Correcto. We are indebted to the mischievous Monkey media gossip column in the London Guardian for two of the more outstanding apologies of recent days:

Apologetic departure
Giles Hattersley, previously on the Sunday Times’ News Review section, starts as Arena editor today after a memorable send-off from his former organ. It took the form of a gigantic correction to a January article by Hattersley about Lord Lambton (“Lord Louche, s-x king of Chiantishire”), which stated that Lambton’s son, now Lord Durham, held a party with his sister Catherine that led to the peer banning him from his villa, Cetinale. “In fact,” the Sunday Times glumly noted, “Lord Durham does not have a sister called Catherine, there has not been an orgiastic party of any kind, and Lord Lambton did not ban him from Cetinale at all.” Apart from that … Why the paper only grovelled three days after Hattersley’s defection was announced, and more than two months after the article, is a mystery.

Comical error
Hattersley narrowly beats this correction from the Financial Times: “The White House described the Democratic Iraq withdrawal proposals as being ‘aimed at bringing comity to their internal politics’, not comedy as stated in an article on March 9. The word comedy was taken from the original White House transcript which was corrected after we had gone to press.”

Nine’s woes spread to the regionals. The woes of the Nine Network and a soft advertising market hurt the Newcastle based TV station, NBN, in the six months to January. The company’s parent, the listed SP Telemedia, said yesterday that NBN’s net profit after tax fell 3.8% to $4.137 million from the $4.301 million earned in the six months to January, 2006. The company is an affiliate of the Nine Network in Newcastle and northern NSW. It is partly controlled by Washington Soul Pattinson and WIN Corporation, the other Nine affiliate which is currently involved in a brawl with PBL Media for control of STW 9 in Perth. NBN’s chief executive, Jeff Eather, said that while NBN Television maintained its position as the highest rating station in Australia, benefiting from strong local programming, “performance, however, was affected by a soft advertising market and the Nine Network’s ratings performance.” — Glenn Dyer

Nine goes back to the future With Friends Like These. The Nine Network is heavily promoting a one-off pilot called With Friends Like These, which goes to air this Sunday at 6.30pm. It’s an example of what a TV network does when things get desperate on the programming front. Cameron Daddo makes his first appearance in a hosting role for the network and the first guest will be Anthony LaPaglia, the Australian star of Nine’s Without A Trace. The promos make it clear that it has been filmed in Los Angeles with 50 of LaPaglia’s nearest and dearest: an expensive operation, but marginally cheaper than trying to do it here. It could mean new life for Nine on Sunday nights if the pilot works but the concept is an old one, as old as This Is Your Life, because that is what it is, just without Mike Munro. If the program works Nine wants it back later in the year, if it doesn’t, that’s another call to Foxtel asking about a co-production, cross platform ideas etc. It will be going up against Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent on Seven and repeats of Thank God You’re Here on Ten. Its real role on Sunday evening is simply to fill the gap from 6.30 to 7pm when the coverage of the world swimming titles starts in prime time. So its audience shouldn’t be an indication of its future success or immediate failure. — Glenn Dyer

Ten wants US modelling show. At last week’s Pay TV talkfest in Sydney, senior Foxtel executive Brian Walsh indicated that free-to-air networks were interested in the group’s program, Australia’s Next Top Model, the local version of the US program, America’s Next Top Model. Ten denied it was interested in the Australian version but US reports say it is interested in the US version and has contacted CBS Paramount, one of its US production partners, to see what the availability is and if it can be licensed for free-to-air TV in Australia. Ten has built a close relationship with CBS Paramount: last year it extended the Paramount production deal and added the CBS news content, which has seen programs like Letterman move from Nine to Ten. The daytime program, Dr Phil, will follow soon. Foxtel has been showing both the US and its local series and there will have to be negotiations between Ten, Foxtel and CBS Paramount to try and reduce the so-called holdback period. That applies to programs on FTA TV going to Pay TV and vice versa. Typically they are of six to 12 months duration, depending on the popularity of the program (the lower the ratings on FTA the sooner it will end up on Pay TV). Ten wants to show the US program later this year. — Glenn Dyer

Monday night football returns with a bang for Foxtel. The return of Monday night NRL football was a success for Foxtel. More than 238,000 people watched in the five capital cities and around 326,000 watched in total when Austar and any remote subscribers are included. 

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tuesday night is Dancing With The Stars night and a Seven win, as it was last night. Nine did a little better than the week before, putting a bit more distance on Ten. Dancing attracted 1.737 million people, All Saints averaged 1.510 million, Seven News 1.413 million, Today Tonight, 1.285 million and The Biggest Loser (intruders edition – shades of Big Brother) averaged 1.229 million. Nine News was 6th with 1.191 million, A Current Affair was 7th with 1.178 million and Home And Away averaged 1.148 million at 7pm. Ten’s NCIS averaged 1.110 million from 8.30 to 9.30pm and Nine’s repeat of 20 to 1 averaged 1.044 million at 7.30pm. Temptation averaged 1.022 million at 7pm and brought up the list of million viewer or more programs last night. Nine’s CSI at 9.30pm averaged 934,000 and the first repeat at 8.30pm, 908,000. All Tea And Scones on the ABC at 8pm averaged 637,000 for its final ep. A good example of solid doco making. Seven’s Crossing Jordan averaged 838,000 from 10pm to 11pm, Ten’s Numb3rs averaged 734,000 at 9.30pm and Neighbours averaged 815,000 at 6.30pm. The Bill averaged 693,000 from 8.30pm.

The Losers: Nine’s use of the CSI repeats at 8.30pm and 9.30pm is only staving off the inevitable. Yes, they are cheap programming and yes, it makes revenue look good, but eventually advertisers ask you to cut rates and you have to because fewer and fewer people are watching. Seven’s Deal or No Deal was up to 835,000, Bert’s Family Feud was up to 557,000. Solid figures.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Brisbane. Seven News won by 222,000 people nationally and 145,000 in Perth. Today Tonight won nationally by 107,000 and 95,000 in Perth. TT beat ACA in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and lost Brisbane. Nine’s Nightline averaged 296,000 around 11.30 pm. Ten News was solid with 830,000 and the 10.30pm Late News/Sports Tonight package averaged 367,000. The 7pm ABC News averaged 985,000 people, The 7.30 Report, 729,000, Lateline, 192,000, Lateline Business, 97,000. SBS News averaged 154,000 at 6.30pm and 157,000 for the half-hour bulletin at 9.30pm. Insight at 8.30 averaged 219,000. And at 7am the gap between Sunrise on Seven, 354,000 and Today, 281,000 continues to narrow. Monday the gap was 30%, Tuesday down to 26%. Daylight savings? Well if it’s that, why is Today adding viewers and Sunrise shedding them? A blip or a rebound, just as Sarah Murdoch departs for a sensible reason: early morning sleep-ins. Today has added around 30,000 to 50,000 on last week, Sunrise has fallen from just over 400,000 most mornings.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 34.0% (35.3% last week) from Nine with 25.1% (23.5%), Ten with 23.6% (23.3%), the ABC with 13.2% (13.6%) and SBS with 4.1% (4.4%). Seven won all five metro markets and leads the week 30.7% to 27.3%. In regional areas Prime/7Qld won with 33.0% to 28.0% for WIN/NBN for Nine; Southern Cross (Ten) was on 23.0%, the ABC was on 12.2% and SBS was on 3.9%

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Dancing With The Stars came back to 90 minutes last night and All Saints started at 9pm, hence its audience rose while Dancing’s eased a touch. What was the move by Ten to program a 90 minute ep of The Biggest Loser. After solid efforts Sunday and Monday nights, last night it again came up trumps, pushing Nine into third from 7pm to 8.30pm. Nine continued at third from 8.30 to 9.30pm with NCIS running second to Dancing and All Saints. TBL won the 7pm timeslot and pushed Home and Away on Seven into second. For whatever reason TBL this week so far has regained the traction it had in its first season last year. Tonight it’s House and the implausible storyline on Ten with TBL and the unfortunate Con Test. Nine has McLeod’s Daughters, hopefully continuing last week’s strength, plus Cold Case and Without A Trace. Seven has Serious Crash Unit, Police Files, Heroes and Prison Break (On The Run), and the ABC has Spicks and Specks and Extras. Its the final ep tonight. The Chaser starts next week.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey