More
confusion about Big Brother with the two evictees appearing on Ten last night and apologising
profusely.

No such
apologies from rival Networks, Seven and Nine. They both went for the jugular
last night in news stories and reports on their 6pm news programs and then the
6.30pm current affairs shows, Today Tonight and A Current Affair. Both programs
broadcast portions of the offending internet streamed vision.

In fact
it would seem ACA broadcast it in full, helpfully subtitling the
conversations so that no-one was in any doubt what went on.

This
raises the question: are both of those programs going to be facing problems with
ACMA?

The
answer would be no because they can argue that it was used in a “news'”story. In
reality it was used in a story to take a poke at rival Ten, which is eating into
the rich 25 to 54 age group that Seven and Nine are
seeking to protect this year.

Ten has
already got a lock on the 16 to 39 age group, despite Seven trying to claw back share. Nine is nowhere to be seen
in this age group. And Ten is
making up ground in the 25 to 54 age group (it accounts for 80% of the
spending on commercial TV). It is doing this with a collection of programs apart
from Big Brother, which this year is aimed at the younger end of its target 16 to 39 age group.

There
was the whiff of hypocrisy in the coverage on Nine and
Seven last night but it is commercial TV and a bit of hypocrisy is never allowed to
get in the way of a good story. A Current Affair‘s heavily promoted broadcast of the offending footage
pushed the program’s usually sagging ratings past Today Tonight and into second
place nationally last night. And if, in doing so, it kept up
the political and moral pressures on Ten, well, that was a
bonus.

Ten,
meanwhile, is in defensive mode, arguing that it didn’t and hasn’t sought to
exploit the story for ratings gains. It didn’t issue a press release Monday
about its Sunday night win and says that Camilla insisted on telling her side of
the story.

News
Ltd media have decided that Big Brother is this week’s object for perusal: the Daily Telegraph
front page this morning featured a pointer to a story inside claiming
that a female contestant from last year suffered a similar experience
to Camilla.

The
Sydney Morning Herald
, though, had the most interesting report when it pointed out
that
no one, not the government, nor the regulator, ACMA, can actually do
anything about the weekend incident.

“Acting on it was not in the watchdog’s bailiwick, nor anyone else’s, a spokesman
for the authority conceded yesterday. And even if it had been screened on TV,
disciplining Network Ten would have been “a convoluted” process requiring viewer
complaints and an investigation.”

So bad luck for the Trish Drapers, Steve
Fieldings and John Howards
(not to mention Kim Beazley) seeking cheap publicity in
calling for Big Brother to end. It won’t, as leading media buyer Harold
Mitchell told various outlets yesterday.

Peter Fray

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