Another email from John Cameron. There’s another email out from ABC news and current affairs boss John Cameron, this time having a slap at an item in The Australian’s media diary yesterday on his efforts to keep the grunts’ pay down:

ABC management is also after a pay rise and their union has asked for an increase of 5 per cent a year plus an extra week’s pay. According to a newsletter from the ABC executives division of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, management have fallen behind staff in pay increases and they believe an extra week on top of the increase is in order. The additional week of pay is “intended to compensate for the amount of hours of unpaid work undertaken by executives”, the newsletter says.

Cameron says:

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I hate to dignify gossip from the anti-ABC Australian newspaper, but I understand a piece of fiction from Thursday’s edition is making the rounds internally. There is no executive management push for a five per cent pay rise that I am aware of. I am not a member of the management “union” and I am certainly not seeking a salary increase. Neither are any other News/Caff managers (well – they won’t now, I guess). As always, please check your facts before circulating damaging and personally offensive material.

Note the “that I am aware of”? Crikey understands a call to APESMA might be enlightening. — Christian Kerr

ABC v Victorian ALP court battle. According to the Victorian Labor Party’s State Secretary Stephen Newnham, the ABC and the ALP have reached agreement on how to proceed over the campaign ad that saw the two organisations in the Victorian Supreme Court last night. Fighting over an attribution to Stateline of a Ted Baillieu quote, the parties agreed to remove the source. The ad will continue to be seen on Victorian television. — Thomas Hunter

The Oz embraces multiculturalism? After some of its editorialising on matters multicultural, it comes as a shock to find there’s an MP3 file of THAT sermon by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali up on The Australian’s website – 17 minutes of Arabic. Still, as one of their News stablemates says: we report, you decide. — Christian Kerr

Rewriting history. Yesterday (item 22), Crikey asked the question, is Helen Demidenko telling more porkies under the guise of skepticlawyer at the Catallaxy blog? Today, the post in question has been removed with the following explanation: “1. I made a stupid mistake when I published the photograph, emailed to me by a friend and fellow hunter. This person has been very helpful to me on a range of matters so the publication of the photograph is entirely my doing. I have to say it was a great pic and I thought it made for a bit of a lighthearted change from what is often a pretty heavy-duty site. 2. The fact that I made a stupid mistake has been used as a vehicle by some people to abuse me and Catallaxy. To leave the post and resulting comments up would perpetuate both my mistake and the associated angst.” It raises an interesting question for bloggers: to delete or not to delete? Sometimes the former can actually create more confusion, not less. — Jane Nethercote

