Naomi pours her heart out. Dame Naomi Robson, knighted for her efforts in West Papua last week, returned last night to give us her side of her trip into the Heart of Darkness. Naomi told around 1.3 million viewers that she has been subjected to “hurtful and stressful” attacks over her attempt to rescue Wa-Wa. But as hurtful as these attacks have been, she showed admirable restraint by not indulging once again in her network’s barrage of attacks on rival Wa-Wa interpreters, the Nine Network. In fact Nine was totally omitted from Naomi’s commentary, a sign that Seven management realises that’s no longer the way to go. Ms Robson said she had been “pilloried and endured considerable personal attacks over this story”. “I’m not going to deny it’s been hurtful and stressful,” she told her TV audience. “But please let’s not lose sight of the real story here. It’s a story of a six-year-old orphan who we were trying to help. We went in there with the best of intentions and I’d do it again in a heartbeat because at the end of the day this about saving Wa-Wa’s life. We wanted to help him. We still do and it won’t stop here.” Far be it from me to contradict the host, but the “real story” here was her self-glorification and the credibility of Seven and Today Tonight. TT beat ACA on Thursday and Friday night last week and last night when the story was running. That’s the bottom line. If there was no chance of it having a ratings impact, Wa-Wa would still be a videotape memory in a 60 Minutes story from last May and Naomi would have been gushing over some other yarn that was a ratings winner. For a good rundown of the whole tawdry episode, check out last night’s Media Watch. — Glenn Dyer

Minister for the ABC to deliver Andrew Olle Lecture. There have been some memorable Andrew Olle Memorial Lectures, the premier media commentary platform in Australia each year. Who could forget Steve Vizard’s oleaginous effort back in 1999 or the smarmy righteousness of John Alexander when he was posing as the “spurned” editor in exile from the Sydney Morning Herald the year before (just before he jumped into bed with the Packers). But the ABC has exceeded itself with its guest lecturer this year: rather than go for a media professional or operator, they have gone for a pollie, the Minister for the ABC, Senator Helen Coonan, whose proposed changes to media law will do serious damage to media diversity in this country. Fancy selecting a politician who believes she’s acting in the consumer’s interest by allowing the entrenched position of the free to air networks to continue by giving them access and involvement in the two new digital broadcasting licences, while prohibiting a fourth commercial TV network. She’s also helped the networks with the anti-siphoning laws which have discriminated against Foxtel (not that it needs any help with the likes of News Ltd, PBL and Telstra as its owners). The ABC’s local radio station in Sydney, 702, which runs the Lecture, announced Coonan’s selection yesterday:

702 ABC Sydney Manager Roger Summerill said: “702 ABC SYDNEY is extremely pleased to have Senator Helen Coonan delivering the Andrew Olle Media Lecture this year. As Minister for Communications, Senator Coonan is responsible for the current proposals to reform the media ownership laws in Australia – at a time when the new digital age is presenting media organisations with many opportunities and challenges. This makes the Minister a timely and fitting speaker at this prestigious media event.

No it doesn’t, it makes her unfit because she doesn’t understand the need for diversity in the media. Her idea that diversity can be reduced to a number of “voices” is absurd. — Glenn Dyer

Nine loses again in the 50 year celebration stakes. The Nine Network has gone to the 50 years of TV well one too many times: last night’s effort on TV news, hosted by an out of retirement Brian Henderson, did badly at 7.30pm. It averaged just 1.086 million and was beaten by Ten’s Australian Idol and Seven’s The Great Outdoors, which had its highest audience for more than six weeks. That performance brings to three the number of 50 Year specials which have been moderate performers for Nine: the first, 50 years-50 Stars averaged 1.3 million; the second, 50 Years-50 Shows averaged 1.2 million and now the low performing news special. In contrast, Seven celebrated Nine’s birthday with a special which averaged more than 1.5 million viewers. But a reader has written to chastise me for saying yesterday that this wouldn’t have happened under Sam Chisholm. As the reader says, Nine’s lacklustre 50 year celebrations “happened BECAUSE of Chisholm”:

When he arrived as interim CEO last year, one of the first things he did was decree that Nine didn’t emphasise the fiftieth anniversary.

