WIN secures NWS 9 in Adelaide. Southern Cross Broadcasting has finalised a deal to sell its Adelaide Nine Network station, NWS 9 to Bruce Gordon’s privately owned WIN group for a gross profit of just $7 million over the past nine years. Southern Cross paid $98 million back in 1998 and it’s reported today that WIN would pay $105 million, subject to final adjustments for working capital. While Southern Cross has generated profits from Adelaide since buying it, the past 18 months have been tough with the ad market sluggish and poor ratings for the Nine Network. Win’s purchase means it will control all the regional broadcasting of Nine and at least one of the five major metro market network stations (two if it eventually buys Nine’s Perth station STW 9), which improves its bargaining position on the affiliation agreement which has been a major point of argument in recent months. Southern Cross still has its regional affiliation with the Ten Network and the country’s biggest TV production house, Southern Star.

MRN’s faltering online news expansion. Macquarie Radio Network’s move into online news continues to proceed in moves and stops. More stops really. Since falling out with their original website builder in November last year, their entire online team has quit one by one with the executive producer of news being marched out of the office after he resigned. Now comes this:

MACQUARIE RADIO NETWORK NEWS DIRECTOR RESIGNS — MRN Appoints Four New Online Journalists in Newsroom Expansion

Macquarie Radio Network (MRN) has announced the resignation of News Director Ian Ferguson. Ian is leaving MRN to join Sky News.

MRN Director of Current Affairs, Jason Morrison will take on the role of Acting News Director.

“We want to thank Ian for his contribution and commitment to Macquarie National News and the entire news team. This is a great opportunity for Ian and we wish him all the best with his new role at Sky.

“It is an exciting time to be overseeing both news and current affairs. We have just appointed three new online journalists to the newsroom.

“We are expanding our online newsroom contribution to consolidate our longstanding reputation as Australian news breakers.

“Our newsroom can now break news simultaneously on-air and online, including video footage where appropriate.

“We will be launching our new on-line news site in August and will shortly be advertising for a number of senior editorial and news management positions.”

Jason will take on the dual responsibilities effective immediately.

Are they appointing four new journos, as the header states? Or three, as quoted? The reality is two. Hopefully, they stay longer than the nine days one did back in January.

No bomb alarm at NT News. Crocodiles, sharks and giant manta rays get them excited at the Northern Territory News but they are a bit relaxed about bombs. A Darwin council worker found a bomb fashioned out of aluminium piping in a local park, picked it up and carried it to a local police station where they used a robot with a water cannon to disarm it. With energy ministers from APEC countries in Darwin for a conference there would surely have been a temptation to take out the eggbeater in treating this yarn. But despite Senior Sergeant Bruce Porter declaring the bomb “potentially could have done a lot of damage”, the NT News tucked the story away on page 6. The paper did find room on page one, however, for the fin of a mantra ray looking menacingly like a shark in Darwin harbour. — Richard Farmer

Inspector Rex complainant wastes time and money. Sometimes you have to wonder about people who complain about what they see on TV. Take SBS’s experience with the loveable Austrian police dog, Inspector Rex. The media regulator, ACMA yesterday released a ruling which found that SBS broadcast an incorrectly classified an episode of Inspector Rex on 16 November, 2006: “In response to a complaint received on 31 December, 2006, ACMA found that material in certain scenes was not sufficiently mild and discreet to be classified PG.” What SBS did was to show an ep of Rex at 7.30pm (family viewing) which featured a man being murdered during a sexual encounter with a married couple. But if you go to the actual report of the investigation you realise that the sole complainant has cost SBS and ACMA money and wasted time because he or she ended up with the same result from ACMA that SBS gave them in handling the original complaint. SBS confessed to both the complainant and ACMA that the program has been incorrectly classified and “admitted that it had breached the code”. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tuesday is Seven’s strongest night of the week and last night was no different. But 16 programs had a million or more viewers from 5.30 pm onwards, so it was also a night when viewers used their remotes. Seven News was tops with 1.575 million, It Takes Two on Seven was second and averaged 1.526 million from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm; Today Tonight was third, also for Seven ,with 1.458 million viewers. Ten’s NCIS was 4th with 1.433 million (its highest of the year) and easily won the battle of the defectives with Nine’s CSI NY. Nine News was 5th with 1.362 million, A Current Affair was next with 1.340 million and Seven’s All Saints averaged 1.333 million from around 9.30 pm. The Simpsons repeat averaged 1.331 million for Ten and 8th spot, while Seven’s Home And Away won the 7 pm battle with 1.279 million, just in front of Nine’s Temptation with 1.260 million. The new Simpsons ep at 7.30 pm averaged 1.252 million, and beat Nine’s renamed version of The Code, now called Crime & Justice, which averaged 1.154 million. Nine’s 8 pm program, Neighbours At War (a low-rent New Zealand program) averaged 1.097 million viewers. The 7 pm ABC News averaged 1.071 million people, the 7 pm Big Brother, 1.027 million and Deal Or No Deal on Seven at 5.30 pm, 1.018 million. It was the 16th and final program with a million or more viewers. Numb3rs on Ten at 9.30 averaged 914,000. The Choir of Hard Knocks on the ABC at 8 pm was the best TV program on last night and averaged 819,000.

The Losers: Bert’s Family Feud is not going without a protest. Close to it’s highest-ever audience from memory last night of 673,000 viewers, but that was due to its replacement, Antiques Roadshow, lifting its audience from 5pm to 637,000. MASH on Seven was up to 507,000 for a repeat of a repeat etc etc. So why? The viewing isn’t compelling. It is late autumn, the evenings are shorter, the TV sets are on earlier!. It’s why Deal or No Deal on Seven was over the million mark again for the second night in a row. No losers there. But in the Nine schedule, CSI New York tanked at 8.30pm, averaging just 753,000 and beating the tired old Bill on the ABC by 2,000 viewers. Even the repeat of The Castle at 9.30pm, 787,000 beat CSI New York.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne. It was much closer in Sydney and Brisbane than it has been for a while: The 7.30 Report averaged 867,000 after the million-plus audience of the ABC News at 7pm. Lateline averaged 193,000. Ten News a high 962,000, the Late News/Sports Tonight, 420,000. Nine’s Nightline, 388,000. Insight on SBS at 7.30, 251,000; SBS News 213,000 at 6.30 pm, 140,000 at 9.30 pm. 7am Sunrise up to 437,000, 7am Today down to 261,000 from the opening 270,000 for Lisa Wilkinson on Monday. Early Sunrise easily beat early Today, 232,000 to 138,000. More work needed on both timeslots for Nine.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 32.5% (32.3% last week) from Nine with 24.6% (24.2%), Ten with 24.4% (25.0%), the ABC unchanged on 13.9% and SBS also unchanged on 4.6%. Seven won all five centres and leads the week, 30.5% to 27.7% for Nine. In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 31.7%, from WIN/NBN for Nine with 27.0%, Southern cross (Ten) was third with 22.9%, the ABC was on 13.0% and SBS was on 5.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Well, at least Nine tried: there was a slight pick-up in audience numbers because the 7.30 to 8.30pm slot did a tiny bit better but putting CSI New York at 8.30pm bombed badly. And using the movie, The Castle, at 9.30pm was only a stopgap measure before the new Mick Molloy rip-off of The Panel starts next week at 9.30pm. From 6pm to 8.30pm Nine was in the hunt and from then on it fell away. Not that the 7.30pm program, the renamed Crime & Justice aka The Code. It was beaten into third place by the new ep of The Simpsons on Ten with It Takes Two easily winning the timeslot and going until 9.30 when All Saints took over. C&J/The Code was a nasty little number: a disturbed man in a court on a drug charge with the cameras rolling. Did he really have the nous to sign a consent form? He couldn’t even see the need for a defence lawyer, so how could he rationally sign a consent form with the program? Exploitation, if you ask me, of someone who was defenceless. Unfair! The section on the missing man was OK but the policewoman pulling men trawling for sex in St Kilda was hardly the most riveting bit of TV, more like a bit of low-level voyeurism from the producers. And the following program from NZ about Neighbours At War. If it screens again, Australia should declare war on cruddy NZ TV programs which stoop lower than Big Brother! It was like a ‘reality’ version of that average NZ drama, also used by Nine called Outrageous Fortune. The Choir of Hard Knocks on the ABC at 8 pm shone compared with what was on Nine, Ten, SBS and Seven. A heartfelt program and showed the producers of The Code/C&J just how to deal with unsettled people. Tonight its Seven’s patched-up schedule with Air Crash Investigations at 8.30pm replacing Heroes which is on Thursday nights. But the interest will be by how much the ratings for Spicks and Specks and The Chaser bounce back from the State of Origin night last Wednesday. The 8.30 to 9.30pm timeslot on the ABC will determine who wins the ratings tonight, just as Ten’s Thank God You’re Here did a year ago.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey