Same old story at the “new” Fairfax. New name, new headquarters but awful results: the tap dancing at the Fairfax Media empire is in full swing this week. The new name for John Fairfax will be Fairfax Media as reported in The Age today: “John Fairfax Holdings will call itself Fairfax Media as it seeks to rebrand itself as an integrated online and publishing company. The launch of the new identity comes before the release of its full-year results on Thursday, which media analysts tip will show a decline in earnings.” The new HQ was revealed in a small single column story in The SMH, complete with a picture of the low rise building. The paper said the company was negotiating with property group, Mirvac, to move from Darling Park, where it had been for 11 years, to the nearby suburb of Pyrmont. And the Fairfax results? Well, they are out in a day or so and the company has already guided investors to a figure for earnings before interest and tax in the range of $420 million to $430 million. Fairfax earned around $425 million on an ebit basis in 2005. — Glenn Dyer
No FTA coverage for Rugby World Cup? Next year’s Rugby World Cup might not be seen on free to air TV in Australia because Nine and Ten don’t seem to be interested. Seven doesn’t need the event because it has the AFL and the V8 Supercars next year, and much of the rugby will be out of prime time and late at night or in the early hours of the morning. A few months ago I reported that Nine had the coverage in the bag after a deal was struck between Sam Chisholm, then CEO of Nine, his sports rights adviser, Lynton Taylor (since sacked by PBL head office) and sports rights negotiators, IMG. But once Chisholm and Taylor left, no one from the Eddie McGuire management team called IMG to finish the deal. Then Ten was approached and expressed interest — a sum of $10 million was mentioned and IMG was confident it had a deal for Australia, but now I hear it is having trouble getting Ten to sign on the dotted line. There’s always Foxtel, or rather Fox Sports — it’s just the thing for Fox Sports Three next winter. — Glenn Dyer
Another lapse of judgement at Oz Story. Australian Story was at it again last night with a profile of ACTU secretary, Greg Combet. It wasn’t as objectionable as the free plug for Mark Bouris and his mates at GE Money but it had quite a few rather unfortunate moments. The most notable was the free plug for an upcoming ABC program on the 1998 waterfront dispute called The Bastard Boy, which is in production in Melbourne and due to air next year. Don’t tell me the ABC was short of vision from the waterfront dispute — Four Corners has reams of it, as do the 7.30 Report and ABC News. A profile of Combet can be justified; he is a significant industrial and political figure. But to stick in a crude plug for an ABC program about a controversial event on the waterfront was tacky. No wonder Chris Corrigan, who was Combet’s antagonist in the dispute (and last night’s profile), called it a rewriting of history. The MUA certainly had no objections to Corrigan after the dispute. Combet won’t admit it but the waterfront has been peaceful, prosperous and efficient. He lost me when he linked the waterfront to the WorkChoices legislation. After the Bouris profile and a disputed three part investigation into some murder charges in Perth, Australian Story is looking a bit rocky. Long time EP, Deb Fleming, is on leave. Unfortunately she is needed back at head office in Brisbane to bring some rigour back to the program. — Glenn Dyer
Sunday producer jumps to ABC. Ben Hawke, the highly regarded TV producer who is trying to make the new look Sunday program work, is jumping networks to return to a high profile job at the ABC. ABC sources say he will become the executive producer of The 7.30 Report, replacing the highly regarded Steve Taylor who has gone off on a year’s sabbatical. He will start at the ABC in early October, so he will be around to bed down the Sunday revamp. Hawke is no stranger to the ABC: he worked on Australian Story for a number of years. He has been odd jobbing around Nine for much of the past year or so and seemed to be settled at 60 Minutes until he was sent to Sunday in late June to handle the revamp after Eddie McGuire and Gary Linnell got rid of Peter Hiscock, the only producer at the program who could have put the new look together. Hawke has apparently faced frustrations from the undermining of Jana Wendt to indecision by Nine management about hosts and the new look. A major problem is handling the move from a single presenter to having three people on the set at any one time: that has camera, lighting and studio staffing problems. More rehearsals are being held this week, but Hawke has made his choice about future employment and it’s not with Nine. — Glenn Dyer
Another Eddie mate taking over at GTV9? So who will take Paul Waldren’s job running GTV9 in Melbourne? Some kind souls suggest it might be Cos Cardone, who went to Sydney with Eddie to be head of Light Entertainment but has yet to leave his mark. But Nine people at GTV have confirmed that Gary Pert, a director of the Collingwood Football Club, was seen at GTV yesterday. Pert is currently running Austereo’s radio interests in Melbourne, so he would know the Melbourne ad sales scene well enough to handle that important part of the GTV9 job. And Eddie would be happy because he would have someone he knows running the show back in Melbourne. And Paul Waldren? He might be going to Full Circle, a company funded by advertisers, or starting out on his own. He is now said to have quit because he saw increasing interference from Sydney with the way he was running Melbourne and that could only refer to Nine CFO Brent Cubis, chief operating officer Ian Audsley and their master, Paul O’Sullivan, the chief operating officer of PBL. Waldren’s complaints echo those voiced by David Gyngell last year when he upped and walked from Nine. — Glenn Dyer
Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: As expected the Seven Network bounced back last night on the back of Grey’s Anatomy (1.803 million viewers) and Criminal Minds which easily won the 8.30 to 10.30pm timeslots. Ten’s second semifinal of Australian Idol was second with 1.532 million at 7.30 pm, Today Tonight was third with 1.527 million, followed by Seven News with 1.507 million. Nine’s A Current Affair was fifth with 1.494 million viewers, Temptation with 1.468 million was next, Home and Away was very close behind at 7pm with 1.465 million. Nine News in eighth spot with 1.445 million, the repeat of Cold Case at 8.30 pm with 1.290 million, Seven’s Criminal Minds at 9.30 pm with 1.244 million was tenth. Seven’s Great Outdoors was 11th with 1.162 million, Nine’s What’s Good For You with 1.123 million (that’s down a surprising 200,000 or so on the previous Monday night) and the ABC News at 7pm was 13th and last with 1.002 million viewers on average.
The Losers: Nine’s Two Twisted: down to 794,000 (831,000 the previous Monday). Fading fast, Nine’s policy these past two Mondays of running a repeat of Cold Case ahead of it hasn’t helped. Bert’s Family Feud averaged 625,000, average for a Monday, Deal or No Deal picked up to 900,000 for Seven at 5.30 pm, Ten News at Five won the hour averaging 933,000. Ten’s broadcast of the Emmys from just after 8.30 pm averaged just 690,000.
News & CA: Seven News won because of a 115,000 margin in Perth. Its national margin was 62,000. Today Tonight won nationally by just 33,000 and beat A Current Affair in Perth by 92,000. Nine News won Sydney and Brisbane, Seven won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. TT won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. ACA won Sydney and Brisbane. The 7pm ABC News was strong, likewise The 7.30 Report with 856,000. Media Watch at 9.15pm or thereabouts averaged 756,000, Four Corners, 760,000, Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope with main guest Lily Tomlin averaged 889,000, a bit down on the Mike Willesee interview from a week earlier. (God rates?). Sunrise beat Today, 436,000, to 291,000 which is a bit more than usual for the Nine product.
The Stats: Seven won with a share of 31.1% (30.9% a week earlier) from Nine on 25.1% (25.9%), Ten on 21.5% (21.9%), The ABC with 16.0% (16.6%) and SBS 6.3% (5.4%) Nine leads the week 30.2% to 27.0% for Seven. Seven won all markets and in Adelaide and Perth, Nine was third after Ten.In the bush, Win/NBN were narrow winners for Nine with a share of 28.8% from Prime/7Qld on 28.2%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 20.0%, the ABC with 15.7% and SBS with 7.2%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Grey’s Anatomy does it for Seven and Criminal Minds is coming along nicely, will finish well this year and back up again an hour early next year I think. Nine is running dead on Monday nights and ruining Two Twisted. Ten is depending on Idol, but next week reinforcements arrive in the shape of Thank God You’re Here. Tonight it’s Border Security, The Force and then All Saints up against the rest. Seven’s night. The Force moves to Wednesday nights next week.