With only an couple of episodes to go to the end the 2012 TV ratings season, right-wing ranter Andrew Bolt has had a good year. Oztam figures up to last Sunday show there has been a 11%-plus rise in viewing of his program on Sundays (the 10am broadcast and then the 4.30pm repeat) in metro markets. He’s done better this year than Insiders, where he used to feature before he was seduced by Ten to star in The Bolt Report.
His program has so far averaged in 2012 a total of 272,000 people in both screenings, up from the 258,000 who watched in 2011, when the program started. The 10am program has seen a near 12% rise in viewers, to 143,000 from 128,000, while there has been a slight fall in the audience for the 4.30pm repeat to 129,000 from 130,000. Insiders total Sunday audience (in three screenings) has fallen to 261,000 this year from 267,000 in 2011.
Bolt now attracts more viewers in total than Insiders on ABC TV does. Insiders‘ ABC1 audience from 9 to 10am has fallen 11.7% to 173,000 this year (still well ahead of Bolt) from 195,000 in 2011. The News 24 simulcast audience is up more than 21% to 56,000 from 46,000 and the evening repeat on News 24 has up more than 27% to 32,000 from 26,000. On several occasions in the past three months, Bolt’s 10am audience has exceeded that of Insiders which has fallen into a bit of trough since midyear.
Bolt is a favourite of Ten’s chairman and 8.9% shareholder Lachlan Murdoch and big shareholder Gina Rinehart. He has remained on air because of the rise in the audiences, but despite being an obvious cost cut in the recent review of the news and current affairs side of Ten. Small non-prime time news programs are always easy targets in “reviews” or cost cuts. Most have no defenders higher up and are a cheap way to send a message to the rest of the company about the severity of the cost cutting. They are more a symbolic than significant saving.
But because Bolt has support from the board, his program stays. And remember Lachlan Murdoch is also a director of News Corp, which controls, for the moment, News Ltd which controls the Herald Sun where Bolt’s rantings are published.