AFL on SelecTV? A tip from a Crikey reader says to watch for AFL rights talks between Channels Seven and Ten and the pay-tv platfom SelecTV, which has the backing of Bruce Gordon’s millions (in Bermuda). It would make sense for SelecTV – rapidly increase their subscriber base. Makes sense for Stokes – he wouldn’t have to give it to Foxtel. — Glenn Dyer

Desai wins Booker prize. The British bookies’ 5/1 outsider Kiran Desai was announced last night as this year’s winner of the £50,000 Man Booker prize with her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss. The Indian-born novelist beat out Australians Kate Grenville and MJ Hyland, the first Australian women to be nominated for the prize. Grenville’s The Secret River and Hyland’s Carry Me Down were both given good chances of becoming the fourth Australian winner in what was considered among the most open Bookers ever. But it was Desai’s novel, a story “replete with sadness over globalisation and with pleasure at the surviving intimacies of Indian village life,” that won the judge’s hearts. According to The Guardian, at her first attempt Desai, 35, not only became the youngest woman to win but achieved a victory which repeatedly eluded her mother. The acclaimed novelist Anita Desai – to whom The Inheritance of Loss is dedicated – has been shortlisted three times for the prize. Desai spent eight years writing her book, reports The Telegraph, and the judges praised the novel for its “breadth of wisdom” and “comic tenderness”. — Sophie Black

The man behind Dr Ameer Ali. ABC radio’s Stephen Crittenden interviewed Dr Ameer Ali on the Religion Report this morning to discuss the controversial comments that he made about Mohammad last week. Sheik Hilaly, the head of Lakemba Mosque in Sydney’s southwest, had said Dr Ali’s “defamatory” remarks were akin to those that in 1989 earned Rushdie a fatwa from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. During the interview, Ali retracts from his comments about Mohammad, but listen carefully to the second half of the interview – Ali audibly has someone over his shoulder telling him how to answer questions about his relationship with Sheikh Hilaly. “I don’t know about you but I had the peculiar sensation that I was interviewing two Dr Alis there,” says Crittenden. — Sophie Black

ABC “radicals” get their pay rise. So will those “radicals” at the ABC continue their industrial action now that negotiations have produced a sweetened offer from management? You will remember that ABC staff went on strike for 24 hours last month. Now an email from the ABC’s Chief Operating Officer, David Pendleton, sent late yesterday, reveals the new offer of a 12% increase over three years (that’s 4% a year), which is what the latest national wages index from the ABS indicates has happened to wages over the past year. And it almost matches the headline inflation rate in the June quarter CPI: the ABC unions wanted the increase to cover that figure. Of course they won’t give back any pay rise when the CPI starts easing over the next year now that petrol prices are falling. — Glenn Dyer

More changes at Today Tonight. Illness has seen Craig McPherson, the newly returned executive producer of Today Tonight, forced to take sick leave. This has meant the former EP, Neil Mooney, has had to return to the program sooner than expected. Mooney was appointed to head up 7Queensland’s regional TV business just over a month ago and McPherson, who was a former EP, was brought back to the role. As part of the deal to run 7Queensland, Mooney undertook to maintain a watching brief at Today Tonight, which will now become more active. Seven sources say McPherson’s return is unknown at this stage. Meanwhile, Seven staffers at Martin Place are watching the swap of day time newsreading roles with interest. Anne Sanders, who reads the morning news at 10.30am is on leave and Mike Amor has been switched from the 4.30pm bulletin. Sam Armytage has been dropped into the 4.30pm to see whether she can arrest a recent weakness in viewer numbers. — Glenn Dyer

Nine screws Sopranos fans again. The Nine Network has once again duded fans of The Sopranos: it’s not on tonight and will re-appear on Monday nights from 12.05am (actually early Tuesday morning). The new series started well with more than 400,000 viewers but then lost ground. The show has never taken off with Australian viewers (nor did Six Feet Under). From memory, three of the 12 eps have been to air, but the program wasn’t helped by having dud lead-ins from the likes of Survivor: Cook Islands. Tonight Nine is showing Comedy In, a local comedy program, at 10.30pm. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Another lower than expected audience for Seven’s Dancing With the Stars and another big win for Seven. Dancing was watched by 1.770 million (it’s the most watched program on TV this year according to Seven). Home and Away was second with 1.431 million, followed by Seven News (1.413 million), Today Tonight (1.358 million), All Saints (1.245 million), Nine News (1.212 million), 20 to 1 (1.206 million), The Simpsons (1.179 million), a repeat of CSI (1.176 million) and A Current Affair (1.164 million). Nine’s Temptation (7pm) was again weak with 1.116 million. Home and Away has established a clear gap of late. Nine’s 9.30pm program The Closer (857,000) is filling a gap.

The Losers: Seven’s Deal Or No Deal was down again at 772,000 viewers but it had absolutely no impact on Seven News, which won the night, or Today Tonight which had its best result for weeks. Bert’s Family Feud was sort of steady on 568,000. Today on Nine from 7am: watched by 231,000 viewers: Early Sunrise on Seven beat it with 258,000, Sunrise regular from Seven, an easy win with 464,000. It seems the recent puff in Today’s viewer numbers after Ms Rowe’s pregnancy was revealed is waning. Rove Live on Ten woke up and ended back above 800,000 viewers with 813,000. The Wedge on Ten at 8.30pm (828,000) and Real Stories at 9pm (792,000) are OK but haven’t ignited in recent weeks. Both programs ended 2006 last night. Next week its Celebrity Joker Poker at 8.30pm. Aw, no, not more Celebs!

News & CA: Seven News had another big win; 201,000 nationally and 121,000 of that was in Perth. So solid all around. Seven News won Sydney comfortably, Adelaide and Perth. Nine was tops in Melbourne by just 1,000 people and won Brisbane. Today Tonight though won by 294,000 nationally as A Current Affair‘s figures sagged badly. TT won Sydney, Brisbane , Adelaide and Perth; ACA won Melbourne but TT was closer than Monday night. The 7pm ABC news averaged 951,000, The 7.30 Report with 759,000 was hurt by Dancing With The Stars on Seven, Ten News At Five was low at 765,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 35.5% (36.1% a week earlier) from Nine with 25.9% (26.8%), Ten with 21.0% (19.1%), the ABC with 13.4% (unchanged) and SBS with 4.2% (4.6%). Seven all markets: Perth by a massive 15 points! Seven now leads the week 29.6% to 26.5% and has a good chance of taking victory. In regional areas Prime/7Qld won last night with 31.6% from WIN/NBN (Nine) with 30.7%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.7%, the ABC with 13.7% and SBS with 4.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: On the face of it a standard Tuesday night when Dancing With The Stars is in the line up for Seven (actually a standard night for Seven this year because it has Border Security and Medical Emergency in the 7.30 to 8.30 slot when Dancing is not around). The 6pm to 7pm News and Current Affairs figures were a bit odd with Nine weak, when it has been quite strong, and Seven up. Today Tonight did better than it has for several weeks. Ten ended the experiments known as The Wedge and Real Stories (aka Bogan Humour to those who do not like the programs, especially The Wedge). The Celebrity Joker Poker on next week is yet another ‘Celebrity” program designed to provide gainful employment to an ever-increasing group of notables. Hamish Blake moves from Real Stories to Five Card Stud. Is that a promotion? Tonight its Ten with Thank God You’re Here, new House and a repeat of NCIS. Ten’s night. Seven and Nine to battle it out for second. Nine has McLeod’s, CSI Miami and Survivor: Cook Islands, Seven has The Force and Police Files, Forensic Investigators and a new program, The Unit (it’s about police peoples), which is in keeping with the Thick Blue Line format that has become Seven’s Wednesday night schedule from 7.30 onwards.

Peter Fray

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