Pay TV leading the way for local content. Nominations for Pay TV’s version of the Logies, the Astra Awards, were released yesterday and they certainly highlight one thing: that there is more interesting drama and Australian content on Foxtel than on the FTA networks. Love My Way will not only go close to winning an Astra Award yet again but also a Logie for Best Australian drama. All three commercial FTA networks look at Australia’s Next Top Model and think “why couldn’t we have done that?”. Compare Dangerous to Home and Away and Neighbours and you get an idea of what can be done in TV drama in this country with a bit of wit and imagination. But the most interesting aspect of the Astra Awards is that the voting is online and interactive. The Logies’ votes are in TV Week Magazine (and also online) but the catchment for the Astras would be bigger: around 1.8 million Pay TV subscribers compared to around 1.082 million TV Week readers and sales of 273,300 or so a week. And TV Week is an ACP magazine operated from its women’s group, at least with the Astra Awards there is no gender bias inherent in the viewing audience.

News Corp gets shareholders “excited”. The Wall Street Journal reports that News Corp shareholders looking to get help with their proxy votes may get a bit more than they bargained for. Due to transposed digits, the telephone number listed by News Corp for proxy solicitation agent Georgeson Inc. connected callers to an automated woman’s voice that urged them to “get together with exciting people everywhere” and gave an additional number to call. As of Tuesday afternoon, the automated voice that answered that second line greeted callers with a sultry “hey, sexy guy.” The voice went on to eventually ask callers for their credit-card numbers to chat with “working girls,” among others. “We don’t recommend people spend too much time on the phone to that particular number,” says News Corp spokesman Andrew Butcher, who acknowledged the typo.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Nine’s swimming did better last night, even though audience numbers were nothing to write home about. Seven still won the night and even Ten’s House wasn’t good enough to top the list of most watched programs. That went to Seven News with 1.450 million from House with 1.448 million. Seven’s Today Tonight was next with 1.368 million, ahead of Air Crash Investigations which returned to 7.30pm for Seven with 1.351 million. Nine News was next with 1.243 million, followed by The Biggest Loser (1.229 million), A Current Affair (1.193 million), Seven’s Heroes (1.189 million) and The Chaser’s War on Everything (1.172 million at 9pm). The World Swimming Titles averaged 1.167 million (up 190,000 or so on Tuesday night), Spicks and Specks had 1.157 million and the 7pm ABC News.

The Losers: Seven’s Prison Break (On The Run) slipped back under the million viewer mark last night at 9.40pm (not a helpful time to start) but it did beat half of Nine’s tired repeat of Cold Case (917,000) and half of Without A Trace (764,000). Seven though fell in a hole at 10.35pm with 24, just 475,000. The Con Test on Ten at 7.30pm eased upwards to average 842,000.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight won nationally by big margins and didn’t need their Perth lifeline to top Nine. TT won all markets bar Brisbane, Seven News won all markets, bar Sydney. Ten News averaged 888,000 and the Late News/Sports Tonight, 416,000. The 7pm ABC News couldn’t help The 7.30 Report which eased to 736,000. Lateline averaged 200,000, Lateline Business 114,000. SBS News averaged 196,000 at 6.30pm, 170,000 at 9.30pm. Dateline, 168,000. 7am Sunrise down a touch from Tuesday with 438,000. 7am Today also down to 251,000 but that was confused by the on-off-on-off World Cup Cricket broadcast that was completed this morning. Those situations can make for major headaches and confused mornings for viewers and the program.

The Stats: Seven won with 29.2% (28.0% a week earlier) from Nine with 26.2% (27.5% a week earlier). Ten was third with 23.9% (23.8%), the ABC was on 16.7% (16.0%) and SBS was on 4.0% (4.6%). Nine and Seven drew Sydney with the swimming helping but Seven won Melbourne where the swimming also did well but Ten was a bit stronger. Nine won Brisbane from Seven. But the swimming hasn’t rated all week in Adelaide and Perth where Seven won strongly and won nationally by a good margin. In regional areas it was another win to Prime/7Qld with 29.4% from WIN/NBN with 26.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 23.6%, the ABC on 15.8% and SBS with 4.6%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The swimming had its highest audience of the week so far but will Grant Hackett’s terrible performance leave fickle Australian sports fans ignoring the rest of the meet? Tonight Nine segues from the swimming to the Footy Shows. It’s a big ask having so much sport on a lower viewing night. Female viewers will head for Seven and Ten. The swimming and the Footy Shows will do well, for a mostly male audience which is also a bit older than the audiences watching Seven and Ten. Seven has My Name Is Earl and then Lost and Bones which almost two hours tonight as Seven hurries it out of the schedule. Ten has a bit of Jamie Oliver at Home, Saving Babies and back to back Law and Orders. The ABC looks listless and SBS has Inspector Rex in repeat at 7.30. It’s not the most inspiring of nights. Dropping the Chaser into Thursday night would have provided a decent anchor at 9pm for an underwhelming night of viewing all round. It did well last night with the solid lead in off Spicks and Specks and added 20,000 viewers.