the million viewer mark
with 924,000 last night. A sort of self-imposed exile. Australian Story
869,000 viewer: not a failure but under the usual million or so
viewers. It was the program’s tenth anniversary last night and at the
ABC in Sydney there was a gathering of some of the people from those
stories. The
notables included the likes of Pauline Hanson, Dick Smith and wife
Pip, former banker and now animal rights supporter, Brian Sherman and
wife Gina. The ABC chairman Donald McDonald was there as was the new
MD-elect, Mark Scott, head of ABC NewsCaf John Cameron, fresh from the
Senate Estimates budget monsterings, Deb Flemming, the EP of the
program, Caroline Jones the front person and Alan Fels, the former head
of the ACCC. Former ABC NewsCaf boss Max Uechtritz was there, as was
Ben Hawke, a former senior producer and now at 60 Minutes.

News & CA:
Seven News won nationally and in every market but Brisbane. Today
Tonight
won Sydney, Melbourne and Perth but lost Brisbane and Adelaide. ABC News and Ten News both had solid million plus
audiences. The ABC 7.30 Report averaged 819,000, Four Corners, 789,000
and Media Watch, 759,000. Enough Rope with Andrew Denton averaged
846,000, down a bit from normal.

The Stats: Nine won
with a share of 28.4% (30.7% last week) to Seven with 27.8.% (28.3%),
Ten was third with 23.4% (20.6%), the ABC with 14.6% (15.1%) and SBS
with 5.8% (5.5%). Seven won Sydney and Perth, Nine won Melbourne,
Brisbane and Adelaide.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Solid all round for the three commercial networks while the ABC and SBS would be
happy this morning. It’s amazing how cold winter or near winter weather
can reawaken viewing habits. Nine’s two new programs did well, but Close
to Home
is the weakest of the two. It is merely a clone of all the
other Bruckheimer programs: you can tune in at the start, pick up the
story, go do something else and then tune in at 20 past the hour and
pick up the resolution. No dissonance whatsoever, every program has to
resolve perfectly. Tonight it’s Seven’s two, Medical Emergency and
Border Patrol, plus All Saints, up against Survivor on Nine and a
repeat of CSI and a new CSI New York. The ABC’s Agony Aunts with Clive
Robertson
will be another trial if last week’s episode is any
indication. And Ten starts another new series called The Wedge, which
is a bit of a risk. Coming after an hour of Big Brother, who will be
able to pick the fiction from the fiction?

Peter Fray

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