Foxtel to link with News Corp’s NZ TV business? There’s speculation in New Zealand that News Corp’s Sky TV business (which includes both free to air and Pay TV) might be about to do some sort of deal with Foxtel. A merger has been suggested, but that would need the approval of Telstra and Cons Media Holdings, which is in the midst of a possible sale to James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch. A link with Sky TV would generate the sort of savings that Foxtel was looking for when it tried to buy regional operator Austar last year. Those savings — on satellite capacity (fewer transponders), call centres and billing systems — would also apply to any link up between Austar and Sky. And now that Rupert Murdoch and John Malone, who controls Austar, have made up, that isn’t out of the question. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
RSPCA Animal Rescue was tops for with 1.605 million, Seven News was second with 1.440 million and Today Tonight had 1.350 million. The Real Seachange was next with 1.296 million, followed by Home And Away (1.276 million), House (1.262 million), Underbelly (1.250 million without Melbourne), Nine News (1.148 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.120 million), A Current Affair (1.066 million) and Back To You on Ten at 8pm (1.047 million). Spicks And Specks had 998,000; Lewis on Seven from 8.30pm, 956,000; The Biggest Loser, 949,000. The Cook and The Chef on the ABC at 6.30pm had 620,000: two thirds of The Chopping Block‘s audience, probably 10% of the budget and much more effective and helpful for viewers.

The Losers: Cashmere Mafia: not a loser yet, but heading that way after falling 207,000 viewers to 930,000 last night. It’s mindless, even more so than Brothers And Sisters and Dirty Sexy Money. The Chopping Block, 943,000. Not a loser but not a performer either. Numb3rs on Ten at 9.30pm, 848,000, 400,000 or so down from House. Rules Of Engagement on Ten at 7.30pm, 802,000, dying and in need of a bullet! Stupid Stupid Man on the ABC at 9pm, 615,000: are they mostly people who watched it on Foxtel backing up for another look?

News & CA: Seven News won all five metro markets for the third night in a row. Today Tonight was also strong, winning everywhere. Nine just can’t take a trick from 6pm to 7pm at the moment. Seven seems to have climbed off the floor in Melbourne, but for how long? The 7pm ABC News tied with Nine for second in Melbourne (341,000). Ten News averaged 834,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 450,000. The 7.30 Report, 847,000; Lateline, 236,000; Lateline Business, 122,000. Nightline, 165,000. SBS News, 152,000 at 6.30pm; 222,000 at 9.30pm; Dateline, 212,000. 7am Sunrise, 386,000; 7am Today, 308,000. The gap is closing.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 30.5% (29.5% last week, from Nine with 26.3% (27.3%), Ten with 22.8% (22.9%), The ABC with 15.7% (15.6% and SBS with 4.7% (4.6%). Seven won all five metro markets and now leads the week 29.3% to 27.1% for Nine. In regional areas a very different result with WIN/NBN winning for Nine with 29.3%, from Prime/7Qld with 29.2%. Southern Cross (Ten) was next with 22.0%, the ABC was on 14.3% and SBS was on 5.2%. Fusion Strategy reports that in the zone 1 commercial slot of 6pm to 10.30pm, Seven had a 24.96% share (26.08% same night in 2007) compared to 22.78% for Nine (22.81%), 19.15% for Ten (20.17%), 14.47% for Pay TV (13.23%), the ABC with 13.70% (14.01%) and SBS with 3.94% (3.70%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: For the second week in a row Seven beat Nine despite a good ep of Underbelly. The Chopping Block remains under one million viewers — they need to get rid of Catriona Rowntree (her voice is too saccharine for the program, it’s an aggressive program). The turn on for Underbelly shows the appeal it has outside of Melbourne, but Nine has failed to give it as much help as possible to blitz Wednesday nights (even without Melbourne). Underbelly was promoted as Nine’s big show of 2008, but due to legal inadequacies and programming shortcomings, it’s been left to fend for itself. Apart from that it was a good night of TV. It was good to see Newstopia (212,000 on SBS at 10pm) back with its spoof BBC reports and SBS ads. Tonight its RPA on Nine and Seven’s saggy night of the week. Out of the Question on Seven? Kitchen Nightmares USA will help you avoid becoming Lost.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports