Coonan under pressure. Senator Helen Coonan is under pressure from
several sides. On the one hand, National
Party MPs are calling for changes to her package to protect diversity in
regional media. And on the other hand,
Fairfax CEO David Kirk is drawing attention to the importance of what he
correctly describes as “the only short-term diversity dividend” in the
package of media reforms: namely the conditions to be set for the two new
datacasting licences to be issued next year.
This is really important because it is the only short-term benefit consumers
will see from Coonan’s much vaunted digital action plan. Coonan has failed to provide enough detail for us
to be able to assess what she proposes, but there are worrying signs. In her
discussion paper last March Coonan said that these new licences should not be
awarded to existing broadcasting networks. But in the package approved by
Cabinet, this proviso had disappeared. Kirk obviously noticed the omission. Fairfax, as well as News Limited, claimed
to be more interested in Internet protocol television than datacasting, and
it’s easy to understand why. The
Internet, if not regulation free, is regulation “light”, whereas
datacasting is entirely defined by regulation.
Nevertheless there can be little doubt that Fairfax would be a
bidder for the licenses providing Coonan loosens the regulations enough for
them to be worth having. – Margaret Simons

Nine brings in another spinner.
The Nine Network has appointed
yet another spinner to try and improve its image. Stephen Woodhill, a
former Optus operative, has been appointed because his old boss at
Optus, Chris Anderson, wants him. Not exactly nepotism, but Anderson is
PBL’s deputy CEO and has form in recruiting from the old firm. Last
year he helped recruit Pat O’Sullivan from the telco as PBL’s Chief
Operating Officer, a role the company has never had before. In that
role O’Sullivan has emerged as the point man for Anderson and
Alexander, doing their bidding, especially at the Nine Network and more
recently at ACP Magazines. Stephen Woodhill joins in September as
director of communications and marketing: I wonder if he knows anything
about how bitter the TV marketing and PR war really is? He replaces
former Fairfax finance columnist Chris Lacy, who lasted less than a
year. She was replaced for a while by Mark Gold and his company Third
Person, but they quit earlier this month over not being given enough
scope to operate by the likes of Chris Anderson, who is now the font of
all TV knowledge within the Packer Empire. That’s going to be a bonus
for Seven, Ten and even the ABC and SBS, as Anderson has not shown
himself to be at all comfortable in the two gigs he’s had in TV: at
TVNZ in New Zealand and at the ABC. Woodhill will be the six or seventh
spinner Nine has had in the past couple of years: the names Andrea
Keir, Wendy Squires, Jenny Gilbert, David Hurley and Chris Lacy spring
to mind as those who have tried and failed to sell the Nine message. Glenn Dyer

Yet more Nine talent gifted to the opposition. David
Leckie, Peter Meakin, John
Stephens and a tribe of people are at Seven, and Nick Falloon, former Nine and PBL CEO, is now executive
chairman of Ten. Steve
Liebmann left
and is now odd jobbing around the media working on Foxtel and on Ten’s weekend news. And now
Tony Ritchie, Nine’s former Sydney News Director, who was pinched from Seven by Sam Chisholm, is going to Ten. Ritchie
was flicked by the new moguls at Nine in the June redundancy madness. He
helped lift Nine’s Sydney news out of the doldrums to where it is now catching
Seven. Glenn Dyer

Rowe makes Eddie squirm over “boning” remarks.
Sunday papers had pictures of her looking slightly mumsy in maternal pink with a headline “Jessica Feared For Her Child” in the Sun-Herald and “Rowe’s on cloud nine with
baby” in
the Sunday Telegraph. “The
television presenter has told the Sun-Herald she and husband Peter Overton, a
60 Minutes reporter, were aware of the risk of miscarriages because of the
enormous stress she faced amid claims her employers wanted to sack her, ” the
paper reported. “It was
definitely something that crossed our minds and it was
stressful.” She
said she phoned McGuire on Thursday night to tell him of her pregnancy and he
was “thrilled”. Yep,
bet he was. Jessica
is now a bone-free zone. Hope she doesn’t abuse the
situation. Glenn Dyer

Nine bounces back to take the week. A narrow win to the Nine
Network last week after Seven had a similar-sized victory the week
before. Nine won with a share of 28.4% (28.3% a week earlier) to 28.1%
(29.3%) for Seven. Ten was third with 21.8% (21.5%), followed by the
ABC was on 15.6% (15.8%) and SBS was on 6.1% (5.1%). Nine won Sydney,
Melbourne and Adelaide while Seven won Brisbane and Perth. The defining
moment of the week was Seven’s two hours of low rating programming on
Wednesday night that burnt off the small but solid lead it had built up
by Tuesday night. The M-rated version of Las
and then poor old Jack on 24 allowed Nine to move
within a hair’s breath of Seven and eventually take the
week. Such
are the vagaries of TV programming that 168 hours of battling each other (or 42
hours for prime time) can hinge on one or two hours of programming a
week. Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
A solid win to Nine last night, thanks to those old stagers, the 6pm News, 60 Minutes and CSI (who says Aussies don’t like crime shows?).
Nine News averaged 1.727 million for top spot, from CSI with 1.700
million, 60 Minutes was third with 1.644 million, then Seven News with
1.495 million. Seven’s It Takes Two averaged 1.481 million, Ten’s Big
Brother Live Eviction
from 7.30pm to 9pm averaged 1.475 million
(it ends next Sunday and Monday) and CSI Miami averaged 1.427 million
from 9.30 pm for Nine. The repeat of 20 to 1 at 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm
averaged 1.413 million, around 200, 000 or more above what the two Fat
Shows (You Are What You Eat and Turn Back Your Body Clock) were
getting.The ABC’s Planet Earth averaged 1.316 million and Nine’s Sunday
at 4pm averaged 1.179 million. The 6.30 pm Big Brother show
averaged 1.135 million, True Stories on Seven at 8 pm, 1.123 million,
the 7pm ABC News, 1.093 million, Seven’s 8.30 pm movie, Scary Movie 3
frightened the viewers: only 1.040 million tuned in. And Law And
Order: Criminal Intent
averaged 1.007 million as the 15th and
last program to be watched by a million or more viewers last night…

The Losers:
None really except True Stories reverted to what will be its sort of
normal level for at least one more week at 8pm Sunday nights on Seven.
The 1.1 million last night is a far cry (400,000 actually) from what it
was getting last year. last week’s ratings jump was due to the subject
matter, Sophie Delezio. True Stories ends the week after next when It
Takes Two
goes to a two hour final that will test how much viewers
really want to see a result (or see the back of the program itself).

News & CA: Nine
won easily, being a Sunday and having the AFL and NRL matches at 4pm as lead-ins. Seven News won Perth, but on Sunday nights that’s a bit
ho-hum. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.093 million; Ten News at
, 695,000. In the Sunday morning chat battle, Seven’s Weekend
again topped with 352,000, Sportsworld straight afterwards
averaged 326,000, Nine’s Sunday program 302,000, My Business on Seven
at 11am, 182,000, Business Sunday on Nine at 8am, 178,000. The ABC’s
Insiders was down on a week earlier at 132,000, Inside Business
averaged 96,000, Offsiders, 71,000, which is sounding more and more
like an AFL whinge chat show with the rest of the sport tacked on to
the end. Ten’s Meet The Press averaged 56,000 and Nine’s 7.30am
infomercial called Business Success, 101,000 on yet another repeat.

The Stats: Nine
won with a share of 31.3%(30.7% last week) to Seven with 24.1% (29.3%),
Ten was third with 22.9% (19.8%), the ABC with 16.3% (15.4%) and SBS
with 5.4%(4.7%). Nine won all markets in a convincing effort.

Glenn Dyer’s comments:
a good win by Nine, thanks in part to giving viewers another look at a
repeated episode of 20 to 1. Viewers may moan and groan about repeats,
but they sit and watch them religiously in their millions: CSI, 20 to
, House and a lot more. All those complaints about repeats would mean
more if people started refusing to watch repeats. Viewers only have
themselves to blame for encouraging networks to repeat programs. Eddie
McGuire, though, was glad that viewers are lazy when repeats are shown
and they can’t find the remote. The 1.4 million last night for 20 to 1
enabled him to shrug off the bomb that was known as Turn Back Your Body
: a program that was the first one bought under his reign at
Willoughby. It is a “reverse engineered” version of the BBC format,
Honey We’re Killing The Kids, which is building an audience on Ten. Funny
how one network can take a risk or three in an area, anchor themselves
in viewers’ minds as the one for that type of program (Fat and Food
equals Ten, Procedural Crime equals Nine and Quirky US dramas, Seven). Tonight
Seven has one of those quirky dramas in Desperate Housewives and the
URST of Grey’s Anatomy. Ten has more Big Brother, Nine has Cold Case
and the fading Close to Home.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey