CNN cuts local reporters; Nine pulling out of London? Australia doesn’t rate at CNN and London doesn’t rate at the Nine Network, but Australia rates with Al Jareeza, it seems. Nine is about to decide whether to cut its London office where reporter James Talia had just been posted several months ago. Nine now has an exclusive arrangement with Sky News in Britain, which was bought in the last days of Sam Chisholm’s regime. The Seven Network closed its London office two years ago when it picked up Sky News on a non-exclusive basis. It’s now looking at taking ITN news on the same basis from 1 January because Nine is relinquishing its long term, exclusive deal. Meanwhile, CNN now has a greater Australian presence outside this country than in it. The likes of Hugh Riminton, Rosemary Church, John Vause and Michael Holmes are report/presenters working for the network outside Australia (Stan Grant has just returned to SBS after three years in Asia for CNN). CNN had two local reporters, led by Geoff Hiscock, but no more. The local office is now just sales staffs who have to do technical things for interviews. It does mean that Al Jazeera, which is now seen on the UBI and Transact Pay TV systems here, has a greater reporting presence (1 reporter) than CNN. — Glenn Dyer

Forget cuddling babies, how about an arm wrestle? Fox FM’s Matt and Jo program in Melbourne had fun pitting Victorian Premier Steve Bracks against challenger Ted Baillieu. Faced with a pop quiz, the two men failed dismally. Stuart Rintoul reports in The Oz:

They are in trouble from the first question: name a past or present enemy of Paris Hilton? “God help us,” Bracks says. Name a participant in a famous sex video? “Not much upside in answering that,” Baillieu says. “Come on,” Matt says, “the Liberals are mad for it.”

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On and on they flounder. Jessica Mauboy? No idea about the Australian Idol finalist. The winner of the Melbourne Cup? Blank, just a couple of weeks after the race that stops the nation. Bracks knows that two Japanese horses came first and second. “And they did a great job,” he offers.

Jo and Matt later tried to get the two into an arm wrestle for the premier’s office, but when they declined, opted for a game of rock, paper, scissors. “At the first go, both of them go rock. Naturally,” writes Rintoul. “Then Bracks switches to scissors. That’s a mistake. Baillieu stays rock.” For the audio file — a study in awkwardness — go here.  

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: The Test cricket telecast made it hard to work out what really happened in the ratings last night except in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide where the time delays offset the overrun of Nine’s telecast. The cricket ran over until at least 6.30pm in Sydney and Melbourne. As a result the figures for the Nine News, ACA, Temptation and so on were not 100% accurate in the early Oztam figures. It will be up to Nine to issue new, updated figures. On the face of it Nine News was the most popular program with 1.372 million, but in Sydney and Melbourne it was really the cricket. Today Tonight though was second for Seven with 1.351 million, Seven News was third with 1.345 million. Temptation was down for 1.223 million, but it wasn’t Temptation in Sydney and Melbourne, it was ACA. Home and Away was itself at 7pm with 1.212 million, Getaway averaged 1.139 million people and Seven’s Bones did OK with 1.136 million. My Name Is Earl averaged 1.133 million for Seven while Nine’s RPA slot was watched by 1.105 million. Nine initially said the audience for the nominal telecast of the cricket (til 6pm in Sydney and Melbourne; 5pm, 5.30pm and 3pm elsewhere) was 784,000, but higher, around 822,000, on a time adjusted basis. There was a peak of 1.5 million sometime late in the coverage. The best first day figures since 2001 when Oztam started.
The Losers: Ten’s David Tench at 9.30pm, just 392,000. Ten should put it out of its misery. Jericho on Ten at 8.30pm, 689,000; Big Questions on Nine, 889,000.

News & CA: Early figures made it hard to work out the news result and the 6.30 battle. Seven News may have won nationally but it probably lost to Nine which had a nice boost from the cricket. Same with ACA. The ABC News averaged 910,000 and The 7.30 Report, 804,000. Ten News At Five suffered because of the cricket: it averaged a low 661,000. But they would have expected that. Sunrise and Early Sunrise had more viewers than Today in the morning. 
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 31.3% (29.3% a week earlier) from Seven with 29.1% (30.8%), Ten was third with 17.5% (19.2%) not all that far in front of the ABC with 16.3%(15.1%) and SBS on 5.8(5.7%). Nine leads the week 30.3% to 28.3% and will win the week with the cricket delivering good audiences to the start of the night and then the Rugby league Tri-Nations Final on Saturday night. In regional areas a win for WIN/NBN for Nine with 31.9% to Prime/7Qld with 28.7%, Southern Cross (Ten with 17.7%, the ABC with 15.7% and SBS with 5.9%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments:
Good figures for Nine but its network commercial share (even with the early boost from the cricket) was down on last year: 26.02% this year (commercial share, zone 1 6pm to 10.29pm) compared to 27.31% on the same night last year, while Seven and Ten both had higher shares than last year. So even as it celebrates good figures, nice looking and sounding Test coverage, Nine’s problems continue in the most important part of the day, prime time. When we go into summer it is possible that Nine will make more money during the day from its cricket coverage than it will in prime time. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Perth and Brisbane which was the interesting result. Because of the hour delay caused by daylight saving in Southern states it was a normal time timewise in Brisbane. The cricket was broadcast there, there was a local buzz, but it finished just after 5.30pm local. Nine News Brisbane beat Seven News, but TT beat ACA at 6.30pm local and then it was into the night’s battle that was won by Seven, 31.7% to 29.0%. Bones and My Name is Earl did well for Seven against Big Questions and Getaway which is really ailing. That was the difference. Nine News in Brisbane had the highest audience on the night in the market with 276,000 and it was downhill from there. And that’s Nine’s worry. Normally there’s a bit of an afterglow from a big event like the Test broadcast. It was there but as we know afterglows and twilights are shorter the further north we go.

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Peter Fray
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