Today Tonight‘s recruitment drive. Today Tonight is looking to replace Nicholas ”Granny in chains” Boot, and signalling something of a sea change in editorial emphasis. High journalistic standards? Novel.

Nine cuts bolster independent production ranks. Just as the current leadership of PBL Media ensured that the faltering Seven Network was rebuilt with TV talent from Nine, so the network is again doing its best to boost a newly emerging team of independent producers. Nine staffers already dominate the management of the country’s biggest independent production house: Southern Star now owned by Southern Cross Broadcasting. Now at independent production house, DSP, a similar situation is emerging. DSP is a venture between veteran TV producer, Dennis Spencer and his old mates at Beyond International. Stuart Clark, another former senior producer at Nine, has slowly built a group of freelancing producers from the old school. Ross Phillips, a genre producer at Nine and former head of production at the XYZ Pay TV Network, is now overseeing Jamie Durie’s new show at Seven about backyards (without it being too blitzy). And DSP is said to be working on a pilot for a crime series called Police Files (a working title?). Former senior Nine producers Cliff Neville, Steve Barrett (a well known reporter producer and newspaper crime writer) and lately Graham Thurston, a former senior Nine News producer, are said to be discussing the idea. The exact destination of the program isn’t too clear but DSP are known to be working on a similar idea for Seven. What is clear from the independent producing industry that Seven and Ten have a lot of work underway and being discussed. Nine has virtually nothing in comparison. — Glenn Dyer

Is Aunty looking for attention? The ABC is promoting a new series which is just about to start production in Melbourne. A release yesterday said “The humble suburban library takes on a whole new meaning in the ABC TV’s new comedy-drama The Librarians, which starts production in Melbourne on March 5. “The six-part series centres on the trials and tribulations of Frances O’Brien, a devout Catholic and head librarian. Her life unravels when she is forced to employ her ex-best friend, Christine Grimwood – now a drug dealer – as the children’s librarian.” Sounds interesting: a drug dealer in the Children’s Library? It also sounds like a program constructed to attract attention. Just wait to the tabloids get hold of this one! — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Wednesday night and another win for Seven, a lot closer than previously. The reason, Ten has had its best Wednesday night this year. Seven’s repeat (or re-cut) Border Security was the most watched program at 7.30pm with 1.606 million. Ten’s House was next with 1.504 million; Seven’s Serious Crash Unit was next with 1.478 million at 8pm, followed by Seven News with 1.415 million and Today Tonight lifted to 1.360 million. Nine News was next with 1.248 million, ACA was 7th with 1.228 million. Seven’s 8.30pm program, Heroes averaged 1.219 million, McLeod’s Daughters remains stuck under 1.2 million: 1.166 million last night. Seven’s Home and Away at 7pm with 1.114 million (and winner of the timeslot). Nine’s Without A Trace with 1.1 million; The ABC’s 8.30pm program, Spicks and Specks averaged 1.069 million in 12th slot. Ten’s 7pm program, The Biggest Loser averaged 1.043 million, then the 7pm ABC News with 1.013 million and Nine’s 8.30 program, Cold Case was 15th with 1.007 million. Temptation (Nine, 7pm) averaged 997,000; Medium on Ten at 9.30pm, 995,000, The New Inventors on the ABC at 8pm, 893,000 and Extras, 9pm on the ABC, 838,000 for a wicked episode.

The Losers: Nine’s Cold Case and Without A Trace. Not so much losers but more underwhelming. Looking stale, as Lost (Tonight on Seven) is starting to appear. Prison Break on Seven at 9.30 pm: 978,000 for the latest episode of On The Run. Not a convincing number and its an unattractive program. Is this really about people who escaped Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News newsroom? Ten’s Con Test still low at 779,000 at 7.30pm: is it building? Be afraid! The Worst Week of My Life on the ABC at 9.30pm (588,000). Why kill The Glass House (I know; to bring The Chaser forward to 9pm Wednesdays) and put on the most cringeworthy program on TV? It’s remarkably like the appalling Michael Crawford vehicle Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em from the 70s. It’s a program so liked by English people, blundering well-meaning idiots who somehow survive terrible things, that would see you and me locked up and on the front page of a tabloid and ruined for life, and yet he gets to return the next week, and occasionally in repeat!

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and TT put more distance between it and TT. The news won by 167,000 viewers nationally and 124,000 in Perth Seven News lost Sydney, won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Today Tonight lost Sydney and Melbourne but won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The 7pm ABC News didn’t help The 7.30 Report with 673,000 viewers with another boring Kerry O’Brien debate on Education between the Federal Minister and the federal opposition’s spokesman. Like Difference of Opinion on Monday night: worthy but dull, and not viewer friendly. Why not do a debate like that along the lines of Spicks and Specks? A few smart questions, a bit of humour, a bit of stick from a comedian or two, a revved up audience with the relevant pollies copping it. Elsewhere, Lateline 275,000, Lateline Business, 151,000, Ten News At Five, a high 919,000, Late News/Sports Tonight, 473,000. Nine’s Nightline, 409,000. SBS World News Australia, 164,000 at 6.30 pm, 185,000 for the 9.30 edition while Dateline averaged 198,000. 7am Sunrise on Seven, 412,000, 7am Today, 273,000.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 29.7% (31.3% a week earlier) from Nine with 27.0 (no change) Ten with 23.2% (22.4%), The ABC on 15.8% (15.0%) and SBS with 4.4% (4.3%). Seven leads the week, 31.5 to Nine with 27.2%. Seven won Sydney (where Nine is weak), Melbourne (where Seven is stronger than a year ago), Brisbane was a tie, Adelaide was a win to Nine (where NWS is doing the best of all Nine stations at the moment) and Seven won Perth with Ten second and Nine third. In regional areas though a win to Nine with a 31.0% share for WIN/NBN, from Prime/7Qld on 27.0%, Southern Cross on 22.1% for Ten, The ABC on 14.8% and SBS on 5.1%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Tonight, Nine will win with RPA and Missing Persons Unit. Will Seven’s Lost find its way? Will How I Met Your Mother on Seven at 7.30pm recover its mojo and climb back past a million? My Name Is Earl is doing well at 8pm. Getaway on Nine at 7.30pm is struggling. Time to Go? Seven’s Great Outdoors is doing well now at 6.30pm on Saturdays. Inspector Rex in repeat on SBS at 7.30pm. Ten has the Law and Order two hours from 8.30pm to 10.30pm. Saving Babies at 8 pm. Nine’s The Catch Up up to 176,000 at 1pm but it is an old fashioned program with creaky sets, small audience (it’s hard to get people out to Willoughby) and the framing is poor of the quartet on the big couch with Libby Gorr having to lean across people. Bones will creak for Seven at 9.30pm and that’s why Nine will win.

Peter Fray

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