Q. When is the last episode of your favourite show not really the last episode of the season?

A. When it airs on Channel Nine.

On Wednesday 6 September, Channel Nine promoted and advertised that night’s episode of Without a Trace as the season finale. However, it was not in fact the final episode of the season. The episode that aired, “White Balance”, is the second last episode of season four of the popular American missing person series. The real season finale episode “Cross Roads” is yet to be scheduled by Channel Nine.

In another programming bungle by the network, the media programming guide has the Monday 25 September episode of Cold Case scheduled as the season finale but again it is not the true season finale. The episode on the 25th titled “The River” is the second last episode of season three. The real final episode of season three, titled “Joseph”, is yet to be scheduled by Channel Nine.

This is not a new programming practice by the Nine Network. Last year, Channel Nine advertised the second last episodes of most of its American dramas as season finales, including CSI, Without a Trace, The Closer, CSI: New York, CSI: Miami and Cold Case, infuriating viewers across the country. The real final episodes were played at the commencement of the 2006 season in February. In a media statement to launch the 2006 seasons, Channel Nine said that this practice would not occur this year and that the American dramas would be played with fewer interruptions and repeats.

This statement holds little credibility, evidenced with CSI: New York being pulled from the schedule (returns 24 September), Close to Home being pulled from the schedule, season finales being falsely advertised and Nine having played just 18 episodes of CSI in 28 weeks, making for many repeats and preemptions.
It is not known if this season finale bungle will occur with the rest of the CSI franchise as their seasons come to a close over the next two months. Investigations into the major series on Channels Seven and Ten show that complete seasons and correct season finales have been played so far this year. Publicity Manager at Nine, Jamie Campbell, was given one week to respond to this story and has chosen not to.