Gee, I’d hate to be on the wrong side of the Nine Network’s CEO, David Gyngell and his programming chief, Michael Healy. They really know how to upset people, especially people who have produced one of the network’s hits. Nine yesterday trumpeted the return of the final series of McLeod’s Daughters to Nine at 8.30pm from 23 July. That sounds OK, nice timeslot. Good start date. Everything hunky dory!

Far from it. The timeslot and start date tell us everything about Gyngell and Healy. They have set it up to do poorly.

McLeod’s is a 7.30pm program, produced for a general audience, not an 8.30pm audience. There’s no swearing, no adult themes, no “F” words a la Underbelly or Gordon Ramsay. It’s a female orientated program with general themes. It has worked in the 7.30pm Thursday or Wednesday timeslot since it started eight years ago. But starting it at 8.30pm, and not 7.30pm, on Wednesdays means it will be running up against ABC ratings successes: Spicks and Specks at 8.30pm and The Gruen Transfer, and then eps of The Hollowmen.

These programs skew to younger viewers, with a solid female level of interest. That means McLeod’s will be left with an older, more male audience at 8.30pm. With Ten bringing fresh eps of House back into 8.30pm Wednesdays from around late September, its likely McLeod’s will run third or 4th in the slot.

That’s if McLeod’s makes it through the Olympics, which start on 8 August. McLeod’s is running through the games, where it will be chewed up. Even the ABC, which isn’t supposed to be worried about ratings, will be holding over the 6th and final ep of the first series of The Hollowmen for the games.

Nine’s treatment of McLeod’s has been noted by other producers who can’t understand why the network would so willingly burn off a proven ratings winning program.

Running it at 7.30pm Mondays as a lead-in to The Farmer Wants A Wife at 8.30pm on Nine would make more sense. Seven has Border Security and Surf Patrol, but McLeod’s would make a point of difference to these programs and to Australian Idol in the same slot when Ten starts it after the games.

Nine has done well with a scattergun approach this year, but now it’s getting down to the nitty gritty of finishing the year on a high and it’s blinking. Perhaps the lure of the bonus for finishing Number One in All people is proving too much.

Meanwhile, word from Europe is that CVC will not be able to raise more debt later this year or in the early months of 2009 to “recapitalise” PBL Media. It’s a way private equity has of raising fresh money to repay investors in a private equity buyout, before the flip back to the market.

The Financial Times says not one private equity recap deal was done in the first half of the year in Europe, which is where CVC gets its money from for deals like PBL Media.

Maybe the performance bonuses at Nine might be some time in being paid.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.