Spot the office bum. Eagle-eyed readers of The Sunday Age had
a Where’s Wally moment yesterday. A double page spread advertising an open day at
the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (where the Commonwealth Games were held) featured a giant cartoon
illustrating what people can expect on the day.

The big pic included people involved
in all kinds of sports not to mention people swinging from the roof, UFOs, submarines
and this cheeky fellow busy photocopying his own assets in the admin office. – Katina Curtis



2UE staff cuts:
The management of 2UE says that Nine staff
were retrenched on Friday, the staff say the true number is 26 (which
is a quarter of an “Eddie”). Included among those flicked by Southern
Cross Broadcasting was 2UE’s marketing and sponsorship manager, and
former sales manager, Paul Bowd, who has been at 2UE for 14 years. 2UE
station manager Ian Sheppard was quoted in the Sydney media Monday as
saying that the cuts are “part of a restructure to make us financially
more competitive for the next financial year.” But an email from a
former staff member puts a different spin on it: “Is Southern Cross
Radio a protected species?” Where is “the story that 26 of us were
‘boned’ from 2UE on Friday, including a young girl who joined the
newsroom as a journalist from 2SM, five days earlier. Many of those
sacked are single mothers who were loyal and worked hard.” They are all
but numbers to Southern Cross which has been slashing deeply into its
TV operations in Adelaide and in the bush: many executives at Southern
Cross have been made redundant since the interim result in February
showed a downturn in profits. When will Southern Cross bite the bullet
and flick John Laws from 2UE who is slowly collapsing in the very
competitive morning slot in Sydney? That would be a true cost saving. –
Glenn Dyer


Why did Eddie sack Ritchie?
“News and current affairs have been on the
decline for five years,” Nine CEO, Eddie McGuire was quoted as saying
in the Sunday papers yesterday. “Our competition is having a crack at
our expense. People should look at ratings, share price and balance
sheet.” A nice quote but a bit wrong: Nine’s News and Current
Affairs show ratings haven’t been falling for five years, they’ve been
falling since the second half of 2004. As for “People should look at ratings”, well, Ed, they are. Nine’s
ratings have fallen this year in every demographic except the over 55.
“Share price”? There is no share price for Nine and the PBL share price
is rising because of its gambling interests, which Nine just doesn’t
cover in any way, at all. “Balance sheet”? Well, we can’t tell because
the Nine balance sheet is not published; PBL’s balance sheet is very
strong, but that also reflects non-Nine investments in gambling and
magazines and new businesses like Foxtel and Seek.com.au. But
Eddie and his management team have exposed themselves: last Friday they
sacked the head of Nine News in Sydney, Tony Ritchie. He was running
the only part of the Nine News operation that was fighting back against
Seven (Brisbane and Melbourne had slipped: Melbourne to a losing
position, Brisbane has seen its lead over Seven trimmed). But the Nine News in Sydney is up 10% this year: A Current Affair,
though, has been doing poorly, in Sydney and nationally. So why get rid
of Tony Ritchie? Could it be that Ritchie was appointed by the former
Nine CEO Sam Chisholm, and there has been a determined campaign to
eradicate any vestige of Chisholm’s influence at Nine? Eddie has shown a bit more subtlety in handling David Hurley, the EP of A Current Affair:
he’s been offered the Mark Llewellyn role of babysitting Gary Linnell,
the new News and Current Affairs Director of Nine. But how will Hurley
deal with John Westacott, EP of 60 Minutes, and John Lyons, EP of the gutted Sunday program?


