Seven sweats on NBC output negotiations. It’s a big weekend for the Seven Network, and while most would claim a possible appeal in the C7 case is the big yarn, negotiations being held in New York will be much more important to the network. At stake is Seven’s half share of the NBC output deal, which has been a cornerstone of the network’s programming schedule for 50 years. Ten has been fighting Seven to get the deal for the past three months or so, which explains some of the recent bitterness between the two networks. Ten controls the other half of the US network’s output through its existing arrangement with Universal, which was signed before it was acquired by General Electric and merged with NBC. As a result, Seven and Ten have been jostling over which programs fall under the two agreements and Ten now sees it as an opportunity to combine both, like it did with the CBS Paramount deal when Nine stupidly let CBS News go last year. Ten has also picked up the Fox production contract from Seven and now splits it each year with Foxtel. Seven’s only other significant output deal is with Disney (it delivers programs like Desperate Housewives and Lost). Seven’s relationship with NBC cannot be underestimated. They have co-operated closely in numerous Olympic games broadcasts, most notably in Sydney and in Beijing next year where Kerry Stokes private companies have been a major player in building and helping train Chinese TV broadcast facilities. Ten apparently thinks it has a better than even chance, but Seven’s chief programmer, Tim Worner, is in the US this week trying to stitch up the deal. — Glenn Dyer

A golden “boning” for JA. PBL CEO John Alexander is being “boned” in the split of the Packer company into gambling and an odds and sods media business which he will preside over. But unlike the many people at ACP, PBL and Nine that he has seen “boned” since the early years of this decade, JA is getting a very golden goodbye of $15 million, plus more than $5.4 million in cash for his 1.812 million shares (most of which have been financed by cheap PBL loans). In addition he will get the same number of Crown and Cons Media Holdings shares, and he will be paid a total of $3 million a year for the next five years to be on both boards, as deputy chairman of Crown and executive chairman of CMH. The $15 million is being paid to pay out the remaining years on his employment contract that saw him receive more than $6.6 million in the 2007 year, plus almost $1 million in dividends on his PBL shares. The payout and new employment arrangements for JA will add to the stories around the Sydney media industry that he will be ‘in Tuscany by the end of the year’ and will only come back every now and then. Certainly Cons Media isn’t a hand on gig. He will have a collection of investments in Seek (27%), Foxtel (25%), Fox Sports’ owner, Premier Media Group (50%) and 25% of PBL media. Those companies will only pay Cons Media dividends or cash distributions and broking estimates claim they will rise from around $62 million this year to as much as $170 million in 2008-09, all depending on how well Foxtel goes.

The Chaser hearts controversy. The latest controversy surrounding The Chaser has enlivened public interest in the program back to their post-APEC levels (which was, of course, the whole point. Their target audience (young people: 16 to 49) haven’t been worried by the song. Even News Ltd had to point out yesterday that there was overwhelming support from those commenting its website. And Today Tonight and A Current Affair didn’t pass up the opportunity to run the song themselves. Still The Chaser are laughing as an average 1.5 million people watched on Wednesday night. — Glenn Dyer

BBC confirms job cuts. The BBC has confirmed that 1800 jobs will be lost over the next five to six years as it looks to cut costs. Jobs will go in children’s programming, sport and factual. Over $A4 billion in savings are being sought over the next six years and around 2600 jobs will go, but management claims that there will be another 780 jobs created, meaning a net loss of around 1800. However many of those new jobs won’t appear until late in the six year period, meaning the losses will be heavier in the early years of the program. Property assets will also be sold and leased back and advertising will be allowed on the BBC Worldwide website for users outside the UK. That brings advertising on the BBC one step closer, a discussion the ABC here will watch closely. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
When Today Tonight tops the most watched list, as it did last night with 1.359 million viewers, you can be assured the audience found the rest of the night uninspiring. Certainly not as interesting as Wednesday night. Seven News was second with 1.343 million, followed by Home And Away (1.337 million), Ghost Whisperer (1.244 million), Bionic Woman (1.231 million), Missing Person’s Unit (1.160 million), Temptation (1.160 million), Nine News (1.143 million), A Current Affair (1.142 million) and Getaway (1.098 million). Will Ben Dark’s stupid comments about co-host Catriona Rowntree off camera during a Surprise Surprise shoot have fallout next year at Getaway?. Next was The Gift on Nine at 9.30pm with 1.096 million and the 7pm ABC news with 1.070 million. Ten’s two hours or more of So You Think You Can Dance from 7.30pm averaged 1.068 million. The repeat of Rex at 7.30pm, 370,000.

The Losers: A few moving closer. Seven’s Bionic Woman and Heroes are fading. BW is still alive, although it isn’t all that interesting. Heroes continues to baffle. I think its Lost! It lost 147,000 viewers from last week, while Bionic Woman shed 156,000. Both will drift along. RPA: Where Are They Now? only had 870,000 on Nine at 10pm, down from 942,000 on its return last week.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight won every market bar Melbourne. Ten News averaged 737,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 344,000. The 7.30 Report, 821,000; Lateline, 216,000; Lateline Business, 103,000. SBS News, 142,000 at 6.30pm and 171,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 417,000; 7am Today up to 275,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 29.6% (30.5% a week ago) from Nine with 28.6% (28.5%), Ten with 22.0% (22.7%), the ABC with 14.8% (13.5%) and SBS with 5.0% (4.9%). Seven won Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and Adelaide. Seven leads the week 31.1% to 25.1%. In regional areas a win also for Seven through Prime/7Qld with 29.6%, WIN/NBN with 27.2%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 21.8%, the ABC with 14.3% and SBS with 7.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: My highlight last night was the Errol Flynn doco on the ABC at 8.30pm which was watched by 833,000 people. A very solid audience. Just imagine Errol Flynn on This Is Your Life. Would anyone believe it? The 7pm ABC News in Melbourne (350,000) out rated both Nine (349,000) and Seven (314,000). It’s becoming a trend and commercial news directors do not like being beaten by the ABC. If it happens too much their bosses find someone to replace them.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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