Ten sale hots up. The sale of the Ten Network has moved into top gear with its Canadian owners Canwest seeking replies to an information memorandum issued to interested parties late last week. The move was reported late last week: “Canada’s CanWest Global Communications Corp. has asked interested buyers to submit bids for its 56.4 percent stake in Australia’s Ten Network Holdings Ltd. within the next four weeks, sources familiar with the matter said Friday. The information memorandum was issued to potential buyers of Australia’s third-biggest TV broadcaster this week, three sources said, with indicative bids due around the middle of February.” Ten shares closed up one cent at $3.39, giving it a market value of $3.1 billion, including CanWest’s stake ($1.352 million without). CanWest said on 10 January it was teaming up with Goldman Sachs to buy Canadian speciality-TV group Alliance Atlantic Communications Inc. for C$2.3 billion. — Glenn Dyer

Can big names restore Dancing‘s pizzazz? 2000 Olympic pole vault silver medalist, Tatania Grigorieva will be officially named as a contestant on 2007’s first series of Dancing With the Stars this week. She has just announced her retirement from athletics. She will join last week’s announced contestant, Jamie Durie and the previously named former Today Tonight host, Naomi Robson; doubles tennis champion and Seven commentator, Todd Woodbridge and actor Kimberley Davis. It’s the sort of line up that Seven would have liked to have had in place for the final series of 2006 which showed the program was mortal. It lost half a million viewers, averaging around 1.5 to 1.7 million, which was well down on the previous series in 2005 and 2006. But the drawcards of Robson and especially Durie should give Seven a chance of boosting audience numbers. But should Durie be a contestant or a dancer? He’s trained in choreography and the rudiments of dancing from his time as a member of the male stripping group, Manpower Australia. What will judge Todd McKenny think of that after the hissy fit he threw in the last series when he chided a contestant for having some dancing training? The presence of Robson should also be of considerable interest. She quit the hosting of TT late last year after a somewhat controversial 2006. — Glenn Dyer

Staffing at Seven’s LA HQ. The future staffing of the Seven Network Bureau in Los Angeles is still up in the air as correspondent Anna Coren’s negotiations about hosting Today Tonight continue. Coren has been hosting TT since early December and has shown that she can replace Naomi Robson: she beat regular A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw in December (Grimshaw returns tonight) and the stand-in summer host, Leila McKinnon. According to a statement from late last year, Coren was supposed to be on holidays this week. But she was featured in the TT promotions over the weekend. Seven newsroom sources say she has been the only one in the frame for the hosting job. Nick Etchells from HSV-7 in Melbourne has been filling the LA slot while Coren has been hosting TT and Seven has hired Ten correspondent Rahni Sadlier to backstop whoever is the main LA face for the network. Her departure from Ten sparked a lot of discussion on one TV chatroom and in the Ten Newsroom in Sydney. — Glenn Dyer

Tennis give Seven a non-ratings win. Tennis powered the Seven network to a win last week on the back of some great matches and the struggles of Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik, which ended by close of play on Saturday night. That was the wrong outcome for Seven. The coming week will see a gradual increase in the pace of old faces and new programs appearing in primetime schedules as the networks get a whiff of the 2007 ratings battles. The lack of local players in action will hurt Seven this week: the extent of that struggle was seen last night when Nine’s cricket between Australia and the Kiwis averaged 1.8 million from 6.30pm to 10pm. Seven’s evening tennis with top seed, Roger Federer playing, averaged just one third of that from 7.30pm to 10.30pm. Seven won last week with a share of 29.7% (27.3% the week before) from Nine with 26.9% (28.0%), Ten with 20.4% (20.3%), the ABC with 16.8% (16.2%) and SBS on 6.2% (6.5%). Seven won Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Brisbane where the tennis isn’t as popular. The two winning programs from last week were Seven’s Today Tonight which easily accounted for A Current Affair and Home and Away which returned strongly at 7pm. This week sees a couple of new programs emerge ahead of the start of ratings on February 11. Ten bring a new season of NCIS back on Tuesday nights at 8.30pm and SBS starts its new hour long World News Tonight at 6.30pm with Stan Grant joining Mary Kotsakidis. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Cricket was first second and daylight was third on TV yesterday afternoon and last night. With just a bunch of foreigners left to battle for the Australian Open, sports nuts turned to Nine for the one-dayer between Australia and the Kiwis in Brisbane and they were not disappointed by a close match played ineptly at times by both sides. The ODI night session averaged 1.852 million viewers, ahead of Nine News with 1.782 million, Seven News with 1.450 million (strong against the inflated Nine audience). The first session of the cricket in the afternoon averaged 1.323 million which didn’t matter in terms of prime time ratings but delivered Nine News a great starting level. Seven’s repeat of the Massive Nature program at 6.30 pm averaged 1.009 million and was the fifth and final program to be watched by a million or more viewers. Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance averaged 936,000 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Nine’s movie Three Kings from just after 10 pm averaged 798,000. Seven’s evening of tennis averaged 698,000 from 7.30pm.

The Losers: None really. It is summer and apart from sports nuts, we are all “losers” in some small way in summer if we chose to watch commercial TV (and the ABC at times).

News & CA: Nine News won nationally and everywhere because of the cricket lead in. The ABC News averaged a solid 903,000 at 7pm as the cricket was going. Ten News did well with 610,00 and Weekend Sunrise averaged 412,000 at 8am.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 42.6% (29.6% a week ago) from Seven with 20.4% (19.8%), Ten with 17.8% (25.9%), the ABC with 13.6% (18.4%) and SBS with 5.6% (6.2%). Nine won all five metro markets. In regional areas a win to Nine through its affiliates WIN/NBN with 42.5% from Prime/7Qld with 18.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.0%, the ABC with 14.4% and SBS with 6.6%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: No locals in the tennis and it will be a slow old week for Seven. Lleyton Hewitt didn’t do his usual trick and Alicia Molik was likewise off her game and out of the titles and off Seven’s screens. Tonight a new double- headed commercial news service starts the one hour long SBS World News at 6.30pm. Tracy Grimshaw is back is at ACA and Ian Ross at Seven News in Sydney. Summer is coming to an end. And even though the cricket is interesting at times, give me the last 90 minutes of the Adelaide Test, not the last day of the Adelaide Test for the viewing highlight of summer. If Tennis doesn’t interest you tonight then perhaps the New Zealand accent might on Motorway Patrol on Nine from 7.30pm to 8.30pm and then again at 10.30pm in Outrageous Fortune. There’s The West Wing on the ABC and Ten is pretty Ho Hum with Smallville, Supernatural and Cops.

Peter Fray

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