Interest rate meltdown on Ten. Crikey reader Simon Hoyle asks: “Did anyone else notice the glitch in Channel Ten’s Late News cross to the CommSec trading room late last week Friday? Mid-way through the broadcast, Tom Piotrowski suddenly lost his train of thought (footage here), took a step back from the camera, raised his hand and apologised, and then the coverage switched back to the studio, where the finance report continued. Tom’s reaction looked very much like something was going on off-camera — any clues as to what may have been happening?” Apparently presenter Jacinta Hocking later noted it had been a long and emotional week.

The “friends” of John Alexander are continuing to jump from the PBL empire. A month or so ago it was Sunday executive producer, John Lyons, who leapt from the Nine Network across Sydney into the loving arms of Rupert Murdoch and The Australian newspaper. Now there’s a report that someone even closer to JA has abandoned the good ship Packer. Deeta Colvin, former Sydney heavy and lately the director of corporate relations and events at PBL has pulled on a chute and leapt. She’ll be around to consult after a nice holiday in Tuscany (JA’s favourite part of Italy). Ms Colvin left her agency after staying on for a year or after selling it. She joined PBL in 2003 as director of events, which meant organising parties like the recent annual Gourmet Traveller magazine restaurant awards. She also organised big events around Bulletin magazine idea. She is well known in Sydney media circles for introducing JA to fine society, Sydney eastern suburbs style and eateries such as Buon Ricordo and Lucios which are fancied by the credit card set. And those reports of a couple of high profile executives at Nine looking to leave, won’t fade away. — Glenn Dyer

Seven to potentially buy back as many as 22.3 million shares. Kerry Stokes will tighten his hold on the Seven Network if he follows form and doesn’t accept the potential 10% share buyback the company announced today, along with a sharp rise in net and pre tax earnings. Seven says it could offer to buy back 10% of its 226 million shares. Stokes owns around 43% of those and in the past has not participated in any capital management moves from the company, preferring to hold onto his stake and allow its percentage share rise. It could put him over 46%, depending on how many other shareholders accept the buyback offer. Seven’s said net profit after significant items was $1.622 billion for 2007, up from $107.7 million, but that reflected the formation last year of a joint venture media company Seven Media Group with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co last year. Excluding these and other significant items (a $76 million profit on the sale of Telstra Dome), net profit was up 62% to $174.48 million. Seven shares jumped 25c in a falling market to $11.24 on the potential buyback news. If it goes ahead it will be the biggest use of the money raised from the KKR deal. Seven has also bought a 17.1% stake in West Australian newspapers but that was started before the KKR stake was finalised.

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Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Another Monday, another win for Seven, but Australian Idol again showed resilience to push Ten into second place over a fumbling Nine. Border Security was tops with 1.656 million viewers (again down around 200,000 from the peaks of a couple of weeks ago). Seven News was second with 1.605 million and Idol was 3rd with 1.565 million (from 7.30pm to 9.10pm). Today Tonight was 4th with 1.442 million and Home and Away was 5th with 1.390 million and A Current Affair was 6th with 1.318 million. Nine News was 6th with 1.305 million, Seven’s Surf Patrol averaged 1.267 million at 8pm and Nine’s Temptation was 9th with 1.254 million at 7pm. Seven’s Criminal Minds averaged 1.229 million at 8.30pm, the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.147 million and Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope averaged 1.104 million in 12th and final place on the millions list last night.

The Losers: Losers? Nine last night. Not a program with a million or more viewers from 7.30pm. From 8pm to 8.30pm Nine was 5th, with SBS and the ABC ahead. Eddie McGuire, off having a holiday except for hosting 1 vs 100. It averaged 969,000 viewers. That’s probably the lowest ever for the program but it didn’t help there was a lack of help from its lead-in the tedious repeat, Queen’s Castle at 7.30pm (with Brian Henderson’s 2005 revoicing!) with just 712,000. It just beat The 7.30 Report from 7.30 to 8pm, but Top Gear on SBS with 788,000 viewers made sure of fourth place. And Nine slipped to last spot. ER at 9.30pm, 779,000. Beaten by the first repeat of Law And Order, but not Shark on Seven. 711,000 (Viewers have seen through that angry/grumpy middle age male stuff that drives House on Ten). For the third week in a row Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope at 9.35pm won the slot with good interviews. Shane Jacobsen has been done before by others but Denton did well and viewers lapped it up, as they did the tender and saucy chat with The Waifs. Top TV.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne. Today Tonight also won but it was much closer: it lost Melbourne and Brisbane to A Current Affair. Ten News At Five averaged 921,000, The Late News/Sports Tonight 276,000 at the later time of 11.10. Nine’s Nightline averaged 247,000 at 11.30pm. The 7.30 Report was pushed lower by Border Security and Idol and averaged 712,000. Australian Story averaged 939,000 (a good rise at 8pm). Four Corners was low on 772,000, which was the same figure for Media Watch straight after. Lateline averaged 335,000, Lateline Business, 127,000. World News Australia 247,000 at 6.30pm and 162,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise 385,000, 7am Today up to 290,000. The gap closes? David Koch is not on Sunrise, but…

The Stats: Seven won with 27.9% (28.9% last Monday night) from Ten with 24.9% (24.0%), Nine on 22.7% (24.1%), the ABC with 17.1% (15.6%) and SBS with 7.3% (7.4%). Seven won all five centres but the wins in Adelaide and Perth were quite wide compared to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Seven leads the week 30.2% to 23.9% for Nine and Ten on 21.6%. Ten could end up second after Wednesday night but Nine’s RPA Where Are They Now might be enough to keep it in second. No regional figures today.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven would do to keep a close watch on Idol. Even though Ten ran it from 7.30pm to 9.10pm to maximise and hold a solid audience (which it did) and that produced a misleading appearance (half a million viewers disappeared from Idol for the first repeat of Law And Order SVU at 9.10pm!), Idol is looking and feeling better this year. But it’s the way Nine is floundering which remains the big story in Australian TV. There were many in the industry who would have predicted better in the back half of the year (Perhaps not as optimistically as Nine did) but not many would have been prepared for a night last night. Fancy Nine running last in a five horse race (and six with Foxtel with its Monday night football on) at any time in prime time. Even a year ago it would have been unheard of. No wonder the chaps from CVC are feeling hurt. Tonight its Seven with RSPCA Animal Rescue, Medical Emergency and All Saints (and watch Life Begins, please), Ten has repeats of Futurama, Simpsons and NCIS but it seems a fresh Numb3rs at 9.30pm (and a repeat of the Simpsons at 6pm!). Nine has Things To Try Before You Die, CSI Miami and another Foxtel special ed. of Crime Investigations Australia. The ABC has Foreign Correspondent and The suits of South Side Story which tonight seems to be a long plug for a certain Italian Gentlemen’s Tailor called, Armani?

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Peter Fray
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