Waging Wa-Wa War. The Wa-Wa War resumes tonight on the Seven Network’s Today Tonight when intrepid host, Naomi Robson, returns to host the program after her jaunt to West Papua to try and “save” Wa-Wa. Nine’s Sunday program entered the story yesterday with an interview and this summation of the story on its website:

Sunday looks at the case of a young boy from the jungles of West Papua who this week has been at the centre of a remarkable media storm. According to a recent report on 60 Minutes, the six-year old boy, called Wa-Wa, had been “marked out” for a ritual killing sometime in the next ten years. His tribe is said to be “one of the last on Earth” to practice cannibalism. Enter the Seven Network’s Today Tonight host Naomi Robson, who — along with a crew and as academic involved in the original story — was determined to “steal her way” into the remote jungle and rescue the boy. The episode ended in farce. Robson was detained by Indonesian officials, amid accusations, which were strongly denied, that Channel Nine had used every trick in the tabloid playbook to stymie the yarn. Sunday talked to Bernadette McMenamin who is the CEO of Childwise, an international children’s rights organisation.

The transcript of that interview wasn’t on the Sunday website but what went to air was fairly straight up and down and certainly not as rabidly pro-Nine as TT’s two efforts were pro-Seven. Then last night, 60 Minutes, which broadcast the original story back in May, revisited it. Ms Robson returned at the weekend to all sorts of claims and counter-claims continuing between the Nine and Seven networks. So everyone from both networks and others involved in the story will be watching this evening to see what the program manages to toss up on its claims of interference from the Nine Network. Seven apparently has some more things to reveal about Nine, so will Nine return fire? What Nine has yet to explain is why it got involved in replying to Seven’s claims last week. It boosted the TT audience on Friday night. — Glenn Dyer

50th anniversary scorecard. The irony hasn’t been lost on old Nine employees. The weekend of the 50th Anniversary of TV in this country wasn’t marked by the first network on air, Nine; it was marked by its long-time and bitter rival Seven, which was the second network on air. And in a further insult to Nine, its programs, broadcast a week before the actual anniversary, attracted lower audiences than Seven’s three and a half hour effort last night. Seven’s program TV Turns 50 attracted 1.546 million across the night. Nine’s program last Sunday night, 50 Years, 50 Stars averaged 1.311 million and the repeat on Monday night of the program broadcast last year to mark the anniversary, 50 Years, 50 Shows, averaged 1.27 million. Several former long-time Nine employees say the regime of Sam Chisholm (former and most recent) would have programmed the Network’s celebrations for the weekend because it is Nine’s birthday, not Seven’s. With so many former Nine executives at Seven the move to pinch Nine’s birthday isn’t surprising. — Glenn Dyer

League struggles in footy finals ratings battle. Week two of the AFL and NRL Finals and the League is finding it tough to attract a national audience of a million or more in the six games played so far. All AFL finals so far have averaged more than a million viewers. The largest was on Friday night as the Fremantle Dockers knocked over Melbourne before 1.264 million people nationally. That was just 1,000 more than the national audience which watched the Swans play the Eagles. For the Freo-Melbourne game, 582,000 people watched in Melbourne and 369,000 in Perth. The NSW and Queensland audience were depressed by the game being delayed and being played live on Foxtel after Ten gave the pay TV operator the game for the two states and the ACT. Saturday night and the Weagles-Bulldogs game averaged 1.144 million with 457,000 watching in Melbourne and 386,000 in Perth. The Weagles are the most popular of the two Perth teams these finals so far. Friday night’s NRL game between St George and Manly averaged 902,000 people with 568,000 watching in Sydney and 261,000 in Brisbane. Saturday night’s game between The Brisbane Broncos and the Newcastle Knights averaged 788,000 with 387,000 watching in Sydney and 350,000 in Brisbane. This weekend the Swans and Freo go live on Friday night against the NRL first preliminary final involving Canterbury and Brisbane. The NRL will do better in Sydney and Brisbane, the AFL in Perth and to a lesser extent Melbourne and Adelaide. — Glenn Dyer

Nine wins another week. A win last week to the Nine Network off the back of the NRL finals Friday and Saturday night. That offset the better performance from Ten thanks to the AFL finals on the same nights. Ten won Friday night nationally, making it two nights for the network last week. It finished a close second on Saturday. Nine won with a share of 27.1% (29.1% a week earlier) to Seven on 26.7% (26.6%), Ten with 25.5% (23.1%), the ABC with 15.5% (16.4%) and SBS with 5.1% (4.8%). Nine won Sydney and Brisbane, Seven won Perth, but Ten won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth because of the AFL finals on Friday and Saturday nights and the involvement of Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne teams in the games. In regional areas Nine was the most popular network through its affiliates WIN/NBN. They ended with a share of 30.4% to 26.6% for Prime/7Qld, Southern Cross (Ten) finished on 21.6%, the ABC on 15.8% and SBS on 5.6% — Glenn Dyer

This week’s preview. Nine goes all happy anniversary with a special called 50 Years of Television News on tonight. It’s an opportunity for Nine to bring Brian Henderson out from retirement. Nine also premieres its long-awaited series called Rome, which is on at 9.30pm Wednesday. It has been edited down a bit because it went to air on US Cable and features some s-x scenes and gore. But while Nine is trumpeting Rome, the real highlight for many viewers will be the return of a new series of The Sopranos at 10.40pm. McLeod’s Daughters returns at 7.30pm as part of Nine’s gathering push to try and convince the advertising market that it has the audience numbers to justify holding its share of revenue for 2007. Next Sunday night sees Nine returning new eps of CSI and CSI: New York. It says series return in the programs but it’s nothing of the sort, it’s just Nine bringing back the new episodes that it has been sitting on, in order to begin its late year push for credibility (just as Seven has done in years gone by). Seven has the free to air premiere for Finding Nemo at 6.30pm Sunday night, which might just sneak the night for the network. Ten seems, according to ads on the weekend, to have shifted the weakened David Tench Tonight program from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Thursday night. That means its new US series Jericho will go to air at 8.30pm and not 9.30pm. Jericho is an experiment: it is going to air here just after it airs in the US. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Seven grabbed a rare Sunday night win this year last night with its TV Turns 50 extravaganza from Star City Casino in Sydney. it averaged 1.546 million and pushed the network to a clean sweep. Australian Idol was second for Ten with 1.537 million and Seven News had a podium finish (a rare event) for third with 1.477 million viewers. Nine News was 4th with 1.378 million and 60 Minutes was 5th with 1.279 million. Where Are They Now on Seven averaged 1.209 million as a warm-up to the TV Turns 50 program. Nine’s Prehistoric Park ends on 1.201 million, the first repeat of CSI on Nine at 8.30pm averaged 1.1872 million, the ABC’s entertaining The Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson averaged 1.061 million, the second repeat of CSI at 9.30pm averaged 1.022 million and the 7 pm ABC News averaged 1.007 million. Ten’s cheap as chips but entertaining duo It’s Me Or The Dog (7pm) averaged 916,000 and Meerkat Manor (6.30pm) averaged 893,000.

The Losers: Nothing significant. The Moto GP bike broadcast from Phillip Island attracted just 307,000 viewers for Ten from 11am to 5pm but it filled the day, the second part of Elizabeth on the ABC at 8.30 shed viewers like the former Queen shed suitors. It averaged 631,000 from 8.30 to 10.20, compared to more than 900,000 the week before for part one.

News & CA: Seven News had a Sunday night win. Shock, Horror! Nine was without any football on Sunday afternoon: The NRL Grand Final in a fortnight’s time will be the next and last time this year that Nine benefits. Seven News won Sydney, lost Melbourne, won Brisbane, lost Adelaide and won Perth. 60 Minutes finished third at 7.30pm behind Seven and Ten’s Australian Idol. Ten News At Five ended with 860,000 people, boosted by the bikes; the 7pm ABC News was solid. In the morning, Seven’s Sunday Sunrise easily outpaced Nine’s Sunday, as did Seven’s Sportsworld. Sunrise averaged 375,000 from 8am to 9.30am, Sportsworld, 323,000 from 9.30pm to 11am. Nine’s Sunday averaged 250,000, for the third of the new look formats. That was down a touch from last week when it started at 8am. My Business on Seven at 11am averaged 171,000, Business Success on Nine at 8.30am averaged 153,000, Insiders on the ABC at 9am, 117,000, Inside Business, 10am, 88,000, Meet The Press on Ten at 8am, 77,000, the highest for months and Offsiders on the ABC at 10.30am, a low 71,000. Landline on the ABC at noon, averaged 230,000.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 33.9% (22.0%) from Nine with 25.5% (32.8%), Ten with 22.4% (25.9%), the ABC with 14.9% (16.3%) and SBS, 3.3% (3.0%). Seven won all five metro markets and in regional areas Prime/7Qld won with a share of 35.9% from WIN/NBN with 25.3%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.5%, the ABC with 15.5% and SBS with 3.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Lots of mutual back patting at Seven and the viewers got the vote right by picking the 1969 moon landing as the biggest news event and not Diana’s wedding/funeral. September 11 was second. What will Nine’s 50 Years of TV News judge tonight with Brian Henderson out of the easy chair to remind everyone what Nine is still missing in Sydney? Tonight there’s Top Gear on SBS, the TV News thingie on Nine, Grey’s Anatomy on Seven, Australian Story and Enough Rope on the ABC and Idol on Ten.

Peter Fray

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