Mark Scott pays for staff approval: There
are several bits of advice given to new chum Chief Executives: one is to try and
make sure you can blame the predecessor/s for all the problems you’ve inherited,
the second one is to try and clean the decks financially (makes your reign seem
that much more profitable), while another is to try and keep the staff happy for
a while. In
government-run organisations, the first two are quite
often not an option, especially if there is any politics involved, so the third
looms as one of the first things to be tackled. New ABC
Managing Director, Mark Scott won brownie points when he nixed commercials on
the ABC (so what about ABC Shops and books and CD and DVDs?) but then scored an
own goal with his comments defending the lame board decision not to publish the
Chris Masters book on Al Jones. So it
probably comes as no great surprise to read that in an email to all staff today
Mr Scott has mentioned a pay rise to staff. The ABC
is in the midst of what looks like protracted negotiations with management over
a new industrial agreement. Scott
said in his memo today: “Given that resolution of
these issues will take considerably more time I have accepted a recommendation
of an immediate pay increase for staff. I have now approved a 3% pay
increase effective today for staff covered by the Employment Agreement. You will
receive this increase in your pay on 27 July. Existing employment conditions
will remain as they are until a new Agreement is
certified.” – Glenn Dyer

Ali Moore finds a new (old) home:
No
wonder Ali Moore left the miserable Nine Network and its dying Business Sunday
program after putting her hand up for
redundancy. She’s
got a great new gig at the ABC hosting a five nights a week business affairs
program called Lateline Business. It’s
due to start August 14. The ABC
recently advertised several jobs for finance people in news and current
affairs. It will
run for half an hour and means Ali Moore will be back on air before her old
program, Business Sunday dies on August 27. Ali
Moore was at the ABC before she joined Nine in
1995. Meanwhile, back at her old stamping ground there’s much
shaking of heads at the Today Show. Their
new Executive Producer is Tom Malone, a 26 year old in the job for three months
or so after working at 2UE. He is
also the producer involved in the embarrassment of host Jessica Rowe in that now
infamous interview with the senior Australian army officer on East Timor, brig
general Michael Slater. Rowe
interviewed him one morning live from Dili and made
reference to his safety and the positioning of soldiers in the background to
protect him. The
Brigadier told Rowe that “your stage manager” moved those soldiers into shot for
the interview. That
stage manager was Tom Malone. A promising start. – Glenn Dyer

SBS axes sport:

Should
SBS be worried about a drop-off in viewers between the news at 6pm and the 7pm
sports program? After
all, SBS is like the ABC: ratings or audience size shouldn’t really enter into
the thinking of management, should they? It’s
not in the SBS charter to chase ratings or popularity, is it? So why,
then, has SBS chopped its 30 minute Toyota World Sport at 7pm? In a piece of mealy-mouthed management-speak, SBS Sport head Les Murray told the The Sun-Herald in Sydney
yesterday that Toyota World Sport
was a pioneering program, but that a one-hour news program from 6.30 to
7.30 would be more sustainable. Trouble is, Murray isn’t the head of
sport at Seven, Nine or Ten – he’s at SBS, where boring for
Australia at times is (or was?) seen as a prime virtue. SBS insiders
say the decision is typical of the complete restructure the new boss,
Shaun Brown, is bringing to both TV and radio management. The TV studio
camera crew and all the production staff have been replaced by
freelancers and outside contractors. But the Brown regime’s most
important decision so far has been to increase the amount of
advertising on SBS by introducing ads into programs, instead of at the
beginning and end. Mr Brown is so confident of that decision that he
has banned all staff, including his managers, from talking publicly
about it. It makes you wonder whether the SBS board, with the likes of
Carla Zampatti, Gerald Stone and Christopher Pearson, is really there
to rubber-stamp management’s outrageous decisions. Stone knows TV, but
Zampatti and Pearson wouldn’t know the first thing: they got there by
being loyal John Howard foot soldiers. – Glenn Dyer

The PR spinning door at Nine:
And it’s
hullo and goodbye to the Nine Network’s revolving door publicists:
In Sydney Mark Gold and Third Person are no longer the
official corporate spokespeople for Nine. They
quit the account because of interference from head office at Park
Street. And in
Melbourne, it’s
a big hullo to Michelle Stamper, formerly of Telstra Dome, Seven, Nine and News
Ltd. She’ll
be spinning on the program side for Nine in Melbourne after the rest
of the department was downsized, flicked or just quit in the past month because
it was such a miserable place. Gold
and Third Person (also run by Ross Thorburn, a former
Liberal Party operative in NSW) were hired to handle the corporate PR after
Christine Lacy quit: they wrote the now infamous press release that announced
the replacement of Mark Llewellyn as Nine News and Current Affairs boss with
Gary Linnell from The Bulletin, and the fact that
there would be 100 redundancies at Nine. That
was tucked away in the last couple of paragraphs. Jamie
Campbell remains the head of network publicity (for programming matters) based
at Willoughby. Mark Rudder and Mark
Westfield’s company Cosway does corporate PR for PBL: Westfield attended court two weeks ago to watch
Eddie McGuire’s strange and amazing attempts to suppress the Llewellyn affidavit of
Mark and demand its sources from News Ltd and
Fairfax. How
Mark Westfield would have treated the debacle when he was working at The Australian, the ABC’s Four Corners, or at the
Sydney Morning Herald, is one of those tantalising
questions of what can now never be. Deeta Colvin’s name was on the
Linnell/sackings press release. She remains at
Park
Street working for ACP, PBL and John Alexander. Her
work at Wimbledon for Nine and PBL (not to
mention James Packer) is now the stuff of legend. – Glenn Dyer

Nine skating on thin ice: The
Nine Network’s 2007 revenue and financial health will depend on how the programming
starting this week travels over the next couple of months. There’s
the Torvill and Dean rip-off of Dancing With The Stars on Tuesday
night: that’s a multi-million dollar gamble that it will prove as seductive to
viewers as dancing on a wooden floor. Showing
the extent of its gamble, Nine has programmed it for 7.30 pm Tuesdays: the
timeslot that Seven uses for Dancing With The Stars. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (although the words sincere and Nine do not
fit naturally). Ice
Dancing With the Stars
is up against Border Security and Medical Emergency on Seven from 7.30
pm to 8.30 pm and then All Saints from
8.30pm. To use a multi-million dollar program like this against Seven’s
strongest night of the week shows the extent of Nine’s desperation. It
hasn’t made a decent light entertainment program for years; probably
not since Hey Hey It’s Saturday was in its
prime. Wednesday night Nine
is debuting Suspicious Minds, a program long in development and promised for
2005 (as was the successful Missing Persons Unit). Nine is
hoping that the New Adventures of Old Christine, starring Seinfeld babe, Elaine,
will perk up this week. But its
lead-in is still the un-amusing Two and a Half Men. And
Nine is not helping its cause on Friday nights by
running repeats of Frasier over an hour from 7.30.That’s handing an easy win to
Seven’s Better Homes and Gardens. It’s no
coincidence that Seven has won both Friday nights since
Frasier returned: its low figures offset the gains Nine makes with the NRL and AFL
games at 8.30 pm. – Glenn Dyer

