Eddie foreshadows more cuts at Nine. According to Nine Network staffers CEO Eddie McGuire was up front about the inevitability of further cost cuts at the Network at the Christmas Party last week. Reportedly, the party only went ahead when Eddie offered to pay for it. Park Street didn’t want to pay for one, just as they didn’t pay for one for ACP Magazines, although individual magazines and sections did have their own parties. But Eddie told staff there would be more cuts and more cuts there will be. Nor is the London Bureau being closed but overseas correspondents and senior reporters in the various newsrooms (especially Sydney) are being told that if they want to stay, the price will be a big pay cut. Meanwhile, the reports that Nine is trying to get Sky News to do more non-prime news (with perhaps some involvement of Fox Sports) is of interest if only for how the story emerged – in The Australian. News Ltd executive chairman John Hartigan is also on the board of Sky News Australia along with someone from Sky News in London: that’s the Murdoch third of the group. Seven and PBL have two directors as well with Chris Anderson, PBL’s executive deputy chairman a key board member. That the story appeared in a News Ltd paper was of interest because it was a way of emphasizing how weak Nine was becoming when it couldn’t afford to do its own news broadcasts, even non-prime. The Qantas News is now done by Sky News and adds revenue to its bottom line. Nine’s costs will be lower, sort of. It will have to pay a fee to Sky and if it makes a profit PBL, Seven Network and Sky News from the UK (part of News Corp) will benefit. So PBL could make money by cost cutting at Nine in more ways than simply lowering Nine’s cost base compared to its revenues. But would Seven and Sky/News Corp really allow that to happen? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Thursday night is anyone’s night now in summer and I mean anyone’s. Anyone who can program some half decent shows will grab the eyeballs if last night is anything to go by. It’s not just the Thursday night factor nor is it the apparent loss of interest by quite a few viewers, its just that the programs last night were so boring. The ABC’s Psychic Investigators at 8pm. For Gawd’s sake! It was like watching 30 minutes of worst bits from Today Tonight and A Current Affair efforts on this story idea over the years. Only four programs topped the million viewer mark: Seven News with 1.192 million people, then Today Tonight with 1.101 million, Nine News with 1.080 million and the ABC News with 1.026 million. Typical summer viewer patterns and actually with an audience level similar to many Saturday nights in ratings. The fact that the moderately interesting The Amazing Race on Seven (now at 8.30pm) couldn’t crack the million mark (979,000) shows how jaded viewers have become. It will be a rough state of affairs if the viewing highlight this summer was the last 90 minutes of the second Ashes Test on Nine on Tuesday night. Will and Grace is still labouring away for Seven at 7.30pm (937,000). The almost horizontal Swimming titles from Brisbane on Nine from 7.30pm to 9pm (why sooo long?) averaged 903,000, without the cost conscious Perth. Top 40 Celebrity Countdown on Seven at 9.30pm to 11pm averaged 900,000 and probably won the night for Seven. Nine ran an “encore” of Weeds from Tuesday night and it crashed at 9pm with 633,000.

The Losers: We all are, us viewers. It’s summer, isn’t it? The big big loser though was the AFI Awards on Nine from 9.30pm. Just 414,000 lonely souls watched until 11.30pm. Is that an “industry mates rates thing” because PBL owns Hoyt’s? It lost Nine the night.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally with help from Perth where the margin was 112,000, the same as Seven’s national margin over Nine. Nine won Sydney and Brisbane. Seven won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Today Tonight had a bigger win over ACA which failed to crack the million mark. It averaged 953,000. Not all that solid. ACA won Sydney and Melbourne but TT won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The 7pm ABC News was again a summer favourite and that helped The 7.30 Report in its last ep in the normal in ratings form (Clarke and Dawes at the end). It averaged 915,000 because there was nothing on the other networks. Ten News averaged 742,000. In the morning Sunrise, 453,000 easily beat Today, 242,000. And speaking of Today Jessica Rowe said good bye this morning in a shower of toys, babies, mothers, best wishes and Sarah Murdoch. No bones though. Ms Murdoch is up on Monday. Her voice could be a slight annoyance for some viewers.It sounds a touch thin. But she doesn’t giggle.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 30.9% from Nine with 24.7%, Ten with 22.6%, the ABC with 14.9% and SBS with 6.8%. NIne leads the week 29.3% to 27.3%. Seven won all five metro markets. in regional areas a win to Seven through Prime/7Qld with 28.7% from WIN/NBN for Nine with 26.1, Southern Cross (Ten) with 24.9%, the ABC with 13.3% and SBS with 7.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven had a good night, thanks to the charity act from Nine in running two hours of the AFI awards from 9.30pm. Ten was also weak, but it is non-ratings and everyone in Network TV really wants to be somewhere else today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, just like viewers. So how desperate is viewing tonight and tomorrow night? Very. I can’t suggest anything because I am afraid myself to turn the telly on. A couple of examples. The ABC is repeating Kath and Kim and tomorrow night its screening a production of the Pirates of Penzance. Flashdance is the movie on Seven tomorrow night, Nine is screening the Australian Fashion Design Awards from 10.20pm. Gawd they must be really crook!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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