Eddie’s future in the news, again. More reports about Eddie McGuire’s future at the Nine Network at the weekend. And today in The Australian. Many of the toughest commentaries are in News Ltd papers despite Eddie doing the right thing by the Murdochs and giving Sarah Murdoch, wife of heir Lachlan, a gig for a month fronting the Today Show. They’re an uncaring and uncharitable lot at Fortress Murdoch. For his part, Eddie was either in Melbourne most of Friday (according to some stories) or in meetings in Sydney Friday with James Packer and John Alexander. A couple of the reports quoted David Gyngell, the former Nine CEO, rejecting suggestions he would return to the network, and giving a fairly candid reason why: John Alexander, the executive chairman of PBL Media. That’s something the Sydney Morning Herald, which started the story last Thursday, conveniently forgot in its efforts to retail the planted stories about Eddie’s problems at Nine. If Eddie was to go while the ad rate negotiations are still uncertain for next year, it would require Law and Alexander to assume control of a process they have no understanding of. So Eddie will be kept on until that is finished: a poor outcome (a rate cut) will enable them to put more pressure on Eddie to leave as a way of blaming him for the result when it has been all of Alexander’s own making. — Glenn Dyer

2007 AFL broadcasting shapes up. The trucks are ordered, the bookings made, the commentary team leaders have been assembled and Seven and Ten are off on their great AFL gamble without Foxtel and its money. Seven says it’s ready to go and the deadline has passed where the facilities could be shared with Foxtel. On Friday, Seven finally signed Dennis Cometti who will share the leadership of the network’s AFL calling team with Bruce McAvaney. Just what Seven and Ten do with their unwanted games remains to be seen. TVS, the community TV channel in Sydney is in danger of sinking through splits and a lack of cash and support. Unless Seven and Ten agree to give the games to SBS or the ABC for nothing, they will be broadcasting games against each other in some markets in some timeslots. And according to Foxtel sharing in losses of up to $80 million a year. — Glenn Dyer

Newsreader news. Sacked Ten Network newsreader Tracey Spicer has some gigs at Sky News in January, proving once again that you are never really “sacked” in TV if you look good and can read news. One person who won’t be reading news at Sky though is former Today Tonight host, Naomi Robson, who has gone skiing in the US. Our Naomi is an early starter on Dancing With The Stars first 2007 series for Seven. She’s always wanted to be a contender but Seven management said no, claiming that it wouldn’t help her image! That’s long been considered to be a furphy as they allowed Sydney newsreader, Chris Bath, to be a contestant on Dancing late in 2005, which she won! She has gone on to become the heir apparent for Ian Ross at Seven News in Sydney. Meanwhile at the ABC there’s still a sense of wonderment at the departure of Walter Hamilton, the head of programs in ABC news and current affairs, especially as it has now become known that he left the ABC a fortnight before his resignation was made public last week. No news on a replacement, if any. And Seven News and Current Affairs boss Peter Meakin has a court appointment this week on Wednesday. It’s at Manly Local Court. Will his former employers be over this appearance like they were when he was charged a couple of months ago? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
The second Sunday night of summer ratings and Seven’s Sunday night woes continue: oh dear. Third on a quiet night behind Nine and Ten. But Seven did have the thrilling playoff for the Australian PGA Golf title… four times Lonard and O’Hearn tried and the latter finally won with a shot from the bunker into the hole that would have made Greg Norman cringe in agony. Nine News was tops with 1.305 million, boosted by the golf over running on Seven. Seven’s The Real Seachange averaged 1.185 million. Nine’s UK CSI clone, Waking The Dead (it takes two and a quarter hours to do so at the moment) averaged 1.072 million. Seven News/golf 1.050 million. The last night of the swimming titles on Nine, 1.007 million without the tightwads in Perth who refused to cover any of the costs. Seven’s You’ve Got the Job with 1.003 million. Seven’s Egypt at 7.30pm averaged 980,000. Nine repeated What’s Good For You at 6.30pm and the bad news is that it doesn’t repeat well, just 690,000. Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance, 997,000 from 7.30 to 9.30pm and why Ten beat Seven into third.

The Losers: Sunday night in summer and by definition there should be no losers because many of the programs on the screen are… Seven’s movie Le Divorce, first run US made film that was so American. The fact that it is appearing on a Sunday night out of ratings says it all – (701,000 from 8.30 to 10.55pm). It was beaten in part by the umpteenth repeat of Back To The Future on Ten (756,000 from 9.30 to 11.50pm). Oh we all missed the final Overhaul of the present and final series at 5pm on Nine last night, with 412,000. Another of Nine’s “successful series” for 2006 no doubt.

News & CA: Seven News confused in Sydney and Melbourne by the golf overrunning. Nine News averaged 1.305 million. Seven down with 1.050 million but the PGA Golf ran over well past 6 pm. The ABC News at 7pm averaged 908,000 but Ten News at Five averaged 916,000 over half an hour, boosted by the dramatic last race in the V8 Supercars title. It was also the final day’s coverage by Ten. It goes to Seven next year. In the early morning chat battle Weekend Sunrise averaged 394,000, Landline (best of ) on the ABC 336,000, The Insiders on the ABC with the Prime Minister, 139,000, Inside Business at 10am 128,000 but both were beaten by the Offsiders (Barry Cassidy without a coat) with 165,000, its highest audience so far. The trio are now resting in a spelling paddock somewhere for the summer.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.5% (30.9% a week ago) from Ten with 25.0% (21.1%), Seven with 24.8%(25.4%), the ABC with 13.8% (18.2%) and SBS with 6.0% (4.4%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven won Perth. No regional figures this morning.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: So winning Sunday nights, or rather doing better, is just as hard for Seven out of ratings as it is in ratings. Seven has so much product you’d think they’d be able to find something for the 7.30pm timeslot onwards that viewers might adopt as their own. This 6.30pm current affairs program looms as one hope. It might mop up some of the surplus producers and TV journos around the traps. Tonight its anyone’s race. Outrageous Fortune on Nine, a new show, Standoff and Vanished on Seven, West Wing on the ABC. Nine also finished off the Great Weight Debate – remember that special from a few months back… the one that was hardly watched on a Wednesday night?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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