Some honesty on the Nine Network’s associate, NineMSN yesterday afternoon. Nine Network’s new renovation show HomeMADE may not be around for long after a less than impressive debut. The TV program launched on Sunday with a 1.02 million viewers, failing to capitalise on a strong lead in from Nine’s news which had almost 1.5 million viewers. It was decisively beaten in its timeslot by the UK drama Merlin on Network Ten and the Seven Network’s current affairs show Sunday Night, which both scored around the 1.3 million mark.

The largest audiences for HomeMADE came in Melbourne where 329,000 tuned in, while only 286,000 Sydneysiders watched. TV expert Vincent O’Donnell from Melbourne’s RMIT University said if the show’s ratings didn’t grow it could be cut. It’ll stay around for two or three weeks if its ratings don’t pick up it’ll be moved,” Dr O’Donnell told AAP on Monday. O’Donnell said he believed the show failed to connect with audiences because the designers weren’t easy to relate to.

“This program is in fact offering nothing that previous programs offered,” O’Donnell said. “In previous programs we really got engaged with the people who did the work. In this case we’ve been asked to engage with the designers who supervise, and I think collectively they don’t represent sympathetic characters.” — AAP

Actors and orange banners: Evening Standard relaunch. The London Evening Standard relaunched yesterday in the wake of it’s mixed apology campaign last week, and so far commentators are unimpressed with the new look.

The Guardian‘s Stephen Brook said, “at first glance of the front page, the Standard has sacrificed its greatest asset in the freesheet war — its unrivalled authority — for a car crash of colours: orange tags, white-on-red pugs and a cheap-looking dark cyan puff box with yellow lures”.

PaidContent reviewed the new online look and were underwhelmed, “Last week the Evening Standard promised us some ‘significant, innovative’ changes on What do we get? A new logo, a spring cleaned homepage, a mobile site and a new Twitterfeed.”

Former Standard editor Veronica Wadley took the opportunity to deliver a spray about the new editor saying “As for Geordie Greig, well, Etonians have a history of collaborating with the KGB.” — Eleri Harris

Media people don’t show up to correspondents dinner. The 2009 White House Correspondents Dinner was clearly attended by lots of cool people, but oddly enough only one correspondent. At least that what it looks like in the pictures. These are the people in The Australian‘s photo gallery:

Political folk: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Alaskan first dude Todd Palin.

From the gossip column: Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, comedian Wanda Skyes, George Lucas, Kyle McLaughlin, Christian Slater, Sting, Sting’s wife Trudie Styler, Alicia Keys, Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, TV personality Alexandra Wentworth, Tyra Banks, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Kevin Bacon and his wife Kyra Sedgewick.

Randoms: Pirate hero Captain Richard Phillips and his wife Andrea, Ariel Investments’ Mellody Hobson… and fashion designer Donatella Versace.

The one journalist on show? CNN correspondent Greta Van Susteren.

Skye Leckie’s 50th birthday is news, why? David Leckie has never looked so youthful! Any wonder News Limited has declining sales when the breathless report of an ageing socialite recapturing her youth gets a run in a metro daily.

Journalists held hostage until budget message is spun. One of journalism’s great traditions should, if common sense prevails, end this week in Canberra, with the last hurrah of the great anachronism that is the annual federal budget lock-up. This ambition won’t come as a surprise to Wayne Swan, who has, like most past custodians of the grand theatre that is the budget, chosen to try to preserve an archaic practice despite years of lobbying by publishers to end it. To describe the road trip undertaken by hundreds of my colleagues each May as a waste of time is frankly an artful understatement of its true nature. — The Australian

Iran frees US journalist Roxana Saberi. An Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years in prison by Iran on spying charges has been freed, according to her lawyer. Roxana Saberi was released today after her sentence was reduced to a two-year suspended term by an Iranian court, her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, told the Guardian. She had been banned from reporting in Iran for five years, Khorramshahi said. The jailing of Saberi — a freelance who has worked for the BBC — heightened tensions between America and Iran at a time when the US president, Barack Obama, has been seeking better relations. She was convicted last month after a one-day trial behind closed doors. — The Guardian

Goodbye advertising. With the economic downturn beginning to sink its teeth into Australian agencies and their clients, the gap between expectations and delivery of advertising work appears to be edging ever wider. Several large agency groups have been quietly letting people go, while the executive team of STW Group have taken a 10% pay cut and shifted to a nine-day fortnight in response to a weakening market. While clients who are also suffering remain supportive of their agencies, some are questioning how much they can reasonably ask of their agencies at a time of cut-backs. — B & T

Google TV? Even Google is seeing the limits of search ads and YouTube. The search giant is placing its first TV ad — to promote its new web browser Chrome. The ads will go out across the Google TV Ads system, meaning on cable systems and networks that allow Google to sell some of their inventory, such as Echostar’s Dish Network and NBC Universal cable networks like CNBC, Sleuth and Chiller. Unlike many advertisers, for whom running a TV ad campaign generally signals a major push, this is a relatively low-risk venture for Google: It has easy access to Google TV Ads and inventory is generally inexpensive, plus Google already had the creative in the can. — Advertising Age

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey