Media Spy is reporting that Peter Overton met with Channel Seven on Wednesday. What people haven’t twigged to about Overton’s possible Seven move is the gig he’s being tempted with: Ian Ross’s Sydney newsreading chair. Rossco has been off “sick” for a while and Chris Bath has been filling in and doing well in the ratings. But the only thing Overton ever wanted was to read the 6pm news. He has openly told colleagues how he wanted it from the age of 12. He was “groomed” by Brian Henderson, he was plucked from sports reading to 60 Minutes to give him “gravitas”. He was devastated when Mark Ferguson got the nod ahead of him when Jim Waley was removed in 2005. Overton had been “promised” the next start — by none less than Peter Meakin when he was at Nine. Overton got a huge pay rise from David Gyngell to make up for the miss. The Ferguson selection was a Gyngell-Uechtritz-Hurley decision. Though, like every presenter position, it was ticked off by Kerry Packer, JA and team. Meakin is now offering to fulfill his promise — only at a different network! Trouble is Overton is still contracted to Nine, only three years into a five-year contract of $800K. Where else could Seven justify spending that sort of money than in the flagship reading job? Not on TT or Sunrise or “specials”. Rossco has proved his point and wants to return to the Gold Coast — he will soon. Chris Bath will be unhappy, but old habits die hard for the blokes club. Willoughby or Martin Place.

John Howard’s family home in Wollstonecraft is currently being renovated. Perhaps he and Janet are planning to return to it soon?

The warm fuzzy Qantas ads bombarding our screens at the moment appear to have been put together to reassure everyone that the airline’s on track, despite the failed sale. But listen to them again — couldn’t they have equally been used to promote the airline’s ‘Aussie-ness’ and business as usual AFTER a sale? The strong rumour is that the ads were all actually completed in late April, in preparation for APA’s successful bid.

The big competition issue with broadband FTTN is to do with whoever controls the nodes getting a wholesale monopoly. And if that’s Telstra, it’s back to 1990 or earlier for the customer with telecommunications services competition. But what if the FTTN nodes are capable of hosting more than one copper-fibre multiplexor –say, perhaps one for each consortium or even more? The backhaul optical fibre cables contain a bundle of fibres, and most of them are still dark. There’s more than enough to allow multiple muxes to be separately connected back to the existing exchanges and existing carrier backbone networks. Even if the node boxes Telstra (especially) are talking about presently don’t have space for more than one mux, surely it wouldn’t cost billions to get ones a little bigger. The muxes are relatively cheap and the fibre cables already have the spare capacity (they’re mostly already dug in for the HFC pay TV nodes). With spare fibres and room in the nodes for additional carrier muxes, the wholesale monopoly issue vanishes, or is at worst the same as the current ULL issue. Instead of connecting the customer copper down at the exchange, you connect it down at the corner. Perhaps, that’s why neither of the players or the Government have mentioned it yet.

The Victorian Department of Human Services has contracted out the public hospital waiting list for circumcisions to the private sector. Private surgeons and anaesthetists are being paid up to a combined total of $1500 per circumcision. Circumcision is a relatively straight forward procedure and up to 15 patients can be operated on in a half-day session (medical cost at $1500 each is approximately $22,500 per half day session). On a public hospital list the same work would cost DHS less than $1000 in medical wages. Why is DHS doing this? Well, DHS would like to stop all circumcisions on the public purse, however, the waiting list for circumcision is incredibly long and the Muslim community, whose children make up most of the waiting list, would not react well to any decision to stop circumcisions. Expect a quiet announcement once the waiting list has been cleared but not before the public purse has been shrunk somewhat.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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