The Oz goes over the top in Pakistan. As a journalist who has been covering Pakistan’s election from within for the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t help but p-ss myself with laughter when I read Bruce Loudon’s opening paragraph in The Australian today, which shrieked: “Suicide bombers wreaked havoc across Pakistan yesterday, bringing the nuclear-armed nation’s tumultuous election campaign to a blood-soaked end amid fears of even greater violence when voters cast their ballots today.” I am in rapturous awe of bilious Bruce … he managed to get “suicide bomber”, “nuclear-armed”, “blood-soaked”, and “wreaked havoc” into the one sentence … in my experience here in Pakistan, the most dangerous thing I’ve seen here in two weeks is the local muree beer (unless he’s been up in the tribal regions, which he hasn’t) … maybe he should have written: “Bored journalists wreaked havoc in Pakistan’s only bar yesterday, bringing the beer-thirsty nation’s tumultuous anti-alcohol campaign to a vomit-soaked end amid fears of even greater chundering when reporters run out of things to write today.” — Anonymous

Cricket helps Nine to a first-up ratings win. A win to the Nine Network in the first week of 2008 ratings, thanks to the cricket and solid wins off the back of Underbelly on Wednesday night and RPA on Thursday night. Nine won with a share of 28.7% to Seven with 27.2%, Ten with 22.5%, the ABC with 16.4% and SBS with 5.3%. Nine won Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and especially Friday where it got the highest share of the week with 34.7%. Seven won Monday, Tuesday and Saturday (by the narrowest of margins). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane while Seven won Perth. Nine had four programs in the top 10, Ten and Seven had three each. Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance Australia was the most watched program with 1.6 million. Nine only won two weeks last year and it will go close to winning again this week with more cricket involving Australia last night and next Friday, but the one day series won’t be around much longer. According to the Pay TV industry group, ASTRA, last week’s shares in the five metro markets from 6pm to 11.59pm were: Nine first with 23.4%, Seven second with 22.2%, Ten third with 18.3%, Subscription TV next with 15.3%, the ABC with 13.4% and SBS was on 3.3%. According to Fusion Strategy the prime time 6pm to 10.29pm Zone One figures showed Nine with 24.12%, Seven second with 23.14%, Ten third with 18.93%, Subscription TV next with 15.09%, the ABC with 14.32% and SBS with 4.41%. Pay TV’s growth slowed last week to 9% compared to the first week of 2007 ratings. Ten’s audience was up 14%, Nine was up 6%. The overall TV audience was up 6% on a year ago. — Glenn Dyer

Sunday lifts, but so does everything else.  The Nine Network’s Sunday program lifted its audience by 2,000 to an average 115,000 from 7.30am to 9.30am yesterday, but the opposition still did a lot better. Seven’s Weekend Sunrise averaged 428,000 viewers in the same timeslot, up from 376,000 a week ago. The ABC’s Insiders also lifted its figures from 172,000 to 183,000 for the hour from 9am to 10am. Inside Business at 10am had 132,000 (up from 125,000 last week) and Offsiders averaged 143,000 (up from 136,000 last week). Sunday ‘s trio of Ellen Fanning, newsreader Michael Usher and sports reporter, Tim Sheridan, looked clunky compared to Weekend Sunrise’s quartet around a single desk and the Insiders on a lounge suite. It needs more, as does the content of the program apart from the Laurie Oakes interview. The Nine Network showed Business Success at 9.30am, which averaged 115,000 and the hour of basketball from 10am averaged 89,000. Nine wants to restart the old Wide World of Sport in that timeslot when the AFL/NRL seasons kick-off in Autumn. What’s the betting on Eddie McGuire will play a big role in that? But what Eddie and the other sports boosters at Nine don’t seem to realise is that Wide World of Sports type coverage is already available on Fox Sports, which has the infrastructure and coverage that Nine doesn’t. — Glenn Dyer

Not happy Kerry. It’s no wonder the Seven Network is getting all aggro with the board of West Australian Newspapers. Kerry Stokes network is losing the best part of $80 to 4100 million on its 19.4%, without a board seat, watching the company’s profits weaken, circulation fall and a fight with the WA Government is crippling the news side of the business. Seven wants two board seats and the board, led by newish chairman Peter Maunsell seem to be saying “go away Kerry” even though he is the city’s favoured son with a considerable stake in the state’s business. Westrac is a major heavy equipment distributor and beneficiary of the mining boom, Seven’s local TV station is reckoned to be its best performing business in the Network and Seven is the biggest shareholder in contractor and consultant, GRD, which is chaired by former State Premier, Richard Court. Given that background it’s a little odd that the WAN board is holding out, especially given the chairman’s very close links to the resources industry through his old mining consulting business, Maunsell and Partners. Seven was quick to give WAN a belt on Friday afternoon after the company produced a poor first half profit. The shares fell $1.10, or 11.9% on Friday to $10.10 after it revealed a 21.2% slide in reported first-half profit to $44.3 million and cut dividends by 30 per cent. That drop cost Seven $45 million in lost value on its holding of 40.5 million WAN shares. The reporting was again skewed by the cost of the company’s new printing operation in Perth but directors pointed out that it was switching back to ‘reported’ earnings, which don’t reflect the capitalising of the interest cost on the investment. That produced a 21% drop in earnings after ‘noteworthy items’, which was a net loss of more than $6 million on the sale of the 50% of the Hoyts movie chain in the half. Dividends are lower because they are now based on reported earnings, not the normalised earnings with the interest being capitalised as they were in the previous two years. The details of the WAN result reveals the damage the poor performance of the flagship West Australian and its ungainly brawl with the WA Government is having: the paper has taken the side of disgraced former Premier Brian Burke and his partner, Julian Grill in their dispute with the Government and its anti-corruption investigations. — Glenn Dyer

It’s policy on the letters page of The Age to print the full name and suburb of each writer. Not when it’s the Chairman of the Board apparently.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
 Nine News was on top with 1.599 million, boosted by the Australian batting in the first session of the cricket. So You Think You Can Dance Australia was second with 1.529 million, followed by Seven News (1.389 million), the evening session of the cricket (1.369 million), The Zoo  (1.273 million), Grey’s Anatomy (1.214 million) and the day session of the cricket (1.153 million). The Biggest Loser ‘s weigh-in session averaged 1.100 million and Seven’s 9.30pm soap Brothers And Sisters  had 1.083 million. Samantha Who? at 8.10pm hung on with 1.074 million for Seven and  Bush Doctors averaged 1.065 million at 7pm. The ABC’s Miss Marple  had 1.051 million and Who Do You Think You Are on SBS at 7.30pm averaged 571,000. The movie  Boytown averaged 658,000 on Ten after Dance.

The Losers: Robin Hood at 7.30pm on the ABC, just 705,000 for something that is starting to resemble Dr Who in tights, with an overlay of Blackadder. Kath & Kim, 917,000 at 7.30pm as Seven just keeps the timeslot warm for the post-Easter return of Ugly Betty. The Einstein Factor at 6.30pm, 521,000 mainly due to the fact the cricket was on Nine, but the program has more whiskers than Barry Jones’ beard now. Nine “encored” Underbelly after the cricket, 345,000 without Melbourne. It doesn’t rate second time around.

News & CA: Nine News did well with the boost from the cricket and won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide easily. Seven won Brisbane and of course Perth. Ten News averaged 707,000. The 7pm ABC News had 828,000 viewers. SBS News, 154,000. Weekend Sunrise, 428,000 at 7.30am; Insiders, 182,000; Offsiders , 143,000; Inside Business, 132,000; Sunday, 115,000. Meet The Press on Ten at 8am, 41,000. Landline on the ABC at noon, 259,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a 6pm to 11.59pm share of 30.1% (28.2% last week) from Ten with 25.2% (26.7%), Seven with 24.1% (24.8%), the ABC was on 14.8% (15.3%) and SBS was on 5.7% (4.9%). Nine won all metro markets bar Perth. In regional areas Nine won with a share of 28.8% for WIN/NBN, from Prime/7Qld with 25.2%, Ten with 22.0% for Southern Cross, the ABC with 17.7% and SBS on 6.4%. In the 6pm to 10.29pm prime time zone one battle, Nine won with a share of 25.89%, Ten was second with 21.68%, Seven was third with 20.88%, Pay TV was on 13.50%, ABC was on 13.33% and SBS was on 4.72%. According to Fusion Strategy, Nine’s audience rose compared to the same night a year ago, Ten’s was up 52%, SBS’s went up, the ABC eased; Seven’s was down sharply and Pay TV’s audience was down around 2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: As expected the Australia-India game did the job for Nine last night, but Ten and Seven will both be satisfied. Once the cricket is finished, Ten and Seven seem better placed than Nine on Sunday nights with programs well embedded and attracting viewers. Ten’s Dance  again out-rated the cricket. Tonight its Four Corners back with a John Howard special and the return of Media Watch at 9.20pm. Will Australian Story lift after the disappointment of last week? I hope so. Nine goes the Royals at 7.30pm, then CSI and CSI New York. Ten has TBL , Dance and then the second ep of Good News Week. Seven has Border Security and The Force : both looked a bit tired last week. Desperate Housewives is still entertaining and Dirty Sexy Money is all suds and lather. SBS has Top Gear, which on the face of it seems the second most interesting program on the night after Four Corners.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports