Ray bags another Irwin family exclusive. The Steve Irwin memorial industry rolls on with the Nine Network now boasting of its Australian exclusive interview next Wednesday with the widow, Terri Irwin and daughter Bindi. Ray Martin will be wheeled out for another prime time effort exploiting the Irwin fame for Nine’s gain. The network has made a payment to the Irwin charity. But why? Seven was never in the hunt because of the ill will towards the network from the family and manager John Stainton, which stems from when Irwin fed the croc with Baby Bob in his arms and Seven aired the footage. Ray’s doing well at the moment: stories for 60 Minutes and Sunday, the Irwin tribute a fortnight ago, another crack next week. He’s certainly justifying his big bucks! No boning room for our Ray at Nine. The deal came despite Nine’s insensitive playing of ads through its two replays of the Irwin memorial service at 5 to 6pm and then again from 6.30 to 7.30pm (it pre-empted A Current Affair and Temptation). More people watched Nine’s first broadcast than Seven, 727,000 vs. 612,000. Nine’s first replay attracted 801,000, compared to Seven’s (4.30 to 5.30pm) with 674,000, while the audience for the second replay at 6.30pm averaged 1.3 million viewers, just behind Seven’s combination of Today Tonight and Home And Away. With the exclusive in the bag it’s no wonder Nine ran the Irwin service three times yesterday. A sort of down payment perhaps? — Glenn Dyer

Battlelines drawn in NGV legal stoush. The legal stoush over conflict-of-interest allegations at the National Gallery of Victoria is shaping up to be an important test case on a broad range of issues, ranging from employment and privacy laws to intellectual property rights. The battle lines are now firmly drawn for the upcoming Federal Court trial involving the NGV and its estranged curator Geoffrey Smith. A crucial aspect of the case centres on the right of employees to claim confidentiality and copyright over information stored on their work computers The NGV has filed its response to Smith’s statement of claim in which he accuses his employer of denying him natural justice in its handling of an internal investigation into the curator’s involvement in his ex-lover’s art business. Smith was suspended on full pay in late July after the NGV’s investigation found he had a case to answer over allegations of serious misconduct. According to Karen Collier in the Herald Sun, the NGV filed documents in the Federal Court yesterday, in which it denies illegally suspending the curator. The gallery also denies its investigation was unfair and that it breached Smith’s privacy by seizing documents on his computer, including an extensive archive of prominent Australian artists, over which he is claiming exclusive ownership and copyright. The gallery asserts that Smith surrendered any rights to confidentiality or exclusive ownership by storing the material on his work computer. Given that the vast majority of office workers would have at least some personal material, such as emails, on their work computers, this dispute may well turn out to be something of a test case. The trial starts on 9 October and is expected to run at least five days. — Stephen Feneley

Alan Ramsey v Paul Keating. There’s no love lost between SMH columnist and veteran political reporter, Alan Ramsey, and former Prime Minister and Prince of Potts Point, Paul Keating. Last Saturday in the SMH, Ramsey gave Keating a right towelling for daring to complain about media policy under the Howard Government. Ramsey accused Keating of being hypocritical by pointing out how the media reforms in 1986-87 allowed Murdoch to snap up the Herald and Weekly Times. Keating replied in a letter to the SMH this week:

No one could say Alan Ramsey ever let facts spoil a well-honed set of prejudices. He said that as treasurer I let Rupert Murdoch buy the old Herald and Weekly Times group, and in doing so I did “bugger all” for media diversity at the time (“Rich, when an old seller blasts the sell-out”, September 16-17).

Wrong. Murdoch did acquire “the old” Herald and Weekly Times group, but under the rules I established, he had to sell the Channel Ten network, The West Australian newspaper, the Herald and Weekly Times’s enormous clutch of radio stations and all of its provincial newspapers, now owned by the O’Reilly APN group. Not a bad shot for media diversity, I should have thought.

Ramsey went on to say that I forced Granny Fairfax to sell her TV stations in Sydney and Brisbane. Wrong again. Granny tried to buy HSV7 in Melbourne from Murdoch’s Weekly Times stables, even though she owned The Age in Melbourne. Granny tried to break the law and was obliged to sell her stations to Robert Holmes a Court. She could have kept ATN7 in Sydney and Seven in Brisbane under the grandfathering provisions but she got too greedy. And too stupid. These are the facts.

Paul Keating, Potts Point — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Ten’s night, easily in the end as humour and some good drama, and a repeat proved superior to police on Seven and an Irwin-led state of programming confusion on Nine. Ten won from daylight, then Nine and Seven third. House was number one with 1.892 million from Thank God You’re Here (1.852 million), Nine News (1.560 million), Seven News (1.430 million), Today Tonight (1.411 million), Temptation (1.371 million – which was really Nine’s rebroadcast of the Irwin special from 6.30pm to 7.30pm, pre-empting ACA and Temptation). Ten’s NCIS averaged 1.345 million for a repeat, followed by Home and Away (1.325 million), A Current Affair (1.276 million – Steve Irwin again), Police Files (1.262 million), The Force (1.217 million), Spicks and Specks (1.216 million), McLeod’s Daughters (1.175 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.131 million), CSI Miami (1.025 million) and Forensic Investigators (1.019 million) was the 16th and last program with a million or more viewers last night.

The Losers: Rome for Nine, 770,000. Disappointments would have been the audiences for McLeod’s and CSI Miami. The ABC’s Spicks and Specks beat CSI Miami in the first half hour. The Force and Police Files for Seven from 7.30pm to 8.30pm: OK but not Tuesday night and following Border Security. Thank God is just too strong. Extras faded to black with 840,000 for the final ep on the ABC at 9pm.

News & CA: Nine News beat Seven News in every market bar Perth: The Irwin factor. Today Tonight beat the first half hour of the second replay of the Irwin service in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The Service won Sydney and Brisbane. ABC News had another strong night above one million viewers but as expected the program on Ten helped flatten The 7.30 Report‘s audience to 789,000. Sunrise (577,000) beat Today (3.50) from 7am to 9am.

The Stats: Ten won a share of 30.3% (32.7%)to Nine with 25.2% (19.0%), Seven on 24.7%,(29.1%) the ABC on 15.9% (15.1%) and SBS with 3.9% (4.0%).Ten won all markets bar Perth where Seven beat Ten. Seven still leads the week 30.3% to 25.7%. In regional areas a win to Nine with WIN/NBN getting a share of 29.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 26.1%, from Prime/7Qld with 25.2%, the ABC with 15.0% and SBS with 4.1%. Interestingly McLeod’s Daughters was the most watched program.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Last night wasn’t as bad at last Wednesday night (Remember Mothers In War and The Great Weight Debate?) for Nine, so any gains on the 19% share should be seen as a win, and moving from third to second likewise. But Nine probably had high hopes for last night. Unfortunately viewers didn’t share them. An average 1.3 million people watched the Irwin service pre-empt ACA and Temptation, only 1.175 million people watched McLeod’s Daughters on its return. That will be a big worry for Nine as it looks at next year. McLeod’s in a return ep should have done a lot better. Being pre-empted and moved around because of football commitments and other things during the year doesn’t help viewers, nor a changing cast or storyline. But the real dog on the night was Rome: much boasted about, Nine won’t be talking it up today. Just 770,000 viewers from 9.30pm to 10.40pm. Beaten by the ABC’s Glass House at 9.30pm with 812,000 until 10pm. Oh dear. Rome did beat Crossing Jordan on Seven from 9.30pm, but Ten’s repeat of NCIS blew them all away. The Sopranos returned last night with 460,000 viewers from 10.40pm. What was interesting was the way viewers watched Nine’s Irwin replay (many of whom should have been McLeod’s Fans) and then turned off. Nine lost around 300,000 viewers from the 6.30 to 7.30pm hour and the end of CSI Miami at 9.3 pm, which was also brought back last night. Nine’s lineup from 7.30pm last night was all new and returning programs all the way to 11.45pm. It basically flopped. Tonight, though, Nine will bounce back because of the Footy Shows, especially the AFL one which is doing very well in Melbourne as the finals gather pace. Ten has Jericho, an interesting idea of a program, at 8.30pm and David Tench and Ronnie Johns at 9.30pm onwards. Seven has Earl at 8pm and Celebrity Survivor at 8.30pm, Bones at 9.30pm. Getaway‘s numbers will be watched with interest to see if it rebounds from a couple of poor nights.

Peter Fray

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