Who does Eddie report to? In a slip of the tongue at yesterday’s AGM, James Packer seemed to say that Eddie McGuire reported to the executive chairman of PBL Media, John Alexander, as he did before the split. But PBL and Nine people say Eddie reports to Ian Law, the CEO of PBL Media, which, if you think about it, is a demotion and a small but significant marginalising of Nine in the pecking order at PBL and Packerdom. Of all the parts of the empire, James Packer laid out just what would be happening at Nine. Perhaps it was the TV Network’s poor effort in 2006 compared to ACP Magazines but the network will be “managed for profit” according to the chairman. Note, not managed for entertainment or managed for ratings, but for profit, just as ACP Magazines is. Mr Packer said Nine had won the ratings race for this year and was focused on profitability. Further there was a sense that Eddie McGuire is an outsider. PBL is firmly run by a group of people with a detached view of TV: James Packer, CEO, John Alexander and Executive Deputy Chairman, Chris Anderson do not have any great affection for TV and have been involved fitfully in the medium. None of the trio (and nor does Eddie) have any real appreciation of what it means to be creative in TV terms: not profitable, but creative, and profitable. You only have to look at what Seven and especially Ten are doing this year to realise that you can be both creative and profitable in TV (and cost conscious in the case of Ten). Eddie’s contract was raised at the AGM by Crikey’s Stephen Mayne, who was asking questions as a shareholder. The PBL annual report revealed that Eddie McGuire was paid a total of $4.7 million in 2006, including a flat fee of $4 million. That will be the case for another four years as he signed a five year contract at $4 million a year when he was hosting the AFL Footy Show and Who Wants To be A Millionaire. There was a suggestion at the AGM that a new contract will be struck in 2010 with performance hurdles: a more normal contract for a corporate executive. Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Eddie said he didn’t want to change his current contract because being a TV executive was dangerous compared to being a TV star. I reckon he won’t. He will conclude that he wants to remain a star either on Nine, or elsewhere, or retirement! — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Thursday night and Seven snuck through on the rails to win the night and draw level with Nine in the week’s tussle.But it was a night of low viewing levels, even a bit lower than the previous Thursday evening. The peak program was Seven News at 6pm with 1.379 million and audience levels fell from then on. Jamie’s Kitchen Australia was second with 1.265 million. Today Tonight was third with 1.257 million, Home and Away was 4th with 1.210 million, My Name Is Earl (8pm, Seven) was 5th with 1.147 million, Nine News was next with 1.144 million, Temptation was 7th with 1.136 million, A Current Affair was 8th with 1.126 million and Getaway (Nine, 7.30 pm) averaged 1.109 million, which is down on its best. Likewise RPA with 1.067 million in 10th. How I Met Your Mother, Seven, 7.30pm averaged 1.034 million, Ten’s 8.30pm show Jericho lifted to average 1.030 million as did Celebrity Survivor at 8.30pm on Seven with 1.014 million viewers. It was the 13th and final program with a million or more viewers on the night. Ten’s duo, David Tench at 9.30pm averaged 586,000 (down) and Ronnie Johns at 10pm, 452,000. Ronnie Johns is getting a low lead-in (and late) from Tench. Jericho had over a million viewers, Tench almost 600,000. Still both are a lot more entertaining and credible than Joker Poker (there are two more eps to go of that rubbish on Ten Tuesday nights).

The Losers: Nine’s Big Questions, 890,000 people at 8.30pm, that’s 19.6% fewer people than its opening a week earlier: heading for the scrap heap at this rate. Seven’s Bones, 899,000 at 9.30pm is a bit of a rib tickler for the network’s programmers. RPA got more than a million viewers last night but it’s around half a million under its 2005 average. Nine should really be running the AFL and NRL Footy Shows much longer later in the year.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Sydney. Seven news won by 135,000 nationally and 87,000 in Perth. Today Tonight had its best effort of the week, winning by 113,000 nationally and 84,000 in Perth. TT won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. A Current Affair won Sydney and Melbourne. The ABC News averaged 917,000 at 7pm and The 7.30 Report fell sharply to just 608,000. Ten News averaged 815,000. Sunrise and Sunrise Early both beat Today once again.

The Stats: Seven won with 28.7% (29.2% a week earlier), from Nine with 27.8% (28.0%), Ten with 22.1% (22.3%), the ABC with 15.0% (14.9% and SBS with 6.5% (5.6%). Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, Nine won Melbourne. Seven and Nine and tied on 27.9% each in the week’s race. In regional areas a close win to Nine through its affiliates WIN/NBN with 28.7% from Prime/7Qld with 28.6%, Southern Cross (TEN) with 21.8%, the ABC with 13.5% and SBS with 7.3%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Well, it’s neck and neck, down to the wire with the week’s result to be determined by what’s on TV tonight and tomorrow night. What a choice we have: not! Seven will do well tonight because of Better Homes and Gardens and a Nicky Kidman movie, Cold Mountain. The ABC has Midsomer Murders: this is the final so the producers are running out of people to die in the program’s slow-moving plots. So many bodies in rural England. Nine has nothing except Austin Powers, The Spy who sha—ed me at 10.40pm. Tomorrow night Nine has Kangaroo Jack (movie), Austin Powers: Goldmember and the Rugby League at 11.20 (between NZ and Great Britain. Nine ain’t serious about the Tri-cross the line’. Seven has the horse betting/racing program tomorrow Nations series at all). Seven has Craziest Videos, (Nine has Funniest Home Videos), Seven then has the British comedy classics repeats and then the great movie The Magnificent Seven (it’s more than its Seventh showing). The ABC of course has New Tricks at 7.20pm. It will be a close, close result. “Can’t pick it” as they afternoon from Moonie Valley.

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Peter Fray
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