Nine to wed Sky News? The rumours continue that the Nine Network is intent on deepening the relationship with Sky News Australia, much to the financial enjoyment of rival Seven and Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Broadcasting of Britain. In fact the Seven Network is believed to be so chuffed at Sky News Australia making more money that they are being silent on the talks. The chat revolves around a full integration of Nine News with the Sky operation at the new Foxtel building at North Ryde in Sydney. That would not mean Nine integrating physically: it can be done through rebuilt and upgraded digital networks. But Nine would have to start digitising much of its archives and to move to digital processing of videotape and training staff. Technicians have been measuring up the Nine newsrooms round the country: it will be a big project but the Sydney newsroom will be the first. Seven is already there and Ten is just starting the final phase of moving to an all digital, server based system, covering all transmission: Nine is years away from that, and millions of dollars. Probably the best part of $15 to $25 million, depending how far they go. Building a new digital studio in Sydney will be another cost. Nine is also looking at using Sky to do the non essential broadcasts: the ones through the day instead of Nine doing all its broadcasts (the 11am and 4.30pm News and Nightline). PBL owns a third of Sky News Australia so will it forgo its share of any fees paid by Nine simply to help the network right size its costs? The answer would be no because that interest in Sky News Australia remains in PBL and not in PBL Media. Meanwhile keep an eye on Nine for more change near the top. No, not Eddie, he’s become a bit of a drama queen of late. No, watch operating officer, Ian Audsley. He’s been marginalised, and doesn’t like being told what to do insofar as cost cutting is concerned by the likes of Ian law, PBL media CEO and Pat O’Sullivan, the chief operating officer of PBL Media (and the real power). When John Alexander was riding high at ACP magazines it was on the back of a bloke named David Gardiner who was the numbers man and deputy. He’s doing the same with Pat O’Sullivan at PBL Media. Alexander showed no loyalty though to Gardiner: he brought in Ian Law to ACP Magazines and then watched as Gardiner was forced out, and his PA. It’s a hard school at PBL. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Well, forget last night: it was the first day of the third viewing benefit for the Nine Network from Perth. There was now the obligatory overrun which confused things a bit and made the audience for the repeat of the Midsomer Murders look better than it was. It was due to start at 8.30 pm but the cricket still ran past 9pm. We TV watchers of cricket should able to fine the players for slow over rates! That would be truly interactive. Only six programs with a million or more viewers led by Nine News (naturally) with 1.547 million viewers, but Seven’s Today Tonight with 1.306 million did very well against the start of the last session of the Test. Seven News battled at 6 pm with 1.287 million people, Midsomer Murders, 1.121 million (not real because the first half hour or so was cricket). Seven’s Amazing Race at 8.30pm averaged 1.008 million, which again wasn’t bad as the cricket ran over. Will and Grace at 7.30 on Seven, 912,000.

The Losers: None last night really because it’s summer (and many of the programs on the box are losers by that very fact) and the disruption caused by the cricket. But mention must be made of the repeat of Australia’s Brainiest Big Brother Housemates which terrified viewers of the Ten Network from 7.30pm last night: it averaged just 597,000 and the following program, a repeat of Law and Order Criminal Intent at 8.30pm, averaged 836,000. The cricket may have been going strong at 7.30pm but I can tell you that if Ten had have screened this beauty before this year’s Big Brother it would have opened a few viewing eyes. The words ‘banal’ and ‘boring’ come readily to mind!

News & CA: Nine News naturally won because of the test but the 1.547 million contained an extra 400,000 of so viewers based on figures Monday to Wednesday nights for Nine News. Seven News did OK, especially in Sydney where it was within 21,000 viewers of the cricket boosted Nine News. Nine News blitzed Melbourne with 515,000 people. Today Tonight did OK; Nine did the smart thing pre-empting A Current Affair and there were promos through the last session of the cricket extolling Tracy Grimshaw’s “experience” which is a nice way of saying that she’s older and been around a lot longer than the 30-something Anna Coren at Today Tonight. Ten News was squashed by the cricket with just 680,000 people watching, as was ABC News, down to 858,000, a loss of 300,000 to 400,000 viewers on levels earlier in the week. All cricket lovers? The 7.30 Report was also hit, down to 739,000, off around 300,000 or a touch less on earlier levels this week. In the morning Today added 3,000 viewers from 7am to 272,000, beating Early Sunrise. 7am Sunrise down to 418,000 viewers. The battle continues.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 36.4% (24.7% a week earlier), so a 50% lift in share and all down to the test cricket. Seven was second with 28.2% (30.9%), Ten with 18.5% (22.6%), the ABC with 12.0% (14.9% ) and SBS with 4.9% (6.8). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. In Brisbane the margin was tiny compared to elsewhere: Nine won 30.8% to 30.0%. Daylight Saving played a part but the cricket just didn’t do as well up north as in other markets. Strange.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: So that was the night (and most of the day). If Australia gets dusted in this test, Melbourne will be big and if it all comes down to Sydney at New Year, Eddie McGuire and the lads won’t stop celebrating for years. And then the one dayers start and Eddie’s a hero and then the loonies from Park Street appear with another round of cost cuts. For those interested tonight the ABC, a new surfing the menu from New Zealand and a repeat of a Miss Marple telemovie. Nine has nothing after the cricket, Seven and Ten have programmed to run dead tonight. It’s the Xmas party season! And if you are really, really good I will tell you that if you are really interested Midsomer Murders returns on the ABC tomorrow night at 9.25pm. Yes, more deaths in Midsomer and police are worried! Will Barnaby smile?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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