Terry Lane keeps his post. After relying on a video hoax to support the argument in his Sunday Age column, Terry Lane this week offered his resignation. But Sunday Age editor Peter Fray has decided not to take up the offer. He writes:

Terry Lane has been a great servant of The Age and
journalism over many years. His column last week was a low point for
him and the paper. Steps are currently being taken to militate against
such horrendous mistakes in future. Terry and myself as Sunday Age editor are both extremely embarrassed about falling for the hoax and apologise to Sunday Age
readers. The article is now off the website. I have decided against
accepting Terry’s offer to resign. He has been mortified by the week’s
events and humiliated in public. I am confident he will check and
double check and triple check his sources in the future. In other
words, he has learned his lesson as has this paper. This is a
productive outcome from this debacle. Sacking Terry may please his
critics in other media organisations but would not in my view achieve
anything of lasting benefit whereas losing his perspective would
deprive Sunday Age readers. Terry will address the hoax in this week’s column and I will be making an appropriate printed apology to our readers

Industrial angst for Aunty. The recent 3.5% pay rise for ABC staff and the continuing
negotiations on a new industrial agreement are just a couple of the
issues making the natives restless at our national broadcaster.
Handling this emerging tension (evidenced by a meeting of staff at
Ultimo yesterday and notices going up on staff noticeboards calling for
“action”) will be an early test for ABC managing director Mark Scott
who does, at least, have some experience dealing with staff pressures
from his time at Fairfax. There are claims the pay rise and other
changes said to be underway at the behest of management could see 400
jobs go (some of these are vacant). Others claim the ABC is going to be
subjected to the full force of the federal government’s work choices
legislation. – Glenn Dyer

And management
tensions, too.
The ABC’s newish director, Kim Dalton, is starting to make
his views known. Several senior “genre” managers have been advised to
stop micro-managing and to allow staff a bit more freedom. The
religious program, Compass, and the science program, Catalyst,
have both become areas of discussion, especially concerning the $2 to $2.5
million a year the ABC spends on documentaries. Some staff seem to be
upset that Dalton said he wanted that money to go “outside” to
independent documentary makers. And staff on Catalyst are wondering
if the resignation of science unit head (TV) Sonjia Pemberton and her
move back to Melbourne will mean the unit is re-located south, causing
some dislocation. In the factual department, Painting Australia is in
hiatus while the script is reworked to make it a
more rounded and complete program. Its broadcast date is back four
weeks or so. And How The Hell Did We Get here (a
working title) hosted by Shane Bourne, will finally see the light of
day on Saturday, 9 December – well out of ratings and on the deadest
night of the week. How The Hell is supposed to be the ABC’s version of Nine’s 20 to 1 and Seven’s Where Are They Now. – Glenn Dyer

True Stories at Seven. In
the years up to late 2004, the Seven programming department had a
reputation for being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,
but then it changed. With a new CEO, new personnel around the place,
good programs from the US, some skilled risk taking (Dancing With The Stars, Border Security) and some hard work in news, Seven’s looking good. Sure
there’s been the odd problem but compared to Nine and its stumbles,
Seven was doing well. Until it had to program the second series of True Stories.
The problem wasn’t the program, it was where to place it , such was the
wealth of successful programs Seven had in its inventory. Last year it
was placed after Border Security on Tuesday nights and did very well, averaging 1.5 million. Earlier this year Seven programmers tried
to use it to fill a hole on Sunday evenings when a couple of shows
didn’t come up to scratch, but that was nixed by Seven Network CEO,
David Leckie. Then, when It Takes Two went to a 90 minute format on Sundays at 6.30pm, ending at 8pm, True Stories was moved there, never mind that it would be up against the back
half of 60 Minutes on Nine and Big Brother on Ten. Sort of like
programming suicide. Neither was there any concern about putting
it on for four weeks and then taking it off and maybe bringing it back.
Viewers don’t like that and don’t watch programs which are moved
around. It’s confusing. Nevertheless, True Stories
went to air: the best rating of the
quartet of programs was the Sophie Delezio episode. And now? Well it
won’t be back on Sunday nights. The program may return in an easier
timeslot (that
probably means out of ratings). True Stories has been the only
regular current
affairs program developed at Seven in the past three years. Mark
Llewellyn, the former Nine News and Current Affairs boss is now at
Seven working hard developing three new programs. Let’s hope they are
more current than observational and have more success and a gentler
handling than True Stories. Whether
True Stories returns in 2007 is up in the air – it will be a
big test
for both Llewellyn and his boss, Peter Meakin. But the way it was
handled this year, after a promising start in 2005, I wouldn’t be
holing my breath. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
So a flat night dominated by repeats and funny programming decisions by
Nine. Seven News was the most watched program with 1.523 million. But
that was helped by its absolute domination in Perth. Today Tonight was
second (a good non-profile of host Naomi Robson in The Australian‘s
Media section today). TT averaged 1.517 million. Seven’s Home and Away
was third with 1.499 million (thanks Yasmin), Nine News was 4th with
1.443 million, Temptation was 5th with 1.402 million (thanks Yasmin),
Without A Trace was 6th with 1.336 million (doing better at 8.30pm
than 9.30pm) and A Current Affair was 7th with 1.312 million. In 8th
spot was Seven’s Beyond Tomorrow with 1.295 million and Ten’s repeat of
House was 9th with 1.271 million. Tenth was the ABC’s Spicks and Specks
with 1.168 million at 8.30 pm, Ten’s repeat of NCIS was next with 1.161
million and Seven’s 8.30pm filler, Born to Kill (Fred West), was 12th
with 1.018 million. McLeod’s Daughters was 13th with 1.018 million (it
wasn’t shown in Melbourne, a program on Melbourne in winter was) and
the 7pm ABC News was the 14th and last program with a million or more
viewers with 1.012 million. Nine’s Suspicious Minds, (9.30pm) was just
out of the list with 924,000. It will have Seven’s Forensic
Investigators
on the same night from next week. Audience overkill?

The Losers:
Ten’s Yasmin’s Getting Married. Appalling. Just 559,000 viewers on average
for the first half hour program, down from the 778,000 for the first
program, which ran an hour on Tuesday night. Sadly, on what was
broadcast last night, the sooner she gets married and off our screens
the better. Will the program last nine weeks is now the question. No
disconnect with the audience at all. It’s the worst thing any network
has shown in prime time this year. It makes Clever (Nine and ‘resting’)
look like really bright TV. The strange thing is that Yasmin is not dud
talent: she’s vibrant enough to work in TV, it’s just the format is
manufactured, the panel is boring and as flat as an LCD screen. And an
astrologer? Is he going to read her fortune and marry her as well? Her
apartment isn’t hers, its rented from a Sydney business person.The
difference in risk taking in that program and The Biggest Loser and
Thank God You’re Here is astonishing. Over on Nine, Bert’s a
real success in comparison. Family Feud got back up to 713,000. Compared to
Yasmin, Bert is entertainment with a capital E. Deal Or No Deal on Seven,
918,000, Ten News At Five more than 900,000. And when Honey We’re
Killing the Kids
started just after 7.30 on Ten , an extra 250,000
viewers tuned in compared to Yasmin: they were the smart ones. 24
averaged 731,000 at 9.30pm and ends tonight. Seven’s Wednesday and
Thursday nights will pick up next week, or should.

News & CA: Seven
News won because of a big margin in Perth. Seven won by 80,000
nationally but 112,000 in Perth. Seven news won Sydney and Perth, Nine
News won Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.Today Tonight won everywhere
bar Brisbane and its national margin of 205,000 was much larger than
the 124,000 margin in Perth. The 7pm ABC news was again solid with
more than a million viewers and the 7.30 Report perked up from the
night before with 892,000 (more than 200,000 up). Ten news at Five was
above 900,000, which is a sold result for them. Seven’s Sunrise again
won over Today but the Early Today Show had its best audience for
months of 148,000 (excluding Beaconsfield) and the 7am Today Show had
its best audience this year from memory (without Beaconsfield) with
299,000 people watching to 433,000 on Sunrise. Is it Jessica Rowe’s
pregnancy and fall and attempted “boning” by Eddie McGuire that’s
turning viewers around?

The Stats: Seven won a close
night with 28.7% (26.5% a week ago) from Nine with 28.5% (26.9%), Ten,
22.5% (25.5%), the ABC 16.6% (unchanged) and SBS 3.7% (4.5%). Seven
managed the national five market win with a win in Melbourne and Perth
while Nine won Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Nine would have been a
bit miffed at the narrow loss. Perth helped Seven but so did the
splitting of the McLeod’s Daughters audience at 7.30pm in Melbourne.
Nine leads the week narrowly, 27.8% to 27.7% for Seven.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Tonight
will be close again. Seven looks to have a slight advantage with My
Name Is Earl
and Lost. Nine’s Getaway will be its best performer, while
its worst will be Two and A Half Men and The New Adventures of Old
Christine
between 8.30 and 9.30pm. The two Footy Shows will do well
for Nine from 9.30pm. Will the AFL program come down against
Collingwood for the drunken brawling by two players and will the NRL
show tonight hear an explanation from Paul Vautin, or rather the real
story, about that yarn last week about him hosting Who Wants To Be A
Millionaire?
It was in last Friday’s Daily Telegraph. The week will
again be decided by the ratings on Friday and Saturday night.