The Simpsons v Murdoch: The Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening was interviewed for a lengthy profile that ran in the weekend’s New York Times Magazine as part of the promotional effort supporting the upcoming movie. Amid sundry observations on Marge Simpson’s hair and the comic potential of Arnold Schwarzenegger as president, Groening also discussed the influence of Fox proprietor Rupert Murdoch. In 18 years on Fox, has taken several swipes at Murdoch, the network’s owner. Groening told the magazine Murdoch has been gracious every time the two men have met. “He played himself on the show, and we wrote the line, ‘I’m Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire tyrant, and this is my skybox,’ as his entrance line,” Groening said. “He performed it with great zeal.”
New look Neighbours: The Ten Network launches its new look Neighbours at 6.30pm tonight. After 22 years there’s new music, new sets, new characters who will progressively appear over the next few months, and it will be shot in high definition format from next year to improve its saleability overseas. Around $3 million extra a year will be spent on the revamp but the cost to Ten won’t be significant because Fremantle Media, which owns Neighbours, has just done a lucrative new deal with Channel Five in Britain. Part of the revamp will involve more exterior sequences to update the show’s studio-based production, which is an old look. Exterior shooting is far more expensive and Ten and Fremantle say around $1 million a year will be allocated to pay for this and new studio shooting sequences which will be integrated to the exterior shooting schedule to improve efficiency. There will also be more varied storylines, which will be more tightly written, shot and structured to match Home And Away by beginning and ending within a week instead of Neighbours’ current 10 day cycle. Neighbours’ audiences dipped to less than 700,000 earlier this year but have recovered with the move into autumn and winter and are now around 800,000 or so most weeknights. Ten would want to see than up over 900,000 and approaching a million by the end of this year. Last Tuesday it reached 957,000 people. — Glenn Dyer
Rowe move to Seven: Seven got a bit of free publicity from Jessica Rowe’s move to the network in this morning’s papers, but it was a controlled leak with Seven publicity providing the Sunday afternoon news and photo op. That meant not many TV writers stopped to look at the way Seven snared her and changed her image from spurned Today show host to incoming newsreader and would-be Seven personality. That’s exactly the way David Leckie and Peter Meakin would have handled the move when they were running Nine. Rowe will be a contestant on the next series of Dancing With The Stars, which should help viewing numbers. After that she will move into Seven’s newsreader roster and will be seen a lot over summer. Her main shifts will be late mornings and afternoons and she will be a fill-in reader rather than full time. — Glenn Dyer
C7 decision: The C7 case is expected to be resolved, for the time being, this Friday morning with a decision from Federal Court judge, Justice Ron Sackville. The various parties — the Seven Network and a long list of defendants including News Limited, PBL, Telstra, Foxtel and Optus — have been told the decision is expected at 9.30am, although that could change. Seven has spent over $100 million on the case (probably upwards of $130 million) and the various respondents would have spent around the same. Seven’s original claim for more than $1 billion in damages has been cut back to just over $400 million. The question of who pays each other’s costs could be a major part of any decision and eventual settlement. — Glenn Dyer
Seven still winning: A win to the Seven Network last week when it was vulnerable with the ending of several high profile programs. Neither Nine nor Ten could make a real impression and Seven produced a better than anticipated performance to win narrowly. Both Seven and Nine’s share fell from the week before, but the AFL on Friday night helped Seven keep the winning lead it had set up on Monday night. Seven won with a share of 27.5% (28.7% the week before) from Nine on 27.0% (27.6%), Ten on 22.5% (21.1%), The ABC on 17.7% (16.5%), and SBS with 6.3% (6.1%). Seven won Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights. Nine won Sunday Thursday and Saturday, Ten won Wednesday night. It was actually much closer that it seems: Seven won Sydney and Adelaide, drew Melbourne with Nine and lost Brisbane to Nine, but scored a big enough win over Nine in Perth for the win nationally. Ten’s Thank God You’re Here was the most watched program with 1.845 million viewers, Seven’s Border Security was next with 1.834 million people, followed by Nine’s Sea Patrol with 1.798 million and 60 Minutes with 1.735 million. Seven started RSPCA Animal Rescue successfully last week and it was the most watched program on Tuesday night with just over 1.5 million viewers. This week Seven restarts Criminal Minds at 8.30pm tonight to replace Desperate Housewives. Criminal Minds ended up a bit of a sleeper hit last year — it will have to average around 1.3 to 1.4 million to make sure Seven’s winning lead from Monday nights isn’t cut back. Nine could get closer this week, if it can close the gap tonight and tomorrow night. — Glenn Dyer
Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Sunday night is Nine’s night and for the first time this winter, Nine News has managed to top the ratings on a Sunday night, just as it did last year regularly. And Nine did it without the AFL in southern markets. Nine News averaged 1.664 million people, 60 Minutes was second with 1.645 million, Seven News was third with 1.507 million, Midsomer Murders on the ABC averaged 1.412 million and just beat Grey’s Anatomy (1.410 million people) for the 8.30pm top position. Backyard Blitz on Nine (1.329 million) just beat Seven’s Where Are They Now at 6.30pm, 1.315 million. (Next Sunday Seven starts Jamie Durie’s Australia’s Best Backyards up against the last Backyard Blitz on Nine. Should be a great battle). Nine’s fresh CSI ep at 8.30 averaged 1.271 million (down again because some of the over 50s have moved to the ABC?). Seven’s Ugly Betty averaged 1.235 million at 7.30pm. The good Tony Robinson series, The Worst Jobs in History (will anyone mention programming a commercial TV network?) averaged 1.225 million at 7.30pm and the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.145 million. Nine’s CSI Miami averaged 1.145 million at 9.30 pm, Ten’s Big Brother Live Eviction averaged 1.135 million at 7.30pm; Rove in New York gathered an average 1.043 million for Ten and the 6.30pm Big Brother averaged 1.002 million. The 6.30pm ABC program The Einstein Factor averaged 905,000. The Circuit on SBS at 9.30pm averaged 239,000.
The Losers: What About Brian on Seven at 9.30pm. The Big Brother Double Eviction at 7.30pm, 1.135 million was OK but it’s a long, long way from the glory days with less than a week or so to go to the finale. Will Gretel go from BB between now and 2008? Is Ten game enough to give it a complete makeover?
News & CA: Nine News won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven won Brisbane and Perth. Ten News averaged 872,000 for the half hour edition. SBS News at 6.30pm, 241,000. In the mornings Weekend Sunrise averaged 403,000, a repeat of Landline on the ABC at noon, 272,000. Nine’s Sunday eased to 221,000. The 9am Insiders and 10.30am Offsiders tied with 155,000 for the ABC, leaving Inside Business, which splits them, on 118,000. Viewers know what they want on the ABC on Sunday mornings and its BC! Meet The Press on Ten averaged 56,000 at 8am.
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The Stats: Nine won with a share of 297.4% (24.2%) from Seven with 24.2% (unchanged); Ten was third with 21.9% (21.2%).The ABC was on 20.2% (20.1%) and SBS was on 6.4% (6.2%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven won Perth, narrowly. Seven finished third in Melbourne behind Ten. In regional areas it was a similar result with Nine winning through WIN/NBN with 30.9%, Prime/7Qld with 25.1%, the ABC third with 19.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.3% and SBS with 6.9%).
Glenn Dyer’s comments: On the face of it a good result for everyone last night. Seven is in range if it is good enough, Nine has a lead it could hold, if it is good enough, Ten has Wednesday and the ABC had another solid night of ratings on which to build another good week. But fancy the ABC depending on an imported, snoringly boring British crime show in Midsomer Murders. The ABC has done well this year with Australian productions in particular, such as The Chaser, Spicks and Specks, the Choir of Hard Knocks and other docos. The 7pm News and 7.30 Report, Four Corners have also helped and its been striking that the usual Friday/Saturday night rating peaks with Brit crime and drama have few and far between this year. The ABC has rated very well on Wednesdays, Sundays and also Monday nights. There’s been Bastard Boys, Australian Story (watch tonight for Belinda Emmett’s story) and Andrew Denton is back (watch tonight for Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson speak very frankly about his ice addiction). And then there is a program like Midsomer Murders. And yes the 1.4 million viewers is nice enough (Nine is happy because all the oldies are migrating back to the ABC on Sunday nights now!) but at the expense of local drama and productions? It is, for me, still a question why the SBS drama, The Circuit isn’t on the ABC. SBS is to be congratulated for it (but not for hiding it at 9.30pm). The ABC should have made it and been bold enough to show Australians a drama about the realties of life in an Australia we don’t want to see. Midsomer Murders is about a make believe murder/s in a make believe part of a make believe country called rural England. The Circuit is about contemporary Australian life in a part of the country we oaah and aahh at the sunsets and beauty and don’t notice the inhabitants and when we do, we recoil. I think the ABC should be ashamed of showing Midsomer Murders, especially on a Sunday night. The commercial networks, especially Nine, would love to see something less popular on the ABC than MM, but the ABC is not supposed to be that blindly interested in ratings success. Tonight Australian Story and Enough Rope go someway to making up for Midsomer Murders.