Law moves on to bigger things at PBL Media. Yet more executive shuffling and another body added to the bloated management structure of PBL Media, at the same time as ACP quietly buries one of John Alexander’s big distribution initiatives. PBL Media Ian Law is obviously so overworked overseeing the Nine Network, Ninemsn, ACP Magazines and a couple of other things that he has given up the magazine gig to “focus on his wider role at PBL Media”. Law was initially head hunted from West Australian Newspapers to run ACP when by Alexander vacated the position, but as The Australian reports today, “Some prominent media observers have suggested Mr Law is an increasingly important player in the strategic direction of the PBL empire.” One of his earliest decisions was to reshuffle the management structure at ACP, thereby forcing out deputy CEO and chief financial officer, David Gardiner, who would have been a ready made replacement this time around. Law has been replaced at ACP by Ticketek chief executive Scott Lorson, who doesn’t have any magazine experience, and his appointment has upset senior ranks at ACP. Women’s Group Publisher, Pat Ingram, and her Men’s group counterpart, Phil Scott, would have been well qualified for the CEO’s role with their extensive background in the business. Lorson is a former Optus executive and is considered to be a “Chris Anderson man” like so many other people at PBL (Martin Hoffman, Paul O’Sullivan). They are all executives Anderson got to know at Optus when he was CEO. Meanwhile ACP’s magazine distribution arm, Network Services, has abandoned its dying newsagent home delivery option, introduced in 2003 by the then management (John Alexander and David Gardiner) in an attempt to lower the cost of distributing magazines to customers. ACP wanted to cut its huge Australia Post bill and the surcharges for larger than standard magazines, such as Harpers Bazaar. So newsagents were offered incentives to home deliver ACP magazines, but that proved too much for many newsagents who rejected the business or dropped out. This week Network Services told agents the system was being canned and it was returning to full Australia Post delivery. — Glenn Dyer

Baby stunt reveals deeper problems for Big Brother. It’s no wonder that Big Brother audiences are down around 16 per cent for the 7pm and late night programs so far in this series. Only one of the boof-headed males at Endermol-Southern Star, the producers of Big Brother, could have thought up a stupid stunt like forcing a female housemate to “keep a toy baby alive” knowing she had miscarried. Much of the controversy surrounding BB is manufactured to produce headlines and keep viewers interested, but from reports and the little I have seen of the sequence, this was tacky, ham-fisted and not necessary. For this outrageous piece of TV “stuntism” Ten should get Endermol Southern Star to punt the producers in charge and find a new crew capable of showing some sympathy. According to the News Ltd reports, a Ten spokeswoman said Kate had told producers she had “dealt with (the baby’s death) fully” before entering the Big Brother house. The spokeswoman denied producers deliberately set the task, which involved housemates caring for plastic babies, to illicit a dramatic response. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Nine won a confused night of programming thanks to the NRL game in NSW and Queensland and other programming in southern states. A dozen programs with a million or more viewers starting with Nine News with 1.393 million, then Today Tonight with 1.317 million. Home And Away was third with an average 1.196 million , followed by My Name Is Earl (1.178 million), Nine News (1.142 million), Getaway (1.128 million), A Current Affair (1.116 million), and Lost (1.104 million). Law And Order SVU averaged 1.096 million, How I Met Your Mother had 1.079 million and Temptation averaged 1.024 million. Ten’s Big Brother averaged 881,000 at 7pm. Ten’s Jamie’s Chef had 812,000 at 7.30pm. The repeat of Inspector Rex, 433,000 woofers and their owners.

The Losers: The Amazing Race is still off the pace, 854.000. Likewise Big Brother. The Catch Up on Nine at 1pm, 113,000; Days Of Our Lives, 140,000; Fresh at noon, not in the top 100, so under 109,000 viewers.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight again won nationally by large margins but both lost Melbourne to Nine’s News and ACA. The 7pm ABC News averaged 958,000 and The 7.30 Report, 869,000. Lateline 324,000; Lateline Business a high 169,000. Ten News, 800,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 395,000. Nightline, 425,000 after the rugby league and AFL Footy Show. SBS News, 212,000 at 6.30 pm; 141,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise 425,000; 7am Today, 244,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 29.5% (23.7% last week) from Seven with 27.5% (23.5%), Ten was third with 22.7% (33.2% it was the final of The Biggest Loser last week), the ABC was on 15.1% (14.9%) and SBS with 5.2%(4.7%). Nine won Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide, Seven won Brisbane and Perth. Seven leads the week 30.4% to 27.0%. In regional areas a win to Nine through WIN/NBN with 30.7% from Prime/7Qld with 25.9%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 23.%, the ABC with 14.4% and SBS with 6.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: What the rankings don’t bring out is the 8.30pm to 11pm programming of Nine and how that won the night, especially in Sydney and Melbourne (although Getaway also helped). Nine showed the City-Country NRL game in Sydney and Brisbane and it averaged 461,000 viewers, 344,000 in Sydney, which was the second highest audience on the night in that market, and 117,000 in Brisbane. In the southern states, Missing Person’s Unit did well and the AFL Footy Show performed well in Melbourne so even though Nine split its programming it still averaged around 1.116 million from 8.30pm to 11pm across the country and that was enough to win. Nine has two NRL games tonight. Seven has AFL in the south. Better Homes and Gardens will dominate 7.30pm. The ABC has the usual cops shows from Britain. Ten has lots of Big Brother. Tomorrow night its Primeval on Nine and not much else except for AFL on Ten. Sunday night is the Logies, that Night of Nights when all our minor celebrities become majors (in their own minds) and all our major celebs become monsters (in our minds). And online bookies have Rove McManus a very hot favourte at $1.55 to win the Gold Logie. He’s shortend from $2 since the nominations were announced last month. Kate Ritchie has also shortened into $3. Watch for The Chaser gang. Nine has Lost Tribes at 6.30pm Sunday with the original idea of taking three white families from Australasia and putting them in darkest Africa. Why not put them with desert Aboriginals in Australia or with rural Maori in NZ? Or is that all too difficult and a touch tacky? It’s much easier to go to poor parts of Africa for a bit of “reality television”.

Peter Fray

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