Sydney listeners turn off talk radio. Sydney’s dominant AM talk station, 2GB, and its breakfast star, Alan Jones, have suffered a drop in the latest ratings figures as Sydneysiders switched off talk and went for the fluff and frolics of FM. That’s unusual with the federal election campaign undeclared, but well underway. Besides 2GB, 2UE also lost ground, as did the ABC local radio station, 702, which shed listeners, especially in its talkback segments. The Sydney figures for Survey Six show that Jones fell to a share of 16.1 from 17.0 while the Kyle Sandilands/Jackie O pairing on 2Day FM rose 2.2 percentage points to 11.4. Jones still dominates but 2GB slid 1.2 to 12.7 overall while 2Day rose to 10.5 (from 9.2). Sandilands and 2Day are getting a boost from his judging exploits on Australian Idol. 2UE also lost ground, falling 0.6 to 7.8, while breakfast with Mike Carlton and Peter Fitzsimmons fell further behind the declining Jones — down from 8.9 to 7.9. The ABC’s 702 saw its share fall a notch to 7.7 from 7.8, with breakfast with Adam Spencer steady on 10.1, but mornings with Virginia Trioli was off a big 0.9 to 5.8 (but she has been absent with illness). The afternoon shift with James Valentine fell 0.5 to 5.2 and drive with Richard Glover was off 0.1 at 8.5. 702 Evenings with James O’Loughlin and others picked up sharply, rising 2.8 percentage points to 8.6. In contrast, evenings on 2GB (down 3.3) and 2UE (off 2.6) were big losers. 2GB’s stablemate at Macquarie Radio network, 2CH added 1.1 percentage points to 6.4 in the latest survey. 2UE’s weakness won’t make Fairfax Media happy after agreeing to buying it and the other Southern Cross talk stations in the break up with Macquarie Media. In Melbourne, Southern Cross’ 3AW was again the most dominant station, rising 0.4 to 15.5. ABC local radio 774 rose from 9.8 to 11.1 to be second in the market, ahead of Fox FM in third with 10.9 (10.5). In the mornings, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell lost ground slipping 0.5 to 16.2. That was after 3AW breakfast jumped 0.6 to 20.4%. ABC 774 was second in breakfast and mornings, a much stronger performance than 702 in Sydney which was weak for a second survey. — Glenn Dyer

Regional viewers don’t like Australian Idol. When it comes to TV viewing, residents in Australia’s cities have a vastly different idea of what’s good to viewers in regional areas. Regional viewers are conservative, eschewing popular programs like Australian Idol, The Chaser and Thank God You’re Here, not to mention It Takes Two. But they do like the bogan humour of Kath & Kim almost as much as city viewers and Border Security, The Force, A Current Affair and the news bulletins are popular. These are the viewing patterns of an older skewing audience, but there are plenty of young people in the bush. Major regional centres like Newcastle, Wollongong and Canberra should have viewing patterns closer to the big metro markets. Hobart and Darwin are also considered part of the regional audience, but it’s the audience numbers in far flung parts of Queensland and NSW which seem to influence viewer rankings. The best example is the recent performance of Australian Idol. On Sunday and Monday night last week, Idol was a top 10 finisher in the five metro markets at No. 6 and 9 respectively, but in regional Australia didn’t make the top 10 on either night. It had a slightly better result in the regions on Sunday this week: finishing 4th nationally and 8th in regional areas. Last Wednesday night, Thank God You’re Here averaged 1.8 million viewers and was clearly the number one program in the major metro markets; it was 4th in regional Australia. And The Chaser’s War on Everything was second nationally with 1.4 million viewers, but in regional areas it came in at No. 10. It may be a bit too cynical and snippy for folk in the bush, but at least it was more popular than Idol.  The irony is that Australian Idol does a bigger swing through regional Australia with its auditions than any other Australian program — it visited 11 regional cities on its talent quest earlier this year. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Seven’s Border Security was top again with 1.892 million and The Force, which followed at 8pm, averaged 1.776 million for second. Seven News was next with 1.575 million, followed by Today Tonight (1.503 million), Home And Away (1.408 million), City Homicide (1.401 million) and Nine News (1.308 million). The verdict ep of Idol averaged 1.235 million for Ten at 7.30pm and A Current Affair was weak with 1.175 million. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.118 million and Temptation was next with 1.091 million. The Law and Order SVU repeat averaged 1.048 million and Californication had 1.040 million.

The Losers: Nine’s entire schedule from A Current Affair onwards, and especially I-Caught at 7.30pm. If anyone says that the internet generates content people want to watch in primetime and be entertained, remind them of this program. It was a piece of US rubbish devised by a TV network that said “let’s unite the internet with TV viewers”. At least that’s the spin put in its promos. Viewers were not fooled: just 600,000 viewers and fourth place for Nine (Mythbusters averaged 591,000 for SBS at 7.30pm). It hurt Eddie’s 1 vs 100 which averaged 922,000 and is sinking anyway. Nine’s repeat of CSI at 9.30pm averaged 752,000. It wasn’t marked as a repeat but the Oztam ratings never fib. Nine just wasn’t trying last night and there goes the week.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight started the week strongly with wins nationally and in all metro markets, including Melbourne. Today Tonight did a 4-5 minute interview with John Howard last night, the second in the last month or so, and got some news coverage. It was at least on the pace. A Current Affair had a women’s forum hosted by a male reporter that looked suspiciously like an idea Today Tonight had a month ago. Ten News averaged 870,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 353,000. Nine’s Nightline, 336,000. The 7.30 Report (with a grinning Red Kerry and frowning John Howard) averaged 868,000; Lateline, 327,000; Lateline Business, 116,000. SBS News, 174,000 at 6.30pm and 140,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 491,000: a recent high with no Today on Nine. The Men’s US Open final only had 247,000. No contest, even though Roger Federer is a fab talent — with no Aussies, tennis don’t rate.

The Stats: Seven won with 32.7% (34.1% a week earlier) from Ten with 22.3% (20.5%) and Nine third with 21.9% (22.6%), the ABC was unchanged on 16.7% and SBS averaged 6.5% (6.2%). Seven won all five metro markets and now leads the week 30.4% to 24.7%. In regional areas a win to Prime/7Qld with 32.1% from WIN/NBN for Nine with 24.2%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.1% the ABC on 15.6% and SBS with 8.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Apart from Nine losing it last night, what else did we learn? City Homicide was quite tense and had a touch of government conspiracy, but that wasn’t enough to stop it losing a sizable chunk of its audience: around 316,000, one sixth of the previous Monday’s 1.717 million. Californication crept over the 1 million viewer mark. That’s the operative word: creep. Australian Story (965,000) and Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope (862,000) were both very, very powerful bits of TV last night. Tonight its the animals and doctors on Seven from 7.30 to 9.30pm, then Caroline Quentin. Nine will be kept in the game by Crime Investigations Australia (AKA Crime Re-enactments Australia) and the Sopranos. The ABC has the final ep of the Russell Crowe buys a footy team story at 8pm and then Foreign Correspondent at 9.20pm. Ten has many, many repeats. Nine returns Bert Newton and 20 to 1 at 7.30 pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports