How desperate is Nine to fill its ratings schedule? Very, it would seem. Why else would it put to air the first episode of Survivor Cook Island series last night, three weeks after it started in the US? Local viewers here saw through that desperation and only 801,000 people watched the opening episode at 9.30pm. It was beaten by Seven’s Air Crash special (844,000) and Ten’s repeat of NCIS (1.193 million). Survivor ended the contrived “segregation” of contestants into separate tribes based on race, after the second episode. Four tribes of different racial groups were pitted against other from the start, but in its third episode, aired early last Friday morning in the US, the four groups were merged into two and integration was the order of the day. The producers said it was always planned to happen this way – so much for the TV promotions highlighting the shock and the race questions. It was all nonsense! — Glenn Dyer

Linnell swings the axe again. Gary Linnell, Nine’s News and Current Affairs boss, has swung the axe again, pensioning off the executive producer of the 6pm Sydney news bulletin, Graham Thurston. The reason remains a mystery, as under Thurston and his former boss, Tony Ritchie, the Nine News had staged a solid comeback this year to reclaim most of the ground it lost to Seven. Thurston has been punted from the job before (by Jim Rudder who ran Nine News and Current Affairs in 2003 and 2004) and ran Business Sunday until he was brought back to the 6pm news when Anthony Flannery failed as EP. Flannery, like Tony Ritchie, was an appointee of Sam Chisholm. Ritchie was flicked by Linnell/ McGuire for that reason and ended up at Fox Sports News running the new 24 hour sports news channel. It’s a pity Amanda Meade couldn’t get Linnell to comment on Jana Wendt’s departure from Sunday in her warm profile of Linnell and Nine News and Current Affairs in the Media section of The Australian today. Strange how there was no mention of the Wendt episode, as though it was a no go area! That was one of the more shameful examples of poor management at Nine this past year when the managers didn’t have the courage to tell Wendt she wasn’t wanted to her face. — Glenn Dyer

Webcke joins Seven, Voss in the mix. The Seven Network has snared former Brisbane Broncos front rower and Queensland sporting legend, Shane Webcke, as a reporter. Webcke retired on Sunday night on a high, helping Brisbane to victory in the 2006 premiership Grand Final. He had also been wooed by Nine but Seven offered him a sports reporting role and also one that will give him scope to appear on other programs on the network such as The Great Outdoors, Sportsworld, and Dancing with the Stars. Webcke is articulate, more so than some of the sports reporters and callers who commentated on his long and illustrious career in League. And TV people say keep an eye on Brisbane Lions captain, Michael Voss. He’s been doing work on QTQ 9 this year and wants to get into commentating on AFL when he finally ends his career. It is said by those in Teleland that now that Nine can’t offer him that avenue that he might be interested in working for Seven or Ten as both will have the AFL from 2007. Fox Sports and Foxtel might have been an option but that looks remote with both unable to come to terms with Ten or Seven for the new contract. — Glenn Dyer

It’s as good as gold. How quickly they forget, or doesn’t anyone at the Seven Network watch the NRL Footy Show, on Nine, even in the privacy of their own home? On Tuesday, Seven trumpeted a great new show called That’s Gold! which would join its under-performing Sunday night line-up from October 15 at 7.30pm. “Each episode of That’s Gold! takes the audience on a journey celebrating the most memorable moments in television’s 50 year history — ranging from comedy to sport, bloopers, drama and entertainment,” Seven’s released blared. “A stellar line-up of hosts has been confirmed for the series including MIKEY ROBINS, JO STANLEY, LARRY EMDUR, SONIA KRUGER, KATE RITCHIE, HOLLY BRISLEY, ERNIE DINGO, BRUCE McAVANEY and JOHANNA GRIGGS with more still to be announced,” the Seven release sprouted. Sounds like a version of Not Dancing With Stars! Well no sooner than it had been issued than the Nine Network calls started to remind everyone about a segment on the Thursday night Footy Show called “That’s Gold” with Paul Harragon. Nine complained and the program was renamed Good As Gold. And the idea itself? It’s just another version of Nine’s 20 to 1/What A Year – a cheap as chips nostalgia effort seen at the moment on Monday and Tuesday nights. Good As Gold will follow the disaster known as You May Be Right – which is now just filler material. And yet Seven refuses to say that You May be Right has been killed off. And of course we won’t mention The Master. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Damn those rating figures, damn them. By The Seven Network’s reckoning it won the ratings last night between 6 pm and midnight and by the Ten Network’s reckoning it won the “commercial share” battle with Seven and Nine from 6pm to 10.30pm, the so-called heart of the evening prime time. There’s a lot riding on these claims (network purity and the sanctity of the programming department’s reputation), but I reckon Seven won the battle simply because people don’t stop watching TV at 10.30pm and both Seven and Nine in particular are programming for the 10.30pm to midnight timeslot. Anyway Ten had the most watched program last night. Thank God You’re Here (or It Must Be Wednesday). Another 1.751 million viewers and daylight was second because the next most watched program on the list was Home and Away on Seven at 7pm with 1.367 million. It narrowly pipped Temptation with 1.343 million. Ten’s repeat of House averaged 1.311 million (school holidays so don’t waste a new ep) and Seven’s Forensic Investigators jumped sharply to average 1.306 million. Nine’s A Current Affair was next with 1.280 million and the ABC’s Spicks and Specks was next with 1.275 million. Nine News was eighth with 1.271 million and Seven News was next with 1.270 million. Today Tonight was tenth with 1.235 million. McLeod’s Daughters did an OK 1.212 million (but that’s low compared to earlier in the year) and Seven’s The Force at 7.30pm averaged 1.210 million,. Ten’s repeat of NCIS at 9.30pm averaged 1.193 million and Police Files, Seven, 8pm, averaged 1.186 million in 14th spot. CSI Miami, a new ep, was buried by Forensic and House at 8.30pm. it averaged just 1.174 million and Nine won’t be pleased. CSI Miami was the last program last night with a million or more viewers. Seven’s Crash of The Century averaged 844,000 at 9.30pm, Survivor Cook Islands 801,000 (bad)

The Losers: The ABC’s New Inventors, down to 727,000 viewers last night and the ABC’s 9pm program, The IT Crowd with 758,000 in its second ep. Bert was OK with 626,000 at 5.30pm. Ten News was low on 790,000 and Deal or No Deal was even lower with 748,000. Audience levels seemed a bit low from 5pm onwards.

News & CA: Nine News and ACA won last night nationally. Nine News won Sydney easily, Melbourne was closer, won Brisbane well, lost Adelaide and lost Perth. ACA lost Sydney to TT, won Melbourne easily, Brisbane easily, lost Perth and lost Adelaide. TT‘s losses in Melbourne and Brisbane were by 90,000 or more. It might be holidays but Naomi Robson seems on the nose in Melbourne, her home town. TT has been taking a battering from ACA for the past month or so on some nights. Ten News was low but the 7 pm ABC News managed 909,000 viewers. The 7.30 Report (677,000) was buried by Thank God. Sunrise, 480,000 viewers, easily beat Today‘s 253,000.

The Stats: Seven won from 6am to midnight with a28.6% share (23.6%), from Ten with 27.6% (26.2%), Nine with 25.7% (31.6%), the ABC with 14.7% (14.8%) and SBS with 3.5% (3.8%). Nine leads the week 30.2% to 27.6%. Nine won Brisbane, Ten won Melbourne (local heroes, Thank God is made there), Seven won Sydney and got up nationally because of a 13 point win in Perth, 37.7% to 24.5% for Ten.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Ten said it won the 6pm to 10.30pm commercial share with a figure of 34.1% for Total people, to 33.6% for Seven and 32.3% for Nine. And so it did: add in the ABC and SBS in the same period and Seven is the winner and of course Seven beat Ten 6 pm to midnight. These figures can’t disguise that without one-offs and CSI (the original) Nine has nothing left in its locker this year – or does it? Well, tonight we’ll see as RPA returns for season 12. It is by far the best of the reality programs on any network (or it was up to last year) Let’s see if the change of management at Nine has changed this fine program. Hopefully not (Eddie McGuire and his offsider, Jeff Browne wouldn’t know the first thing about making TV programs, apart from The AFL Footy Show). Seven has Celebrity Survivor, which is living out its own survival every Thursday night: gripping stuff.

Peter Fray

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