A Nine win thanks to rugby: A win to the Nine Network last
week thanks to the State of Origin Rugby League game on Wednesday night
: if that had been an ordinary night’s viewing then it could have ended
up a very close week. Nine won with a national share of 29.3% (27.8% a
week earlier) to Seven on 27.7% (28.8%), the Ten Network on
21.9%(21.6%), the ABC on 15.9% (15.7%) and SBS on 5.2%(6.3%). Nine won
Sydney, Melbourne (just, by 0.2% over Seven), Brisbane, Adelaide (where
Seven and Ten dead-heated for second) while Seven won Perth. The State
of Origin lifted Nine’s share three points on Wednesday night and into
the lead over Seven: Nine’s winning share after Saturday night was
1.6%, so it is possible that without the State of Origin, Nine could
have lost the week to Seven. The League thriller wasn’t the most
watched program: Seven’s Border Security was on Tuesday night: 2.196
million to the 2.020 million for the Origin game. Nine ran dead on most
nights, conserving its first run programming for the long run to the
end of the ratings year in late November. Seven snatched Friday night
from Nine by 28.7% to 28.4%: the League and the AFL losing the night in
Sydney and Melbourne, but winning it in Brisbane because the Brisbane
Broncos Rugby League team was in the televised NRL match of the night.
Nine’s repeat of Frasier was the big reason here for the loss on the
night. But Seven lost Saturday night comprehensively, Nine won with a
26.8% share to 23.8% for Seven and 21.9% for Ten. The early broadcast
of the Australia-New Zealand Rugby Union test from 5pm to 7.30 pm
only rated 819,000 viewers for the duration: it knocked Seven’s News
around: Nine News was the most popular program with 1.430 million
(Seven News averaged 1.232 million at 7.30 pm, so there was a turn on
of half the average rugby test audience, which was an interesting
development). Seven broadcast the Test live to all markets therefore it
finished badly in Melbourne with only a 17% share and 18.0% in
Adelaide. The Rugby Test however did win the night in Sydney and
Brisbane for Seven. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The winners:
A surprise win to Seven last night, thanks to the
combination of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush in the movie,
Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Nine News was tops with 1.749 million,
60 Minutes was second with 1.621 million but the Pirates movie was third with
1.587 million. Across three hours of prime time that was more than enough to
give Seven a clear win. The ABC’s Planet Earth averaged a very solid 1.560 million
at 7.30 pm. 60 Minutes will have some competition before it’s over. Seven News
was fifth with 1.553 million, It Takes Two was next with 1.426 million, and
surprisingly CSI was down at seventh with just 1.302 million. Turn Back Your Body
Clock
was up on its first outing last week at 1.258 million, as was You Are What
You Eat
with 1.224 million (both Nine at 6.30 to 7.30 pm). The 7pm ABC News
averaged 1.185 million and the Live Eviction From Big brother averaged 1.181
million. CSI Miami underwhelmed at 9.30 pm with 1.127 million and the 6.30 pm
Big Brother show was 13th with just 1.118 million. Nine’s 4pm AFL/NRL averaged
1.098 million, the ABC News update at 8.25 pm averaged 1.047 million (five
minutes!) and the Seven program, True Stories, just 1.034
million.

The losers: Seven’s True Stories: the audience last night of
just over a million people was well down on its average last year of 1.5 million
(when it followed Border Security). Now after It Takes Two, the turnoff was
around 400,000, the turn-on back to the movie was more than half a million. But
it is a big ask to put a program like True Stories up against the second half
hour of 60 Minutes, which rated very strongly last night. Make that a black mark
against Seven programming last night. Big Brother saw a lot of the hype
disappear, along with viewers, compared to the highly-charged atmosphere of a
week earlier. The eviction episode was noticeably down. Turkey slappers are
not loyal!

News & CA:
Nine News dominates as number one
program on the night, thanks to the AFL and NRL lead-ins. Seven won Brisbane
oddly enough and of course, Perth. 60 Minutes was strong. The 7pm ABC News also
had its highest audience for some weeks. Ten News at Five was back to its normal
weekend range around 700,000 (699,000). The Sunday morning chat shows were again
dominated by Weekend Sunrise with 408,000 viewers from 8 am, Nine’s Sunday with
280,000 was next (that was down on a week ago), Sportsworld averaged 375,000, My
Business
at 11am on Seven, 199,000, Business Sunday solid with 189,000, The
ABC’s Insiders was lower on 100,000, Offsiders (Barrie Cassidy without coat) up
at 93,000 and Inside Business was up at 91,000. The repeat of Nine’s infomercial
Business Success averaged 82,000 and Ten’s Meet The Press averaged just 49,000.
The ABC’s Landline averaged a very strong 309,000.

The Stats:
Seven won the night with 32.4% (25.4), from Nine with
29.2% (32.3%), Ten with 17.7% (14.6%) and SBS with 4.2% (6.1%) Seven won all
markets: it was a surprisingly clear result.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: So a movie does well and that’s news. Seven
programmed to try and get bounce off the Pirates sequel which has just opened in
Australian cinemas. It worked, and even if it wasn’t planned, the force was with
Seven last night. That will not be the start of the week that Nine wanted: it
went for the king hit last night, scheduling a fresh CSI and a Fresh CSI Miami
to try and get a head start and give the Ice Dancing show on Tuesday night a
chance to boost the lead. It didn’t work, so if Nine is to win it has to come
from behind and beat Seven tonight, maybe Tuesday and certainly Thursday. The
ABC finally got a decent show for 7.30 pm Sundays and Planet Earth worked.
Funnily enough it seems to have hurt Ten more than Nine or Seven where 60
Minutes
and It takes Two did well: Seven’s True Stories at 8 pm was hurt by the
scheduling. Tonight it’s the combination of Seven News and TT and then Desperate
Housewives
and Grey’s Anatomy up against What’s Good For You, Cold Case and the
sinking Close To Home on Nine. Ten tries to chase its 16 to 39s
tonight.

Peter Fray

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