Business Sunday host Ali Moore
leaves in style:
Moore showed more class than the Nine Network was worth in leaving her gig
yesterday. She said at the end of the program
that she was “moving on”, immediately: a decision that was made for her by the
decision to kill off Business Sunday in its 20th year and merge it with Sunday
(in its 25th year) in an as yet unknown 90 minute program from 3 September. The last Business Sunday will be
broadcast on 27 August and from next week will be hosted by Ross Greenwood, the
man John Alexander imported to replace Michael Pascoe after he had Pascoe sacked
as Nine’s Finance Editor in early 2003. Moore went out in
style yesterday with a solid interview with ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel which
was crisper and more newsy than the interviews
Greenwood did
with the head of OneSteel, Geoff Plummer or Kirby
Adams of BlueScope Steel. The Adams interview was conducted on
a junket in China before Adams last week revealed job cuts and cost cuts
totalling 600 positions and up to $200 million. The interview wasn’t
updated. Moore farewelled viewers for the last time, after almost ten years
at the program. “As
you would have read, Business Sunday will be merged with the Sunday program from
September 3, and after almost ten years it is time for me to move
on.” – Glenn Dyer


True Story:
The
Seven Network’s Programming boss, Tim Worner took
exception to my story of last Thursday suggesting that he and his offsider, Brad Lyons were not totally committed to the
factual series, True Stories and that is why it had been dropped into the 8pm
timeslot on Sunday nights for at least four weeks from 9 July. That was nonsense, according to Tim and totally untrue and
how could I write it. True Story! True Stories will run after a 90
minute version of It Takes Two for four of the last five weeks of its
network life. Worner says True Stories had the same audience profile as
It takes Two
in that it “skewed” towards older women who made up a
large part of the audience. That is
why it was going to be used. True
Stories
averaged around 1.5 million last year off the back of the very popular
Border Security on Tuesday nights at 8pm. But Border Security averaged around 1.8 million viewers or more. Worner
says that with Medical Emergency still at 8pm on Tuesdays and doing
well (like True Stories did last year) he had to put it somewhere and
that was Sundays at 8pm while It Takes Two was reduced to 90 minutes
for its last but one (the final) episode. It Takes Two is grabbing
around 1.3 million viewers on average (it’s down from around 1.5
million) so True Stories will not get the same audience figures as it
did last year when it was helped by Border Security and not up against
very much on Nine or Ten (Frasier from memory on Nine). From
July 9 it will be up against the second half hour of 60 Minutes and that will be
a big ask. It
won’t be averaging 1.5 million this year, so will Seven
persist with it in 2007? – Glenn Dyer

Last week’s ratings: It was
the worst week Eddie McGuire and his newbie management team
have had at Nine so far with a slew of critical stories related to the
Mark Llewellyn affidavit: it was also the second week in a row that Nine has
lost the week’s rating battle narrowly to Seven. Seven
won the week with a share of 28.8% (27.7% a week earlier), from Nine with 27.6%
(26.8%) with Ten on 21.6% (23.0%), the ABC on 15.7%
(15.3%) and SBS on 6.3% (7.3%). Nine
won Sydney and Melbourne but Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and
Perth; where it
won by nine points, which was enough to push it past Nine. Helping
Seven were wins on Friday night (28.2% to 28.1%) over Nine: Nine won Sydney and Melbourne with the NRL and AFL
games but Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and scored another big win in Perth to take the
night. Saturday it was a clearer result with Seven winning with a share of 30.6% to 23.1% for Nine: that
more than anything, made sure Nine lost the week as that Network has programmed
poor quality movies on Saturday night against Grease on Seven and then the Rocky
Horror Show
. Today
Tonight
and Seven News had big wins on Friday night over Nine
News and A Current Affair but on Saturday Nine News won nationally and
was the most watched program. Saturday night’s AFL on Ten, featuring the Sydney Swans
again bombed in Sydney: only 122,000 people
watched the match against the Fremantle Dockers: in contrast the Friday night
league game averaged 355,000 in Sydney. This
week though Nine should win because of the Rugby League State of Origin game on
Wednesday night. Seven
has the first Bledisloe Cup Rugby Test (also
Tri-Nations) between Australia and New Zealand as
well and SBS has the two semi finals in the World Cup Soccer.

