Missing middle stump. Regarding the streaker who was shoulder charged by Andrew Symonds in the 2nd ODI cricket final on Tuesday. Eagle eyed subscriber John Tinney has pointed out to Crikey that it is interesting to compare the photo published by the UK Telegraph (below left) with the airbrushed version in yesterday’s The Age (below right).

Consolidated Media shares suspended. Shares in Consolidated Media were suspended on the ASX this morning for no reason. But there were reports the buyout might be in doubt with claims Lachlan Murdoch’s mystery US backers, SPO of San Francisco, might be withdrawing, which would leave him with no real equity or support. Cons Media shares fell 7c to $4.30 yesterday in the first solid rise for the broader market this week. There are claims the recent rise in the value of the Australian dollar may have had an impact, but it is actually the recent slide in the value of the US dollar against the Aussie and other currencies that would be the worry from the US group’s point of view. — Glenn Dyer

ACP magazines sells UK business. Meanwhile, the ACP magazines part of PBL Media has sold its UK business just as Lachlan Murdoch looks to extend the time he needs to complete due diligence on Consolidated Media Holdings as part of his proposed $4.80 a share bid with James Packer. Cons Media owns 25% of PBL media, with the rest owned by buyout group, CVC. Murdoch and his US backers have been conducting due diligence on Foxtel, Premier Media (Fox Sports) mand the other bits of Cons Media. The sale of the 50% of ACP UK to its partner, the Hearst owned National Magazine Co will raise an unknown amount of cash for PBL Media to paydown some of the huge debt loaded onto it by CVC and James Packer. ACP paid around $55 million when the joint venture was formed in 2004 between The National Magazine Co and ACP Magazines, to develop weekly magazines for the UK market. Former ACP boss, Colin Morrsion was in charge of the joint venture. The ACP NatMag joint venture publishes weekly titles Best , Reveal and Real People . ACP Magazines has a continuing relationship with the Hearst group through other publishing joint ventures in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, which included titles like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s BAZAAR and Madison . ACP and Hearst looked at buying the Emap magazines business in the UK but ACP settled for buying the Australian titles for around $94 million. — Glenn Dyer

Movement at Seven. So The Australian, reckons Seven Network CEO, David Leckie is going to step down and two contenders are being positioned: James Warburton the ad sales director and Tim Worner, the head of programming. Long time watchers of the antics at Seven though say speculators about succession at Seven should consider a couple of other points: Kerry Stokes and his ideas and the ambitions for son Ryan Stokes. The move to watch is when Seven restructures its management to give one or both of Worner or Warburton more experience in areas they are not comfortable in: Worner knows little about the heavy lifting needed in sales, and Warburton might be able to sell to the slot and demos, but lacks whatever innate ability Worner obviously has for his role. If Leckie was to retire or fall under the proverbial bus, Ian Johnson at HSV 7 (and a former head of Nine and manager of GTV) would be an ideal replacement until a new permanent CEO was found. Johnson is actually second to Leckie in the Seven management pecking order. He’s the Network’s point man for its most important domestic deal, the AFL contract and he has more experience than anyone else at the top of TV in this country at the moment. At last week’s Seven Network media briefing it was instructive to watch which Seven executives were paying attention and who was on the Blackberry. James Warburton was watching and listening. The others were chatting or emailing on their Blackberries and occasionally listening to watch Leckie. That tells me more about who wants to get on at Seven than anything else. To succeed as a CEO you have to at least look and sound the part, especially at investor, analyst and media briefings. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: A dozen programs with a million or more viewers on what is still the best night of TV each week. RSPCA Animal Rescue topped the rankings for Seven at 7.30pm with 1.528 million. Seven News was next with 1.382 million and Today Tonight was third with 1.266 million. Underbelly was steady on 1.224 million without Melbourne (around 1.8-1.9 million), Nine News was 5th with 1.221 million and Home And Away averaged 1.203 million for 6th spot at 7pm. Seven’s 8pm program, The Real Seachange averaged 1.189 million and Ten’s House averaged 1.125 million (and was Underbellied), A Current Affair was on 1.098 million in 9th spot; the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.090 million for 10th and the 7pm The Biggest Loser held up to average 1.055 million. Spicks And Specks averaged 1.018 million at 8.30 =pm for the ABC. Lewis on Seven averaged 957,000 from around 8.20pm to just after 10.30pm.. The Cook And The Chef on the ABC at 6.30pm, 594,000 and again showed The Chopping Block how to give viewers what they want from a lifestyle program built around food, not what the producers think we want to see. Newstopia on SBS at 10pm, 187,000.

The Losers: Losers? Back To You, 959,000, on Ten at 8pm because Rules of Engagement, on Ten at 7.30pm only averaged 816,000. The Chopping Block on Nine at 7.30pm, 979,000, and every viewer hacked from stone so contrived was last night’s episode. The contestants in the original eps of The Block were the key to its stunning success. In The Chopping Block they vary from good, sympathetic to pathetic people who want to be on TV. More Big Brother or Monster House than anything serious. Cashmere Mafia on Nine at 9.30pm, 903,000. Solid with younger women, but it lost a quarter of Underbelly’s audience (probably most of the blokes).

News & CA: Seven News won everywhere but Melbourne where Nine News bounced back well. It was the same for Today Tonight. The 7pm ABC News was second in Sydney behind Seven and in front of Nine. Ten News At Five averaged 783,000, The Late News/Sports Tonight, 418,000. The 7.30 Report, 802,000, Lateline, 321,000; Lateline Business, 161,000. Nightline on Nine, 168,000. World News Australia on SBS, 156,000, Dateline, 178,000, the Late News, 193,000. 7am Sunrise 401,000, 7am Today down to 261,000.

The Stats: Seven won 6 pm to 12 midnight with 30.0% (30.5%); from Nine with 26.9% (26.3%), Ten with 22.2% (22.8%), the ABC with 16.4% (15.7%), SBS with 4.5% (4.7%). Nine won Sydney, Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Sydney likes Underbelly, 599,000, is still doing well in other metro markets. Nine leads the week 30.9% to 28.0% but will extend this tonight. In regional areas Prime/7Qld won with 31.0%, from WIN/NBN with 26.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) 22.5%, the ABC with 14.7% and SBS with 5.2%. In the 6 pm to 10.30 metro zone one slot, Seven won 24.1% (24.65% a year ago on the same night), from Nine with 23.62% (23.44%), Ten with 18.87 (20.51%); Pat TV with 15.12% (13.55%), Ten with 14.70% (14.15%) and SBS on 3.79% (3.70%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Seven’s night only because Underbelly is banned in Melbourne. It’s looking more and more like the biggest stuff up in Nine’s recent history of stuff-ups. When are we going to see a complete list of unamended credits for Underbelly with all the legal advisers named for the original transmission copies of the program, before the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions called up to drop a “dime” on the broadcast in Melbourne? Try as they might Nine and its lawyers have yet been able to bring an original argument to bear for broadcasting it in the state, and lawyers for Tony Mokbel are having a field day as a result, which is sort of what the DPP was concerned about. It was another solid, well-acted, dramatic and at times brutal episode. Worth all the hype. Over 55 viewers hate it, but it remains high among male viewers from 16 to 49 and even has female viewers still gripped, (averaging around 5 to 7 in the top 10 programs in the various demos, against numbers one or two for men). At times its more True Crime rather than fiction/drama: the storylines are real. Some scenes feel like re-enactments. The s-x scenes (in the shower last night) are gratuitous.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports

Peter Fray

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