David Gyngell facing the wife test. A small but nasty test has emerged for David Gyngell as he settled in to his old office at Nine. Where will he find a gig for wife Leila McKinnon who is due to return from Los Angeles, where she has been reporting for Nine News and various lifestyle programs, such as What’s Good For You?, early in the New Year? The big question is who will step aside for McKinnon to fit back on the roster. Opportunities to return as a host will be limited: the Today show is doing OK and McKinnon was tried on A Current Affair last summer and sent the ratings south. She could return to the newsroom and the reading roster. News and Current Affairs boss, John Westacott and Sydney news director, Ian Cook, will tolerate that, even though they have a thing against for blondes. McKinnon’s impending return has set off speculation about who will replace her in LA. It seems the push from Gyngell is that Nine might not need a second reporter in LA, which would be a big departure from Nine’s long standing double header team led by Robert Penfold. Call it a cost saving, but it would be a foolish one, just as Seven found when it cut its London office. Nine is mulling the decision, Gyngell, Westacott, Cook and Graham Thurston (who runs the Sydney newsroom) will all have a say. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: On the surface it was a seemingly sedate Thursday night, but several programs hit shoals and the Nine Network will have a smile on its dial this morning. Missing Persons Unit was tops with 1.252 million viewers at 8.30pm, followed by Home And Away with 1.238 million. Seven News was next with 1.234 million, followed by Ghost Whisperer (1.216 million), Today Tonight (1.151 million), A Current Affair (1.127 million), Nine News (1.115 million), So You Think You Can Dance (1.109 million), Temptation (1.049 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.040 million), The Gift (1.033 million) and Bionic Woman (1.026 million, still half a million under its opening audience).

The Losers: There are four programs on the cusp of being losers. The most important is Nine’s Getaway, which last night sunk to 962,000, one of its lowest audiences for years. The program needs a major freshening up. It’s a Nine stalwart, but is it time to leave the house? Its performance made the performance of MPU better as it attracted 290,000 extra viewers. Heroes on Seven, 937,000. Are there that many people who really understand it? Law And Order on Ten at 9.30pm, 932,000. I know it’s after a program with the wrong demographic, but its getting long in the tooth. RPA: Where Are They Now? on Nine at 10pm, 877,000. Down on a week ago and suffering medical overkill on the night perhaps? And SBS viewers at 7.30pm were losers due to yet another repeat of Inspector Rex (355,000 viewers). Just an attempt by SBS to milk advertisers. Neighbours, 679,000 at 6.30pm. Not a loser, but…

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight lost ground while Nine News and ACA were steady. That meant Seven News needed its 119,000 margin in Perth to keep in front of Nine as it lost Melbourne again. TT finished just 24,000 in front of ACA and needed the 92,000 margin in Perth as it lost Melbourne and Brisbane. Nightline averaged 258,000. Ten News averaged 780,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 465,000. The 7.30 Report, 892,000; Lateline, 258,000; Lateline Business, 119,000. SBS News, 159,000 at 6.30pm; 162,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise, 422,000; 7am Today up to 294,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 27.9% (27.8% a week earlier), from Seven with 27.3% (28.1%), Ten with 23.5% (24.1%), the ABC with 16.5% (14.9%) and SBS with 4.8% (4.7%). Nine won everywhere but Perth. Seven leads the week, 29.6% to 25.8%. No regional ratings.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven won the commercial battle from 6pm to 10.30pm, Nine won the longer night because The Gift and RPA: Where Are They Now? did better from 9.30pm onwards. Missing Person’s Unit is still one of Nine’s better programs because it follows old fashioned TV values: There’s a point to it (unlike some of Nine’s other offerings), it’s done well, and there are good storylines and talent. People watched and that helped The Gift at 9.30pm. Nine has a major problem with Getaway at 7.30pm but that’s for next year. Seven’s quick turnaround programs Bionic Woman and Heroes are hanging in there but not setting the world on fire. Ten’s dancing troupe dropped viewers last night but was still solid.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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