What story? – The West’s HMAS debacle. West Australians have long suffered the biased rant that the The West Australian has sunk under tyro editor Paul Armstrong. Last week saw the monopoly state daily newspaper’s credibility stretched beyond belief with a huge Page 1 headline “FOUND” to announce that a West-sponsored search had located the wreck of HMAS Sydney, sunk with the loss of 645 lives in 1941. The “EXCLUSIVE” continued with “We’re sure it’s the wreck of the Sydney” splashed across pages two and three, and “Search over” with pictures of three men, a chart and grainy images of submerged pipes and wires. The West sold the story to Fairfax, which ran it on The Sydney Morning Herald page 1 with a poster “We find the Sydney”, and in The Age with “Back from the deep”. Seven Network bought it too, with a “personal donation” from boss Kerry Stokes − now 17.3% owner of West Australian Newspapers Ltd − who “provided the searchers with extra equipment”. Alas, The West story began to unravel within 24 hours when The Australian reported the wreck site had already been discounted by a 2002 WA Museum investigation. When searchers refused to give map coordinates to Canberra due to an exclusive West deal, News Ltd published the exact location − from Shark Bay local government records. By last Friday, The West was still telling readers the wreck might be HMAS Sydney − until a new Navy sonar probe killed the story. Saturday’s West failed to report this news but ran an editorial attacking the “foreign-owned Murdoch press”, the “increasingly irrelevant ABC” and a Federal Government “desperate for pre-election attention” for sending the Navy to check the claim. “The reaction of rival media organisations which (sic) missed the story when it broke was utterly predictable,” The West thundered. What story? The only thing predictable was The West’s characteristic refusal to admit it was wrong and apologise to the families of the dead sailors. That Fairfax, Seven and Stokes in particular were so easily duped by The West’s institutional contempt for accuracy is cause for deeper concern, especially in a federal election year. — West Australian media insider

Kath and Kim rates its socks off. More than 2.5 million people tuned in to watch Kath and Kim debut on Seven at 7.30pm last night: or, as Seven says, return to Seven. Not even the most optimistic Sevenster would have put money on 2.5 million, or a peak of 2.731 million. That puts all the noise Nine has been making about Sea Patrol, and Ten about Thank God You’re Here into context. The latter two are very successful but Kath and Kim is by far our biggest local TV brand. If they achieved a two million plus rating for the expected eight programs, they will be the biggest “cultural item” in this country and larger than when they were on the ABC. The average audience for last night of 2.521 million is the largest audience for 2007 so far, and when added to the 940,000 average for regional Australia, it means well over 3.4 million people watched the program last night across the country (probably more given viewing in pubs, clubs and visitors in homes). Advertisers will be happy; it’s probably the most successful thing Ford has been associated with this year after reporting lower sales for the Falcon, closing the six cylinder engine plant and suggesting that it might leave V8 Supercars (which wouldn’t make Seven happy). Ford was flogging a range of small cars made in Germany (one or two may be made here in three years time). The ANZ Bank was in for its chop, as was international pretty company L’Oreal which gave us one never ending story about some new product range that would have been better as product placement in Kath and Kim. The Hyatt at Coolum would have been very happy, the Seven executives who took the risk in paying millions to win the battle, would have been very relieved, and Seven will now win every Sunday night until K&K say goodbye. Seven will win the week and every week for the next eight. The estimated $6 million Seven paid will pay off across the network and across the week: it’s another example of the “halo” effect a really good program or programs can have on the rest of the schedule of a TV Network. Nine will be unhappy, its much boasted second half recovery is dead in the water but not too much damage was inflicted on Ten’s Australian Idol, which average a very sold 1.415 million last night and will be around after K&K finish for the year. — Glenn Dyer

Seven still the one. Yet another win last week to the Seven Network. That’s 23 of the 25 weeks of ratings so far won by Seven in All People and in the key 25 to 54 age group. A combination of Seven’s high rating Border Security, plus good efforts from second half new program, RSPCA Animal Rescue and the steady Medical Emergency, won it for Seven, along with strong Friday night efforts from the News, Today Tonight and especially Better Homes and Gardens which topped 1.46 million viewers. The AFL pushed Seven to a network win on Friday night, especially in Melbourne where the Collingwood-Melbourne game averaged 477,000 which was the best audience in any market on the night. The network won week 27 of ratings by a narrow but clear margin from Nine, 27.8% (27.6% a week earlier) to 27.1% (27.0%). Ten was third with 23.3% 923.1%0, the ABC was on 16.6% (17.3%) and SBS was on 5.2% (5.0%). The AFL averaged 775,000 nationally, but Nine’s first NRL game averaged 633,000. Ten’s Saturday AFL coverage averaged 986,000 and the Saturday afternoon game, 583,000. Seven won Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights. Ten won Wednesday, Nine won Thursday and Friday. Nine’s Sea Patrol was again dominant on Thursday night and its audience has settled around an average of just over 1.5 million viewers. Nine brings back RPA Where Are They Now this week for its second series over an hour. The first series on Thursday nights dominated and at times averaged above 1.5 million people. This week RPA will be up against House on Ten and Spicks and Specks on the ABC at 8.30pm, as well as the flat The Force on Seven. Nine is still running the program called The Queen’s Castle at 7.30 tonight. It’s still in the guide with the letter “R” beside it for repeat. Here’s the background to the three part series from the website for Windsor Castle. Three hours of TV plus a ‘bonus’ two extra hours. — Glenn Dyer

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TiVo no good says TiVo competitor. This time the paper has allowed a Foxtel associate to take a sling without disclosing that News owns 25% of Foxtel and Foxtel is a major shareholder in the ad agency concerned, MCN. There is a story in The Australian’s business and marketing pages today. Seven points out that TiVo is coming and a search of the web and speaking to people in TV shows that former Newscorp arm, Direct TV had decided to adopt TiVo because Murdoch sold it to John Malone of Liberty media in a multi-billion dollar settlement. Malone is continuing with TiVo, which has also been adopted by major US cable groups, Comcast and Cox Cable have adopted it. At Sky in London, it trialled TiVo in the late 1990s when it launched its first digital service via satellite. What head of MCN’s interactive television division Rob Leach didn’t say was that the new satellite service took time to bed down, TiVo used too much bandwidth on the satellite (Sky didn’t realise that) and slowed down the service and Sky wanted to introduce its own remote PVR so they commissioned the first of what is now the Foxtel IQ box in Australia. In Australia the absence of a satellite will be a crucial difference: Seven’s TiVo will use the terrestrial broadband (available on Big Pond and other ISPs), just as Foxtel’s new IQ2 box will use the same terrestial broadband network. of there’s not enough bandwidth for TiVo, there won’t be enough to IQ2. TiVo was dropped by Sky in London for two reasons: Sky’s satellite transponders did not have enough bandwidth for it and the digital broadcasts and Murdoch wanted his own version combined the digital set top box. — Glenn Dyer

Lachlan Murdoch needs spare change, sells common stock worth $2.8M. In a little noticed move last week News Corp director, Lachlan Murdoch has jettisoned a bit more of his stake to raise cash to fund his local business ambitions and lifestyle. A ‘Form 4’ filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week revealed that Murdoch has exercised an option over 220,000 News Corp “common stock” last Wednesday at $US8.07 a share and then sold them for $US20.83 each. Based on the US/Australian exchange rate last Thursday of around 82.80 USc, Lachie probably netted around $2.8 million Aussie from the exercise and sale. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: 17 programs with a million or more viewers, so a big night of TV. (last Sunday there was 14). Kath & Kim topped the list with an average 2.521 million people. Second was Seven’s 8pm program, My Name Is Earl with 1.667 million and Seven News was 3rd with 1.650 million. The ABC’s Midsomer Murders snored its way to victory at 8.30pm with a solid 1.428 million and Nine News was 5th with 1.421 million. Australian Idol on Ten at 7.30pm averaged 1.415 million, the fresh of CSI at 8.30pm averaged 1.373 million (It’s not there next Sunday!). Australia’s Best Backyards at 6.30 on Seven averaged 1.373 million and Hot Property straight after on Seven at 7pm averaged 1.231 million. Seven’s 8.30 movie Meet The Fockers averaged 1.223 million in 10th spot. Backyard Blitz averaged 1.155 million for Nine at 6.30pm (That’s another win to J Durie on Seven over J Durie on Nine) and the ABC News update at 8.25pm averaged 1.150 million in 12 spot. The 7pm ABC News was next with 1.135 million, 60 Minutes averaged 1.134 million at 7.30pm on Nine, CSI New York averaged 1.107 million at 9.30pm for Nine. The Worst Jobs In History on the ABC at 7.30pm averaged 1.084 million in 16th spot and Rove averaged 1.026 million at 8.30pm.

The Losers: Losers? Last night. 60 Minutes took a battering, but Nine would have expected that. At the start of the year it was Ugly Betty, 60 Minutes survived that onslaught and rose again and bit will survive this, or rather, Nine will keep it regardless of what happens because it need the tick, tick, tick. Rove did well at 8.30 with a million viewers and got the right demographic with the oldies away on Nine and the ABC watching a bit of crime. (I am ashamed to say I cheered for the nutter on Midsomer Murders last night to fit up Inspector Barnaby: his Detective Sergeant is smarter and deserves a promotion). Ten’s America’s Next Top Model, 840,000 at 6.30pm which in Ten’s terms is passable, but it was beaten by the kids special on the Einstein Factor on the ABC for third spot. That about sums up how appealing the model’s program is to most viewers It is undistinguished pap, but that’s Pay TV for you. Ten’s The Wedge, ep 1 at 9.40pm, 529,000, ep 2 at 10.10pm, 347,000.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and lost Sydney with the NRL helping but not in Brisbane. The AFL helped Seven in Melbourne. Ten’s News At Five averaged a solid 903,000terr for half an hour, the 7pm ABC News was a million plus. World News Australia on SBS at 6.30pm averaged 221,000. In the morning Weekend Sunrise on Seven averaged 429,000, Landline on the ABC at noon averaged 311,000. Nine’s Sunday program lifted to 300,000 viewers for its best audience of the year so far, Insiders on the ABC averaged 183,000, Inside Business, 130,000 and Offsiders at 10.30am, 124,000. Meet The Press on Ten at 8am averaged 84,000. Did wet weather in Sydney and around Brisbane and the Gold Coast help?

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 32.2% (26.8% a week ago) from Nine with 25.0% (26.4%), The ABC with 20.5% (21.9%), Ten fourth with 18.4% (20.5%) and SBS on 3.8% (4.4%). Seven won all five metro markets but the margin in Brisbane over Nine was less than two points. Meet The Fockers, Seven’s movie wasn’t as interesting to viewers up north. In regional areas a solid win to Prime/7Qld with 33.5% of the audience, 26.3% for WIN/NBN, 19.4% for the ABC, 16.0% for Southern Cross (Ten) and 4.8% for SBS.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: It was one of the nights in Australian TV: Lots of winners (But only one really) and everyone can take something away. Seven because of K&K’s outright blitzing of the field, which held My Name Is Earl and the movie at 8.30pm. K&K will not die like Ugly Betty died from its opening audience of around 2.3 million people. The ABC’s Midsomer Murders were steady, Nine’s CSI lifted a little and Australian Idol withstood the shock of K&K, only slipping around 170,000 viewers in the face of an all out assault from Seven on the 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 female viewers. 60 Minutes was the program to be belted by both Idol and K&K, pointing to the interesting fact that K&K do attract older viewers as well. Even though Ten finished fourth again, it will be happy Idol stood up well. Nine will grin and bare it, knowing they had the chance to snare them but failed for all the reasons why Nine isn’t the place to work in Australian TV at the moment. Seven will win the week: sold results tonight, tomorrow and Friday night will help make sure of that.

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