TVNZ joins the TV industry slump. The New Zealand Government-owned TVNZ saw a 15.5% fall in its half year net profit and has warned of job cuts and other cost cutting in the next few months to right the ship. The company is expecting the slump in revenues which drove the profit fall to continue in the second half, which is a direct result of audience losses to Canwest Mediaworks and Sky TV’s satellite business (which bought the Prime NZ free to air network last year when Nine Network declined to exercise an option). TVNZ said earnings were NZ19.7 million (or $A17.38 million), down $NZ3.6m on the same period last year. Chief executive Rick Ellis has announced redundancies of between 140 and 160 among its 1000-strong staff, many of them in news, but he said any new cost cutting would not involve further job cuts. Like parts of the Australian commercial TV network, TVNZ was still dealing with the legacy of high costs built up in the revenue boom from 2002 to 2005 and the falling audience share. Being government-owned, TVNZ also had to pay higher interest costs after being forced by the country’s Treasury to take on more debt last year and to pay the Government $NZ84.5m ($A74.5m) in dividends. Its commercial rival, the Ten Network stablemate, CanWest Mediaworks (which has TV and radio interests in NZ), is due to report its interim result on Monday and brokers are expecting it to earn a net profit of between $NZ13 million and $NZ14 million. Like the Ten Network in Australia, Canwest Mediaworks has been put on the market by the Canadian parent to see how much it could be sold for. Some brokers say that proportionately the NZ business might fetch more than the Ten.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Thursday night and the swimming finally did something for Nine, assisted by the AFL Footy Show, and to a lesser extent, its NRL cousin. Nine won the night. Seven News was the most watched program with 1.426 million viewers, followed by Today Tonight with 1.404 million. Seven’s 8pm program, My Name Is Earl, averaged 1.290 million and the World Swimming Titles were fourth with 1.176 million from 7pm to 9.20pm, which effectively won the night. Nine News was next with 1.153 million, Seven’s 7pm program, Home and Away, was next with 1.126 million, The Biggest Loser, was on 1.121 million and Nine’s A Current Affair was eighth with 1.114 million. Law and Order SVU, Ten, 8.30pm, was next with 1.041 million while Seven’s How I Met Your Mother, averaged 1.034 million. Seven’s Bones averaged 1.002 million, its best performance of the year, running over almost two hours from 8.30pm to 10.20pm. Lost was rested (wrong guide for me yesterday) because the first run in the US was six programs, Nine had the swimming on and the next two weeks are Easter and a sort of “rest period” for some programs. The Footy Show had 997,000. The NRL show lost ground in Sydney, down to 238,000 from 272,000 last week while there was no change in Brisbane: a low 107,000; the AFL show jumped to 423,000 in Melbourne and that was the frosting on the ratings cake for Nine last night. It was the highest audience for any program in any market. Jamie at Home on Ten at 7.30 averaged 967,000; Saving Babies, 919,000 and Law and Order CI averaged 812,000 at 9.30pm for Ten. The swimming averaged 421,000 in Melbourne, the second highest audience nationally.

The Losers: None really except Ten’s Neighbours sank under 800,000 to 779,000: the extra money and revamp can’t come too quickly — it’s looking old. Inspector Rex averaged 398,000 in repeat for SBS at 7.30pm.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight had very clear wins: both won all five markets clearly and didn’t need their Perth margins. Seven News in Sydney did well with the coverage of the Sydney Harbour boating tragedy putting Ian Ross on harbourside and Sam Armytage in the studio while Nine was stuck in the studio at Willoughby. Both did solid reports. The difference worked: Seven News averaged 389,000 in Sydney, Nine, 327,000. Today Tonight had a clear margin over ACA which has been hosted out of Melbourne and the swimming titles. ABC News averaged 959,000, The 7.30 Report, 718,000. Lateline averaged 234,000, Lateline Business, 109,000. Ten News averaged 905,000 (it’s had good figures all week), the Late News/Sports Tonight, 382,000. SBS News averaged 171.000 at 6.30pm and 132,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Today rose to 282,000 on Sarah Murdoch’s last day (she finished up today) and 7am Sunrise averaged 437,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.3% (30.0% last week) from Seven with 28.1% (27.5%), Ten with 22.7% (24.0%), the ABC with 14.1% (13.2%) and SBS with 4.8% (5.3%). Nine won Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Adelaide and Perth as the swimming and AFL Footy Shows just didn’t have the same impact as they did in Melbourne. Seven leads 32.8% to 25.3% in regional areas though yet another win to Prime/7Qld with 29.7% from WIN/NBN with 27.5%, Southern Cross (Ten), 23.3%, the ABC with 13.9% and SBS with 5.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine splits the swimming in Sydney and Brisbane tonight with the NRL, while Seven starts the AFL with Melbourne playing St Kilda. This will be a test of viewing loyalties. Ten has Sydney v West Coast tomorrow night in Sydney. If you don’t like football or swimming, there’s not much else on tonight or tomorrow night on TV. Pay TV of course beckons, but it will have NRL, AFL and cricket galore. Nine has cricket early Sunday morning. Sunday evening Seven rests Australia’s Got Talent and Ugly Betty for a Cirque Du Soleil thing. Grey’s Anatomy and What About Brian are new eps. Nine has the swimming and then a repeat of CSI and CSI Miami. Ten has The Biggest Loser and then the return of Rove at 8.30pm and a program called Pussycat Dolls Present. The promos look, well, odd for a free to network, but then Seven is showing Cheaters at 10.30pm Sundays. The ABC has the last of the Constructing Australia docos at 7.30pm, then Miss Marple at 8.30pm.