One F-word too many? Gordon Ramsay’s prolific swearing in the 8.30pm timeslot has already prompted a Senate Inquiry that can’t come too quickly. But last night’s Australian Story profile on music promoter Michael Chugg might have set a new record for the earliest broadcast of the F-word in primetime (outside inadvertent use by sports people), when the magic word was uttered around 8.20pm. “F-ck” has been somewhat legitimised though its contextual use in Underbelly at 8.30pm Wednesdays, which then gave Nine the confidence to move Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares from 9.30pm to 8.30pm. Now Australian Story has advanced it further and the ABC censors let them get away with it. The Senate Inquiry can’t come quick enough… less is always more in TV. — Glenn Dyer

Another game show flop for Nine. The Nine Network has been pedalling some nonsense about its new game show The Power of 10, which debuted last night. The network hasn’t been correcting writers who describe The Power of 10 as successful in the US. It isn’t. It had a brief run on CBS last summer and was then brought into primetime during the writer’s strike. It lasted one ep and is now on what the yanks call “hiatus”. The local version looks to be heading for a similar fate after averaging just 704,000 at 7.30pm last night, an appalling figure given the costly set and on-air promotion. It looked like an unwanted hybrid of Who Wants To be A Millionaire and 1 vs. 100. That takes to five the number of flops Nine have had this year so far: Monster House, Cashmere Mafia, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Burke’s Backyard Autumn Special and now The Power of 10. — Glenn Dyer

Ian Ross to stay at Seven News. Brian Henderson was 72 going on 73 when he retired from reading the Nine News in Sydney a few years ago. And the now Seven is giving former Nine reader Ian Ross the chance to emulate his friend by renewing his contract to read the 6pm news in Sydney for two more years (Ross will be 69 going on 70 when the new contract finishes at the end of 2010). That means Chris Bath will remain second fiddle on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Ross has been doing very well against Nine. Last week saw Seven’s highest average winning margin since Oztam started: more than 100,000 viewers a night, Monday-Friday. Now the pressure is on Nine’s News and Current Affairs boss, John Westacott, to change things up. Nine is waiting to see if a revamped Wheel of Fortune will make the difference when it starts shortly, but it won’t, it’s like Family Feud. — Glenn Dyer

Nine still gutless on NRL in Melbourne. The NRL is still struggling to get the Nine Network to give Melbourne Storm fans regular live coverage, especially of games involving their own team, who happen to be the reigning premiers. This Friday night sees the Storm playing the Brisbane Broncos, who are leading the NRL after three unbeaten games. The Storm have lost two from three so far but are still favourites for the title this year. And for a bit of extra spice, throw in Israel Folau’s decision to leave Melbourne for the Broncos and the speculation that Melbourne’s coach, Craig Bellamy, will be also be heading to Brisbane to replace Wayne Bennett next season. But Nine can’t recognise that this match would do well in Melbourne. It would certainly get more than the 70,000 in Sydney who watched the Swans beat Port and the 96,000 in Brisbane who watched the Lions beat Collingwood last Friday. David Gyngell might an NRL fan, but he’s still showing the same short-sighted attitude that the AFL-mad Eddie McGuire and Jeff Browne showed last year. It’s not that the AFL game on Seven this Friday is all that imposing: Western Bulldogs vs. St Kilda. But what time will the NRL go to air in Melbourne? 12.15am on Saturday morning. That’s being gutless. Why don’t the ambitious folk at Fox Sports offer to show it earlier, say a 9.30pm start, or are they too close to Nine? — Glenn Dyer

Cover of the week. From Folio Mag:

New York Magazine is no stranger to controversial covers (see its Lindsay Lohan cover and accompanying, server-melting photo shoot a few weeks back). But when the story of New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s shocking involvement in a prostitution ring broke early (Monday) in the magazine’s print cycle ( New York publishes on Mondays), it put the magazine in a tricky spot: it would be six days until it had its turn—six days of New York Post covers, blog posts, tabloid headlines and late-night joke fodder — to weigh in with a cover of its own. And it delivered a memorable, edgy one.

We asked some of our design friends to critique New York’s Spitzer cover. First up, Tim O’Brien, the illustrator behind the subject of our last cover critique—Rolling Stone’s Obama.

NAME: Tim O’Brien
TITLE: freelance illustrator; VP, the Society of Illustrators
CRITIQUE: The March 24th cover of New York Magazine is a funny and effective catharsis for the shocked New Yorkers. Swept into office with a wave of hope and enthusiasm, it was all undone by lust and hypocrisy. The cover image, an awkward shot of Spitzer shot from above making him look small is effective in shrinking a small man even smaller. Not knowing where to put his hands he forms a halo over his crotch; completely unintentional I’m sure but there it is.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Border Security was tops with 1.767 million, followed by Seven News with 1.497 million and Serious Crash Unit with 1.466 million right after Border Security on Seven at 8pm. Then came the ABC’s Enough Rope , with Andrew Denton’s 9.35pm interview with Wayne Carey, which averaged 1.455 million (the highest ever). Today Tonight was 5th with 1.413 million with Anna Coren back in the chair) and Home and Away was next with 1.381 million. Nine’s returning drama Sea Patrol averaged 1.238 million at 8.30pm and it won the slot. Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance averaged 1.180 million at 7.30pm to 8.35pm. A Current Affair was 9th with 1.175 million and Seven’s Desperate Housewives averaged 1.132 million at 8.30pm. The 7pm ABC news averaged 1.118 million viewers, Nine News, 1.112 million for 12th and the Melbourne Comedy Festival , 1.039 million for Ten at 8.35pm. Media Watch was next on the ABC at 9.20pm with 1.024 million, just ahead of Four Corners with 1.009 million. The elimination episode of The Biggest Loser on Ten at 7pm averaged 1.007 million and was 16th. The Mythbusters repeat on SBS averaged 499,000 at 7.30pm. CSI New York on Nine at 9.30pm averaged 935,000 and is marooned without the lead-in from CSI . Australian Story averaged 943,000 at 8pm on the ABC.

The Losers: The Power of Ten, 704,000 on Nine at 7.30pm. Dirty Sexy Money, 606,000 on Seven at 9.30pm, Kill it, please. Two And A Half Men, 952,000 at 7pm, and still 4th for Nine and bad for the network Monday to Friday.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market. Today Tonight won everywhere bar Melbourne. The 7pm ABC News beat Nine News into second place in Sydney and Melbourne. Nine News averaged 273,000 in Sydney, A Current Affair , 292,000. ACA won strongly in Melbourne. Ten News At Five averaged 935,000; The Late News / Sports Tonight , 392,000. The 7.30 Report averaged 867,000; Lateline , 380,000; Lateline Business , 180,000. World News Australia on SBS at 6.30pm, 161,000, 9.30pm, 138,000. 7am Sunrise , 368,000, 7am Today , 292,000 and the narrowest gap (76,000) for sometime. This happened the day Today went to a 5.30am start. But that couldn’t have been the reason. Last week early Today averaged 102,000, yesterday 124,000, but early Sunrise averaged 165,000 last week and 180,000 yesterday! Will now Seven start early?

The Stats: Seven won with 27.0% (31.1% a week ago on Easter Monday), Nine was second with 23.4% (24.9%), Ten was on 23.2% (21.2%), the ABC was on 21.0% (16.2%) and SBS was on 5.4% (6.7%). Seven won four of the five metro markets but not Melbourne where it ran second to Ten because of the Comedy festival. Nine ran 4th behind the ABC which was boosted by the Carey interview on Enough Rope . Seven leads the week 28.2% to 26.9%. In regional areas a different result with WIN/NBN averaging 21.1% to beat Prime/7Qld narrowly with 27.0%. Southern Cross (Ten) was next with 20.2%, the ABC was on 19.0% and SBS was on 6.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Night two of the new ratings survey and a convincing win to Seven. If Nine continuers at this rate, we will start wondering about the longevity of certain executives over the remainder of this year. It was a night in which Nine invested a lot of money; The Power of Ten was a flop. Sea Patrol returned for Series Two with 1.238 million. Solid, but down half a million on the first ep of Series One last year. There’s a lot of money in this production. Seven needs radical action at 9.30pm. It’s dying. So You Think You Can Dance Australia again under 1.2 million. Ten almost grabbed Nine last night for second. Ten won Melbourne because of the International Comedy Festival. Nine was 4th. A dud night. What will CVC the private equity owners, think? Tonight there’s the new program on Nine at 9.30pm, Ladette to Lady after Gordon Ramsay and his armoury of swear words masquerading as good TV. Seven has It Takes Two and All Saints. The ABC is light on; SBS has Insight and Ten has NCIS after Bondi Rescue.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports.

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