Ten blinks on troubled morning line-up. Blaming the need for cost savings, Ten has ‘boned’ The Circle, the female skewing chat show that aired Monday to Friday from 9am to 11.30am, and cut back the weakly performing Breakfast program, and added another presenter. That means Ten is sticking with the flailing breakfast program which is costing a bomb and has gotten rid of The Circle to save money to allow Breakfast (a Lachlan Murdoch initiative) to remain on air.

Ten CEO James Warburton gave it away when he said in today’s statement “The decision to cease production of The Circle is unfortunate and was not taken lightly. But tight fiscal control and cost discipline are a core part of our strategy”. That could also apply to the weak Breakfast which has failed to build any audience of any real size since starting in January. Ten said that from next Monday, August 6, Breakfast will run from 6am to 8.30am, presented by Paul Henry, Kathryn Robinson and Magdalena Roze. Breakfast used to run until 9am.

In its place Ten has gone for a cheap programs from the US; The Talk at 9am, a weekday talk show that offers a female perspective on the day’s headlines, Ten Morning News, hosted by Ron Wilson from 10-11am, Entertainment Tonight at 11am and The Insider at 11.30am, which is an offshoot of Entertainment Tonight eight years ago. The Talk, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider are all cheap US programs Ten has access to under its production agreement with CBS, the giant American TV network. — Glenn Dyer

Who’s making money in TV? Seven, not Ten. Seven’s share of TV advertising revenue in the January-June period was the second highest recorded since the current method of audited figures released on a half-year basis started in 2005. Ten, meanwhile, recorded the worst.

Figures from Free TV Australia show Seven’s share rose to just over 40%. That was second only to the 41.38% recorded in the July-December half of 2008-09 and was up a massive 2.4% from the 37.6% share Seven had in the first half of last year. It was also up nearly 2% from the 38.10% recorded in the December half of last year. Ten’s share sank to just over 25.5%, from 28.85% a year ago and 27.03% from the December six months of 2011. Nine’s share was 34.45%, up from the 33.55% recorded in the first half of 2011 and 34.87% for the back half of last year.

Seven boosted its share in a market that fell 1.15% to just over $1.8 billion in the six months. Taking into account the first six months of the 12 months to June 2012, total FTA revenue fell to $3.876 billion from $3.993 billion in 2010-11, which was the all-time high. Even though the ad market was rough, the total was still well above the $3.692 billion recorded in 2009-10 when the full extent of the GFC was felt on TV revenue streams.

And while two extra AFL games a week (snatched from Ten) helped Seven in the latest six months, so also did its dominance of the faster-growing Queensland regional market, which grew 3.9% to $104.6 million (which meant it moved past metro Adelaide’s $101.5 million, down 4.37% for the first time). Through 7Qld in the regional area and BTQ 7 in Brisbane, the network dominates the fastest-growing state in Australia in TV ad revenue terms. The Brisbane market grew 2.6% to nearly $246 million in the latest six-month period. The rebound from the floods of a year ago probably helped Brisbane, as well as the solid rural and mining industries. — Glenn Dyer (read the full story here)

Free and ‘freemium’ models boost revenue. Two developments in the UK and one in the US last week have placed further doubt on the rigid paywall models adopted by News Corporation. For the first time, the free Daily Mail website broke into profit in the six months to June, and the Financial Times had more digital subscribers with its so-called “freemium” model than actual subscribers to the paper itself. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported a stunning 81% jump in digital subscribers at the same time for the June quarter.

The Financial Times was an early entrant into the paywall idea and it is clearly paying off. In the six months to June, owners Pearson say the paper’s digital subscribers grew 31% to “more than 300,000” paying readers compared with a year ago, while the print circulation fell more than 50,000 copies to 297,225 (from 356,194). That’s almost 600,000 digital and analogue subscribers to the paper at the end of June.

In February, Pearson reported the number of digital subscribers was 44% of total paid circulation as the end of December, or 267,000 – a 33,000 rise in the six months. The jump in digital subscribers offset the fall in analogue sales in the six months so the total number of subscribers/sales was 599,000 at the end of June, up 2% on the figure a year ago and about the same as it was in all of 2011.

The number of registered users for the FT climbed 29% to 4.8 million. Mobile devices now account for 25% of traffic to FT.com, while there are 2.7 million FT web app users. Pearson said that “digital and services accounted for 50% of FT Group revenues and content revenues accounted for 61%” in the June half year. The figures for the end of December were 47% and 58% respectively. Pearson said revenue from digital and services “will exceed” that from traditional publishing activities by the end of this year. — Glenn Dyer (read the full story here)

Racist Daily Mail column pulled. The London Olympics opening ceremony has been hailed around the world as one of the best in living memory, but not all Brits were impressed. Rick Dewsbury, a columnist at the rambunctious Daily Mail tabloid, thought it outrageous that the National Health Service was glorified following the recent death of a promising footballer who was “denied” a glass of water by NHS staff. Dewsbury then went on to decry a “politically correct” scene featuring a mixed-race middle-class family:

“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up. Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer. The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London. This multicultural equality agenda was so staged it was painful to watch.”

He then endorsed a tweet by a UK politician deriding the ceremony as “multicultural crap”. Following an outraged post by UK freelance journalist John Walker, Dewsbury’s copy was hurriedly — and dramatically — amended to read:

“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but such set-ups are simply not the ‘norm’ in any part of the country. So why was it portrayed like this and given such prominence? If it was intended to be something that we can celebrate, that two people with different colour skin and different cultural heritages can live harmoniously together, then it deserves praise.

“But what will be disturbing to many people is top-down political manipulation — whether consciously or unthinkingly — at a major sporting event.”

The column was later pulled altogether from Mail Online (which recently overtook The New York Times as the most read website in the world). But the original offensive rant — titled “The NHS did not deserve to be do disgracefully glorified in this bonanza of left-wing propaganda” — can still be viewed here. — Matthew Knott

WikiLeaks wrote fake NY Times column

“WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing site set up by Julian Assange, has claimed that it was behind the fake opinion piece circulating on the internet under the name of Bill Keller, columnist and former executive editor of The New York Times.” — The Guardian

NBC snubs opening ceremony memorial

“NBC has come under fire in the British press for editing out a performance during the London Olympics opening ceremony that has been interpreted by some as a tribute to victims of the ‘7/7’ terrorist attacks that rocked that city in 2005.” — The Huffington Post

APN appoints new chair after O’Reilly exit

“APN News & Media has appointed Peter Hunt as its chairman following the resignation of Gavin O’Reilly in April. Mr Hunt, whose appointment to the board and as chairman is effective Monday September 3, is non-executive chairman and a founder of corporate advisory firm Greenhill Caliburn.” — The Australian

Peter Fray

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