Nine too scared to let Hills host the Logies. Just over three weeks ago Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph reported that Eddie McGuire had ruled himself out of hosting this year’s Logies and his Nine Network seemed to anoint Adam Hills, the host of the ABC program, Spicks and Specks. Or, rather, a Nine “source” did with these comments: “Although McGuire would not speculate on Hills being handed the role, a Nine source disclosed that the comedian was favoured as host because of his ‘network neutrality’ and his ability to ‘actually make people laugh’.” So what are we now to make of reports that the Logies organisers (ie. TV Week magazine executives, published by ACP Magazines, part of PBL Media) have seemingly rejected Hills for the hosting gig. This was on the Ninemsn website on Friday — it’s also part of the PBL empire so we can take it as semi-official press statement: “Spicks and Specks quiz master Adam Hills has been named a presenter, but not the host, of the TV Week Logie Awards on Sunday, May 6. Hills was a hot favourite to be the sole host at the Logies after recent years of multiple presenters, including Eddie McGuire, Andrew O’Keefe and Rove McManus, and last year’s collection of past Gold Logie winners. But organisers said on Thursday Hills will be a “key presenter”, along with other personalities soon to be named.” So is Nine and PBL Media really that frightened that by giving someone from the ABC the main hosting gig, it might expose the lack of on air talent at Nine? That must be the only reason. It must be galling to realise that Bert Newton is still by far the best hosting talent Nine has for a light entertainment gig. Eddie’s not far behind. — Glenn Dyer

NSW election coverage a winner for the ABC. The ABC was the only network to take the apparently boring NSW election seriously on Saturday night, delivering an at times ropy coverage hosted by Kerry O’Brien from 6.30pm. It actually did very well, pushing the ABC to a clear win in Sydney on Saturday night with a share of 32.9%, which vindicated the coverage. Seven was second followed by Nine and Ten. The election coverage averaged a high 340,000 from 6.30pm to 10.30pm, despite a phone that seemed to ring constantly (the latest from the booths?). Then there was the spelling of the southern Sydney suburb of Sutherland as “Sthutherland”. But the highlight was the unfortunate reference to a NSW National Party MP as “The Strangler” – it certainly made me sit up and take more interest. The “strangler” reference was in connection with the re-election of the NP member for Coffs Harbour; the line “Andrew Fraser the strangler won” appeared in a caption three times. That was a reference to events in October 2005 when he crossed the floor in a debate and tried to throttle the Labor minister Joe Tripodi. Fraser later admitted that he was drunk. — Glenn Dyer

Corporate welfare at its worst. The Nine Network has managed to prise another $100,000 out of the South Australian Government to keep its drama series, McLeod’s Daughters, on air in 2008. Nine had wanted an extra $200,000 a year to keep McLeod’s in production in SA, but the silly Rann Government, which had already stumped up $300,000 a year for the past seven years for no discernible return, could have called Nine’s bluff. Nine needs McLeod’s. Canning it after this year would mean spending a lot of money between now and the end of the year to get a replacement series on air.  It would have been the last thing Nine would have wanted. Taking it back to NSW and shooting the exteriors in South Australia would not have made one bit of difference to the program except possibly to cheapen the high production values. McLeod’s is nearing the end of its run anyway. Ratings have picked up after a slow start but the storylines are getting improbable or tired. It seems amazing that the extra $100,000 will make a difference when the producers were so adamant that it had to be an extra $200,000 and in terms of a $19 million budget, the $100,000 is OK but wouldn’t pay for more than eight to nine minutes of one episode. There are around 40 eps a year. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: It was a very bad night for the Nine Network as the decision to telecast the world swimming titles backfired badly – without Ian Thorpe, not many people were interested and it only averaged 789,000 from 7pm. The decision to screen two hours of finals and semi-finals in prime time on the biggest viewing night of the week handed the night to Seven which won by 11 points and can’t lose this week, the seventh of official ratings. Grey’s Anatomy was the top program with 1.813 million, followed by Ugly Betty (both on Seven) with 1.620 million at 7.30pm. Australia’s Got Talent averaged 1.588 million in third and Nine News was next with 1.541 million, just ahead of Seven News with 1.453 million. Ten’s Weigh-In ep of The Biggest Loser again did well with 1.290 million and Nine’s one-off With Friends Like These at 6.30pm averaged 1.105 million. Will that bring it back? Cameron Daddo is working on other projects and may not be available for some months. The ABC’s Miss Marple movie at 8.30pm averaged 1.090 million and the second of the three Constructing Australia docos on the ABC at 7.30pm averaged 1.058 million. Ten’s repeat of Thank God You’re Here had 1.056 million at 6.30pm and the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.056 million. Nine’s 9pm movie Tsunami: The Aftermath averaged 531,000 and Ten’s movie About A Boy had 666,000.

The Losers: Quite a few on Nine: the swimming, the movie. Only the News, boosted by the NRL in Sydney but not in Brisbane, did well, while the one-off With Friends Like These did well enough to suggest Nine might bring it back later in the year if they can get Cameron Daddo and the talent in the one place long enough.
News & CA: Nine News won by 88,000 viewers and won Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne but lost Brisbane, despite the NRL. Daylight saving ending would have had an impact on viewing as it always does. Seven News won Brisbane and Perth. Ten News averaged 921,000. In the morning Weekend Sunrise averaged 478,000, the ABC’s Landline at noon averaged 270,000; Nine’s Sunday, 209,000 and missing a decent lead-in. Insiders on the ABC averaged 152,000; Inside Business, 114,000; Offsiders, 128,000 and Meet the Press on Ten, 88,000. Some daylight saving impact there and there’s the “turn to Seven” for news coverage factor in Weekend Sunrise‘s audience increase, especially in Sydney on the morning after the state poll. None of that for Sunday.
The Stats: Seven won with a 33.2% share (27.3% last week) from Nine with 22.0% (29.5%), Ten with 20.4% (21.5%), the ABC on 18.8% (17.2%) and SBS with 5.6% (4.4%). Seven won all markets. Nine finished fourth in Perth and 3rd in Adelaide. In regional areas Seven won through Prime/7Qld with 32.3% to Southern Cross (Ten) with 21.0%, third was WIN/NBN with 20.6%, just in front of the ABC with 20.0%. SBS was on 6.2%. That was a very unaccustomed position for WIN and NBN and won’t ease the rising concerns that both networks have about Nine’s flailing performance this year.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: It was a Sunday night loss of the sort that Seven was accustomed to for most of the past five years. The swimming at the Commonwealth Games a year ago wasn’t well watched, now the world titles. High class competition, a great win for the women’s 4x100m freestyle last night, but the first night was missing the appearance of I. Thorpe in the men’s 400m freestyle. Now Nine contemplates the next seven nights with between one and two hours of swimming from 7pm. Could it pull the coverage and revert to normal programming? No, the loss of face would be too much (and possible financial damages). Seven and Ten should do well all week (although Ten didn’t lift its share last night because its post 8.30pm programming was as weak as Nine’s).