Program makers had been excited about making a mark given Nine’s prominent role over the period.

Chisholm told them not to be “f-cking stupid”. We don’t want to emphasise – in this era of multiple digital platforms – that our medium is so old, was Sam’s logic.

He then gave the assembled senior executives a lecture about how he – and only he – knew about the future and they were all troglodytes.

How ridiculous it was, he told them, to make a big deal our of the anniversary. Didn’t they have ANY strategic nous?!

So all the programs and preparations for a big Nine carnival (under way under Gyngell, Clark, Pallister and now all gone) were put back in the drawer – and more modest acknowledgements planned.

Chisholm also was the genius behind getting in early with the 50 years-50 Shows program last year. He thought no-one else would bother after that. Seven proved that wrong in spectacular fashion.

Anyone who’s worked in TV knows the lead-in time to such programs – and know that for Nine to have laid it on as thick as Seven they would have had to commission their programs/celebrations while Chisholm was still at Willoughby.

Some of the Nine old timers (and Dyer) should forget about trying to deify Chisholm – just to beat up the current regime (it provides enough of its own ammunition!).” — Glenn Dyer

Nine fails southern fans on NRL finals. What’s stopping the Nine Network from following Ten’s lead and showing some generosity to the few Rugby League fans in southern states when the NRL preliminary finals are played this weekend? It’s either arrogance or ignorance by the network and the NRL that they are deliberately neglecting to provide some live coverage of both games across Australia. And it doesn’t have to be live on Nine after Ten gave its live coverage of some AFL finals for NSW, Qld and the ACT to Foxtel. Ten showed the games later in the night in those markets. Ten’s thinking was that by doing this it keeps the hounds at bay during the Government’s consideration of changes to the anti-siphoning laws and did the right thing by fans. But why can’t Nine do the same and why have the News Ltd papers across the country not got stuck into the network and the NRL for not forcing a deal with Foxtel? The answer would have to be too many conflicts of interest: News owns 25% of Foxtel and half of the NRL, News also owns half of Premier Media which runs the two – soon to be three – Fox Sports channels on Foxtel. Fox Sports plays the NRL games on delay during the finals (and has its own NRL games in the home and away season). For several years now it’s been a source of annoyance and frustration that fans of the Melbourne Storm can’t see the finals live in Melbourne on Nine, though they will this Saturday night when the Storm play St George Illawarra. But what about the Friday night final between Brisbane and Canterbury? It doesn’t start until 12.40am in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth! Foxtel will have to wait until that’s finished before it can show the game. Nine argues (as Ten did with its AFL decision) that the games in question would rate poorly and cost money in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. This is a perfect example of why the anti-siphoning laws are bad, but also why they are needed and why the current changes to the media laws on ownership and control are short-sighted and not in the interests of viewers and consumers. — Glenn Dyer

Media leaks at Kovco inquiry? There’s been a bit of interesting media management going on at the Kovco inquiry this morning where Private Jake Kovco’s wife Shelley has been making a statement. Proceedings were adjourned this morning while journalists were searched due to suspicions that a live feed of Shelley Kovco’s speech was being leaked to Sky news. Board of Inquiry public affairs officer Chantel Llora told Crikey the search was routine. But Sky News CEO, Angelos Frangopoulos, said it was news to him and no footage of Shelley Kovco had gone to air. “I don’t know what Defence is talking about. This is very bizarre. We don’t have anyone at the Kovco inquiry. The only live coverage that has appeared on Sky news has been the coverage of the State funeral of Peter Brock.” According to one disgruntled journalist at the inquiry, the army PR machine is working overtime to minimise the negative impact of anything Shelley Kovco might say. Journalists watching via a video link in a media room 100 metres away have been unable to see Shelley Kovco’s face due to a strategically placed water jug between her and the camera. — Misha Ketchell

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Another poor night for Nine, another good night for Seven, as Monday nights have become. Grey’s Anatomy was number one with 1.716 million viewers, Australian Idol‘s Verdict show was second with 1.514 million, Home and Away was third with 1.455 million and then Seven News (1.444 million) and Today Tonight (1.380 million). Nine News was sixth with 1.278 million, A Current Affair was on 1.267 million, (low compared to previous Mondays as host Tracy Grimshaw returns). Seven’s The Great Outdoors bounced to 1.267 million (higher than recent shows), Nine’s Temptation (7 pm) was lowish on 1.221 million and the new episode of Cold Case at 8.30pm averaged only 1.168 million. So much for running repeat after repeat for the past five or six weeks. Enough Rope with Andrew Denton averaged 1.096 million thanks to Jamie Oliver and a repeat of a Peter Brock interview; Nine’s 50 Years of TV News staggered into 12th place with 1.086 million and the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.002 million. Seven’s 9.30pm program, Criminal Minds, averaged 989,000, while Nine’s Two Twisted sank to 548,000. Denton’s program won the 9.30pm timeslot.

The Losers: Two Twisted big time, Nine’s TV News retrospective but not Bert’s Family Feud which averaged 617,000, Deal Or No Deal on Seven averaged 878,000, Ten News At Five, 904,000. Top Gear for SBS was a winner at 7.30 pm, averaging 705,000.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight both won nationally. Seven News had a clean sweep, odd for a recent Monday night when Nine has usually been stronger. Seven News won Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. (Did flicking the long time weather man in Brisbane on Nine, John Schluter, after 17 plus years, for a younger man, Joseph May, have anything to do with it?). Today Tonight won nationally by 102,000 and around 101,000 in Perth. It won Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. ACA won Melbourne and Brisbane. Wa-Wa helped but was a diversion.Compared to the News, TT struggled last night especially in Melbourne where it and Naomi Robson are based. That says something about the viewers’ opinion of the program and her at the moment. Tracy Grimshaw and some at Nine won’t like the comparison of ACA with Karl Stefanovic fronting it over the previous fortnight. ABC News did well but The 7.30 Report averaged 785,000. It will be hit again tonight by Border Security on Seven. Media Watch averaged 774,000, Four Corners, a low 642,000. Sunrise beat Today easily.

The Stats: Seven with 30.1% (31.9% a week earlier), from Nine, 24.1% (28.1%, Ten on 22.5% (19.9%), the ABC with 16.3% (16.6%) and SBS with 7.0% (6.2%). Seven won all five metro markets markets. In regional areas though a win to Nine with its affiliates WIN/NBN on a 28.1% share from Prime/7Qld with 26.5%, Southern Cross(TEN) with 22.2%, the ABC with 15.8% and SBS with 7.5%.,

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine paid the price of not having a strong lineup to help the returning new ep of Cold Case. It was the News, ACA, Temptation and Cold Case and then the TV News special. It was a poor night which allowed Seven’s The Great Outdoors to pick up (rumours continue that it will not be seeing 2007, or if it is it will be changed). Seven and Ten just had better, more appealing programs, and so did the ABC at 9.30pm. And tonight? I’m afraid another belting for Nine from Seven’s lineup of Border Security, Medical Emergency and All Saints. Nine has a new 20 to 1 at 7.30pm, a repeat of CSI at 8.30pm and a new ep of The Closer. Ten has a weak night aimed at 16 to 39s with The Wedge and Real Stories the highlights followed by Rove Live at 9.30pm. Actually the Simpsons repeats tonight are the highlights on Ten. Seven leads the week 32.0% to 24.8% for Nine.

Peter Fray

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