Sunday gutted. In shortening Sunday to 90 minutes, the new management at Nine has merely reinvented the wheel. It’ll be the same length as Seven’s Weekend Sunrise program which starts at 8am, but Nine is not game to start Sunday (incorporating Business Sunday)
at the same time. Is it scared of a head-to-head beating? Its rejigged
format is likely to be news, a political interview, a finance segment
and then one or two picture stories, depending on length. (As there
will be three reporters the picture stories will have to be made,
otherwise the trio should become cost savings and made redundant.) But
we’ve seen this format before on Sunday morning TV – it’s the old Sunday Sunrise format on Seven that struggled to match Business Sunday until early 2005, when Seven changed the management and hosts and turned it into a more general program called Weekend Sunrise. So if Sunday fails, will it become Weekend Today? No, no one could be THAT cruel. The new look Sunday will be seen Sunday 3 September. Meanwhile, Business Sunday
has been gutted in farcical fashion. Ross Greenwood, the man who
replaced Michael Pascoe as Nine Finance Editor after Pascoe had been
“removed” in early 2003, gets what he has always wanted: to host Business Sunday. Unfortunately it will be only to 27 August. Because of the cuts, Nine has been forced to hire former Sunday supervising producer, Tom Krause, to run Business Sunday
in its dying weeks. And former reporter, Helen McCombie, has been
re-hired as a casual to do interviews and stories after host Ali Moore
departed on Sunday after hosting the program. Only Nine would cut staff
and kill off a program, and then be forced to hire former staff back to
keep the dying program on life support until it can be put down. – Glenn Dyer

Confrontation is old news.
There was a lot chat around in the papers Tuesday (News Ltd in Sydney
and Melbourne) about a supposed confrontation between Nine boss, Eddie
McGuire and former Nine executive, Rory Callaghan. Here’s one example
of the breathless prose.
Only one or two problems with that: it wasn’t at Icebergs eatery at
Bondi, it was at the North Bondi RSL, where there is an Italian
restaurant. And it was around three or so months ago. It was at the end
of an evening Nine had called to introduce Eddie to the independent TV
producing industry in Sydney, which was hosted by PBL chairman James
Packer showing Eddie his total support. The confrontation came after
Packer had left and involved a fair bit of heated discussion between
McGuire and Callaghan, who had been in charge of Ed’s old program Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Callaghan left Nine for Granada, where he oversaw Dancing With The Stars
for Seven, and is now at Southern Star (which is like a home away from
home with so many former Nine staffers working there). It would now
seem Eddie and his Sydney producers didn’t get on when Ed was hosting Millionaire. He had clashes with other producers who replaced Callaghan in overseeing Millionaire up
till it was “rested” earlier this year after Eddie became Nine CEO. The
clash is now very old history: so the news must take an awful long time
to filter south to the sleepy TV writers in Melbourne town. – Glenn Dyer

Nine’s Rugby punt.
The Nine Network is taking an interesting punt with tonight’s rugby
league State of Origin game to be played at Telstra Dome in Melbourne.
Nine is broadcasting it live in Melbourne and Adelaide (but at 2am in
Perth! That’s the management of STW for you) as well as live in Sydney
and Brisbane and in regional areas in both states. Being the third and
deciding game, it should have a bigger audience than the first two
games, which averaged around 1.5 million to 1.6 million viewers. But
these were only broadcast live in Sydney and Brisbane (and regional
areas), going to air later in Melbourne and late at night in Adelaide
and Perth. Nine screened the Ted Whitten Legends pick-up game at the
same time as the last Origin Game to boost its share in Melbourne and
Adelaide. But can it win the southern states without another
programming stunt? It might: both Seven and Ten are programming
rubbish. Seven has something on the Bermuda Triangle, and another on
San Quentin jail; Ten has another two hour “special” of The Biggest Loser at 7.30pm and a repeat of NCIS at 9.30pm. It is “resting” the high rating House rather
than seeing it wasted against the rugby league on Nine. The gamble for
Nine is whether people in Melbourne and Adelaide will watch the Origin
game in numbers that offset any gains by Seven and or Ten. Wednesday
isn’t a strong night for Nine and the League has disrupted regular
programs like McLeod’s Daughters, which has been out of sync
across the country for weeks. But the certainty of the wins off the
back of big audiences in Brisbane and Sydney makes up for any losses
for McLeod’s and on non-Origin Wednesday nights. – Glenn Dyer

