Never fear, Eddie’s back. Fear not, Eddie McGuire is still with us, or at least he’s still with Nine, and hasn’t been “boned” by the powers that be at PBL Media. It seems that the reason Eddie wasn’t mentioned in John Alexander’s email to PBL staff, is that Eddie is a report, not a board member – he reports to Ian Law now, the CEO of PBL Media (and someone with NO experience of TV whatsoever). Law used to rank alongside Eddie running ACP Magazines, but now Eddie has been bypassed. And to show how highly PBL thinks of him, Eddie was allowed to remain on holidays in Fiji rather than return home to help brief the assembled investment bankers and private buyout groups seeking to give James Packer a billion dollars. In fact Eddie’s absence was raised in a couple of meetings over last weekend and early this week but he wasn’t recalled from Fiji until Monday night and returned on Tuesday when the deal with CVC was emerging. That’s being left out of the loop, which is sad for all those who work at Nine and in PBL Media because Nine’s revamp is the big play for the new company: it is where all the easy money will be made from rebuilding its tatty image and revenue share, cutting costs and bolstering earnings. Eddie isn’t used to being “just a manager” like he will be at PBL Media, no matter how hard they portray it as a management team. It’s John Alexander, Ian Law, Pat O’Sullivan and Chris Anderson who will run things in PBL Media. They are the ones (especially Alexander and Anderson) who have contributed to the damage Nine is now labouring under, especially JA, the executive chairman. — Glenn Dyer

Big Questions but no answers for Nine. Big questions, lightweight ideas, good host, pity about the 1.018 million viewers for last night’s first episode of Nine’s new series, Big Questions. Host Jules Lund (from Getaway) was more than up to the task of selling a painfully old idea as something new. The rotating panels seem to have been a “best of” group of comedians and personalities from the Nine Network (no grey hairs), Spicks and Specks, The Glass House and Thank God You’re Here. When in doubt, the typical TV producer’s tactic is to offer established stars more work and pass it off as a good idea of your own. With 1.018 million viewers it did win the 8.30pm timeslot. Seven’s Celebrity Survivor continues to sink with just 907,000 loyal viewers. Ten’s Jericho also beat it with 968,000. But it was interesting to see the turn off of 127,000 viewers from Getaway to Big Questions, and the turn-on of 141,000 to RPA at 9.30pm. At least viewers of the latter recognise a quality program when they see it. Big Questions? Even if it drops under a million next week, Nine will have to stick with it. They have nothing left and no option. Sad really for such a good talent as Jules Lund. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

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The Winners: Seven won a close night as Nine’s stalwart, Getaway, continued to underperform and the premiering Big Questions did OK but wasn’t a screaming success (not as much as those on the program last night might have thought). Seven’s Home and Away was tops with 1.349 million, followed by Seven News (1.326 million), Today Tonight (1.312 million), My Name is Earl (1.251 million), Jamie’s Kitchen Australia (1.227 million), How I Met Your Mother (1.165 million), RPA (1.159 million) and Getaway (a low 1.159 million). A Current Affair finished in 9th spot with 1.128 million viewers, while Nine News was tenth with a low 1.119 million (the second really low figure in a row).

The Losers: Getaway wasn’t a loser, that’s too harsh, but it needs perking up.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally (by 207,000) as did Today Tonight. The News didn’t needs its winning margin in Perth to help and Nine only won Melbourne. Seven News had another big win in the Nine stronghold of Brisbane. TT also didn’t need its winning margin in Perth to win by 194,000 nationally. TT won everywhere bar Melbourne (which is sort of becoming usual). ABC News averaged 994,000 across the country, despite wildcat strikes. That’s a normal figure for most weeknights (memo to unions!). The 7.30 Report averaged 789,000 viewers, Ten News, a low 774,000 (is it the warm, longer evenings?). In the early mornings the same story. Today from 7 am, 244,000, Early Sunrise, 277,000, regular Sunrise from 7am, 484,000. Nine should really junk the early Today show and go to plain old, cost-effective news (Qantas) and a cut-down overseas news: cheap and effective.

The Stats: Seven won with 29.2% (29.3% a week earlier) from Nine with 28.0% (29.2%), Ten with 22.3% (21.2%), the ABC unchanged on 14.9% (so much for the impact of wildcat strikes) and SBS on 5.6% (5.4%). Seven won Sydney, Nine won Melbourne, Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Seven leads the week 28.7% to 25.8%. In regional areas it was a win to Nine affiliates WIN/NBN with a 30.3% share from Prime/7Qld with 29.3%, Southern Cross (TEN) with 21.4%, the ABC with 11.8% and SBS with 7.2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A lowish night with the early audience peak at 7pm meaning viewers were not all that enthused about the rest of the night. Apart from Jamie’s Kitchen, I don’t blame them for holding that opinion. Except for RPA. Big Questions was average except for host Jules Lund. I did like him in Getaway tooling down the road near Melbourne with a good looking woman in an old Chevy and off to the drive-in. Good fun. Not rocket science, just good fun. Those union wildcat strikes didn’t impact the ABC last night. The ABC’s audience is notoriously loyal and notoriously partisan when it comes to protecting the national broadcasting: but solidarity with the workers only goes so far if it threatens the viewing. The ABC switchboard in Sydney was reportedly flooded with nasty comments about a news broadcast that was switched from Melbourne to Sydney Thursday lunchtime. If the reports are true there are some not very nice people watching the ABC during the day. Tonight it’s The Midsomer Murders on the ABC as the highlight, I am afraid to say, or a good DVD, a drink and talk to friends. Tomorrow night it’s Rugby League for the addicts on Nine at 7.30pm but not in the biggest league market in the cities, Melbourne (2006 NRL audience figures don’t lie). Nine is doing its usual trick of broadcasting it later, at 9.25pm why not live against the gate at 8.30pm? But the highlight, New Tricks on the ABC at 7.30pm for fine ensemble acting.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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