The Oz covers NRL highlights brawl but misses the point. The Australian finally got around to covering the Telstra legal action against Premier Media group (half owned by News and PBL) and News’s digital arm, News Digital Media, over showing highlights of NRL games on the Fox Sports website and via mobile phones. The Oz‘s coverage was in its Media section today and looked at the dispute from the point of view of “fair dealing”. The paper completely missed the point of the story: that Telstra is suing its co-shareholders in Foxtel including News Ltd, and the exposing of the conflict of interest News has in rugby league. But the SMH pinged the conflict once again in reports today on page one and in the lead sports page when it pointed out that the NRL (half owned by News) will have to decide which side it supports in the case because the League is the copyright holder. The SMH quoted NRL boss David Gallop as saying that the Telstra action was a “case about us rather than one involving us”. But the paper quotes an “insider” (inside what isn’t clear) who pointed out that as the copyright holder the NRL would be required to be a party to the action should it go to a full trial in the Federal Court. As the SMH says, “Either way, the NRL will be in direct conflict with its half owner, or its major sponsor”. So what chance News forcing Premier Media to pull its horns in and cut the provocative NRL highlights? — Glenn Dyer

SMH pokes its head into One.Tel hearing. Meanwhile, the SMH‘s news team has finally worked out that there is a story at the special liquidator’s examination in the NSW Supreme Court. Yesterday, Crikey remarked on the absence of coverage of the case in both Fairfax and News Ltd papers. Fairfax courts and business reporter, Liz Sexton, has apparently poked her head in and covered the hearing but it wasn’t published. Until today, when a report popped up in this morning’s business section. Still no coverage in The Australian. — Glenn Dyer

Readership always sounds better than sales. The Australian‘s Media section also carries a story on TV Week, the promoter of The Logies. The story is accompanied by a photo of the mag’s editor Emma Nolan with a caption which reads: “TV Week editor Emma Nolan says writing about local television drama is an art form. The APC title sells more than one million copies a week”. But if you read the story you find: “According to the latest Roy Morgan figures, the ACP glossy had 1,082,000 readers at the end of December last year.” And if you consult the ACP website for TV Week you find it sells just 273,297 copies a week. The readership sounds better but TV Week doesn’t sell “more than a million copies a week.” — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A close win to Seven last night as viewers sat down and watched a wide selection, with a taste for the 8.30 to 9.30pm slot on the ABC. Seven News was tops with 1.378 million, Today Tonight was next with 1.310 million and Ten’s repeat of House at 8.30pm averaged 1.236 million in third. Then came The Chaser at 9pm with its highest ever audience of 1.236 million, followed by Spicks and Specks at 8.30pm with 1.224 million. Nine News was next with 1.214 million, followed by Seven’s one off doco, The Return of The 707 (all about finding and rebuilding the first Qantas 707 jet) at 7.30pm with 1.210 million. Ten’s The Biggest Loser had 1.194 million, followed by A Current Affair (1.122 million) and Home And Away (1.121 million). Seven’s Heroes averaged 1.121 million, Nine’s 7.30pm program, Strictly Baby Ballroom averaged 1.056 million and the 7pm ABC News had 1.023 million. Repeats of Cold Case (513,000) and Without A Trace (462,000) were low because the AFL Footy Show went to air in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Prison Break averaged 927,000 at 9.30pm and Ten’s The Con Test averaged 930,000. Nine rested McLeod’s Daughters. 24 won the 10.30 to 11.30pm slot for Seven with 521,000!

The Losers: The Catherine Tate Show at 9.30pm on the ABC is not Little Britain or as funny. 708,000 viewers means 40% of The Chaser‘s audience said this isn’t for us and went elsewhere. Nine’s wasted repeats of Cold Case and Without A Trace in Sydney and Brisbane — the AFL Footy Show was shown in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth because Seven has AFL on tonight in those markets and Nine knows it cannot compete against the real thing. The NRL Footy Show is on tonight (no NRL game) and yet Nine should have shown it last night in Sydney and Brisbane and put Cold Case and Without A Trace on tonight. The AFL Footy Show was shown for the benefit of Melbourne where it was the most watched program. In Perth (19th) and Adelaide (16th) it bombed badly.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally and in every market but Sydney. Today Tonight won nationally and lost Melbourne. Both had big wins nationally and didn’t need their big margins in Perth. Ten News averaged 792,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 491,000. Nightline averaged 300,000. The Catch Up, 182,000 at 1pm (and now not seen in regional areas, its time is ending). The 7pm ABC News was strong and The 7.30 Report averaged 852,000. Lateline, 216,000; Lateline Business, 94,000. SBS News averaged 147,000 at 6.30pm and 162,000 at 9.30pm. Dateline averaged 159,000. 7am Sunrise averaged 435,000; 7am Today, 256,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 28.4% (29.9% a week earlier) from Nine with 26.1% (26.6%), Ten with 23.8% (23.9), the ABC with 18.0% (16.7%) and SBS with 3.7% (4.0%). Nine won Sydney, Seven won Melbourne (despite the AFL Footy Show being on), Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Nine actually finished 3rd in Adelaide and Perth so the AFL Footy Show doesn’t travel well because of its Melbourne-centric approach. If Nine had got closer in Adelaide and especially Perth, it probably would have won, running the AFL Footy Show in both markets clipped its wings last night. Seven leads the week 28.2% to 26.4%. In regional areas Prime/7Qld had a narrow win with 27.6% to 26.5% for WIN/NBN. Southern Cross (Ten) was third with 24.1%, the ABC was on 17.4% and SBS was on 4.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: That 8.30 to 9.30pm timeslot will worry the commercial networks because the ABC will pull away younger viewers prized by advertisers on Ten and Seven. Nine’s older viewers won’t be disturbed. The Chaser hit its straps last night. The audience and approach at 9pm on Wednesday is less “pub” than on Friday nights. A different class of audience watches. Apart from that and the way Nine split its audience to accommodate the AFL Footy Show it was a fairly average night’s viewing. Tonight, Easter approaches and for those not into religion there’s sport, sport and more sport on FTA and Pay TV. Don’t forget the Easter egg hunts and to eat your Easter buns. The economy depends on it. The Chaser (434,000) and Spicks and Specks (394,000) were the top two programs in Sydney last night — the top two programs in any market in fact.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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