Baby v Porsche: RAV 4 the winner. Fairfax seems to be making an ill-disguised pitch for the cashed-up parent market with the launch of their Sunday Life Baby magazine within the weekly Sunday Life supplement. Reading the first edition in the Sunday Age certainly was an education on how tough some people are doing it after the arrival of their little bundle of joy. Consider the featured plight of Chris & Anna Hughes who used to bring home a combined $140,000 per year and now have to make ends meet on Chris’s sole salary of $120,000. Times are so hard they even had to trade in the Porsche for a Rav 4. What will the neighbours think? The Sunday Life Baby mag is tagged as ‘what every parent needs to know’ and imparts sensible advice such as “There is a lot of clever marketing telling people what they need for their babies. Parents can often feel guilty if their babies aren’t getting ‘the best'”. Sage advice to bear in mind while perusing the associated ads, including a ‘Sweet Dreams’-titled double-spread photo of a clinically clean nursery, untouched by those pesky kids, and featuring such essentials as a Dondo yellow rocking chair priced at $6320 and an $800 Oeuf mini-library shelf unit. Every so often you read something that makes you wonder how connected certain publications are with real life. But hey, this obviously is the Sunday Life. — Neil Walker

2UE takeover posing problems for Fairfax. Fairfax Media is due to assume control of the radio stations of Southern Cross Broadcasting this week, as well as TV and film production house and international distributor, Southern Star. The handover comes at a difficult time for 2UE, the network’s main Sydney station, which could have to find new presenters for the two most important shifts, breakfast and mornings. John Laws retires on November 23 and there’s increasing chat that 2UE’s breakfast pairing of Mike Carlton and Peter Fitzsimmons won’t be returning in 2008, although that was well rumoured lat year and they ended up returning. Both have contracts expiring this year and Carlton in particular has had difficulties with the management of the radio group, led by David Mott, who is moving to Fairfax and will report to CEO, David Kirk. Laws’ share has slipped alarmingly in the past two years and he is now well down the rankings. His ratings have fallen from 8.9, when he announced his retirement, to a weak 7.5. A complication for Fairfax is the syndication arrangement Laws has for his morning program across Australia. Southern Cross Management is striking difficulty convincing stations currently taking Laws to take his replacement, whoever that is. Ten’s Sydney sports host, Tim Webster, is a regular replacement for Laws but other stations in the SCB network don’t want Webster as the replacement. The syndication arrangement could very well fall apart, which would help Macquarie Media Group which has the biggest regional network where many of the stations who take the Laws are located. It could leave the way open for 2GB to work up a syndication deal for Ray Hadley. Alan Jones is not considered good material for a syndicated deal. As the book Jonestown makes clear, he is lazy and disrespectful of the regional stations he has had dealings with in the past. — Glenn Dyer

More changes to come at the top of ABC Radio? Over at the ABC, James O’Loughlin is leaving the evening shift in December to concentrate on his New Inventors program. Some in radio say Angela Catterns, who is leaving Vega in Sydney on the same day as John Laws (and who used to do breakfast for 702) could be a replacement. But there would be a queue of other contenders inside the ABC. And ABC radio staffers are wondering what’s up with the changes at the top of radio where Kate Dundas, who headed up national networks, has moved to head up Human Resources and has been replaced by Margaret Cassidy, an ABC technology wonk. Is the tenure of ABC radio boss, Sue Howard, about to come to an end? Cassidy has been deeply involved in the most successful part of the ABC in recent years: the podcasting boom that’s seen more than 20 million downloads this year alone. ABC staffers say Ms Howard and ABC managing director, Mark Scott, do not see eye to eye. The Dundas-Cassidy job shifts are considered a precursor to further changes. — Glenn Dyer

Rupert seeks the high moral ground… again. True to form, when Rupert Murdoch is under pressure he searches for the high moral ground and asserts a noble purpose for what is really his usual self-interested commercial dealings. Take this report of a Murdoch rave in London over the weekend:

Rupert Murdoch has launched a broadside against Sky’s detractors, arguing that the pay-television company has helped create competition in its key markets and that consumers have more power than ever before.

Sky has been widely criticised over the past year following its controversial acquisition of a large stake in ITV, a move the Competition Commission has ruled was against the public interest as it restricted competition. It has also had to navigate its way through a series of regulatory inquiries related to its dominance in the pay-TV market, most recently defending its plans to launch subscription services on the Freeview platform after regulators said the move could harm consumer choice.

Although Mr Murdoch did not specifically address the various regulatory threats facing the group at Sky’s annual meeting, the company’s chairman made a series of pointed remarks aimed at highlighting the need for competition in the sector.

Meanwhile, Murdoch is a king maker in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Reuters reports that News Corp gained control of Georgia’s main opposition TV station last Wednesday. News Corp said, a deal with a local tycoon who pledged to focus on funding an anti-government coalition secured control over the station.

Georgian tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili — who said this week he will finance Georgian opposition parties — handed over his controlling stake in Imedi, a media group that includes a TV station, a newspaper and a news agency to News Corp, in a one year deal while he focuses on funding anti-government protests.

Is this an opportunity for an up and comer in Sky (can you imagine sons James or Lachlan being sent there?) or News Ltd? — Glenn Dyer

The ABC: 2007’s most improved TV performer. Seven may have won week 38 of ratings but the ABC was the standout performer, once again showing it’s the most improved network of the year. In fact the ABC’s share was close to its highest level for the year with 18.1% of the audience from 6pm to midnight. Seven won the week with an unchanged 28.9% from Nine with 25.6% (25.3%); Ten with 22.1% (22.6%), the ABC with 18.1% (17.9%) and SBS with 5.3% (5.4%). The ABC’s all people share is up to 16.6% this year from 15.2% last year. It’s doing especially well in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The rise can be attributed to the performance of The Chaser, particularly in Sydney, and Spicks and Specks and Summer Heights High in Melbourne. Summer Heights High is the most successful new program on TV this year. The ABC’s higher share also includes such hoary staples as Midsomer Murders, which ran on Sunday nights earlier in the year. Friday and Saturday nights continue to do well for the ABC, while Mondays have been solid but not as good as last year with Australian Story and Enough Rope down on 2006 levels. The ABC had four programs in the top 20 national programs last week (The Chaser, Spicks and Specks, The Librarians and New Tricks), more than Nine or Ten. Reflecting the appeal of The Chaser and Spicks and Specks, the ABC’s audience in the 16 to 39 age group is up by more than 8%, while Ten has seen its share fall by around 9%. But Ten still has more viewers in this group each night than Seven, Nine or the ABC. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A dozen programs with a million or more viewers topped by Kath & Kim at 7.30pm. Nine’s fresh ep of CSI was second with 1.390 million and Seven’s My Name Is Earl was third with 1.382 million. Australian Idol was next with 1.361 million, followed by Nine News (1.265 million), just in front of Seven News (1.264 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.232 million), Rove (1.212 million), 60 Minutes (1.123 million) and CSI New York (1.113 million). Ten’s repeat of Thank God Your Here won the 6.30pm timeslot with 1.036 million, ahead of Seven’s fading National Bingo Night (1.002) and Singing Bee (996,000).

The Losers: Seven’s special, Pandemic, averaged 724,000 from 8.30pm until 11.45pm: it’s a long time to be all but unwatched — that’s what cost Seven the night. Dirty Jobs at 7pm for Nine, 864,000. Ten’s 9.40pm movie, About A Boy, cost Ten second place with 619,000. And Sunday could only manage 228,000 for the 2 hours up to 11am. Not good enough any more — needs re-working. 60 Minutes, not a loser but 1.123 million isn’t good, especially against a repeat of Kath & Kim in the first half hour. How about something relevant about what’s happening in Australia instead of pap? At least Sunday is trying to do that.

News & CA: Nine edged home, with Seven depending on its big margin in Perth to get close. Seven News was only strong in Brisbane and Perth. Nine won the three other metro markets. Ten News averaged 876,000 for the half hour at 5pm. The 7pm ABC News was the most watched news in Sydney and second in Melbourne after Nine. SBS News, 236,000 at 6.30pm. In the morning chat shows, Weekend Sunrise by a mile on Seven with 440,000. Landline (not so much chat as good reporting), 282,000 at midday; Kochie’s Business Builders (also not chat but small business), down to 242,000 at 10am but still beat Sunday which averaged just 228,000 across the two hours. Insiders at 9am, 184,000; Offsiders‘ Melbourne Cup special, 125,000 at 10.30am and Inside Business, 109,000. Meet The Press at 8am on Ten, 81,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 27.1% (26.5%), Seven with 25.8% (28.3%), Ten with 25.7% (24.3%), the ABC with 17.4% (15.8%) and SBS with 4.0% (5.1%). Nine won Melbourne and Brisbane, Ten won Sydney and Adelaide, Seven won Perth, so an even night. In regional areas though a win to Prime/7Qld with 29.4% from WIN/NBN with 25.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.2%, the ABC with 18.6% and SBS with 4.2%. Rove, Idol and the repeat of Thank God You’re Here didn’t rate as well in regional areas as CSI or Kath & Kim and My Name Is Earl.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The big surprise last night was the 1.2 million people who tuned in to watch the night’s highlight: Rove interviewing Michael Palin (standard operating procedures, but funny) and Jana Wendt, spruiking her interview book which includes one with Rove. It was funny, witty and shows why Jana is a loss to TV and why Rove is an asset to Ten. Nine would have been smarter investing in Rove when they had him years ago than the bombastic (but talented) Eddie McGuire. Jana reading the mock news at the start of the program was also good. 60 Minutes has a crisis of confidence I think with the defacto change of management. It needs to be re-thought and needs to go back to the serious part of its life, if only to re-learn the art of story telling. That was one of Ray Martin’s strengths early on. It is one of the program’s big weaknesses now. Tonight its a Seven benefit. Eddie’s Millionaire will battle manfully, City Homicide will standout and Rod Stewart is on Enough Rope. Helen Mirren was a surprise, will Rod The God be another in the same vein?

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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