Satin watch. When it comes to satin, Sky News is the original and the best. Take this showing yesterday, an exemplary blues performance.

There’s been much tortured discussion in the Crikey office of precisely what blue it was. Royal? No. Peacock? Not quite. Electric? If only. In the end, we think we found the answer: sapphire blue. This morning, Leila McKinnon decided that she’d wear the same shirt but in a slightly different hue. Here she is on Channel Nine playing her own Rhapsody in (Midnight) Blue. — Jane Nethercote

Nice alcopop placement. On page 9 of today’s Herald Sun, there was the story: ” Alcopops a fizzer: Tax rise forces slump in mixed drink sales”. And on the preceding page? As if to reinforce the point, a full-page ad for alcopops at bargain prices. The Hez reported that “some supermarkets are reportedly selling slabs of Jim Beam-and-cola cans for as much as $90.” Not at alcoretailer BWS apparently. Ah, the power of a media-induced panic sale.

A 3AW listener phoned in with the interesting juxtaposition.

WA Today name of new Fairfax online venture? Fairfax have remained very tight lipped about any plans they may have for a Perth publication… The launch of the mysterious venture, presumably a competitor to WAN’s The West and News Ltd’s Perth Now, has been tipped for June. So why is it that when you log in to the Fairfax’s Trading Room site the mysterious WA Today flashes up very briefly?

Covering the local market Any newspaper looking at developing a history of their local market (one of the suggestions of Newspapers Next) should go here. This project on the history of Las Vegas goes far beyond repackaging archives. It includes panoramas, videos of implosions, interactive casino development maps, podcasts, and features on local “personalities”. In addition, the home page captures a ton of non-casino events, including the diversion of the Colorado River and the Nevada Proving Grounds bomb tests. —  Newspaper Association of America

Washington Post’s search for an ed The executive editorship of the Washington Post has been put into play by the paper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth, who, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times, has talked to a cluster of possible candidates and others about who should succeed Leonard Downie Jr… Just two people, Bradlee and Downie, have led the Post‘s editorial side during the past 43 years, the Times notes, and this has made the institution more insular and plodding than newspapers that change top editors frequent. Point of reference: The New York Times has had five executive editors in just the last 20 years . — Jack Shafer, Slate

Melbourne and Adelaide love Ramsay. Just why Gordon Ramsay is popular in Australia can now be explained: he’s actually very popular in Melbourne and Adelaide, the two cities that claim to the be the food and wine capitals of Australia. Specifically, he’s much more popular with younger viewers in the 16 to 39, 25 to 39, 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 age groups, which are the prime sources for dining out, but is ignored by the over 55’s who are another group that eats out regularly, but isn’t as adventurous. Last night’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares averaged 1.223 million nationally from 8.30pm. In Sydney the program finished 10th and in Melbourne it was third. Both cities have roughly comparable sized viewing markets. In Brisbane,  Ramsay finished well down, around 18th while in Adelaide he finished sixth and in Perth, ninth. — Glenn Dyer

Times are getting tough for Foxtel. Not only does Foxtel face an uncertain regulatory outlook with news on the front page of the Australian Financial Review of possible future changes in regulations controlling its operations, but those ungrateful banks won’t give it more money. According to the AFR:

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy outlined the possible changes in the AFR story which also include no change to the anti-siphoning list for sport, except to make it tougher to make sure Foxtel and its Pay TV mates and owners don’t snap up some sport rights through the backdoor. Regulation of Australian content, forcing higher levels on Foxtel, were mentioned, as was the abandonment of the digital channels (so-called A and B).

And this morning Cons Media told the ASX that Foxtel will be deferring its refinancing to finance a distribution to its shareholders.

Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (ASX: CMJ) announced today it has been advised by the Board of Foxtel Management Pty Limited (FOXTEL) that, due to less favourable credit market conditions, FOXTEL will be deferring the debt refinancing under the guideline adopted by the FOXTEL Board and disclosed to the market in the PBL Scheme Booklet (at section 9.3.1).

This means that FOXTEL will not be refinancing its debt to maintain a debt to EBITDA ratio of approximately three times in the short term but will review as credit markets improve. Notwithstanding the above, FOXTEL has confirmed it will draw down to the limit of its existing debt facility and distribute this amount to its shareholders. As a 25 percent shareholder, CMJ will receive a distribution of $25 million in July 2008.

