Nine’s Wendt silence continues. The
silence has been stunning from the third floor of the Nine Network bunker at
Willoughby in Sydney. Despite
being asked, invited even, to express support for Sunday host, Jana Wendt, the
likes of Eddie McGuire and Garry Linnell have remained silent. The
contrast with the alacrity with which McGuire rushed to assure Jessica
Rowe that she had his support is quite
telling. Linnell’s silence is particularly
interesting considering that he also employs Wendt in his other role as Editor-in-Chief of The Bulletin. Nine
and its lawyers know the contents of Wendt’s contract, including the
clause which says Nine management must defend her reputation. That
clearly hasn’t happened and she could argue that Nine management has
allowed her reputation to be undermined by the
story which appeared in last Friday’s Daily Telegraph
accusing her of “not being there” in the office and suggesting that
McGuire was unimpressed with her. Will Nine attempt to use the
WorkChoices legislation to remove her at minimal cost? She has two and
a half years to go on a contract and would be expensive to pay out
(around $1.5 million). Notable for his silence has been PBL CEO, John
Alexander, who with then PBL board member, Sam Chisholm, personally
recruited Wendt back in late 2002. Whenever there’s dirty work to be done in the PBL
Empire, you can be certain JA will be somewhere where the icky bits won’t stick
when it hits the fan. – Glenn Dyer

BB finale fails to impress. It
wasn’t the news the Ten Network would have been expecting: the lowest figures
yet for a Big Brother
finale. Not even a sniff of the magic two million viewer mark in the
averages last night, though the Ten press release the network highlighted the peak of 2.2 million at 9.38pm. The
average last night was 1.736 million and 1.888 million for announcement of
the winner. A year ago the final eviction got 1.84 million, but that jumped to an average of 2.28 million
for the announcement of the winner. The two
figures are a cunning attempt by the network (Nine and Seven do it as well) to
try and boost its share on the night. There
is always a turn on just for the announcement, so the programs are coded
separately in the ratings computer. The
figures confirm that the 2006 Big Brother season has been mixed for Ten,
although it’s not dying. Ten takes another risk with the program Yasmin’s Getting Married. And
Idol, not Australian Idol, starts next Sunday night with a different
look and an attempt at broadening its appeal. – Glenn Dyer

Correction of the day. From today’s
SMH: CLARIFICATION –
Monday’s article “Planning a career as a witch? Go to
uni” should not have indicated that the University of Newcastle was offering
magic and witchcraft as part of its liberal arts degree. The subject being
considered is heresy and witchcraft in the medieval world.

Pay TV’s rating system furphy. There’s
some huffing and puffing about moves by the Pay TV industry to split the current
TV ratings system. It
first broke in The Australian‘s media section last Thursday with this story: “Australia’s $3.4
billion TV industry is set to split, with the metropolitan pay-TV sector
preparing to establish its own TV ratings system after failing to reach
agreement with ratings provider OzTAM. The split, which revives memories of the
disastrous change of ratings providers in 2000 that cost David Leckie his job as head of Channel Nine, would see
free-to-air TV and pay-TV metropolitan networks with separate ratings systems.”
There was a counter story in Monday’s
AFR with the idea being ridiculed by some Free To Air TV
executives and media buyers. But what neither story mentioned was the
background of Ian Garland, the ASTRA executive mentioned in both
stories commenting on the deficiencies of the OzTam system. He has a
reason not to like the FTA networks or OzTam after it’s formation
effectively put him out of a job when the company he was running, AC
Nielsen, lost the FTA contract. Quite a few people in Ten, Nine and
Seven were amused to see the suggestion of a two stream ratings system:
they know the last time it happened the Pay TV industry sued for peace
and even though it’s bigger now, it will have to follow what the larger
FTA industry and the ad industry wants. And advertisers want a unified
system: it’s cheaper and, at the moment, the advertisers and their
advisers hold the whip hand. – Glenn Dyer

Rowe hires baby agent. Jessica
Rowe is back on the Today show, one arm in plaster, talking about breast feeding
and milking her pregnancy for all it’s worth. So much
so that she has appointed an agent to handle all those
baby publicity matters. It’s
Wendy Day, the legendary manager of Nicole Kidman, who grew up living
next door to Rowe’s husband, Peter Overton, in Sydney. Now
there’s not much Ms Day, wife of News Ltd professional hack, Mark Day, doesn’t
know about managing a situation for success – her efforts during the Kidman-Urban
wedding were masterful – and I
reckon it will be a battle between Woman’s Day and the Women’s Weekly for those
first baby shots and a story about how she will combine work (but not the Today show) with bringing up baby. Perhaps Rowe would have been better off securing the services of a nice, feral
employment lawyer, one who could “bone” Nine
management. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:Big
Brother
did it for Ten but wasn’t as strong as Ten would have hoped
for. The finale of the Desperate Housewives season got rolled by BB, as
did Cold Case. Nine was third.The Big Brother winner averaged 1.888
million, the Final Eviction was second with 1.736 million, Seven news
was 3rd with 1.557 million, Nine News was a close 4th with 1.491
million, Today Tonight was 5th with 1.471 million and the finale of
Desperate Housewives was 6th with 1.422 million. A Current Affair was
next with 1.392 million, Grey’s Anatomy (8.30 on Mondays from next
week) averaged 1.342 million. Nine’s What’s Good For You averaged
1.284 million (was it hit that badly, 100,000 or more viewers down, by
BB?), Home and Away averaged 1.270 million, from Temptation with 1.254
million at 7pm. The Law and Order SVU repeat on Ten was 12th (after
BB) and averaged 1.220 million (that will have been influenced by the
overrun of BB). Seven’s The Great Outdoors (7.30 pm) averaged 1.139
million, Cold Case (Nine at 8.30 pm) 1.050 million (BB and the
Housewives did put a dent in that program last night).The 7pm ABC news
averaged 1.044 million, Neighbours 1.015 million (a recent high) and
Australian Story (the ABC, the third and final part of a special report
on a legal case in Perth) averaged 1.013 million. Seventeen programs in
all with a million or more viewers last night.

The Losers: Bert
averaged 743,000, so nope, not a loser, Deal or No Deal averaged
958,000, so no, not a loser, Ten News, more than 900,000, so not a
loser. With BB and the finale of the Housewives, it would be a bit
cruel to label anything a loser last night.

News & CA:
Seven News won, as did Today Tonight but, as is now becoming usual for a
Monday, had to rely on big wins in Perth for the national winning
margin. Seven news won Perth by 142,000, and nationally it beat Nine by
just 68,000. TT won by 143,000 in Perth and only 79,000 nationally.
Seven News won Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, Nine won Melbourne and
Brisbane. TT won Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and
Brisbane. The 7pm ABC news averaged more than a million viewers and Ten
News At Five averaged 944,000. The 7.30 Report averaged 812,000, Four
Corners
(a ripper yarn on the duplicity of one book publisher and one
author and some nutty supporters) 803,000. Media Watch (which was
pretty strong as well), 705,000.

The Stats: Ten won
with a share of 28.1% (19.4%) from Seven with 27.3% (30.9%), Nine with
24.1% (27.7%), the ABC with 15.2% (16.0%) and SBS with 5.3% (5.9%).Ten
lost Sydney to Seven, won Melbourne, Brisbane (Nine second), Adelaide
but lost Perth to Seven. That was interesting. Camilla came from
Melbourne, Jamie, the BB winner, from Perth. It just didn’t zing in
Perth, even though the actual winner was revealed around 7.40pm local
time there. The lack of any oomph in Sydney may have reflected the
absence of a local champion, but surely the franchise is big enough now
to overcome that sort of thinking. Obviously it’s not. So why did Ten
not win Perth then with winner Jamie?

Glenn Dyer’s comments:
A train crash of big programs: Desperate Housewives last ep of this
season wasn’t on this night a year ago on Seven so that could be why BB
failed to get to two million or more. But then was BB the reason why
the average for the girls of Wisteria Lane (and their boys) was down
800,000 or more on the finale in 2005? Ahh, the swings and roundabouts
of TV. Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope last night featured a single story
idea: a visit to the small Victorian town of Rainbow and on the whole
it worked, fab stories, salt of the earth Australians with really
personal stories of triumph, hurt, love and surviving. But it should
have been a bit broader and a bit more current (petrol prices,
bananas and the like perhaps). It should have also explored a bit more
deeply the difficulties of keeping young people in small regional
villages and towns – the people were there to ask. And Rainbow shouldn’t
have been made to seem completely isolated; a sort of oddity in
Victoria’s Mallee country. There are phones, TV and newspapers as well
as radio. Otherwise, the issue of communications could have been have been
explored as a way of illustrating the regional/city divide. And it’s not
just regional areas that have good stories. – cities do as
well. Still 914,000 people on average watched last night (937,000 from
9.35pm when the program actually started): there was a turn on of 200,000 for Media Watch, and they mostly stayed. There were also elements in a
program idea that Nine was interested in but rejected from Denton last
year. Silly Nine. Tonight it’s Nine’s Dancing on Ice. At last report no
new casualties have been reported, but we will have to wait until tonight
to confirm. Nine is going the glitz with a Las Vegas showgirl dance
idea and then the skate off judging routines. Anything to make it less
turgid than it already is. Seven’s Border Security and Medical
Emergency
and All Saints stand in the way of Nine tonight. And don’t
forget Ten’s risky new program, Yasmin’s Getting Married from 7pm to 8pm. Could it be The Biggest Loser by the end if there’s no bloke?

Peter Fray

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