Today, the sun rises at Nine. Well, it had to happen. For over a year now Nine’s Today show has been slowly closing the gap on Seven’s Sunrise. It nipped past over Easter, but that’s a low viewing period. So yesterday morning’s win (with low figures for both — Today had 347,000 viewers, Sunrise had 340,000), was both a surprise, and almost inevitable. Crikey has been tracking the gap closing in that time.

Sunrise won Sydney, but Today won Melbourne and Brisbane. Sunrise won Perth and Adelaide. The pressure is now on Seven to revitalise Sunrise. Nine will take great heart from this, David Gyngell will boast, but Nine’s overall share is falling in prime time and the news in Sydney has gone backwards this week. — Glenn Dyer

Australians clueless on asylum seekers. Amnesty International (Australia) commissioned Nielsen to survey attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees — the survey was conducted nationally from 15 to 19 July 2009 with 1,000 respondents aged 18 and over. According to Amnesty, “respondents were asked a series of questions about asylum seeker policy, some of which tested knowledge while others sought opinions.”

Respondents were told that asylum seekers arrive in Australia by both boat and plane and were asked to indicate the proportion of asylum seekers arriving by boat. One respondent out of the 1000 surveyed gave the correct answer of 4%.

Here are the numbers, crunched.

  • Perception: on average people believe 60% of asylum seekers arrive by boat, 30% believe that 80% or more arrive by boat.
  • Reality: In 2008 the figure was just under 3.4%, with the remaining 96.6% arriving by plane. In 2008, the last year for which complete figures are available from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 161 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by boat. 4589 arrived by plane.
  • Perception: 69% say asylum seekers arriving by boat should have the same legal protections as asylum seekers arriving by plane.
  • Reality: According to Amnesty, “These individuals have access to fewer legal protections than those who have their claims processed on the Australian mainland. Their claims are processed according to Department of Immigration guidelines which are administrative, rather than legal, in status and completely separate from the framework used in all other visa assessment matters. Individuals processed on Christmas Island are not, for example, given access to an independent and impartial merits review process before the Refugee Review Tribunal.”
  • Perception: 31% believe it costs more to process asylum seeker claims on Christmas Island than on the Australian mainland; of those who believe it costs more 51% say the additional cost is not justified.
  • Reality: According to Amnesty, “…it is difficult to put an exact figure on the running costs of the facility and cost comparisons for individual cases because it is broken down into a range of different budgets both across Department of Immigration and Citizenship and border security more generally. We do not have an exact comparison figure, however in order to process the claims of asylum seekers on Christmas Island a significant number of additional costs are incurred. For example, direct costs of flying lawyers and translators to the island to act in specific cases and also the broader Department of Immigration and Citizenship costs of servicing and staffing their operations on the island.”

— Sophie Black

How very conventional, how very ABC. The ABC said today that on next week’s Q&A Deputy PM Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull “will face a panel and live studio audience Australians aged between 16 and 25 years old.”

Also joining host Tony Jones on the panel will be:

Sara Haghdoosti, a 22-year-old Iranian-Australian, feminist, Muslim, student activist. Currently studying Economics and Social Sciences at Sydney University, Sara works for the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition. She was one of the top ten youth delegates for Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Summit.

Mitch Grady, a 20-year-old law student at Queensland University, debating champion, who is active in the Queensland Young Liberals and works for Fairfax Digital in Brisbane. Mitch was the Queensland representative for the United Nations Youth Conference 2005.

Linden Brownley, a 23-year-old Indigenous law student from Perth. Involved in youth leadership activities since his teens, Linden was invited to the Obama inauguration as a future leader and has ambitions of working at the UN and at some stage entering politics.

So, no-one under the age of 20, no-one from a Tafe course, or someone working post-University, or someone without a degree, or an ordinary blue collar employee, semi-skilled or even an unmarried mother. The ABC talks a lot about youth unemployment but it seems they are difficult to find to appear on panels like this. The idea that this trio of ambitious students in their 20ss could speak for ALL 16 to 25ss is a bit far-fetched. Aren’t Tony Jones and the ABC comfortable speaking to the “uneducated” youth of Australia? — Glenn Dyer

Canwest delays as much as it can. Like sand in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives for Canwest, the most indebted media group currently known to mankind. Sometimes it seems it’s a battle between Canwest and Independent News And Media as to who can get the most extensions. Canwest leads, but INM seems to be doing well and showing no sign of flagging in its efforts to wriggle free of its debts and its responsibilities.

Canwest issued this statement on July 17, its previous deadline:

Canwest Global Communications Corp. announced today that its subsidiary, Canwest Media Inc. (“CMI”), is continuing discussions with the members of an ad hoc committee (the “Ad Hoc Committee”) of 8% noteholders of CMI regarding a recapitalization transaction.

The holders of the new 12% senior secured notes of CMI and Canwest Television Limited Partnership as well as CIT Business Credit Canada Inc., the provider of a senior secured revolving asset-based loan facility to CMI, have agreed to extend to July 31, 2009 certain milestones that were to be have been achieved by July 17, 2009. The date by which CMI must enter into an agreement in respect of a recapitalization transaction is July 31, 2009.

Just change the dates and issue a new one, without a word being changed. At this rate Canwest will be saved by the next bubble or market upturn. –– Glenn Dyer

Beer drinking president big news. President Barack Obama’s ‘beer summit’ with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, a Cambridge police officer and vice president Joe Biden, has become a giant news event in the US, with Gawker live blogging the event, with plenty of comments, videos from cable news shows and photos of Obama clinking his glass of beer. And the whole beer/Obama/racism party has been a great day for pun enthusiasts, with some classic headlines being used including: “The Audacity of Hops” and “Yes, Three Cans!”. The American media seems happy to discuss racism if it’s washed down with some witty headlines and a few cans of Bud Light. For the record, the beers of choice were:

  • Obama: Bud Light
  • Crowley: Blue Moon
  • Gates: Sam Adams Light
  • Biden: Bucklers (a non-alcoholic beer!)

Amber Jamieson

What would happen if the top 10% of NY Times journalists walked out and started their own news organisation? The New New York Times, or NNYT, would have a writing staff of say 50 people. These are among the best journalists in the world, and let’s say they wanted to pay themselves $200,000/year, a top salary for a reporter of that stature. That’s just $10 million a year in payroll expenses. Call it $12 million with benefits. Plus, they all have stock options in the new company. If TechCrunch is any indication, the amount of support staff (developers, office staff, sales people, admin) needed to run the company is at most 20%, or another ten people, particularly if they outsource a lot of that. Put everyone in the cheapest office possible, and you’re looking at additional payroll, benefits and office expenses of another $3-4 million per year.

Now let’s just add another 50% on top of that for other expenses and a safety net, and round it up to $25 million per year in total expenses. That’s $25 million/year to have a well paid staff of the best journalists on the planet. How long before they outstrip those 16 million monthly visitors and 124 million page views [of the NY Times website]? 5 years? Less? — Tech Crunch

Money is power for radio sponsors. The focus of the Kyle & Jackie O show’s rape debacle has begun to switch to programme sponsor Optus amid calls from within and outside the marketing industry for the network to be boycotted by advertisers while the controversial but high rating programme remains on air… Ben Shepherd, national digital director at Maxus, which is part of WPP’s Group M, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Optus need to walk from Kyle and Jackie O immediately and yank their Austereo group adspend until they are taken off air.” Group M (which doesn’t have Optus as a client) spends millions of dollars a year on radio in Australia. — mUmBRELLA

NY Times video obits: a former US president and a Nobel Prize winner. Two years ago, The New York Times posted its first video obituary known as ‘The Last Word.’ The subject, humorist and columnist Art Buchwald, had recorded an interview to be used at the time of his death.”Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died,” the online presentation began. It went on to offer Buchwald’s last views on his life, and death, in a groundbreaking online approach. Since then, the newspaper has posted three other videos after their subjects passed on. They included longtime Times photographer Dith Pran, legendary musician Odetta, and philanthropist Stewart Mott. Web producers have also stockpiled dozens more and have many in the process of being produced. — Editor and Publisher

Gwyneth has goop on her face. This week, Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter gives us a peek at the books her friends are recommending this summer. Literary agent Luke Janklow has some fun ideas — and his own authors, interestingly, make an appearance. For starters, Janklow himself appears to represent Tilly Bagshawe, author of Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress Of The Game, and Jilliane Hoffman, author of Plea Of Insanity. Of Hoffman, Janklow said in a press release, “Jilliane made my job as her agent incredibly easy — she wrote a perfect book.” Three other authors on Janklow’s recommendations list — Alex Wellen, Gideon Defoe and Rafael Yglesias, are represented by other agents at Janklow’s agency. Andrew Gottlieb is repped by somebody at Janklow & Nesbit, and thanks Luke Janklow in his acknowledgements. That means of the six authors on Janklow’s recommendations list, his agency represents… six. — Jezebel

No more sore thumbs? Inputting long lines of text on …[mobile phone] devices, even with normal-size fingers, is a clumsy experience at best that can leave even the deftest “text-er” feeling ham-handed. This poses a huge barrier to mobile internet service adoption and, of course, marketing. Surprising, then, that the QR code — sometimes dubbed the URL killer — has yet to catch-on outside of Asia. Until now that is. A flurry of new QR code activity from cultural tastemakers and media platforms alike may finally push the barcode into the mainstream. — Advertising Age