Smith lands a new job. After a week of speculation as to his next career move, we can report that Geoffrey Smith has a new job. He will head the Australian art department at second-tier auction house Bonhams and Goodman. Last week Smith resigned from his job as senior curator at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of a settlement of a legal battle. Smith had been suspended from the NGV because of admissions he made about his involvement in his ex-partner’s gallery business. — Stephen Feneley

Nine’s breathtaking FTA sport hypocrisy. The free to air TV networks are cranking up their ad campaign defending the sports anti-siphoning list and rejecting the criticisms of those regulations by the pay TV industry. But the hypocrisy of Nine joining the Free TV campaign is a bit breathtaking. Nine will no doubt feel aggrieved at that charge but consider the following. There’s a well-known national sporting competition starting this weekend which sports fans used to be able to watch most Saturdays and or Sundays over the summer. But you won’t see the Ford Ranger One Day Cup (the old ING Cup competition) on Nine Network summer because earlier this year it “gave” coverage of the competition to Fox Sports (part of the Premier Media Group) as a cost saving measure. Nine’s argument was that it cost too much money. But Nine always knew the costs (which are substantially amortised because the games are played at grounds where the cabling and camera positions are already in place). It’s why the anti-siphoning rules don’t really work: not when a free to air network can cynically transfer the FTA rights to pay TV as part of an in-house shuffle. What is also disappointing is that not one sports reporter or commentator has made a big deal of this sleight-of-hand and criticised Nine or Cricket Australia. News Ltd papers won’t moan because Fox Sports and Foxtel have an exclusive summer sport to make money from. It’s not the first time this year Nine has done something like this: it moved some golf and tennis coverage to Fox Sports, but cricket is the national Australian game and the Nine Network has done something underhand for purely internal corporate reasons and nothing to do with costs. If it couldn’t cover the games, then Cricket Australia should have held a tender for the rights and maximised its revenues and allowed Seven and Ten to compete along with pay TV. — Glenn Dyer

More changes to Seven’s news roster. Earlier in the week I reported that Mike Armor, the network’s former Los Angeles correspondent, had moved to fill in for Ann Sanders on the 10.30am news. He had been reading Seven’s networked 4.30pm news. Well now there’s news from Seven that Armor is facing an uncertain future. He won’t be returning to the 4.30pm news. Sam Armytage is doing that gig permanently and when Sanders returns, Armor is out of a gig. What he does next is still up in the air. He is said to be unimpressed after returning from LA with hopes of making it as a 6pm reader on weekends. Meanwhile there’s more news about Today Tonight. Naomi Robson will be taking her usual long summer break and Anna Coren will be filling in as she has done for the last two summers. Dame Naomi will be taking seven weeks off – no doubt she will be penning her Wa-Wa memoirs. Coren is currently Seven’s LA correspondent and Nick Etchells from Seven’s Melbourne newsroom is heading to LA to replace her while she’s filling in at Today Tonight. And Seven people are wondering whether – with the revival in Seven news figures this week, especially in Sydney – if Ian Ross will continue at four nights a week next year. Seven won’t make their mind up about that until the end of ratings but Seven will be taking a long look at the three nights Chris Bath is reading; Friday through Sunday. Ian Ross has a year to go on his current contract; that’s another thing Seven will have to sort out. — Glenn Dyer

The Bulletin‘s soft approach to Geoff Dixon. It’s what everyone in Australian business wants: a nice, soft, easy once-over from a friendly media outlet. And that’s what Qantas CEO, Geoff Dixon, the man who won’t leave, got from The Bulletin this week. Dixon, of course, is a recent appointee to the PBL board so we can’t have anything remotely challenging or confrontational in the interview. PBL CEO, John Alexander hates confrontation, especially with his mates. It’s one of the reasons why Michael Pascoe, the former Nine Network Finance Editor, was flicked: too much confrontation and too much questioning of Australian business leaders. And yet the time I was at Nine when Dix was running Qantas he thrived on tough questions and the challenge of answering them. There’s nothing wrong with profiling successful businessmen and CEOs, just so long as there’s a tough question or three thrown in. After all, these blokes and women earn millions of bucks a year. A couple for Dixon would be: Why did you order the A380 and then employ so many pilots and first officers that you can’t use them all? Why have you gone so far down the Ansett route of having a multiplicity of aircraft types from at least two manufacturers? This increases air crew inflexibility and costs. And why not cut the oil surcharges? World oil prices are now heading back to where they were when the 2005 charges were announced, and are well under the levels when the 2006 imposts were announced. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: It was close and competitive, though with a sign of what viewers really thought with the most watched program, Home and Away, number one with 1.336 million viewers at 7pm. Audiences slowly sagged from then on. Seven News was next with 1.317 million and Today Tonight was third with 1.279 million. Nine News was fourth with 1.267 million followed by A Current Affair with 1.220 million. Nine’s RPA improved from its opening low last week to reach 1.214 million and Seven’s My Name Is Earl averaged 1.203 million at 8pm for Seven. Jamie’s Kitchen Australia fell from last week’s strong figures to average 1.179 million and still win the 7.30pm slot. Nine’s Two and A Half Men (back to back from 8.30 to 9.30pm) was close behind with 1.143 million; Nine’s Temptation averaged 1.140 million at 7pm and is now a clear distance behind Home and Away. How I Met Your Mother is hanging in there with 1.092 million, Nine’s Getaway was third in the slot with 1.059 million. That is an unaccustomed position. Celebrity Survivor averaged 1.058 million at 8.30pm and the ABC News brought up the field in 14th and last spot on the night with 1.005 million viewers. Seven’s 9.30 program, Bones, averaged 973,000, Jericho, Ten at 8.30pm, 902,000 and Live at 1 on the ABC at 8.30 pm, 912,000 viewers.

The Losers: Bert’s Family Feud averaged 546,000, Deal Or No Deal, 770,000 and still weak; Ten News at Five 867,000 and an easy winner. David Tench Tonight at 9.30 pm, 606,000 is OK but not brilliant, Ronnie Johns at 10 pm back over half a million with a solid 537,000. Nine’s Getaway was again weak and was probably the most notable “Loser” on the night. It, like The Great Outdoors on Seven, is getting “same old, same old” for many viewers.

News & CA: The 6pm to 7pm battle was much closer than Wednesday night but Seven News and Today Tonight both won, thanks to strong wins in Perth and no thanks to the ‘Naomi factor” in Melbourne. Seven News won nationally by 50,000 viewers and 78,000 in Perth. Seven won Sydney and Perth. Nine won Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Today Tonight won nationally by 59,000 people and 83,000 in Perth. TT won Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. ACA won Melbourne. That’s because the Naomi factor popped up: Seven News averaged 364,000 in Melbourne, TT 311,000. That’s a fair message Seven is being sent. There was no real turn-on to Nine. ACA was also a turn-off in Adelaide and Brisbane. ABC News did well and The 7.30 Report averaged 802,000, Sunrise and Early Sunrise beat the regular 7am to 9am Today Show which rose to average 253,000 viewers. Early Sunrise, 273,000, Sunrise 458,000.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 29.3% (28.8% a week earlier) Nine with 29.2%(29.0%), Ten with 21.2% (22.5%), the ABC with 14.9% (13.7%) and SBS with 5.4% (5.9). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Adelaide and Perth and won the network. There’s no justice is there in commercial TV? Seven leads the week 28.6% to 26.2%. In regional areas a narrow win for Nine affiliates WIN/NBN with 30.6% from prime/7Qld with 30.3%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.7%, the ABC with 12.2% and SBS with 7.2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Now the Rugby League Tri-nations match between Australia and NZ tomorrow doesn’t start in the late afternoon: it starts at 8pm, which is 6pm here and that is why Nine is delaying it half an hour because it doesn’t want to show the Nine News at 5.30pm or at 8 pm. It is a Nine decision to delay the telecast. A very close night last night: just a breath of air in it between Nine and Seven. Nine was let down by Perth once again but that’s the structure of its network. Nine won the East Coast and will boast about that, but Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are not Australia (In regional Queensland last night Seven gave Nine a belting through their affiliates). The old days of winning the East Coast being the big deal is no longer. It’s a national business. Tonight there’s some Better Homes and Gardens, a mad killer is loose on the Midsomer Murders knocking off viewers caught sleeping and Ten has that old movie favourite, Crackerjack with Mick Molloy. Still the best story on lawn bowls, ever. Tomorrow night it’s the League if you are into sport and Seven is replaying some great old comedy “classic” from Britain. Some will be good, some will be… Benny Hill.

Peter Fray

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