Primetime hostilities set to resume. Official ratings don’t start until Sunday week, but the first primetime battle of the new year actually kicks off at 8.30pm tonight with Seven and Nine going head to head. Seven is pushing out Glenn Robbins’ new show, Out Of The Question , which involves him talking to three celebrity guests in a format “that is part quiz, part chat and all topical”. Sounds a bit fruit salady to me — it has the appearance of a trial, a series of pilots — but it has the distinction of being the first new program to be sighted in 2008 and if it can gather over 1 million viewers and build slowly in this difficult timeslot, it will survive. Nine has its old standby RPA returning at 8.30pm, but instead of backing that up with the return of The Gift at 9.30pm, it’s continuing with the very unpleasant Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, followed by a repeat of Missing Persons Unit at 10.30pm. Seven is using the Amazing Race as the lead-in for Out Of The Question at 7.30pm, while Nine clearly isn’t trying very hard because it has, What A Year, which flopped last year, at 7.30pm. After Out of The Question Seven is running back to back eps of Family Guy (three in a row) from 9pm, followed by American Dad at 10.30pm.  — Glenn Dyer

Are we about to see some action at the Ten Network? Why else would executive chairman, Nick Falloon, and chief financial officer, John Kelly, be out briefing US brokers, while its Canadian parent, Canwest, is doing the same in Toronto this week. Not action in terms of deals or bids, more like trying to drum up interest from North American investors after Canwest sorted out its holding and became a 56% direct owner. The US office of Citigroup is understood to have sent a note to clients making positive comments about Ten’s prospects after a lunch with Falloon and Kelly this week. Its views were markedly different to the “sell” which rival Merrill Lynch issued on Ten this week. — Glenn Dyer

Posie Graeme Evans joins forces with Fremantlemedia.  The Nine Network’s former head of Drama, Posie Graeme Evans, has surprised the TV industry by popping up at Fremantlemedia Australia in a joint venture to develop new programming. In a statement to be released tomorrow, Evans’ new role is described as: “an exclusive joint venture to develop and produce drama for the Australian and international marketplace.” It’s understood this deal was one of three she has been considering for some months. The Granada production house (whose North American business was run by Nine boss David Gyngell) and a wealthy Australian businessman were the other possible partners. Fremantlemedia produces Neighbours and Australian Idol for Ten and licensed The Choir of Hard Knocks to the ABC last year. It has around 20 programs in production or development this year for the local networks and overseas. Evans was the producer and originator of McLeod’s Daughters , she is also a co-owner and developer of the successful Nine Network kids program, Hi-5. — Glenn Dyer

Australia’s most parochial paper? This one’s a hard-fought competition, but The Adelaide Advertiser stepped things up a notch with today’s front page effort. A few years back, Adelaide lost the Grand Prix to Melbourne. But it was ok, they moved on pretty quickly … until John Brumby labelled them a “backwater” yesterday. Ouch. Today they’ve hit back, with some fighting words: “It’s the home of party idiots Wayne & Corey, their Grand Prix loses millions, they lost the $6 billion destroyers to us, yet Victoria’s Premier calls us a backwater.” Really, Adelaidians just feel sorry for their inferior Mexican neighbours. As The ‘Tiser says, “Premier Mike Rann, Labor’s national party vice-president and the senior statesman of Labor’s Premiers” — just in case you weren’t aware of his extreme importance — “said Mr Brumby’s comment was ‘born of Victoria’s insecurity’.”  — Jane Nethercote

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Nine programs with a million or more viewers and a couple of surprises. Seven News was tops with 1.375 million, Home and Away was second with 1.289 million and Today Tonight was next with 1.259 million. Then came the first surprise: 1.218 million viewers for a repeat of the good UK cop drama, A Touch of FrostThe Boneyard (a doco on an aircraft graveyard in the US) was a smaller surprise with 1.199 million people. The 7pm ABC News was next with 1.193 million, followed by Nine News (1.170 million), A Current Affair (1.128 million) and the repeat of The Italian Job remake on Ten (1.079 million).

The Losers: Nine from 7pm. Not a program with a million viewers or more from then on. It’s only summer, but why reinforce in the minds of viewers that the network doesn’t have much of interest to watch. Nine should have been blasting away with its rating heavyweights from this week simply to create the impression that it’s back in town.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne (where Seven and Nine won’t like running behind the ABC’s 7pm News) and Brisbane. Today Tonight won everywhere bar Melbourne. Sydney is a weak spot for Nine now that Mark Ferguson is back reading, or so it seems. Seven with Ian Ross was easily ahead and the ABC ran second. Ten News averaged 919,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 377,000. Nightline, 226,000. SBS News Australia, 220,000 at 6.30pm; 232,000 at 9.30pm, (more viewers than Nightline, which is unusual). 7am Sunrise back over 400,000 with 432,000; 7am Today, a nice round 300,000. School must be back.

The Stats: An easy win to Seven with 32.5% from Ten with 24.9%, Nine with 21.9%, the ABC with 14.5% and SBS with 6.2%. Seven won everywhere and leads the week 34.4% to 23.2%. In regional areas a win to Prime/7Qld with 33.3% from Southern Cross (Ten) with 24.3%, WIN/NBN for Nine with 22.4%, the ABC on 13.9% and SBS with 6.1%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A Touch of Frost won the night for Seven and the repeat of The Italian Job did enough to boost Ten into second spot. Tonight there’s a spark of interest from the networks with Seven bringing on  Out Of The Question and Nine returning RPA. Hopefully Nine will be more competitive tonight, but having Two And A Half Men against the strong ABC News and Home And Away at 7pm means it will be battling.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports 

Peter Fray

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