TV networks quite often “go through the motions” with calls about programs from the viewing public. The calls come often from people who identify closely with programs or presenters or the subject matter: quite often they are not representative.

But every now and then there’s a change in a program or presenter which brings a flood of moans and groans. Change in TV, commercial or public, is never easy. And so it was on Sunday when the new look Sunday program had its first run sans Jana Wendt.

First, there was a turn-on for the now axed Business Sunday at 8am: some 170,000 viewers were waiting for the program. According to the Nine reception phone log from Sunday morning – see it here – there were eight calls, mostly complaints, about the missing Business Sunday.

Nine’s audience fell as the replacement program on Ned Kelly continued up till 8.30pm when Your Business Success started (it averaged 133,000 viewers). That brought four complaints (“this is just paid advertising”).

Then from 9am, when 190,000 people had tuned into Nine, the phones ran hot: more than 80 people (the switch lost count) called to complain about the new look: where was Jana, Sunday was unique, what have you done, Kerry Packer would turn in his grave, knew it was going to be bad but not this bad, thought I was watching A Current Affair on Sunday morning, demeaning and inane, like Ellen Fanning but Ross Greenwood is boring.

There was also more than a dozen calls relating to various stories on Sunday, but for the rest of the day the calls were sparse: even for 60 Minutes there were only three calls.

Well over 100 calls, almost all of them critical, is heading towards Today show and Jessica Rowe territory when she started hosting earlier in the year. But the phone call that Nine management will take heart from is the one from James Packer who rang to congratulate the Network and the Sunday team on a great new show.

He definitely isn’t his father’s son when it comes to understanding TV.

Peter Fray

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