Last night’s ratings:
The Winners: What can you say about last night on national TV? Ten won but
it was a victory for voyeurs and nothing else. Nine News was the top rated
program with 1.770 million viewers and boosted by the 4pm football games. 60 Minutes was next with 1.635
million, then Seven News with 1.614 million:then came the Big Brother Live
eviction with 1.562 million (and not the two dubbos who were flicked on
Saturday), then came the Big Brother update program at 6.30 pm with 1.526 million.
That was followed by Law and Order (Criminal Intent) with 1.446 million viewers
(that’s why Ten won; it had more than 1.4 million viewers from 6.30pm to 9.30 when the repeat of Law and
Order Criminal Intent
averaged 1.036 million people). Seven’s It Takes Two at 6.30pm to 8pm
averaged 1.382 million, then Seven’s movie Cheaper by the Dozen with 1.238
million. Seven started it at 8pm, an
odd time because It Takes Two is now 90 minutes. The movie had a bigger
audience than most Seven movies this year. Nine’s 4pm football was 9th with
1.197 million, You Are What You Eat (Nine, 6.30pm) averaged 1.148 million, Turn Back Your Body Clock (7pm) averaged 1.039 million. Then came the
repeat of Law and Order Criminal Intent and then the 7pm ABC News with
1.014 million.

The Losers: Losers? Well, You Are What You Eat and Turn Back Your Body
Clock
at 6.30pm and 7pm respectively on Nine would have
disappointed. The audiences were so so and not the 1.2 to 1.3 million Nine
would have been hoping for. Big Brother‘s kefuffle would have drained younger
viewers from it and Seven and the ABC at 6.30pm and they stayed with Ten until at
least 8.30pm. So these two Nine
programs should be judged on their audiences next week. But the woman on You
Are What You Eat
is still painful.

News & CA: Nine News won the night nationally and everywhere, even in Perth.
Seven news was competitive, but not enough to move past Nine. The 7pm ABC
News averaged 1.014 million viewers and Ten News at Five a solid 818,000.
Seven’s Weekend Sunrise topped 400,000 on Sunday morning with 401,000, but
Sportsworld topped that with 406,000. (Soccer interest perhaps?) Nine’s Sunday
program averaged 298,000, the ABC’s Landline
at Noon, 278,000, My Business on
Seven at 11am, 254,000. Business
Sunday
, 154,000 (not bad with host Ali Moore departing as the program host
towards its death on August 27), The ABC’s
Offsiders 129,000, Inside Business on the ABC,
98,000, Offsiders (ABC, 10.30 am), 88,000,
Nine’s infomercialish Business Success (7.30am repeat), 83,000, Ten’s Meet The
Press
(8am), 40,000. There will be
more than 150,000 viewers up for grabs when Business Sunday dies in late
August.

The Stats: Ten won thanks to BB with a national share of 27.5% (21.6%)
to Nine with 25.5% (32.3%), Seven with 25.4% (25.4%), the ABC
with 14.6% (15.6%) and SBS on 5.0% (6.1%)/
Ten won Sydney. Brisbane, Adelaide
and Perth. Nine won Melbourne. Big
Brother
programs and then Law and Order (CI) were the dominant programs last
night.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: I’ve said a lot about the latest Big Brother stupidity
elsewhere but here is another point which shows that Ten and Endemol Southern
Star were in a full damage control panic last night: Wasn’t it strange how host
Gretel Killeen opened the show stating there would be a special interview with the
two “offenders” at 9.40pm? By the end of the eviction show, the interview was
cancelled and re-scheduled for later in the week. I think Ten and ESS
just didn’t know what was going on. By scheduling the interview at 9.40pm they signalled their hand: the
interview contents would have been AO (or M15 plus rating) so it would have
contained naughty stuff. the broadcast of that (were they planning to broadcast
any vision of the offence?) Ten has
already canned its AO version of Big Brother after pressure from politicians,
so why tempt the Trish Drapers of the world? And why give the two men any air
time at all? Is there some agreement to allow them air time? Do they deserve
it? They’ve been evicted after breaching the rules, it would seem they don’t
need any time at all. Tonight hopefully some sanity in the House and at Ten.

Peter Fray

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