Guus unimpressed with Harry’s Kewell Nine deal. You
have to wonder about Channel Eddie and its now notorious ability to turn gold
into dross.

There was
the triumph of the miners special, bought for $2.6 million and now part of the
cost increase that led to the 100 sackings this week. That
was an Eddie McGuire triumph, for which he graciously recalled himself to the
microphone at Beaconsfield. Now
there’s the 2006 World Cup, for which Eddie has again graciously recalled
himself to front the combined AFL-NRL Footy Shows in a live broadcast on 18 June. Eddie’s
decision to go is still roiling around the sullen ranks at
Willoughby in Sydney and now there’s an added complication: Nine’s exclusive
deal with soccer star, Harry Kewell, has upset the
coaching staff

led by Guus Hiddink. Kewell reportedly did an exclusive interview with
Ray Martin, who has developed a “special relationship” with the soccer
star: no doubt helped by the reported $400,000 a year he’s paid by
Nine. That’s been going on since 1998 (which was when David Leckie was
running the network and Gary Burns was sports boss), so Eddie isn’t
responsible for this one. But he is responsible for going flat out to
try and exploit the World Cup when Nine has no broadcast rights. Harry
Kewell could quite easily be a cost saving (one of those “bucketful” of
contracts Jeff Browne, Eddie’s good mate and number two no doubt examined)
that may have saved two jobs from the news cuts.Glenn Dyer

Memo to Eddie – what’s wrong with Nine? As the
Nine Network grapples with the mechanics of sacking 100 people and not closing a
news or current affairs program, perhaps Eddie and his managers could look at what the network’s
daily phone logs are telling them viewers are saying. It
won’t be nice, especially comments on the Today show where Jessica Rowe has emerged as
a major irritant. But
getting rid of her won’t solve the problem of how to regain the trust and
attention of disaffected viewers. If
Eddie and his mates need any confirmation of what viewers are telling them, they
should go to the “Your Say” section at News.com.au where they’ll find some forthright
comments. This
was the question the News Ltd webmasters set readers
yesterday: “Jana Wendt and Jessica
Rowe are under pressure in Eddie McGuire’s brave
new world at Nine where more news costs less. If you
were in charge at Nine, what would you do to save the
network from its ratings slump? What improvements would you make and who would
you sack?” Here are some edited
responses:

  • “Eddie….DARE TO BE
    DIFFERENT. TV has become three blind mice each following each other without
    seeing what the audience really want”.

  • “Nine has grown too old, get some young blood. Get rid of the Footy Show, and (Jessica) Rowe has to go: how stupid is that woman??”

  • “Unload all the airheads
    doing the news and put on some real, serious, bona-fide journalists. For God’s
    sake, get rid of ACA and give the extra hour to Jana on the Sunday program. As a
    compromise, give the Sunday program an extra 30 mins.
    But ACA seems just so much irrelevant w*nk.”

  • “As for sacking the news
    related staff, yeah good one Eddie, imagine trying to regain number one spot in
    news with a smaller news force.”

  • “Bring back the old Today show where the
    hosts were semi-serious journalists, not giggling fools. I want choice in the
    morning, not two versions of the same show. And I want an alternative to the
    banter and antics – not a TV version of a women’s magazine. I want a news and discussion show to get me up to date with what
    happened in the world while I was sleeping. Nine should institute a “no
    giggling” policy.”

  • “The consumer is far too smart these days
    and can see through the flimsy offerings on Channel Nine from Today to the Footy
    Show
    , the local lineup is weak and Today has lost its standing as the benchmark
    and now Jessica and Karl are trying too hard to be Channel Seven. Eddie really needs
    to look at the whole “stable” of stars otherwise they won’t be Still the One for
    very much longer. I have turned off Channel Nine in a big way where before they
    were my favourite station.” – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Another solid win for Seven, helped especially by its superiority in
Perth. Nine’s Getaway was the most watched program (14 with a million
or more viewers) with 1.495 million. Seven News was second with 1.479
million, then Today Tonight with 1.434 million. Nine’s Missing Persons
Unit
(8.30 pm) with 1.406 million, then Nine News in fifth slot with
1.406 million. Seven’s Lost was sixth and back in the pack with 1.367
million. Nine’s Temptation was tops at 7pm with 1.285 million, ahead
of A Current Affair with 1.284 million. Seven’s Home and Away was ninth
with 1.271 million, Las Vegas (Seven at 7.30 pm) was tenth was 1.192
million and Seven’s The Amazing Race (9.30 pm) won that timeslot with
1.183 million. Nine’s Hello/Goodbye (9 pm) was 11th with 1.121 million,
then Ten’s Big Brother (7 pm) with 1.095 million and Ten’s Medium was
14th with 1.009 million.

The Losers:Bert’s Family Feud
still doing OK, 684,000. Nowhere as well though as Seven’s Deal or No
Deal
(972,000). Ten News At Five was lower with 869,000. Today averaged
220,000 from 7am, Sunrise, 434,000, Early Sunrise 228,000, Early
Today
, 111,000. The Todays are the first problem each day for Nine.

News & CA: Seven
News
again won nationally but Nine News was closer. Seven won Sydney,
lost Brisbane and Melbourne and won Adelaide and of course, Perth.
Seven’s Today Tonight beat ACA nationally and in Sydney, Brisbane,
Adelaide and Perth. The 7pm ABC News averaged 926,000, the 7.30
Report, 903,000 in its best figures of the week. Seven News needed
Perth to make sure of its win by just 28,000 viewers (95,000 in Perth).
TT beat ACA by 204,000, so a huge switch in viewing on Nine after 6.30
pm. And that’s the second major problem for Nine to tackle as Eddie’s
lads try to find a new ‘cutting edge’ way of doing something tried and
true: tabloid current affairs journalism. Perhaps it might be cheaper
to get rid of ACA and find a soap for the 6.30 pm timeslot and take on
Neighbours on Ten? Certainly Adelaide and Perth viewers aren’t big fans
most nights.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 32.4%
(31.0% a week ago) to Nine with 30.0% (29.7%), Ten with 20.8% (22.0%),
the ABC with 11.9% (12.1%) and SBS 4.9% (5.1%). Nine won Sydney and
Melbourne, which are the two richest markets, Seven won Brisbane,
Adelaide and Perth and nationally. Seven leads the week 29.9% to 27.2%:
it leads in all five markets are the moment. It was Ten’s lowest share
of the week so far.

Glenn Dyer’s comments:
A lucky win
for Seven? Perhaps. But the real story is that the Nine Network is
again paying the price for not having a national network and believing
it can continue winning without control over what happens in Adelaide
(Southern Cross Broadcasting) and especially Perth (Sunraysia). Seven’s
huge win in Perth, combined with the solid wins in Adelaide and
Brisbane, enabled it to overcome Nine’s convincing wins in Sydney and
Melbourne. The NRL and AFL Footy Shows are doing well in Sydney and
Melbourne but in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth they are mere viewing
options most Thursday nights, as they were last night. Nine’s News and
ACA are done like a dinner every night in Perth. If Nine had control of
Perth and Adelaide the costs might be higher, the revenues would be lower,
but the ratings performance would be superior and this in turn would
translate over time to more revenues. But it’s too late, baby. Seven
leads the week by enough to win, despite the AFL and NRL on Nine
tonight. The figures for the World Cup on SBS will be of considerable
interest. Even though the games start around 10.30 pm they might to be
too late to make any significant difference but they will be enough to
give Nine, Seven and Ten and the ABC a mauling each night they are
broadcast.

Peter Fray

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