Eddie off the job? Is Eddie McGuire just the figurehead CEO of the Nine Network and not really a player any more? It would seem so after last week. Officially Eddie McGuire was in Cannes on Nine network business, attending the great TV-deal fest called MIP TV. It was due to end on Friday and people quite often stay over for a day or so and return to Australia today or tomorrow. But not Eddie, he made his escape early, arriving in Australia unannounced and then heading for Sydney to take part in Lindsay Fox’s 70th birthday celebrations over the weekend. The fact that he returned to Sydney, without the Nine PR team knowing, has raised eyebrows at Nine. Nine staff say the feeling around the lot at Willoughby is that Eddie is CEO in name only. There’s no back-up in place and all the decisions are made by Ian Law, who is running Nine as well as PBL Media and consults John Alexander, Chris Anderson and James Packer. — Glenn Dyer

Alan Jones back in court. It’s a wonder Alan Jones has got time to be on radio. On Friday he was in a Sydney lower court for sentencing on a charge of naming a juvenile involved in a court case on radio; Jones and his lawyers have already said they will appeal. This week, he is in the NSW Supreme Court (or rather lawyers for Harbour Radio, the subsidiary of Macquarie Radio Network that owns Sydney’s 2GB) defending yet another defamation action. Jones has already been found guilty of defaming Olympic Committee president John Coates in comments he made in connection with the performance of rower Sally Robbins at the Athens Games in 2004. The Supreme Court hearing, due to start today, will determine defences and damages. On Friday, Jones was fined him $1000 and put on a nine-month good behaviour bond. Harbour Radio was also fined, as was  News Ltd because the Daily Telegraph published the then 14-year-old juvenile’s name. Jones’s defence included the claim that he broadcast the name because it had been published in the Telegraph. 2GB and Jones want the conviction altered or lifted — its not a good look having someone with a conviction fronting a radio program. How they do that will be of considerable interest. As the court observed on Friday, Jones had several hours to check if the name of the juvenile could be read on air, and didn’t. — Glenn Dyer

Slow start for Aunty’s new Sideshow. The debut of the ABC’s new program The Sideshow at 7.30pm on Saturday night averaged 648,000 and the final two eps of The West Wing averaged 615,000 from 9.35pm. The Sideshow was fairly average: a few funny spots but they were few and far between. Even the Saturday night ep of The Bill ep did better at 8.30pm with 794,000 people. As a host Paul McDermott was OK, some of the talent was OK (Claire Hooper) but it got off to a slow start with an average intro and then a slow musical number from Evermore. It was a bit derivative but that’s no reason to condemn it, yet. What it needs is a lot more energy. Last night on the ABC, the one-off dramatisation of Prime Minister John Curtin’s turbulent six to nine months in office from late 1941 to early 1942 should have been an object lesson to the producers of The Sideshow. It was well-made, gripping. And it probably re-educated many Australians and taught others about the reality of Australia’s position at that time and the role of Curtin and his importance as a historical figure. Above all it was entertaining, which is the lesson The Sideshow producers should take away: take a few risks. The Sideshow needs to get rid of the net. — Glenn Dyer

Seven’s V8 coverage too quick off the mark. It was interesting to see yesterday’s V8 Supercars race from New Zealand shortened after two crashes in race three to allow Seven to start its AFL match on time at 3pm. The third race from the Pukekohe race track was due to finish after 43 laps at around 2.45pm, but after the crashes it was cut to 36 laps so it could finish on time for Seven. Why Seven doesn’t start the AFL later on Sunday afternoons and take it up to a 5.30pm finish is a little mystifying: except that they are scared of being beaten by the NRL on Nine. A 3.15pm start for the AFL and an extra 15 minutes at the end to finish the coverage would not be too much to ask. Ten never shortened races to meet other commitments. Seven is being very clever in almost integrating the AFL and V8s on Sundays when there are clashes. That came undone yesterday. — Glenn Dyer

Ricky of the boundary. Rebecca Wilson had a good point in her Sunday Telegraph column yesterday about the presence of Ricky Olarenshaw as a boundary rider in Seven’s AFL coverage. Wilson, who doesn’t have much love for Seven, having been associated with the failed move of The Fat from ABC TV to Seven, pointed out that Olarenshaw is a player agent and had “spent most of his time interviewing his clients. Changes may be afoot”. Having a player agent on the sideline is a clear conflict of interest. — Glenn Dyer

Seven wins another ratings week. Another win to the Seven Network last week, with Dancing With The Stars proving the emphatic difference. Seven won with a share of 28.8% (28.6% a week earlier) from Nine with 27.2% (27.3%), Ten with 23.1% (22.4%), the ABC with 15.7% (15.9%) and SBS with 5.2% (5.8%). Seven won Sydney by just 0.1%, but Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth by much larger margins. Nine won Brisbane narrowly by half a per cent. Seven won Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. Nine won Sunday, Thursday and Saturday. Dancing With The Stars averaged more than 1.9 million viewers on Tuesday night and was clearly the most watched program over the week. Seven News and Today Tonight also won the news and current affairs battles. Seven won Friday night (30.1% to 27.2% for Nine) with as a combination of Seven News, Today Tonight and Better Homes and Gardens led the way. The highest audience in any market was the 423,000 who watched the Rugby League Test between Australia and New Zealand from Brisbane. Friday night’s AFL game between Richmond and the Bulldogs averaged 396,000 in Melbourne, average audiences in Adelaide and Perth and not many in Sydney or Brisbane. Saturday night Nine won 28.4% to Seven with 23.6% and Ten with 22.4%. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: One of the nights of the TV year. When the Big Brother train arrives it always destabilises viewing patterns. And, when it arrives in conjunction with the end of Ten’s The Biggest Loser, as it has for the past two years, it makes for a lot of noise among the 16-to-39 age group. But 60 Minutes stole some of Ten’s thunder last night by topping the list of most-watched programs with 1.603 million with BB second with 1.549 million. That was for two hours, 60 Minutes was only over an hour. Nine then dropped the ball and left the game at 8.30pm by switching to a live NRL game in Sydney and Brisbane and repeats of CSI and CSI Miami elsewhere. Nine News was third with 1.515 million, ahead of Seven News with 1.484 million, Australia’s Got Talent had 1.398 million at at 6.30pm, followed by Grey’s Anatomy (1.300 million), Countdown to The Biggest Loser at 6.30pm (1.273 million), a fresh ep of 20 to 1 (1.234 million) and Seven’s Ugly Betty (1.216 million). The ABC’s Curtin at 8.30pm averaged 1.186 million; Robin Hood at 7.30pm had 1.106 million, Rove had 1.073 million after BB at 9pm, and the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.013 million.
The Losers:
Ten’s search for the next Pussycat Doll only had 664,000 at 10pm last night and it’s bound for less demanding night, Friday, where it can provide relief from the Big Brother-athon for an hour at 9.30pm. Nine’s decision to show the NRL game was odd. What About Brian on Seven at 9.30pm, 852,000. Not setting the world on fire, but probably worth leaving there for a while longer. Apart from that no real losers on perhaps the biggest night on TV so far this year.

News & CA: Nine News is doing really well on Sundays, not just in Sydney. It is competitive in Melbourne, where the Monday-to-Friday editions are being beaten by Seven. And that’s without the AFL lead-in on Sunday afternoons. The NRL is helping in Sydney, but not in Brisbane where Seven wins most nights. 60 Minutes did well last night with a very big audience but the viewers the network wants were on Seven or Ten. Weekend Sunrise averaged 452,000 from 8am to 10am. Sunday recovered to 240,000 viewers, Insiders on the ABC at 9am averaged 161,000, Inside Business, 122,000 and Offsiders at 10.30pm, 105,000. It is vastly more interesting than the other football programs, although for rugby league fans the Sunday Roast on Nine at Midday (hosted by Andrew Voss and averaged 147,000 yesterday) is worth a watch. Landline on the ABC at noon was good on water and averaged 231,000. Meet the Press on Ten at 8am averaged 67,000.
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 27.1% (31.2% a week ago) from Ten with 25.3% (23.0%), Seven was third with 24.6% (25.6%), the ABC on 19.1% (16.2%) and SBS with 3.8% (4.0%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Ten won Adelaide and Seven won Perth. In regional NSW a surprisingly big win to WIN/NBN (Nine) with a 31.3% share from Prime/7Qld with 23.9%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 21.0%, the ABC with 18.6% and SBS with 5.3%. Big Brother, Rove and TBL just aren’t as big in the bush as they are in the big city.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Well, you’d never think it but a very rare thing happened last night. A metro city program, was outrated by the bush. Nine’s live NRL telecast of the game between Newcastle and Brisbane averaged 421,000 in Sydney and Brisbane combined, and more than 440,000 in the bush, helping Nine to that big win, along with 60 Minutes. Can you imagine WIN really getting rid of Nine programming with figures like that? Nonsense and the Gordon family knows and so should the media writers reporting it. Tonight should be Seven’s if last Monday night is any guide. Desperate Housewives and The Rich List plus news and Today Tonight should do well against the faltering What’s Good for You on Nine at 7.30pm, then Eddie and 1 vs 100 and CSI NY. Ten has Big Brother for an hour-and-a-half from 7pm, then Supernatural. The ABC has the first part of the Alexander Downer profile on Australian Story.