Ten and the ABC nearly ready to show their card for 2007. The Ten Network launches its 2007 program lineup next week and the ABC will reveal its schedule in broad detail the following week. Ten’s schedule should be pretty settled after its successful rebound from the disaster known as 2005. Thank God You’re Here will be back with two series in 2007, The Biggest Loser is in production for the start of the year, Big Brother auditions start next week and Idol will return after its rescue and reinvention this year. The ABC will be of more interest. What will replace The Glass House? Will there be new drama (and who will be the ABC’s head of Drama)? And what role will the new balance/bias edict play in programming? Next Monday sees a number of ABC programs end for the 2006 year, including Four Corners and Enough Rope. Both will be back next year but there will be one interesting change – Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope is making a late start to the year and won’t be seen until around mid-May. The ABC will be starting the 2007 ratings year with the new program, A Difference of Opinion, hosted by Jeff McMullen on Monday nights. The program, which will run for a dozen one hour episodes, will be one of the most closely watched on the ABC for years, thanks to the promulgation of the new rules covering bias and opinion. The ABC has decided to start with the McMullen program in the Monday night timeslot to allow Denton’s program to run from mid-May through to the end of ratings in late November, 2007. – Glenn Dyer

Nine embraces ABBAmania. Sunday night sees perhaps the oddest show of the year on the Nine Network, and there have been some odd ones. At 8.30pm on Sunday night, ABBAmania joins the list and no matter how well it does, the question has to be asked: why did Nine finally get round to doing a local version of a program which first appeared seven years ago in Britain? As the Nine press release kindly reveals: “ABBAmania was first presented on Britain’s ITV1 in 1999, watched by more than ten million viewers and reaching an impressive 41%audience share.” ABBAmania is actually a UK cover band so the idea isn’t very original. This Sunday night, according to Nine, we can expect the following contributions: “Hosted by the Nine Network’s Entertainment Editor Richard Wilkins and Bec Hewitt, ABBAmania promises to be an evening of unforgettable performances and a nostalgic look at the time when ABBA held the world in the palm of their hand for almost a decade that rocked the world. The contemporary tribute will be a celebration of the Swedish sensations presented by more than 20 artists including: Guy Sebastian, Toni Pearen, Kate Ceberano, Michala Banas, David Campbell, Matthew Newton, Tottie Goldsmith, Kate Kendall, Luke Jacobz, Hi 5, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Rhonda Burchmore, the Young Divas, Kane Alexander, Silvie Paladino, National Nine News’ Jaynie Seal, and Today’s Gorgi Quill.” I know you can hardly wait. Dickie Wilkins and Bec Hewitt: what a duo. Absolute magic! Seven put an Abba series to air last year topped and tailed (introduced and back announced) by Molly Meldrum, but it was the real deal, not has-beens and wannabe celebs paid to sing someone else’s songs. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Thursday night is still anyone’s night: well anyone but Ten this late in the year when it only has a couple of standouts shows left. Last night Seven won thanks to its early evening programming and an encouraging performance by Bones which did better than Celebrity Survivor at the end of its shift. Seven News was the most watched program with 1.329 million, followed by Today Tonight (1.295 million), Bones was third (1.214 million), then Nine’s RPA (1.214 million) and Jamie’s Kitchen Australia (1.175 million). Home and Away won the 7pm slot with 1.172 million and A Current Affair was next with 1.159 million. Seven’s My Name Is Earl averaged 1.123 million and Temptation had 1.120 million for Nine at 7 pm. Nine News was tenth with 1.119 million. Jericho on Ten had 831,000 and the return of The Amazing Race did 841,000 for Seven at 9.30pm. Jericho fading.

The Losers: Big Questions on Nine at 8.30pm. No traction, just 829,000. That was third after Bones and Family Footsteps on the ABC (846,000) which is a better program. Big Questions is just dumb, plain dumb. Getaway was again weak: its suffering the same fate as Seven’s The Great Outdoors (been there, seen that). Ten’s duo, David Tench (505,000, a bit higher) and Ronnie Johns (418,000. lower), are not working together.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight had another good night, winning nationally and not needing their usual large margins in Perth to do so. Nine News and ACA only won Brisbane. Nine News has been weak all week, especially in Sydney. Seven has been strong in Melbourne because of the horse racing telecast. ABC News averaged a solid 959,000, The 7.30 Report was down to 781,000. Ten News was a bit down as well at 766,000. Sunrise again beat Today which remains the number one priority for Nine in the new year.

The Stats: Seven with 30.1% (unchanged a week earlier) from Nine with 27.5% (29.2%), Ten with 19.8% (20.4%), the ABC with 16.0% (15.5%) and SBS with 6.7% (4.7%). Seven won all markets bar Adelaide. Seven now leads the week 28.4% to 27.9% for Nine. In regional areas, a win to Prime/7Qld with 30.5% from Nine’s affiliates, WIN/NBN with 28.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.9%, the ABC with 14.9% and SBS with 7.3%

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven has a chance to win the week thanks to strong Wednesday and Thursday nights. Seven has unearthed another 8.30pm performer in Bones after it was average to indifferent an hour later. It got 866,000 viewers in the 9.30pm slot a week ago and added more than 40% more people an hour earlier with 1.214 million last night. Why doesn’t Nine take the chance and zip ER back to where it belongs at 8.30pm Thursday nights? It would do a lot better than Big Questions. ER was watched by 808,000 on Wednesday night at 9.30pm. If Bones can add 40% or more people by moving earlier by an hour why not ER by moving back to its old night and timeslot? Tonight and tomorrow night will settle what has become a close battle. Movies tonight and tomorrow will decide: who likes Hulk, The Wizard of Oz, Robocop, Independence Day, Analyse That? New Tricks at 7.30pm tomorrow night for me. A must watch.

Peter Fray

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