Rex Hunt on the nose. While most stations on the AM dial were discussing the Little Children are Sacred report this morning, Melbourne’s 3AW was addressing the big issues — dramatic changes in its footy line-up (the station’s now sacked its match-day host Craig Hutchison and executive producer of football Ralph Horowitz). It follows scathing reviews from fans and a serious drop-off in ratings. As Charles Happell wrote in Crikey yesterday: “They’re sick of the silly nicknames, the in-jokes, the team’s overbearing ‘star’ Rex Hunt and the downright cockiness that oozes over the airwaves. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.” Hunt is staying put however, and went on air for a very strange stab at a mea culpa. “We’re on the nose”, he admitted in a rexologue (for the audio, click here) in which he noted that the changes are merely “a glitch on the radar”– his family’s been through worse — and bizarrely, “people from Russia who can’t speak English are talking about me.” — Jane Nethercote

Will Endemol bid for Southern Cross? Australia’s biggest TV and film producing business, Southern Star, is a subsidiary of Southern Cross Broadcasting, which has Macquarie Media as a major shareholder. Despite lots of speculation, Macquarie and Southern Cross are not dancing as yet, but the international TV business has noticed the situation and there has been some low level sniffing around Southern Star. Nothing has transpired but this week in London a major switch in direction was revealed by the British arm of Endemol, which has 51% of the Endemol Southern Star venture that oversees programs like Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal. Endemol is shutting its British drama subsidiary, Showrunner, and according to media reports, will now look to grow via acquisition. Control of Endemol changed hands last month with the founder John de Mol buying back control, with the support of investment bank, Goldman Sachs and the Italian Mediaset group controlled by former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Southern Star would be small beer in the scheme of things, but it is one of the key players in some parts of TV. It controls the international distribution and rights for a long list of programs, including Home And Away. The other big European and British international producer, Fremantlemedia (owned by RTL, the Bertlesmann group offshoot) is already solidly entrenched in Australia, while BBC Worldwide has 25% share in the small production house, Freehand. — Glenn Dyer

The chequebook knows no borders, not even a jail cell. The battle to get the first interview with LA jailbird, Paris Hilton, is rapidly escalating. US media reports that NBC has reportedly paid $US1m ($1.18 million) to get the first post-jail interview with Hilton. The New York Post claims that network chief Jeff Zucker personally pitched an interview to be conducted by Today co-host Meredith Vieira to Hilton’s father. If true, the move will get up the nose of the rival ABC network, which had been expecting Hilton’s first interview to be conducted by Barbara Walters on the strength of the 20/20 journalist’s strong friendship with Paris’ mother Kathy. Walters has already talked to Hilton in jail by phone. If NBC has the interview it would mean Seven Network would have front running to it in Australia, while ABC would give the advantage to Nine (and 60 Minutes). It’s a wonder Rupert Murdoch hasn’t rung the Hiltons to offer a bit more: Fox could air it and then interview could be shown here on Foxtel, Sky in the UK, Sky in NZ, Sky in Italy and then sliced and diced for the mogul’s spread of papers and magazines around the world. And it could also have been put up on MySpace. Perhaps he was too busy attending James Packer’s wedding in France to notice this cross platform media promotional opportunity. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: It will be a tight finish to this week’s ratings battle and after last night’s result, there’s a slightly better chance Nine could sneak home. Seven News was again the most watched program with 1.512 million people. Nine’s 8.30 pm program, RPA Where Are They Now had another strong night with 1.412 million and Seven’s Today Tonight had 1.392 million. Getaway averaged 1.377 million people for Nine at 7.30pm as viewers dreamed of somewhere warmer. A Current Affair had 1.349 million (a good Thursday night result for them). Nine News was next with 1.290 million, Temptation won the 7 pm battle with 1.259 million, well ahead of Seven’s Home And Away with 1.184 million. Lost was had 1.162 million, How I Met Your Mother had 1.149 million, also for Seven, at 7.30pm. It helped That 70’s Show to average 1.141million at 8pm in place of Earl. Ten’s repeat of Law And Order SVU at 8.30pm averaged 1.111 million. Next was the 7 pm ABC News with 1.085 million. The fresh ep of Law and Order CI averaged 1.065 million for Ten, while The Footy Shows averaged 1.032 million for last spot in the millionaire’s club last night. Seven’s The Amazing Race averaged 900,000 and Heroes averaged 595,000 airing in Sydney (343,000) and Brisbane (252,000 where it was the sixth most watched show and helped the Network win the night). Inspector Rex was again heroic with 456,000 people watching last night’s repeat on SBS at 7.30pm.

The Losers: Bargain Hunt, Bert’s replacement, isn’t doing well at 5pm. it averaged 475,000 last night. Antiques Roadshow is doing ok at 5.30pm with 626,000. Ten started Pirate Master last night at 7.30pm with Aussie Cameron Daddo. It averaged 905,000. Not the most solid of starts, nor the worst. But it is a turgid show which makes all the various Survivors look like gold. Its obviously designed to capitalise on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies: it can’t or won’t be able to do so because it is just not in their league. Keel haul immediately, or walk the plank slowly! Ten didn’t beat the drum at all today in its daily ratings report.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Today Tonight had to use its Perth margin of 70,000 to win nationally by 42,000. TT won Perth, Brisbane and drew Sydney with ACA. ACA won Melbourne and Adelaide outright. Ten News At Five averaged 955,000, the Late News/Sports Tonight, 433,000. The 7.30 Report averaged 860,000, Lateline, 274,000, Lateline Business a high 183,000. SBS World News Australia, 198,000 at 6.30 pm, 137,000 at 9.30 pm. 7am Sunrise, 455,000 (down a touch from Wed), 7am, up a touch to 279,000. Sunrise wins Sydney and Melbourne. Seven’s 9am Morning Show down to 216,000, KAK on Nine (128,000) and Ten’s 9am with David and Kym (93,000).

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 30.3% from Seven with 28.3%, Ten with 21.9%, the ABC with 14.5% and SBS with 5.0%. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, Seven won Brisbane and Perth. Seven leads the week 28.9% to 28.0%. It could be decided by the AFL/NRL games tonight. In regional areas a win to WIN/NBN with 30.2% from Prime/7Qld with 28.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) on 22.0, the ABC with 13.0% and SBS with 6.3%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: It’s worth pointing out that on Sunday night, the Seven Network’s 6.30 program, Where Are They Now showcases something rival Nine would now find very foreign. It’s the case of the successful Nine soap, Young Doctors. It was suddsier than most soaps of the 1970s (not as strong as Prisoner) but it was a successful program which attracted younger viewers to the network. But nowadays Nine wouldn’t know where to start, or what to do with it, such has been the loss of TV talent. And yet that’s exactly what the Network needs: a program to break the mould and attract younger viewers because Nine’s audience is continuing to age, whereas Ten and Seven have a younger profile. The management team from PBL Media (including CVC Boy Wonder Angus McKenzie) should be sitting at home Sunday night and watching the outtakes from YDs and getting ideas. It’s a standard weekend of viewing. The Sydney vs Collingwood game on Ten tomorrow night might actually decide the week. Will Seven or Nine viewers be attracted away?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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