Not in New Zealand – all the stuff that’s fit to print: According to Stuff, authoritative New Zealand website of quailty Australian publisher Fairfax:

It’s “99.9 per cent” certain top Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan are not in New Zealand for their honeymoon, a family friend has told Stuff today. The couple were married 10 days ago in Mumbai and were rumoured to have arrived in Auckland from Singapore on Friday. But Auckland International Airport sources said the couple were not on the flight. Ms Rai, a former Miss World, is one of India’s top female leads while her new husband is the son of legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. According to Indian community sources in New Zealand, who did not want to be named, Abhishek has visited New Zealand several times and made movies here. “If he was coming here we would have heard, and we’re 99.9 per cent certain that they are not here,” the source said.

Also not in New Zealand this week are Elizabeth Taylor, the Coptic Pope and Michael Jackson. At least.

Nine drops the ball with lacklustre World Cup coverage. So the World Cup of cricket is finished and the Nine Network’s rather inglorious contribution to Australian sports broadcasting can be put behind us. It was hardly one of Nine’s finest hours of what was once its core strength: cricket broadcasting. The final rated well yesterday morning: 457,000 up to the schedule finish of 7.30am, but it went on past that to 9.15am so the 432,000 for Sunday from 9am contained the dying embers of the cricket audience who then switched off. But those figures don’t reveal the true size of the audience. Cartoon series, What’s New Scooby Doo, was scheduled to air at 7.30am, when the cricket was supposed to end, and 805,000 watched for those 30 minutes. Then the continuing cricket broadcast pre-empted the following program, Do It and the audience hit 969,000. Business Success was also pre-empted at 8.30am and it averaged 826,000. An average of 322,000 were watching for the rain delayed start well after 1am. And the final indignity was the absence of a highlights package on Nine yesterday afternoon for those who missed Adam Gilchrist’s wonderful record-breaking knock of 149 from 104 balls. Nine had those must broadcast programs Joan of Arcadia and Gilmore Girls on from 2pm to 4pm when the NRL coverage started in Sydney and Brisbane. Fox Sports showed a three and a half hour highlights package from 4pm to 7.30pm. If it was good enough for the Pay TV arm of Nine to do it, why not Nine? Or is there some sort of agreement between Nine and Fox Sports that the FTA channel will not run highlights packages? The whole World Cup competition called for highlights packages for those who couldn’t watch the Australia games due to the 14 hour time difference. –– Glenn Dyer

Aunty continues to show the way for local comedy. The ABC’s duo of Spicks and Specks and The Chaser from 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Wednesday nights has stopped Ten’s popular medical drama House in its tracks. House isn’t being helped by the absurdist treatment of the main character’s drug addiction: a storyline so unreal as to be damaging the goodwill some viewers feel towards the program. Spicks and Specks and The Chaser have also belted Seven’s Heroes at 8.30pm and whatever Nine puts into the timeslot. A mixture of older and younger viewers are watching both programs which are entertaining and not without some appeal for all viewers, especially with a Federal election campaign in the offing. The Chaser will be the only program on TV that will be capable of taking the p-ss out of politicians in the campaign. Since Clark and Doyle departed A Current Affair, the Nine Network has lost all its sense of humour. No risk taking and a search for the predictable because it rates and is “cheap”. Seven is in danger of heading that way because of its overwhelming ratings success. It has a new comedy series in development but if Seven is going back to the 80s for a repeat of Fast Forward’s success then it had better head towards the sort of humour The Chaser and The Glasshouse have tapped into. Whether it can do that is another thing, although it has a few interesting holes in its schedule: 9.30pm Wednesday for example. Ten has been the only network to take satire seriously: hence The Panel and the Ronnie Johns show. — Glenn Dyer

Seven wins another ratings week. Another win to Seven in the official ratings, despite the Ten Network finishing The Biggest Loser and starting Big Brother last week. The difference was the success of the second last round of Dancing With The Stars last Tuesday night. Seven won with a share of 27.4% (28.8%) to Nine with 26.6% (27.2%), Ten with 23.7% (22.4%) the ABC with 16.4% (15.7%) and SBS with 5.8% (unchanged). It was the ninth win in a row for Seven and really Ten should have done a bit better, although it will be happy with winning the key demos of 16 to 39 and 18 to 49, which is what BB and TBL are all about (even so Ten’s share in both demos was down). The final of The Biggest Loser won Thursday night for Ten but last Sunday night BB debuted its 2007 season with the lowest opening ep so far and the week day eps were also well beaten by Home And Away at 7pm on most nights. The Biggest Loser had the biggest audience of the week, just over two million, with Dancing With The Stars second with 1.9 million. The opening night of BB averaged just 1.55 million. The week’s win by Seven came thanks to big wins in Adelaide and Perth while Nine narrowly won Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane. Nine finished third in Adelaide and Perth and that stopped it toppling Seven nationally. That’s another reason why control of STW Nine matters more to Nine than buying NBN in Newcastle simply to frustrate the regional affiliate, WIN Corporation. Nine won Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. Ten won Thursday and Seven won Monday, Tuesday and Friday. The huge win on Tuesday was enough to secure a winning lead for Seven. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A win to Nine on a night that was complicated by timeshifting by Seven in Adelaide to allow the late broadcasting of the Fremantle-Adelaide match — Seven’s programs were put back half an hour in Adelaide and won the night for the network. Overall it was 60 Minutes (first with 1.679 million viewers at 7.30pm) and CSI (second nationally with 1.641 million viewers at 8.30pm) that did it for Nine. Seven News was next with 1.614 million and the Grand Final of Australia’s Got Talent at 6.30pm with 1.601 million (Where Are They Now is back next week). Nine News was next with 1.589 million, then Grey’s Anatomy (1.442 million), CSI Miami (1.423 million) and 7.30pm instalment of Big Brother (1.402 million). 20 to 1 had 1.376 million, Seven’s Ugly Betty was next with 1.359 million at 7.30pm. The 6.30pm Big Brother was next with 1.166 million and the ABC’s Robin Hood averaged 1.046 million at 7.30pm. The 7pm ABC News had 1.037 million viewers. Seven’s 9.30pm program, What About Brian averaged 977,000.
The Losers: Rove. Should have done better than 876,000 last night, especially after the 1.4 million who watched the 7.30pm BB epic. Showbands on the ABC at 8.30pm, 622,000. Nostalgia is OK and young, shy blond singers might be tuneful but what about some subtitles! Still it was better on the ear than the clipped, artificial dialogue of CSI and CSI Miami
News & CA:
Seven News won because its Adelaide news went to air at half time in the Freo-Crows game and rated its socks off (226,000 and No. 1 program on the night there) while the news in Perth averaged 330,000 (after the match had ended, which much higher than the game). Nine News though won Sydney and Melbourne but lost Brisbane where the NRL game at 4pm is not helping, unlike Sydney. The ABC News was solid with more than a million viewers while Ten News averaged 850,000. Sunday was boosted by the cricket running over to 9.15am. It averaged 432,000. Seven’s Weekend Sunrise averaged 351,000. Insiders on the ABC at 9am averaged 193,000; Inside Business at 10am, 140,000 and Offsiders at 10.30am, 136,000. Those were higher than normal and what seems to have happened is that cricket viewers left Nine for Seven and the ABC or went to breakfast. Landline on the ABC at noon averaged 322,000.
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 31.5% (27.1% a week ago) from Seven with 27.8% (24.6%), Ten on 21.3% (25.3%), the ABC with 14.2% (19.1%) and SBS with 5.3% (3.8%). Nine won Sydney, melbourne, brisbane and Perth. Seven won Adelaide because of the late AFL game. In regional areas, a win to WIN/NBN with 33.6% for Nine from Prime/7Qld with 25.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.5%, the ABC with 15.2% and SBS with 6.4%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments:
A big night of viewing and one well-won by Nine. Viewers benefited from having choice. The day’s figures were a little confused by the World Cup cricket broadcast in the morning. And then the time shifting in Adelaide by Seven to fit in the Freo-Crows game which kicked off late and in competition to Pay TV. Seven’s Sunday night worked better than the past couple of weeks and Ten’s Big Brother-led attack was again a two program wonder. Ten was squeezed apart from BB, with Rove knocked lower. Ten is adding another 90 minutes of BB in an up late program on Sunday evenings (cheap programming). Nine starts The Lost Tribes thingy program at 6.30pm next Sunday. That’s an artificial reality program where Australian families are placed with “some of the most primitive cultures on the planet” according to Nine’s condescending program description. Tonight it’s round up the usual suspects: What’s Good For You, 1 vs 100 and CSI New York on Nine; Desperate Housewives, The Rich List and Brothers and Sisters on Seven and two BB programs including the first nomination ep. The ABC’s Australian Story has the second part of the Downer profile with the Garuda crash as a central part.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey