Goodbye Business Sunday; hello uninspiring Sunday. And despite claims by host Ross Greenwood that it will be incorporated in the new look Sunday program from next week, that’s a doubtful long-term proposition. Killing Business Sunday was a symbol to show Park Street that Eddie McGuire’s management team can take the tough decisions. Sunday, though, has become a can of worms of Eddie and his management team’s own making as their attempts to bone host Jana Wendt have looked more and more transparent. They have far more serious problems to tackle at Today and in news and A Current Affair. Worse, it became very clear that the planning for the new Sunday is struggling and the work environment is not very harmonious. The construction and lighting of the set and the mechanics of putting it to air means there will have to be an enormous amount of practice this week if next Sunday is not to be a stop-start affair. There’s not a real cover story: Ray Martin has done a story on Aboriginal student footballers at St Joseph’s College in Sydney, while Ross Greenwood’s story on BHP Billiton for next week won’t offer much in the way of insight. Gary Linnell and his team don’t have much experience in launching a new TV program, even if it’s a reworked clone of Seven’s Weekend Sunrise, and Nine is not helping the relaunch at all. With Business Sunday gone there will be the best part of 60,000 to 100,000 viewers potentially not around to watch Sunday, and Nine keeps juggling the airtimes around. Next Sunday the hours are normal, 9 am to 11 am; the following Sunday, the Sunday after the Queensland poll, it will be an hour because of the US Open Tennis, and its coverage could very well be cursory. And the following Sunday, 16 September, no one quite knows what time it will go to air but there’s a suggestion it could be from 8 am to 10 am, which would throw viewers for the third Sunday in a row. — Glenn Dyer
Another Nine executive departs. The Nine Network pogrom continues as Eddie McGuire and his team of Melbourne football club insiders continues the purge of executives with links to the old regimes of David Leckie, David Gyngell and Sam Chisholm. Yesterday the departure of Paul Waldren, the former Nine Sales boss and Melbourne boss, was announced in this statement:
The Nine Network announced today Paul Waldren had resigned as the Managing Director of Channel Nine Melbourne. But Nine’s long standing relationship with Mr Waldren will continue, utilising his expertise as a consultant to the Network. Mr Waldren will remain with Nine until a replacement is found — a process that is already underway. Paul has contributed so much to the Nine Network over the last 20 years and he will continue to be a force at Nine as a consultant on many levels,” said Mr Eddie McGuire, Nine Network CEO.
Waldren rose to prominence at GTV and in Nine, first under David Gyngell (replacing Graham Yarwood as Sales boss) and then replacing Vance Lothringer as national sales chief of Nine. The latter decision was one engineered by Sam Chisholm during his Cone of Ignorance days at Nine in 2005. McGuire and Waldren have known each other for sometime but Waldren was a reluctant national boss: for family reasons he refused to move from Melbourne to Sydney and commuted. When he assumed the top pole of the regime in February McGuire pressured Waldren to move north: he refused and quit as national sales boss. He stayed in Melbourne as MD of GTV 9, a role that will be downgraded, as that a similar position at QTQ9 has been which has been filled by Nine Group Sales Manager, Les Hart. Nine hired Peter Wilshire from Southern Cross as national sales boss, based in Sydney. Nine insiders say the departure of Waldren has been coming after his refusal to respond to McGuire’s request to move to Sydney. — Glenn Dyer
Will Linnell have to return to sinking Bulletin? Looks like it, following the confirmation of the swirl of rumours that staff are walking from the flailing magazine since Linnell jumped to Nine and some clever d-ck imposed former Australian media writer, John Lehmann, on the magazine. His first cover on the claimed London plane bombings plots worried staff: editor Kathy Bail, who was passed over by her former boss and his bosses; ACP CEO, Ian Law, who wouldn’t know a thing; and PBL CEO, John Alexander, who would know a lot about magazines from his time as publisher and CEO of the business. The defections, departures and dissatisfaction at the magazine finally surfaced in Saturday’s SMH:
One of the nation’s oldest magazines, The Bulletin, has suffered one of its greatest losses of senior editorial staff with the controversial arrival of the new editor-in-chief, John Lehmann, in June.
…The current crop of media executives responsible for the future of the prestigious Packer-owned magazine say — borrowing from Mark Twain — that reports of the publication’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Yesterday, the group publisher, Phil Scott, said he expected the editor, Kathy Bail, to return to the magazine after several weeks’ leave to resume her role. Scott said Bail was “on assignment” in Melbourne. But there were reports in Sydney media circles yesterday that suggested Bail was about to jump ship, with claims she could soon join Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian Magazine.
If Bail does go, she would follow Tim Blair, who quit The Bulletin as assistant editor, Lynda Dugdale, the magazine’s former online editor, the long-time senior writer Diana Bagnall and the magazine’s sole photographer, Kylie Melinda Smith. — Glenn Dyer
Nine says goodbye to AFL coverage for the next five years. Just two matches to go: Essendon and The Bulldogs on Friday night and of course, Collingwood and the Kangaroos on Sunday will be the last game broadcast by Nine. But will Collingwood boss Eddie McGuire still be at Nine when the new contract ends in 2011? Next year Nine is up for more costs: it is going to have to develop programming for Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth but not for Sydney because from next year there will be two NRL games on Friday nights and the matches will start at 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm (one will be live against the gate, the second on replay). That southern state programming will be expensive because Nine will have to meet the cost for just GTV and then recover costs for Adelaide and Perth through affiliates fees. Nine will not have the costs of the AFL coverage, nor the revenues: it will face pressure from Nine Adelaide (Southern Cross) and Perth (STW9) to lower affiliates fees charged to recover AFL programming costs. Nine claims the impact will be lineball, but is that an admission that the coverage of the AFL was breakeven for the past five years? — Glenn Dyer
Another week, another easy win for Nine. Nine had another easy win last week, thanks to the very weak Sunday night experienced by Seven. That left Seven too dependent on its strong Monday and Tuesday night lineups to get closer to Seven instead of pulling out in front. Nine won with a share of 30.3% (29.7%) from Seven with 27.3(26.6%), Ten with 21.1% (22.0%), the ABC with 15.9% (15.7% and SBS with 5.4% (6.0%). In regional Australia last week Nine was the most popular network through its affiliates, WIN and NBN with a 32.0% share. Prime/7Qld was second with a 26.1% share, with Ten through Southern Cross next with a 20.4% share. The ABC was on 15.3% and SBS on 6.1%. The win by Nine came despite Seven having two programs which topped the two million viewer mark: Border Security and the debut edition of The Force, both in-house Seven productions. After tomorrow night The Force moves to Wednesday nights to try and strengthen another weak spot for the rest of the year. Nine’s Sunday night CSI also averaged more than two million viewers. Seven’s Celebrity Survivor got a touch of the wobbles on Thursday night, easing to 1.129 million, but Seven’s two US crime imports, Criminal Minds and Bones, both picked up a touch. Nine’s entry in the celebrity stakes, Dancing on Ice, ends tomorrow night and Karl Stefanovic is the pea to win: just as Seven personalities have won Dancing with The Stars. Ten’s David Tench was also weak, falling well below a million viewers but Ten believes that’s the bottom and it will now build and climb out of that hole. — Glenn Dyer
Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Another big win for the Nine Network last night: Seven was marginally better and Ten was held up by the first of what’s going to be a lot of editions of Australian Idol this week. CSI was of course tops with 1.932 million (it topped 2 mill last week) for another strong showing. Nine News was next boosted by the 4pm NRL and AFL games at 4pm. 60 Minutes was third with 1.799 million. The first semi-final of Australian Idol averaged 1.625 million, Seven’s Where Are They Now perked up and rose to 1.614 million, Nine’s Football averaged a huge 1.569 million: The Collingwood Carlton game did OK, the NRL game between Brisbane and Parramatta did well, but the killer was the 404,000 who watched the Perth Derby in Perth between the Weagles and the Dockers. CSI Miami was 7th with 1.524 million at 9.30pm, Pre-Historic Park eased back from last week to average 1.488 million, Seven News averaged 1.408 million, The 7pm ABC news a solid 1.075 million and Ten’s program Its Me Or The Dog, 1.028 million. Nine’s decision to restrict the Weagles Dockers game to the west paid off!
