To blog or not to blog. The Sydney Morning Herald is accepting new media into the fold with a blogroll that seems to expand on a weekly basis. But this newfangled stuff is not all beer and skittles — especially when readers fight back. In The SMH‘s Talking Pictures blog, Andrew Meares picked up the Ian Thorpe “burgers or buff” story with some harsh words for the swimmer: “It seems the swimming sensation is quite happy to be photographed parading around in his undies or sipping his own brand of water, but when he’s caught sipping cola it’s all the media’s fault. Look out Australia: he may stay out of the pool forever.” But if he was looking for support, Meares was mostly out of luck — the vast majority of the 140 or so comments responding to the post back Thorpie, like Claire who reckons: “I don’t care if he gains 150kgs, takes over hosting of Family Feud, or releases a really bad 80s cover — he’s still a legend for what he has already done for Australian swimming.” Even so, the debate-provoking post is drawing attention to the blog and in turn, The SMH. And as Oscar Wilde once put it, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about…” — Jane Nethercote

Seven uses The Force. The Seven Network will be very happy chappies this morning. The new program, The Force, had the most successful debut of any program this year. It averaged 2.295 million at 8pm running after the mega hit Border Security with 2.298 million. Both programs are produced by the same company and have similar styles. But dropping three thousand viewers nationally on average after a hit like Border Security shows the attractiveness of the offering to viewers. It will make up for the disaster that was The Master, which was canned after one episode. Seven will now have greater confidence that it can peg back Nine, but it has to do something about Sunday nights. Friday nights will become different in around three weeks’ time — Nine finishes its AFL broadcasts for the current contract on 3 September. From then on its audiences on Friday nights in southern markets and on Sunday afternoons and evenings will be up for grabs for Seven, Ten and the ABC, if they want them. The success of The Force last night buried the second last episode of Dancing on Ice which averaged a respectable 1.299 million for two hours from 7.30pm. Seven’s All Saints won the 8.30pm to 9.30pm battle with an average 1.474 million viewers, thanks to the enormous numbers handed it by The Force. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Just when Seven was feeling a bit glum and Nine a bit cocky, along comes another mega-hit observational doco type program from Seven and blows Nine away on a Tuesday night. First it was Border Security, probably the most consistently successful program this year with audiences of over two million (2.98 million last night). Seven debuted The Force last night, based on the activities of the West Australian Police, and it averaged 2.295 million. As a result Nine was buried, especially the second last episode of Dancing On Ice. Border Security and The Force were one and two on the most watched list, with Seven’s All Saints next with 1.474 million, Home and Away was fourth with 1.447 million, Seven News, 1.429 million and then Nine News just behind with 1.422 million. Today Tonight was seventh for Seven with 1.420 million, Nine’s Temptation was eighth with 1.394 million and A Current Affair averaged 1.349 million. Dancing On Ice was 10th with 1.299 million, Ten’s The All New Simpsons, 1.141 million, Nine’s repeat of CSI at 9.30 pm, 1.057 million, Ten’s Futurama up over a million for one-off Tuesday episode, with 1.002 million (the daily 946,000) and the 7pm ABC News also on 1.002 million.

The Losers: Bert’s Family Feud back down to 638,000 from the 755,000 on Monday night, and Nine News and especially ACA slipped back as well. Deal Or No Deal on Seven still looking weak on 838,000. Ten’s The Wedge moved to 8.30pm and averaged 934,000 and the debutant, Real Stories at 9pm averaged 863,000. OK, the “real stories” were a bit long and needed a crisp edit from someone at ACA or TT. All a bit bogan.

News & CA: Seven News had a narrow, 7,000 win nationally thanks to the 148,000 margin in Perth. Nine News won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Perth and Adelaide. Today Tonight won nationally by 71,000 and in Perth by 106,000. ABC News at 7pm might have topped the million mark but The 7.30 Report with 687,000 was scrunched by Border Security on Seven and Dancing on Ice on Nine.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 34.3 per cent (32.3% a week earlier) from Nine with 28.3% (28.2%, Ten with 20.3% (19.8%), the ABC with 13.4% (14.6%) and SBS down to 3.7%(5.1%). Seven won all five capital city markets. In the Bush Prime/7Qld won with a share of 33.0% from Nine’s affiliates, WIN/NBN with 30.2%, Sthn Cross with 19.4%, the ABC with 12.9% and SBS with 4.6%. Nine still leads the week but the lead has narrowed to 30.9% to 28.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine should not be too surprised with the success of Border Security and The Force: after all it started the observational documentary style here with RPA, which is still a powerful program but can only be delivered in limited quantities such is the delicate nature of most stories and the intimacy involved. It’s just Seven thought better, smarter and had to take risks. Nine didn’t move down this track because it was very successful in 2003-2004 with programs like The Block and got arrogant. You can argue that these programs are formula-driven and do not reveal the dark side of corruption and underhand dealings at airports and in the police force but immigration, quarantine and policing are much more than the dark side. Nine were actually in this area back in the 90s with the Neil Mooney inspired Street Stories. Tonight Ten heads down the repeats route with House and NCIS and the night will be anyone’s: Nine has a new and a repeat of Without A Trace and then Suspicious Minds once again, buried at 10.30pm in back to back episodes. Seven doesn’t have The Master but has Forensic Investigators back at 8.30pm and Crossing Jordan at 9.30 pm. The night could be anyone’s but Nine with McLeod’s Daughters at 7.30pm might have the edge.