Film Australia should cop a grilling. Two weeks ago at the Senate estimates committee hearings, Film Australia, The Australian Film Commission and the Film Financing Corporation were allowed to escape a grilling. They were untouched by anyone on the committee, which oversees the soon-to-be-merged organisations. The word in the TV and documentary production industries is that there are real worries about the damage the merger could do to a number of productions. There are also worries about what is happening at Film Australia and the so-called Australian History Initiative. The flagship production under the $7.5 million taxpayer funded initiative — a three part series called Accidental History — is in trouble. There have been reports of a director being removed by Film Australia, a hurried trip to Glasgow by a senior FA executive to talk to the co-producer and make sure the problems confronting the production were not terminal. There have been reports that Accidental History faced a cost overrun of $300,000, or around 10%, because the then director and current executive producer insisted on so much re-enactment that the actors involved started asking for drama fees rather than re-enactment fees which are lower. Accidental History is, or was, being overseen by two British executives, an EP and a director. Questions should have been asked in Senate estimates about whether the British would ever allow Australians to oversee a major government financed production about British history. — Glenn Dyer

Film financing merger delays Holt doco. Ray Martin is said to be doing (or rather, providing the voice for) a documentary on Harold Holt. It’s the 50th anniversary of his disappearance next year and Film Australia and the ABC are reported to have docos underway. Or are Film Australia and the ABC working together? No one quite knows because the merger between FA, the Film Finance Corporation and the Australian Film Commission has delayed funding. — Glenn Dyer

The Nation debuts with a whimper. Mick Molloy’s return to the Nine Network last night went off without a hitch, except that a few more viewers, in fact 300,000 or so extra, would have been very helpful. The Nation was a sad version of Rove‘s format and just 720,000 viewers tuned in but it wasn’t helped by the underwhelming response Nine viewers gave to its lead-in: CSI New York. It averaged 896,000 from 8.30pm and was firmly dusted by Ten’s repeat of NCIS (1.2 million) and the closing part of Seven’s It Takes Two (1.59 million) and the start of All Saints around 9.15pm (1.43 million). Tuesday nights are the worst night of the week for Nine so the Network did Molloy and his show no favours by dropping it into the 9.30pm slot. Monday night would have been a better guide with more people watching Nine after 1 vs 100, but Nine has a live football program, Footy Classified, coming out of GTV for southern states on Mondays. That’s an Eddie McGuire idea and nothing is allowed to interfere with the coverage of the AFL. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Tuesday night is Seven’s strongest of the week and nothing changed last night. Seven News was again top with a huge 1.701 million viewers. It Takes Two averaged 1.593 million and Today Tonight had 1.539 million. All Saints was next for Seven with 1.430 million right after It Takes Two around 9.10-9.15pm. Nine News was next with 1.361 million, followed by A Current Affair (1.315 million) and Temptation (1.307 million) with Home And Away just behind (1.290 million). Ten’s repeat of NCIS averaged 1.270 million at 8.30pm, the new Simpsons at 7.30pm averaged 1.227 million and the 8pm Simpsons repeat had 1.194 million. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.165 million and Nine’s duo, Crime And Justice (1.162 million at 7.30pm) and Neighbours At War (1.092 million at 8pm) were next. Deal or No Deal had 1.087 million and 7pm Big Brother made it into the millionaire club with 1.048 million.

The Losers: CSI New York at 8.30pm: 896,000 viewers. Not good enough for such an expensive first run program. It’s not a nice show. At 5pm Bargain Hunt averaged 490,000, down a bit from Monday, and Antiques Roadshow also fell from Monday’s 700,000-plus audience to average 643,000. Deal or No Deal is very strong at 5.30pm. The Nation only had 772,000 at 9.30pm. Not good but not much help from the network either.
News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market, Today Tonight won nationally and everywhere bar Melbourne where ACA nipped home. The 7.30 Report averaged 852,000 for the ABC; Lateline, 233,000; Lateline Business, 124,000. Nightline, 283,000. Ten News, 935,000 viewers; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 384,000. SBS Insight 332,000; SBS News, 178,000 at 6.30pm; 247,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 406,000; 7am Today, 263,000.
The Stats: Seven won with 32.8% (32.5% last week) from Nine with 23.5% (24.6%), Ten with 22.9% (24.4%), the ABC with 14.9% (13.9%), and SBS with 5.9% (4.4%). Seven won all five metro markets and leads the week 30.2% to 28.0%. In regional markets a win to Prime/7Qld with 32.2% from WIN/NBN on 23.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 23.2%, the ABC on 14.5% and SBS on 6.2%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Another Tuesday, another Seven win and that about sums it up. Tonight will be more interesting with Spicks and Specks and The Chaser’s War on Everything on the ABC. They will dominate the 8.30 to 9.30pm timeslot. Seven has mixed programs: Air Crash Investigation in Sydney and Brisbane, Heroes elsewhere. Nine has Cold Case and Without A Trace, plus McLeod’s Daughters, which will be up again Last Chance Learners and Police Files Unlocked on Seven from 7.30 to 8.30pm. Ten has House. Younger viewers will flow to the ABC, Nine will keep the oldies — should be a close result.