THISafternoon gets the boot. The Nine Network has canned its quasi-news program, THISafternoon from today; within three weeks of it starting weekdays at 4.30pm.

It’s a humiliating back down for the network and its new News boss, Mark Calvert, who championed the program and the hosts, Andrew Dado, Katrina Blowers and Mark Ferguson, who resigned at the end of the program first week to go to Seven in October. Andrew Daddo left ABC local Radio in Sydney for this gig. He had been the Monday to Friday evening host.

The last program yesterday averaged a low 219,000 from 4.30pm and was easily beaten by programs on Seven’s 4.30pm News and MASH and Ten’s The Bold and the Beautiful and the first half hour of the Ten News. It started at 321,000 12 days ago and sank straight away.

In the statement issued late this morning Nine Network Director of News, Mark Calvert said:

While this is regrettable, our attitude is that it is better to have given it a shot. In the short time it was on air the team worked hard, but it was clear the program was struggling to attract a sizeable audience. It is vital that we recognise this and act swiftly.

From today, Nine will broadcast a half-hour news bulletin at 4.30pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow at 5.00pm. Millionaire Hot Seat continues its successful run at 5.30pm.

Nine will be talking to the THISafternoon team in the comings days about redeployment across the network’s extensive news and current affairs programming.

Our absolute focus remains on placing news and current affairs at the very heart of the network and its resurgence.

So its back to the future for Nine. Tens of thousands of dollars wasted on a ill-thought out program, careers truncated by the lure of Nine’s loot and the ambitions of people who couldn’t organise a chook raffle. Blind Freddy could have told Nine and Calvert the program wouldn’t work. After all, Live At Five died after being called dead At Six and the Extra programs it became died, except in Brisbane where it lasted until Calvert killed it to accommodate THISafternoon.

Nine has given up valuable revenues to THISafternoon and wasted the money that was being earned from 5pm to 6pm by boosting the costs of the programming from 4.30pm to 6pm: all for nothing. It sounds so much like situation normal at Nine under David Gyngell: just more of CVC’s money to be wasted, but don’t worry, there’s more to be spent. — Glenn Dyer

Albrechtsen takes a swipe at Rudd and religion. Planet Janet Albrechtsen has a fairly lacklustre attack on the Ruddster and religion in today’s Oz, asserting that German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer — whom Rudd rates as a hero — would be shocked shocked at St Kevin’s use of religion for photo ops, etc. Anyone’s who’s read Bonhoeffer would know that Planet doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about — Dietrich B (who wrote in prison that “increasingly I find myself drawn to atheists rather than the overtly religious”) would be amused but hardly shocked at Rudd’s Popish photo ops. Bonhoeffer, after all, was more interested in the real than the symbolic, giving the Nazi salute in public right up to the moment when he was arrested.

What he’d find harder to stomach is professed Christians such as Peter Costello and Tony Abbott supporting a regime that appealed to the public based on the efficiency and thoroughness of its cruelty to refugee detainees. Bonhoeffer was, after all, a people smuggler, helping Jews escape to Switzerland. Such people were condemned by the Swiss after 1943, when a crackdown on such entries occurred. The slogan used by the Swiss? “Our lifeboat is full.” That ring any notes in your belfry, Planet? — Kim Serca

New Corp. brings out the knife for Star TV. News Corp’s cost cutting and job shedding continues, with the US head office planning to put the cleaners through the Star Satellite Pay TV business spanning Asia.

Reports in US trade papers suggest that the changes will be driven by the senior management of Fox, not Star. In effect Star’s operations will be brought under the aegis of Fox International Channels (FIC) boss David Haslingden and News Corp.’s European and Asian boss James Murdoch, who ran Star five years ago. The reports say the dynamic duo plan to eliminate overlap between Star and FIC, which have been competing for viewers, advertising and overhead funds.

Star packages 60 regional and national channels in 13 Asian languages and claims to broadcast to 53 Asian countries. Beyond Hong Kong, it has offices in India, Taiwan, mainland China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the U.S. and the UK. For years it was Rupert Murdoch’s chosen route to expand throughout Asia, especially China.

FIC distributes global branded channels including National Geographic and History Channel as well as smaller networks FX, Fox Crime and Fox Life. Now, the reports say the chief operating officer of Star, Laureen Ong, who was appointed two years ago, has been sidelined.

The reports say her job will be axed, along with others throughout the Star empire as Fox executives assert control. In March, News Corp. combined its US film and television production operations into one unit (As NBC has done). “By removing barriers between businesses, this restructuring will enable us to better share ideas and resources,” Rupert Murdoch said at the time.

The reports say the changes could see management of national channels devolved to smaller structures in their various markets, such as India and China being split from Star management and told to focus exclusively on those markets.

“Management of regional English-language channels may be integrated with that of FIC, with oversight of Star Movies and Star World likely to be the thorniest issues. Fox Movies, which FIC handles in some territories, is not distributed in most of Star’s region.”

The changes seem to be driven by reports of a downturn in the finances at Star in the year to June. — Glenn Dyer

The Herald Sun‘s headline fun. Here’s a collection of this week’s front pages of the Herald Sun. What’s next? Suffer in your jocks?

Cambodia: Prime Minister Hun Sen launches harshest crackdown in years. On July 10, Dam Sith, the owner of Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), one of Cambodia’s oldest and most influential opposition papers, closed the newspaper to avoid criminal prosecution for criticism of government officials. The coerced closure of the paper was prompted by a battery of defamation, disinformation, and incitement suits filed by the government against the newspaper’s editor, Dam Sith, a member of the board of directors of the Sam Rainsy Party. After Sith pledged to close the paper in a letter of apology to Hun Sen on July 8, the charges were reportedly dropped. — Human Rights Watch

Media frenzy appoints teenage digital guru. Yesterday the world was abuzz with the news that the most overhyped online tool — Twitter — was regarded by one 15 year old from London as for old people. Matthew Robson, work experience kid at Morgan Stanley, wrote a report entitled How Teenagers Consume Media explaining his views on the universe.

Today the global media have weighed in on whether the thoughts of a school aged gaming nerd should really be taking the digital world by storm. The Guardian say it’s not really news that teenagers don’t use Twitter and report that bloggosphere “take Morgan Stanley and the media to task for mistaking anecdotes from a 15-year-old for hard data”. In the US Mediaite reflect on how weird the British are about mobile phones. Meanwhile the Independent thinks asking a teenager what teenagers think is revolutionary and at home news.com point out that Twitter may be more adult because adults can afford it. — Eleri Harris

Chasing terrorists (and TV ratings). A production company thinks it has found a dramatic new television format for the so-called age of terror: conducting international manhunts for suspected terrorists and war criminals, filming them and selling the finished product to television networks around the world. Its first bidder is NBC News. In just under a week NBC is expected to introduce the series, The Wanted, which has already attracted criticism because of the collaboration between the journalists and the former government operatives they work with. — New York Times

Spanish court drops charges against US soldiers in cameraman’s death. A Spanish court has thrown out charges against three US soldiers in the death of a Spanish journalist in Iraq and recommends the case be closed. The National Court said Tuesday investigative magistrate Santiago Pedraz has produced no new evidence to indicate that the soldiers had acted incorrectly, given that they were in a war situation. The soldiers, members of a tank crew, said they were responding to hostile fire when they shot at a Baghdad hotel housing Western journalists during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Spanish cameraman Jose Couso was one of two journalists killed in the shooting. — Editor and Publisher

Viewers will pay for online video. Despite all the optimism surrounding the potential for free, advertising-supported online video, some analysts see a far more lucrative market for selling video content online — one that will materialize this year in fact, despite the rocky economic picture. According to a new report issued by Strategy Analytics, consumers may be far more willing to open their wallets to purchase video content on the Web — much like they do with music — than many once believed. They forecast that globally, consumer spending on online video content will reach $3.8 billion in 2009 in spite of the deep, worldwide recession. — MediaWeek

Marshall Loeb: recalling 60 years of sea change in history and journalism. Sixty years ago this very day, I was taking my first trip to Europe, crossing the stormy Atlantic on a World War II troopship named the Marine Tiger, which had been converted to carry American college students back and forth over the ocean to pursue volunteer projects in rebuilding the war-torn continent. The whole experience of being thrown together with young folks from all over the United States helped confirm my hope to become a journalist, and to spend my life telling people about other people. Now my editors have asked me to select the most important and interesting stories that I have covered in these past six decades, and tell you something more about them. — Market Watch