Foxtel blows AFL deal; footy on Channel 31 next year? Tonight in Sydney at the Oxford Business Institute dinner, the two people responsible for Foxtel losing the rights to AFL games for the next five years will share a stage. Discussing the future of media in Australia will be Foxtel boss, Kim Williams, and PBL Executive chairman, James Packer. The Age‘s Caroline Wilson today broke the story that last-ditch negotiations between Channels Seven, Ten and Foxtel have broken down. It means no AFL on Foxtel for five years and a big loss-making hole in the schedule next winter and beyond for Fox Sports Three, the new channel started by Premier Media Group (half-owned by News and PBL). News Ltd wanted the deal done but PBL refused to make any extra money available to enable a higher offer to be made to Ten and Seven. It also means Seven and Ten have some tough decisions to make. Seven has to find an outlet for the Friday night games in NSW and Queensland: the community channels, Channel 31 (TVS in Sydney), seem the most likely but SBS has also been mentioned and ESPN, the US owned sports cable business, shouldn’t be ruled out (it’s owned by Disney which has a long relationship with Seven). AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou was quoted in Wilson’s story: “Demetriou would not say whether the AFL would veto any deal to on-sell games to Channel 31, but added: ‘Last time I checked I couldn’t get Channel 31’.” But Channel 31 coverage in Melbourne won’t be the problem. It’s Sydney and Brisbane where Seven will want it to be seen on Friday nights. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Wednesday nights and without Ten’s blockbusters in House and Thank God You’re Here it has become Seven’s night. Seven’s Border Security did well, topping the most watched list with 1.584 million people from Seven News with 1.382 million, Police Files ( Seven, 8pm) 1.378 million, Today Tonight, 1.369 million and Home and Away (Seven at 7pm) with 1.362 million. Nine’s 8.30 program, CSI Miami, averaged 1.350 million, Seven’s Criminal Minds, 1.274 million at 8.30 pm, A Current Affair 1.231 million in ninth place, Nine News with 1.218 million in tenth spot, Temptation (Nine, 7pm), 1.088 million and Spicks and Specks, the ABC, 8.30 pm, 1.080 million. House on Ten at 7.30pm averaged 957,000 and The Glass House averaged 930,000.

The Losers: Seven’s The Unit at 9.30pm, 808,000 better than recent efforts; Survivor Cook Islands at 10.30pm for Nine, 569,000. Hardcore viewers only now – but it still won the slot. Tripping Over on Ten is becoming a struggle, 708,000 is not good. Needs more help from a higher rating program in front of it than repeats of House. Nine’s loyal ER at 9.30pm, just 770,000 viewers and beaten by NCIS on Ten in repeat with 772,000.

News & CA: A rebound from Tuesday night for Seven News and Today Tonight. They didn’t need their usual solid margins in Perth to win nationally, thanks to wins in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine News and ACA won Brisbane. The 7pm ABC News averaged 957,000, The 7.30 Report, 730,000. Not solid, nothing really on the commercials except Border Security and it wasn’t as strong as it had been. Ten News averaged 818,000. Sunrise beat Today. Nine will be hoping the Test cricket will help Today lift in the coming six weeks. That will be an interesting trend to keep an eye on. Nine News and ACA would also be expecting a lift the days the Tests are on from receiving large audiences from the cricket broadcasts.

The Stats: Seven won with 30.1% (31.3% a week earlier) from Nine with 28.4% (26.7%), Ten with 19.2% (19.6%), the ABC with 17.8% (17.7%) and SBS with 4.4% (4.6%). Nine leads the week 30.1% to 28.1%. Seven won Sydney, Melbourne (narrowly), Brisbane, lost Adelaide to Nine won Perth strongly. In regional areas a big win for Nine and its affiliates, WIN/NBN with 33.0%, from Prime/7Qld with 27.2%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.4%, the ABC with 15.9% and SBS with 5.5%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A fairly competitive night as the ratings season ends. Criminal Minds finished up last night after a successful switch to 8.30 and Border Security ended its successful 2006 season as close the most popular program on TV (certainly at 7.30pm Tuesdays it was a giant). Seven has Prime Suspect next week starting Wednesday night. Tonight Seven has How I Met Your Mother, My Name Is Earl, Bones and The Amazing Race, which may be enough to win. Nine has Getaway (in need of a holiday break of its own), Big Questions (ditto) and RPA. Ten has an offcuts of the Jamie’s Kitchen story called Australian Diary and then Jericho and David Tench. The most intriguing program is on the ABC at 8.30pm. It’s called The Floating Brothel and it’s another take on finding your family roots. After Family Footsteps, which I liked, it could well be worth a look.

Peter Fray

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