Another Nine document surfaces. Crikey has been sent this letter to John Alexander and Eddie McGuire:

Dear John and Ed,

light of recent adverse publicity directed at the Nine Network, I have
taken the liberty of writing to you to offer my services. While I have
limited experience in the television industry, I believe I have the
skills and character necessary to become “one of the real talents at
Nine” and in the process assist it in regaining number one spot. I am
certainly prepared to bone those needing boning and would relish the
challenge of boning both Jana and Jessica (preferably simultaneously).
Sure, Ed, Peter may take news of her boning adversely, but it is a risk
worth taking. I also disagree with the recently departed Mr Llewellyn’s
belief that the public would take her boning badly. In fact, Ed,
together we could turn the whole exercise into a ratings winner by
boning the both of them live! Nothing smutty like Network Ten seems to
think passes for entertainment; just a good, old fashioned, mums and
dads, down to earth boning. Subsequently, you could do a 60 Minutes exclusive with them and come out looking roses, like you did after that wonderful mining disaster.

Ed, you let me bone Jessica for you and add in Jana as a bit of kick,
I’ll shave myself bald, eat a dozen sh-t sandwiches, and still be your
blood brother. And John, I understand how you like to squeeze and
direct from behind. I swear fealty only to you, my liege, and at your
behest, Ed can give “it to me straight”, “come in a bit low and hard”,
“play to my forehead” or my backhand, or any position he desires, and
I’ll still look you in the only eye that matters. Crikey! I almost
forgot, on the issue of payback for the Network Seven slander of His
Magnificence, King James, I think we could angle in on something like:
“Just what was the relationship between Kerry Stokes and Rex Hunt?”
Have I pleased you my liege?

Your hopeful and humble servant,

GL Cleeve

First half year TV viewing results.Now
here’s some news that Eddie McGuire and his team at Nine will try and
spin but out in the world of advertising they will have already reached
their own conclusions. Nine’s share of commercial TV viewing is not
doing well. Even including the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and
Easter (which advertisers and their advisers do NOT do), Nine’s share
is weaker in the first half of 2006 compared to 2005. According to
Sydney media analysts, Fusion Strategy, weeks one to 20 of ratings in
2006 (including Easter and the Games) saw Nine’s audience up 0.48% to
1.270 million. Seven’s was up 1.25% and Ten’s was up 1.88%. The ABC’s
was down nearly 10%, SBS was off more than 3% and Pay TV saw a 19.45%
rise in its average audience. This is for the period 6pm to 10.30pm
(actually 10.29pm) – it’s just four hours, but it’s the heart of prime
time. It’s the make or break time for the commercial networks. But when
you do as the advertisers do and strip out the impact of the games and
Easter, Nine is in real trouble. Fusion says Nine’s average audience is
down 4% between 6pm and 10.30pm, or from 1.275 million people to 1.224
million. Seven’s audience is up 2.72% (from 1.213 million to 1.246
million) Ten’s audience is up though 3.10% to 999,000 from 969,000. The
ABC’s audience was down 8.6%, SBS’s was up 0.8% and Pay TV’s was up
18.5%. Seven has won 10 out of the 15 ratings weeks so far contested
(Peak Night, ALL People), Nine has won five and Ten has won one (a
drawn week with Seven). Figures for the night from 6pm to midnight will
produce different results but these are the figures the ad industry
notices: they don’t mind advertising after 10.30pm and before 6pm (Ten News at Five
for instance) but there is a big difference in the rates. The Fusion
analysis shows that Nine’s share in both the 16 to 39 age group and the
25 to 54 group (the most important) is down, Ten’s is up in both,
Seven’s is down in the younger group and up in the 25 to 54 group
(again, figures till midnight from 6pm will produce different results).

Last night’s TV ratings

The winners: Tuesday and that means it’s Seven’s night thanks to Border Security and Medical Emergency. They averaged 2.196 million and 1.821 million people respectively. Seven News was next with 1.554 million (Thanks Perth and Channel Nine in that city), then came Today Tonight with 1.525 million and All Saints was fifth with 1.495 million. Nine News was sixth in a solid effort with 1.435 million, Temptation was next with 1.315 million, just in front of Home and Away with 1.305 million. A Current Affair crashed back to earth last night after the brief dash towards the top on Monday: it averaged 1.289 million.Nine’s repeat of CSI averaged 1.266 million, The All New Simpsons on Ten, 1.224 million, Big Brother at 7pm, 1.085 million (no lift there from the Turkey Slapping). The ABC News, 1.057 million, Ghost Whisperer on Seven, 1.033 million, the repeat of CSI New York on Nine, 1.021 million. Grumpy Old Women on the ABC last night at 8pm averaged 1.017 million: Seven’s Deal or No Deal had the same figure at 6.30 pm and Ten’s The Wedge averaged 1.003 million.

The Losers:
Bert’s Family Feud
at 764,000 and number 25 on the list. Not much of a move despite better
audiences: it’s a reflection of winter time viewing when early evening
audiences are higher: dark evenings, no daylight saving. Its also
holidays in some states. Ten’s The Wedge managed to keep above a million viewers. It’s quirky. Nine’s Hey Hey By Request repeats didn’t do well. Anther dud idea from Nine programming; there have been a few of those this year.

News & CA:
Seven News again depended on Perth for its national win. It was its
only win on the night. The winning margin there was 192,000, its
national margin, 119,000. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and
Adelaide. But Today Tonight scored an easy win over A Current Affair, which went backwards compared to its Monday night performance. TT won everywhere bar Adelaide. It won by 336,000 people nationally, with around 160,000 of those coming in Perth. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.057 million, The 7.30 Report, 811,000. Ten News at Five averaged 923,000.

The stats:
Seven won with a share of 32.3% (31.7% a week earlier), from Nine with
25.6% (26.1%), ten with 21.3% (20.7%), the ABC with 15.2% (15.0%) and
SBS with 5.6% (6.5%). Seven won all markets, and had an easy win in
Perth by almost 18 points. Seven leads the week, 29.1% to 26.7%. The
State of Origin tonight will allow Nine to go past, but the week could
end up tighter than it seemed at the start.

Glenn Dyer’s comments:
Nine ran repeats last night and suffered as a result with its share
down on a week earlier. I know it’s clever programming because Nine has
the State of Origin tonight, but if you look at the Fusion Strategy
figures you see a big drop in share on nights like last night when Nine
has the Origin. It’s part of the reason why Nine’s commercial share in
All People and 25 to 54 continues to weaken between 6pm and 10.30pm.
Nine simply doesn’t have enough product (new shows) to ram home its
advantage some weeks. Tonight, though, Seven and Ten are running dead
when they should have been more competitive. Next Tuesday night at 7.30
pm sees the start of Nine’s big hope for the second half of the year: Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice. A rip-off of Dancing With The Stars,
it is going to be risky for Nine and will be going up against a trio of
strong programs on Seven, especially between 7.30pm and 8.30pm when Border Security and Medical Emergency will prove formidable opponents. There will be perve tune-in for Nine but ice skating is not big in Australia. Last year’s Skating with Celebrities thingy on Nine at 6.30pm Sundays didn’t work, so why will Torvill and Dean? Hype helps and that remains one of Nine’s strong points. Go the Mighty Blues/Maroons, France?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey