Australian Idol facing the Network Ten cost-cutter. With its ratings down more than 15% on last year, Australian Idol is now facing the same cost slashing approach that Ten has inflicted on Big Brother . Ten and producer Fremantlemedia will meet later in the year to start discussing next year’s competition. New Big Brother co-host Kyle Sandilands has already been re-hired for Idol next year, but the fate of the other judges is up in the air. Marcia Hines and Mark Holden are the ones in the gun. And forget all the talk of Big Brother being renewed for sums over $35 million. It was nothing like it. The real sum is somewhere between $22 million and $24 million. Endermol-Southern Star took some time to come to the party, but they did in the end. Producers have been changed with Rory Callaghan, the former head of light entertainment at Nine and formerly at Granada (where he was in charge of Dancing With The Stars ), in overall control, and the day to day production being run by Virginia Hodgson who produced the NRL Footy Show at Nine this year. And there will be no cattle call recruitment campaign for BB this year: prospective participants will have to submit a short video via the internet. That will be a significant cost saving. The use of the internet to gather contestants is also being canvassed for Idol , but it’s hard to assess a singer’s vocal abilities online. BB insiders say it looks likely that an “Adults Only” program will return next year, certainly Endermol Southern Star is planning along those lines. At its 2007 profit announcement, Ten showed a graph of its ratings over various years in its key demographics: the 18 to 49 and the 16 to 39. The graph also contained the network’s revenue over the past few years. There’s a big gap between ratings and revenue and Ten says it is determined to lift the latter. If it can’t boost ratings on programs like BB and Idol , then costs will have to come down. — Glenn Dyer

Howard and Rudd stir up the Grumpy Old Men. Has the ABC unwittingly got the election campaign bang to rights, as the fuzz says on The Bill ? A note was sent out ABC TV programmers yesterday, advising of program changes. To accommodate the Liberal Party campaign launch next Tuesday at 7.30pm, The 7.30 Report has been pushed back to 8pm and that night’s ep of Grumpy Old Men  will be shown at a later date. Is that a reference to the Prime Minister? Then the next night is the ALP campaign launch, so to accommodate it, The New Inventors has been pushed back ’til the following Tuesday, bumping  Grumpy Old Men out of the schedule again. The New Inventors , is that Kev’s Labor Party? — Glenn Dyer

It really is The Smage. From The Age website, yesterday, at 1.13pm.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Seven was the only winner, it being a Monday night. Border Security was tops with 1.621 million, City Homicide was second with 1.559 million, then Seven News with 1.457 million. Surf Patrol averaged 1.418 million for Seven at 8pm and Home And Away  had 1.308 million. Today Tonight was next with 1.303 million, followed by Nine News (1.231 million), Criminal Minds (1.177 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.143 million),  A Current Affair  (1.138 million),  Australian Idol  (1.121 million) and  Supernatural  (1.001 million). Mythbusters averaged 452,000 in repeat.  Enough Rope with Rod Stewart faded to 899,000 at 9.30pm.

The Losers: Nine from 7pm onwards. It did better than Ten, but that’s because Ten’s 6pm to 7pm programming was the usual Simpsons repeat and then Neighbours . Millionaire (915,000) keeps falling. It was beaten by Australian Story on the ABC at 8pm (945,000). The movie at 8.30pm, Meet The Parents , only had 774,000. Nine bounced between third and fourth from 7pm.  Californication had more viewers than Nine’s movie with 782,000 at 9.30pm. Weeds (368,000 at 10.45pm) was beaten by Boston Legal and The Office on Ten. Girls of the Playboy Mansion only had 255,000 at 11.20pm. Tacky and a failure, like much of Nine’s night. Why push Nightline back to midnight? It could get more viewers than Weeds or the Playgirls.

News & CA: Seven News won nationally and everywhere bar Brisbane. Today Tonight had the same result. TT was in Melbourne for the Cup. ACA was stuck in Sydney and its first item was an interview with Terry Irwin, who was on Enough Rope last week talking about the same thing. ACA ‘s audience fell to 299,000 last night in Melbourne, TT was on 390,000.  Nightline was buried with 215,000 viewers. Ten News averaged 880,000; the Late News/ Sports Tonight was also buried with 300,000 viewers. The 7.30 Report , 798,000;  Four Corners , 771,000; Media Watch , 756,000; Lateline , 343,000;  Lateline Business , 136,000. SBS News, 201,000 at 6.30pm; 190,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise , 338,000; 7am Today , 249,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 33.5% (32.7% a week ago), from Nine with 22.1% (23.3%), Ten with 20.2% (19.3%), the ABC with 16.9% (18.1%) and SBS with 7.1% (6.6%). Seven won all five metro markets. Seven leads the week, 29.6% to 24.6%. In regional areas a win to Prime/7Qld with 33.5% from WIN/NBN with 22.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.6%, the ABC on 17.4% and SBS with 7.9%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Eddie McGuire’s  Millionaire is dying, slowly, killed by greed and sloth as Nine sought an easy option to a difficult problem. It’s all about timing and the attempt to make Millionaire bigger than Eddie’s ego came at the wrong time. Game shows have just about run their course in Australia. Millionaire is dying, 1 vs 100 is “resting” probably never to see the light of day again, Seven’s National Bingo Night is fading, Ten’s The Con Test failed and  Temptation is clinging to a million viewers, but being beaten some nights by the ABC News. Only Seven’s The Rich List did well at the start of the year. Spicks And Specks is by far the most successful quiz-based program in Australia, but it offers a bit of nostalgia for the oldies and draws in younger viewers with a combination of music and comedians. Einstein Factor also holds its own on Sunday nights. Last night was a Seven benefit and tonight will be more of the same with Dancing With The Stars and All Saints , plus the buzz from Seven’s Cup coverage. The Cup is one quiz program that succeeds every year: who’s going to win?

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports