From PR to news is a Walkover at Channel Nine. “It’s exercise before school, and they arrive at school in a really fantastic frame of mind,” says Jan Jacklin: mother, and fan of Walktober — a VicHealth initiative that encourages kids to walk to school. Jacklin was vox-popping for a segment on Melbourne’s Channel Nine News on 24 October. Jacklin knows more about Walktober than most mums would. Her company, Jigsaw Strategies, is handling Walktober’s PR. Jigsaw Strategies’ website plugs Jacklin as being “experienced in devising strategic communications plans”. Channel Nine’s Caroline Rondo, the reporter who covered the story, told Crikey she was unaware of Jacklin’s work with Walktober, and that she had been in contact with a completely different PR spinner: Tania Ewing from Health In Box. As far as Rondo was concerned, Jacklin was present that morning as a mother — the school depicted in the segment was her daughter’s, and the little girl was among those so joyously footing it to class. Coincidence, or strategically devised communication plan? Meanwhile, on contacting Tania Ewing, Crikey was met with a flat “no comment” and pointed in the direction of Jan Jacklin herself for the answers. Jacklin was happy to offer that she is indeed a mother and on the Walktober team. “How Channel Nine present that is up to them,” she said. Hmmm. A simple Google search would have revealed the identity of Jan Jacklin. And a quick look at the Walktober site would have shown she was a PR contact for the event. All for a good cause, of course — even if the methods are interesting… — Alice Gage

Ten puts a timebomb on Big Brother hosting couch. Big Brother will be returning next year… and even more unfortunate is the change of host, long tipped as the reign of Gretel Killeen dribbled to an end after this year’s less than satisfactory series. Ten has replaced Killeen, with Kyle Sandilands and his offsider Jackie O, the Sydney radio breakfast announcers who have made offensive and oafish behaviour an art form. And, given Sandilands’ at times appalling and selfish performances as a judge on Australian Idol, it’s a move Ten and its producing cohort, Endermol Southern Star, could very much come to regret. Sandilands is a polarising figure: Idol ratings have shrunk since he’s been involved with the program (though that has more to do with the quality of the contestants this year). And while Sandilands and Jackie O might be a big deal in Sydney breakfast radio, they do not travel well to other markets. Their signing means that Ten has finally committed to BB for 2008, with a similar weekly format, but allegedly tighter and better. The network has insisted on cost cuts and changes in the BB format to match the ailing ratings to the revenue: part of Ten’s problems is that major advertisers believe the program is too expensive now. What’s interesting is that Ten is trying to leverage off the popularity Sandilands and his sidekick have in Sydney, rather than create a star by finding someone new to replace Gretel. It’s a sign that producers have run out of ideas. BB must be near terminal. Next year would have to be its last gasp for Australia if ratings don’t improve. That’s why Ten is developing a local version of So You Think You Can Dance. — Glenn Dyer

Daylight Saving, Kochie disrupts Sunday morning chat battle. Yesterday morning’s usual chat battle was interrupted at 10am when Seven started a new business show with David Koch hosting — and Kochie’s Business Builders cleaned up for the half hour from 10am to 10.30am. The morning’s viewing figures were complicated by the start of Daylight Saving and from the audience figures for Meet The Press on Ten at 8am (66,000 down from over 100,000 viewers a week earlier) and the first hour of Weekend Sunrise on Seven, people had either slept in or forgotten to reprogram recorders. But by 9am things had picked up and Weekend Sunrise‘s audience jumped from 294,000 at around 8.45pm, to well over 438,000 half an hour later. Sunday was running second from 9am to 9.30pm with an average audience of just over 153,000 (425,000 for Weekend Sunrise), ahead of its recent tormentor, Insiders, which averaged just over 140,000. But from 9.30am the minor placings switched, with Insiders jumping to average 177,000 over the half hour to 10am and Sunday 157,000. At 10am when Sunrise finishes Sunday‘s audience usually jumps, but yesterday Seven slotted in the new Koch business program and it scored a narrow win, 250,000 or so to 244,500. But there was a sharp turn off at the end of the new Seven program so it might be a one-day wonder. Sunday’s audience jumped in the last half hour to average 283,000 and push its average for the two hours from 9am up to 210,000. Insiders had averaged 159,000 over its hour. Next Sunday things will be back to normal with no daylight saving lag. — Glenn Dyer

Seven wins another week but at least it was closer. A win for the Seven Network again last week but the gap over Nine was the smallest for a month. Seven won by 28.9% (30.0% a week ago) to 25.3% (25.7%) from Ten with 22.6% (20.8%), the ABC with 17.9% (18.4%) and SBS with 5.4% (5.1%). Seven won all the five major metro markets. It also won five nights and Nine won two, Wednesday and Saturday. Border Security, The Force and Dancing With The Stars were the top three programs and Seven had 12 of the top 20, Ten had three, the ABC had four and Nine only one: the 60 Minutes coverage of the debate at No.13. There were only two foreign programs in the top 20, both on Ten: House and So You Think You Can Dance, its best effort of the year. Nine News and A Current Affair both finished out of the top 20 at No.27 and No.33 respectively. Seven News was at No.12, Today Tonight at No.16. The WIN part of the Nine Network, Adelaide and Perth, finished third last week in each market, beaten for second by Ten (though it was close). That is not a good sign for someone who has paid around $270 million for the two stations. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A solid Sunday night’s programming meant real choice for viewers, even if the most watched program, Kath & Kim on Seven was a repeat of an ABC program. Still 1.530 million for what was better than the new episodes that aired on Seven this year. Nine returned a fresh CSI from the satellite and it did well with 1.457 million, but it is, in effect stylised rubbish. Australian Idol blurred its way to 1.387 million stuck between the ARIAs coverage on Ten. Seven’s National Bingo Night lost viewers to average 1.342 million from 6.30pm to 7.30pm and Seven News was next with 1.333 million (Daylight Saving effect). My Name Is Earl had 1.309 million and 60 Minutes averaged 1.295 million to be third in the timeslot. Not good. Seven’s movie Fantastic Four averaged 1.180 million from 8.30pm to 10.50pm. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.171 million (and had more viewers that Nine collectively around the country). CSI New York was also a fresh ep at 9.30pm on Nine and it averaged 1.152 million, which was better than the previous fresh eps were getting, but for how long? Nine News averaged 1.121 million (also suffering from the Daylight Saving effect). The Arias from 8.30pm averaged 1.121 million on Ten for 150 minutes. The ARIAs Red Carpet which went from 7pm to 7.30pm averaged 956,000 and the Captain Cook mini series first ep on the ABC averaged 938,000.

The Losers: Singing Bee on Nine at 6.30pm, 911,000, and Dirty Jobs at 7pm, 818,000. Rain Shadow on the ABC at 8.30pm, 826,000. There is a good story struggling to get out, but not over six hours and not with Rachel Ward in the cast. Apart from that, a nice night of TV. Compass, ep 2 of The Abbey, 647,000. The Debate ruined it and Rain Shadow last week by denying either programs any momentum.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally but lost Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Seven’s Sunday night news is read in Brisbane by Sharyn Ghidella, the former Today show reader, and averaged a massive 333,000 last night. Won by 125,000 people, more than the 99,000 margin for Seven News in Perth. Seven News won nationally by 159,000 people. The ABC’s 7pm News was 21,000 people ahead of Nine nationally last night, which you could put down to Daylight Saving: programs starting around 7pm get a boost in summer. SBS News, 208,000. In the Sunday mornings, Weekend Sunrise averaged 368,000; Landline, 237,000; Kochie’s Business Builders at 10am (new), 251,000; Sunday, 210,000; Insiders 159,000; Inside Business, 111,000; Offsiders, 102,000 and Meet The Press, 66,000. 

The Stats: Seven won again with 28.3% (27.2%) from Nine with 26.5% (26.9%), Ten with 24.3% (24.7%), the ABC with 15.8% (16.1%) and SBS with 5.1% (unchanged). Nine won Sydney closely, Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 29.4% from WIN/NBN with 26.7%, Southern Cross (20.6%), the ABC with 16.4% and SBS with 6.8%. Ten was down because Idol barely made the top 10 and the ARIAs didn’t rate in the bush.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A competitive night with good choice for viewers. Ten did well with the ARIAs and if they had bothered to stop and watch, there were a couple of people there worth trying as hosts next year instead of tired old hacks like Kyle Sandilands. Ten boasted in its morning commentary that it won the 18 to 49 age group in the so-called Zone 1 (6pm to 10.30pm) battle with Seven and Nine. But nothing else was mentioned. It had a stronger win in the 16 to 39 group. In fact it did better in the younger group with Idol and the ARIAs programs last night. The 16 to 39 group are the prime music buying group. Ten had a 39.0% commercial share in 16 to 39, and a 36.5% share in 18 to 49. I would also have thought that doing better in the broader 25 to 54 group than Nine (which returned CSI and CSI New York which skew old, as does 60 Minutes) was an interesting result. Nine had a huge share in the over 50s, as did Seven, Ten’s was smaller, that’s why Ten ran third in All People behind Seven and Nine. But it is interesting how Ten failed to mention a winning performance in its main demo of 16 to 39. Tonight, Will the glitzed up Eddie and his Multi Millions do any better than last week? Nine starts its movie at 8.30pm and runs the final ep of Viva Laughlin at 10.35pm, almost out of sight and mind. On Seven there’s Border Security but Surf Patrol replaces The Force at 8pm. City Homicide is the best program on the night. Ten has Idol and Californication for those who still think it is daring TV. The ABC has Four Corners, Media Watch, Enough Rope, Australian Story but the highlight is John Clarke (sans Dawe) on Talking Heads at 6.30pm. 30 minutes won’t be enough.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports.

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