Howard and Keating. The strong ratings for Channel Seven’s interview with John Howard showed how silly the ABC was to turn down the interview, News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt wrote yesterday. He compared the ratings for the ABC’s Keating interviews, conducted by Kerry O’Brien which aired on Thursday, October 31 last year, with those of the Sunday Night‘s John Howard interview. On this comparison, Howard (1.058 million viewers, see Media Briefs yesterday) beat Keating (886,000 viewers).

“So why didn’t the ABC run the Howard interview, since that would have also helped to address the impression — the reality, really — that it is hopelessly biased,” Bolt wrote. — Myriam Robin

Correction: Crikey confused the national and metro figures for the Howard interview in an earlier version of this media brief. On national terms, the Howard interview got 1.679 million views, beating the Code. Which makes Crikey’s earlier quip about The Code beating the Howard interviews inaccurate – it has been removed in the above brief. 

Ernies season. Speaking of News Corp columnists, Tim Blair is a finalist in the Ernie awards taking place this week. In the media category, which gives a gong to the media identity or outlet who made the most sexist comment over the year. Other finalists in the category are Andrew Bolt, Nova FM, Piers Akerman, Sydney Confidential, 3AW, and Warren Brown. On Wednesday night, whoever gets the loudest boos will be crowned the winner. Crikey‘s sister publication Women’s Agenda has the full list. — Myriam Robin

Let’s get ready to (ratings) rumble. At 10am today (Sydney time) the 2014-15 US TV ratings battle officially kicked off after a couple of weeks of skirmishing. On CBS, the first fresh episode of The Big Bang Theory went up against the debut episode of the new season of NBC’s The Voice, along with the start of the new series of Dancing with the Stars on ABC, and the totally new series Gotham, on struggling Fox.

The NFL has been running for three weeks now (its start marks the first round of the each new ratings season. The Sunday night broadcast on NBC was the most watched program in the 2013-14 season) and other new shows have been popping up. But Monday night was the start of the battle royale between regular, non-sport programming, including the usual stalwarts such as Big Bang, Blacklist (which starts on Seven next week) and the various reality shows.

The key demographic in the US is 18- to 49-year-olds, and NBC won that in the official ratings season (which finished in May) and for the full 52 weeks — the first time it has won both, according to US surveys. NBC and CBS are expected to fight it out for the official ratings victory in the new season, with ABC lagging. The network with the biggest question mark hanging over it is the Murdoch clan’s Fox. It starts the season with the weakest line up of all.

Virtually all Fox’s returning series posted major declines in the 2013-14 season (especially American Idol). The early weeks of the new season have been bad for Fox. The new seasons of New Girl and The Mindy Project saw viewer numbers drop 30%-40% from their premieres a year ago. The new Utopia has not done well either and has failed to build on the cancelled X Factor. Fox’s other new program at the moment is Red Band Society (a teen hospital drama). It hasn’t matched the figures for Glee, the teen music series. — Glenn Dyer

European papers hurting. Last week we told you of the move by Germany’s leading “serious” daily paper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, to cut 200 jobs, including 10% of its 400 strong newsroom, to lower its costs amid a continuing fall in circulation. Late last week, Liberation, the leading left-wing French daily, joined the rush to cut  and revealed plans to cut 93 of its 250 staff (it said in a statement it was losing 22,000 euros a day). That’s a staff cut of a brutal 37%, but understandable given a 20% fall in newsstand sales in the past 12 months. It now sells 105,000 copies a day (from 170,000 in 2001).

Earlier this year, Liberation disclosed it lost US$1.3 million in 2013, when sales fell 15%. The sales loss has accelerated in 2014. Staff rejected plans earlier in the year for pay cuts and a revamping of the paper’s digital offerings. Now 35% of their number are going. Nicolas Demorand, the then-editor of Liberation, resigned in May because of continued sniping from staff about the attempts to cut costs.

Also in May, similar plans to restructure Le Monde forced the then-editor Natalie Nougayrede to quit after just 14 months in the position. She was the paper’s fifth editor in seven years. French newspapers are paid millions of euros a year in state subsidies (Le Monde received 22 million euros in 2013). And in a good feature on the weak health of European newspapers at the weekend, Financial Times revealed that at least 8000 Spanish journalists had been made redundant since 2008. “[B]etween 2007 and 2012, Spanish newspapers’ income dropped more than 40 per cent, and the trend has yet to reverse. In a sign of the pressures faced by Spain’s print media, three of the country’s biggest papers — El Pais and El Mundo in Madrid and La Vanguardia in Barcelona — have all changed their editors this year.” — Glenn Dyer

The next Rove will be a YouTube star. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written an op-ed in Fairfax defending his decision to push community TV off the airwaves:

“The internet provides the perfect opportunity for community television to continue its vital role as the training ground for the next generation of program production and content makers. I know Rove McManus started his career in community television.

Luckily for today’s would-be Roves, a new generation of performers, presenters and entrepreneurs have found a start on the internet. Look at YouTube video producers Christiaan Van Vuuren and Nick Boshier (the Bondi Hipsters) who now have a show on ABC2 and have presented on Triple J. Or our local YouTube stars, Natalie Tran (Communitychannel) and Jordan Raskopoulos (member of The Axis of Awesome), both of whom have built a living providing content on the internet.”

Here’s hoping we get the fast internet that makes this all possible… — Myriam Robin

Press Council rules against SMH over containment risk story. The Sydney Morning Herald has been censured by the Press Council for a report in February that implied a coal-mining operation that led to a rise in the average iron level of a reservoir made the water pose a risk to consumers.

Another claim, that the increase in the iron level did not meet the scientific standard for contamination, was not upheld by the council, as “in this instance the breach of its standards was not sufficiently significant for this aspect of the complaint to be upheld”.

In its defence, The Sydney Morning Herald argued it never said the river posed a risk to human health, only to the health of the river system. This argument was not accepted by the Press Council. A summary of the adjudication is carried in the paper today. — Myriam Robin

Front page of the day. It would have been an expensive day at the printers for the Courier Mail — that sure is a lot of black ink.