A sporting chance of revolt at The Age. Yesterday afternoon the entire sports staff almost walked out after the popular but feisty Sports Editor, Warwick Green, was removed from his position by editor Andrew Jaspan. The newsroom was abuzz with the news. Given Green’s popularity and Jaspan’s unpopularity, the move had the potential to bring newsroom tensions to a head. Green remains on staff, but is no longer sports editor. This morning the House Committee together with union reps met Jaspan to discuss the matter after the editorial floor was running hot with talk of a full staff meeting and even a motion of no confidence in the editor-in-chief. This morning a conciliatory email from the paper’s house committee whizzed around, stating that Green would remain on staff but was removed as editor. I understand there will now be no mass meeting of staff. There seems to have been no one trigger for the falling out between the two men, although news conference attendees say that there have been longstanding tensions. Green is known as someone who expresses his opinions loudly and bluntly. According to one source his attitude toward Jaspan ”bordered on the openly contemptuous”. — Margaret Simons

Sunrise faux pas: Sunrise viewers would have been cringing this morning. Unlike their Channel Nine and ABC online colleagues, the Sunrise news team decided that the Cherbourg tragedy could be summed up best in the bald headline, “Aboriginal woman and child dead”.  Painful listening to any family members or friends in that community.  Perhaps those concerned with making this decision should flick again through the Australian Press Council’s reporting guidelines relating to “race”:

Publications should not place gratuitous emphasis on the race, religion, nationality, colour, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age of an individual or group. Nevertheless, where it is relevant and in the public interest, publications may report or express opinions in these areas. 

The Guidelines go on to give the helpful example that it might be in the public interest to identify the race or ethnicity of a person if they are suspected of violence. Not if they have been killed as a result of the same. The last of this section of the guidelines is particularly to the point with regards to Sunrise‘s headline this morning:

In the Council’s view, in general, the press needs to show more sensitivity in reporting issues when minority groups are perceived in the community to be more “different” or when they are the subject of particular public debate.

— A Sunrise watcher

On p-rn, str-ppers, and body hair: New Fairfax commentator, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, has taken to asking interviewees some very personal, and seedy questions, of late. Last week he asked the Prime Minister if he’d ever watched any p-rn. (Click here to listen.) This week, Mitchell asked a speechless AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou if he’d ever attended a strip club. (To listen to the very awkward pause that followed, click here.) He then asked the perplexed Demetriou if he’d “ever been waxed”, a reference to the sorry tale in today’s Herald-Sun of a woman who nearly died from a botched brazilian. Demetriou replied in the negative, disclosing that he liked his “little bit of body hair.” — Sophie Black

Sea Patrol success: At last the Nine Network has something to boast about. Sea Patrol worked a treat last night, watched by an average 1.971 million people, which pushed the network to a win on the night and into the lead for the week with two nights to go. The program had high production values, was well acted and the scripts were OK. Nine would be very happy with a breakdown of the quarter hours. It started at 1.961 million at 8.30pm, 1.977 million from 8.45pm, 1.912 million from 9pm. It jumped to 2.01 million in the last quarter hour as people joined for the Footy Shows. The audience fell to 1.68 million from 9.30pm to 9.45pm and the Footy Shows averaged 1.2 million over 90 minutes, which shows the value of a strong lead in.  But Nine and its advertisers won’t like the demographics. The program had 50.2% of all people watching, but only 35.2% of 16 to 39s. Seven had 41.6% of those. Sea Patrol did OK in the 18 to 49 group, with a leading 40.5 per cent share; 44.3% of the 25 to 54 group; 68.8 per cent of the 55 plus viewers and a huge 73 per cent of people over 65. In other words, it is yet another program which has cemented Nine’s control of the over 50 viewer demographics. It’s how the network has managed to keep in touch with Seven for most of the year. Nine desperately needed Sea Patrol to work. If it had tanked, $15 million would have been wasted, plus all that invaluable free help from the Navy. — Glenn Dyer

EPG wash up: Depending which paper you read this morning the release of a free electronic program guide (EPG) is either “a massive blow” for the free to air TV networks (according to Matthew Ricketson in The Age) or placing Foxtel was on “the outer” (The Australian). The reality is no one knows how a free electronic program guide will go in Australia and who it will benefit, except that Foxtel has been left out and is in a huff. The move solidifies Seven and its venture with TiVo and its Personal Video Recorders (PVRs). The announcement implies support from the Nine and Ten networks, as well as regional players such as Prime and WIN, for the Seven-backed TiVo digital video recording platform. Other PVR/DVRs manufacturers be allowed to participate, if they agree to certain conditions to do with removing the ability to skip ads in recording, but not eliminating fast forwarding. But Foxtel will not get access to the data. Subscribers to the Foxtel’s iQ DVR (and the net based iQ2 coming next year) will have to use one of the FTA approved services to more easily record programs shown on the Seven and Ten, because their program guides are still not available on Foxtel’s digital platform. Foxtel and the FTA networks both know that as soon as the EPG is available and PVRs/DVRs start being bought in greater quantities, the chances of its iQ box becoming the industry standard disappears. It wants access to the FTA EPG simply to stop that happening and to protect its position, but it has probably missed the chance to get Seven and Ten on its EPG, which will be a blow. But what no one knows is how many people will use it. In the US its use is common but not overwhelming. People don’t skip all ads – research in the US suggests around 40 per cent of all ads recorded are seen. There’s also a big requirement for the networks to stick to the scheduled start/finish times for programs. If the notional start/finish times are not adhered to then the EPG/PVR combination isn’t effective. — Glenn Dyer

SBS buries good stuff: SBS premieres an interesting looking series at 9.30pm on Sunday night. Starring Aaron Pederson and Gary Sweet, The Circuit is about an indigenous lawyer who returns to remote northern Western Australia to work for the Aboriginal Legal Service. This is a high profile program with some high profile actors and a very high profile subject matter. So why has SBS buried it on a Sunday night at 9.30pm? In fact you’d have to ask if SBS has lost its nerve now that it’s gone all commercial and the money is rolling in. It can’t run earlier on Sundays because HBO series Big Love is on at 8.30pm, but what about Mondays? Mondays at 8.35pm is repeats of South Park, after a repeat of The Movie Show. So why does repeats of US cartoon series take precedence over local drama content? By burying it in on Sunday night, SBS is seemingly saying it’s not quite good enough. You’d have to ask if SBS is showing a touch of the nervousness about its local content that the Nine Network, and even the ABC, has been showing of late. — Glenn Dyer

An SBS Insider writes… Glenn Dyer’s very generous analysis of SBS ratings yesterday reveals that his affection for numbers outweighs his true interest in media analysis.  Just on the figures, it is absurd to exclude major events from his analysis of SBS ratings and revenue – SBS paid huge sums for the Ashes and the World Cup, so this should be offset against the advertising revenue and they must be included in year-on-year comparisons.  Of course “sources close to SBS” (very close, I would think, so close they may be on the payroll) suggest the revenue growth could be higher if you exclude those events – that’s what they would say, wouldn’t they!  One would have thought Mr Dyer wouldn’t be so gullible.  But it’s his last point, that “much of [SBS’s] regular programming is what you’d see on Nine, Ten, Seven or the ABC” which is actually THE important one.  In butchering programs with intrusive advertising and demolishing the schedule into a commercial/ABC clone, Shaun Brown and his cronies have transformed a genuinely innovative and award-winning alternative into an unimaginative imitator in a shameless attempt to fulfil the Board’s goal of maximising advertising revenue.  If this hatchet job hadn’t achieved SOME increase in ratings, it would be a disaster indeed, but a chimpanzee could increase the ratings by showing these programs.  The point is that this is a clear and specific breach of the very SBS Charter conditions which Mr Brown uses to justify his appalling policies – the requirement for SBS to broadcast for all Australians.  By catering only to audiences already catered to by commercial/ABC programming, Mr Brown has in fact disenfranchised all those viewers who watched SBS for programs ONLY SBS was showing.  Those audiences now have nowhere else to go, so SBS is broadcasting for FEWER Australians.  The present Board and management should hang their heads in shame for this, as well as for their bullying of staff, their bias, their lying, their philistinism, and their destruction of an important Australian institution.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Sea Patrol, Getaway and The Footy Shows made it a night Nine can crow about. Sea Patrol averaged an impressive 1.971 million viewers and it had to, given the $15 million cost. Seven News was second with 1.462 million and Today Tonight was third with 1.368 million. Getaway’s sunny holidays special did well with 1.358 million, but so did Seven’s How I Met Your Mother which is now up to 1.334 million at 7.30pm for Seven (an all time high from memory). A Current Affair was 6th with 1.253 million people; Nine News was next with 1.253 million and That ’70s Show was 8th for Seven at 8pm with 1.232 million. The Footy Shows averaged 1.207 million for 9th spot, Temptation was 10th with 1.182 million, beating Home And Away with 1.160 million. The 7pm ABC News was next with 1.095 million, Law And Order CI was 13th with 1.043 million and Seven’s Lost was 14th and the last million viewer program with 1.043 million people. 7 pm Big Brother averaged 921,000m Catalyst on the ABC at 8pm, 913,000, Law And Order, SVU, 828,000 and Brat Camp, What Happened Next on the ABC at 8.30pm averaged 723,000. Inspector Rex, 473,000.

The Losers: Nothing really last night. Lost is a shadow of itself for Seven (it was getting Sea Patrol numbers in 2005). Next week Seven starts the Love Poo at 8.30pm. Should make for an easier time for Sea Patrol. Pirate Master for Ten at 7.30pm, 645,000. Stinker! Deal or No Deal on Seven, 898,000. OK. Bert’s repeat at 5pm, 384,000, not so good, Antiques Roadshow, 616,000, OK.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Sydney, Today Tonight won everywhere bar Melbourne. Ten News averaged 929,000, the Late News/Sports Tonight, 478,000. The 7.30 Report, 864,000, Lateline, 287,000, Lateline Business, 168,000. SBS News, 6.30pm; 215,000, 9.30pm, 167,000. And Mary Kostikidis and Anton Ennis look a better pairing that Mary and Stan. 7am Sunrise, 391,000; 7am Today, 240,000 (holiday affected). Likewise the 9am shows also impacted by holidays. Seven’s The Morning Show, 185,000′; KAK on Nine, 99,000 and 9am with David and Kim, 86,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 35.0% (29.8 a week ago). Seven was next with 26.8% (27.8%), Ten was third with 19.2% (21.4%), the ABC was on 13.8% (15.6%) and SBS was on 5.3%(5.5%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide but not Perth where Seven won narrowly. WIN has an awful lot of work to do over there. Nine now leads the week 29.5% to 29.0% for Seven. in regional areas a good win for Nine, with WIN/NBN on 35.6%, Prime/7Qld on 25.8%, Southern Cross (Ten) on 19.7%, the ABC on 13.0% and SBS with 5.9%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine is back in front but Seven will move back to the lead with the AFL tonight. Essendon vs. Geelong should do very well in Melbourne and a little less so in Adelaide and Perth, but with Better Homes and Gardens, Seven News and Today Tonight, it will provide a solid margin but Nine could get back tomorrow night with another Harry Potter movie and nothing much else on. Harry Potter gave Nine a big win last Saturday night and its still holidays in some places. The Australia-South Africa Rugby is on Seven. Nine may squeak home. Sunday night its usual viewing. Watch The Circuit on SBS at 9.30pm and give it support. Nine has CSI and 60 Minutes etc (and guess what, 60 Minutes has just discovered the great WA boom and all those high paying jobs over there. Talk about not being a current affairs program any more). Go the Wannabies.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off