Pass me the remote. Yesterday we warned you that despite strong opening ratings, it was really too soon to tell whether I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here would be the saviour Channel Ten needs it to be. It seems not everyone took the stellar opening ratings with the pinch of salt necessary. Over at the Oz, Darren “Lurch” Davidson was telling us it was the start of a fightback, even thought the ratings had yet to be fully tested against My Kitchen Rules.

“The chief executive of the Ten Network has called for advertisers to reward the company with a larger slice of the $4 billion TV advertising market after the broadcaster delivered the biggest launch of a new reality program since 2009”, Lurch wrote. “Revenue always follow ratings and we’ve consistently delivered on our promises since May last year, Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan told The Australian. ‘We really feel the wind behind us now.'”

And there was this gem:

“While Ten needs to demonstrate to advertisers it can hold onto a large chunk of the audience in coming weeks, the signs are positive.”

That was after the program averaged a solid 1.595 million for its introduction and then first episode on Sunday. No doubt everyone at Ten and News, including Lurch, hoped those solid figures would continue last night, even though Seven was returning its ratings monster My Kitchen Rules to its line-up. That was the thinking behind launching the program before the ratings period started — there was hope viewers would be hooked. Well, it wasn’t to be.

MKR monstered Celebrity last night. MKR had 2.285 million national and almost 1.6 million metro viewers last night. Celebrity averaged 1.019 million national viewers, down more than 570,000 viewers nationally. But it wasn’t just Ten’s new effort that was battered. The first 2015 series of Nine’s The Block was also given a whacking — it managed 1.208 million national viewers, but its metro audience slumped well under a million to average just 802,000, which wasn’t very good for such an expensive program.

Not only was it MKR (with an assist from Home and Away’s return at 7pm with nearly 1.7 million national viewers), but the political news yesterday saw viewers flock to 7.30 on ABC1, which averaged 1.244 million national and 828,000 metro viewers (both up around 250,000 to 300,000 from a week ago). And Australian Story returned at 8pm and averaged 780,000 metro and 1.193 million national viewers. In fact 7.30 and Australian Story beat both Celebrity and The Block in the metros (The Block finished just 15,000 viewers ahead of Australian Story nationally, but 7.30 beat both).

Ten finished third in the metros, with the ABC fourth (Seven won the night), but that is nothing to boast about. Ten really should have done much better. This was the most competitive night of the year so far, and will prove to be in the top half dozen when ratings finish in early December. — Glenn Dyer

Murdoch off the hook. The Murdoch clan has received more good news — this time from the US Justice Department, which has abandoned its investigation into the alleged phone hacking and bribes paid by some of News Corp’s journalists at the defunct News of The World and The Sun.

According to a one-paragraph statement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this morning, our time:

“On January 28, 2015, News Corporation (the ‘Company’) was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the Company or Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.”

That means News Corp, Fox, the Murdoch clan and the other shareholders won’t have to fork out huge damages under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that has forced dozens of US and foreign companies forced to cough up billions of dollars in fines and penalties for bribing foreign government officials.

Just why this filing couldn’t have been made on the 29th or 30th of January is a little hard to understand, but that aside, this is another bit of good news for the Sun King and his court. It follows the acquittal last year of former News International editor Rebekah Brooks of charges relating to phone-hacking at News of the World. — Glenn Dyer

Side Eye gets sidelined. Melbourne literary journal The Lifted Brow has speedily backtracked on a planned launch of digital spin-off Side Eye after a backlash from Australian writers of colour who accused the journal, published quarterly, of culturally appropriating African-American vernacular English.

“Recently at The Lifted Brow we made a very large mistake,” the magazine’s four editors said in a statement on their website.

“In renaming our digital magazine Side Eye we did not know of the term’s origins in AAVE [African American Vernacular English] until well after it was chosen, the design was laid out and the title ready to go live with our publisher. However, this is not something we are going to just quietly change and ignore the bigger discussion around. Though we in Australia know “side eye” to mean a long, circumspect side-wards glance, it has other histories and connotations to which we cannot lay claim.

“We were hoping in choosing this title to clearly tie it to “The Lifted Brow” — a skeptical view of things, and to make it clear the two were connected publications (brows/eyes; we were pretty pleased with that!). Though “side eye” has trickled down to us through popular culture on this side of the world to common parlance, we didn’t stop to understand the implications of using it in this way until it was brought to our attention. We wholly admit to and will correct our mistake. We are now back to the drawing board on the name for the magazine.”

Over the weekend, The Lifted Brow faced criticism on Twitter for the name. One of those objecting to the name was poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke, whose debut Foreign Soil won the 2013 Victorian Premier’s award for an unpublished manuscript. She told Crikey this morning that “recent events in the media and arts sector, including The Age’s mistaken use of Nazeem Hussain’s photograph in an article about Waleed Aly and The Australian’s description of myself as an indigenous author (despite being of Afro-Caribbean descent) have demonstrated that the media and arts sector still has a long way to go when including, interacting with and reporting about Australian artists of colour”.

The Lifted Brow has always been a publication that has supported new and exciting writers from Australia and internationally,” she said. “As a literary and alternative press publication, the issue of language appropriation was an important one. Many Australian writers of colour expressed to me that they would feel uncomfortable submitting to or reading a publication which, however unintentionally, took as its title a term about which there was such contention for some in their extended community.”

As such, Clarke welcomed the Brow’s decision, saying it had paved the way for increased awareness and discussion. “I look forward to supporting their new publication into the future.”

The Lifted Brow, which started in 2007, has published writers like Christos Tsiolkas, Helen Garner, David Foster Wallace, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Moorhouse, along with a large host of lesser-known and emerging writers. — Myriam Robin

Disney to NPC. Outgoing Press Council chair Julian Disney faces the Press Club tomorrow, where he’ll talk about digital media and the role of the Press Council in the media’s future. Digital media outlets have only recently begun to join what for most of its history has been the print media’s regulator.

The blurb has no word on what Disney will say about News Corp, which has had a particular problem with the Press Council’s behaviour of late. — Myriam Robin

Compensating for something? Christ, now it’s sniper-chic. In the wake of American Sniper, here’s the front page of today’s The Sun in the UK:

The sudden reverence for snipers isn’t coincidental. As Michael Moore noted, their role was once seen as despicable, a necessary part of war that was not celebrated. The acclaim that has greeted American Sniper is due to the desperate need in the US and — The Sun presumes — among Sun readers to not only win the Iraq war in the movies, but to win it as a sort of God-like creature who can take life at will. Heroism used to involve the idea that one was engaged in a fair fight, and prevailed. Sniper-chic is a desperate way of compensating for the wound to Western white self-image by failure in Iraq. Its appeal is unquestionably racist and pathetically masturbatory. It’s a sign of weakness of belief, not anything coming from a position of strength. — Guy Rundle

Move over Oscar Wilde. It’s summer, so it must be time for the annual David Williamson Whine. It was once said that we could simply do the bad review of DW, without the inconvenience of the actual plays. The great man has done one better: his complaints about critics now precede the reviews, which can now also be dispensed with. He could do a month on the Wharf mainstage where he just sits in a chair and bitches about what people say about him, for one hour forty minutes. With an interval. God, I would see that. Anyway, a clue to the man’s faulty editing mechanism can be seen in this interview in The Sydney Morning Herald with DW and lead actor Guy Edmonds about the latest piece, Dream Home, about a couple who, ehhhh, move into their dream home and have to endure a lot of crazy neighbours. Spoiler alert: that’s it. Guy Edmonds, the lead, wades into this with a line that could only be spoken after learning Williamson dialogue for eight weeks:

“David is a big target,” Edmonds says. “He’s a tall man both in stature and in the size of his poppy.”

But it’s Williamson’s remarks that are revealing in an uncharacteristic way — i.e. subtly:

“Often I’m judged as if I should be a naturalistic writer by my critics, [who say] ‘where are the three-dimensional, rounded characters?’

“They never say that about Alan Ayckbourn. His characters are gross caricatures. But he’s allowed to do it. For some weird reason I’m not.”

Well, if Williamson thinks that the characters in Absurd Person Singular or The Norman Conquests are caricatures, much is explained. There is also the point that Ayckbourn uses stock characters when he’s experimenting with dramatic form, space and time structures etc, which the tall man rarely essays.

The final word goes to SMH arts writer Andrew Taylor, who is trying to be helpful:

Yet Williamson dismisses his critics with the type of razor-sharp one-liner that has long been his hallmark.

“Gratitude is not a quality that flows strongly through the arts community,” he says. “I think most of the arts community think every other production but theirs is shit.”

Yes, that really is Wildean. Your Majesty is a stream of bat’s piss. For much more of that, bookings at the Ensemble Theatre are now open. — Crikey contributor

Superbowl’s super audiences. Now that’s what you call a record audience. The final results for the 49th Super Bowl show a record 114.5 million viewers to the game won by the New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks. That easily beat the 111.5 million audience of last year’s game won by the Seahawks. Ratings data showed the audience built to average 120.8 million people in the final quarter when the Patriots stormed home 14-0 to win, but had to withstand a dramatic last minute rush by Seattle that was ended by an interception on the line by a Patriots’ defender with 20 seconds to go.

In terms of shares, the audience was also a record, with a 49.7/72 share of America’s 116 million homes. No wonder NBC was charging US$4.2 to US$4.5 billion for the half time ads, which attracted a record rating of 118.5 million viewers (up 3 million from last year) and a 50.8/73% share. In Australia the game was on Seven and it had 462,000 nationally and 354,000 in metro markets, and a further 108,000 in the regionals. And on Pay TV in Australia, the Super Bowl was watched by a further 94,000 people making a total of 556,000 who watched the game yesterday in this country. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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