The Losers: Well Seven’s disaster, You May Be Right is coming back, complete with steak through heart and clutching a Silver Cross. the audience jumped from the DOA 726,000 a week ago, to 942,000 for last night’s zany, madcap piece of entertainment that gives host Todd McKenney a reported $50K an episode. Yum. Ten’s Blackjack movie also moved off the DOA list to average 864,000 (a week ago the first telemovie averaged 850,000)
News & CA: Being a Sunday night with Collingwood playing in Melbourne at 4pm and the western Derby in Perth, Nine News did it easy, averaging 1.905 million. Seven News averaged 1.408 million. 60 Minutes averaged 1.799 million in a strong performance that unfortunately carried a story by Tara Brown about the Peak Oil argument: the story that oil production has peaked. Four Corners had the same talent and did it better. On the last Business Sunday Terry McCrann got it right: the two most influential people in Australian business since Business Sunday started in 1986 were firstly Paul Keating and then Ian Macfarlane the Governor of the Reserve Bank. But there was Nine and ACP trying to drain the last bit of credibility from the program with the Business Sunday, Bulletin list of the 20 most influential businessmen of the past two decades. Vampires. Business Sunday averaged 151,000 for its last show, dragged down by just 89,000 watching Business Success at 7.30pm. For its last program and Jana Wendt’s, Sunday fell sharply to 254,000 (around 50,000 down on the previous week). Weekend Sunrise averaged 371,000, Sportsworld 305,000. The ABC trio Insiders (132,000), Inside Business, 88,000 and Offsiders, 86,000 were all around normal levels). Ten’s Meet The Press with 55,000 was a touch higher compared to recent levels.
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 35.3% (38.5%) from Seven with 22.9% (20.8%) Ten was next with 22.2% (21.2%) The ABC was on 14.7% (13.9%) and SBS was on 4.9% (5.5%). Nine beat Seven by three points last week: if Seven has the same sort of week this week it could get close to Nine of its improvement last night and Nine’s fall in share. In regional Australia it was Nine’s night with WIN/NBN winning with 36.3% from Prime &Qld with 22.2%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 21.3%, the ABC with 14.5% and SBS with 5.6%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Idol Fatigue Syndrome (IFS) may become a notifiable disease this week. There will be Idol episodes (called semi-finals) until Thursday night and then a Wild Card episode next Sunday night. Last night’s first semi-final did very well for Ten with more than 1.6 million viewers. The program is rocking along and looks better than last year’s tired old effort. But by Thursday, will there be enough ‘zing’ left for the target audience, the 16 to 39s (actually the 12s to about 30). They will have Friday and Saturday nights off to recover from their attack of IFS. Recommended treatment can’t be discussed here on a family-orientated website: Suffice to say it involves stuffing your head with the sorts of things sane rational people do, like going to a movie, going out for dinner, reading a book, with the TV turned off. Last night, Nine again gave Seven a pasting. Curious how that Network still doesn’t have a convincing plan A or B for Sunday nights. Tonight it has Plan A and it’s called Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds from 8.30 to 10.30pm. Ten has another attack of IFS, and Nine has What’s Good For You followed by Cold Case (Cold Cream!). It’s a repeat so Nine’s local drama series Two Twisted will be under pressure to hold its audience for the second week in a row. Ten also has the Emmys from 8.30pm. How underwhelming.