Canwest adds details to its sale plan. More details have emerged of the sale process that Canwest is adopting towards its Australian and New Zealand media interests with reports they will not be sold in one line but separately. A report in the NZ Herald today revealed the separate approach is outlined in the information memorandum being sent to interested buyers. The split would seem to be aimed at trying to maximise interest in New Zealand for the TV and radio interests Canwest owns there. Fairfax New Zealand seems to be interested in the radio which would give it a matching structure to that of APN in that country (which owns the NZ Herald). But the Australian parent has ruled out any interest in TV. Buying Canwest’s radio interests would give Fairfax NZ half the industry: APN owns the other half, so there is a strategic reason to move on radio. The move would also prevent the TV and radio interests held in Canwest Mediaworks being controlled from Sydney, although that hasn’t been a problem with Fairfax and APN media. It would be much cleaner to sell Australia and New Zealand separately to different buyers and probably a smarter way of maximising the return, which is what Canwest is trying to achieve in the sale process. — Glenn Dyer

Angst follows Eddie leak. That little “slip” from the Nine executive at STW 9 in Perth last week that Eddie McGuire would be hosting 1 vs 100 has caused a bit of angst at the network’s lonely outpost in the WA capital. Channel Nine Perth manager of programs Rob Pedretti seemed to confirm Eddie’s comeback at a media function last week – no contextual problems at all, or so it would seem to an ordinary viewer. But not to a Nine Network spinner:

From: Michelle Baker [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, 17 January 2007 5:00 PM
Subject: 1 vs 100 – quote from Rob Predretti

1 vs 100

In light of a recent item published regarding the Nine Network’s Chief
Executive Officer Eddie McGuire hosting 1 vs 100 by Channel Nine Perth’s
Program Manager Rob Pedretti – it was simply taken out of context.

Rob Pedretti was merely stating in light of recent stories going around
regarding the hosting of 100 to 1, that he would be more than pleased if
the rumours were true and that Eddie McGuire was most certainly the best
host on Australian television and would welcome him back onto Australian
television screens – he was not confirming that he was the host.

Best regards
Michelle Baker
Public Relations Coordinator

Ahhh. Michelle, have a look at the video on Perthnow and listen very clearly, he wasn’t confirming anything at all… he told people they “had it first”. To make it even more galling, Nine is the TV partner for Perthnow, as the website makes clear. — Glenn Dyer

Despite the challengers, TV remains king. It has become accepted wisdom that the “fragmentation” of the media market is bad news for television: that’s all TV viewing not just the free to air networks. In fact it’s gospel as a recent look at the Australian media’s 2007 outlook from brokers, JB Were said: “We expect the growing acceptance of new media types (i.e. online, game consoles, mobile, etc) will continue audience fragmentation across all media. In our view, the most pronounced impact will be on mass market media such as FTA television.” Bog standard stuff. But according to reports in the US Americans watched more TV in 2006 than ever before. This report from Fortune magazine: “Despite many Net Age alternatives, we Americans today watch more boring old TV than ever, which is saying something.” The numbers are staggering: “The average U.S. household watched eight hours and 14 minutes of television a day last season, says Nielsen Media Research. The average individual American watched four hours and 35 minutes a day. Both figures are the highest ever measured in Nielsen’s 50-plus years of tracking viewership – and they don’t include time spent watching TV on computers.” So is the market fragmenting or is there a lack of understanding of the power of All TV, not just Pay or FTA, to maintain its hold on audiences. And in the US, where all new technologies either break first or are brought to market faster than elsewhere, TV remains king. — Glenn Dyer

Reality TV inquiry vs Big Brother. There are problems for Australian TV in the cynical and ham-fisted way Britain’s Channel Four has handled the latest Big Brother row. The Celebrity Big Brother racism row has the Australian TV industry on edge because of the about-to-start inquiry into the reality TV genre in Australia by the media regulator, ACMA. Submissions are due from all interest parties in a week’s time. So seriously does the industry take it that there’s every chance Free TV Australia and independent producers could submit a joint submission arguing against any move to tighten up on reality programs, which are the most profitable part of the Australian commercial TV industry. The fear now is that the outrage seen in Britain and in some commentary here over the latest Big Brother issue could have an influence on the public and political perception of the ACMA inquiry. Local TV executives say the row is a British argument. The problems with Big Brother here on Ten over the last two years have been salacious behaviour and harassment, not racism. But taken together they show to critics that the program idea is suspect, no matter where it is made and shown. — Glenn Dyer

The Nine spinning team is hard at work. Yesterday the Network issued a ststament about the long planned daytime chat program aimed at women called The Catch-Up, AKA The Watercooler back in the days of David Gyngell: “The Nine Network today announced a brand new daytime program for 2007: The Catch-Up, a locally produced weekday talk show which will premiere in February 2007. The Catch-Up will cover the hottest topics of the day in news, entertainment, lifestyle, beauty, fashion and gossip – all the up-to-date information that’s important to Australian women.” And you can see the new “programming for profit” edict in the Nine announcement – The Catch-Up will add to its revenues by linking with ninemsn and Woman’s Day (that’s the cross platform stuff James Packer is so hot about) and viewers will be encouraged to give money to PBL through SMS messaging to the program. But not a word of the timeslot, which would have been handy. A bit of digging and you can understand why: that long time soap, The Young And The Restless, one of Nine’s day time staples (with The Days of Our Lives), has been boned. The Young and The Restless goes to air at 2pm and on Monday was watched by an average of 196,000 people. Nine didn’t renew the contract for TYATR with Sony last December, another cost saving along with abandoning the ITN News contract and underbidding for the CBS news contract. The loss of the CBS deal means Dr Phil will move to Ten later this year. But consider this: TYATR wouldn’t have cost a lot of money, maybe $30,000 a week or so. The Catch-Up will be far more expensive: four hosts, a studio set, a program infrastructure, studio costs and the added costs of sharing the studios with Kerry Anne Kennerley’s 9am program and Today/A Current Affair. It is going to have to start paying its way immediately under the new edicts from Park Street. Dr Phil, Days Of Our Lives and The Young And The Restless were all cost effective and had solid audiences which could be sold to advertisers. This new program has much higher costs and an uncertain audience. There’s a lot riding on this idea: it will be compared to that hoary old daytime staple, Beauty and the Beast, but this one has no beast, as yet. And Mia Freedman has a lot riding on it. If it works, she’s an instant guru, if not, its back to the magazines and The Glasshouse, if it ever returns.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tennis again did the job for Seven, proving that several foreigners hitting a fluffy yellow ball around a court in Melbourne was better viewing than a bunch of foreigners whacking and nudging a white ball around an oval in Adelaide. But there were 10 programs with a million or more viewers as the pace picks up ahead of the start of ratings. Ten returned a new series of NCIS to its schedule at 8.30pm and it was the most watched program last night with 1.434 million viewers. Today Tonight was second with 1.427 million, followed by Seven News (1.332 million), just ahead of Nine News (1.290 million). Seven’s Home and Away averaged 1.252 million, then Ten’s second episode of The Simpsons at 8pm (1.193 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.060 million) and the first ep of The Simpsons double at 7.30 pm (1.058 million). Then came A Current Affair with 1.043 million and suffering from the time delay in Brisbane with the cricket telecast – it lost well over 100,000 viewers. Seven’s night tennis from 7.30pm averaged 1.003 million as Roger Federer proved the viewers right, while on Nine the sad old Poms proved to everyone that once again they were losers. Nine’s evening cricket averaged 835,000 but didn’t go to air in Adelaide because the game wasn’t a sell-out. It will on Friday for Australia vs. England.

The Losers: The England cricket team, people who won’t watch a fabulous sportsman like Federer.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally by just 42,000 viewers and by 114,000 in Perth. Seven lost Sydney and Melbourne to Nine but won Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Today Tonight won by 384,000 thanks to the low audience in Brisbane. But even with ACA‘s normal Brisbane audience TT would still have won clearly. Seven is closing on a deal with Anna Coren. Ten News was solid with 917,000 viewers, the 7pm ABC News helped The 7.30 Report which held at 866,000, despite the attractions of the cricket and the tennis on Nine and Seven. Nightline averaged 476,000 at an earlier time because the cricket finished early from Adelaide. The Kiwis won with 10 overs or so to spare. Ten’s Late News/Sports Tonight averaged 455,000 at 10.30 pm. The second night of SBS’s new look World News Australia saw the audience fall to 177,000. It’s quickly looking like the Stan Grant Show. The late SBS News averaged 244,000 at 9.30pm. In the morning early Sunrise beat Early Today and 7am Sunrise (404,000) beat 7am Today (256,000).

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 28.4% (32.7% last week) from Nine with 25.4% (25.8%), Ten with 24.2% (21.0%), the ABC with 17.1% (15.7%) and SBS with 5.0% (4.9%). Nine leads the week 31.7% to 26.2% for Seven. Nine won Sydney, Ten won Perth (yes, really!) and Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. In regional areas Prime/7Qld won with 29.3% from Nine’s WIN/NBN with 26.9%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.5%, the ABC with 15.7% and SBS with 5.6%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A competitive night with NCIS making for a good choice for non sports lovers (or non cricket or tennis watchers) and Ten did well. The second night of World News Australia and its very East Coast Australia. And Mary Kostakidis didn’t look a happy camper last night. Red Kerry was back interviewing the PM and Kev Rudd last night. It was OK but Rodger Federer was a classic, more so than a couple of pollies in full election speak. Tonight its the tennis again, a couple of tired summer sitcoms on Nine and then the above average Close To Home (it still is a bit too formulaic), an average night on Ten with the final of Australian Princess, and an average night on the ABC.

Peter Fray

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