Audio books nixed by ABC. Err, hasn’t the ABC forgotten something in the new regime’s drive to be all singing, all dancing and profitable? The broadcaster has canned ABC Audio, which produces the Talking Books, so beloved by people with poor sight and others (some long distance drivers), because it’s not profitable now and won’t be in the future, according to a comment here. In a statement to the Herald, the director of ABC Commercial, Lynley Marshall, said a recent review had demonstrated ABC Audio was unprofitable and that it would remain so in the future.”Losses incurred from such enterprises directly impact on the ABC’s ability to produce programs for ABC radio, television and online,” she said. “ABC Commercial is currently investigating the opportunity of providing audio content for paid digital download.” Come on, the losses on Talking Books wouldn’t add to the cost of making TV or Radio programs. Why can’t the highly profitable ABC Enterprises be directed to subsidise it? When was running at a profit supposed to be the ONLY determinate of whether the ABC served the Australian community? By the same measure the entire ABC, apart from ABC Enterprises, is not profitable now or in the future. That’s why we taxpayers slip it more than $850 million a year. — Glenn Dyer

A note to Packer and Murdoch regarding reality TV. Control of Endemol, the international production house responsible for programs like Big Brother and Deal or No Deal (which is enormous in the US), has been on the market with Spanish telecoms group, Telefonica inviting bids for its 75% stake. It hasn’t been the best of investments by Telefonica, which has struggled to cope with the freer wheeling and dealing style of Endemol’s production businesses. So this week, in the sweetest of deals, a group of investors led by John de Mol, one of Endemol’s founders, bought the Telefonica stake for 2.63 billion euros and plans to buy the other 25% for a total value of 3.5 billion euro. Given that de Mol and a partner sold it for 5.5 billion euros a few years ago, he’s made a right killing. Ownership of Endemol will be divided equally among Mediaset, the Goldman fund and Mr. de Mol. Mr de Mol created Endemol with another television producer, Joop van den Ende, in the Netherlands 13 years ago and together they pioneered “reality TV”, the most influential TV format of the past two decades. Control of Endemol could have been Murdoch’s or Packer’s for around $A5 billion or a bit more. It might have been a stretch for Packer but it would have been doable for Murdoch and would have increased his influence in the broadcast and new media sectors. (Just imagine a reality program to be shown on MySpace, all made and controlled by News.) Endemol has a production company here with Southern Star which produces Big Brother, Big Brother Uplate, Deal or No Deal, 1 vs 100, Ready Steady Cook and Friday Night Games. — Glenn Dyer

Murdoch’s cheapie business channel. Anyone who thought Rupert Murdoch would be spending up big on the long-talked about cable TV business channel at Fox had better think again. According to a story just published in Fortune magazine in the US it’s going to be a “cheap as chips” operation that will look to piggyback on the penetration of Fox News. That way the cost to subscribers will be low, allowing for a rapid build up of cable customers but no profits for at least four years. It looks like the Fox Business Channel will be a low budget operation like Fox News was in 1996. It went on to build audience and reach with its strident right wing approach to news, and moved past the softer CNN, which for years treated the Murdoch channel with contempt. Similarly it seems Murdoch is starting the business channel in the same fashion: the $US100 million in start up costs is small change in a corporate with earnings of well over $US4 billion and revenues of more than $US25 billion. Murdoch has to keep Fox Business’s budget low because there isn’t much money in business news anywhere in the world. In Australia the ABC is the only media organisation with dedicated free-to-air business coverage of business, while Sky News has two business shows. All have low audience numbers. Nine has canned The Small Business Show and Business Sunday and business doesn’t feature in the cut down Sunday program, despite a promise that it would last year when Business Sunday was killed off. Seven replaced Sunday Sunrise and its business coverage with Weekend Sunrise. Ten got out of business a decade ago. — Glenn Dyer

Win to buy NWS 9? According to the AFR, Bruce Gordon’s Win group is close to buying NWS 9 Adelaide from Southern Cross Broadcasting for around $100 million. If true, that would be just $2 million more than what SBC paid for it in 1998, which shows how depressed the Adelaide TV market is. That will give WIN Adelaide and Perth  — there’s a meeting next month of Sunraysia TV shareholders to ratify the sale of STW 9 to WIN. PBL Media was the low bidder on Perth but bid a silly $250 million to buy NBN Newcastle earlier this month and associated media assets, beating WIN. Meanwhile, WIN has not only dropped The Catch-Up which airs on Nine Monday to Friday at 1pm but it is dropping the just installed lead-in at midday of repeats of McLeod’s Daughters. WIN is going to start its own lunchtime chat show for its regional network called Susie, named after the host, former Seven personality, Susie Eelelman. The new program starts June 25 and the most interesting question is whether WIN will program it into Nine Adelaide and Perth as well as the regions?

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Well, nothing like the night before the morning after. Nine has a narrow win, courtesy of Eddie’s baby, the AFL Footy Show, and Eddie goes the next morning. A dozen programs with a million or more viewers. Today Tonight grabbed with 1.477 million. The decision to buy the BBC Panorama story on Scientology (where the reporter yells) paid off in spades. Nine’s decision to run a Scientology report on the Panorama program failed miserably. ACA finished more than 260,000 viewers behind TT. (James Packer is of course a Scientologist.) Seven News got 1.455 million people. Nine’s good RPA Where Are They Now?special averaged 1.386 million, and Seven’s 8pm program, My Name Is Earl, was next with 1.280 million. Nine News was had 1.210 million and A Current Affair attracted 1.208 million. Nine’s Getaway at 7.30pm went the movie star holiday route and averaged 1.197 million. Seven’s Lost averaged 1.182 million while Seven’s 7.30 program, How I Met Your Mother had 1.138 million viewers. Home And Away (Seven, 7 pm) got 1.108 million, ahead of Nine’s 7pm program Temptation with 1.036 million. Ten’s Law And Order (SVU) averaged 1.016 million and final spot in the millionaire’s club. The repeat of Law And Order Criminal Intent at 9.30 pm on Ten averaged 961,000 but still beat The Amazing Race on Seven as did the Footy Shows on Nine which averaged 930,000.
The Losers: Seven’s Amazing Race at 9.30 pm, now down to 792,000 and looking a candidate to be seen in summer, if at all. Inspector Rex in repeat, 398,000. Not a loser, more the CSI of SBS in that there will always be a residual audience for the program, even when repeated and repeated and repeated. 
News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight won everywhere bar Melbourne where Nine News and ACA had rare wins (these days). Ten News At Five was low at 796,000 viewers and the Late News/Sports Tonight averaged 405,000. Nine’s Nightline averaged 336,000 viewers late in the evening. The 7pm ABC news averaged 993,000 and The 7.30 Report, 806,000. Lateline, 235,000, Lateline Business, 148,000. SBS World News Australia 194,000 at 6.30pm and 174,000 at 9.30 pm. 7am Sunrise 396,000, 7am Today 263,000, which is up a bit.
The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.2% (30.5% last week) from Seven with 29.0% (28.9%); Ten was third with 21.3% (23.1%), the ABC was on 14.3% (12.1%) and SBS was on 5.1% (5.5%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Brisbane and Perth. Seven leads the week 29.2% to 26.5%. In regional; areas Nine won with WIN/NBN getting 31.2% from Prime/7Qld with 28.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.8%, the ABC on 14.5% and SBS on 6.0%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: The Footy Shows, especially the AFL one, did it for Nine, along with the RPA Where Are They Now? special. It was a nice program and a reminder of what Nine can do (and a reminder of the days before Eddie McGuire, John Alexander etc at Nine). Nine is interviewing the former Olympic bike rider and convicted stalker, Gary Neiwand on A Current Affair tonight. Did they pay for this interview? Nine’s Scientology spoiler last night in ACA against TT failed badly. Silly move. Tonight its the AFL vs the NRL, with Seven’s Better Homes And Gardens to provide the icing. Seven’s Sydney Monday to Thursday newsreader Ian Ross has gone on leave from today — not last week — and will be back on June 3, probably with a decision about next year. Tomorrow night it’s movies and odds and sods on all networks, and Sunday night its normal programming which Nine should win. How will Big Brother go? Will another eviction ep will be of interest? Andrew Denton is on Rove on Sunday night.