Fox continues to struggle in the US. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network has seen a sharp drop in ratings so far in the 2006-07 ratings season, which won’t be pleasing for the Ten Network which is due to pick up the production contract from Seven next year. Seven will keep programs such as My Name Is Earl, 24 and Prison Break, which are still doing well in the US. But according to US media reports Fox doesn’t have one new program in the top 55 programs on network TV in the US so far this season. Ratings are down 9% and Fox is last in most audience demographics. But the network expects things to change in January when American Idol returns for another season: Idol was the most watched program on US TV this year and made up for the early losses in Fox’s audience. This season’s early losses are even deeper and the network is suffering with advertisers uncertain about the value of some of the deals signed with the network. Murdoch had a big fight with ratings groups and ad agencies last year over poor ratings and programs which didn’t deliver the ratings Fox said they would. It seems he’s heading for an expensive repeat of that situation unless things pick up quickly. Meanwhile, Murdoch is running into a PR barrage from Richard Branson over BSkyB’s swoop on ITV, which Branson’s NTL group was looking to merge with. Sir Richard, the Virgin chairman, urged British regulators and politicians “to stand up to reckless and cynical attempts to stifle competition and secure creeping control of the British media”. You would have to sympathise with Murdoch: he’s run into someone with a bigger ego and self belief than himself. It should be a wonderful battle. – Glenn Dyer

Nine cuts NYE fireworks. The cost cutting at the Nine Network continues with reports of plans for a further $50 million in new cuts at Nine. These will be on top of the cuts made in June and other cost savings made by dropping old contracts and arrangements, including the CBS and ITN News content deals. Now Nine has abandoned its sponsorship of the Sydney Festival’s centrepiece – the fireworks. Nine paid around a million dollars a year, mostly in contra advertising, for the Festival, gave lots of free publicity in advertising and stories and got the rights to telecast the New Year’s Eve fireworks, which Nine used to officially launch the New Year’s TV schedule and new programs. This year Ten will do that after signing on at the Festival’s new partner. Mrs Ros Packer was said to have been a force behind that sponsorship but with Kerry Packer dead, nothing is the same and all things must change. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Another Monday without the girls and guys of Housewives and Grey’s but Seven need not have worried. Criminal Minds is now an 8.30pm contender, easily beating Nine’s What A Year which had its best numbers so far. But it wasn’t the most outstanding of nights: not when Home and Away was the most watched program with 1.395 million viewers. Criminal Minds was second with 1.375 million, followed by Seven News (1.351 million), Today Tonight (1.292 million), Nine News (1.278 million), What A Year (1.273 million), What’s Good For You (1.253 million), Temptation (1.201 million) and Dynasties on the ABC (1.089 million). Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance averaged 1.038 million at 7.30 pm (that’s 400,000 down on its debut audience on Sunday night) and Seven’s The Great Outdoors averaged 1.001 million.

The Losers: Standoff with 864,000 at 9.30pm for Seven, rising but still not as good as Criminal Minds and Bones which started life this year as 9.30pm programs on Monday and Thursday nights respectively. The US version of The Biggest Loser on Ten with 627,000 viewers at 9.30pm.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally by 73,000 and by 118,000 in Perth. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and Seven won Adelaide as well as Perth. Today Tonight won by 7,000 nationally and 111,000 in Perth. ACA won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. TT won Adelaide and Perth. The 7pm ABC News averaged 995,000 people and The 7.30 Report, 916,000. Sunrise with 427,000 beat Today with 284,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.4% (27.5% last week) from Seven with 28.9% (26.5%), Ten was third with 19.1% (23.1%), the ABC with 14.3% (16.3%) and SBS with 7.3% (6.6%). Nine leads the week 32.2% to 23.7% for Seven. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, Seven won Perth. In regional areas WIN/NBN won for Nine with 33.7% from Prime/7Qld with 25.2%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.7%, the ABC with 13.2% and SBS with 8.2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven is doing well developing Criminal Minds, Nine would be pleased with the night and What A Year. Ten remains in the game thanks to the US dancing program which will settle lower over summer. But Seven’s big Monday night headache is at 7.30pm. The Great Outdoors slams a big door on Seven’s ratings hunt: Seven lost 394,000 (average) from Home and Away to the end of The Great Outdoors, picked up 372,000 for Criminal Minds and then shed half a million for Standoff. Nine had a consistent audience of above a million from 6pm through to 10.30pm. The ABC is already in summer mode: The West Wing got its biggest audience on the ABC with 608,000 from 8.30pm. Clearly a better night (more people watching) than Thursdays. Tonight it’s Dancing with the Stars. Almost finished for the year; any advance on 1.7 million viewers? All Saints wraps up tonight. Nine has the 20 to 1 “S-xiest People”.

Peter Fray

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