Daytime news blocs cheap TV. There’s more news content on Australian television than ever before. And figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show why, giving lie to the oft-heard claim that news and current affairs is an expensive product.

The ABS says that during 2011-12 “there were 78,622 commercial broadcast hours for first release television programs. News and current affairs programs accounted for the largest proportion of these hours with 36,471 (or 46.4%).” That compares with very expensive drama and children’s programming, which the ABS said had an average per-hour cost of $560,700 and $550,400 respectively. “Light entertainment and variety programs incurred the largest total production costs ($555.4 million),” the ABS said. The cost was around $70,000 an hour.

This cost difference helps explain why the Seven Network started the 90-minute The Daily Edition from 3pm Monday to Friday — that gives the network nine-and-a-half hours of news, chat and a bit of current affairs from 5am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday. It’s also why the Nine Network has seven hours of news and current affairs and chat from 5am to midday and a further two-and-a-half hours from 3pm to 5.30pm. It must be cheap, because if it wasn’t the two networks wouldn’t be spending money on creating and broadcasting these programs. At one stage soap operas like Days of Our Lives and The Young and The Restless dominated daytime TV — but for the dices they pull, and the revenue the networks can write against them, they became cost ineffective and were axed. — Glenn Dyer

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What if he asked the audience? From last night’s episode of Millionaire Hot Seat. If the ignorant contestant (he plumped for A) gets in touch we’ll be sure to set him up with a subscription so he knows what we’re about …

Did we skip the election? Reading an article on The Guardian’s website, one eagle-eyed Crikey reader noted that the offerings from the “More from around the web” section seemed a little out-of-date. One might be surprised to read that an exit poll is showing the Labor party inching its way to leadership in the country’s general election …


But before you run to the polling booths, perhaps take a closer look. The article was published on the News Limited website on August 21, 2010. Strange that it would pop up in an article about a UNHCR report on rising asylum seeker numbers. According to the “What’s this?” tab, the links are provided by Outbrain, which is a paid service that “recommends your article, mobile and video content on your site and on premium publishers”. The service uses “cookies” and similar tracking devices to offer click bait in order to attract traffic to paying sites. The links, it says, “may or may not be relevant to other content on the page”. 

A quick scan through some of the stories tacked on to The Guardian’s top stories shows they tend to range from the dull to the completely out-of-date. They seem to be arbitrarily generated by Outbrain (whose offices are located overseas), presumably linking to content that has been popular, if no longer timely. Even so, it does beg the question, just who is buying luxury watches, and what do my cookies say about me? — Joanna Robin

Video of the day. American actor James Gandolfini has died of an apparent heart attack at 51. He’ll be remembered most for his fearsome performance as Tony Soprano in HBO’s universal hit. This therapy scene from The Soprano‘s first season demonstrates his fine acting chops …

Front page of the day. It’s days like this when tabloid treatment works …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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