Kochie defends Idol against TT attack. Last night Today Tonight claimed that Sydney’s Hillsong Church is taking over Australian Idol, noting that a high proportion of the finalists on the latest series are either Hillsong members or committed Christians. But this morning, Sunrise host David Koch demolished the claims, pointing out that the Idol finalists are there on merit and were the result of extensive auditions across Australia. And anyway, he asked, “who cares?” Co-host Mel Doyle then read from an email from a viewer who pointed out that Sunrise, radio stations and other media urged their audience to vote for on air personalities in contests or programs like Dancing With The Stars, It Takes Two, and what was the difference if Hillsong members voted? The real story was the attack on Ten and the credibility of Australian Idol, which has a higher credibility ratings with many viewers than TT, or its Nine Network counterpart, A Current Affair. TT also gave Nine a bash last night, calling it “struggling” and ACA claimed to have revealed a charity scam associated with voting for Dancing With The Stars. That’s not a new story but it shows the extent that Seven and Nine will use the alleged “current affairs” programs to bash the commercial interests of their rivals. — Glenn Dyer

Why is JB Fairfax drawing director’s fees? John B Fairfax has about $1.03 billion worth of Fairfax Media shares and yet he received another 1865 shares as part of his director’s payment for the year. Fairfax is one of those companies that believe in trying to align directors’ interests with those of shareholders, but as the largest shareholder in Fairfax, JB is already well aligned and doesn’t need any more. Why doesn’t Fairfax follow the PBL route? James Packer doesn’t take any pay or fees for being executive chairman. He depends on the considerable flow of PBL dividends, as John B Fairfax could. Fairfax paid a dividend of 20c a share for 2007. JB Fairfax would be getting more than $43 million if that is paid this year. He also got millions from the merger of Rural Press and Fairfax. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A good night for viewers, unlike Monday and Tuesday nights! A new episode of House did it for Ten with 1.553 million viewers at 8.30pm and top spot on the most watched list. Seven News was next with 1.455 million, then Today Tonight (1.436 million) and RSPCA Animal Rescue (1.433 million). The Chaser averaged 1.357 million for a fairly OK (but a touch smug) ep and Home And Away had 1.306 million at 7pm. Medical Emergency was next with 1.284 million, followed by Spicks and Specks (1.278 million), RPA (1.209 million), Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? (1.179 million), Summer Heights High (down a but at 1.156 million) and Nine News (1.142 million). Ten’s new series Life averaged 1.085 million at 9.30pm (a good first up effort). Temptation averaged 1.082 million, A Current Affair was weak on 1.078 million, the 7pm ABC News had 1.066 million and McLeod’s Daughters had 1.008 million. Seven’s Prison Break averaged 894,000 at 9.30pm and Las Vegas had 723,000 (that should really be in with the losers!)

The Losers: Nine would have been very surprised this morning. The loss in metro Australia was not matched in regional Australia where Nine won the night. That begs the question: has all the poor publicity and poor programming driven city viewers to the point where they are tuning out of Nine regardless of what’s on. RPA and McLeod’s are solid programs: a bit old, but still solid programming. Nine was trying last night.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight won nationally. Nine News and ACA were weak last night and gives Dave Gyngell a good illustration of the problems that lie ahead of him. More people watched the 7pm ABC News in Melbourne than the usually dominant Nine News at 6pm. Ten News averaged 869,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 435,000. Nine’s Nightline, 263,000. The 7.30 Report, 896,000; Lateline, 293,000; Lateline Business, 135,000. SBS News, 146,000 at 6.30pm; 203,000 at 9.30pm; Dateline, 222,000 (up on recent efforts). 7am Sunrise, 373,000 but down because of network problems at 7am for Seven; 7am Today, 324,000 as a result. Nine wishes the problems would happen more often at Seven.

The Stats: Seven won with 27.0% (26.7%) from Ten with 25.6% (28.8%), Nine with 23.8% (23.4%), the ABC with 19.7% (18.7%) and SBS with 3.8% (3.5%). Seven won everywhere bar Adelaide where it was third behind Ten on top and Nine. Seven leads the week 30.9% to 27.2%. In regional areas a win for Nine through WIN/NBN with 27.6% from Prime/7Qld with 25.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 24.9%, the ABC with 17.1% and SBS with 4.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Just when Nine though it was safe to go back into the lounge rooms of Australia… bang, third on a night when it probably thought it had a chance of doing better. It had a better line up than Monday and Tuesday and on the face of it Seven’s was inferior, but Ten and the ABC were stronger and Nine paid the price. Seven won despite the weak Las Vegas at 8.30pm and Prison Break at 9.30pm. Ten did well because of the strength of House off the satellite. Nine would have thought McLeod’s Daughters would do better at 7.30pm, but it has been hurt by Thank God. Whether that’s terminal, who knows. Series eight is in production, will there be a series nine? Something for Dave Gyngell to talk to Posie Graham Evans about on his grand tour of the Nine Network this week. Ten had a very strong night in Adelaide, winning and pushing Seven into third. Tonight its Bionic Woman and Heroes on Seven, off the satellite (sort of), up against the last Sea Patrol on Nine and RPA Where Are They Now instead of the Footy Shows. Ten has two hours of dancing and then Law And Order, SBS has Rex on repeat, the ABC has another of the excellent Dynasties series at 8.30pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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