Last night’s Four Corners on Gina Rinehart was compelling viewing for many reasons, not least her yet-to-be-played-out pivotal role as Fairfax’s largest and most influential shareholder. Although Rinehart declined to be filmed for the program, she did provide Four Corners with a statement responding to questions and one response referring to Rinehart favourite Andrew Bolt was particularly intriguing:

“Andrew Bolt has a short programme on Channel 10 on Sundays. It is noted that his programme is very popular in country areas, yet unfortunately many country areas are unable to receive Channel 10. As stated previously by Mrs Rinehart, Mrs Rinehart hopes that should Mr Bolt’s time permit, that he would consider longer programmes on Channel 10.”

Crikey turned to our own TV guru Glenn Dyer to get to the bottom of The Bolt Report‘s popularity in the country. Dyer informed us that the The Bolt Report is not broadcast in regional areas on SC Ten (Southern Cross) in its 10am slot, instead showing a program called Hot 30 Countdown, which averages around 90,000 viewers. SC Ten does however show the 4.30pm repeat in country areas.

The Bolt Report Encore (TV speak for repeat) averaged 142,000 and 213,000 across the country on Sunday at 4.30pm, meaning just 66,000 people watched it on Sunday in regional areas,” Dyer said. “Would they watch it if it screened at 10am nationally? All regional areas can get Channel Ten, otherwise, how could those in regional areas watch the 4.30pm repeat?” According to SC Ten’s own coverage map, the reach of its network to regional viewers is extensive:

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So 66,000 national regional viewers is “very popular”, according to Rinehart, who has a 10% stake in the network and is a board member.

“She has been badly advised if she thinks the 10am broadcast of The Bolt Report can’t be broadcast to regional areas,” says Dyer, “which is odd given her shareholding and presence on the Ten board. She should talk to Southern Cross (Ten’s regional affiliate) to find out why the 10am broadcast can’t go to regional areas.” –