Sampson’s return has TV industry talking. The appointment of Les Sampson as number two to Nine’s head of programming, Michael Healy, has brought back memories across the networks. Sampson quit Nine in 1995 after Healy was made number two to then head programmer, John Stevens (now at Seven). Sampson then went to London to work at Sky before returning in 1999 to work for Foxtel in program acquisition. Now he’s back at Nine and some in TV are wondering if he will be the go to guy if David Gyngell needs to shake up programming later this year. And there are rumours drifting around the industry that PBL Media CEO Ian Law may be bound for his farm in Victoria with Gyngell to be his replacement. But that sounds far-fetched as Gyngell has yet to prove himself again at Nine. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
RPA did the job for Nine again with 1.343 million. Seven News was second with 1.341 million and Home And Away was third with 1.320 million. Today Tonight was next with 1.267 million, followed by Kitchen Nightmares (1.195 million), Law And Order SVU (1.139 million), A Current Affair (1.086 million), Nine News (1.050 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.028 million), The Amazing Race (1.024 million) and Getaway (1.018 million). The Biggest Loser had 1.016 million from 7pm to 8pm — it seems to rate a bit better when it’s an hour rather than half an hour.

The Losers: Ten’s Saving Kids, 753,000; Seven’s Out Of The Question, 761,000. Seven is sticking with it, so it will last til Easter and probably re-appear later in the year. Two And A Half Men on Nine at 7pm, 892,000. Lost at 9.30pm, 867,000. The ephemeral beaten by a swearing, rampant chef on Kitchen Nightmares and Medium. Third means the slide continues.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market. It was the second strong win this week. Nine News in Sydney is in serious decay — it averaged just 293,000 and was beaten by the ABC for second. Seven News averaged 420,000, as viewers in Sydney are now turning to Seven when there are big stories like the Wollongong Council corruption yarn. In Melbourne, Nine has lost ground against Seven but audience levels are low. Good weather perhaps? Seven won easily last night. Today Tonight had more of a battle. It won nationally but lost Melbourne and Brisbane. It won in Sydney by 95,000. Ten News averaged 786,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 443,000. Nightline, 315,000. The 7.30 Report, 784,000; Lateline, 286,000; Lateline Business, 112,000. SBS News, 164,000 at 6.30pm; 186,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise up to 427,000; 7am Today up to 293,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 29.9% (30.1%) from Seven with 26.0% (24.7%), Ten with 22.8% (23.6%), the ABC with 15.9% (16.2%) and SBS with 5.3% (5.4%). Seven won Perth, Nine won the rest. Seven leads the week 28.0% to 27.2%. In regional areas a win for Nine through WIN/NBN with 29.9%, Prime/7Qld was next with 25.5%, Ten through Southern Cross was third with 22.4%, the ABC was next with 16.1% and SBS was on 6.3%. Fusion Strategy said that in the 6pm to 10.29pm Zone 1 prime time slot, Nine was first with a share of 24.07% (26.77 a year ago), Seven was next with 22.30% (23.97%); Ten was third with 19.54% (20.48%). Pat TV was 4th with 15.41% (13.42%), the ABC was on 14.08% (11.64%) and SBS was on 4.60% (3.73%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine’s night as Seven drifts along in a pre-Easter holding pattern and Ten beavers away adding viewer numbers. RPA did it for Nine as did Kitchen Nightmares. That’s quite ironic as it’s doing a lot better than the local production it inspired, The Chopping Block. The Gordon Ramsay vehicle shows all the signs of being well produced and shot, with time taken in finding talent and development and in assessing the improvements at the eateries, just as the British version did. The Nine version shows all the evidence of being hurried, cost conscious and poorly organised. Wednesday night’s ep of The Chopping Block was the best so far, but Ramsay and his production crew have made a superior program. And it shows in the audience figures. Tonight it’s cricket on Nine, Better Homes and Gardens on Seven and Dalziel and Pascoe on the ABC. Saturday night is appalling. The FTA networks are dominated by repeats — there are only four original programs. Top Gear on SBS at 7.30pm isn’t marked as a repeat, but I’m suspicious, and Ten has the AFL.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports, Fusion Strategy

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey