Beware the GIANT SEAGULL: After last night’s highly amusing tale of Nine newsreader Peter Hitchener being accosted by a huge seagull whilst reading the news, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to indulge in some amusing animation:

Ten’s TV ad sales take a dive. The Ten Network has reported a 32% drop in TV pre-tax profits for the year to August 31, after TV ad sales fell 9.9%. The company, which is now Australian-owned after the debt- stricken Canadian parent sold out in late September, said TV earnings before interest, tax and depreciation totalled $142.1 million down sharply from the $209 million earned in the 2008 financial year.

No final dividend will be paid, although the company said the board was currently reviewing its dividend policy. A 2c a share interim was paid. For the group as whole (including the EyeCorp outside advertising business which lifted pre tax earnings to $10 million). revenue was $902.5 million (down 10%), with earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $151.0 million, down almost 30%.

“While full year 2009 television revenues of $744.4 million were down 10 per cent on 2008, revenue for the final quarter improved and was up 2 per cent on the prior corresponding period. The out-of-home (OOH) advertising business, Eye Corp (EYE), had revenue of $158.1 million and delivered an EBITDA contribution of $10.1 million, Ten said in a statement to the ASX.

While the company said there was a small improvement in the final quarter, the big story was the near halving in second half pre-tax earnings, from $50.3 million in the six months to August 2008, to just $27.1 million in the six months ending August 31.

First half earnings before interest, tax and depreciation were down 28.1% at $114.1 million, from $158.7 million. Ten chairman, Nick Falloon said in the statement that the company had “achieved a reduction in costs of more than 2 per cent on the prior year. This was achieved through a focus on minimising ‘off-screen’ expenditure while allowing for judicious investment in new programming for the main channel TEN and the launch of – and ongoing investment in – the digital sports channel ONE.” That fall in costs saved around $15 million over the full year. Most of that (more than $8 million) came in the first six months. — Glenn Dyer

Conflict of Interest, anybody? This is a screen shot of the SMH front page at the moment — where the Windows 7 launch is the lead picture story and on the other side of the screen there is a big ad for Windows 7… also, just before I took this picture a massive ad took over the screen for, you guessed it, Windows 7… — a Crikey reader

OK so we’ve totally been sucked in by this Safran marketing device. It’s funny and inventive. Click on the image to become John Safran’s friend on Racebook (non Eurasians need not apply):

John Alexander gets steamy. The custom-made steam room, with enough black mosaic tiles to cover a small one-bedroom flat, would usually be a place of relaxation for a businessman such as former PBL director John Alexander and his wife, Alice. Instead, the $33,000 steam room has become part of a court battle over luxury renovations the Alexanders are unhappy about. — The Australian

Bing Bangs Google. Microsoft revealed a nice little coup in its dual quests to make search more dynamic and crawl its way into Google’s monolithic grill. At the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, the company’s digital head, Qi Lu, announced that three-month-old Bing has reached an agreement to crawl all of Twitter’s public results in real time. Bing’s Twitter search — — is already live, reports Time. But mere hours after today’s announcement that Twitter would now be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Google has annouced that it too will include Twittter updates in its own search results. — TechCrunch

Palin’s cookin’ up books. We know that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can hunt, and even field-dress a moose, but how will she take to poachers on her book sales? Start-up publisher OR Books has announced plans to publish Going Rouge: Sarah Palin An American Nightmare , a collection of essays about the maverick Republican with a title — and cover design — remarkably similar to Palin’s upcoming memoir. — Shelf-life

Introducing the Nook. The new Barnes & Noble ereader the Nook was launched in New York this week with some headlines declaring it a “Kindle killer”. The device features both a full-colour screen for navigation and an eInk black and white screen for reading. Interestingly, it allows readers to borrow and lend ebooks with friends (one person at a time for up to 14 days), though many publishers are reportedly not allowing their books to be used as part of the LendMe feature. Publishers Lunch reports that the Nook will be set up so that users receive advance ‘teaser chapters’ of forthcoming titles when they are browsing in a bricks and mortar Barnes & Noble store. — Bookseller + Publisher

Experts weigh in on Windows 7. Windows 7 Microsoft takes the wraps off Windows 7 tonight, but thanks to the UK’s looming postal strike Reg readers have been playing with the final, shrink-wrapped product for days. So before you go out and spend money on the new OS and/or a new PC, you might be interested in our what ad hoc panel of real readers has to say. — The Register UK

Media billionaire gets nasty. Google co-founder kind of a jerk in person, says fellow billionaire.It’s so fun to see the media wars play out in actual tiffs between actual human beings in actual rooms together. Take this passive-aggressive clash between Google’s Larry Page, programmer, and IAC’s Barry Diller, onetime movie mogul. — Gawker

A world without social networking. The world of tomorrow (if the internet disappeared today). It’s the not-to-distant future. They’ve turned off the Internet. After the riots have settled down and the withdrawal symptoms have faded, how would you cope? — Cracked

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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