It ain’t over til the celebrity spins. You know a light entertainment TV show is in trouble when they go for the “Celebrity” special. It’s a fallback staple of tired programmers and one step away from ‘resting’ a program if ratings don’t perk up. So it probably comes as no surprise to learn that the Nine Network’s expensive flop, Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune at 5.30pm Monday to Fridays is going down the celebrity special route next week. All the usual suspects have been rounded up. Bert, Kerri-Anne, Rachel, Denise Drysdale, Dawn Fraser, John Wood and a host of other “names” have been herded up to appear. A sign of Nine’s desperation is the call up for poor Livinia Nixon, the sidekick from Temptation, which David Gyngell killed off two weeks ago. This is how the Nine Network press release gushed yesterday: “The special celebrity week is guaranteed to provide lots of laughs and fun. With the huge cash jackpot available every night, celebrity contestants will be doing all they can to collect as much cash as possible for their chosen charity.” The charity involvement is the only way the networks (and they all do it) can justify the crudely cynical attempt for force viewers to watch a program they have ignored since its introduction a month ago. It’s a dud and this celebrity special proves it. Nine shouldn’t have killed off Temptation: it’s family friendly and could have been dropped into the 5.30pm slot. Anything to get people to watch and help the faltering Nine News, especially in Sydney and Brisbane. — Glenn Dyer

Yesterday we had a dig at Fairfax over the subtle differences between its print and online products.

  We based our mock up (above) on the “top five” Age online stories yesterday morning. At 11am this morning they were still the top five  Age yarns according to the Sydney Morning Herald on-line (below), but not according to the The Age on line (below, below), where things had suddenly gone all serious. What gives? A sense of mischief in the Sydney newsroom perhaps?  


Who do you trust? As surveys go, the Reader’s Digest Trust Survey is close to the dopiest survey we have seen. Much has been made about The Wiggles out-rating the Prime Minister. Guess what, it happened last year. Kev Rudd might be Number 62, but John Howard was number 86 last year. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was the most-trusted politician, rating 62nd on the list of 100 people, 11 places higher than last year. This compared with Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, rated 93rd. And, while Rudd has a bullet next to his name, the Wiggles are fading, a touch down from Number 3 in 2007 to Number 5 this year. “Australians trust the Wiggles and Princess Mary but are sceptical of politicians such as Brendan Nelson and Tony Abbott who scrape in just ahead of disgraced businessman Rodney Adler in a list of the nation’s most trustworthy people.” Well, gee. And guess what, not a sporting person in the top 10. So much for all the preoccupation of the country’s news media on the achievements and the antics of sports people, especially the News Ltd tabloids as they search for meaning in an internet world. But perhaps the whole survey is a bit lightweight. After all, the Reader’s Digest Trust Survey only asked 750 people who they would enlist to mind the house, pack a parachute and back them in a pub fight. Hardly rocket science, but the absence of sporting people (quite often featured in pub and bar brawls and altercations) is a positive. — Glenn Dyer

WIN cuts ACA . WIN Corporation has effectively rejected the Nine Network’s fading A Current Affair and will move to match the Seven Network in localising the production of the 6.30pm program in Adelaide and Perth. The move increases the split in the Nine Network which is in name only after WIN bought Adelaide and Perth last year and fought off Nine’s then owner, PBL to get hold of Perth. Nine boss, David Gyngell, has made no secret that he is concentrating on the CVC owned PBL Media stations in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, plus the NBN regional operation in country NSW and the southwest of Queensland. But the move by WIN to localise production takes the split even further and follows the regular drubbing administered to ACA but Seven’s Today Tonight. TT has a local producer and production staff in both cities and in The Australian‘s Media section today WIN advertised for reporters, producers, camera people and editors for the Adelaide and Perth editions, and a presenter for Adelaide. The move comes as ACA host Tracy Grimshaw has moved back to live in Melbourne. WIN was having itself on in saying in the ad “Australia’s best current affairs program is about to get better”. in ratings terms TT is streets ahead of ACA and when it comes to questions of what’s best in terms of “quality” there’s no way of separating what are two low rent down market consumer driven programs that aim to entertain before they inform. The move will lower the affiliation fees WIN pays to PBL Media: it will have to pay for the use of the A Current Affair name and for any content it takes, but seeing it will be localising its coverage and generating its own content, the payment could be a two way thing. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven News averaged 1.618 million with Today Tonight next with 1.443 million. Search and Rescue was 3rd for Nine at 8pm with 1.361 million and Spicks and Specks on the ABC at 8.30pm averaged 1.321 million viewers. The 7pm ABC news was 5th with 1.304 million and well ahead of Nine News with 1.253 million. Nine’s 7.30 program, Fire 000 was 7th with 1.253 million and The Gruen Transfer averaged 1.204 million at 9pm for the ABC. Home And Away averaged 1.189 million at 7pm for Seven, just in front of the Two and a half Men repeat on Nine with 1.171 million. A Current Affair averaged 1.102 million, just in front of the 7.30 Report with 1.090 million. Cold Case on Nine averaged 1.070 million, The New Inventors on the ABC at 8pm, 1.059 million and Ugly Betty was 15th for Seven at 7.30pm and 1.040 million viewers. Missing Persons Unit averaged 885,000 for Nine at 9.30 pm and Ten’s repeat of House at 8.30 pm averaged 910,000. Ten had no programs in the million viewer club last night, the ABC had five.

The Losers: Ten, sorry to say, again. Big Brother at 7pm, 790,000 viewers. That’s poor, but how poor? Well, The Cook And The Chef, a gentle food program on the ABC at 6.30pm had 2,000 more viewers with 792,000. Its not much, but its a sign of what is currently working for Australian TV viewers, just as in commercial radio, nasty is out and so is the fake competition of game shows. The ABC understands this more than Ten or Nine does: Seven has understood it for a while, Australia’s Got Talent is working for the same reason and so is the Network’s new choir show. And so is Domestic Blitz on Nine on Sundays at 6.30pm. It’s why Gordon Ramsay is fading in popularity on Nine. Rules of Engagement on Ten at 7.30pm, 760,000, Back To You on Ten at 8pm, 757,000. Looking at last night’s episode of that program, its easy to understand why died in the US.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market as did Today Tonight. The ABC 7pm News finished second in both Sydney and Melbourne last night ahead of Nine. Ten News averaged 864,000, the late News/Sports Tonight, 383,000. Nine’s Nightline, 242,000. The ABC’s Lateline averaged 253,000 and Lateline Business, 132,000. SBS News at 6.30pm, 205,000, Dateline, 225,000 and the Late News, 205,000. And in a fascinating development, Seven’s 7am Sunrise has fallen to within 37,000 viewers of Nine’s Today. Sunrise averaged 324,000 yesterday from 7am to 9 am, Today, 287. Sunrise was 44th in the rankings, Today, 49. So close and yet so far… Sunrise won Sydney and Brisbane, Today won Melbourne.

The Stats: Nine and Seven drew the 6pm to midnight All People battle with 26.9% each (last Wednesday night it was the second state of Origin so the comparisons are meaningless). The ABC was second with 21.5% and Ten third with 19.1% and SBS next with 5.6%. Nine won Sydney and Melbourne, Seven won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. the ABC drew viewers from both Seven and Ten last night, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Seven leads the week 28.6% to 27.3% for Nine.In regional areas a different result with WIN/NBN winning for Nine with 29.3% from Prime/7Qld with 26.2%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.5%, the ABC with 19.3% and SBS with 5.7%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A big night again for the ABC between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. It pushed Ten into third spot for the third night this week.Ten boasted it won the 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 groups, its key demos and it did, compared to Nine and Seven. But the viewers in these two demos and 25 to 54s were watching the ABC between 8.30pm for Spicks and Specks and 9pm for The Gruen Transfer. A look at the various demo lists issued with the ratings showed both programs in the top three for all but the Over 55’s. The commercial networks will say good thing because at least they weren’t watching the competition: the advertisers on those networks looking for exposure to those demos will say “bad thing” aren’t they supposed to be watching the richer and smarter commercial networks? Ten’s audience loss last night was noticeable. Foxtel crept to within 50,000 viewers of beating Ten between 6 pm and 10.30 pm last night. Tonight: Will viewers tune into the NRL Footy Show for an apology from Paul Vautin? Will viewers tune into the AFL Footy Show to see if Sam Newman or Eddie McGuire are raised from their beds? People will watch Getaway for some genuine entertainment, but fewer will watch the fading swearathon with Gordie Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen at 8.30pm. Will viewers remember that My Name Is Earl is at 8pm, after How I Met Your Mother on Seven. Ten has a fresh ep of Futurama at 7.30pm and the usual repeat at 8pm. The its Law And Order SVU up against Seven’s Bones and the Gil Mayo Mysteries on the ABC at 8.30pm, followed by Tony Jones Q&A at 9.30pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports

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