Top Gear magazine: Wankley candidate. The first edition of Top Gear, the ACP Magazines-BBC joint venture publication, is on the stands and it’s a glossy, essentially meaningless magazine for revheads with no sense; like the TV program. They are looking to sell 80,000 copies a month when it settles down, a big ask seeing as the most popular car mag is the venerable Wheels, another ACP mag, which currently sells around 64,400 and has the advantage of being in the market a long time with good recognition. ACP and the BBC reckon there won’t be any cannibalisation of readership and the new magazine will leverage off the local version of Top Gear when it goes to air on SBS next month. Good luck. If the current unease about petrol prices and worries about climate change aren’t enough, the first edition contains a bit of magazine wankery that could win a Wankley. The first thing in the first edition is Stephen Corby’s first editor’s letter which states in part: “We have the show (Top Gear) playing on a constant loop here in the office — as a kind of Germanic ‘Through Work, Freedom’ inspirational program — and we never tire of it.” Hmmm, is that what he really wrote? Where else have I seen something similar, along the lines of “Work Sets You Free”, or in German “Arbeit Macht FreiGlenn Dyer

Mea Culpa from The Oz (not that Alan Jones is satisfied) . This apology appeared at the end of Amanda Meade’s Diary colum in The Australian  today:

LAST Thursday Diary reported Andrew Bourke’s departure from the Seven Network and that he was asked to resign by Seven executives because they blamed him for the result in the Mercedes Corby defamation case. The report was incorrect. Mr Bourke’s decision to resign from the network had been in place for some time and was unconnected with the defamation case. Diary apologises to Mr Bourke and regrets any embarrassment the report caused him.

The offending item was taken down within hours of it appearing on the Australian website a week ago, but Alan Jones still lined them up for a serve on Monday’s 2GB breakfast:

…I don’t normally do things like this, but there’s been more than a bit of kerfuffle about the Channel Seven program, Today Tonight, and the departure from it of a young man, Andrew Bourke, suggesting that Andrew Bourke has been sacked, and asked to move on because of an interview with Schapelle Corby’s enemy, Jodhi Power.

I know nothing about any of that. But I know this. Andrew Bourke worked for us here, he didn’t work for me, I think he worked for Philip Clark, but it would be several months ago at least, that Andrew Bourke spoke to me about his desire, I think his words were, to change direction, I can’t recall how many conversations we would have had, or how many times he’d spoken. When I saw that he’d left Channel Seven, I just thought that was an inevitable move, he’d spoken many times about changing direction.

Now someone’s trying to suggest that the bloke was sacked, which of course is damaging to him, and it’s simply not the truth. I come back to my old theme, we’re in pretty rough strife, when the media aren’t interested in the truth, just so long as they can get a headline, and damage someone. And of course Amanda Meade, has got a PhD in some of that sort of behaviour.

These people are absolute grubs. We might often get it wrong, when we get it wrong, we should admit we’re wrong, and if Channel Seven say he wasn’t sacked, I presume Amanda Meade will publish an apology. You reckon?

It would seem so. — Glenn Dyer

In other Alan Jones news … In the boardroom of Macquarie Radio Network this morning, Alan Jones announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would be uindergoing surgery for it in two weeks’ time. Jones, one of Australia’s highest-paid media operatives, said that he would remain on air until the eve of the operation, that his prognosis was a positive one and that he would return to broadcasting once he had fully recovered. In making his illness public, Jones hoped dispel any rumours about his health and to encourage other men to visit their doctors. “There are good things out there to look forward to … and this is a bit of an interruption and we don’t tolerate interruptions,” he said. 

Gordon and CanWest to profit from Ten share buyback. Ten said this morning that it is going to start a share buyback for the next year. That will support the company’s weak share market situation, and bring enormous benefits to its majority shareholder, CanWest Global of Canada (it will increase its control over the company) and its second biggest shareholder, WIN Corporation, controlled by billionaire, Bruce Gordon. In a statement to the ASX today the network said it was “its intention to undertake an on-market share buyback of up to approximately 10 per cent of its issued shares over the next 12 months.” Now all shareholders will benefit, but most do not have the difficult financial situations that CanWest and WIN have at the moment with their holdings in Ten and with their businesses. Bruce Gordon and WIN Corporation have just spent another $16.9 million lifting their stake in Ten from 11.9% to 13%. Most of the shares were bought after the Ten share price fell sharply in the wake of the surprise earnings downgrade for 2008 on June 13. He has been averaging down, trying to lower his effective cost by buying shares at falling prices. The buyback, if he doesn’t sell into it, will effectively boost his take over the next year by around 10%, to more than 15%. He is prevented from owning any more of 15% of Ten as that would put him and WIN in breach of the 75% rule which restricts TV operators to a total share of 75% across Australia. There’s no reason for WIN to accept the buyback as it would be tantamount to selling some shares at a loss! His company might have to revalue the Ten shares at the average buyback price, which could produce a loss, which the banks would not like. The buyback will mean the WIN and CanWest control over 70% of Ten’s shares. — Glenn Dyer

Pay TV in ratings win. The Australian Pay TV industry is trumpeting how its 100 channels were more watched in June than the five free to air networks were. The claim was given publicity in the latest edition of The Australian‘s Media section today. The curious thing about this claim is that it is true. Yes, if you measure from 6am to midnight more people watched the 100 plus channels on pay TV than the leading free to air network, which is Seven. The most important timeslot on TV is 6pm to midnight, and within that 6pm to 10.30pm. That’s called “prime time”, not dead time which is what much of the 6am to 6pm timeslots are in terms of viewer numbers and revenue. Pay TV says its 6am to midnight claim is rubbish by the way its channels are programmed: the best programs appear first between 6pm and 10.30pm Seven nights a week. Fox Sports scheduled its best NRL and AFL games in the timeslots, whenever it can. The popular series, Australia’s Next Top Model, was programmed into prime time Tuesdays, not 6am. A majority of the top 20 programs on Pay TV last week started from 5.30pm onwards. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
The Rugby League State of Origin decider had its best figures and topped the night with 2,144 million viewers. Seven News was second with 1.587 million viewers, with Today Tonight next with 1.425 million people and easily ahead of ACA. The Origin pre-match averaged 1.339 million people. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.237 million and won the timeslot completely. Seven’s Home And Away was next with 1.218 million. Nine’s repeat of Two And A Half Men averaged 1.166 million for 7th. Nine News was 8th with 1.158 million people. Spicks and Specks averaged 1.115 million at 8.30 pm for the ABC and ran second behind the League. A Current Affair was 10th with 1.088 million. The 7.30 Report was next with 1.064 million, The Gruen Transfer averaged a solid 1.058 million at 9pm against the Origin game at full bore and Ugly Betty at 7.30pm for Seven averaged a handy 1.003 million. The New Inventors on the ABC at 8pm averaged 958,000, Air Crash Investigations on Seven at 9.30pm, 906,000, Big Brother 861,000, Rules of Engagement on Ten at 7.30pm, 815,000 and Back To You at 8pm on Ten 736,000. The ABC cleaned Ten up completely last night.

The Losers: Not last night because the State of Origin was a ratings monster. Although,you could argue that Nine’s News and A Current Affair, especially in Sydney were relative failures in that their either failed to capitalise on the State of Origin, or just didn’t get any bounce from people tuning in well ahead of time. ACA’s stunt with reporter Ben Fordham chasing the MP, bombed badly: ACA only averaged 1.088 million nationally, just 22,000 in front of The 7.30 Report. The 7.30 Report with 316,000 viewers, had more viewers last night than ACA did in Sydney with 283,000. That’s an indictment of the program and the quality of its content. The 7.30 Report was up against the start of Nine’s Origin coverage which averaged a very solid 1.339 million. On that basis, The 7.30 Report was the winner last night.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market, Today Tonight won everywhere bar Brisbane. The 7pm ABC News had more viewers in Sydney than Nine. Ten News was again the Network’s best performer last night with 887,000 viewers. The late News/Sports Tonight averaged 518,000. Lateline averaged 292,000, Lateline Business, 192,000. SBS News at 6.30pm, 201,000, Dateline, 193,000, 9.30pm SBS News, 169,000. 7am Sunrise down to 335,000 on Seven, Nine’s 7am Today down to 278,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 35.0% (26.9%) from Seven with 24.6% (26.9%), the ABC with 17.9% (20.4%), Ten with 17.5% (19.7%) and SBS with 4.9% (6.1%). Nine had huge wins in Sydney (43.1% share) and Brisbane (50.4%). Seven won Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Nine leads the week 30.8% to 27.6% for Seven. In regional areas a bigger win for Nine through WIN/NBN with 45.2% from Prime/7Qld with 22.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 14.1%, the ABC with 12.8% and SBS with 5.5%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Well, there was nothing else on TV, in Sydney, Brisbane, regional NSW and Queensland last night. It’s not all of Australia, but Victoria, South Australia and WA didn’t really matter, even though Seven won three markets. The third and deciding State of Origin Rugby league match was the star of the night and for Nine and WIN (in the bush) it racked up record audiences. The 2.144 million was the biggest ever for the game and the 1.237 million was close to the best for WIN. That meant more than 3.38 million people watched the game last night across the country (332,000 watched it live in Melbourne, which is a good national Pay TV audience figure for a top NRL for AFL game). The figures do not cover the tens of thousands of other people watching the game in pubs and clubs in NSW and Qld in particular.78,751 watched the game at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, so you could say that 3.45 million people were measured as watching the actual game.The average for the three games was a record 2.11 million people, which is up 7.4% on 2007’s figure. Tonight we have the Footy Shows, Getaway, Hell’s Kitchen on Nine. Bones, How I Met Your Mother and Earl on Seven. Gil Mayo on the ABC at 8.30pm and Q&A at 9.35pm. Law and Order Criminal Intent is back at 8.30pm on Ten and SVU is at 9.30pm and poor dead Inspector Rex is exhumed once again at 8.30pm on SBS.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports