Commercial talkback down as ABC lifts in latest radio figures. With the election campaign under way, talkback radio seems to have gone off the boil in Sydney and Melbourne. Leading talkbackers, Alan Jones and John Laws in Sydney and Neil Mitchell in Melbourne, were all down, but the two ABC stations, which are more chatback rather than talkback, lifted or had steady shares in the key talk periods of breakfast and mornings. Ray Hadley on 2GB mornings in Sydney also had a small rise against the trend. The latest radio ratings ended the weekend before last, October 20, so there would include the end of the pre-poll speculation and then the first week of the campaign. The big news in Sydney was the sharp fall in Alan Jones share in the 2GB breakfast slot. He lost 2.7 percentage points from 16.1 to 13.4, which is one of the lowest shares for some time for Jones. 2GB’s share fell 1.6 to 11.1 from 12.7, while the ABC’s 702 rose from a low figure in the previous ratings (up 1.1 to 8.6), led by better performances in breakfast and mornings. 2UE breakfast with Mike Carlton and Peter Fitzsimmons saw its share fall 0.5 to 7.4 and John Laws, in his second last ratings period ever, suffered another loss, with his share down 0.6 to 7.5. 2UE’s overall share fell 0.3 to 7.6. 2Day FM remains second in Sydney behind 2GB with 10.4 (down 0.1) with Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O second behind Jones with 11.8 (up 0.2). In Melbourne, 3AW was number one with 15.6 (up 0.1) from ABC 774 in second with 11.2 (unchanged), just in front of Fox FM with 11.1 (up 0.6). In breakfast, 3AW is in front with 20.9 (up 0.5) with Red Symons on 774 off 0.3 at 14.1 in the latest period. Neil Mitchell still leads Melbourne mornings with 14.8 (down 1.4) but John Faine on 774 was up 0.9 to 12.5. — Glenn Dyer

Eddie’s millions still not cutting through for Nine. The Nine Network should look at revitalising its 7pm game show Temptation rather than depending on Eddie McGuire to save the bacon. Last night, the second ep of the lengthened and richer version of Who Wants To be A Millionaire lost viewers, averaging 994,000 viewers from 7pm to 8.30pm (down from the 1.089 million last Monday). It’s not doing as well as Temptation which continues to average around 1.1 million at 7pm Tuesday-Friday, and Millionaire isn’t doing better than some other programs Nine has tried at 7.30pm Mondays, such as 20 to 1, which returns tonight at 7.30pm with an even tougher task, up against Dancing With The Stars. Going by last night’s performance, Millionaire won’t be much help to the network next year. Nine would be smarter to make Lavinia Nixon the main host of Temptation and find a new sidekick: such a change would draw attention to the program, and what’s wrong with having a woman ask questions. It’s called “cutting through” and that’s what Nine needs more than anything else. Something to draw viewers back to the network. Eddie is just not cutting it. He’s a Melbourne animal but the rest of Australia know him from Beaconsfield, the Footy Show in Germany and from his other role as Nine’s CEO. Millionaire was the 7th most watched program in Melbourne last night because of Eddie, but in Sydney it was No.15, No.17 in Brisbane, No.13 in Perth, No.15 in Adelaide. But David Gyngell won’t have the guts to cut Eddie’s involvement at Nine. Eddie has his multi million dollar contract, “production ideas and deals” to do with the network, and the expanded version of Millionaire was Gyngell’s idea. — Glenn Dyer

BSkyB makes a typically Murdochian offer over ITV stake. Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB is in typically Murdochian form: offering a deal that allows the company to have its cake, eat it as well and then not own up to a nasty loss on its 17.9% stake in terrestrial free to air broadcaster, ITV. Sky picked up the stake in ITV last year in a rush to block a proposed merger with Virgin Media, which happened anyway. But that’s brought official scrutiny to Sky, which Murdoch hates, especially as the Competition Commission is eyeing the obvious anti competitive nature of the arrangement. In a letter published by the Competition Commission late last week, Murdoch’s satellite business has offered to give up voting rights on part of its 17.9 per cent holding in ITV. Under this proposal 3% of ITV would be placed with an independent trustee, which would be allowed to vote the shares in whichever way they chose, without regard to the wishes of the Sky board. Sky hopes the move will allay concerns over its influence on ITV’s strategy. Sky’s offer is qualified and limited only to any move by ITV to issue new shares to raise money. Sky says it will retain all its shares and the right to sell or vote with them at ordinary meetings. But the real question for a lot of investors is the loss Sky faces on its ITV ploy. It paid around £940 million ($A2.1 billion) but the market value has since fallen to around £680 million. Even if you are James Murdoch running Sky, a loss of a quarter of a billion pounds (or $A580 million) still needs to be explained to Dad and the parent board in New York. Dad told me to do it’s not a good enough excuse any more. There’s the Wall Street Journal to pay for. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Border Security was tops with 1.677 million, City Homicide was second with 1.583 million, Seven News was third with 1.424 million and Home And Away was fourth with 1.391 million. Today Tonight was next with 1.326 million, followed by Nine News (1.227 million), the verdict ep of Idol (1.171 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.133 million), A Current Affair (1.131 million), Criminal Minds (1.116 million) and Enough Rope (1.041 million). Nine’s repeat movie, Two Week’s Notice averaged 1.009 million from 8.30pm. Seven split the 8pm slot between The Force in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth which averaged 936,000 and Surf Patrol which averaged 659,000 in Brisbane and Sydney. The meant Seven had 1.595 million watching at 8pm and that was the second biggest audience on the night.

The Losers: Californication. No buzz for Ten, 709,000. Well beaten by Seven, Nine and the ABC. The Mythbusters repeat on SBS at 7.30pm, 461,000. That’s a nice audience to advertise to, but the program looks stale and old on repeat. Millionaire on Nine from 7pm to 8.30pm. Viva Laughlin at 10.30pm. It was not shown on WIN’s Nine station in Adelaide but the 295,000 was pretty poor.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally but lost Sydney to Nine. Today Tonight was nationally and all major metro markets. The 7pm ABC News finished second to Seven and ahead of Nine, 355,000 to 353,000 in Melbourne. Nightline was buried by the poor figures for Viva Laughlin and it averaged 169,000 around 11.30pm. Ten News averaged 808,000 and Late News/Sports Tonight was also buried closer to midnight than normal and averaged 227,000. 7.30 Report, 805,000 (and the PM was again grumpy); Lateline, 389,000 and Lateline Business, 137,000. SBS News, 199,000 at 6.30pm; 137,000 at 9.30 pm.

The Stats: Seven won with 32.7% (34.6% a week ago) with Nine second on 23.3% (22.0%), Ten next with 19.3% (19.8%), The ABC with 18.1% (16.8%) and SBS with 6.6% (6.8%). Seven leads the week 30.4% to 24.9%. Seven won all five metro markets. The WIN Nine stations in Adelaide and Perth again finished third. Ouch! In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 32.8% from WIN/NBN with 22.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.4%, tied with the ABC on 18.4% and SBS with 7.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: City Homicide and John Clarke were the viewing highlights for me. Talking Heads on the ABC, 587,000 at 6.30pm. Could have had more from Clarke. Host Peter Thompson realised he wasn’t the star, he just had to ask the intelligent questions. City Homicide was tightly done and again showed what good scripts, a bit of time developing characters and taking some risks in storyline and direction can do. Satisfying. Terri Irwin on Enough Rope? Thankfully no Bindi. Tonight its Dancing and nothing else, although if you are a fan of Bert Newton there’s a unique opportunity. Tonight his wife dances on Seven, while Bert has is back fronting a fresh ep of 20 to 1. Tonight also marks the end of The Sopranos at 10.45pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports