Aunty continues to struggle with local drama as docos boom. The proportion of drama screened on ABC TV is at a three-year low, while the production of documentaries has jumped by a third in the same period. Figures contained in pie charts (showing the breakdown of programming on the ABC from 6am to midnight every day) in the past three ABC annual reports disclose the steady decline in drama’s share of programming and the rise of documentaries, which is a particular area of interest for ABC TV head, Kim Dalton. Drama’s share was 9.5% in the year to June, down from 12% the year before and 11% in 2004/05. Documentaries were up from 6% in 2004-05 to 8.1%. The proportion of news has also fallen but current affairs is at its highest share in the last three years. Current affairs rose from a 11% share in 2004/05 (which was the last year of Sandra Levy’s reign) to 13.9% in the year to June. Difference of Opinion, which started in February, would have helped boost that. News went from a 6% share in 2004/06 to 5.8% in the latest year, while sport and arts moved from around 4% to 4.1% and 4.2% respectively. Children’s TV is by far the most popular because it dominates for long stretches during the morning and afternoon. It averaged 30% of all TV in 2006/07 about level with three years ago. Programs described as “entertainment” had a share of 9.5% in the year to June, up from 9% the two previous years. Factual programming accounted for 7.6%, about steady on the previous two years but comedy fell from a 3% share in 2004/05 to 1.9% in 2007. Documentaries are Dalton’s major area of interest: he doesn’t ignore the others but at the ABC’s 2007 launch last November, documentaries were the clear winners with a long list of titles (such as the recent Errol Flynn production) that were to air this year. And the number of programming hours allotted to docos looks like going up again next year. Locally made dramas remain a problematic area for the ABC. The drama figures do not make a distinction between local and imported productions, but in a table listing the most watched programs on ABC TV in 2006/07 only two Australian-made dramas made it: Curtin and Blue Murder. And considering Blue Murder was made around six or seven years ago but couldn’t be screened in NSW for legal reasons (it was broadcast a year ago), it can’t be considered a first run, locally made drama. Seven of the 20 most watched program episodes were dramas, but the overwhelming majority were imports like Midsomer Murders, Wire in The Blood and New Tricks. — Glenn Dyer

Fitzsimmons to form husband/wife team at Today? There seems to be some push for Peter Fitzsimmons to join wife Lisa Wilkinson in hosting the Today show on Nine next year, along the lines of the Richard and Judy Show on Britain’s Channel 4. That would see Karl Stefanovic punted (he has been there for five changes in female presenter) but he could move to A Current Affair and replace Tracy Grimshaw. Fitzsimmons currently earns an estimated $650,000 a year co-hosting breakfast on 2UE with Mike Carlton. Both their contracts with the station, now owned by Fairfax, are up shortly and will have to be renegotiated for next year, possibly with pay cuts disguised as performance bonuses tied to ratings (that’s dangerous). Fitzsimmons was first mentioned as a possible co-host for Today when David Gyngell last ran Nine. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A good night of choice and viewers distributed their favours: 17 programs with a million or more viewers. The Chaser was tops with 1.489 million, House averaged 1.416 million and Spicks and Specks was third with 1.362 million (and if you missed it, have a look for Ignatius Jones on his start in the music world). Home and Away was next with 1.324 million, followed by Seven News (1.321 million), The Farmer Wants A Wife (which won the 7.30pm timeslot with 1.302 million), Today Tonight (1.250 million), Medical Emergency (1.224 million), Nine News (1.192 million), Child In A Million (1.152 million), Cold Case (1.115 million), A Current Affair (1.115 million) and The 7pm ABC News (1.106 million). The Librarians had 1.084 million at 9.30pm (down on its start last week) and Without A Trace averaged 1.054 million. Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? was down to 1.049 million for Ten at 7.30pm and Temptation averaged 1.044 million.

The Losers: Seven from 8.30pm to 10.30pm. Criminal Minds, 738,000; Prison Break (back after being pre-empted in the US the week before), 700,000. Both are dying and have pushed Seven’s share down sharply. Of course Seven is only going through the motions up against House, Spicks and Specks and The Chaser. Ten’s Life, another off the satellite/quick turnaround effort, 804,000. Barely on life support at that level.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne. Its national margin was 129,000, its Perth margin was 131,000. Close. Today Tonight won nationally, but lost Sydney and Brisbane. Ten News averaged 868,000; Late News/Sports Tonight, 451,000. Nightline, 245,000. The 7pm ABC News finished second in Melbourne (338,000) behind Nine News (367,000) and ahead of Seven, (330,000). Lateline, 309,000; Lateline Business, 134,000. SBS News, 150,000 at 6.30pm; 186,000 at 9.30pm; Dateline, 212,000. 7am Sunrise, 454,000; 7am Today, 261,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 27.1% (26.1% last week), from Seven with 24.8% 924.4%), Ten with 23.8% (unchanged), the ABC with 20.1% (21.2%) and SBS with 4.2% (4.5%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Seven won Adelaide and Ten won Perth. Nine was third in both, not good for WIN. Seven leads the week 29.3% to 25.3%. In regional areas though a win for WIN/NBN with 29.0% from Prime/7Qld with 25.3%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.7%, the ABC with 18.6% and SBS with 4.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Geraldine Doogue as Britney Spears? Whoever on The Chaser team had that brainwave should be knighted for services to Australian Media. It was inspired. Nine had a good night as Seven threw in the towel for two hours, its getting late in the year. Farmer Wants A Wife has clicked with viewers, but will Nine ruin it by doing another series next year? How about Miner Wants a Wife (iron ore, gold, nickel, etc)? The audience for The Librarians fell last night. A big pity, it’s too adult for many of The Chaser viewers who flee elsewhere. The Librarians is excruciatingly awfully funny at times: it reminds me of Nighty Night, the black UK comedy. The appalling joke about a Vietnamese cook was shocking because the reaction was so true to life! Tonight it’s the wonders of Bionic Woman and the inanities of Heroes on Seven up against Missing Persons Unit, The Gift and RPA: Where Are They Now? on Nine. Ten has two hours of foot tapping and emoting. The highlight is the John Clarke presented doco about how Australians speak on the ABC. Using Clark, the smartest and most talented man in the Australian media, to present this was smart thinking.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports 

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