Rowe out at Studio 10. Studio 10 co-host Jessica Rowe made the surprise announcement on the program this morning that she would be leaving the network. In a statement on-air, Rowe said she wanted to spend more time with her family and be a “more present” mother.

Former executive producer Rob Knight tweeted shortly afterwards that the Ten Network had been trying to get rid of Rowe for a year — a claim quickly rejected by Rowe’s manager David Wilson.

Rebel: ‘There is clear media collusion’. Actor Rebel Wilson, who won record defamation damages from magazine publisher Bauer over articles published in Woman’s Day, has accused the media of “collusion” in a series of tweets about the case. Wilson and Bauer have been back in court this week to determine costs to be paid to Wilson after she won the case. Bauer has appealed the $4.56 million in damages that the Victorian Supreme Court awarded Wilson last year, and most of Australia’s biggest media companies have joined together to argue they should also be heard in the appeal, saying the special damages could lead to routinely higher payouts. Regarding the appeal, Wilson tweeted: “What reputable Australian journalist or media organization, (*cough* hello, ABC who is funded by taxpayers *cough*) would stand with ‘journalists’ who have been proven guilty of making up rubbish stories and printing them knowing they are fake, all in the name of corporate greed.”

And, in another: “There is clear media collusion and they are now twisting what was a very simple story.”

Thumbs down for the Footy Show(s). After the first night for the 2018 seasons for the AFL and NRL Footy Shows, the message from viewers is clear — this could be the start of another miserable season.

Viewers stayed away from the Eddie McGuire-hosted AFL Footy Show. A total of 251,000 people watched in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, down from 273,000 from the opening night a year ago and its lowest ever opening audience for a new season, and a new low for Melbourne. 

Last year the program was hosted by Craig Hutchison who was later gazumped by Nine management, and Eddie McGuire and his production company brought back to produce it. The McGuire-ed revamp started last August and failed to have any impact as ratings fell and Seven’s more modest offering, The Front Bar, moved past the Nine stalwart into top position in the pecking order for AFL programs on Melbourne TV.

This year McGuire was boasting about how great this year would be and that Sam Newman would be unleashed. Melbourne viewers saw through those vainglorious boasts from McGuire and didn’t turn on. It was the 11th most-watched program in Melbourne, down from 199,000 a year ago when it was the 10th most watched program in Melbourne. In Adelaide, 35,000 watched last night (39,000 a year ago) and 43,000 watched in Perth (34,000 a year ago).

And viewers gave the new-look NRL Footy Show the thumbs down. Paul Vautin and most of the old team are out — Erin Molan remains as the main host, helped by Ryan Girdler and Andrew Johns. A total of 188,000 watched in Sydney (110,000) and Brisbane (78,000). The first episode last season a week earlier in March saw a total of 242,000 watch, with 113,000 in Sydney and 129,000 in Brisbane. — Glenn Dyer

NZ newspaper merger plan shelved. A merger agreement between New Zealand’s two biggest newspaper companies has been terminated while a competition regulator decision to block the merge goes through the courts. The NZME and Fairfax New Zealand, now known as Stuff, weren’t allowed to merge, with the regulator citing a lack of media diversity, where the plan to go ahead. They have appealed the decision to the High Court, and in a market statement yesterday said they would negotiate a new agreement if they were to be successful.

Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. Seven won last night by default — it had My Kitchen Rules in the line up and Nine had the NRL season’s first game. MKR had more than 1.4 million national viewers and the NRL 765,000 (an extra 261,000 watched the NRL game on Foxtel). Gogglebox Australia on Ten at 8.30pm had 829,000 nationally, which tells us the NRL is going to struggle this year to add viewers. Ten’s Eyewitness News at 5 to 6pm has fallen into something of a hole this week – -last night’s 375,000 viewers in the five metro markets was low, even for a Thursday evenings.

A move up from AFL for Seven’s Perth footy commentator Basil Zempilas as he starts at Weekend Sunrise this weekend. Seven says that from Saturday, he replaces Andrew O’Keefe as co-host alongside Monique Wright. Meanwhile America’s ABC network has some good news for struggling Seven — ABC has just given an early “yes” to a second series of The Good Doctor. 

In the regions the most watched programs were Seven News, 498,000, MKR, 454,000, Seven News/TT 424,000, Home and Away was fourth with 401,000 and the 5.30pm part of The Chase Australia was fifth with 320,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.