Seven launches bid for Unwired. The Seven Network is spending a bit more of the billions raised from buyout group KKR, launching a bid for the Unwired wireless networking group worth up to $127 million. The bid was announced today and comes after Seven’s 33% owned associated, the Engin phone group, picked up 19.8% of Unwired in a series of deals, the last of which involved buying the stake in Unwired held by former chairman, Steve Cosser. Seven Network has already bought 17% of West Australian newspapers and around 12% of Perth-based mining services company, GRD. — Glenn Dyer

Foxtel loses its spinner in chief. Foxtel is looking for a new spinner in chief: Rebecca Melkman is leaving next month to go to the PPR firm. She’s been at Foxtel for four years and in that time Foxtel has battled Seven for the AFL rights and C7, moved into profit, seen News Corp decamp to the US, been monstered by PBL wanting more money and this year made its first distribution to shareholders. TV people are also wondering if Foxtel CEO Kim Williams will be moved elsewhere in the News Corp cable business because of his successes in Australia. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: The longer than usual (75 minutes) Thank God You’re Here ended the year with a season high of 1.951 million viewers, ahead of the ABC’s The Chaser in second with 1.594 million at 9pm. Seven News was next with 1.506 million, followed by Home And Away (1.447 million), Today Tonight (1.447 million), RSPCA Animal Rescue (1.276 million), Summer Heights High (1.235 million) and Ten’s debuting Are You Smarter Than Fifth Grader had 1.217 million after Thank God at 9.45pm. It moves to 7.30pm next Wednesday and will battle to retain viewers. Spicks and Specks was back to its normal level at 8.30pm with 1.208 million people. Nine News had 1.200 million, Medical Emergency averaged 1.157 million at 8pm (down from Tuesday night levels) and A Current Affair had 1.141 million. RPA suffered because Thank God was longer and it averaged 1.140 million at 8.30pm. Temptation came in next with 1.077 million and the 7pm ABC News had 1.031 million. McLeod’s Daughters was hit by Thank God and averaged 937,000 — it should improve next week. Seven mixed City Homicide in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and Las Vegas in Sydney and Brisbane at 8.30pm: combined they averaged 983,000.

The Losers: Nine in Sydney and Seven at 9.30pm with the “fast track” of Prison Break with 899,000. Sort of OK, Seven says it won the 9.30-10.30pm timeslot in commercial share terms, but until 10pm much of the target audience was on the ABC! Nine’s Damages at 9.30pm, 663,000. Very damaged goods. There’s a huge difference to the 970,000 on Sunday night at 9.30pm. Must be the size of the lead in or the competition on the ABC and Ten at 8.30pm.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne. The 7.30 Report averaged 688,000; Lateline, 303,000 and Lateline Business, 136,000. Ten News averaged 814,000, the Late News/Sports Tonight, 173,000 (very late, what’s the point?). Nine’s Nightline, 211,000 (also late). SBS News, 164,000 at 6.30pm; 177,000 at 9.30pm; Dateline up to 152,000.

The Stats: Ten won with 28.8% (27.7%) from Seven with 26.7% (24.2%), Nine with 22.4% (24.5%), the ABC 18.7%, 20.3%, and SBS with 3.5% (3.3%). Seven won Sydney with 27.9% from Ten with 25.1% the ABC with 22.3% and Nine with 20.2%. A turn-up. Ten won Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven won Perth and Nine beat the ABC, so Sydney was an oddity. In regional areas though a different result with Thank God not as popular and Nine winning through WIN/NBN with 27.3%, from Prime/7Qld with 26.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 25.2%, the ABC with 16.6% and SBS with 4.3%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Sydney is the most important TV market in the country and the most competitive. And last night we saw something. Although Nine finished third nationally, it was fourth in Sydney, an occurrence that best illustrates the work David Gyngell faces in reviving the network. When he was last running Nine it was slowly losing share across the network and in Sydney as Seven’s revival started. Nine finishes 4th in Perth on a regular basis some nights, but that’s a distant metro market and now run by WIN, its different when it is the main station in the biggest market. Ten’s share in Sydney was lower as well: 25.1% vs. a winning 28.8% nationally. Pay TV is stronger in Sydney and I wish I could bring you its figures, but they are reluctant to release them. Nine should do better tonight with Sea Patrol and the Grand Final editions of the AFL and NRL Footy Shows. The NRL Show is supposed to be Paul Vautin’s last.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports