Bindi Irwin back in the media spotlight. After Bindi Irwin stood up and broken hearts with her words at her father’s memorial, the line put out at the time was that Bindi would be allowed to grow up like any young girl. But there barely seems to be a day go by where Bindi isn’t being trotted out on TV, in the newspapers (the News Ltd tabloids in particular) and, soon, on pay TV again. And then there’s tonight’s Australian Story on the ABC: “Six weeks on from the death of the Crocodile Hunter, Australian Story explores the Steve Irwin legacy — and the moves that are already being made to ensure his work is continued … Now some of the focus is starting to switch to to eight-year-old Bindi Irwin — an accomplished media performer in her own right.” John Stainton acknowledges that there may be criticism but says: “I think they they (the critics) don’t understand that this little girl is very much enjoying what she’s doing. She is in control”. Australian Story filmed on location this week as Bindi, accompanied by her mother, resumed work on the “Bindi the Jungle Girl’’ program for the American Discovery Channel. The fact that Terri Irwin has got her out and working on a Discovery Channel program and then performing for Australian Story is verging on exploitation. She should really be in school and learning to be an ordinary eight-year-old. Does Terri Irwin really believe her eight-year-old daughter is emotionally equipped to fill her father’s shoes? And John Stainton needs a reality check. Is it true the day of Steve Irwin’s death he was offering Bindi Irwin to various media outlets as an interview subject? I hope not. The Discovery Channel program and tonight’s Australian Story are both very much in the media spotlight. And no amount of “spin” on the part of Terri Irwin or John Stainton can can change that. — Glenn Dyer

Ten sport goes international. Ten is dipping its foot back into the world rugby scene with the announcement that it will telecast all four international Tests of the Wallabies northern hemisphere tour — they play tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland next month. The coverage will be done on the cheap with the host, Bill Woods, and special commentator, Ben Tune (the former Wallaby and Queensland Reds winger), sitting in a Sydney studio with the match commentary coming from overseas. This will be a precursor to Ten broadcasting the Rugby World Cup from France next year. Ten has yet to officially confirm the RWC coverage but industry reports say it has paid around $7 million for the rights after the initial price was set at $10 million. The price fell when Seven and Nine dipped out of the bidding. Ten will also cover the International Rules series for the first time. Australia will play two test matches against the Gaelic Athletic Association including a first-ever night Test at Pearse Stadium in Galway on Saturday 28 October. The second test will be played at Croke Park in Dublin on Sunday 5 November. Ten got it because it is the sole free to air broadcaster with rights to the AFL: Nine’s deal has ended and Seven’s doesn’t start til 2007. — Glenn Dyer

Security checks for Tassie museum staff. The Byzantine world of Australian museums will never be the same after the revelation of thefts by a staff member at the Australian Museum and the Curatorgate scandal at the National Gallery of Victoria. And the reverberations have crossed Bass Strait to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which houses a huge collection in various locations, estimated to be worth nearly half a billion dollars. Three jobs were advertised in newspapers on Saturday, for a promotions and programs manager, a customer services manager and an exhibition and display coordinator. Nothing unusual in that. But the ads were unusual and applied only to the museum jobs, not any of the other jobs advertised in the public service. The State Services Commissioner decreed the following checks as essential requirements before anyone was appointed to any of the museum positions: “Conviction check for 1) Crimes of violence, S-x Related offences, Serious drug related offences, Crimes involving dishonesty. 2) Identification check. 3) Disciplinary action in previous employment.” Crikey has been told the it’s the result of a security review at TMAG following the Australian Museum thefts. If applicants can pass the essential requirements, “desirable” qualifications relate to the jobs themselves. — Margaretta Pos

Seven production goes retro. It was a rough day for the Seven Network on Sunday afternoon with two dips to black lasting more than ten seconds during the umpteenth playing of the 80s movie classic The Jewel of The Nile. But the very odd thing was that Seven cut in and out of the movie for ad breaks manually: the cuts were haphazard, missing obvious points where the scene in the movie changed. TV networks usually cut up movies into segments with edited exit and re-entry points and established durations for each segment. That’s for the computerised network switching and broadcast operation. But Seven was rough yesterday: it looked as though either a trainee was doing it manually and doing it poorly or the movie had been edited by a person who was ignorant of how it was supposed to be done. Either that or the network had a major problem during the movie with its computers which meant it had to switch to manual presentation. In the spirit of the current nostalgia bug gripping Seven and Nine, it was all very 1960s. — Glenn Dyer

Seven finally wins another week. A win to the Seven Network last week as Nine suffered from a number of poor nights and despite the successful attempt to delay the broadcast of the Rugby League test on Saturday night and win that night’s ratings battle.Seven won with a share of 28.5% (27.0% the previous week) from Nine with 26.4% (29.6%), Ten with 23.1% (21.8%), the ABC with 16.3% (16.0%) and SBS with 5.7% (5.5%). Nine would regard itself as being justified in delaying the game and not broadcasting it live: Nine News was the most watched program nationally Saturday night and to have shown the Test live would have meant forgoing that result. The Test was watched by 845,000 people nationally, with 414,000 watching in Brisbane and 371,000 in Sydney. In regional areas the Nine affiliates, NBN/WIN won the week with 29.1% from Prime/7Qld with 26/8%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.7%, The ABC with 15.5% and SBS with 5.9%. It was Seven’s first win nationally in the metro markets for around three months. Overall it has won ten weeks, Ten has won and Nine has won the rest. There have been 33 weeks of ratings so far (or 30 without the Commonwealth Games). So Nine has won either 22 or 19 weeks and it hasn’t done them any good really: revenues remain tight, Seven and Ten have the most watched programs (with the exception of CSI, 60 Minutes and one-offs) and costs are still a problem. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: That whoosh sound last night was the sound of the Australian Idol lift-off continuing for Ten. Last week 1.892 million watched, last night, 1.920 million (more than any audience so far in series five of Seven’s Dancing with the Stars). Second was Nine’s 60 Minutes with 1.446 million people, followed by Seven News (1.420 million), Nine News (1.330 million), Seven’s The Real Seachange (1.258 million) and Backyard Blitz which lifted to average 1.248 million. CSI New York waddled along with 1.141 million from 8.30pm and Seven’s Medical Emergency averaged 1.128 million. Ten’s 7pm program, It’s Me Or The Dog averaged 1.005 million, as did the 7pm ABC News. It was the tenth program last night with a million or more viewers. Next came Ten’s movie, The Bourne Identity, with 969,000 and then Seven’s The Countdown to the Most Inspiring Movie of All Time with 961,000 for Seven at 8.30pm. 
 
The Losers:
CSI New York: Nine doubled two new episodes back to back and they could only average 1.141 million over the two hours. That’s OK but it is not the performance of a long term ratings winner: its a holding pattern for Nine. Seven’s Good As Gold, 920,000 at 7.30pm. It will be a variable show. I reckon showing old Mavis Bramston programs and My Name’s McGooley would have done as well if not better and proved to people that good comedy and satire happened in the past.
 
News & CA: Seven News nationally by winning Sydney and Perth. Nine won the rest. Seven won by 90,000 nationally and 78,000 in Perth. The margin in Sydney was a surprising large 88,000. ABC News was solid as was 60 Minutes, which was Nine’s best on the night. The Sunday morning chat battle saw better figures with no competition from the Bathurst race on Ten. Seven’s Weekend Sunrise with 376,000 was tops again. The ABC’s midday rural affairs program, Landline, had a strong 318,000. Nine’s Sunday averaged 192,000 and looked a bit faded, My Business on Seven at 11 am averaged 159,000 for its final program of the year, Insiders on the ABC at 9 am averaged 120,000, Business Success on Nine at 8.30 pm, 111,000, Offsiders at 10.30 on the ABC, 88,000, Meet the Press on Ten at 8am, 84,000 and Inside Business on the ABC at 10 am, down to 74,000.
 
The Stats: Ten won last night with a share of  29.4% (29.6% a week earlier), from Nine with 27.1 % (28.8%), Seven with 25.4% (23.5%), the ABC with 13,4%,(13.5%), SBS with 4.7% (4.5%). Seven won Sydney and Perth, Ten won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Brisbane. In regional areas, Nine through WIN/NBN averaged 31.2% from Southern Cross (Ten) with 28.3%, Prime/7Qld with 22.0%, the ABC with 13.4% and SBS with 5.2%.   
 
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine’s revamp of the Sunday program is fading. The audience picked up yesterday after being artificially depressed by the Bathurst race the week before. It made the 190,000 mark and that was barely enough. It is now 60,000 down on the 255,000 who watched the first edition of the changed program in early September. If it doesn’t regain and then climb above the 200,000 mark by the end of November, then its future will be in doubt, even though insiders claim the program is back in profit. Programs with declining audiences don’t remain in profit for long. This slow failure is not good news for those responsible: Nine’s News and Current Affairs boss, Gary Linnell, the program’s executive producer, John Lyons, and Eddie McGuire who signed off on the removal of Jana Wendt as host. The double-headed hosting team of Ellen Fanning and Ross Greenwood isn’t clicking. They do not complement each other. Some of the stories have been fine, the sports interview jars, the business content is soft and variable. Idol shows Nine how an existing program which fades can be shaken up and revitalised by people who know what they want and are prepared to wait (that’s the key). Tonight it’s Seven’s Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds up against Nine’s What’s Good For You, What A Year and Cold Case. Ten has Idol and Law and Order SVU. The ABC has Four Corners, the Bindi Irwin ep of Australian Story (arrghhhh!) at 8pm and then Little Britain interviewed by Andrew Denton on Enough Rope.

Peter Fray

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