CBS Radio fires Imus. CBS Radio in the US has set a challenge for Macquarie Radio, but somehow I think the John Singleton-controlled company will dog the issue. CBS Radio host, Don Imus, who was suspended for making racially suspect comments when he called the female basketball team from Rutgers University “nappy-headed hos”, has now been fired permanently by both CBS radio and the MSNBC website. According to the US reports Imus was very influential on CBS Radio, known for his ability to get high-profile guests, including Presidential candidates and political figures such as John McCain, John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman. Much like Jones. — Glenn Dyer

Surprise Surprise, Nine’s still out of ideas. The Nine Network continues to mine its past for program ideas. Word from the station is that it is looking to revive the moderately successful format called Surprise Surprise which was made in Melbourne and ran in 2000 and 2001. It was canned because it ran out of steam and was very expensive. The network’s Director of Light Entertainment, Cos Cardone, was the executive producer of the first series. The program is a sort of “stake-out”, surprise well-known celebrity guests in pubs, clubs, restaurants, anywhere where they can be embarrassed and made to look foolish. One of the reasons it was canned here, besides cost and average ratings, was the lack of depth in our celebrity ranks (as Dancing With The Stars has found in the past year). In reality Surprise Surprise is another celebrity show and as viewers showed with Nine’s Dancing on Ice and Seven’s Celebrity Survivor, TV viewers are losing interest. One of the few good things to come from Surprise Surprise was host, Jay Laga’aia, who has gone on to bigger and better things as a star of Play School on the ABC which is obviously more satisfying that the contrived nature of Surprise Surprise but he ruled himself out of returning as host by bagging Nine’s continuing white-anting of Today host Jessica Rowe. The latest speculation about Rowe was triggered by comments made by Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Gary Linnell who said in Melbourne media reports earlier in the week that Rowe could be “the fly in the ointment” if Today‘s ratings dip on her return. — Glenn Dyer

Dolly gets caught out. Has James Packer’s PBL Media gone deeper into the soft porn business? It already sells “boys” mags like Ralph and some of the content of Cleo magazine wouldn’t get into a public library, but on Page 24 of the latest issue of the new look Dolly, there’s a photograph that would sit well in Playboy or Penthouse. It has set off a firestorm inside Packer’s ACP Magazines and caused a leading outlet to ban the mag. The offending photo is of a model on a catwalk with the front of her skirt open, exposing the fact that she’s knicker-less. According to Dolly staff, this was to have been covered with some sort of sticker but this didn’t happen. The photo caption was all coy and suggestive at the same time:

Look Close

Ewww! Not that close

Ummm… We think you forgot something

Okay, so it’s probably rush, rush backstage at the fashion shows, but surely there’s always time for undies unless… Hang on, are you friends with Paris and Linds?

World from ACP is that retailer Woolworths isn’t amused and is refusing to stock the magazine this issue. Now that is serious because PBL and Woolies are very close and it will cost money. One for PBL media Executive chairman, John Alexander, and his CEO, Ian Law. Both have responsibility for ACP Magazines. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
A win to Nine last night, thanks mainly to the popularity of the AFL and NRL Footy Shows. Seven News was tops with 1.379 million, from Today Tonight with 1.326 million (Sam Armytage is impressing with her stand-in work). Nine’s Missing Persons Unit returned to 8.30pm with 1.256 million and My Name Is Earl finished with 1.204 million. Nine News was next with 1.203 million, followed by A Current Affair (1.180 million), Getaway (1.180 million), Ten’s 8.30pm repeat of Law And Order SVU (1.149 million) and The Footy Shows (1.136 million – the AFL program was again tops in Melbourne with 432,000 viewers). Home And Away won the tight 7pm slot with 1.128 million. Seven’s Lost returned from holiday but could only average 1.113 million. How I Met Your Mother averaged 1.088 million at 7.30pm for Seven; The Biggest Loser had 1.075 million and Temptation averaged 1.012 million viewers. Seven’s The Amazing Race returned at 9.30pm for 845,000. That was not good. Inspector Rex on SBS in repeat at 7.30pm, 426,000.

The Losers: Lost continues to fade away for Seven. No lift for its return after the short holiday. Seven will need to start thinking about a replacement soon. It will probably get switched to a 9.30pm slot. Seven will wait to see what replaces MPU which is due to end shortly. Neighbours had 694,000 last night, a big drop. Needs that much talked about revamp badly.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Sydney. Likewise Today Tonight over ACA. Nine News and ACA went back to winning in Sydney though. Seven News and TT didn’t need their Perth margins to win clearly. Nine’s losses in Melbourne and Brisbane now becoming a problem. Ten News averaged 801,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 389,000. Nightline on Nine, 542,000. The 7pm ABC News averaged 887,000; The 7.30 Report, 719,000; Lateline, 256,000; Lateline Business, 153,000. SBS News at 6.30pm, 166,000. 7am Sunrise, 374,000; 7am Today 266,000: closing? Or holiday impact?

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 31.4% (24.3% last week) from Seven with 27.3% (31.7%), Ten was third with 22.6%(24.0%), the ABC was on 13.6% (14.7%) with SBS on 5.1% (5.2%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Adelaide and Perth. The NRL Footy Show lifted to 168,000 in Brisbane last night to give Nine a close win. Seven leads the week 29.0% to 27.7%. In regional areas WIN/NBN won for Nine with 31.4%, from Prime/7Qld with 27.3%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.9%, the ABC with 14.0% and SBS on 6.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The Footy Shows and MPU did it for Nine in a good performance but as much as the Melbourne-based management (in Sydney) of Nine might gloat, there’s another five to six nights they have trouble with. And they are only focused on the AFL Footy Show. Sydney is a sideshow. Tonight Nine’s major winter sport, NRL, will go to air and Eddie McGuire and the others probably won’t watch much, if at all. And they should because the coverage is OK this year. Paul Vautin’s League role has been stripped right back and Peter Sterling has switched and he is better for it. His Sunday afternoon contributions are pretty good and Andrew Voss continues to impress as an all round hand. He can call anything it seems and is in danger of being a modern Norman May. Tonight Seven wins the south with the AFL, Nine wins the north with the NRL but Better Homes and Gardens does well nationally. Tomorrow night there is no AFL in Sydney (it’s St Kilda and the Bulldogs!) but Saturday is now either the ABC or go out or DVDs. The West Wing is finishing so that should be acknowledged. Easter break is over on Sunday and its back to full ratings: The Rich List, the final of Australia’s Got Talent, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI. A moment of truth for Rove and Ten at 8.30pm. That will be the most watched result on Sunday.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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