Did Australian Story claim an ABC scalp? One down, how many more to go at the ABC. Scott Meek, the head of ABC Drama is departing, citing unnamed “irreconcilable differences”. His departure (the fourth head of Drama to go in six years) follows the decision by the head of TV Science, Sonja Pemberton, to leave to return to Melbourne (where she could very well re-emerge working for the ABC but in a different role). Meek’s departure raises questions. ABC sources say it was over the 2007 drama, Bastard Boys, which was, or is, to be a dramatic interpretation of the 1998 waterfront dispute. The series has already got an airing on Monday night (Crikey 29/8/06) on an Australian Story profile of ACTU Secretary Greg Combet — making the profile look more like a commercial network plug for the drama. It did however feature a comment from Chris Corrigan, former Patrick CEO and one of the main protagonists in the dispute who wondered if the series would be a rewriting of history. Australian Story then allowed Combet to link the waterfront dispute in 1998 to the Federal Government’s WorkChoices industrial legislation. I wonder if Corrigan’s complaints, which Australian Story ran in the profile, were picked up by the right wing dominated ABC board — piquing its interest in the Bastard Boys enough that Kim Dalton felt it necessary to have a discussion with Meek which then turned into a confrontation and Meek’s departure? In its statement, issued Thursday afternoon, the ABC said: “The Director of Television Kim Dalton today announced that the ABC is seeking an amicable agreement for ABC Television’s Head of Drama Scott Meek to leave the Corporation. This decision was made as a result of irreconcilable differences.” Scott Meek was a Sandra Levy appointment. She’s back around the ABC as a consultant. Is there an old job waiting for her as head of Drama? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Australian Idol, semi final 4, “Verdict” was the top show with 1.333 million people tuned in. A low number and a low viewing night judging by the audiences for other programs. Seven’s Home and Away was number two with 1.315 million (which says something about the rest of the night!), Nine’s A Current Affair was next with 1.312 million, Seven News was next with 1.284 million, Today Tonight 1.252 million, National Nine News with 1.239 million, Temptation 1.225 million and Getaway down to 1.194 million for the regular hour program. That’s 150,000 or so less viewers than for the 90 minute show the previous week. Odd!. Seven’s My Name Is Earl was also down at 1.149 million. Two and A Half Men (from 8.30 to 9.30pm ) averaged 1.080 million and beat Seven’s Celebrity Survivor with 1.053 million.. The Footy Shows were the last shows with 1.005 million — making number 2 in Melbourne with 396,000, 13 in Sydney and off the dial in Brisbane where only 113,000 people watched.
 
The Losers: Celebrity Survivor lost more viewers and now under 1.1 million people by episode 3. Doing worse than Nine’s Dancing On Ice. The celeb craze is almost over I would say unless the talent are top drawer names. David Tench Tonight on Ten at 8.30pm with 819,000 after a strong Idol. It looks weak, but it did well in the 16 to 39 age group in the timeslot (second) and in the top 10 programs in the demographic. Bones for Seven at 9.30pm with 827,000. Again looks weak, but it will pick up when the Footy Shows finish and Seven is grooming it for next year for an 8.30pm timeslot. Bert’s Family Feud averaged 580,000, Deal Or No Deal 810,000 (which is a bit lowish).
 
News & CA: Seven News had to use its 117,000 viewer margin in Perth to score the national win by 45,000. Seven won Adelaide and Perth and drew with Nine in Brisbane. A Current Affair beat Today Tonight nationally and in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.  The 7pm ABC News averaged 930,000, The 7.30 Report, 831,000, Ten News at Five slipped under 800,000 viewers to 787,000.
 
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.1% (33.2% a week earlier) from Seven with 26.2% (29.0%), Ten was third with 20.6 (18.3%), the ABC was on 16.3% (12.7%) and SBS was on 6.7% (6.8%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Brisbane and Perth.Nine leads the week 29.6% to 27.2% for Seven. In regional areas WIN/NBN won for Nine with 32.6% share from Prime/7Qld with 26.6%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 18.6%, The ABC with 14.1% and SBS with 8.2%. The ABC’s share was high because the final ep of The West Wing averaged 615,000 viewers from 8.30pm to 9.20pm and the great doco, 9/11 The Falling Man averaged 898,000 from 9.20 to 10.35pm. That saw the ABC run second to Nine in the 9.30pm timeslot and beat Seven (Bones) and Ten (Law and Order.)
 
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Looking at that you’d wonder Nine won. The two and a half hours or so from 8.30pm to 9.30pm with the back to back episodes of Two and A Half Men and then the Footy Shows. Because the Footy Show bombed in Brisbane (beaten by Bones on Seven) and Celeb Survivor beat Two and A Half Men, Seven snuck home by 0.2%. In Sydney and Melbourne the Footy Shows made sure it was a Nine night. Getaway‘s drop was a bit odd, but the two previous weeks have been 90 minute one off glitzy specials, so viewers looked at what was on last night and said “no thanks”. That could mean tougher times for the program next year. Tonight it’s the last Friday night AFL game for Nine while there’s some interest in the NRL game for Parramatta fans: their team plays the North Qld Cowboys. The AFL game is between the Bulldogs and the Dons. Saturday night looks a great night for dancing, movies, a book and perhaps other things. Sunday afternoon sees the last AFL game on Nine for five years at least and naturally the Collywobbles are playing. Sunday night no CSI on Nine, it’s a movie: T3 with the Governor of California (and that’s not a share sale), against a movie on Seven called Under The Tuscan Sun and on Ten, a movie, Intolerable Cruelty. How very 60s and 70s, a Sunday night movie battle. Oh, it must be Network TV. What’s a DVD player?

Peter Fray

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