Ten sale. The likelihood of the Ten Network being sold has increased by the move by its Canadian parent to move more deeply into the broadcast media in that country. Ten is controlled by the Asper family’s Canwest and overnight one of Goldman Sachs & Co’s private equity arms revealed they have entered into an agreement to buy Canadian specialty-TV group Alliance Atlantis Communications $2.5 billion. When the deal first emerged last week it was suggested that Canwest could be a seller of Ten in Australia and its New Zealand media interests to raise cash to reduce debt and the financing costs of the Atlantis acquisition. Canwest and Ten are exploring the possible sale of NetworkTen in this country under a deal announced late last year. Along with the NZ radio and TV interests. Canwest could gross around $2 billion for its South pacific interests, less minorities. — Glenn Dyer

Beyond International scales down. In a profit upgrade early last month TV and film group, Beyond International warned that it was “in the process of mitigating and eliminating the financial impact of any underperforming assets.” Well it hasn’t taken too long for that mitigation work to bear fruit with the news today that Beyond is quitting the film distribution business. “Beyond International Limited (BYI: ASX) has taken the strategic decision not to distribute any new feature films in the international market and to focus on exploiting its catalogue of over 150 feature films and more than 4000 hours of television programs. This decision is in line with the Board’s policy of dealing with any underperforming assets and will mitigate any loss contributed by the Beyond Films division to the 2007 consolidated financial results 2006 division contributed loss $784,000) and eliminate any losses from the division in the 2008 financial year.” The lifestyle program, What’s Good For You is being produced for the Nine Network. It produced Beyond Tomorrow for Seven. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Any night in the depths of summer is hard going for TV viewers. Last night was no different. Nine programs with a million or more viewers, with Seven’s Today Tonight topping the list with 1.337 million. The summer host Anna Coren continuing to do well against the summer (January) host of A Current Affair, Leila McKinnon. Seven News was second with 1.321 million, Nine News was next with 1.158 million, the 7pm ABC News was next with 1.106 million and A Current Affair was 5th with 1.093 million. Nine’s repeat of Two and A Half Men at 7.30pm averaged 1.014 million, Seven’s That ’70s Show averaged 1.008 million at 7pm. Nine’s 8.30 program, Close to Home snuck in with 1.006 million as did The New Adventures of Old Christine, Nine, 8 pm, with 1.005 million. Seven’s 8.30pm program, The Unit averaged 893,000, Nine’s 7pm boiler, The King Of Queens, 874,000. The most gruesomely awful program on TV, Cheaters, Seven at 9.30pm, averaged 813,000. I watched in the interests of science and journalism. Talk about a collection of no hopers and losers exploited by a bunch of smooth talking TV producers. Why anyone would expose themselves to that sort of intrusion and exploitation is beyond me. Cheaters is unfortunately a program which makes a case for some sort of controls on “reality TV”, simply to protect the fools who allow themselves to become content fodder.

The Losers: See the above comments about Cheaters. Nine’s 9.30pm program, Men In Trees is slowly dying. Boring idea badly executed.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market. Seven News won by 163,000 viewers nationally and didn’t need any help from Perth’s 121,000 margin. Today Tonight beat ACA by 244,000 viewers, a surprisingly big win at this time of year. It won by 111,000 viewers in Perth and had the biggest audience of any program nationally in any market with 416,000 viewers in Melbourne. ACA beat TT in Sydney; TT won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Ten News was solid with 868,000 viewers, the strength of ABC News at 7pm helped The 7.30 Report which averaged 843,000. 7am Sunrise averaged 419,000, 7am Today, 267,000.

The Stats: Seven won narrowly 28.1% (30.6% a week ago) to 27.9% for Nine (31.3%). Next came Ten with 21.4% (18.6%), the ABC with 15.3% (13.3%) and SBS with 7.3% (6.2%). Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Sydney and Adelaide. Nine leads 32.9% to 25.3%. Nine has the One Day International tomorrow so the week is in the bag. In regional areas a strong win to Nine through WIN/NBN with 32.1% from Prime/&7Qld with 25.9%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.1%, the ABC with 13.2% and SBS with 8.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Last night was a touch attritional: Nine was solid against Seven though both had variable programs. Men In Trees is proving to be the ideal program to waste in summer, while Cheaters is just plain rubbish. Ten had an OK night but continues to struggle: that’s been its story this summer. Tonight it’s more of the same with the Midsomer Murders on Nine to send us to bed in a daze. The ABC is continuing with the absurd Psychic Investigators: more like Psychic Defectives. Seven has the Amazing Race and Ten has not very much: a repeat of Australia’s Brainiest Olympian and a repeat of Law and Order Criminal Intent. Another DVD-friendly night I think.

Peter Fray

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