Little Kerry’s spin. Channel Seven owner Kerry Stokes is in full charm mode, with extensive interviews with the Australian Financial Review and The Australian today. The reason why we got these two interviews, (the one in the AFR was rare for the amount of detail Stokes discussed), is that the Seven owner wants to portray himself as a reasonable person to the wider investment community ahead of the WAN extraordinary general meeting next Wednesday. It’s spin and not a desire to maintain a constant flow of information about what is an important side of Stokes’ empire: the private company Australian Equity and its extensive interests here and in China. Stoke’s right hand man Peter Gemmell was present at the interviews because not only is he Stokes’ most important executive in all the businesses, but a fellow nominee for the WAN board where he will be Seven’s lead director. He’s the person Stokes will do his fighting through. — Glenn Dyer

Succession plan for Leckie? Ill Channel Seven CEO, David Leckie is expected back in the job in a “week or so” but that’s being optimistic. He will be away longer for that recovering and there’s no certainty he will be back before the middle of May. He was thinking of taking a holiday then but cancelled because he was worried about the condition of the injured finger and his health. Chief Financial Officer, Peter Lewis is acting CEO, but Seven needs someone who can make the call on programming decisions. One of the reasons why Seven has done so well in recent years was Leckie’s mixture of sales experience and programming knowledge from his time at the top of the Nine Network. No one at Seven has that experience and can revoke programming decisions by chief programmer, Tim Worner (which Leckie has done) and alter sales decisions made by sales director, James Warburton (which Leckie has done). The health of Leckie is of greater importance to Seven and Stokes than they are letting on at the moment: much more important than the investment on WAN and the results of next week’s meeting. — Glenn Dyer

Fairfax goes Bollywood: Fairfaz Media is seeking a foothold in the burgeoning Indian media sector through a stake in national English-language newspaper The Hindu, according to local reports. Weekly magazine Business India and business daily Mint said Fairfax had been in discussions with The Hindu’s owners, Kasturi & Sons. Media analysts had valued the group at 26 billion to 28 billion rupees ($700 million to $755million), Mint said. On that valuation, a 26 per cent shareholding, the maximum allowed under India’s foreign investment laws for the print media, would cost about 6.8billion to 7.3 billion rupees. — The Australian

ABC News Debate nazis: The Clinton/Obama debate tonight in Philadelphia at 8pm EST will not be broadcast on the west coast until 3-hours later. And to make this all more annoying if you’re a political wonk — junkie — where waiting a whole three hours feels like millennia because it’s the internet age and now we’re super dramatic about time delays – ABC will not allow clips of more than 30-seconds on the internet until the next day. — Fishbowl LA

Vintage logos through time: As the many e-mails now flooding our inbox attest, yes, NBC’s blocky 1975 ‘N’ logo (which proved a legal disaster as well as an aesthetic one) was indeed designed by New York firm Lippincott & Margulies (now just plain Lippincott). “That ‘N’ is such a great story,” says Dan Cooper, who in the course of defending the honor of the letter ‘Z,’ pointed to it as a single letter logo gone wrong. “And after it sucked as an ‘N,’ they went completely nuts and stuck the ‘N’ over the peacock!” What’s the only thing that could make NBC’s sordid branding history more intriguing? Disco music! — Unbeige

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
RSPCA Animal Rescue was a bit tough last night but 1.672 million people watched it. Seven News was next with 1.534 million and Today Tonight was next with 1.409 million. Home and Away was 4th with 1.304 million and The Real Seachange was 5th with 1.267 million (so from 6pm to 8.30pm Seven was the leader and that won the night). Underbelly had 1.247 million at 8.30pm without Melbourne, Spicks And Specks averaged 1.168 million for the ABC at 8.30pm and then Nine News was 8th with 1.168 million people. The 7pm ABC News was on 1.150 million and 9th spot and The Biggest Loser averaged 1.143 million viewers for 10th. A Current Affair was 11th with 1.086 million; Nine new drama, Canal Road was 12th with 1.084 million (and 355,000 in Melbourne at 8.30pm), Ten’s House repeat averaged 1.028 million and Back To You at 8pm for Ten, 1.025 million people. The ABC’s New Inventors averaged 1.024 million at 8pm and was 15th. Rules of Engagement at 7.30pm for Ten, 874,000, Numb3rs for Ten at 9.30pm, 870,000, Seven’s James Bond movie at 8.30pm, 761,000.

The Losers: Nine Network is showing a program that resembles a form of viewer abuse at 7.30pm Wednesdays called My Kids A Star. No they ain’t and the program’s a flop. 780,000 viewers last night, down 100,000 in a week. It’s worse than The Power of 10 which lasted two nights at 7.30pm on Mondays and it’s worse than the The Moment of Truth at 7.30pm Tuesdays. Why can’t Nine heed the message from the success of Animal Rescue on Seven and Bondi Rescue on Ten: that viewers like simple, well made TV programs that don’t insult their intelligence. The ABC persisted last night with the appalling Travel Oz at 6pm. it’s trite, derivative, boring and averaged 271,000 viewers last night. 

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market as did Today Tonight. The 7pm ABC News in Melbourne had more viewers than the 6pm Nine News (344,000 vs. 337,000, Seven was on 430,000). ACA was under 300,000 viewers for a second night in a row in Sydney. Ten News At Five averaged 836,000, the Late News/Sports Tonight, 405,000. The 7.30 Report, 914,000. Lateline, 218,000, Lateline Business, 128,000. Nine’s Nightline, 268,000. World News Australia, 170,000 at 6.30pm 171,000 at 9.30pm. Dateline at 8.30pm on SBS, 170,000, Newstopia at 10pm, 190,000. 7am Sunrise up to 408,000, 7am Today down to 271,000

The Stats: Seven won with a 6pm to midnight share of 28.5% (18.4%), from Nine with 26.7% (26.6%), Ten with 22.3% (22.0%), the ABC with 17.4% (17.1%) and SBS with 5.1% (5.0%). Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Nine won Sydney. Seven leads the week, 28.3% to 27.1%. In regional areas a win to Prime/7Qld with 28.8% from WIN/NBN with 28.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 21.1%, the ABC with 16.0% and SBS with 5.7%. In the 6pm to 10.30pm battle, Fusion Strategy says Seven won with 23.79% (23.31% a year ago), from Nine with 29.52% (22.97%), Ten with 19.02% (19.61%), The ABC with 15.58% (15.86%), Pay TV with 14.76% (15.20%) and SBS with 4.34% (3.04%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Canal Road started well for Nine last night but that was more due to being shown in the more watchable 8.30pm timeslot in Melbourne. That added viewers and probably pushed it over the million mark on the night. But despite that and Underbelly‘s continuing strength in Sydney, Nine lost the night and Seven surprised with a bigger win than it thought. Ten won the 16 to 39s and 18 to 49s though in 6pm to 10.30pm. Seven had more over 50 viewers, Nine won 25 to 54s. Spicks and Specks is looking a bit lonely on Wednesday nights. It’s the only highlight for the ABC and needs some support. Tonight it’s Gordon Ramsay and The Footy Shows that will do it for Nine, even though Gordie is a repeat. Seven returns That 70’s Show at 7.30pm and Lost at 9.30pm. Will anyone bar tragics notice the return of Lost? Nine has replaced The Moment of Truth at 7.30pm Tuesdays with a new season of 20 to 1, starring, Bert Newton. That’s another dead program for Nine, making two in two weeks (The Power of 10 the week before).

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports

Peter Fray

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