Jana’s ready to rumble. Don’t believe the sort of stuff put around by the Nine Network about Jana Wendt not having the firepower to fight the network. The most recent of these stories was in Annette Sharp’s column in the Sun-Herald in Sydney on Sunday. Sharp said Wendt had only received $1.25 million from the settlement of the legal case against Seven over the Witness program and that as most of this was chewed up in legal fees, Wendt wouldn’t have the financial firepower to fight Nine. What Ms Sharp doesn’t know and what has been confirmed with legal sources is that Wendt indeed received $1.25 million as a settlement: but the breakdown was interesting. Her legal costs amounted to $200K or so, give or take a few thousand bucks. But the remaining $1 million in damages were so-called “classified damages” which in legal speak means they can’t be taxed. In effect (in after tax terms) that’s a $2 million pre-tax payment and more than enough ammunition to employ Sydney’s highly regarded Hamer legal firm and Tom Hughes. Wendt’s reported to be hoping to have more talks with Nine about her future this week, but don’t hold your breath waiting for any successful conclusion. — Glenn Dyer

More names for the GTV job. More chat about who will replace Paul Waldren at GTV 9 in Melbourne. Wishful thinking at Willoughby has Jeff Browne, network No.2 and close mate (and manager) of Eddie McGuire heading back down south to the land of the AFL, a short half head ahead of that other GTV import, Cos Cardone. Then there’s the Gary Pert rumour (Collingwood director and Austereo boss in Melbourne). But the most probable is this rumour which has reached our eyes: “Strong rumour is circulating that Channel Nine have been in discussions with Doug Edwards, Chief Operating Officer of the Prime Television Network with regard replacing Paul Waldron as Managing Director of Channel Nine Melbourne.” Prime is Seven’s regional affiliate outside of Queensland. I hope he’s asking for danger money. — Glenn Dyer

Brisbane Extra host departs. Rick Burnett, the host of the Nine’s Brisbane Extra is leaving. He confirmed rumours in Brisbane of his impending departure by sending this email around QTQ9 earlier this week: “Word is getting around that I am leaving ch9 and Extra.. It is true, there are changes occurring and I am not part of them, sadly. Kath and the Extra team will always be held in the utmost respect by me.. but I am looking forward to a serious change of lifestyle. It’s been a great ride, and I’ll catch up with you as I do the rounds of the station before I depart. Anyone owing me money can keep it.. if I owe you money, i’m keeping it… Rick.” He has been host of the 5.30pm program since it started in the late 80s. It is the only program, of its kind to survive. All Nine stations had an Extra style program at 5.30pm as a way of trying to cover minor local news before the main 6pm bulletin. — Glenn Dyer

Will Ice be back? Does 1.377 million viewers across two hours get Dancing On Ice back on Australian TV screens in 2007? It depends: if Nine has some other good shows, the answer is nope. If they are desperate and need product, the answer is a maybe, if around $2 million in costs can be cut from the $10 million budget. But the final last night wasn’t the smash success that the final of Dancing With The Stars on Seven is. No two million plus audience. It was a muted end to a program that didn’t fire. The winner was Jake Wall and his partner. Jake Wall isn’t even in TV: he’s famous for being the handbag for former Miss Universe and now Seven personality, Jen Hawkins. Nine’s favourite, Karl Stefanovic (Today Show co-host) was dumped by the judges — no fairy tale promotable endings for Nine. It was a modest outcome for a program that never rose to any great heights and featured a pain killer as the main sponsor. With all the injuries sustained before and during its run, not even the supposed benefits of the sponsor’s product could ease the pain among competitors and for Nine. — Glenn Dyer

Cementing Wed nights. The Seven Network’s move to push The Force out into Wednesday nights is aimed not only at anchoring that night for Seven with a strong program, but also to allow Seven to bring Medical Emergency back into its Tuesday night schedule. With Nine’s Dancing On ice ending last night, that Network is now missing a major program on Tuesday night. The Force did well again last night, averaging more than 1.9 million viewers (off around 200,000 on the opening, but Border Security was down under the 2 million mark). Seven will be running the old time and pairing of Border Security at 7.30pm and Medical Emergency at 8pm. On Wednesday night The Force will go to air at 7.30pm and another program called Police Files will air at 8pm. Ten returns Thank God You’re Here next Wednesday night at 7.30pm so the clash in the first half hour will be classic. Thank God is Ten’s most successful program this year and attracted more than 1.8 million viewers in its first season earlier this year. — Glenn Dyer

Record profit? Sack staff anyway. APN News and Media have a good year, a great year in fact, they recently announced a record half year profit of A$72.1 million, up 9%… but that didn’t stop them from sacking nineteen newsroom staff members from Coffs Harbour to Rockhampton, citing economic reasons for staff shedding. According to our source, staff members were told by management first thing in the morning that there’d be cuts but were forced to work and wait all day until they were told exactly whose heads were on the chopping block… — Sophie Black

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tuesday night is Seven’s night but Nine was a close second, but the Dancing On Ice finale wasn’t the final burst of success for Nine. Border Security was first with 1.981 million, The Force was next with 1.956 million, then Seven News (1.460 million), All Saints (1.420 million) and Today Tonight (1.415 million). Then came Nine’s Temptation (1.412 million), just ahead of its 7pm rival, Home and Away (1.391 million). The final of Dancing On Ice averaged 1.377 million (no bubble at Nine for that one today), the repeat of CSI at 9pmish averaged 1.368 million (it would have been embarrassing if the CSI repeat had beaten the Ice Dancing!). A Current Affair was 10th with 1.359 million and Nine News with 1.338 million. The third Semi-Final of Idol averaged 1.18 milion and the 7pm ABC news averaged 1.033 million as the 12th program with a million or more viewers. Ten’s The Wedge finished at 991,000 for a nice perk up and Real Stories following at 9 pm averaged 925,000. Seven’s Crossing Jordan averaged 936,000 at 9.30 pm. Rove averaged 875,000.

The Losers: None really. The Closer on Nine was down at 853,000 at 10pm because of the skating show (gee it went on and on) which pushed CSI in repeat back a touch. Next week CSI’s back to 8.30 and The Closer is back at 9.30pm which should see a better audience. The Third semi final of Idol fell by more than 200,000 from Monday night. That Idol Fatigue Syndrome emerging? Bert was on 639,000, about normal, Ten News was on 891,000, Deal Or No Deal was on 880,000.

News & CA: Seven News needed a big win in Perth for the national victory last night. Seven News was by 122,000 nationally and 137,000 in Perth. Seven won Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and Brisbane. Today Tonight was in a similar situation: a national win by 56,000, a Perth win by 103,000. TT won Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and Brisbane.Sunrise beat Today by 200,000, 476,000 to 276,000. The 7.30 Report averaged 682,000, crushed by the force of Border Security, Idol and the Ice Dancing.

The Stats: Seven won with 31.1%(34.3%) from Nine with 29.9%(28.3%), Ten with 21.3% (20.3%), the ABC with 13.5% (13.4%) and SBS with 3.9% (3.7%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Adelaide and Perth by 12 points, which kicked it home nationally (that old story in news and current affairs from 6 pm to 7 pm). Nine actually almost snuck the night despite the strength of Border Security and The Force. In regional areas, Nine did win through WIN/NBN with a share of 31.7%, from Prime/7Qld with 30.7%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 20.2%, the ABC with 12.7% and SBS with 4.7%. Nine leamillds the week, 30.1% to 28.4% for Seven.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: No more Dancing On Ice, which will relieve many at Nine who were wondering with all the injuries if WorkCover would been a better sponsor than a well known painkiller. Tonight, more Idol on Ten (wake me please!), repeats of House and NCIS, Hey Hey By Request is back in at 7.30 pm (in Sydney at least – McLeod’s Daughters must be in catch up elsewhere in Australia). Without a Trace and Krakatoa: The Last Days at 9.30pm. Seven has Forensic Investigators and Crossing Jordan after Beyond Tomorrow, while the ABC has Spicks and Specks and the unexciting Extras.

Peter Fray

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