Separately, FOXTEL will continue to distribute its free cash flow from operations to its shareholders.”

In it’s interim profit statement earlier this year, Cons Media said:

CMH received a distribution of $50 million from FOXTEL in September 2007. CMH will receive a further interim distribution from FOXTEL of $15 million in March 2008.

The Cons Media statement is unclear as to whether the $15 million was received in march: that would have been $60 million all told to Telstra ($30 million), News ($15 million) and Cons Media ($15 million).

The commitment to $25 million means that Foxtel will payout $100 million to its three shareholders in July from Foxtel using its existing credit lines, and sending its fresh cash to the shareholders.

In other words Foxtel will be run very tightly for “cash” as the analysts say and not for growth. It’s the same story at rival Austar, which though got the thumbs up from its bankers for another capital return this year. That must be a bit galling for Foxtel: given the status of its shareholders not to be offered a good deal by its bankers, while the less highly rated Austar gets the greenlight from its bankers. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent improved to average 1.603 million last night at 7.30pm to 8.30pm, while Seven News was second with 1.491 million. Ten’s fresh NCIS ep was 3rd with 1.459 million. 4th was Today Tonight with 1.350 million and the 7pm ABC news was a strong 5th with 1.317 million and well ahead of Nine News with 1.272 million. Seven’s All Saints was 7th with 1.268 million, Home And Away did better with 1.268 million and reclaimed the top spot in the commercial network battle at 7pm, while Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares averaged 1.223 million at 8.30pm for Nine. A Current Affair averaged 1.219 million for 10th overall and Two And A Half Men’s repeat on Nine at 7pm averaged 1.198 million. Ten’s repeat of NCIS at 9.30pm averaged 1.143 million and the new Simpsons episode at 7.30pm averaged 1.140 million, while the repeat at 8pm averaging 1.061 million. Nine’s 7.30pm program, 20 to 1 averaged a weak 1.053 million for 15th spot and 16th was The 7.30 Report with a strong 1.061 million (which was considerably better than a week before with the budget and it again beat Big Brother!). Ladette to Lady on Nine at 9.30pm, 910,000. Neighbours on Ten solid with 951,000.

The Losers: Big Brother: 873,000. Beaten by the ABC News at 7pm. 20 to 1 on Nine: not so much a loser with 1.053 million but a distant third beaten by a new and old Simpsons and with The 7.30 Report within a few thousand in that first half hour. It was a tired episode last night.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne, as did Today Tonight which lost Brisbane as well to ACA. The 7pm ABC News again finished second in Sydney behind Seven and in Melbourne, behind Nine. Ten News averaged 846,000, the late News/Sports Tonight with 482,000. Lateline averaged 214,000, Lateline Business, 127,000. Nine’s Nightline averaged 140,000. SBS News at 6.30pm, 160,000, Insight at 7.30pm, 290,000, the late SBS News, 132,000. 7am Sunrise up to 391,000, 7am Today, down to 282,000.

The Stats: Seven won the 6pm to midnight all people battle with 28.6% (28.1%) from Nine with 25.8% (27.2%), just in front of Seven with 25.6% (24.9%), the ABC with 15.4% (15.1%) and SBS with 4.5% (4.8%). Seven won Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and Adelaide. Nine leads the week with 28.5% from 27.3% for Seven. In regional areas a win for Prime/7Qld with 32.5% from WIN/NBN with 25.0%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 24.2%, the ABC with 12.9% and SBS with 5.5%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Well, an odd night in some respects. Seven won, but Nine’s Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares finished down the track a little last night, beaten by All Saints, but did well for nine in the younger demos and in Melbourne and Adelaide. Big Brother was perhaps the big blot from last night as 16 programs topped the million viewer mark. Choice always works. Audiences were OK for most programs as well. Seven did well, Ten did well and Nine sort of hung in there thanks to Ramsay. Tonight there’s only one thing to watch: the  State of Origin rugby league on Nine, but if you are a non-believer, or come from the deep south where the sleeves are short and the shorts tight, then Spicks And Specks on the ABC at 8.30pm and Seven’s Abba special, not to mention Carson Kressley returning to the BB house for a second time; a display of stunning irrelevance and one which raises the question for Ten: who cares?

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports