Anything to declare? News.com.au’s missing disclaimer. A story on the brawl over AFL rights was posted on the News.com.au website late yesterday. Short, punchy and to the point… and a bit misleading:

Pay television provider Foxtel will close its dedicated AFL channel at the end of the season.

While Foxtel is still trying to secure subscription rights beyond this year, it said today the Fox Footy channel would cease to exist.

Foxtel had been in negotiations with Channels Seven and Ten, which will take over the television rights from Channel Nine from 2007-11 in a record $780 million deal.

“The positions taken by Seven and Ten and the delays and uncertainty over the future have left Foxtel with no option but to close its dedicated AFL Fox Footy Channel at the end of this season,” Foxtel said in a statement.

Nine’s parent company PBL part-owns Foxtel.

But so does the owner of the News.com.au website, News Ltd, which, like PBL, owns 25%. Oops! — Glenn Dyer

Is Karl the next Tracy? I reckon the Nine Network trotted out the next host of A Current Affair last night.  Tracy Grimshaw was off ill (hopefully it wasn’t a bone that caused her absence) and out trotted Karl Stefanovic and he did a more than competent job: in the mould of Naomi Robson on the rival Seven show, Today Tonight. He was crisp, to the point, no facial movement, a la Ray Martin, no little throw away lines, such as “sad story”, and more importantly he looked down the camera in a relaxed and confident fashion. He looked better against the tacky yellowish set than Tracy does at times (but she looks better now the David Gyngell/Sam Chisholm blonde has gone and the brunette is back). In fact he was better on his own than on the Today Show where he co-hosts with giggling gertie, the “I’m pregnant and I’m going to talk about it” Jessica Rowe. You can’t read anything into the figures last night but ACA did do well, it beat TT in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but lost in Adelaide and of course Perth and went down to TT nationally by just 6,000 viewers. ACA under Ms Grimshaw has been fighting back well for most of the year and the past six weeks have been its best for 18 months. But if Karl Stefanovic was not a deliberate choice of Nine management then it was inspired. If it was deliberate they should get him away from Today and into a vehicle like ACA. He is a bit plastic (so is Naomi, but she works) but he’d be better there than on the Today Show or boofing around on ice. — Glenn Dyer 

The price of papers, continued. Further to our item on Tuesday about the special deals available on newspaper cover prices, a former senior editorial executive at The Age writes:

I think the point is probably that the MARKET VALUE of newspapers has actually fallen and, though the cover price will continue to rise, the deals will get better and better, reflecting the declining value of the paper to customers as jobs, house sales, car sales etc move to websites, and myspace.com and others take off. It would really be interesting to track the deals offered on the Age over a year or so and then work out how the mean price had moved. Yesterday I signed up for the Age‘s latest offer — four days, including the only three I really want the paper (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) for $3. It appears to be an open-ended deal since it is available only by automatic debits from one’s credit card account once a month.

Tracking the mean price actually paid for newspaper subscriptions sounds like an excellent research project. Calling all newsagents and others – has anyone done it? — Margaret Simons

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
When a program like Temptation (or its 7pm rival, Home and Away for that matter) tops the most watched list on a night like Wednesdays, you know it’s a been a boring and ugly evening, enlivened by a program like Spicks and Specks on the ABC which last night had its biggest audience ever, topping 1.2 million viewers for the first time. Temptation averaged 1.424 million, McLeod’s Daughters was second with 1.412 million (and was why Nine won), Seven News was third with 1.394 million, followed by Home and Away (7pm) with 1.371 million, A Current Affair averaged 1,364 million, the repeat of House on Ten averaged 1.364 million and Nine News was 8th and next with 1.289 million. Spicks and Specks on the ABC averaged 1.273 million, the fresh Without A Trace (8.30pm) averaged 1.238 million, Seven’s Beyond Tomorrow (7.30pm) averaged 1.193 million and the repeat of NCIS on Ten at 9.30pm averaged 1.035 million. Ten’s 7.30 program, the final ep of Honey We’re Killing The Kids averaged 1.034 million for 13th and last spot in the million or more viewers club last night.
 
The Losers: Seven’s Forensic Investigators started well in its new season three Wednesdays ago. It was then pushed back to 9.30pm from 8.30pm because of The Master, which came and went, and then went back to 8.30 last night and no change in the audience, just 842,000 people. Sadness. Then there was the second Without A Trace, the repeat at 9.30pm, which bombed: down to 833,000 (that’s too many for a repeat!). Seven’s Crossing Jordan at 9.30pm was even worse, down to 596,000. The sounds of remotes and light switches being clicking off was deafening across the country from 9.30 onwards. An eerie night. In contrast Bert’s Family Feud looked hot, hot, hot with 651,000 viewers, while Seven’s Deal Or No Deal was cool as, with 853,000 (the same all week it seems, or thereabouts) and Ten News At Five was The One with 896,000. The irony: Seven’s audience at 5.30pm was larger than at 9.30pm onwards. What a night! The Glasshouse (ABC, 9.30pm) polished the floor with Crossing Jordan and Without a Trace. Only that repeat of NCIS was in front.
 
News & CA: Seven News beat Nine with wins in Sydney, Melbourne Adelaide and Perth. The Perth margin was 87,000, the national margin, 105,000. Nine News was tops in Brisbane. Today Tonight beat ACA by 6,000 viewers and the audience in Perth was 95,000 greater for TT over ACA. A points win to Nine. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Seven won Adelaide and Perth. The ABC 7pm News averaged 970,000 viewers and the 7.30 Report, 831,000. Jessica Rowe talking about the little kiddie to come sparked the Today audience up to 289,000, but Sunrise won easily with 464,000 from 7am. Early Sunrise won the 6 am to 7 am battle by more than 100,000 viewers.
 
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 28.9% (24.4% last week) from Seven with 25.0% (24.2%), Ten was third with 24.0% (25.3%), the ABC had a high 18.0% (16.4%) and SBS was on 4.0 (9.8%, no soccer this week). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, drew with Ten in Adelaide and Seven won Perth. In regional areas Nine’s affiliates WIN/NBN won with a 32.7% share from Prime/7Qld with 23.0%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 23.0%, the ABC with 16.1% and SBS with 4.5%.
 
Glenn Dyer’s comments: A week ago the soccer on SBS was said to have reduced figures on the night for the commercial networks, and it did to an extent. But it did not kill off The Master — that was Seven’s own work. So what are we to make of last night? Death by a thousand repeats with the only piece of original programming, Spicks and Specks on the ABC (and I know its a BBC format, but it was original compared to whatever else was on) continuing to climb in the public’s estimation and making a mockery of the commercial fare. Ten won the battle of the repeats with House and NCIS, Nine’s repeat of Without A Trace at 9.30pm prompted a search which is still underway for viewers, while Jordan was Crossed on Seven at the same time but not many viewers noticed. As I said earlier, when a program like Temptation tops the viewing for the night you know that your feelings about what was on commercial TV the night before, just wasn’t  you. McLeod’s Daughters was the clincher. So what are we to make about tonight? David Tench Tonight on Ten at 8.30 will be worth another looksee to get a better understanding of the idea and to see if any changes (needed) have been made. Ronnie Johns at 9pm will offend and attract a decent audience. Will Seven see a blip upwards in the numbers for How I Met Your Mother and My Name Is Earl? Nine runs a 90 minute version of Getaway because it has run out of programs for Thursday nights and can’t think up any new ideas. What will they do when the Footy Shows disappear in early October? Will viewers discover Bones and rattle them at 9.30? Questions, questions, questions. Celebrity Survivor is on Seven at 8.30pm, anyone?