Is Nine really leaving Willoughby? More than just idle rumour and
scuttlebutt? I hear there’s a definite push at PBL to relocate Nine from Willoughby,
while at the same time bringing it kicking and screaming into the
present century by going to full digital operation. At the same time
PBL will not be spending a lot of money on this, so it has to be done
on the cheap. That means the two front-running locations for such a
move into the digital age would be Fox Sports at Ultimo (half owned by
PBL) or Foxtel at North Ryde in Sydney (PBL owns 25%). That is
why the PBL board is visiting Foxtel’s new broadcast facility this week
to acquaint itself with the state of the art digital broadcast
facility, which is now fully operational and churning out profits.
There is enough digital transmission, recording and server capacity at
Foxtel to handle Nine, if the price is right. Willoughby would be sold
but the transmission tower would have to stay. Ryde Council does not
allow Foxtel to transmit from the site at North Ryde (Foxtel is still
using the Optus satellite centre and dishes at Belrose in Sydney’s
northern suburbs). Finding a home for a fully digitised broadcast
centre would also allow Nine to sell the Bendigo Street facilities in
Melbourne and for the operations of GTV9 to be scaled back to a
“slave” or retransmit business (the same for QTQ in Brisbane). Nine
could quite easily join with Seven and Ten in using the joint facility
at Seven’s Melbourne studios. But Foxtel doesn’t have a studio quite
the size of the main studio at Willoughby and nowhere near the size of
the big studios at GTV. – Glenn Dyer

Oh, what a twisted rope we weave. On the
raw figures, Nine would be happy with the debut of its
new drama series, Two Twisted. It
averaged 1.103 million from 9.35pm and was only beaten in the timeslot by
Seven’s Criminal Minds, which lifted slightly last night to average 1.126 million. And Andrew
Denton’s Enough Rope had its best night for several weeks – averaging
1.019 million with an interview with David Hicks’s lawyer, Major Michael Mori. So on
the face of it a win for Seven with a promising start
for Two Twisted. But a
closer look at the ratings figures shows that Andrew Denton’s program was actually the
winner. The
unadjusted figures from 9.30pm to 10.30pm (Denton and Twisted started at 9.35pm) show big turn offs for Nine and Seven and a turn on for Enough Rope: so
much so that after starting third from 9.30pm, the ABC was running second
behind Seven and beating Nine by 10.30pm. In pure
ratings terms, Criminal Minds won the slot, but Enough Rope proved
more popular because it added viewers, and there was no
turn-off. The big turn-off will worry Nine. But having taken the
risk in commissioning the series and then placing it at 9.35pm, Nine shouldn’t be too unhappy. Twisted can
build from this level as word of mouth spreads – last night’s episodes were a bit
odd but interesting. – Glenn Dyer

PBL’s self-justifying affair. What are we to make of A Current Affair last night, which allowed the editor of
Ralph magazine, owned by ACP Magazines (part of the PBL empire)
to justify the use of photographs sourced from Britain of young female stars of
Seven’s Home and Away. The Daily Telegraph raised the issue of the men’s magazine using the pics without authorisation from
the stars, but Ralph editor Michael Pickering said permission wasn’t
needed according to the contract. The pics were sourced from a British agency
and he blithely said, “Welcome to the age of photo agencies and photo
rights”. And
that was the line he pushed on ACA in a patsy story which was obviously designed to allow Ralph and ACP to put its side of the
story. – Glenn Dyer

Betfair Australia nearly ready to go. As
we predicted earlier this month, Betfair – half owned by PBL – will be up in running very
shortly. Next Tuesday/Wednesday in fact, if a software upgrade goes smoothly and
allows the switchover from the company’s UK servers to those
operated out of the Tasmanian offices. That will be just in time for the NRL and AFL finals, the
start of the Spring Racing Carnivals in Sydney and
Melbourne and the big earner, the Ashes Test series and one day internationals between Australia and England, with
the Nine’s wall to wall broadcasting and promotion an integral
part. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A
solid win for Seven after the uncomfortable night out on Sunday. Grey’s
Anatomy
really turned it on, lifting its audience to 1.841 million.
Seven News was second with 1.465 million, Home and Away was third with
1.472 million and Nine News was next with 1.465 million. Ten’s
Australian Idol, fourth edition, was next with 1.459 million, beating
Nine’s What’s Good For You (1.442 million) in the 7.30 timeslot. Nine’s
Temptation was next with 1.441 million, A Current Affair was eighth with
1.418 million, beating Today Tonight with 1.411 million. Cold Case at
8.30 pm for Nine was tenth with 1.385 million (and hurt by Grey‘s
appearance at 8.30pm). Criminal Minds, Seven at 9.30pm averaged 1.126
million (up slightly from last Monday). Nine’s Two Twisted drama series
opened with an OK 1.103 million, but the turn off was not encouraging.
The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.079 million, The Great Outdoors (Seven at 7.30pm), 1.060 million and Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope with 1.019 million
was 15th and the last program with a million or more viewers.

The Losers: Not
Bert’s Family Feud, still plugging away in third spot at 5.30pm
(628,000) behind Ten News and Deal Or No Deal (865,000). The Law And
Order: (SVU)
double on Ten after Idol from 8.30pm couldn’t grab a million
viewers. Both fresh eps, according to the guides. Futurama, 870,000: a
Monday night peak like last week? Seven’s The Great Outdoors, 1.060
million, getting close to dropping out of the million viewer club. It’s
not as glam as Nine’s Getaway.

News & CA:
Seven News
won narrowly (30,000) thanks to its Perth margin of 84,000. Seven won
Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Sydney and Brisbane. Today
Tonight
lost to A Current Affair by 7,000 nationally. Nine won Sydney
and Melbourne, Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The 7pm ABC
News
did well with more than a million viewers, Ten News at Five
averaged 982,000, The 7.30 Report on the ABC, 855,000, Four Corners,
790,000 and Media Watch, 759,000.

The Stats: Seven won
with a 29.8% share (28.3% last week) from Nine with 27.7% (26.9%), Ten
with 20.2% (22.4%), the ABC with 16,8% (16.1%) and SBS with 5.6% (6.2%)
Seven won all markets in a strong rebound from its poor Sunday night. A
different result in the bush though: WIN/NBN (9) won with a 30.4% share
from Prime/7Qld with 26.0%, Sthn Cross (10) with 22.0%, The ABC with
15.4% and SBS with 6.3%..

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven
will be pleased, as will Nine, Ten will be glad it has Idol there to
anchor the night otherwise times would be tough. The ABC’s Australian
Story
(966,000) was a profile of Mark Bouris, the man who started the
Wizard Financial group now owned by GE Money of the US. Just why the
profile was done is a bit hard to see: there was a free plug for Wizard
and GE (and GE provides very expensive store credit and “interest free”
finance to people, some of whom have trouble handling it). And Bouris
has had plenty of exposure in newspapers and magazines: was it the
fact that James Packer talked on camera about his mate Mark Bouris (PBL
was a shareholder and remains involved with Wizard internationally)?
Bouris came across well and the profile was done well… but…? and
the ABC’s new late night business program, Lateline Business started
last night. Lateline itself averaged 379,000 viewers at 10.35: Lateline Business 155,000 at 11.10pm or thereabouts. A good start for the
program and host Ali Moore. Nine’s Nightline at 11.35pm averaged
162,000. It is being slowly strangled by Nine with the late and erratic
starts. Tonight it’s Border Security, Medical Emergency and All Saints,
then daylight, followed by Nine with Dancing on Ice. Seven’s night but
it still trails the week. Nine leads 31.4% to 25.7% and can’t be
run down by Seven.

Peter Fray

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