Harden up: The early edition of The Age sports front page carried this image —

They had the decency to asterisk the dirty word that the Blues are currently using to motivate the team, but you can still see it pretty prominently on the wrist band that displays the words “Harden the f**k up.”

How to create a rumour in four easy steps: OK! Magazine wants you to think Jennifer Aniston has finally found love in the arms of Orlando Bloom — and they’ve cropped out Eva Longoria to prove it. OK!‘s cover image this week shows Orlando and Jen canoodling last month at the EBMRF Dinner in honor of Ken Paves’ Big Give at Beso in Hollywood. — The Huffington Post

BBC meets Nintendo: The BBC has signed a deal with Nintendo to make its iPlayer available via Wii games consules, as new figures show that The Apprentice is the most popular show on the broadband TV catch-up service. Figures for the first three months of 2008, after the BBC relaunched the iPlayer service and backed it with a major marketing campaign over Christmas, show there were 1.1 million iPlayer users each week over the period on average. — The Guardian

The joys of the junket: All right, after 20 years of travelling overseas with prime ministers – Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard — I’ll admit the trips in the olden days were fun. Yes, they involved hard work, but they were fun. They’ve never been junkets, although there are famous – and still largely unwritten – stories of riotous behaviour as now sober and senior members of the media travelled with Gough Whitlam for weeks and, at times, didn’t file stories for days. In those days it was possible to see a great deal of the travelling prime minister, to work hard, file a story and still have time to sleep and make contact with locals and other travelling delegations as the case may be. Even the voracious electronic media and wire services had some downtime at some stage of a news production cycle or time zone. Now, the schedules are packed, there has to be carefully planned and timed access to the prime minister and officials, and television, radio, wires and print reporters have never-ending deadlines. — Dennis Shanahan, The Australian

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven’s RSPCA Animal Rescue was tops with 1.561 million, Seven News was next with 1.480 million and Today Tonight was 3rd with 1.397 million, ahead of Home and Away at 7pm with 1.346 million. Nine News was 5th with 1.238 million, Underbelly was next with 1.219 million without Melbourne, and The Real Seachange averaged 1.190 million at 8pm for Seven. A Current Affair was 8th with 1.183 million and Ten’s House repeat averaged 1.155 million at 8.30pm. The 7pm ABC News was 10th with 1.115 million, Ten’s 8pm program, Back To You averaged 1.058 million and Spicks And Specks averaged 1.052 million for the ABC at 8.30pm. The Biggest Loser was 13th for Ten at 7pm with 1.050 million; The New Inventors cracked the million mark with 1.026 million for the ABC and Nine’s awful repeat of Two And A Half Men averaged 1.015 million in 15th spot and still ended up 4th. Rules of Engagement averaged 975,000 for Ten at 7.30 pm.

The Losers: It was nasty, it was manipulative and it wasn’t good TV. How a group of adults could allow themselves and their kids to be exploited on the Nine Network’s new “reality” series, My Kids A Star, is beyond me. It averaged 878,000 and ran fourth for the hour behind Seven, Ten and the ABC. It completed a trifecta of flops this week at 7.30pm. The Power of 10 on Monday night, gone after 2 episodes, The Moment of Truth at 7.30pm Tuesday, helped Nine to third place on the night and last night’s mess. It’s rare to see three strikes in a row on three nights in the same timeslot. Not even the Seven Network could match that in its bumbling bad days. But last night’s program was the worst because the content and the adults (and the rotten judges) were so horrible and couldn’t see it. Almost as appalling was a program called Travel Oz which started on the ABC at 6pm, with veteran TV hack, Greg Grainger. How the ABC was convinced to buy this horribly unoriginal program about Australia is beyond me. Travel Oz averaged 292,000.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne; Today Tonight won everywhere bar Brisbane. The 7pm ABC News ahead of Nine News in the Sydney rankings (335,000 to 330,000) – Seven was on 378,000. Ten News At Five averaged 746,000, The Late News/Sports Tonight 380,000. The 7.30 Report averaged 975,000 and easily beat Nine’s My Kid’s A Star. Lateline averaged 203,000 and Lateline Business, 103,000. World News Australia on SBS 6.30pm 146,000, at 9.30 pm, 222,000. Dateline at 8.30pm, 211,000, Newstopia at 10pm on SBS, 185,000. Nightline on Nine with 201,000. 7am Sunrise 402,000, 7am Today, 289,000.

The Stats: Seven won 6pm to midnight with 28.4% (29.2% last Wednesday), from Nine 26.6%(28.3%), Ten with 22.9% (20.7%), the ABC with 17,1% (16,7%) and SBS with 5.0% (5.2%). Nine won Sydney thanks to Underbelly’s dominance. (It averaged 571,000 in Sydney last night, easily the biggest audience in the country). Without Underbelly in Melbourne, Nine lost to Seven. Seven also won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Seven leads the week, 28.8% to 25.5% for Nine. In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 28.7% to WIN/NBN with 28.0%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 21.%%, the ABC with 15.9% and SBS with 5.8%. In the 6pm to 10.30pm battle Fusion Strategy says Seven won with 23.30% (24.17% on the same night last year) from Nine with 22.18% (23.46%), Ten with 19.53% (17.40%), Pay TV with 15.73% (14.65%), the ABC with 15.00% (16.24%) and SBS with 4.26% (3.58%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Do you think the Nine Network might have got the message by now that with the exception of Underbelly, that its 2008 program deal, locally and internationally, has thrown up another collection of dross? Programming decisions have been duds on three nights in a row this week. Will David Gyngell have the guts to aim the boot at someone. I take back my criticism of The Chopping Block. It might have been a fake idea, badly executed, but it wasn’t as painful as having wisdom teeth extracted with a fork like watching My Kid’s A Star. Tonight it’s The Footy Shows and Gordie Ramsay. Nine will win solidly tonight because of its dominance from 8.30pm onwards. The Oasis on the ABC at 8.30pm will be worth watching. Canal Road arrives at 9.30pm next Wednesday for Nine.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports