A DEDICATED children's television channel, tougher scrutiny of music videos and stricter guidelines for advertisers have been recommended to combat the sexualisation of children.
The Senate Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee said yesterday the sexualisation of children was of increasing concern and "a significant cultural challenge".
"This is a community responsibility which demands action by society," the report says.
The Senate committee report, tabled in parliament yesterday, recommends a children's television channel and a classifications system for magazines similar to that for television programs as two measures to combat sexualisation of children in the media.
1. Seven News Seven 1.489
2. Getaway Nine 1.333
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.320
4. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.178
5. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1.176
6. Home And Away Seven 1.176
7. ABC News ABC 1.168
8. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.142
9. Nine News Nine 1.112
10. A Current Affair Nine 1.089
UBI WORLD TV LAUNCHES THE NUMBER ONE PHILIPPINE BROADCAST
UBI World TV, the leading multi-cultural pay TV and radio broadcaster in Oceania, has switched on the undisputed number one Philippine broadcast network across Australia, allowing all Filipino Australians to finally have access to the highest rating news and entertainment programs direct from the Philippines.
FOXTEL AND BBC WORLDWIDE ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
FOXTEL and BBC Worldwide today announced a significant strategic alliance that will enable Australian viewers to access an extensive range of BBC channels and quality programming from the world's most trusted global television producer.
Just minutes ago, the Federal Court of Australia issued its findings on the IceTV vs. Channel 9 Electronic Program Guide (EPG) court case- and its not good news for the free-to-air IP TV provider.
According to the ruling by Justice Bennett, IceTV would IceTV will be prevented from providing any of Channel 9's additional program detail information means in any one of more of the following categories: episode titles; episode numbers; information about the currency of programs; information about the formats in which programs are to be broadcast; closed captioning information for the hearing impaired; program classification information; and or consumer advice.
In other words IceTV is stopped from reproducing in a material form; authorising the reproduction in a material form of; communicating to the public; or authorising the communication to the public of, the whole or a substantial part of any Nine Weekly Program Schedules (whether made before or after the date of the making of this order), without the licence of the applicant.
THE battle to sell high-definition television sets before the Beijing Olympics open in August is hotting up, with Sony investing nearly $15 million in giving away PlayStation3 consoles with every Bravia TV sold.
Foxtel, meanwhile, is set to announce a deal with Samsung to bundle its HD+ high-definition recorder with HD TVs.
Sony will launch its campaign this weekend and plans to give away 35,000 consoles, each of which incorporates an HD Blu-ray player.
Toby Barbour, head of strategy and brand development for Sony Australia, said the promotion mirrored a similar marketing push before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. At the time, sales of widescreen TVs jumped by 30per cent.
ABC television chief Kim Dalton has called on the federal Government to extend Australia's TV content standards to web-based video, a move that would greatly increase government regulation of the internet.
But Mr Dalton will argue in a speech at the CCI International Conference in Brisbane today that with more TV being delivered through broadband internet services there is a risk of our culture being lost under a tide of cheap-to-access overseas programming. He warns that unless urgent moves are taken, Australian content could be wiped from the new broadcasting landscape in as little as five or 10 years.
"Consumers are demanding more extensive online, video-based entertainment," he says in the speech. "The business model here favours cheap, foreign video content and ... online content is putting pressure on established business models.
"It is likely that existing regulatory arrangements to deliver local drama, documentaries, comedy, children's, news, current affairs and other programming may have diminishing effects on the market as the existing business models of broadcasters are challenged and the content offered becomes, increasingly, foreign.
Docos, kids shows lead fresh British invasion of airwaves
PAY-TELEVISION group Foxtel has secured a strategic alliance with the BBC in a move that signals the increasing push to lock up content amid the growth of free-to-air multi-channels and the imminent launch of new products such as the Seven Network's digital video recorder, TiVo.
The alliance will be marked with the launch by BBC's international arm, BBC Worldwide, of two new Foxtel channels: BBC Knowledge and the children's service CBeebies in mid-2009. There is the strong likelihood of more channel launches after Foxtel gains extra cable and satellite capacity at the same time.
In an interview with Media, Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams said the deal was important for the pay-TV operator in the context of the battle for content in the new digital world, and "who will have the best balance of channels and content in order to secure maximum connection with the public".
The deal also follows the move by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to "take a step back" from plans by his predecessor, Helen Coonan, to auction two pieces of digital TV spectrum, channels A and B, later this year.
Nine anchored to old sites as property deals fall over
THE Nine Network is likely to remain indefinitely at its Sydney and Melbourne properties in Willoughby and Richmond respectively, after the sale of the two properties fell through this week.
"We're not selling and, for the time being, we're staying put," PBL Media spokesman said yesterday.
But Media understands the decision to stay at the premises "for the time being" may involve greater permanence. An insider said this week: "Realistically, there's a lot of attachment to these sites." The option of staying at the present Sydney site was considered two years ago as part of a secret plan codenamed Project Olivia, which examined a range of options for Nine's future location.
Another option considered as part of Project Olivia was relocating Nine's Sydney operations to Foxtel's headquarters.
IT'S been a long time coming but local Apple iTunes users will finally be able to buy television shows.
The ABC, and the Seven and Nine networks have jumped on the bandwagon and users can purchase their shows for under $3.
The ABC will offer Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, Double the Fist, Foreign Correspondent Postcards, Sleek Geeks and Surfing the Menu.
US-produced programs such as Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and and Scrubs will also be on the list.
ITunes Australia will also carry Nine's Canal Road, McLeod's Daughters, Sea Patrol and Urban Magic. Each episode will cost $2.99.
PBL Media has withdrawn two of the Nine Network's properties from sale.
Property developer and fund manager Charter Hall Group said PBL Media had advised it that the properties in Sydney and Melbourne had been taken off the market.
Charter Hall had won the right to negotiate to buy the broadcaster's headquarters at Willoughby in Sydney.
Charter Hall's Opportunity Fund No5 (CHOF5) and its joint venture partners, R Corporation and Crane Group, were granted a similar exclusive dealing period for Nine's Richmond Melbourne property, until June 30.
1. Seven News Seven 1.588
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.424
3. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.343
4. National Nine News Nine 1.304
5. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.252
6. ABC News ABC 1.249
7. Search and Rescue Nine 1.244
8. Fire 000 Nine 1.243
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.206
10. The Gruen Transfer ABC 1.182
1. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1.733
2. Seven News Seven 1.576
3. NCIS TEN 1.474
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.463
5. All Saints Seven 1.300
6. Home and Away Seven 1.286
7. Schappelle Corby: The Hidden Truth Nine 1.279
8. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.219
9. ABC News ABC 1.166
10. NCIS (R) TEN 1.159
PROMOS for the hotly-anticipated new political comedy from the Working Dog artistic team - The Hollowmen - have begun running on ABC1 and the show promises to be another Wednesday night comedy hit.
The new series will screen on Wednesday July 9 at 9.30pm on ABC1.
Wednesday nights have been very popular for the ABC with shows like The Chaser, Summer Heights High and The Gruen Transfer doing very well in the timeslot this year.
The six-part series started filming in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney earlier this month and centres around the Prime Minister's internal think tank called the Central Policy Unit which develops "long-term policy vision".
1. Seven News Seven 1.694
2. Border Security Seven 1.547
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.533
4. Sea Patrol Nine 1.497
5. Bear: Spy In The Woods Nine 1.385
6. Surf Patrol Seven 1.365
7. Nine News Nine 1.351
8. Home And Away Seven 1.304
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.299
10. ABC News ABC 1.253
THE Seven Network has won an appeal against a Federal Court finding that it engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct over a story it aired on a property investment scheme.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought the case against the network, alleging it made misleading representations during two episodes of its current affairs program, Today Tonight.
The episodes ran in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth in late 2003 and early 2004 and featured segments on two women, Dymphna Boholt and Sandy Forster, involved in a property investment training program called the Wild Wealthy Women.
The Federal Court found in October last year that Seven breached the misleading representations section of the Trade Practices Act and was not protected by the so-called publisher's defence in relation to statements made in the broadcast.
TiVo looks set to be launched in mid-July by the Seven Network through a deal with Harvey Norman, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.
For a cost of around $700, consumers will be able to buy the TiVo unit, which is capable of storing hours of television onto a non-removable hard drive. Seven's top brass are not too worried about the cost of the unit, which is on the high side, because they are confident it is a better product than similar recorders.
Initially Seven were going to charge users a monthly fee to use the technology, but have now abandoned that idea and it seems they will be paying TiVo a royalty on the number of units purchased.
Harvey Norman's exclusive will only last three months before other retailers will be given access.
Once the nation's highest-paid television performer, Don Lane was recently admitted to a care facility in Sydney suffering, friends say, from the early stages of Alzheimer's.
The thought that the larger-than-life "Lanky Yank", the man whose irrepressibly generous personality brought Hollywood glitz into Australia's lounge rooms during the 1970s and '80s, was taking up residence in an institution, brought a pang of nostalgia and a sense of mortality to his contemporaries.
There is no equivalent of Don Lane in Australia today, and for younger generations it is almost impossible to envisage just how big he was. Rove McManus may be popular, but he doesn't have the same Las Vegas pizazz.
Murdoch finds tonic in pay-TV as tough times loom for ad world
NEWS Corporation is counting on its growing pay-TV businesses to offset any downturn in the advertising economy that would affect its television and print divisions, according to chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch.
Speaking in Cannes after addressing a global advertising conference, Mr Murdoch flagged plans for further activity in the European pay-TV platform market after the company bought a 25 per cent stake in German pay-TV business Premiere earlier this year.
"We've got hopes and plans to do more there (in the region)," Mr Murdoch said in an interview with The Weekend Australian.
"We just had three directors elected to the board of Premiere, which is the pay-TV platform in Germany. They're happy to have our help."
GORDON Ramsay, the British celebrity chef who put the "f" into fine cuisine, yesterday made it clear he couldn't give a bleep about swearing on Australian television.
Handed a swear jar as a joke gift during a food magazine launch in Sydney, he promptly dropped it.
"Oh sh*t," he said as it smashed. "F..k me."
Ramsay prompted a Senate inquiry into bad language on TV when Liberal senator Cory Bernardi complained that one episode of the Nine Network reality show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares contained "the f-word" 80 times in 40 minutes.
1. LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL STORM V COWBOYS FOX SPORTS 2 155,000
2. LIVE: AFL GEELONG V PORT ADELAIDE FOX SPORTS 1 147,000
3. LIVE: AFL RICHMOND V MELBOURNE FOX SPORTS 1 141,000
4. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: TEST MATCH FOX SPORTS 3 128,000
5. LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V BRONCOS FOX SPORTS 2 122,000
6. LIVE: AFL BRISBANE LIONS V ADELAIDE FOX SPORTS 1 120,000
7. LIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V RICHMOND FOX SPORTS 1 116,000
8. LIVE: NRL COWBOYS V KNIGHTS FOX SPORTS 2 116,000
9. LIVE: NRL BULLDOGS V RAIDERS FOX SPORTS 2 115,000
10. LIVE: AFL: ON THE COUCH FOX SPORTS 1 92,000
11. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 82,000
12. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES UKTV 70,000
13. MY FAMILY UKTV 64,000
14. LIVE: AFL TEAMS FOX SPORTS 1 63,000
15. GOSSIP GIRL FOX8 60,000
16. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? UKTV 58,000
17. LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE UKTV 57,000
18. AS TIME GOES BY UKTV 54,000
19. HARDWARE UKTV 53,000
20. LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 1 51,000
21. FAMILY GUY FOX8 51,000
22. LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 50,000
23. BORDER SECURITY: AUSTRALIA'S FRONT LINE LifeStyle Channel 50,000
24. FOOTBALL SUPERSTAR FOX8 48,000
25. DALZIEL AND PASCOE UKTV 47,000
26. LIVE: MOTORSPORT: WORLD S'BIKE C'SHIPS FOX SPORTS 1 47,000
27. LIVE: NRL SUNDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 46,000
28. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 45,000
29. SPIDER-MAN 3 SHOWTIME 45,000
30. FUTURAMA FOX8 43,000
31. DUKES OF HAZZARD: THE BEGINNING MOVIE TWO 42,000
32. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOX Classics +2 41,000
33. THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES UKTV 40,000
34. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! FOX Classics 40,000
35. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER QATAR V AUSTRALIA FOX SPORTS 3 39,000
36. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOX Classics 38,000
37. MEET THE ROBINSONS Disney Channel 38,000
38. STILL STANDING FOX8 36,000
39. 8 SIMPLE RULES FOX8 36,000
40. H2O: JUST ADD WATER Disney Channel 35,000
41. GRAND DESIGNS REVISITED LifeStyle Channel 35,000
42. SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA LifeStyle Channel 34,000
43. GOLF: USPGA TRAVELERS C'SHIP ROUND 2 FOX SPORTS 2 34,000
44. CRICKET: TWENTY20: W INDIES V AUSTRALIA FOX SPORTS 1 34,000
45. LIVE: RUGBY LEAGUE: TOYOTA CUP FOX SPORTS 2 33,000
46. GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS FOX8 33,000
47. LAW & ORDER: SVU TV1 33,000
48. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT TV1 33,000
49. WWE VINTAGE COLLECTION FOX8 32,000
50. WWE RAW FOX8 32,000
51. GOLF: WORLD'S BEST PUTTER FOX SPORTS 1 32,000
52. THAT '70S SHOW FOX8 32,000
53. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 +2 32,000
54. NED AND STACEY TV1 32,000
55. THE CONTENDER: MUAY THAI FOX8 32,000
56. MIDNIGHT EXPRESS FOX Classics 31,000
57. AMERICAN DAD! FOX8 30,000
58. WWE SMACKDOWN! FOX8 30,000
59. THE WORST WEEK OF MY LIFE UKTV 30,000
60. FAMILY GUY FOX8 +2 30,000
61. SPARTACUS FOX Classics 29,000
62. JUDGING AMY W. 29,000
63. HOGAN'S HEROES TV1 29,000
64. AIRPORT 1975 FOX Classics 29,000
65. CRICKET: TEST MATCH WI V AUS, 3RD TEST FOX SPORTS 2 29,000
66. THE KING OF QUEENS FOX8 29,000
67. DANTE'S PEAK TV1 29,000
68. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV1 28,000
69. LIVE: INSIDE RUGBY FOX SPORTS 1 28,000
70. PROPERTY LADDER LifeStyle Channel 28,000
71. KING OF THE HILL FOX8 27,000
72. LIVE: NRL MONDAY POST GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 27,000
73. THE ETERNAL SEA FOX Classics 27,000
74. MONK TV1 27,000
75. LIVE: CRICKET: WEST INDIES V AUSTRALIA 3RD TEST DAY 5 FOX SPORTS 2 27,000
76. AGATHA CHRISTIE'S POIROT Hallmark 27,000
77. CRICKET: ODI ENGLAND V NZ, 2ND ODI FOX SPORTS 1 27,000
78. DOC MARTIN UKTV 27,000
79. SEX AND THE CITY ARENA 27,000
80. LIVE: CRICKET: ODI ENGLAND V NZ, 3RD ODI FOX SPORTS 3 26,000
81. CRIME INVESTIGATION AUSTRALIA Crime & Investigation 26,000
82. JEOPARDY W. 26,000
83. GOTTA KICK IT UP! Disney Channel 25,000
84. CARS Disney Channel 25,000
85. UNAN1MOUS FOX8 25,000
86. A CURRENT AFFAIR SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA 25,000
87. BONES FOX8 25,000
88. WHEN THE WAR CAME TO AUSTRALIA History Channel 25,000
89. THE A-TEAM TV1 25,000
90. NCIS TV1 25,000
91. WIGGLEDANCING - LIVE IN CONCERT Playhouse Disney 25,000
92. FUTURAMA FOX8 +2 25,000
93. THE BEST IN AUSTRALIA LifeStyle Channel 25,000
94. GRUMPY OLD MEN UKTV 24,000
95. MY HERO UKTV +2 24,000
96. WIFE SWAP LifeStyle Channel 24,000
97. MURDER, SHE WROTE TV1 24,000
98. EASTENDERS UKTV 24,000
99. HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID Disney Channel 24,000
100. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 +2 23,000
1. Seven News Seven 1.774
2. 60 Minutes Nine 1.762
3. Schapelle Corby: The Hidden Truth Nine 1.612
4. Domestic Blitz Nine 1.506
5. National Nine News Nine 1.479
6. Battle of the Choirs Seven 1.344
7. Gladiators Seven 1.264
8. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1.259
9. ABC News ABC 1.207
10. Wild China ABC 1.065
1. Seven News Seven 1.406
2. The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 1.074
3. National Nine News Nine 1.009
4. Australia's Funniest Home Videos Nine 1.005
5. The Great Outdoors Seven 0.956
Big Momma's House 2 Nine 0.883
The Bill Network ABC 0.840
Saturday Night AFL TEN 0.752
Midsomer Murders ABC 0.630
Saturday Afternoon AFL TEN 0.568
1. Seven News Seven 1.521
2. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1.510
3. A Current Affair Nine 1.247
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.219
5. Home And Away Seven 1.154
6. Nine News Nine 1.136
7. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.113
8. ABC News ABC 1.072
9. Silent Witness ABC 1.018
10. BB: Friday Night Live TEN 0.935
1. Seven News Seven 1.477
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.389
3. Getaway Nine 1.284
4. ABC News ABC 1.238
5. Home And Away Seven 1.227
6. Two And a Half Men Nine 1.194
7. National Nine News Nine 1.135
8. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.110
9. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.104
10. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1.099
ABC News is enjoying unprecedented success this year, lifting its national weeknight ratings by 10 per cent and its Saturday audience by 20 per cent.
The 7pm bulletin regularly beats every other free-to-air news service except the market leader, Seven News.
The ABC's state-based bulletin is so popular it is often watched by more people than commercial staples National Nine News, A Current Affair or Big Brother on Ten, which it competes directly against at 7pm.
While the media focus is always on the battle between the commercial rivals, Nine and Seven, the ABC has quietly been climbing in numbers and often features in the top 10 programs of the night.
THE Australian Securities Exchange is believed to be investigating sharply increased trading volumes in Ten Network Holdings in the lead-up to a shock earnings downgrade as some leading shareholders yesterday expressed concerns about last Friday's announcement.
The revelation comes as speculation grows that the continuing market sell-off of Ten - whose shares yesterday hit an all-time low of $1.60 - will create significant buying opportunities in the media sector for waiting predators, particularly Kerry Stokes's Seven Network.
In the days before Ten's revelation of a 10 per cent profit downgrade for 2007-08 - less than three months after it had declared that the television advertising market was "remarkably resilient" - Ten shares had three of their four busiest trading days for the year, with close to 29 million exchanged.
Corporate communications boss Matthew Gibbs said the ASX could not comment on specific companies.
WITH only eight weeks until the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, the national radio rights holder Macquarie Radio Network is finally set to sign a deal with ABC radio for event coverage.
Delays in finalising the contract to allow ABC radio's traditional national radio coverage of the Games have generated concern in Olympic circles, as the International Olympic Committee's charter states the Games should be given the widest possible radio and TV broadcast.
But the ABC's deal with Macquarie, which owns 2GB, will largely black out the ABC's Sydney coverage of the Games.
"Talks have progressed very well and we are now finalising discussions with a view to signing a deal (with the ABC) tomorrow or the next day," Macquarie Radio chief operating officer Stuart Thomas told Media.
Eye focuses on an interactive vision for Sydney terminal
CHANNEL 10's outdoor advertising company Eye Corp believes it can turn Sydney airport's terminal two into a leading showcase for the format after yesterday revealing it had retained the T2 account.
Eye Corp chief Mike Tyquin said the firm would now spend "several million dollars" installing new multimedia advertising technology in the terminal, which houses budget airlines Virgin Blue and Jetstar.
T2 was abandoned by Ansett after its collapse in 2001 before Virgin moved in, followed by Jetstar. But Mr Tyquin said T2 had risen from the ashes to become the busiest terminal in Australia because of the popularity of budget airlines.
"In the early days it was unloved by advertisers, but with the low-cost start-up airlines, it has seen significant growth in business and leisure," he said.
BIG Brother's television audience may be tanking, but broadcaster Network Ten believes it may be just a victim of its core audience watching the show online and on mobile phones.
During the past two weeks the reality series has struggled to break through the magic million-viewer mark in the five capital cities. But the network's internal analysis suggests the replacement of host Gretel Killeen with Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O may not be at the heart of audience slide.
Instead, Ten's net-savvy audience appears to be shifting its allegiance from the glowing box in the lounge room to the laptop, getting its daily fix online.
Ten's head of digital media Damien Smith said the network had not increased the amount of video footage available on the Big Brother website compared with last year, but online audience levels had doubled even as free-to-air audiences slipped.
1. Seven News Seven 1.618
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.443
3. Search & Rescue Nine 1.361
4. Spicks And Specks ABC 1.321
5. ABC News ABC 1.304
6. Nine News Nine 1.253
7. Fire 000 Nine 1.215
8. The Gruen Transfer ABC 1.204
9. Home And Away Seven 1.189
10. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.171
THE first indications of how Foxtel's next-generation digital video recorder (DVR), the iQ2, is being received have emerged, with the company confirming that 15,000 households have already subscribed to the service ahead of the expected launch of the Seven Network's rival TiVo product.
Some of those households have already had the service installed since June 2, when Foxtel unofficially offered it to existing subscribers.
The pay-TV operator's chief executive, Kim Williams, said the new box had enjoyed "extremely strong take-up of Foxtel HD+ and the Foxtel iQ2".
Foxtel -- part-owned by News Limited, publisher of The Australian -- will officially launch the product this Sunday to both subscribers and non-subscribers, amid a marketing blitz commencing with the final World Cup soccer qualifier for Australia against China.
Fears of irregular trading before Ten's profit downgrade
MARKET disquiet has emerged about sharply increased volumes in trade in Ten Network Holdings shares in the lead-up to the company's announcement of a shock earnings downgrade last week, amid growing speculation that corporate regulators are examining the trades.
Ten made the unexpected announcement last Friday that its operating profit for the year to August would "be down by approximately 10 per cent" during a third-quarter profit briefing that was made two weeks earlier than originally intended.
But in the three days prior to the unexpected announcement of both the profit downgrade and its third-quarter results, Ten had three of its four busiest trading days for the year, with close to 29 million shares in the stock traded during the period.
When contacted by The Australian last night, spokesmen for both the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Stock Exchange declined to either confirm or deny that enforcement officials were investigating the trades.
NINE has already moved to improve the performance of its new game show Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune by trotting out a host of celebrities.
Game show veteran Bert Newton will join Nine stars Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Denise Drysdale, Michala Banas, Dawn Fraser, Livinia Nixon, John Wood, Andrew Gaze, Nicole Livingstone, Rachael Beck and Blair McDonough and Wheel hosts Tim Campbell and Kelly Landry on Monday to play for charity.
The new 5.30pm game show has failed to improve the lead-in to the news at 6pm and National Nine News has been returning some of its lowest numbers yet.
Two of the celebrities - Newton and Nixon - had their own Nine game shows, Family Feud and Temptation, axed.
1. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1.593
2. NCIS TEN 1.571
3. Seven News Seven 1.514
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.419
5. All Saints Seven 1.380
6. NCIS Rpt TEN 1.363
7. A Current Affair Nine 1.248
8. ABC News ABC 1.245
9. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.215
10. Home And Away Seven 1.208
FOXTEL ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL LAUNCH DATE OF FOXTEL HD+
FOXTEL today announced it would officially launch its much anticipated FOXTEL HD+ service on Sunday, June 22 and confirmed more than 15,000 FOXTEL subscribing homes have already upgraded to FOXTEL HD+ and the FOXTEL iQ2 set-top-unit.
Pay TV Ratings for Week 24 (08 June - 14 June 2008)
1 LIVE: NRL TITANS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 281 281 1,314 727
2 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: TEST MATCH Fox Sports 3 Sat 20:00 232 232 1,367 846
3 AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 Tue 19:35 231 333 1,234 739
4 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL SHARKS V WARRIORS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 204 204 1,435 628
5 SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA Lifestyle Wed 19:30 181 221 1,055 575
6 LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V SHARKS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 162 162 1,108 428
7 FUTURAMA FOX8 Tue 18:19 158 184 840 1,076
8 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V CARLTON Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 157 157 1,089 484
9 FAMILY GUY FOX8 Tue 18:44 146 210 936 1,154
10 LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V ST KILDA Fox Sports 1 Sat 19:00 140 140 1,392 743
FOXTEL announced today it would launch its high definition service next Sunday, June 22.
The pay TV carrier said more than 15,000 people had already subscribed to Foxtel HD+ and the Foxtel iQ2 set-top-unit.
Sunday's soccer World Cup qualifier between Australia and China will be broadcast in high definition for the first time on Fox Sports HD (CH 205) from 6.00pm (AEST).
Coinciding with the launch and the broadcast, Foxtel will begin running a television, print, radio and online marketing campaign, titled "Wonders will never cease".
"Foxtel aims to be true to the concept that 'Wonders will never cease' and the new FOXTEL HD+ High Definition television service truly embodies this," chief executive and managing director Kim Williams said today.
THE next frontiers in digital radio advertising will be connecting the screen on a digital set to the internet, and "tagging" content, which will turn radio into the audio equivalent of a personal digital recorder.
Nick Piggot, head of creative technology at British radio group GCap Media, said those and other advances in technology that could more directly connect advertisers with their customers were not far off for the Australian radio industry, which is due to switch on digital radio in metropolitan centres early next year.
"You will be able to hop seamlessly between digital radio and the web," said Mr Piggot, who was in Cannes to address advertisers and agency creatives at a Commercial Radio Australia seminar hosted by Commercial Radio Australia this week.
"The question is not can you go online (from your radio), but when," he said.
THE ABC has beaten the Ten network for the second time this week, placing three shows in the top 15 while Ten had none.
ABC News, Australian Story and Andrew Denton's moving interview with David Attenborough all attracted more than one million viewers.
The 82-year old wildlife expert was also starring on Nine where his new series about elephants had an average audience of 1.4 million at 7.30pm.
Seven won the night narrowly from Nine, but had a comfortable margin in its news bulletin over Nine.
Seven news was almost 500,000 viewers ahead of National Nine News again across the five capital cities.
THE ABC beat Ten in the ratings nationally, in Sydney and in Melbourne last night, as reality TV original Big Brother failed to excite viewers.
While the ABC had two shows in the top 10 which both had more than 1.2 million viewers, ABC News and Wild China, Ten had none. More people watched the ABC's game show The Einsten Factor at 6.30pm than tuned into an early Big Brother show.
The Nine network won Sunday night with a healthy 30 per cent share, but Seven had a lot to celebrate too as its new show Battle of the Choirs peaked at 1.49 million viewers and averaged 1.44 million over the hour. It is up against the eternallty popular 60 Minutes on Nine, which won the hour.
It is another ratings triumph for Sunrise host Daviod Koch, who has also done well in prime time with Where are they now?
AS the host of the talk show Meet the Press, Tim Russert played an influential role on the American political landscape.
Russert's precise and relentless style of questioning made him a highly valued if fearsome interviewer who was respected on both sides of the political divide.
Hearing of his death, Barack Obama commented that "there wasn't a better interviewer in television", while John McCain hailed Russert as the "pre-eminent journalist of his generation".
Timothy John Russert was born in Buffalo, New York State in 1950 and graduated from John Carroll University, Ohio, in 1972 with a degree in political science before moving to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
After leaving law school in 1976, Russert worked on the successful senatorial campaign of New York Democrat Daniel Moynihan, staying on as his chief of staff for a further five years.
Ad spending in doubt after Ten issues profit downgrade
THE first clear signs have emerged that the global credit crunch has started to rub off on spending by companies on advertising - one of the key gauges of the health of the broader economy - after Ten Network Holdings yesterday shocked the market by significantly downgrading its earnings outlook.
Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon told The Australian the downgrade was "simply about how much money is being spent on the advertising market ... the market has turned down".
And Ten could prove to be only the first major media company to report such a problem. One senior executive at another TV operator confirmed market conditions had toughened markedly in the last two months: "Everyone was heading along nicely (with advertising) in the first quarter. Then in mid-April, the tougher retail sales outlook started hitting harder."
Developments at Ten support growing evidence the broader Australian economy may be suffering from the credit crunch which has swept through the financial and property markets.
NEW YORK: A Fox News television presenter has been taken off the air after accusing Barack and Michelle Obama of greeting each other with a "terrorist's fist jab", as the cable network faced fresh outrage over a graphic that referred to the aspiring first lady as "Obama's Baby Mama".
The graphic, which read "Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama's baby mama", was flashed during an interview with conservative columnist Michelle Malkin about whether Senator Obama's wife has been the target of unfair criticism.
"Baby mama" originated as urban black slang for a woman who has a baby with a man who is not her husband or her boyfriend.
Fox anchor E.D. Hill has apologised for referring to an affectionate onstage fist bump shared by the couple as a "terrorist fist jab", and Fox contributor Liz Trotta said she was sorry for joking about an Obama assassination.
Investors turn on Ten after substantial operating profit downgrade
TEN Network Holdings executive chairman Nick Falloon has defended his description of the advertising market as "remarkably resilient" less than three months ago, in the wake of revealing a 10 per cent downgrade in the company's 2008 operating profit outlook.
In late March, Mr Falloon noted that Ten was "set to better 2007 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) in the current financial year."
Yesterday, Mr Falloon was telling a very different story, saying Ten's EBITDA was now likely to fall from its 2007 level of $237 million to just $213 million for the year to August 31.
He told The Australian: "When we reported back in March, we reported that things were remarkably resilient. Probably a month after that, advertising started to slow."
1. LIVE: NRL TITANS V STORM FOX SPORTS 2 159,000
2. LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V CARLTON FOX SPORTS 1 128,000
3. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: TEST MATCH FOX SPORTS 3 107,000
4. LIVE: AFL FREMANTLE V NORTH MELBOURNE FOX SPORTS 1 107,000
5. LIVE: AFL: ON THE COUCH FOX SPORTS 3 106,000
6. LIVE: TENNIS: 2008 FRENCH OPEN MEN'S FINAL FOX SPORTS 3 104,000
7. LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V ST KILDA FOX SPORTS 1 103,000
8. LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL SHARKS V WARRIORS FOX SPORTS 2 102,000
9. LIVE: AFL BRISBANE LIONS V FREMANTLE FOX SPORTS 1 98,000
10. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOX Classics 90,000
11. LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V SHARKS FOX SPORTS 2 88,000
12. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? UKTV 72,000
13. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 70,000
14. AS TIME GOES BY UKTV 68,000
15. LIVE: AFL TEAMS FOX SPORTS 1 63,000
16. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 59,000
17. LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE UKTV 59,000
18. MEET THE ROBINSONS Disney Channel 58,000
19. FAMILY GUY FOX8 57,000
20. CRICKET: TEST MATCH WI V AUS, 3RD TEST FOX SPORTS 1 54,000
21. AFL: THE WINNERS FOX SPORTS 3 54,000
22. WAKING THE DEAD UKTV 53,000
23. H2O: JUST ADD WATER Disney Channel 53,000
24. LIVE: CRICKET: TEST WI V AUS, 3RD TEST FOX SPORTS 2 52,000
25. LIVE: MOTORSPORT: MOTOGP ROUND 7 FOX SPORTS 2 51,000
26. LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 1 51,000
27. AMERICAN DAD! FOX8 50,000
28. RUGBY UNION: RUGBY FOCUS FOX SPORTS 3 50,000
29. BORDER SECURITY: AUSTRALIA'S FRONT LINE LifeStyle Channel 50,000
30. SEX AND THE CITY ARENA 49,000
31. HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER FOX Classics 49,000
32. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER IRAQ V AUST FOX SPORTS 2 48,000
33. GOSSIP GIRL FOX8 47,000
34. FUTURAMA FOX8 47,000
35. A FISH CALLED WANDA COMEDY CHANNEL 46,000
36. NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE TV1 45,000
37. DOCTOR WHO CONFIDENTIAL UKTV 45,000
38. DALZIEL AND PASCOE UKTV 45,000
39. JOEL RIFKIN Crime & Investigation 42,000
40. SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA LifeStyle Channel 40,000
41. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 +2 40,000
42. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER FOX SPORTS 1 40,000
43. GOLF: US OPEN GOLF FOX SPORTS 2 39,000
44. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT TV1 38,000
45. LIVE: NRL MONDAY POST GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 38,000
46. WWE VINTAGE COLLECTION FOX8 38,000
47. LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 37,000
48. AFTERLIFE UKTV 37,000
49. AFL: BEFORE THE BOUNCE FOX SPORTS 1 37,000
50. DOCTOR WHO UKTV 36,000
51. PROPERTY LADDER LifeStyle Channel 36,000
52. LAW & ORDER: SVU TV1 36,000
53. FRASIER TV1 35,000
54. WHO KILLED THE PAGEANT QUEEN? Crime & Investigation 34,000
55. ANALYZING THE LAUGHTER TV1 34,000
56. LIVE: NRL SUNDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 33,000
57. DISTANT DRUMS FOX Classics 33,000
58. FAMILY GUY FOX8 +2 32,000
59. THE WIND AND THE LION FOX Classics 32,000
60. WHEN STUNTS GO BAD FOX8 32,000
61. TALKING TO HEAVEN Hallmark 32,000
62. BRING IT ON: IN IT TO WIN IT SHOWTIME 32,000
63. THE CONTENDER: MUAY THAI FOX8 32,000
64. WWE RAW FOX8 31,000
65. HOGAN'S HEROES TV1 31,000
66. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 +2 31,000
67. UNAN1MOUS FOX8 31,000
68. THE WEST WING W. 31,000
69. POKEMON: MASTERMIND OF MIRAGE POKEMON Cartoon Network 31,000
70. LIVE: CRICKET: WEST INDIES V AUSTRALIA 3RD TEST DAY 1 FOX SPORTS 2 30,000
71. MOST SHOCKING MOMENTS FOX8 30,000
72. MURDER, SHE WROTE TV1 29,000
73. INSIDE RUGBY FOX SPORTS 1 29,000
74. THAT '70S SHOW FOX8 29,000
75. JUDGING AMY W. 29,000
76. LIVE: NRL MONDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 29,000
77. THE WORST WEEK OF MY LIFE UKTV 29,000
78. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST FOX Classics 29,000
79. RAMSAY'S KITCHEN NIGHTMARES REVISITED LifeStyle FOOD 29,000
80. GRAND DESIGNS LifeStyle Channel 29,000
81. LIVE: CRICKET: ENGLAND V NZ 3RD TEST DAY 4 FOX SPORTS 1 28,000
82. GOLF: USLPGA LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUND 3 FOX SPORTS 1 28,000
83. ICE ROAD TRUCKERS FOX8 +2 28,000
84. WWE SMACKDOWN! FOX8 28,000
85. NCIS TV1 28,000
86. COLUMBO TV1 28,000
87. MY WIFE & KIDS FOX8 27,000
88. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER POST GAME FOX SPORTS 2 27,000
89. FOOTBALL: EPL GOALS OF THE SEASON FOX SPORTS 1 27,000
90. AMERICAN SKINHEADS National Geographic 27,000
91. DEAD SEA SCROLLS History Channel 27,000
92. HANNAH MONTANA Disney Channel 27,000
93. LIVE: GOLF: USPGA ST JUDE CLASSIC FINAL FOX SPORTS 1 27,000
94. DEAD RECKONING Crime & Investigation 27,000
95. ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN Disney Channel 27,000
96. STANDOFF FOX8 27,000
97. FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE MOVIE GREATS 27,000
98. THE A-TEAM TV1 27,000
99. MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE Disney Channel 27,000
100. AFL: BEFORE THE BOUNCE FOX SPORTS 2 27,000
1. Seven News Seven 1.744
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.585
3. Sea Patrol Nine 1.490
4. Border Security Seven 1.435
5. David Attenborough: Elephant Nine 1.377
6. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.370
7. Surf Patrol Seven 1.308
8. National Nine News Nine 1.287
9. Home and Away Seven 1.277
10. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.220
1. Seven News Seven 1,353,000
2. Nine News Nine 1,102,000
3. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,068,000
4. Richie Rich Nine 989,000
5. Bed Of Roses ABC 961,000
6. ABC News ABC 900,000
7. The Great Outdoors Seven 877,000
9. SATURDAY NIGHT AFL Network TEN 841,000
10. THE BILL Network ABC1 830,000
1. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1.610
2. Seven News Seven 1.515
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.299
4. Home And Away Seven 1.242
5. Nine News Nine 1.218
A Current Affair Nine 1.162
Silent Witness ABC 1.033
Big Brother - Friday Night Live TEN 0.977
Deal Or No Deal Seven 0.896
Spooks ABC 0.889
THE federal Opposition says the future of community TV is in doubt because of an unrealistic deadline for it to go digital.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has given television stations until 2013 to make the switch from analogue to digital.
But Opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson said the Government had failed to provide adequate support to help community television stations make the switch.
"In what appeared to be a naive, political chest-beating exercise, Senator Conroy recklessly set a 2013 digital television switchover deadline back in December, before doing anything to ensure community television's digital future was assured," Mr Billson said.
"This was one of the reasons why the previous government did not set a firm switchover date and instead was working to implement a digital action plan to ensure critical issues were addressed, including the shoring-up of community television's digital future."
"WE have no major concerns at all a year from the Games," Seven Network head of sport Saul Shtein said at a Beijing Olympic press briefing in October last year.
With the Beijing Games now just eight weeks away Shtein's tune has changed dramatically, at least behind closed doors.
Shtein was one of nine Olympic host broadcasters at an emergency meeting with Games organisers in Beijing last month who expressed their anger, frustration and concern that a wide range of security problems and key logistical issues essential for television coverage of the Games had not been resolved.
These include access to filming in Tiananmen Square, accreditation for crew and drivers, airspace permission for media helicopters to fly over Beijing for scenic shots, lockdown dates of Olympic venues, delays in getting equipment into Beijing and whether Seven executive chairman Kerry Stokes and his guests would be able to watch the opening ceremony live and the Seven broadcast in their Beijing hotels.
THE Nine Network's flagship program A Current Affair will no longer be a national program, with the owner of Nine's Perth and Adelaide stations planning live local versions of the show as it seeks to lift its ratings.
WIN Corporation, which owns Nine's regional affiliates, said last night it would employ journalists, producers and camera operators in Perth and Adelaide to produce the programs.
In Perth, ACA will be presented by Sonia Vinci; the Adelaide host has yet to be appointed. WIN said the start date depended on how quickly staff could be hired. The move replicates Seven's programming for Today Tonight, which also has local versions of the program created for Perth and Adelaide.
ACA loses to Today Tonight in Perth by an average of 100,000 viewers each night, but is more competitive in Adelaide.
1. Seven News Seven 1.458
2. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.311
3. Getaway Nine 1.301
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.272
5. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.268
6. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.268
7. Law and Order: SVU TEN 1.233
8. ABC News ABC 1.228
9. Home and Away Seven 1.140
10. A Current Affair Nine 1.130
THE main topic of conversation on The Morning Show earlier this week was Larry Emdur's jacket.
The co-host of the Seven network's weekday ratings winner was wearing a lilac velvet jacket and viewers were asked to vote on whether he should lose the jacket or keep it on.
This trite debate was as endless as the jarring advertorials, all seven of them, that populate the two hours.
Yes, there is a live daytime television program that is even lighter, even fluffier, than Sunrise. It is the Sunrise spin-off - The Morning Show - and it's produced by the same Seven team led by executive producer Adam Boland.
Next week Morning is celebrating its first year on air. And there is a lot to celebrate.
AT a crisis meeting of key international broadcasters, the Seven Network has called on Beijing Olympic organisers to urgently resolve issues concerning television coverage of the Games.
With the opening ceremony only weeks away, Seven's head of sport Saul Shtein was part of a showdown in Beijing on May 29 that urged organisers to sort out a string of issues affecting their ability to cover the Games.
Broadcasters, which have paid billions of dollars to cover the Games, are worried that Chinese security issues and overly bureaucratic procedures have delayed approval for accreditation and filming requests.
The broadcasters' concerns include delays in getting vital electronic equipment into Beijing.
OLYMPIC host broadcasters, who have paid billions for the right to televise the Beijing Games starting in eight weeks, are furious with China's oppressive security measures, endless red tape and unexplained delays they claim are jeopardising their coverage.
Saul Shtein from Australia's host broadcaster, Seven Network, has told an emergency meeting in Beijing between Chinese organisers, high-ranking International Olympic Committee officials and TV executives from nine host broadcasters that "if this story gets out that these difficulties are being experienced, it will have a very negative impact, not only on the Olympic ideals, but also on Beijing and China".
"There are still significant issues needing to be resolved immediately," Mr Shtein told the meeting. "They are not trivial issues - they need to be resolved very quickly."
The issues range from permission for live coverage in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City to allegations that shipments of television broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports, difficulties moving personnel and equipment in Beijing, and overly complicated procedures for accreditation and accommodation.
CHANNEL Nine has scored a record audience for last night's State of Origin with a peak audience of 2.4 million viewers.
State of Origin II is now also the number one program in the year-to-date in the total people demographic.
An average of 2.09 million viewers watched game two of the Origin series on Channel Nine in the five metropolitan markets.
Channel Nine said today that was the highest result for a State of Origin game since the introduction of OzTAM ratings, beating the result from game one three weeks ago (2.092 million).
In Sydney, the game attracted a peak audience of 1.033 million in the total people demographic, making it the night's top program with an average of 885,000 viewers.
MULTICULTURAL broadcaster SBS is expecting record revenues from its sports programming outside the FIFA World Cup years with advertising from its Olympics, Tour de France cycling and Euro 2008 football coverage likely to reach $12 million.
Commercial affairs director Richard Finlayson said sport contributed about one-quarter of SBS's advertising, which was expected to jump 22 per cent this year, from $38 million to about $46million.
The growing popularity of the month-long Tour de France cycling event with the public - and with key media buyers - has led to car marque Skoda becoming the first global sponsor to take a significant sponsorship package on SBS's coverage of the event.
"We're experiencing a lot of interest in cycling at the moment," Mr Finlayson said.
CHANNEL Ten will become the first television network to abolish on-screen credits at the end of programs as it tries to stop viewers switching channels between shows, but the move is likely to be contested by industry guilds.
Last week, Ten introduced a new end-credit policy for all commissioned programs that requires all production partners to exclude crew details from shows' end credits and provide them instead for the network's website.
Ten management was unwilling to comment on the change, although a network spokesperson said the change was intended to "maximise accelerated audience flow, that is, getting viewers from one show to the next quickly".
But the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which represents a number of TV industry sectors, said the display of on-screen credits was a convention that it would fight to retain.
GANGLAND drama Underbelly has delivered yet another kick in the guts to the Nine Network in the form of an expensive legal bill.
The television station was already counting the cost of lost advertising revenue from the $13million series not going to air in Victoria, but now it has to pay the legal costs of its protracted courtroom battle.
The Victorian Court of Appeal yesterday ordered Nine to pay for the costs of the prosecution and defence lawyers who appeared at the television station's failed appeal against the series's ban.
Underbelly was suppressed in February by judge Betty King after fears it would prejudice the trial of Evangelos Goussis, who was accused of murdering crime figure Lewis Moran at the height of Melbourne's gangland wars.
AUSTRALIA'S television networks face a series of discrimination claims by deaf people for failing to provide captions on some programs.
A number of deaf people have lodged complaints with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission after the networks failed to renegotiate an exemption from discrimination actions.
HREOC and the free-to-air broadcasters (Seven, Nine, Ten, the ABC and SBS) agreed to a five-year exemption in 2003 in exchange for broadcasters increasing captioning to 70 per cent of programs between 6am and midnight, and after four years to renegotiate a new deal.
While the broadcasters met the captioning quota, they haven't entered fresh negotiations about new captioning benchmarks, and their exemption expired on May 28.
STATE of Origin II in Brisbane last night was the most watched Origin game in history according to TV ratings.
An average of 2.096 million TV viewers tuned in to the Nine Network as Queensland thumped NSW 30-0 to square the Origin series 1-1 and set up a decider in Sydney next month.
The audience peaked at 2.494 million. It beat the record set by this year's first State of Origin match, which attracted 2.092 million viewers.
Not surprisingly, the largest viewing audience was in NSW and Queensland.
But the game also attracted significant numbers of viewers in AFL-loving Victoria, where the audience peaked at almost 320,000.
1. State Of Origin Rugby League 2nd - Match Nine 2.096
2. Seven News Seven 1.600
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.398
4. State Of Origin 2 - Pre Match Nine 1.354
5. Home And Away Seven 1.301
6. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.293
7. Nine News Nine 1.280
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.231
9. Spicks And Specks ABC 1.199
10. ABC News ABC 1.167
1. Seven News Seven 1.720
2. NCIS Ten 1.575
3. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1.556
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.549
5. NCIS (R) Ten 1.342
6. All Saints Seven 1.296
7. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.294
8. Home and Away Seven 1.283
9. ABC News ABC 1.249
10. A Current Affair Nine 1.217
Foxtel HD+ Video Blog - Sneak peek at the FOXTEL Television Centre
Pay TV Ratings for Week 23 (01 June - 07 June 2008)
1 LIVE: FOOTBALL WORLD CUP QUAL. AUST V IRAQ Fox Sports 3 Sun 17:00 330 330 1,338 712
2 LIVE: NRL WESTS TIGERS V COWBOYS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 291 291 1,449 610
3 LIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V WESTS TIGERS Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 278 278 1,216 695
4 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL BULLDOGS V KNIGHTS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 273 273 1,263 636
5 LIVE: AFL RICHMOND V ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sat 14:00 203 203 1,144 527
6 LIVE: NRL RABBITOHS V DRAGONS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 197 197 1,293 465
7 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL FREM V P ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:32 195 195 1,316 591
8 LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V RICHMOND Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 187 187 1,235 597
9 LIVE: AFL WEST COAST V SYDNEY Fox Sports 1 Sat 19:30 169 169 1,395 654
10 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Sun 10:40 164 221 853 1,833
FTA puts Australian television content out of focus
COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has flagged an end to Foxtel's regulatory "holiday".
But if he hopes to increase the hours of local content broadcast on pay television, he may find his efforts hindered by Australia's free trade agreement with the United States.
Conroy is right in thinking that pay television's current obligations are akin to a "holiday". In particular, the sector enjoys very lenient local content regulation compared with free-to-air broadcasters. Free-to-air channels must make sure 55% of content broadcast between 6am and midnight is Australian. This quota includes mandatory levels of first-run drama and children's content.
By comparison, Foxtel is obliged only to ensure that 10% of its drama channels' total expenditure is spent on new Australian drama. It does not have to broadcast a certain number of hours of Australian content.
Fledgling company hits out at bid to ban pay TV gambling service
TWO Way Interactive chief executive Ben Reichel is angry - and baffled - about a Federal Opposition bid to ban the fledgling company's pay TV gambling service.
Opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson has submitted a private member's bill to ban Two Way's new service, which allows betting on horse races using only a pay TV remote control.
"We've worked our guts out for years to develop it and bring it to market . and it's quite concerning having a major political party trying to kill us basically, which is what they're doing," Mr Reichel said.
"I think what they're doing is a stunt and it won't have any benefit for problem gamblers at all."
EDDIE McGuire has managed to drag A Current Affair's ratings up significantly in his first night in the chair.
The $5 million Nine personality, who has been shelved for a year since stepping down as CEO, is hosting ACA while Tracy Grimshaw has time off to move from Sydney to Melbourne.
The sports journalist and game show host has never fronted the daily current affairs show and was a surprise choice by CEO David Gyngell late last week.
The national Monday audience for ACA was 1.429 million, up from a low of 1 million last week.
ACA beat Today Tonight in Sydney and Melbourne, a rare event these days, but Today Tonight won nationally on 1.470 million.
ABC's The 7.30 Report is reeling in Nine's A Current Affair
NINE'S A Current Affair was beaten by the ABC's serious current affairs show The 7.30 Report in Sydney last week as the program reports some of its lowest ever ratings.
Nationally, ACA was ahead of The 7:30 Report by just 7000 viewers on Wednesday night, managing 1 million viewers to Today Tonight's 1.5 million.
Host Tracy Grimshaw is off air at the moment as she is moving from Sydney to Melbourne. Last week the program was hosted by Leila McKinnon and this week Eddie McGuire will be the rather surprising fill-in.
SEVEN Network executive chairman Kerry Stokes claims he hates to tell the extraordinary story of his own transformation from dyslexic teenage runaway to billionaire tycoon.
"That 'from nothing to something' stuff ... it makes me very uncomfortable," he once said.
But the move to award Mr Stokes Australia's highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), caps one of the country's great rags-to-riches stories.
Mr Stokes's profile is personified by his position as one of the country's most prominent media proprietors. But although he was granted the AC partly for services to commerce, much of the honour can be attributed to services to the arts through his executive roles and philanthropy, and to the community, particularly through contributions to "organisations supporting youth".
1. LIVE: FOOTBALL WORLD CUP QUALIFIER AUSTRALIA V IRAQ FOX SPORTS 3 253,000
2. LIVE: AFL RICHMOND V ADELAIDE FOX SPORTS 1 162,000
3. LIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V WESTS TIGERS FOX SPORTS 2 159,000
4. LIVE: NRL WESTS TIGERS V COWBOYS FOX SPORTS 2 154,000
5. LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL FREM V P ADELAIDE FOX SPORTS 1 149,000
6. LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL BULLDOGS V KNIGHTS FOX SPORTS 2 147,000
7. LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V RICHMOND FOX SPORTS 1 134,000
8. LIVE: AFL WEST COAST V SYDNEY FOX SPORTS 1 132,000
9. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER POST GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 3 126,000
10. LIVE: NRL RABBITOHS V DRAGONS FOX SPORTS 2 106,000
11. LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 1 96,000
12. THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES UKTV 86,000
13. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: TEST MATCH FOX SPORTS 3 86,000
14. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 3 82,000
15. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES UKTV 79,000
16. LIVE: AFL TEAMS FOX SPORTS 1 65,000
17. LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 63,000
18. AS TIME GOES BY UKTV 62,000
19. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 58,000
20. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 55,000
21. MY FAMILY UKTV 54,000
22. BATTLE OF BRITAIN FOX Classics 53,000
23. NRL EELS V RAIDERS FOX SPORTS 2 52,000
24. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? UKTV 51,000
25. LIVE: MOTORSPORT: MOTOGP ROUND 6, ITALY FOX SPORTS 2 49,000
26. ICE ROAD TRUCKERS FOX8 47,000
27. FAMILY GUY FOX8 46,000
28. CHANGING ROOMS LifeStyle Channel 44,000
29. DOCTOR WHO UKTV 44,000
30. WHEN STUNTS GO BAD FOX8 43,000
31. WAKING THE DEAD UKTV 43,000
32. FUTURAMA FOX8 42,000
33. DALZIEL AND PASCOE UKTV 41,000
34. LIVE: TENNIS: 2008 FRENCH OPEN DAY 13 FOX SPORTS 3 41,000
35. LIVE: NRL MONDAY POST GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 41,000
36. HOW TO BE A PROPERTY DEVELOPER LifeStyle Channel 40,000
37. LIVE: TENNIS: 2008 FRENCH OPEN FINAL FOX SPORTS 3 40,000
38. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT TV1 40,000
39. H2O: JUST ADD WATER Disney Channel 39,000
40. GONE IN 60 SECONDS MOVIE EXTRA 39,000
41. 300 MOVIE ONE 38,000
42. GRAND DESIGNS LifeStyle Channel 38,000
43. THE CONTENDER: MUAY THAI FOX8 38,000
44. AFL: BEFORE THE BOUNCE FOX SPORTS 1 38,000
45. SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA LifeStyle Channel 38,000
46. THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY FOX Classics 38,000
47. DOCTOR WHO CONFIDENTIAL UKTV 36,000
48. MATILDA Disney Channel 35,000
49. LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER FOX SPORTS 2 35,000
50. STALAG 17 FOX Classics35,000
51. UNAN1MOUS FOX8 34,000
52. HARDWARE UKTV 34,000
53. LAW & ORDER: SVU TV1 34,000
54. THE A-TEAM TV1 33,000
55. DOC MARTIN UKTV 33,000
56. LIVE: RUGBY LEAGUE: TOYOTA CUP FOX SPORTS 2 33,000
57. LIVE: NRL ON FOX FOX SPORTS 2 32,000
58. THAT TOUCH OF MINK FOX Classics 32,000
59. AFL: ON THE COUCH FOX SPORTS 1 31,000
60. GOIN' SOUTH FOX Classics 30,000
61. WWE SMACKDOWN! FOX8 30,000
62. GOLF: USLPGA GINN TRIBUTE, ROUND 3 FOX SPORTS 2 30,000
63. GOLF: USPGA ST JUDE CLASSIC, ROUND 2 FOX SPORTS 1 29,000
64. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 +2 29,000
65. LIVE: NETBALL: ANZ CHAMPIONSHIP FOX SPORTS 1 29,000
66. AMERICAN DAD! FOX8 29,000
67. LESS THAN PERFECT FOX8 29,000
68. THE WEST WING W. 29,000
69. STILL STANDING FOX8 29,000
70. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 +2 28,000
71. NUMB3RS TV1 28,000
72. NCIS TV1 28,000
73. HOGAN'S HEROES TV1 28,000
74. AFL: THE WINNERS FOX SPORTS 3 28,000
75. PROPERTY LADDER LifeStyle Channel 28,000
76. WIFE SWAP LifeStyle Channel 28,000
77. JUDGING AMY W. 28,000
78. THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 Playhouse Disney 27,000
79. CRIME SEEN Crime & Investigation 27,000
80. WWE RAW FOX8 27,000
81. MURDER, SHE WROTE TV1 27,000
82. FRASIER TV1 27,000
83. FAMILY GUY FOX8 +2 27,000
84. ENTERTAINMENT DAILY TV1 27,000
85. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: TEST MATCH FOX SPORTS 1 26,000
86. KING OF THE HILL FOX826,000
87. NED AND STACEY TV1 26,000
88. LIVE: CRICKET: WEST INDIES V AUSTRALIA 2ND TEST DAY 5 FOX SPORTS 2 26,000
89. SHORTS TV1 26,000
90. YOU WISH! Disney Channel 26,000
91. LET'S GO TO PRISON SHOWTIME 2 26,000
92. MY WIFE & KIDS FOX8 25,000
93. ZENON: GIRL OF THE 21ST CENTURY Disney Channel 25,000
94. HELL AND HIGH WATER FOX Classics 25,000
95. LIVE: CRICKET: WEST INDIES V AUSTRALIA 2ND TEST DAY 2 FOX SPORTS 1 25,000
96. AINSLEY'S BBQ BIBLE LifeStyle FOOD 25,000
97. ROSEMARY & THYME Hallmark 25,000
98. CELEBRITY APPRENTICE ARENA 25,000
99. LIVE: NRL SUNDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX SPORTS 2 25,000
100. GOSSIP GIRL FOX8 25,000
1. Seven News Seven 1.718
2. National Nine News Nine 1.517
3. Border Security Seven 1.515
4. Sea Patrol Nine 1.491
5. Today Tonight Seven 1.470
6. A Current Affair Nine 1.429
7. Ten News Ten 1.355
8. David Attenborough: Lion Nine 1.339
9. Surf Patrol Seven 1.336
10. Home and Away Seven 1.334
1. Seven News Seven 1.597
2. National Nine News Nine 1.407
3. 60 Minutes Nine 1.407
4. Domestic Blitz Nine 1.364
5. CSI Nine 1.342
6. Wild China ABC 1.196
7. ABC News ABC 1.122
8. Without A Trace Nine 1.063
9. Gladiators Seven 1.035
10. My Name Is Earl Seven 0.985
1. Seven News Seven 1.291
2. Nine News Nine 1.193
3. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1.156
4. Vicar Of Dibley Seven 0. 958
5. The Great Outdoors Seven 0.952
6. ABC NEWS-SAT ABC1 0.915
7. BED OF ROSES ABC1 0.854
8. THE CAT IN THE HAT -RPT Nine 0.854
10. THE BILL ABC1 0.824
1. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1.430
2. Seven News Seven 1.428
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.304
4. Nine News Nine 1.161
5. A Current Affair Nine 1.133
9. SILENT WITNESS ABC 0.957
10. BIG BROTHER - FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE Ten 0.941
Foxtel HD+ Video Blog - Go behind the scenes at the FOXTEL Television Centre
ABC hopes to eat news rivals for Breakfast
FOREIGN correspondent Peter Lloyd and Lateline co-host Virginia Trioli will anchor the ABC's ambitious Breakfast TV news program starting on ABC2 in September.
From 6am to 10am every weekday, Breakfast will carry news from the ABC's extensive network of television, radio and online journalists, including footage of live radio interviews with politicians as well as breaking international news.
The program is certain to put pressure on pay TV's Sky News, as well as the free-to-air news shows on commercial television, such as Sunrise on Seven and Today on Nine.
ABC managing director Mark Scott has taken a personal interest in developing Breakfast as well as in building the Continuous News Centre - the ABC's first purpose-built, 24-hour multi-media newsroom, in Ultimo, near the Sydney CBD.
1. Seven News Seven 1.433
2. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.303
3. Getaway Nine 1.285
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.252
5. National Nine News Nine 1.228
6. Home and Away Seven 1.207
7. ABC News ABC 1.155
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.150
9. Bones Seven 1.140
10. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1.113
IT'S nearly 20 years since a pair of soccer-mad Irishmen, angered that they couldn't watch their favourite team compete in the World Cup, hired a British pub and forked out their own money to get a satellite feed of the game.
Michael O'Rourke and Leonard Ryan packed the pub with similarly minded mates who paid for the privilege, and Setanta Sports was born.
This weekend Setanta is celebrating its first major event as a player in the local subscription television market with the broadcast of the European football championship.
Conor Woods, chief executive of Setanta Sports Australia, said Euro 2008 was a pivotal moment in the company's push to establish itself locally.
Although Setanta has been operational here for more than a decade, its audience base has been low as it has mostly relied on broadcasting into Gaelic sports clubs and pubs.
1. Seven News Seven 1.548
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.473
3. Search and Rescue Nine 1.431
4. House - 9:30pm Ten 1.387
5. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.364
6. Fire 000 Nine 1.339
7. The Gruen Transfer ABC 1.273
8. ABC News ABC 1.256
9. National Nine News Nine 1.227
10. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.221
Feds Call For Discussion On Digital TV Dates Could Be Changed
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the release of a discussion paper covering a legislative framework for the digital television switchover which could be bought forward from 2013 subject to a legislation change.
"The discussion paper proposes legislative amendments required to develop a phased, region-by-region timetable to deliver the switchover to digital television," Senator Conroy said.
"Providing greater flexibility in the legislation is an important factor in implementing a switchover timetable that addresses the various issues affecting digital switchover in Australia."
"This is another strong step towards meeting the Government's election commitment to achieve digital television switchover by the end of 2013," Senator Conroy said.
ERICSSON, the world's largest supplier of mobile networks, says "individual TV" services delivered over mobile phones, TV screens and personal computers will be the key driver of growth in the telco sector in the next 10 years.
Ericsson said yesterday that forecasts of rapid growth in the emerging personalised TV and video market would "underpin a broader strategic shift" in the telco industry that required new business approaches and technologies.
Research commissioned by Ericsson from IDC global research estimated that the personalised TV and video market will have projected revenue of $US149 billion ($155 billion) by 2011, up from $US27 billion in 2006. The fastest-growing telco segment in Australia was also TV/video, which had a compounding annual growth rate of 116 per cent to $US419 million in 2011, representing 43 per cent of the projected total consumer multimedia market, Ericsson said.
Continued growth in the number of fixed and mobile broadband users would see revenue generated from TV/video eclipse revenue from the audio/music segment.
A FEDERAL Opposition MP has introduced a private member's bill to stop interactive gambling through pay-TV.
Opposition communications spokesperson Bruce Billson said he was concerned about the despair, economic and emotional hardship caused by problem gambling.
Mr Billson's Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2008 would directly affect Two-Way TV, a company which recently signed a deal with Victorian wagering group Tabcorp and pay-TV group Foxtel to provide interactive betting through the Sky Racing pay-TV channel.
"Pay-TV gambling has commenced in Victoria with racing and many suspect it is just a matter of time before pressure mounts to extend it to betting on football codes, other sports and even in virtual casinos across the country," Mr Billson said in a statement today.
"This private member's bill was motivated by the failure of the Rudd Labor Government to act to stop an insidious new form of pay-TV gambling.
1. Seven News Seven 1.690
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.599
3. David Attenborough: Tiger Nine 1.543
4. Border Security Seven 1.514
5. Sea Patrol Nine 1.473
6. Surf Patrol Nine 1.377
7. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.316
8. Home and Away Seven 1.306
9. National Nine News Nine 1.289
10. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.273
1 LIVE: NRL COWBOYS V PANTHERS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 324 324 1,440 639
2 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 FINAL Fox Sports 3 Sat 17:30 324 324 1,392 705
3 LIVE: NRL BULLDOGS V SHARKS Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 238 238 1,166 577
4 NRL KNIGHTS V WARRIORS Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:20 222 222 1,179 571
5 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL W BULLDOGS V N MELB Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:32 221 221 1,131 583
6 LIVE: AFL HAWTHORN V WESTERN BULLDOGS Fox Sports 1 Sat 14:00 184 184 1,090 547
7 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL STORM V BULLDOGS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 182 182 1,392 585
8 LIVE: AFL BRISBANE LIONS V ST KILDA Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 179 179 1,159 503
9 AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 Tue 19:32 177 273 1,079 615
10 LIVE: NRL WARRIORS V ROOSTERS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 173 173 1,226 420
Seven Media executives are angry with the CEO of parent Company Unwired after he leaked information on the pending roll out of the new TiVo content service. With an announcement due this week Seven Networks executives are furious that Unwired "stole their thunder".
Seven Media will on Monday make an announcement re their new TiVo offering for Australia with the media Company tipped to announce a content download service free of any monthly fees. While consumers will pay for an initial TiVo set top, box unlike Foxtel they will not have to pay a monthly service fee.
There is also speculation that exclusive Beijing Olympic coverage will be delivered to the TiVo network along with a 24/7 News service that will take on Foxtel's Sky News.
Insiders claim that Seven Media management came close to cancelling the launch last month after management from Unwired, a parent Company, leaked information on the roll out of TiVo in Australia. Unwired, who are not doing particularly well in Australia selling Wireless broadband, are set to be used to distribute the TiVo boxes in Australia.
THE ABC will co-produce with the BBC a children's television series Escape from Scorpion Island in which 16 British and Australian kids are marooned and must compete to escape.
In what must be Aunty's first brush with reality TV for children, Australians between the ages of 11 and 14 will audition to star with their British counterparts over a three-week period in a show full of stunts and challenges.
The ABC has signed up for 60 half-hour episodes which will all be filmed in Australia, starting next month.
The first series was filmed in Brazil and screened daily to British audiences in 2007.
The Nine Network's surprising ratings run continues, with the network winning its sixth week of the ratings year.
Nine won week 22 (and week 14 of the official ratings period), with a 27.7 per cent free-to-air network share in the five capital cities against Seven's 27.5 per cent. Seven has won seven weeks for the year (with one tie) but Nine leads the year by the barest of margins in both five-network share (27.8 per cent to Seven's 27.7 per cent) and commercial share (35.8 per cent to Seven's 35.7 per cent).
Nine's win continues to place pressure on Seven after its stellar 2007 performance and subsequent increased advertising rates. Nevertheless, Seven can take some solace from the fact Nine's weekly win was boosted by a big win in the 55-plus demographic, one that does not appeal overly to advertisers. Seven won the week in under-55s.
In free-to-air network share, Ten was third for the week with a 20.9 per cent share (its lowest weekly share for the year) against the ABC's 17.8 per cent and SBS's 6 per cent.
1. 60 Minutes Nine 1.822
2. Seven News Seven 1.717*
3. Nine News Sunday Nine 1.553
4. Domestic Blitz Nine 1.514
5. CSI Nine 1.508
6. The Chronicles Of Narnia Seven 1.242*
7. ABC News ABC 1.232
8. Gladiators Seven 1.229*
9. Wild China ABC 1.154
10. Without A Trace Nine 1.077
1. Seven News Seven 1.369
2. Nine News Saturday Nine 1.139
3. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1.067
4. Bed Of Roses ABC 1.018
5. ABC News ABC 0.963
6. The Great Outdoors Seven 0.960
9. The Bill ABC 0.802
10. Spy Kids Nine 0.797
1. Seven News Seven 1.508
2. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1.415
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.340
4. National Nine News Nine 1.191
5. Home And Away Seven 1.152
6. Silent Witness ABC 1.111
7. Two and A Half Men Nine 1.093
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.087
9. ABC News ABC 1.051
10. Big Brother - Friday Night Live TEN 0.896
1. Seven News Seven 1.415
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.289
3. Home And Away Seven 1.241
4. ABC News ABC 1.210
5. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.209
6. A Current Affair Nine 1.191
7. Getaway Nine 1.188
8. Nine News Nine 1.176
9. Two And A Half Men Nine 1.152
10. That '70s Show Seven 1.143
REGIONAL pay-TV operator Austar United Communications has flagged it could open its service to allow access to any video content from the internet through its next-generation set-top box.
A high-definition version of the company's MyStar digital video recorder -- which was first launched in March -- is due out in the second half of next year, containing a USB port and an internet port.
Austar boss John Porter, speaking after the annual general meeting, said: "We're agnostic when it comes to content. Our vision is to be the consumer interface for digital content, no matter which pipe it comes through, be it digital terrestrial TV, satellite or the web. It's about our box morphing into being a media centre for the TV set."
Mr Porter said that while plans for the next version of MyStar were still on the drawing board, Austar was aiming to offer subscribers maximum flexibility in accessing content through the internet. "Philosophically, we're not opposed to subscribers going to any website and downloading content -- as long as they do it through our box."
THE team behind the hit films The Castle and The Dish and the TV series Frontline will return to the ABC with a new political comedy series.
The Hollowmen begins production in Melbourne and Canberra in coming weeks and will focus on a think tank working for the prime minister on future strategies.
It is expected the core team behind Working Dog - Rob Sitch, Tom Gleisner, Santo Cilauro and Jane Kennedy - will co-write the series, with Sitch likely to direct. It is Working Dog's first project with the ABC since its acclaimed TV current affairs satire Frontline concluded in 1997.
The six 30-minute episodes will screen in ABC1's Wednesday night comedy schedule, which has become a ratings winner with such programs as The Chaser's War On Everything, Summer Heights High and Spicks and Specks.
AUSTRALIAN Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty has settled on an unusual strategy to improve the battered image of Australia's top cops: reality TV.
Following the AFP's annus horribilis, in which it came under heavy criticism for mishandling a series of high-profile terror investigations, including that of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, Mr Keelty has given the green light to a documentary-style series to be screened on the ABC.
The series will be produced by the production company Zapruder's Other Films, co-owned by Andrew Denton, host of the ABC's Enough Rope.
Zapruder's head of production Anita Jacoby confirmed an in-principle agreement had been reached with the AFP, but said nothing had been signed. She said Zapruder had been in discussion with the AFP since the beginning of last year and she hoped production would begin within a few months.
SBS has found its raffish threesome to take the wheel of the Australian version of hit British TV show Top Gear.
Cartoonist for Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Warren Brown; former Sydney radio newsreader, racing driver and current director of DMG Radio Australia, Charlie Cox; and Porsche Australia racing driver Steve Pizzati will fill the shoes of the BBC's Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in the local production.
SBS's network programmer Matt Campbell said: "We're pretty pleased that we believe we've got it right. If we didn't get this right, we couldn't get the show right. And I think the Australian public will get it and not say, 'He's Clarkson, he's Hammond or he's May'."
The Australian version of the show is SBS's best chance to crack for the first time the elusive capital city audience of one million people for a local non-sporting production.
A NEW electronic device that enables mobile phone users to plug into digital radio will rescue digital audio broadcasting.
The British broadcaster Channel 4 Radio, set to launch digital station E4 Radio this year, is in talks with electronics manufacturers to create a branded plug-in DAB device for iPods and mobile phones.
DAB radio take-up has been slow, with the device facing numerous challenges in recent months.
Sources told The Times that, while talks with manufacturers were at an early stage, the broadcaster was keen to create an E4 or Channel 4-branded device that would cost no more than pound stg. 20 ($41). Channel 4 would market the plug-in to young people alongside its new digital stations.
THE ABC had a healthy share of the television audience last night, buoyed by record debut ratings for its new show The Gruen Transfer.
With two shows in the top eight, the ABC scored 19.9 per cent of the audience last night and was only narrowly beaten by Ten on 21.2 per cent.
The ABC's new show about advertising, The Gruen Transfer, was an immediate hit, pulling in 1.287 million viewers.
The ABC said today The Gruen Transfer's ratings was the highest-rating launch for an entertainment program on ABC1 since 1991, when people meter data was introduced, beating Kath & Kim's (1.146) debut in May 2002.
GERMAN pay-television station Premiere AG has named two investment banks to represent its shareholders should News Corporation raise its stake and make a bid for minority holdings, chief executive Michael Bornicke said.
News, owner of The Australian and The Wall Street Journal, said last week it had raised its stake in Premiere to 25.01 per cent.
But Mr Bornicke said he didn't know if News would push its stake to the 30 per cent threshold that required it to make an offer to minority shareholders.
"But if it comes to a tender offer, the executive board has to represent the interests of all shareholders," he said. "Investment banks UniCredit and Morgan Stanley are monitoring the capital market and could support Premiere in its own transactions. I feel confident that News is a long-term investor."
POTENTIAL suppliers of digital radios in Australia gathered for the first time this week to hear retail giant Harvey Norman throw its support behind the new technology.
Harvey Norman and its sister chain Domayne hosted the gathering at Commercial Radio Australia's offices in Sydney as the industry continues its preparation for the launch of digital radio channels on January 1.
"It was to say we at Harvey Norman and the industry will be supporting this roll-out and we want a range of receivers on offer," CRA chief executive Joan Warner said.
"It was the first time all brand-name receiver manufacturers have been in the same room at the same time."
Seven feels the presence as Leckie returns to form
SEVEN Network chief executive David Leckie officially returned to work this week, barely a month after emerging from a medically induced coma and, according to those who know him best, immediately set about reminding people who was boss.
His long-time friend, Seven's head of news and public affairs Peter Meakin, told The Australian yesterday: "He's back: as loud and bombastic as ever. He seems in robust good health and he's making his presence felt."
A slimmer but fit-looking MrLeckie made a brief sojourn to Seven's Pyrmont bunker in Sydney last week for two days for a couple of hours each day to clear emails and messages as a dry run for this week's full return, which is seeing him back working his "normal 11-12 hour stints".
He had spent three weeks after he left hospital recuperating at his Sydney home from his illness, which had seen him develop septicemia from almost severing his finger after catching it in a garage door mechanism. The recuperation period left him with plenty of time for his favourite activity: "He's watched a lot of TV in the pastcouple of weeks, and he's aware of every program on everynetwork," one Seven executive said.
TWO weeks after writing off the Seven Network's 2008 ratings prospects, Ten's chief Grant Blackley says Ten has returned from the
Los Angeles screenings with its best slate in a decade.
"We've landed the best US content volume in new shows, let alone renewals, and that gives us cause to celebrate," Mr Blackley told The Australian.
Ten appears to have returned from the US preview sessions with the biggest grab bag. This is mainly due to its chief output suppliers, CBS Paramount and Fox, being two of the few studios to screen full pilots or clips (along with Warner Bros, a Nine supplier). While Nine is cautiously optimistic of its US product, Seven is wary, having not seen any full episodes.
Ten's first batch of US product includes a comedy its competitors concede looked promising, the adaptation of British sitcom Worst Week (a new life for Beverly Hills 90210) and the much-talked about drama Dollhouse.
1. Seven News Seven 1.547
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.500
3. A Current Affair Nine 1.327
4. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.311
5. Search and Rescue Nine 1.311
6. Home and Away Seven 1.302
7. Fire 000 Nine 1.292
8. The Gruen Transfer ABC 1.287
9. National Nine News Nine 1.280
10. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.231
1. Seven News Seven 1.483
2. 20 to 1 Nine 1.414
3. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1.407
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.399
5. NCIS Ten 1.371
6. All Saints Seven 1.330
7. Home and Away Seven 1.257
8. National Nine News Nine 1.232
9. ABC News ABC 1.172
10. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.145
1. Border Security Seven 1.657
2. Seven News Seven 1.639
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.587
4. Sea Patrol Nine 1.505
5. Surf Patrol Seven 1.468
6. David Attenborough: Tiger Nine 1.377
7. National Nine News Nine 1.344
8. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.307
9. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.304
10. Home and Away Seven 1.291
Audiences to digital channel ABC2 will be reported from 1 June, OzTAM and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation announced today.
While OzTAM has been measuring ABC2 - and other digital terrestrial channels - since August 2005, until now viewing to ABC2 has been reported under "other free-to-air". From next week, OzTAM will report ABC2 as a standalone channel.
1 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL RABBITOHS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 237 237 1,433 591
2 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL FREM V W BULLDOGS Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:31 214 214 1,114 610
3 LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V RABBITOHS Fox Sports 2 Mon 18:59 211 211 1,144 518
4 AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 Tue 19:34 199 273 1,052 634
5 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 SF2 TAHS V SHARKS Fox Sports 3 Sat 20:00 191 191 1,431 495
6 LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V WARRIORS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 181 181 1,152 407
7 LIVE: FOOTBALL: INTERNATIONAL Fox Sports 1 Fri 20:00 169 169 1,030 535
8 LIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V SYDNEY Fox Sports 1 Sat 15:00 164 164 1,121 608
9 LIVE: AFL ADELAIDE V MELBOURNE Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 155 155 1,131 431
10 FAMILY GUY FOX8 Tue 18:42 135 162 840 1,097
THE Nine Network now leads the 2008 TV ratings year after another weekly win.
Nine won week 21 (and week 13 of the official ratings period), with a 28.3 per cent network share in the five capital cities against Seven's 26.8 per cent, Ten's 21.1 per cent, the ABC's 18 per cent and SBS's 5.8 per cent.
It is Nine's fifth weekly win for the year against Seven's seven (with one tie), although it was widely expected given Nine's telecast of the first NRL State of Origin match, which averaged 2.09 million viewers on Wednesday night. Convention suggests Nine always wins weeks in which the Origin blockbusters are telecast, although it did lose the week of Origin II last year.
Nevertheless, Nine was pleased with Wednesday's peak of 2.418 million viewers and the 2.092 million average across the two-hour match when broadcast live in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. It drew 897,000 Sydneysiders and 710,000 Queenslanders.
COMMERCIAL television networks face the possibility of potentially embarrassing discrimination lawsuits by the deaf after failing to renew an agreement that covers the captioning of programs.
Under a five-year deal signed with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 2003, the networks committed to increase the captioning of their content to 70per cent in exchange for an exemption from claims of discrimination.
The agreement, which runs out on Wednesday, included a promise to begin negotiations for a new exemption beyond 2008, which did not occur.
The networks have lodged a request for an interim six-month exemption to allow time for a federal government review of captioning to finish. Until that application is ruled on, an opportunity exists for deaf people to complain under the Disability Discrimination Act about any program not being captioned.
IMPARJA, a television station owned by Aborigines, will block any advertising linked to pornography, such as ads to call certain numbers or to download material.
The Alice Springs station, which covers 430,000 local viewers spread over 3.6 million sq km, decided at its board meeting on Friday that it would not accept advertising that could facilitate pornography.
The move comes nearly a year after the previous government's intervention legislation banning pornography in remote Aboriginal communities suffering domestic and sexual violence.
"I think we should play our role. When people are in depressed situations, alcohol, pornography and domestic violence do tend to be prevalent," said outgoing Imparja Television chairman Owen Cole.
1. LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL FREM V W BULLDOGS FOX Sports 1 171,000
2. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 SF2 TAHS V SHARKS FOX Sports 3 167,000
3. LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL RABBITOHS V STORM FOX Sports 2 150,000
4. LIVE: AFL PORT ADELAIDE V SYDNEY FOX Sports 1 132,000
5. LIVE: AFL ADELAIDE V MELBOURNE FOX Sports 1 128,000
6. LIVE: AFL WEST COAST V ADELAIDE FOX Sports 1 118,000
7. LIVE: FOOTBALL: INTERNATIONAL FOX Sports 1 118,000
8. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 PRE GAME SHOW FOX Sports 3 112,000
9. LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V WARRIORS FOX Sports 2 111,000
10. LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V RABBITOHS FOX Sports 2 107,000
11. LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 SF1 CRUS V H'CANE FOX Sports 3 100,000
12. THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES UKTV 99,000
13. AMERICAN IDOL GRAND FINAL FOX8 86,000
14. LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW FOX Sports 1 83,000
15. LIVE: AFL: ON THE COUCH FOX Sports 1 80,000
16. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES UKTV 70,000
17. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 63,000
18. MY FAMILY UKTV 62,000
19. LIVE: MOTORSPORT: MOTOGP ROUND 5, FRANCE FOX Sports 3 62,000
20. AFL: BEFORE THE BOUNCE FOX Sports 1 56,000
21. WEDDINGS FROM HELL Lifestyle 55,000
22. DALZIEL AND PASCOE UKTV 52,000
23. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 51,000
24. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL FOX Classics 50,000
25. AS TIME GOES BY UKTV 50,000
26. LIVE: AFL TEAMS FOX Sports 1 50,000
27. FAMILY GUY FOX8 50,000
28. LIVE: NRL SUNDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX Sports 2 49,000
29. WAKING THE DEAD UKTV 48,000
30. ATHLETICS: USA V THE WORLD FOX Sports 1 47,000
31. LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE UKTV 47,000
32. LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW FOX Sports 2 46,000
33. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? UKTV 43,000
34. IT'S YOUR SHOW SHOW Cartoon Network 41,000
35. FUTURAMA FOX8 41,000
36. CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK FOX8 +2 41,000
37. CRISS ANGEL MINDFREAK FOX8 40,000
38. THE ROBINSONS UKTV 39,000
39. GRAND DESIGNS Lifestyle 38,000
40. AFL COLLINGWOOD V GEELONG FOX Sports 1 38,000
41. FOYLE'S WAR UKTV 38,000
42. FOOTBALL: INTERNATIONAL FOX Sports 1 38,000
43. PROPERTY LADDER Lifestyle 37,000
44. LIVE: RUGBY LEAGUE: TOYOTA CUP FOX Sports 2 37,000
45. EPIC MOVIE Showtime 37,000
46. ICE ROAD TRUCKERS FOX8 36,000
47. TOBRUK FOX Classics 36,000
48. AGATHA CHRISTIE'S THE SECRET ADVERSARY Ovation 36,000
49. ACTIVE: ROCKY BALBOA Movie One 36,000
50. SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA Lifestyle 34,000
51. 8 SIMPLE RULES FOX8 32,000
52. THE HOTEL INSPECTOR Lifestyle 32,000
53. REAR WINDOW FOX Classics 32,000
54. LIVE: SPORTSCENTER SPECIAL ESPN 31,000
55. CRICKET: TEST MATCH W INDIES V AUSTRALIA FOX Sports 2 31,000
56. COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER FOX Classics 31,000
57. LAW & ORDER: SVU TV1 30,000
58. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT TV1 30,000
59. LIVE: NRL MONDAY POST GAME SHOW FOX Sports 2 30,000
60. GOLF: WORLD'S BEST PUTTER FOX Sports 3 30,000
61. CHARLOTTE'S WEB Showtime 29,000
62. THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER FOX Classics 29,000
63. ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN Disney Channel 29,000
64. FAMILY GUY FOX8 +2 29,000
65. MURDER, SHE WROTE TV1 28,000
66. AMERICAN DAD! FOX8 28,000
67. AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 +2 28,000
68. WWE RAW FOX8 28,000
69. MOST SHOCKING MOMENTS FOX8 28,000
70. JUDGING AMY W 28,000
71. CLIFFHANGER TV1 28,000
72. LIVE: FOOTBALL: CC CHAMPIONSHIP FOX Sports 2 27,000
73. DIAGNOSIS MURDER TV1 27,000
74. PROJECT RUNWAY Arena 27,000
75. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CELL Crime & Investigation 27,000
76. CARS Disney Channel 27,000
77. THAT '70S SHOW FOX8 27,000
78. LIFE AFTER PEOPLE History Channel 27,000
79. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Lifestyle 27,000
80. MONK TV1 27,000
81. LIVE: FOOTBALL: AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOX Sports 1 27,000
82. LIVE: FOOTBALL: AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOX Sports 3 26,000
83. YES, MINISTER Comedy Channel 26,000
84. WWE SMACKDOWN! FOX8 26,000
85. AGATHA CHRISTIE'S POIROT Hallmark 26,000
86. NCIS TV1 25,000
87. BALLS OF STEEL Comedy Channel 25,000
88. THE SIMPSONS FOX8 +2 25,000
89. GOLF: USPGA CROWN PLAZA INVIT. RND 2 FOX Sports 2 25,000
90. LAW & ORDER W 25,000
91. GOSSIP GIRL FOX8 24,000
92. WIFE SWAP Lifestyle 24,000
93. THE KARATE KID TV1 24,000
94. THE WEST WING W 24,000
95. FRASIER TV1 24,000
96. NUMB3RS TV1 24,000
97. COLUMBO TV1 24,000
98. CRICKET: TEST MATCH W INDIES V AUSTRALIA FOX Sports 1 24,000
99. KING OF THE HILL FOX8 24,000
100. HOGAN'S HEROES TV1 23,000
Sunday - 25/05/08
1. 60 Minutes Nine 1,712,000
2. Seven News Seven 1,706,000
3. National Nine News Nine 1,503,000
4. Domestic Blitz Nine 1,481,000
5. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1,323,000
6. Gladiators Seven 1,262,000
7. Wild China ABC 1,222,000
8. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1,140,000
9. ABC News ABC 1,092,000
10. My Name Is Earl Seven 1,046,000
1. Seven News Seven 1,336,000
2. Nine News Saturday Nine 1,145,000
3. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,101,000
4. Bed Of Roses ABC 970,000
5. ABC News ABC 946,000
6. The Great Outdoors Seven 868,000
7. Bring It On Nine 825,000
8. Saturday Night AFL Ten 806,000
9. The Bill ABC 781,000 223,000
10. ABC News Update ABC 777,000
1. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,520,000
2. Seven News Seven 1,406,000
3. Today Tonight Seven 1,319,000
4. Nine News Nine 1,192,000
5. Home And Away Seven 1,187,000
6. Silent Witness ABC 1,066,000
7. A Current Affair Nine 1,057,000
8. ABC News ABC 1,032,000
9. Two And A Half Men Nine 973,000
10. Big Brother Friday Night Live Ten 937,000
MORE than two million people watched NSW beat Queensland on Wednesday night, making the rugby league match the most watched State of Origin game since 2001, and the most popular television program of the year.
The Blues' 18-10 victory over the Maroons in Game 1 of the 2008 State of Origin series peaked at 2.418 million and averaged 2.092 million over the two-hour match.
The pre- and post-match entertainment and interviews had an audience of more than one million, giving Nine a 35.6 per cent ratings share compared with Seven's 23.1 per cent.
Seven News was the second-most popular program nationally, with 1.6 million viewers - 400,000 behind the rugby - and ABC News and National Nine News were 1.25 and 1.3million respectively.
MONDAY is Memorial Day in the US and the Fox network has asked Sky¿s new Australian Business Channel to fill a void in programming.
So for two hours (between 7pm and 9pm Australian time) the Australian channel, which is five months old, will be running live right across the States with a mix of Australian focused and international business news.
1. Seven News Seven 1,400,000
2. Today Tonight Seven 1,268,000
3. Home and Away Seven 1,209,000
4. National Nine News Nine 1,197,000
5. Getaway Nine 1,181,000
6. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1,180,000
7. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1,150,000
8. That 70s Show Seven 1,121,000
9. ABC News ABC 1,121,000
10. A Current Affair Nine 1,109,000
According to Telstra, Next G and 3G mobile customers are increasingly turning to Mobile Foxtel to watch their favourite programs, making the mobile phone the 'third screen' of choice for many subscribers.
Roberto Vannini, Executive Director, Telstra Product Management said that with more than 30 channels of high quality mobile TV on Mobile Foxtel from Telstra, subscribers are tuning into the service more frequently, and for longer intervals.
"The common assumption is that mobile TV subscribers are predominantly young and male and that they are 'snacking' on content throughout the day", said Vannini, adding that "Our research suggests that while this section of the market is strong, our subscribers predominantly represent an older demographic who are regularly accessing the service during traditional prime time television viewing periods.
"The most popular genres are entertainment, kids and music and the most watched channels include FOX 8, The Comedy Channel and Channel V. Children's content-based channels are watched, on average, for the longest intervals", said Vannini.
THE Seven Media Group will launch its TiVo digital video recorder in July after a strategic overhaul that includes a surprise move to scrap a planned monthly subscription fee for the broadband-enabled service.
TiVo's launch will be the first serious competitor to Foxtel's iQ DVR box, for which an upgraded version, iQ2, will arrive next month.
Some observers say Seven's strategy to cancel subscription fees will trigger steep discounting from Foxtel.
The Nine and Ten networks confirmed yesterday that they had signed a licensing agreement with Seven's hybrid TV services unit, responsible for TiVo's content and interactive services, to include their programming schedules in TiVo's electronic program guide.
PAY-TV company XYZ Entertainment is overhauling its internet strategy and boosting marketing budgets as it prepares for a new channel.
The programming joint venture between Foxtel and Austar is also hoping to launch at least one new channel - likely to be focused on the property market - when extra bandwidth becomes available on the pay-TV platforms next April as a new pay-TV satellite is launched.
The group owns and operates 10 pay-TV channels including the LifeStyle Channel, LifeStyle Food, Channel V, Max and the Weather Channel, but recently offloaded management of its general entertainment channel Arena - re-badged as Bravo - to Foxtel's O&O (owned and operated) group.
XYZ chief Bruce Mann said aggregating the property shows from the LifeStyle Channel into a new channel was an obvious possibility for expansion.
THE Dream is over for Roy and H.G. as the Seven Network prepares its team for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing.
The satirical late-night program that did much to help Seven re-brand itself as a cheeky yet competent network is a victim of time zones and onerous Beijing security.
Beijing will be two hours behind the east coast of Australia, with many event finals stretching into late night, which is when Rampaging Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson won fans during the 2000 Sydney, 2002 Salt Lake City and 2004 Athens Games.
The two comedians, Greig Pickhaver and John Doyle, are not contracted to Seven although Seven's head of sport, Saul Shtein, said the network had a ready replacement, the morning program Yum Cha, hosted by Kylie Gillies and Andrew Daddo.
COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy looks set to protect free-to-air television networks from competition in the crucial three-year period that experts believe they have to make multi-channels a success.
Senator Conroy yesterday told a press conference that he had "taken a step back" to consider technical and regulatory issues before auctioning the valuable digital TV spectrum on which rival services could be provided.
Former communications minister Helen Coonan had planned to auction the two spare channels later this year.
Channel A was to be used for narrowcast TV broadcasts such as an AFL channel.
THE new multi-channels set to be launched by Australia's free-to-air television networks next year will only maintain, not increase, according to a new report.
The report The Way We Watch: Maximising Multi-Channel Payback, released by consultancy firm Deloitte this week, said it would be hard for the networks to increase viewing given the growing number of new media services.
Deloitte said the networks must build strong channel identities for their multi-channel brands with flagship programs and strong marketing support.
"Few new channels succeed in attracting more than 1 per cent audience share by their second year," the report states.
PEOPLE with broadband internet access spend more time on the net than they do watching television, a survey has found, but they're not ready to start paying for this content.
The survey of 864 Australians and 219 New Zealanders, conducted by US-based research consultancy arm Illuminas for networking firm Cisco, has found each person spends an average of 22 hours a week on the internet and 14 hours watching television.
The web survey was distributed to "respondents that influenced the purchase of internet services and multimedia consumer electronics," Illuminas said, and just under half of the Australian contingent were aged between 30 and 49 years old.
Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they watched video online because it was free and 37 per cent said convenience was an important reason. However, once a price point had been put on the content, for example a $5-a-month subscription fee for video and audio, respondents' interest dropped off sharply.
INDIGENOUS-OWNED network Nine Imparja will today unveil its new $9.5 million headquarters in Alice Springs, including a state-of-the-art digital television studio.
The facility, to be opened by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, incorporates administration space and a 110sqm TV studio that uses computer-generated virtual sets.
On the roof are five satellite dishes used to send and receive Imparja's services, which include National Indigenous TV and eight Aboriginal radio stations.
Imparja, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, broadcasts Nine Network programming as well as its own news, current affairs and children's shows to about 430,000 viewers in remote and regional areas.
CONSOLIDATED Media Holdings Ltd (CMH) says difficult market conditions have forced pay television carrier Foxtel to delay a refinancing of debt.
CMH, which holds 25 per cent of Foxtel, said the deferral meant that Foxtel would not maintain a debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) ratio of about three times in the short term.
The decision would be reviewed as credit markets improved, CMH said.
Despite the refinancing delay, CMH said Foxtel had confirmed that it would completely draw down its existing debt facility and distribute it to shareholders.
A CLIQUE of eager Foxtel subscribers will have access to the pay TV operator's high-definition broadcasts within a fortnight as part of an understated launch of the service.
Since Monday, people who registered their interest in Foxtel HD have been contacted by the company to organise installation of the service from the first week of June.
Customers wanting HD will need to pay $200 for the new iQ2 HD set-top box and recorder, then up to $10 a month for iQ rental and $14.95 a month for all five new channels - BBC HD, Fox Sports HD, ESPN HD, National Geographic HD and Discovery HD.
The latter two documentary channels were to be combined into one, but Foxtel has now decided to broadcast both separately because it has more satellite capacity than it expected.
1. State of Origin - Match Nine 2.092
2. Seven News Seven 1.601
3. State of Origin - Pre-Match Nine 1.469
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.373
5. National Nine News Nine 1.300
6. ABC News ABC 1.251
7. Home and Away Seven 1.214
8. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.212
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.204
10. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.115
THE Federal Government has shelved the launch of several new TV channels amid concerns policy and technical flaws would make them unviable.
More than a dozen new digital channels were expected to start this year under changes by the former Howard government aimed at introducing greater competition to the $12 billion sector in the wake of media ownership reforms, The Australian Financial Review reports.
The services were to include at least 15 mobile TV channels for hand-held devices such as mobile phones and a similar number for in-home digital set-top boxes, increasing competition for existing networks.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government could not auction the spectrum set aside for the channels until it undertook a detailed technical and policy review.
1. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1,603,000
2. Seven News Seven 1,491,000
3. NCIS TEN 1,459,000
4. Today Tonight Seven 1,350,000
5. ABC News ABC 1,317,000
6. National Nine News Nine 1,272,000
7. All Saints Seven 1,268,000
8. Home And Away Seven 1,255,000
9. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1,223,000
10. A Current Affair Nine 1,219,000
1. Seven News Seven 1.614
2. David Attenborough: Tiger Nine 1.486
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.473
4. Border Security Seven 1.457
5. National Nine News Nine 1.421
6. Sea Patrol Nine 1.382
7. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.312
8. Surf Patrol Seven 1.267
9. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.261
10. ABC News ABC 1.245
Foxtel has unwittingly unveiled its HD pricing today after inviting customers on its e-mail list to order its iQ2 set-top box, with callers experiencing long delays.
A document leaked onto rumour site KnowFirst suggests that basic HD packages start at AU$75.85 with the included AU$10 iQ2 service charge and culminates in the Platinum service for $130.90.
The two main packages appear to be HD Sport with the two new Sport channels being Fox Sports HD and ESPN HD, and HD Explore with BBC HD, Discovery HD and Nat Geo HD. They appear to be priced at AU$9.95 for one or AU$14.95 for both (HD Complete), with HD movies available separately for the cost of AU$6.95 each.
The Platinum HD Service includes the current Platinum plan, plus the HD Complete channels and two movies in a choice of either SD or HD.
1. Seven News Seven 1.654*
2. 60 Minutes Nine 1.568
3. National Nine News Nine 1.543
4. Gladiators Seven 1.379*
5. Domestic Blitz Nine 1.351
6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.344
7. Wild China ABC 1.234
8. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1.192*
9. ABC News ABC 1.175
10. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.128*
1. Seven News Seven 1,381,000
2. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,263,000
3. National Nine News Nine 1,191,000
4. The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 1,051,000
5. Bed Of Roses ABC 955,000
6. The Great Outdoors Seven 924,000
7. ABC News ABC 896,000
8. The Bill ABC 814,000
9. ABC News Update ABC 813,000
10. Air Force One Seven 808,000
1. Seven News Seven 1,373,000
2. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,361,000
3. National Nine News Nine 1,247,000
4. Today Tonight Seven 1,191,000
5. Silent Witness ABC 1,103,000
6. A Current Affair Nine 1,074,000
7. ABC News ABC 1,036,000
8. Big Brother - Friday Night Live TEN 998,000
9. Home And Away Seven 975,000
10. Two And A Half Men Nine 966,000
THE Seven Network will hold talks with Disney with the aim of bringing to Australia an advertising measurement system that could revolutionise the $3.5 billion television advertising market.
Disney's ABC network launched its Advertising Value Index, which has the potential to re-rank TV shows based on qualitative criteria, in the US on Tuesday as part of its pitch for advertising dollars at the annual up-front presentations.
The AVI will provide advertisers with more data about the audiences watching TV programs, such as how engaged they are with the program, how long they spend watching the commercials, income level and education.
That and other measurement systems due to be introduced in Australia in the next three months could make some shows more sought-after, and therefore more expensive, while effectively pulling the ratings rug out from under others. Seven Network national sales director James Warburton said Seven planned to meet Disney executives next week.
NINE chief executive David Gyngell has admitted his network erred in allowing the C-word to be broadcast during a recent episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.
"There are all sorts of mitigating factors, not least that the program carried a 'frequent very coarse language' warning, that the offending word was broadcast after 10pm and that its use was permitted by the Office of Film and Literature Classification," Mr Gyngell told The Australian.
"But on balance, after careful reflection, I just think it was inappropriate to be included in an M-classified program and I extend an apology to anyone offended by its use."
While the word has been heard on other networks previously, and on Nine's Sex and the City, its use on March 6 by the popular British chef sparked one complaint to new South Australian Liberal senator and former publican Cory Bernardi.
THE time may well be past when blockbuster American series could turn around the fortunes of an Australian television network.
This year's muted round of screenings and up-front presentations by US networks has yet to approach any kind of fervour or produce the next Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy.
The risky process of confirming new series on the strength of an expensive pilot episode is no longer in vogue after several high-profile failures in the US 2006-07 season and the recent writers' strike, which curtailed Hollywood production.
Traditionally, US networks ordered pilots early each year, presented them to advertisers and international buyers in May, and premiered them in the northern autumn.
AN extension to the deadline for commercial radio to begin digital broadcasts gives welcome breathing space, although the sector still intends to make the original start date, the industry body says.
In the federal budget, the Government pushed out the final date for the move from analog to digital transmission by six months to July 1 next year.
However, commercial stations were "still steaming ahead" to start digital transmissions with the new year, ahead of a consumer launch in late January, said Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner.
The industry had worried that construction of the digital network, with new antennas in each city, might be hampered by factors such as bad weather or equipment supply delays because of the Olympic Games.
1. Seven News Seven 1.335
2. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1.311
3. Getaway Nine 1.257
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.219
5. ABC News ABC 1.181
6. National Nine News Nine 1.173
7. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.147
8. Home and Away Seven 1.109
9. Bones Seven 1.072
10. A Current Affair Nine 1.045
1. Seven News Seven 1.596
2. House Ten 1.432
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.398
4. National Nine News Nine 1.276
5. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.273
6. Big Brother - Carson Special Ten 1.245
7. Search and Rescue Nine 1.216
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.215
9. Home and Away Seven 1.196
10. ABC News ABC 1.194
SINGAPORE Telecommunications (SingTel), the owner of Optus, has reported a 4.8 per cent lift in full year net profit to $S3.96 billion ($3.1 billion) boosted by the stronger Australian dollar and strong sales growth.
SingTel's Australian telco, Optus, recorded a 3.8 per cent increase in operating revenue to $7.76 billion for the full year.
For the full year ended March 31, 2008, SingTel revenue gained 11 per cent to a record $S14.84 billion from $S13.38 billion in the previous year.
The group increased its net profit by 4.8 per cent to S$3.96 billion, excluding the amortisation of $S337 million compensation received from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
1. Seven News Seven 1.590
2. Australia's Got Talent Seven 1.430
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.390
4. NCIS Ten 1.388
5. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.337
6. A Current Affair Nine 1.327
7. ABC News ABC 1.278
8. All Saints Seven 1.219
9. 20 to 1 Nine 1.197
10. National Nine News Nine 1.194
UBI World TV, the leading multi-cultural subscription TV and radio broadcaster, and Setanta Sports, the leading
international sports channel in Australia, have teamed up to provide migrant homes across Australia with the best
live sporting entertainment from around the world.
1 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V RAIDERS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 274 274 1,209 596
2 LIVE: NRL BULLDOGS V PANTHERS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 274 274 1,276 607
3 LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V WESTERN BULLDOGS Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 219 219 1,089 563
4 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL ESSENDON V PORT AD Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:31 193 193 1,118 624
5 NRL COWBOYS V SHARKS Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:20 189 189 1,107 512
6 FAMILY GUY FOX8 Tue 18:41 186 231 933 1,092
7 LIVE: NRL WARRIORS V RAIDERS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 186 186 1,128 441
8 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Tue 19:07 172 208 984 1,869
9 SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA Lifestyle Wed 19:30 154 178 1,166 617
10 LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 2 Sat 16:55 152 152 1,107 275
Commercial television networks are less than seven months away from having the right to launch a new free-to-air channel, but viewers should not expect a sudden increase in choice in the new year.
"We're capable of launching from January 1 (but) I don't think any network has said they will physically launch on January 1," he said.
Ten launched its high-definition channel, Ten-HD, late last year with a commitment to broadcast more than 50 hours a week of unique content (breaking away from simulcasting on Ten's main SD and analog channels).
Sport, particularly the Indian Premier League cricket and NASCAR motor racing, has dominated the channel, although Mr Blackley conceded the inability to report HD ratings made it difficult to reach lucrative advertising deals for Ten-HD.
THE Seven Network's post-Easter parade has amounted to little as the Nine Network continues to display unexpected ratings resilience.
Nine won week 19 of the official ratings year (week 11 of the official survey period) with a 28.9 per cent share among all people ahead of Seven's 26.6 per cent, Ten's 22.2 per cent, the ABC's 16.8 per cent and SBS's 5.5 per cent.
It is Nine's fourth weekly win for the year against Seven's six, with one tie, and both networks are tied in year-to-date share with 27.7 per cent. Nine leads the year in the 25-54 age demographic with a 29.2 per cent share against Seven's 27.4 per cent and Ten's 25.7 per cent.
Despite producing many ratings disasters this year, including Monster House, Moment of Truth and now the drama Canal Road, Nine has found some unlikely and consistent draws with shows in their second lives, including British chef Gordon Ramsay's multiple programs and the US sitcom Two-and-Half Men.
THE value of commercial TV licences has been slashed by nearly $2 billion since 2003-04 as network audiences defect to the internet and pay-TV, according to an analysis by the media regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Annual licence fees are calculated at 9 per cent of a broadcaster's gross revenue.
The devaluation began in 2003-04, with a sharp fall in 2005-06 revenues leaving average licences worth less than a decade ago and approaching the levels of the 1980s.
The average value of a capital city licence in 2005-06 was about $120 million, down from about $230 million in 2003-04.
1. Border Security Seven 1.571
2. Seven News Seven 1.544
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.519
4. Surf Patrol Seven 1.447
5. Sea Patrol Nine 1.398
6. Life In Cold Blood Nine 1.356
7. A Current Affair Nine 1.312
8. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.309
9. National Nine News Nine 1.289
10. Home and Away Seven 1.258
1. 60 Minutes Nine 1.731
2. Seven News Seven 1.466
3. National Nine News Nine 1.455
4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.453
5. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1.313
6. Gladiators Seven 1.294
7. Animal Emergency Nine 1.267
8. RFDS: Royal Flying Doctor Service Nine 1.230
9. Without A Trace Nine 1.079
10. ABC News ABC 1.068
1 Seven News Seven 1,320,000
2 Hall Of Fame Tribute Match TEN 1,317,000
3 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,160,000
4 Nine News Nine 1,136,000
5 Bed Of Roses ABC 1,071,000
6 The Great Outdoors Seven 951,000
7 ABC News ABC 920,000
8 The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 882,000
9 Independence Day Seven 839,000
10 ABC News Update ABC 729,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,466,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,316,000
3 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,233,000
4 Nine's Friday Night Football Nine 1,176,000
5 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,173,000
6 Nine News Nine 1,142,000
7 A Current Affair Nine 1,073,000
8 ABC News ABC 1,067,000
9 Home And Away Seven 1,062,000
10 Two And A Half Men Nine 1,018,000
Australia is back in the technology dark ages after the Federal Court ruled in favour of Channel Nine in their appeal against Ice TV who for the last two years have produced an electronic TV program guide for media centre and set top box manufacturers which Nine said breached their copyright.
The decision which could bankrupt Ice TV is set to be appealed to the High Court according to executives of the Company. It also means that Australia is one of the few Countries in the world without an independent EPG service that can be used by media centre manufactures as well as software Companies like Microsoft for the Media Centre service.
General Manager of Ice TV Matt Kossatz said "The matter has been referred back to Justice Bennett for further hearing and determination consistent with the details of the judgment of the Full Court. No injunction has been made, so it is business as usual for us. Our legal team plan to argue our case for as long as it takes or for as long as permitted and we will seek special leave to appeal to the High Court if needed"
He added "We are obviously greatly disappointed with yesterday's outcome having just release remote recording capabilities through IceTV Interactive integration with the Beyonwiz PVR range and releasing our own IceTV"
1. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.526
2. Seven News Seven 1.484
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.350
4. National Nine News Nine 1.222
5. Getaway Nine 1.179
6. Trinny & Susannah Undress The Nation Seven 1.159
7. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.147
8. Home and Away Seven 1.128
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.122
10. ABC News ABC 1.117
TELEVISION ratings agency OzTAM has confirmed it will finally start reporting how many people were watching the free-to-air networks' new high-definition channels from late November.
OzTAM, which is owned by the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, said yesterday it had been measuring both the standard-definition and HD digital terrestrial channels since August 2005, giving it data on the 7HD, TEN-HD and 9HD audiences dating back to their respective launches.
Seven was the first of the networks to start an HD channel, in October last year, followed by Ten in December and Nine in March this year. But as there has not been an official audience measurement system for the channels they have attracted a minimal share of the $3.5 billion annual TV advertising pie.
That also prompted the demise of programs produced especially for high definition, most notably 7HD's The NightCap, which was axed in March after less than two months on air.
A RADIO that tells you about traffic snarls, plans your route, tells you the latest petrol prices and even finds you a parking spot could be the "killer application" when digital radio launches in Australia next year.
Commercial Radio Australia has begun working with Sydney company Sentinel Content to trial the application in the months ahead.
The service is already operating through a website, Mydrive.com .au, which delivers the information to subscribers online, through satellite navigation devices and SMS messaging. But Sentinel Content executive Darren Woolard says in Europe digital radio has proved to be a natural home for such an application.
"What we are doing is providing a dynamic content business," Mr Woolard said.
THERE is a great deal of superstition about the number four. It is considered unlucky in many Asian cultures due to its phonetic similarity to the character depicting death.
Maybe there is some validity in this association in our Australian market as well, as it seems that whenever the subject of a fourth commercial television network is raised the protests against it - "killing an industry" or "lack of survival" or "certain death" for that new player - are heard loud and clear.
Recently, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy reintroduced the question of a fourth network, and immediately the arguments over local content, struggling networks, viability and performance and sustainability of profit started up again.
Historically, the discussion has not progressed much beyond this point and that would seem to be because the conversation has always been had as a two-player game, the two players being the government and the commercial free-to-air networks.
AUSTRALIA is lagging internationally in delivering programming to consumers over the internet, in part because of restricted broadband access and the cost of downloads, according to a report released yesterday by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Improved video encoding and increasing bandwidth would help the internet's ability to provide a video content service that in the long term might rival the traditional broadcasting platforms of free-to-air and pay television, it says. Another stumbling block is the up-front cost of rolling out internet protocol TV.
One source interviewed for the report said such a service would require more than 300,000 subscribers to be viable, but consumers had yet to embrace the idea of watching TV shows or movies on the internet, with most limiting themselves to downloading short clips.
Only 1 per cent of internet users nominated downloading as their most common method of watching a movie, but 29 per cent accessed music videos that way, 25 per cent amateur video clips and 22 per cent news content. According to a survey by ComScore, about 80 per cent of British and French respondents streamed a video last month, 76 per cent of US respondents and 70 per cent of German ones.
IT was mostly business as usual in the third radio ratings survey this year, with no change at the top of each capital city's radio ratings but much jostling below them.
Melbourne's 3AW (with a network share of 15.2 per cent), Sydney's 2GB (11.7 per cent), Adelaide's 5AA (16.5 per cent), Brisbane's Nova (13.9 per cent) and Perth's Mix (17.5 per cent) allmaintained their market leadership, according to Nielsen Media Research.
DMG Radio's Nova 100 shed listeners in every timeslot during the latest ratings period, driving its market share down two percentage points to 7.9 per cent.
Nova's woes pushed it from fourth in the previous survey to fifth, trailing perennial leader Fairfax Media's 3AW (with a 15.2 share), pop rival Fox FM (13.3), ABC 774 (11.6) and Gold FM (8.4).
1. Seven News Seven 1.547
2. Search and Rescue Nine 1.439
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.433
4. Underbelly Nine 1.417
5. Home and Away Seven 1.231
6. National Nine News Nine 1.208
7. ABC News ABC 1.199
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.141
9. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.116
10. Big Brother - Crowded House Ten 1.098
THERE was no change at the top of each capital city's radio ratings but much jostling below them in the third survey of the year.
Melbourne's 3AW (with a network share of 15.2 per cent), Sydney's 2GB (11.7 per cent), Adelaide's 5AA (16.5 per cent), Brisbane's Nova (13.9 per cent) and Perth's Mix (17.5 per cent) all maintained their market leadership, according to Nielsen Media Research.
5AA and 2GB were the major movers with DMG Radio's Adelaide outpost rising 1.1 share points to lead Mix by 4.2 share points and 2GB dropping one share point to retain a one share point lead over Austereo's youth station 2Day (10.7 per cent).
Among the country's big movers were Melbourne's Nova, which dropped 2.0 share points for a 7.9 per cent share, Sydney's WSFM (up 1.7 points for a 8.5 per cent share), Brisbane's 97.3FM (up 1.9 points for a 11.9 per cent share and third place behind Nova and Triple M) and B105 (down 1.6 points for a 9.7 per cent share), Adelaide's Nova (down 1.6 for a 11.5 per cent share behind 5AA and Mix) and Perth's ABC720 (relinquishing second place with a 1.6 point fall to 11.6 per cent).
THE TV Week Logie Awards' fading appeal with viewers continued on Sunday night, when the Nine Network recorded its lowest ever ratings for the event.
The audience has been dropping slowly from a high of 2.4million in 2001, and this year's audience of 1.5 million was down by almost 200,000 viewers compared with last year.
But the figures for the lengthy broadcast from Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne still gave the network a clear win on Sunday night with a share of 36per cent to Seven's 22.9, Ten's 20.4, ABC1's 15.9 and SBS's 4.9.
The red carpet arrivals show attracted more viewers than the awards themselves as 1.6 million people watched the television stars as they paraded their outfits in front of screaming fans and a wall of cameras.
1. Seven News Seven 1.553
2. Border Security Seven 1.544
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.419
4. National Nine News Nine 1.333
5. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.291
6. Sea Patrol Nine 1.288
7. Life In Cold Blood Nine 1.278
8. A Current Affair Nine 1.251
9. Big Brother Ten 1.233
10. How To Look Good Naked Ten 1.227
FORMER Home and Away sweetheart Kate Ritchie ended her 20-year soapie odyssey with a second Gold Logie Award in Melbourne last night.
Ritchie, 29, retired from the long-running Seven Network series last month, saying a Gold Logie would be the perfect ending. For good measure, she also took home the Silver Logie for Most Popular Actress.
Wearing a black and white Grecian-style Lisa Ho frock, she said she was enjoying her new role as a breakfast radio presenter on Sydney's Nova but missed her cast mates on the television soap.
With four gongs, Home and Away was responsible for half of Seven's tally. But the 50th annual awards were dominated by the success of comedian Chris Lilley, his satire Summer Heights High and the ABC's bold showing.
NINE dominated last night's TV ratings despite the broadcast scoring its lowest figures since 2001.
While the Channel Nine telecast of the 50th Logies helped win the night for the network, the average audience of 1.5 million people was the lowest since 2001 and was down 11 per cent on last year's telecast.
In 2001 the Logies telecast drew 2.4 million viewers.
Despite the overall fall, Channel Nine's telecast peaked at 1.97 milion viewers at 9.40pm and was the top rating program throughout the broadcast.
THE Ten network's best week of the year on the back of two finales and one series launch wasn't enough to lift it from its place as the third commercial network.
The Seven network won week 18 of the television ratings year, and week 10 of the official ratings period, with a 27.1 per cent network share ahead of Nine's 26.1 per cent Ten's 25.2 per cent, the ABC's 16.6 per cent and SBS's 5.1per cent.
Seven won Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Ten won Adelaide and Melbourne in all people share and also overall in the 25-54 demographic that Nine had made its own this year (with a 28.7 per cent share against Seven's 27.2 per cent and Nine's 26.8 per cent).
Ten's two series reality TV finales were the top-rating programs for the week and played havoc with usual big performers for Nine and Seven.
HOW much of the spectrum made available by the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting would go to free-to-air TV, and at what cost, was one of the top issues on Wayne Goss's mind after he was announced as the sector's chief lobbyist.
As foreshadowed in The Australian, the former Queensland premier was confirmed on Friday as chairman of Free TV Australia, the industry body representing the interests of the commercial free-to-air TV licensees.
In his first interview since the news was announced, Mr Goss said his main task was to help the sector make the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.
He said many questions were still to be resolved before the December 31, 2013, switchover deadline.
THE 50th anniversary of the TV Week Logie Awards may go down in history as the year the event became credible but tomorrow's show is still all about the frocks.
Nine Network star Livinia Nixon has the all-important job of quizzing the celebrities about their outfits as they arrive at Melbourne's Crown Casino.
The Temptation co-host, who also presents the weather on Nine in Melbourne, is hosting the pre-Logies red carpet show, which usually out-rates the awards ceremony itself.
"My father would not be pleased if I asked them, 'Who are you wearing' as it's ungrammatical," Nixon told The Weekend Australian. "So I have a range of questions prepared like, 'Tell us about your outfit'."
1. Doc Martin ABC 1,507,000
2. Seven News Seven 1,289,000
3. Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,094,000
4. Nine News Saturday Nine 1,043,000
5. ABC News ABC 1,001,000
6. The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 947,000
7. The Great Outdoors Seven 935,000
11. The BILL ABC 808,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,392,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,318,000
3 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,171,000
4 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,168,000
5 ABC News ABC 1,122,000
6 Nine News Nine 1,103,000
7 Home And Away Seven 1,082,000
8 Big Brother: Friday Night Live Ten 1,032,000
9 A Current Affair Nine 961,000
10 Two And A Half Men Nine 912,000
1. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.886
2. Seven News Seven 1.473
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.355
4. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.216
5. Home and Away Seven 1.216
6. ABC News ABC 1.198
7. National Nine News Nine 1.186
8. The Footy Show Nine 1.140
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.112
10. Two and a Half Men Nine 1.081
CLAIMS by commercial free-to-air television networks that pay TV is a poor cousin in advertising when it comes to quality demographics have been blown out of the water by luxury sports car brand Porsche.
The brand, which has not been on Australian TV for nearly 20 years, has launched a new campaign that ignores free-to-air and focuses instead on pay TV.
Kevin Nicholls, director of sales and marketing for Porsche in Australia, said the decision to take advertising for the marque's top-of-the-line $425,000 911 GT2 to pay TV came out of research into existing customers.
"We did an online survey with our existing customers to talk about their media habits. What we discovered was 73 per cent were subscription TV users," he said.
AUSTRALIA is about to get its first live free-to-air mobile TV network with the launch of Bluetooth broadcaster YoMo, backed by Melbourne's influential Schwartz family.
Starting this month, the service, which will feature a video news and entertainment feed updated throughout the day, will be broadcast, using Bluetooth technology, to a network of transmission points in the eastern states.
Anyone with a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone will be able to receive the free service - to be funded by a range of blue-chip advertisers - if they are within range of a transmitter, regardless of their mobile carrier.
News agency Reuters has signed on to provide news, while the company has employed its own journalists - including an on-screen newsreader - and has had discussions with other local publishers, including Fairfax.
EVEN Andrew Denton has changed his mind about the Logies this year.
While Denton has watched every TV Week Logie Awards broadcast since he was 10 and hosted two, he has never attended as a guest. When he was nominated for a Gold Logie earlier this month, he said he would again stay at home and watch Nine's live broadcast from the couch.
Now, out of respect for all the ABC's nominations this year, he has changed his mind and will walk the red carpet.
Walking the Logies red carpet at the Crown Entertainment Complex is now respectable. Along with the starlets from the soapies, the nominees this year include ABC comedians Chris Lilley and Adam Hills.
AS part of its push for advertising growth, SBS is helping media buyers better target its audience with research matching the purchasing intentions ofits viewers with their favourite shows.
The network hoped its Connections series of research reports would increase its share of technology, travel, real estate and finance advertising by 50per cent by the end of next year, said Sarah Keith, national manager of media sales and strategy.
Future reports would target other ad categories of which the network believed it should have a bigger slice.
"We're trying to provide advertisers with detailed information highlighting our unique strengths v Seven, Nine and Ten and subscription TV," Ms Keith said. "Most agencies are very time poor, they have an increasing number of media choices to make, and SBS is not necessarily first on the list for some buyers.
THE community radio sector has missed the deadline to participate in building the transmission infrastructure for digital broadcasting, blaming uncertainty over whether it would be able to meet funding calls.
Industry body the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia said it had been left hanging by the federal Government's refusal to confirm funding commitments made by its predecessor.
"We're now facing a scenario where the commercial and public broadcasters will have an ownership role in the (digital) infrastructure and we're kind of nowhere," said Kath Letch, chairwoman of the CBAA's digital radio consultative group and station manager of Melbourne community station 3RRR.
"It means we're simply access seekers. We're not engaged in the new platform for media broadcasting."
AS another gold Logie winner prepares to be anointed Australia's favourite television personality this weekend, the truth behind how they made their first impressions has emerged.
Crucially, all three commercial networks have downplayed the role of the secretive Q Score system of consumer polling in learning which celebrities push viewers' buttons.
Q Scores, a global popularity measurement system developed in the US, have played a central role in the careers of some of Australia's most famed celebrities, such as former Dancing With The Stars and Hey Hey It's Saturday host Daryl Somers. But as ratings measurement becomes more sophisticated and viewers connect directly with the networks through websites, chat, forums and phone voting, they could be on their way out.
Beverley McGarvey, head of programming at Network Ten, says the channel has long ignored the Q Scores, relying instead on research and a certain element of gut feel. "When we are looking at a new show we try to find the person who fits with the Ten brand and with the show."
1. Seven News Seven 1.639
2. Today Tonight Seven 1.490
3. RSPCA Animal Rescue Seven 1.382
4. Underbelly Nine 1.344
5. The Real Seachange Seven 1.318
6. Hell's Kitchen Nine 1.275
7. National Nine News Nine 1.261
8. ABC News ABC 1.237
9. Two and a Half Men - 7:30pm Nine 1.236
10. Home and Away Seven 1.235
PAY-TV operator Foxtel's next generation, high-definition set-top box appears to be close to ready for launch.
The company has also revealed its national subscriber penetration has passed 30 per cent for the first time.
Foxtel boss Kim Williams said yesterday that he was "very confident" the launch of the new Foxtel HD+ service -- which will be accessible through a new iQ2 HD set-top box that will have 320GB of storage -- would be available to consumers "well before June 30".
Mr Williams said Foxtel had been running a technical trial on the new service since the start of March.
COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has maintained the momentum for a fourth free-to-air television channel, saying that spectrum freed up by the switch to digital television could be set aside for a new commercial network.
Senator Conroy also revealed that the Rudd Government had estimated the unused spectrum could be worth up to $1 billion.
"In terms of the spectrum and what we could do with it, we've said all along that we are prepared to consider any of the options, including a fourth free-to-air network for the use of the spectrum when we switch it off," Senator Conroy told the ABN Amro Communications Conference in Sydney yesterday.
"We've said that should be on the table for all parties to discuss ... so we're working our way forward on those issues."
IN the words of former Media Watch host Stuart Littlemore QC, they were the "cheap tricks of chequebook journalism".
Jodie Power, a woman motivated by "money, hatred and celebrity" was paid about $120,000 by Today Tonight to fabricate claims against her best friend, Mercedes Corby, a Sydney court has heard.
Ms Corby, sister of convicted drug-smuggler Schapelle Corby, is suing the Seven Network, Today Tonight host Anna Coren, journalist Bryan Seymour and Ms Power for defamation in the NSW Supreme Court.
Ms Corby claims three Today Tonight segments and a news story broadcast in February last year falsely suggested she was a drug-smuggler who interfered in her sister's legal battle and posed a threat to the safety of Ms Power.
Austar Digital EPG channel 999 has a channel labeled "Star Picks"
Foxtel lobbies for 'digital age' rules
FOXTEL boss Kim Williams has called on the Government to replace broadcasting regulation favouring free-to-air networks with rules more in tune with the digital economy.
Mr Williams said there as a "big junkyard of old regulation" to clear away to make way for the emerging digital economy, which has been identified as central to the nation's productivity.
"The core regulations that apply to television broadcasting are protectionist, anti-competitive and anti-consumer," the Foxtel boss said in a speech at the ABN Amro communications conference today.
"In a nutshell, they are patched-up, analogue regulations carried over from the time when home entertainment was about sitting in the lounge room watching a handful of free-to-air channels with the news at 6pm, sport on Saturday afternoon and a family movie on Sunday night."
THE Australian government could consider issuing a fourth free-to-air television license when it looks at possible uses of digital spectrum, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy said today.
Speaking at an ABN AMRO communication conference, Senator Conroy said all options will be on the table for use of the spectrum after the fully switchover to digital TV signals in 2013.
A WOMAN at the centre of the Mercedes Corby defamation case was paid $120,000 by Today Tonight for an interview, a court has been told.
A lawyer for Ms Corby told the NSW Supreme Court that Today Tonight had used all the cheap tricks of tabloid journalism in their conspiracy to fabricate lies about her.
On the second day of a defamation battle between Ms Corby, sister of convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, and the Seven Network, counsel representing Ms Corby, Stuart Littlemore said his client was unjustfully subjected to "a trial by media''.
"They conspired to create the most sensational program they could by telling lies,'' Mr Littlemore told the court.
POLICE prosecutors have been ordered to drop charges against the ABC's Chaser comedy team eight months after their mock motorcade with an Osama bin Laden impersonator was driven into the heart of the top security APEC "red zone".
The stunt grabbed headlines worldwide and pulled an audience of 2.2 million to The Chaser's War on Everything when it was aired.
But police, who said Chaser stars Julian Morrow and Chas Licciardello could have been shot, charged them and nine others with breaching the security zone under legislation put in place for the APEC Summit.
The three-car motorcade, adorned with Canadian flags and flanked by motorcycles and runners, was waved through into the red zone by police before pulling up within metres of the hotel being used by US President George W. Bush.
TEN Network Holdings has been able to negotiate a new three-year $630 million debt facility with a syndicate of six banks in the face of relentlessly tight global debt markets.
But it will be forced to pay more for the privilege.
Ten sources said yesterday that the network would be paying a higher rate of interest on the new facility, resulting in interest costs of between $1.5 million and $2 million a year up on last year "based on our average debt".
At the company's half-yearly results briefing last month, Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon conceded the company was likely to pay a higher interest rate in the new facility.
1 Seven News Seven 1,677,000
2 Border Security Seven 1,594,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,571,000
4 Big Brother - Launch Special TEN 1,511,000
5 Home And Away Seven 1,367,000
6 Desperate Housewives Seven 1,311,000
7 National Nine News Nine 1,285,000
8 A Current Affair Nine 1,260,000
9 Sea Patrol II - The Coup Nine 1,258,000
10 SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1,175,000
Pay TV Ratings for Week 17 (20 April - 26 April 2008)
1 LIVE: NRL COWBOYS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 328 328 1,373 740
2 LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 322 322 1,200 728
3 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL SEA EAGLES V BULLDOGS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 253 253 1,211 570
4 LIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V KNIGHTS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 251 251 1,182 544
5 LIVE: NRL DRAGONS V ROOSTERS Fox Sports 2 Fri 15:00 243 243 1,088 497
6 LIVE: AFL CARLTON V ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sat 14:00 230 230 1,183 574
7 LIVE: FOOTBALL: EPL CHELSEA V MAN UTD Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:30 195 195 1,102 474
8 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL W COAST V PORT ADEL Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 173 173 1,081 573
9 LIVE: AFL MELBOURNE V CARLTON Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 166 166 1,127 554
10 SELLING HOUSES AUSTRALIA Lifestyle Wed 19:30 150 214 1,294 503
DRAMA executive Sue Masters will join SBS on July 1 as supervising executive producer for comedy and drama.
Masters has run the drama departments at Ten and the ABC, and has been responsible for series as diverse as Neighbours, The Secret Life of Us, The Surgeon, SeaChange and Brides of Christ.
"I'm enormously excited by the opportunity to work with such a strong team at SBS and help create a slate of distinctive, fresh comedy and drama," Masters said in a statement today.
"I am looking forward to showcasing the genius of writers, comedians, directors, actors and producers whose talents can be nurtured and celebrated on SBS."
SBS director of content and online, Matt Campbell, said in a statement today: "As a custodian of Australia's cultural and creative identity, SBS provides a platform for innovation and risk taking in content creation. You can see this through the array of critically acclaimed and award winning content we are producing and acquiring.
JEFFREY Cole was back in Australia last week, doing what he does best: predicting the slow death of a number of traditional media, from newspapers to TV.
Dr Cole, director of the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California, chose his targets carefully on this visit, training his crosshairs on networked scheduled television, film, music and newspapers.
The time frames varied, but the message from his seven-year international study on the internet's impact on media consumption was unambiguous: each of those four sectors would decline over the next 10 to 25 years.
The printed version of newspapers will die out in 25 years, based on data from his study that shows in markets where internet penetration is high, print readership declines.
THE NSW Director of Public Prosecutions has dropped all charges against ABC TV's The Chaser.
The satirical comedy team had been charged over a controversial security breach during last year's APEC summit in Sydney.
The group of 10 men and one woman were charged with entering an APEC restricted area without justification, after driving a convoy of three cars into the city's multi-million dollar high-security zone on September 6.
Masquerading as a Canadian motorcade, the comedians and their crew passed though a number of security checkpoints to within metres of the Sydney hotel where US President George W Bush was staying.
1. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.847
2. So You Think You Can Dance - Winner Ten 1.821
3. Seven News Seven 1.774
4. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.561
5. National Nine News Nine 1.504
6. 60 Minutes Nine 1.452
7. Gladiators Seven 1.366
8. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.260
9. Police Files Seven 1.184
10. Rove Ten 1.182
1 Doc Martin ABC 1,429,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,358,000
3 Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire Nine 1,273,000
4 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,154,000
5 Nine News Saturday Nine 1,050,000
6 The Great Outdoors Seven 1,025,000
7 ABC News ABC 1,022,000
8 The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 963,000
9 Fawlty Towers Seven 839,000
10 ABC News Update ABC 745,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,523,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,306,000
3 Nine News Nine 1,285,000
4 A Current Affair Nine 1,227,000
5 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,213,000
6 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,213,000
7 Home And Away Seven 1,158,000
8 The Biggest Loser Ten 1,133,000
9 Anzac Day AFL Ten 1,102,000
10 TEN News At Five TEN 1,077,000
1 Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1,566,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,343,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,276,000
4 The Biggest Loser Ten 1,153,000
5 Home And Away Seven 1,103,000
6 The Footy Show Nine 1,100,000
7 How I Met Your Mother Seven 1,089,000
8 ABC News ABC 1,041,000
9 Getaway Nine 1,041,000
10 Nine News Nine 1,036,000
THE Nine Network, Screentime and Roadshow Entertainment are set for a big pay day with a record number of pre-orders for the DVD Underbelly Uncut, with the first run of DVDs sold out weeks before its release.
Roadshow Entertainment has already run out of stock, with 60,000 copies of the four-disc set of the 13-episode Nine drama now under tight warehouse security before being shipped for its May 8 release.
"It's unprecedented because at one stage we were only budgeting for about 15,000 units," said Roadshow Entertainment's national sales manager, John Davie.
"And from a legal point of view, our obligation is we don't ship it into Victoria or to other distributors that do internet sales or distribute to third parties, so that makes the numbers even more astounding. That takes a number of retail outlets out of play and Victoria is 27 per cent of our market alone."
ANZAC Day means many things to many Australians, but for Jim Buchan it is one of his busiest days at the office.
Mr Buchan is the channel manager for Foxtel's History Channel, which will air 12 back-to-back documentaries tomorrow depicting the efforts of the Diggers in the network's Anzac: Celebrate the Spirit special.
Since 2001, the History Channel has received a considerable ratings spike on Anzac Day, as viewers soak up information about Australia's war involvement from the comfort of their lounge rooms.
"There is an absolutely huge appetite for it and (Anzac Day) is always going to draw a solid response from the audience," Mr Buchan said. The pay-TV channel screens to Australian and New Zealand audiences.
AFTER three years on Melbourne's Channel 31, Natasha Ferre, is the latest to tread the time-honoured path from cult community television success to mainstream acceptance.
Ferre and husband Steven Watts started The Goin Ballistyx Snowboarding Show in 2005 "on the spur of the moment" and notwithstanding a terrible snow season. After developing a national following among community TV watchers, the program's third season started airing last week on Foxtel's Fuel TV channel and the Ten Network has expressed interest in broadcasting the fourth season, which is due to start taping in June.
Bittersweetly, given she has just left the sector, Ferre has been nominated as best female presenter at the Antenna Awards, community TV's annual prize night, which is being held in Melbourne tonight.
Goin Ballistyx is also in the running for best program. "I'm finding it hard to leave community TV," Ferre says.
WEST Australian Newspapers will consider expanding its board to include more directors with media experience - possibly including defeated candidate Kerry Stokes - after it was returned at yesterday's extraordinary meeting in Perth.
More than 500 shareholders turned out at Perth's Hyatt Regency Hotel to witness the highly publicised showdown between Seven Network chairman Stokes and the board of West Australian Newspapers, of which he owns 19.4 per cent.
Late last night, chairman Peter Mansell told journalists of 143 million votes cast, including proxies, 77 million were against his removal with 66 million in favour.
His fellow non-executive directors Jenny Seabrook, Mel Ward and Erich Fraunchiel were also well supported and retained their board positions.
KERRY Stokes was so desperate to win control of West Australian Newspapers he gave an exclusive interview to the Nine Network, even throwing in a personal promo for Nine's Perth bulletin: "Watch National Nine News at six this evening," Mr Stokes said tocamera.
While Seven news director Peter Meakin last night described the promo as cheeky, it was an extraordinary move for a media executive to promote a bitter rival.
It's hard to imagine Nine's former proprietor Kerry Packer recording a promo for Seven, or Seven chief executive David Leckie for Nine for that matter.
The Stokes interview was promoted on Nine's Perth station all day on Tuesday: "Tonight on Nine News, Kerry Stokes, the chairman of the Seven Network, speaks exclusively to Channel 9 on the eve of his bid to take over WA Newspapers. Does he have the numbers to pull off another boardroom coup?"
Prime merges key assets to set up new digital strategy
PAUL Ramsay's Prime Media Group will merge key assets from online and content company Destra with its iPrime arm to create a single digital group it can market to advertisers.
The new division will incorporate iPrime's video-based community websites, Becker Group assets such as internet television website Moonlight TV, and parts of Destra, including branded content business Brand New Media, DVD distributor Magna Pacific and niche magazines and websites.
PMG took control of Destra this week after doubling its stake to 44 per cent, removing the board (including founder and chief executive Domenic Carosa) and appointing David Gordon, from advisory firm Lexicon Partners, as executive chairman.
Destra lost $900,000 through the collapse of stockbroker Opes Prime, while Mr Carosa's shareholding in the company was slashed. Prime, the Seven Network's regional TV affiliate, said Mr Gordon would conduct a strategic review of Destra.
KELLOGG'S Nutri-Grain is taking the leap into advertiser-funded television programming after underwriting Fox 8's new prime-time reality series, Football Superstar.
The cereal brand is contributing a large proportion of production costs, expected to approach $2 million, as well as becoming a broadcast sponsor of the program.
While it is rare for brand-funded content to make it into prime time - Football Superstar will screen at 7.30pm on Thursdays - it is just as uncommon for the content to be commissioned by programmers rather than the advertising department.
Michael Dawes, who heads MindShare's brand-funded entertainment division Performance Content, said: "The whole thing basically started as a conversation about Nutri-Grain insights within MindShare about what the brand was looking to do and (how) they wanted to speak to teenage boys and their mums.
PAY television's channel of the year, Fox 8, has commissioned a fifth series of reality show Australia's Next Top Model within a day of the launch of series four on Tuesday night.
Ratings for the show - which viewers voted their favourite program at the ASTRA Awards on Monday, while Fox 8 took out the top award - were up 33 per cent on last year's season premiere to 500,000 in total.
The renewal follows other programming announcements as Fox 8, whose reputation was forged on the popularity of animated show The Simpsons, looks to build momentum.
The channel has commissioned an Australian series of The Contender from reality show doyen Mark Burnett that will culminate in a boxing match between a relative unknown and controversial boxing champion Anthony Mundine.
THE federal Opposition said yesterday it would try to amend commonwealth legislation to outlaw pay-TV gambling unless the Government moved to stop it.
The Australian Securities Exchange-listed Two Way announced on Tuesday it would launch its new TV betting service, Sky Racing Active, next week with partners Tabcorp andFoxtel.
Foxtel and Optus subscribers in NSW and Victoria will be able to access the service from Monday, with viewers of the Sky Racing channel able to launch Sky Racing Active by pressing a button on their remote control.
According to Two Way, the service will provide detailed information for all thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race meetings on which Tabcorp is conducting wagering each day, including track conditions, detailed form guides, scratchings, approximate dividends, results and final dividends.
Local MTV goes global as channel deepens digital desire
THE Australian music industry's increasing influence on the rest of the world is highlighted by pay-television music channel MTV beaming its Australian awards into 19 countries this week, according to the network's global vice-president Bill Roedy.
Roedy, who is in charge of MTV's international networks, which include brands Nickelodeon, VH1 and Comedy Central, will arrive in Australia this week for the annual awards. And he says MTV's local operation is setting global benchmarks.
Within Roedy's group of channels, MTV is by far the largest of the brands, as it is the world's largest TV network, with a potential audience of two billion people in 162 countries. While MTV has grown exponentially from its cable-TV birth in the US in 1981, Roedy believes the new digital age represents the broadcaster's best opportunity.
"Even though we have that global footprint, there is room for growth with digital, it gives us more shelf space," Roedy says. "We have more and more digital plans. The opportunity is there, the key is seizing it."
THE regional pay TV provider Austar Communications has started to feel the effect of consumer belt-tightening, with subscription cancellations jumping in the first quarter because of rising interest rates and its decision last year to raise prices.
Total subscriber numbers still increased.
The company will seek shareholder permission to return up to $300 million in capital by May next year, but warned it would go ahead with a share buyback or capital reduction only if debt markets improved.
"We will be very prudent in the current environment," Austar's chief executive, John Porter, said.
AUSTAR will ask shareholders at its annual meeting next month to approve a capital return of up to $300 million, after booking solid first-quarter earnings.
The regional pay-TV operator said depending on market conditions it would aim to return up to this amount over a 12-month period, in addition to the on-market buy-back program announced earlier this month.
The new capital management plans were unveiled as Austar revealed a 9 per cent rise in profit before interest, tax and significant items to $26 million for the three months to March 31.
This was struck on revenue that rose 14 per cent to $153 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation surged 32 per cent to $51 million.
1 RSPCA Animal Rescue Seven 1,765,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,625,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,489,000
4 The Real Seachange Seven 1,371,000
5 Home And Away Seven 1,261,000
6 Underbelly Nine 1,237,000
7 The Biggest Loser TEN 1,230,000
8 Spicks And Specks ABC 1,194,000
9 A Current Affair Nine 1,103,000
10 Back To You TEN 1,097,000
ALL television networks will receive a live feed of Anzac Day's Gallipoli dawn service at the same time, the ABC says.
The Daily Telegraph reported that ABC television, which is beaming footage of all Anzac Day events back to Australia, would not stream images of the dawn service to other broadcasters unless they promised not to air them before 1pm (AEST) on Anzac Day.
It said this was because the ABC's broadcast of the Sydney Anzac march would not finish until 1pm (AEST), 30 minutes after the service began in Turkey.
However, Director of ABC Television Kim Dalton today said the ABC would provide live coverage of the Gallipoli Dawn Service to all networks.
THE Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition is off to an "explosive" start, attracting about twice as many television viewers as had been expected in India.
The opening match - played in Bangalore between the local Royal Challenger and the Kolkata Knight Riders owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan - delivered ratings of 8.21, with 12.5 million people tuning in, the TAM Peoplemeter system found. This compares with so-called TRPs (TV Rating Points) of 4-6 at the height of the controversy surrounding last summer's Indian cricket tour of Australia.
The Economic Times said the tournament had had an "explosive" start.
One marketing executive associated with the competition has described it as "the largest reality show" India has seen.
The ratings for Australia's Network Ten have been solid without being exceptional, largely because of the late-night scheduling.
REGIONAL pay-TV operator Austar United Communications has increased its operating profit for the March quarter, but the result has been soured by a jump in the company's churn - or customer disconnection rates - on the back of broader economic uncertainty.
The company's earnings before interest and tax rose by 9 per cent to $26 million for the three months to March 31, with subscriber numbers rising by 1.4 per cent to just over 678,000.
Austar CEO John Porter said: "We've always said we'll have great quarters, good quarters and OK quarters, and you could probably say this was an OK quarter."
Mr Porter has admitted "a more challenging than expected January and February" has affected the company's churn, with the figure rising to an average of 1.53 per cent a month for the March quarter.
1 Bondi Rescue TEN 1,624,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,485,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,453,000
4 It Takes Two Seven 1,452,000
5 Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1,434,000
6 The Biggest Loser (Aus) TEN 1,373,000
7 NCIS TEN 1,328,000
8 National Nine News Nine 1,217,000
9 A Current Affair Nine 1,193,000
10 Home And Away Seven 1,192,000
FOUL-MOUTHED British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has confirmed his star status, last night being named favourite international personality at the pay-TV industry's annual awards.
The award came a day after a report on the acid-tongued chef helped propel the Nine Network's 60 Minutes to its highest ratings this year, with the program peaking at 2.1 million viewers on Sunday night. But despite his appeal locally, Ramsay was not among the 1000 people at the Australian Subscription TV andRadio Association awards inSydney.
Ramsay won for Hell's Kitchen, which is shown on the LifeStyle Food channel. His other program, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, was also on the LifeStyle channel but is now a hit for Nine.
Among the other big winners last night was Stephen Curry, who portrayed TV legend Graham Kennedy in The King biopic on the TV1 channel. That performance won him the award for outstanding performance by a male actor.
1. Border Security Seven 1.765
2. Seven News Seven 1.580
3. SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1.545
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.470
5. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.452
6. A Current Affair Nine 1.382
7. Sea Patrol Nine 1.381
8. David Attenborough's Life in Cold Blood Nine 1.321
9. National Nine News Nine 1.311
10. Home and Away Seven 1.299
CHILDREN'S advocacy groups have demanded tighter restrictions on sexual text and images used on billboards, in children's television viewing times and over the programming of suggestive music clips, in submissions to a government inquiry.
In what appears to be a major concession, the industry-funded advertising watchdog acknowledged its board might have been too relaxed in its attitude towards complaints about sex and sexuality in advertising, which generated close to 40 per cent of all complaints last year.
The information was contained in submissions to the senate inquiry on the sexualisation of children in the media, more than 90 of which were received by the official deadline last week.
The inquiry will examine ways of preventing and/or reducing the sexualisation of children in advertising and the media and will report back by June 23.
Satirist John Clarke, who created Kiwi icon Fred Dagg and acclaimed mockumentary The Games, will be inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame next month.
The New Zealand-born performer, writer and director will be recognised for his contribution to the Australian television industry at the 50th Logie Awards in Melbourne on May 4.
Clark first became known during the 1970s for portraying a laconic New Zealand farmer called Fred Dagg on stage, film and television.
Since arriving in Australia in 1977, Clarke has entertained audiences with his trademark political satire 'interviews' alongside comedian Bryan Dawe first on ABC Radio and then on the Nine Network's A Current Affair.
1 60 Minutes Nine 1,732,000
2 Seven News - Sun Seven 1,682,000
3 Gladiators Seven 1,560,000
4 National Nine News Sunday Nine 1,520,000
5 So You Think You Can Dance Australia TEN 1,466,000
6 Grey's Anatomy Seven 1,347,000
7 The Biggest Loser TEN 1,315,000
8 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1,205,000
9 Animal Emergency Nine 1,147,000
10 RFDS: Royal Flying Doctor Service Nine 1,093,000
1 Doc Martin ABC 1,364,000
2 Seven News - Sat Seven 1,230,000
3 Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Nine 1,185,000
4 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,132,000
5 ABC News-Sa ABC 1,067,000
6 National Nine News Saturday Nine 1,061,000
7 Collectors (Shorts) ABC 907,000
8 The Great Outdoors Seven 852,000
9 Ten News At Five Sat TEN 799,000
10 Lewis Seven 780,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,446,000
2 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,443,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,361,000
4 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,223,000
5 National Nine News Nine 1,176,000
6 A Current Affair Nine 1,124,000
7 Home And Away Seven 1,115,000
8 ABC News ABC 1,079,000
9 The Biggest Loser Network Ten 1,045,000
10 Two And A Half Men Nine 967,000
Research on our coming FOXTEL HD+ service is indicating that HD movies On Demand is going to be a big hit with subscribers. It's about the HD part but also about the true On Demand part.
The true meaning of On Demand is personalisation - being able to watch what you want, when you want to, without having to wait. The new On Demand FOXTEL Box Office HD movie service will allow subscribers to press play and the film will start straight away with all the features we have come to know and love from a DVD - fast forward, rewind, watch part today and the rest tomorrow, etc.
THE Advertising Standards Bureau will review its determinations where violence was an issue during the past five years, as violence has become the top consumer concern.
ASB chief executive Alison Abernethy told Media that while sex, sexuality and nudity attracted the highest percentage of complaints, a recent study commissioned by the bureau revealed consumers were more concerned about the amount of violence appearing in commercials.
Last year, complaints about sex accounted for 37.91 per cent of all complaints, ahead of vilification and discrimination on 28.05 per cent and health and safety on 10.85 per cent. Complaints about violence represented just 8.42per cent of all complaints, ahead of concerns about car advertising, advertising to children, bad language and food and beverage issues.
Ms Abernethy said the review was prompted by concerns that the ASB might not have been keeping up with prevailing community attitudes.
1. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.628
2. Seven News Seven 1.385
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.325
4. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.274
5. Home and Away Seven 1.252
6. A Current Affair Nine 1.250
7. National Nine News Nine 1.224
8. The Footy Show Nine 1.204
9. Getaway Nine 1.194
10. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.172
Bravo face for rebadged Arena. SBS logo gets a modern facelift. See News below...
Fake Foxtel Exposed
Police in several states have seized hundreds of illegal Foxtel set top box cards with some investigators now man were claiming that there are between 50 to 100,000 illegal cards in use. Yesterday, two Victorian men were charged with making and selling illegal Foxtel decoders.
Rodney Doove, 42 from Mount Waverley in Victoria and a 27 year old Ballarat charged with making and selling unauthorised decoders.They are also charged with making, distributing and selling fake smart cards and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
In a Federal police statement issued today they claim that hundreds of fake pay television encryption cards and set-top decoders were seized in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland after an investigation which lasted six-months.
The AFP also seized $169,000 and several computers from a Sydney property, and 18 boxes of illegal fireworks that were allegedly being stored at a Victorian house.
A 43-year-old man from Mount Waverley and a 27-year-old man from Sebastopol will face court in Melbourne and Ballarat today. They have been charged with making, distributing and selling fake smart cards or 'gamma' cards, which allow people to access the Foxtel and Austar pay television networks without a subscription.
SUBSCRIPTION television channel Arena will be rebadged with the logo, livery and programming content of US pay-TV's Bravo channel in the first instance of a wholesale channel import. The arrangement will involve Arena adopting almost everything from Bravo, including the "Watch What Happens" branding, bar its name.
The deal also signals a solid pre-emptive strike by Foxtel ahead of the launch of the free-to-air standard definition channels on January 1.
More significantly, though, Foxtel's separate programming and branding deals with NBC Universal International Television Distribution and Bravo Media solve one of the platform's longstanding and unresolved questions: How do you solve a problem like Arena?
The channel appeared to float aimlessly under XYZ Management, with little programming clarity or brand identity, despite a number of relaunches.
BY 2020, your ABC will broadcast six television channels, at least 15 radio services and a batch of broadband internet services, if managing director Mark Scott's ideal scenario becomes reality.
On the eve of the 2020 Summit, Mr Scott yesterday released what appeared to be his vision for the broadcaster and a funding plea outlining the digital services an "adequately resourced" ABC would provide by 2020.
The ABC hopes to be the local town crier and the conduit for Australians to participate in the national debate, as well as a projector of Australian values to the world, according Mr Scott, who will be a participant in the creative stream of the federal Government's summit.
He warned that the present TV regulatory and revenue landscape of content quotas and high-rating, advertising-supported free commercial channels would be under threat in the digital world.
SEVEN Network executive chairman Kerry Stokes has given a strong indication his media boss, David Leckie, will return to the company for the long term, saying the company's international private equity partner, KKR, is relying on his commitment to the group.
Mr Leckie is the chief executive of the Seven Media Group, a joint venture between Seven and KKR that contains the company's flagship television and magazine operations. But Mr Leckie is at present in a serious condition in Sydney's St Vincent's private hospital.
The Australian revealed yesterday Mr Leckie had contracted septicemia - or blood poisoning - from complications after his left finger was almost severed when he caught it in the mechanism of a garage door in February.
Mr Stokes, who flew to Sydney on the weekend after learning of Mr Leckie's medical setback, claimed yesterday there was no truth to suggestions Mr Leckie had been looking at stepping aside from the group.
THE pay-television industry may launch three new channels as part of a marketing blitz tocombat the free-to-air TV broadcasters' planned launch of Freeview.
The news comes as the free-to-air networks are believed to be interviewing candidates for the role of interim chief executive of Freeview in Australia, with a more permanent appointment due down the track.
The free-to-airs are expected to allocate airtime worth $40 million to promote their multi-channel Freeview platform - which could include 15 channels by next year - as early as this month. But a TV executive said pay TV would not allow the free-to-air broadcasters undiluted airspace.
Sources said at least three new pay-TV channels - which other sources tipped might include a gay channel - were being planned for Foxtel and Austar. "We will be launching more new channels than they are launching in total," the source said.
SEVEN Network CEO David Leckie has improved slightly but remains in intensive care fighting an undiagnosed infection after surgery on a finger.
Seven's director of news and public affairs, Peter Meakin, said Mr Leckie, 56, was "a little bit improved" but his condition was still serious.
"We're all hoping and praying for a speedy recovery because he is an invaluable and much-loved member of our team," Mr Meakin said last night.
Doctors have placed Mr Leckie, who was admitted to Sydney's St Vincent's Private Hospital on Saturday, in a controlled coma to diagnose andtreat the infection, which may take up to a week, a source said.
AUSTRALIA'S media executives are predicting a channel-less media environment that can be searched and consumed on the go, on demand and on a single device, a survey by Media on the eve of the 2020 Summit has found.
Some of Australia's top media chiefs - many of whom will participate in the Rudd Government's summit (although media is not a specific discussion topic) - painted the picture of a changed media landscape by 2020.
SBS managing director Shaun Brown said multi-channelling - or the launch of new digital channels by free-to-air television broadcasters - would be "overtaken by on-demand services".
"I'm of the view channels will be replaced with reservoirs of content from which viewers make choices on a time and platform basis that they identify," Mr Brown said.
THE media industry is expected to play second fiddle to traditional creative arts in the Towards a Creative Australia stream of this weekend's 2020 Summit.
The list of attendees relies heavily on arts administrators and the agenda focuses on arts bodies, public broadcasters, the film industry and opportunities to turn the creative sector into a significant export industry.
In particular, regional arts bodies, emerging artists and the video game sector are unrepresented and other areas - such as live commercial entertainment - are barely represented.
But the absence of key television executives other than ABC's Mark Scott and SBS's Shaun Brown from the creative 100, and the relatively few TV producers (Hal McElroy is among them) compared with the number of film directors and producers, suggest commercial TV is not considered creative in the same sense as film.
THE multicultural broadcaster SBS will rebrand its logo, livery and presentation across all its platforms in May.
The worldly Mercator map logo will be retained in a refined form, after research indicated the network's audience wanted SBS to meet its commitment "to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that ... reflect Australia's multicultural society".
SBS managing director Shaun Brown wasn't surprised by the findings. But he said it "may be a surprise to some, when some of the recent political debate has attempted to marginalise the label of multiculturalism and replace it with sanitised words".
The broadcaster will reintroduce a tagline, "Six billion stories and counting", a phrase that by default rather than design follows the SBS acronym.
NINE'S top-rating drama Underbelly is under investigation by the national media watchdog after complaints the show breached its M classification.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will investigate a complaint by Christian group Festival of Light Australia alleging that most of the episodes have "unnecessarily prolonged and explicit" sex scenes, extreme violence and very coarse language.
The network is fighting the complaint, arguing the series complies with its M classification while attempting to accurately portray its underworld subjects.
"This isn't an imaginary scenario - we're detailing a history that is already recorded and acknowledged and known," said Richard Lyle, chief classification officer for Nine. "If you are trying to give people some understanding of how out of control the gangland murders have become, you have to give people as clear a picture as you can."
1. RSPCA Animal Rescue Seven 1.672
2. Seven News Seven 1.534
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.409
4. Home and Away Seven 1.304
5. The Real Seachange Seven 1.267
6. Underbelly Nine 1.247
7. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.168
8. National Nine News Nine 1.163
9. ABC News ABC 1.150
10. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.143
MEDIA RELEASE: ASTRA WELCOMES THE AFP's LATEST OPERATION AGAINST PIRACY
ASTRA, Australia's leading body representing the subscription television (STV) sector, today welcomed a national anti-piracy operation by The Australian Federal Police (AFP), which is taking a leading role in combating piracy of STV.
The AFP's operation has been conducted in partnership with the STV industry and has resulted in the execution of ten search warrants today against alleged perpetrators of STV criminal activity in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
Video Ezy to rollout IPTV platform to more than 1000 stores
Australia's largest movie rental franchise, Video Ezy and Blockbuster, today announced plans to rollout an IPTV delivery platform and set top box middleware to enable the delivery of an electronic video rental service to more than 1,000 stores.
The stores, across Australia and New Zealand, serve more than eight million customers.
The main components of the electronic rental service includes an in-store kiosk with movie library, branded USB or iPod-type storage system and an in-home Java set top box.
Customers simply plug the USB or iPod into the kiosk to select movies to rent for later playback on the Java set top box.
Optus has found itself in hot water, as various Hollywood movie studios have launched legal action against the company for breach of contract.
According to an Australian Financial Review article entitled Studios pursue Optus in pay TV drama, Warner Bros, MGM, Disney, and Village Roadshow are suing the telco for 'damages and failing to pay an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars owed to MNC under their supply company.'
According to the report, when Optus renegotiated a channel-sharing agreement with MNC in 1999, Optus has agreed that if it increased its charge to its subscribers, the additional revenue should be shared 50:50 between Optus and MNC.
MNC also said that its revenue sharing agreement with Optus 'extended to any revenue earned where the telco bundled its telephony and internet services with pay TV - which was the only way Optus sold pay TV following its alliance deal with Foxtel.'
FURTHER evidence has emerged that James Packer will continue to sell media assets to finance his push into the gaming sector, after reports from the US yesterday of the $US324 million ($348 million) sale of a 25 per cent stake in Hollywood film studio New Regency Productions.
Mr Packer sold his 25.4 per cent interest to fellow billionaire Arnon Milchan, according to American showbusiness magazine Variety.
The magazine reported Mr Milchan as pointing to Mr Packer's single-minded focus on gaming assets: "James Packer is a great friend and business partner. We have other investments together, and we will continue to search for opportunities that would be mutually beneficial to both of our interests, but James is focusing his efforts on the casino business and I am focusing on Regency."
The New Regency move is the second indication in recent weeks that Mr Packer may be looking afresh to sell media assets to finance his gaming push, after his moves in 2006 and 2007 to sell 75 per cent of PBL Media, which controls the one-time flagship Packer family media assets, including the Nine Network and ACP Magazines.
While lawyers for the Seven Network have been finalising hundreds of pages of submissions for the company's appeal in its C7 trade practices case, its executive chairman, Kerry Stokes, has said the $200 million lawsuit was "a mistake".
In an interview with in Perth's Sunday Times Magazine, Mr Stokes is reported as saying: "You rely on advice independently and our board took that advice. We made a mistake."
A Seven spokesman said yesterday Mr Stokes's comments had been abbreviated.
"His view is it was a mistake for him personally because he was criticised by the judge but it wasn't a mistake for the company because it was protecting its interests," the spokesman said.
1. Bondi Rescue Ten 1.590
2. Seven News Seven 1.516
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.481
4. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.440
5. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.360
6. It Takes Two Seven 1.355
7. Home and Away Seven 1.317
8. NCIS Ten 1.278
9. ABC News ABC 1.247
10. National Nine News Nine 1.213
1. Border Security Seven 1.584
2. Seven News Seven 1.582
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.469
4. Home and Away Seven 1.384
5. Life In Cold Blood Nine 1.301
6. National Nine News Nine 1.288
7. Sea Patrol Nine 1.269
8. SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1.260
9. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.241
10. A Current Affair Nine 1.226
Pay TV Ratings for Week 15 (06 April - 12 April 2008)
1 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL DRAGONS V COWBOYS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 320 320 1,189 685
2 LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V ROOSTERS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 317 317 1,293 658
3 LIVE: NRL WESTS TIGERS V PANTHERS Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 244 244 1,168 654
4 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL ADELAIDE V PORT ADEL Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 238 238 1,171 628
5 LIVE: NRL WARRIORS V KNIGHTS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 210 210 1,188 480
6 LIVE: AFL GEELONG V MELBOURNE Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 175 175 1,177 549
7 LIVE: RUGBY UNION: S14 FORCE V WARATAHS Fox Sports 3 Sat 21:00 133 133 1,140 349
8 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Tue 17:56 131 191 805 1,752
9 LIVE: NRL SATURDAY PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 2 Sat 16:55 120 120 1,041 231
10 FAMILY GUY FOX8 Fri 18:48 109 161 943 1,055
SEVEN Network chairman Kerry Stokes has for the first time admitted Seven's $200 million C7 litigation was a "mistake".
Mr Stokes, the majority owner of Channel Seven who is now campaigning for two board seats on the board of West Australian Newspaper Holdings, believed Seven's legal action against most of his rival media groups was the reason the shareholder's assocation has not supported his latest board tilt.
"It's hard to have 20-20 hindsight," Mr Stokes said in an interview published at the weekend by The Sunday Times Magazine in Perth.
"You rely on advice independently and our board took that advice. We made a mistake."
JOURNALISTS from The West Australian have rejected an offer to meet Seven Network boss Kerry Stokes to discuss his plans for the newspaper.
Responding to a letter from more than 100 staff including reporters, photographers and sub-editors, Mr Stokes invited the group to meet him yesterday at his Perth headquarters.
But the group, led by Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance house committee chairman David Cusworth, wanted the meeting to be publicly reported, a suggestion that Mr Stokes did not welcome.
"Following a request from Mr Cusworth, this invitation was issued as a gesture of goodwill for staff to meet us in an informal setting to discuss issues relevant to the success of The West," Mr Stokes said.
FROM thrillers to documentaries, reality shows and formats for kids, shows on the environment are this year's hot favourites with television program-makers worldwide and appear set to dominate prime-time viewing.
Bowing to the demand for programs on the environment, the influential MIPTV trade show - gathering more than 13,000 executives from the TV, internet, telecoms, advertising and video game industries - kicked off this week with an opening Green Day.
"Green (TV) is absolutely red hot," Paul Johnson, director of the TV division of the show's organisers Reed MIDEM, said.
Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, received a Green World Award from the organisers for raising awareness in the past five decades, while leading campaigners got together with industry players to brainstorm about the role of the media inthe fight against global warming.
AUSTRALIAN television networks are reluctant to let viewers watch online catch-up TV services, but local company Discs on Demand has taken another approach to the problem.
The company hopes to satisfy the demand people have to watch previously broadcast shows in their own time by giving them access to TV programs on DVD after they have gone to air.
Discs on Demand founder Bernhard Kirschner said the networks and their advertisers were missing out on a large audience that was effectively accessing program archives of broadcasters by using file-sharing websites to download shows illegally.
"This inability to satisfy a need is a threat to video as much as the internet has negatively impacted the music industry, due to its slow and rigid response to changing technology," Mr Kirschner said.
1. Seven News Seven 1.726
2. 60 Minutes Nine 1.543
3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.476
4. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.476
5. National Nine News Nine 1.429
6. Gladiators Seven 1.427
7. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.208
8. Animal Emergency Nine 1.123
9. RFDS: Royal Flying Doctor Service Nine 1.120
10. ABC News ABC 1.108
1 Seven News Seven 1,279,000
2 Doc Martin ABC 1,256,000
3 Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets Nine 1,083,000
4 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 1,055,000
5 ABC News ABC 991,000
6 Nine News Saturday Nine 912,000
7 The Great Outdoors Seven 869,000
8 Saturday Night AFL Ten 842,000
10 Ten News At Five Sat Ten 751,000
1 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,443,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,368,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,283,000
4 Home And Away Seven 1,149,000
5 Nine News Nine 1,142,000
6 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,137,000
7 ABC News ABC 1,089,000
8 A Current Affair Nine 1,067,000
13 Seven's AFL: Rnd 4: Essendon vs Western Bulldogs Seven 788,000
16 Neighbours Ten 732,000
After its red carpet debut on FOX8 in 2007, Confidential has moved to Arena, and will open its sensational 2008 season with an hour-long special from TV's night of nights.
Presented by hosts Sophie Falkiner, Mike Hammond and special guest Molly Meldrum, the Logies special will bring viewers closer to the stars as it chats to winners, rates the frocks and gets all of the juicy gossip coming from the gala event.
"There's so much that goes on behind the scenes, so we want to show people what they wouldn't normally see on TV," Falkiner said.
THERE has been an explosion of political passion among journos in the West. Seven political reporter Reece Whitby has announced his intention to seek preselection for the seat of Morley at the coming election.
1. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.542
2. Seven News Seven 1.402
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.369
4. Home and Away Seven 1.220
5. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.146
6. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.144
7. ABC News ABC 1.091
8. Getaway Nine 1.088
9. National Nine News Nine 1.081
10. The Footy Show Nine 1.081
1 RSPCA Animal Rescue Seven 1,561,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,480,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,397,000
4 Home And Away Seven 1,346,000
5 National Nine News Nine 1,238,000
6 Underbelly Nine 1,219,000
7 The Real Seachange Seven 1,190,000
8 A Current Affair Nine 1,183,000
9 House TEN 1,155,000
10 ABC News ABC 1,115,000
MORE than a quarter of a century ago, Sunday night on the ABC was Countdown for the kids and black-tied hosts introducing performances from the Sydney Opera House for mum and dad.
The long-lost tradition of live arts simulcasts returns to ABC television tonight with a simulcast on ABC2 of the Australian Ballet's Swan Lake.
But times have changed. Smaller cameras will shoot much closer to performers, from the front row and stage wings, dancers will be interviewed at intermission and the hosts will cross live to principal dancer, Robert Curran's parents in the Hunter Valley's Singleton. And the black tie?
"Well, the hosts (ABC Classic FM's Emma Ayres and The Chaser's Chris Taylor) will be very smartly dressed," said Amanda Duthie, head of ABC TV Arts, Entertainment and Comedy.
1 Bondi Rescue TEN 1,602,676
2 Seven News Seven 1,498,280
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,418,683
4 NCIS TEN 1,385,465
5 Kitchen Nightmares U.S.A. Nine 1,379,664
6 The Biggest Loser TEN 1,328,945
7 It Takes Two Seven 1,264,753
8 Home And Away Seven 1,224,000
9 ABC News ABC 1,176,159
10 National Nine News Nine 1,093,070
IT'S piquant, if true, that Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer's proposed acquisition of Consolidated Media Holdings fell through because Packer wouldn't negotiate on price, as the proposal was declared to be "final" when announced just over two months ago.
That declaration was made to deter any ambitions the independent ConsMedia directors may have had of negotiating a bid sweetener as the price of a board recommendation; once a bidder specifically states that it won't increase an offer price, then, under ASIC's "truth in takeovers" policy, it cannot do so.
But two months down the track Packer apparently was citing the final statement to resist a lowering of the offer price.
The parties involved have been unable to reach agreement.
GANGLAND drama Underbelly is banned in Melbourne but will be seen around the world after Nine sold the rights to Fox International Channels.
The 13 one-hour episodes, produced by Screentime for the Nine Network, will be broadcast in markets including the UK, Italy, the Balkans, Korea, Pan-Asia, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
Nine CEO David Gyngell said the series had sold internationally because of its high production values. "To say we are pleased is an understatement - we are delighted that the series will gain international audiences and global recognition," Gyngell said.
But the ban by a Victorian court on the screening of the series until the completion of a criminal trial currently underway remains a major setback for Nine. If the series had been broadcast in its biggest market - Melbourne - the network would have won every ratings week in which it was aired.
THE ABC is the unlikely star of the populist TV Week Logies, dominating the Gold Logie category and setting a record for nominations.
Comedians Chris Lilley and Adam Hills and interviewer Andrew Denton have been nominated for the Gold Logie for their ABC programs - the first time the national broadcaster has hadmore than one nomination for Gold.
The three share the category with actors Natalie Blair from Ten's Neighbours, John Howard from Seven's All Saints, last year's winner Kate Ritchie, from Home and Away, Lisa McCune from Nine's Sea Patrol, and Rove McManus from Ten's Rove Live.
The ABC appears to have benefited from changes to the voting system for the 50th year of the awards, which meant people did not need a copy of TV Week magazine to vote. The change to online voting has increased the number of votes by 110 per cent.
1. Border Security Seven 1.799
2. Seven News Seven 1.572
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.425
4. Home and Away Seven 1.396
5. SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1.392
6. Australian Story ABC 1.321
7. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.249
8. National Nine News Nine 1.234
9. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.232
10. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.222
TEST YOUR AFL AND NRL TRIVIA THROUGH NEW GAMESWORLD ACTION ON FOXTEL
Fancy yourself a footy trivia buff? With the winter sports season now in full swing, FOXTEL is challenging sports fans to test their knowledge of the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) with the launch of two exciting new interactive brainteaser trivia quizzes on the FOXTEL GAMESWORLD service. Read More
FOXTEL ACTIVE OVERLOADS IN APRIL
Who will be Australia's Next Top Model? FOXTEL subscribers can have their say by voting with their remotes this April when the next cycle of FOX8's hit local production hits the catwalk. Hosted by former model, turned fashion designer and television presenter Jodhi Meares, Australia's Next Top Model is the hit reality series that follows a group of young women as they try to prove they have what it takes to make it in the high-stress, high-stakes world of modelling. Read More
Pay TV Ratings for Week 14 (30 March - 05 April 2008) STV 21.9
1 LIVE: NRL TITANS V RAIDERS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 229 229 1,334 619
2 LIVE & ACTIVE: NRL DRAGONS V SHARKS Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 227 227 1,232 550
3 LIVE: NRL COWBOYS V EELS Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:30 227 227 1,214 585
4 LIVE: NRL SEA EAGLES V WARRIORS Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 199 199 996 512
5 LIVE: NRL PANTHERS V RABBITOHS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 190 190 1,068 411
6 LIVE: AFL RICHMOND V NORTH MELBOURNE Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 189 189 1,091 589
7 LIVE: AFL SYDNEY V PORT ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 178 178 1,028 508
8 LIVE: AFL WEST COAST V FREMANTLE Fox Sports 1 Sat 17:00 151 151 1,207 535
9 LIVE: AFL BRISBANE LIONS V SYDNEY Fox Sports 1 Sat 20:00 150 150 1,306 641
10 RELOCATION RELOCATION Lifestyle Wed 20:30 126 171 1,183 444
AUNTY has made its biggest mark on the Logie awards with three nominations for this year's gold statuette.
The ABC's Andrew Denton, Chris Lilley and Adam Hills, and Ten's Rove McManus will vie against previous winners Kate Ritchie and Lisa McCune for this year's Gold Logie.
Neighbours star Natalie Blair and All Saints veteran John Howard round out the nominees.
It's a golden year for the ABC which has scored the most nominees in the prestigious category with Enough Rope's Denton, Summer Heights High creator and star Lilley, and Hills, who hosts the popular music quiz program, Spicks and Specks.
SEVEN and Nine have tied week six of the official television ratings year, effectively the start of the 2008 ratings battle.
Both Seven and Nine had a 27.7 per cent share against Ten's 21.9 per cent, ABC's 17.5 per cent and SBS's 5.1 per cent.
Seven has three weekly wins to Nine's two, although Nine leads in total share for the year to date (excluding Easter) with 28 per cent to Seven's 27.8 per cent and Ten's 22 per cent.
Nine also won the week in the key 25 to 54-year-old demographic after comfortably winning the final night of the week, Saturday, in large part due to the 967,000 who watched a repeat of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on Nine and the relative failure of Seven's much advertised new Saturday night line-up: The Great Outdoors, Michael Palin's New Europe and Lewis.
WHEN lawyer George Defteros rattles off a list of his former clients, it sounds like the cast of characters from the Underbelly series based on Melbourne's bloody gangland war.
"I'll tell you who I acted for," he says, leaning back in his chair. "Mick Gatto, Alphonse Gangitano, Tony Mokbel, Graham Kinniburgh, Michael Marshall, Willie Thompson, John Kizon, Roger Rogerson, the Coffin Cheaters Motorcycle Club, the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club."
It was that high-profile reputation as the underworld's lawyer of choice that Mr Defteros says put him in the "firing line" at the height of the gangland war. Based on the claims of a paid police supergrass, he was charged with conspiring with Mario Condello to murder rival Carl Williams and his father.
Falling victim to what he says was nothing more than an opportunistic informer looking to trade a $1 million payoff and immunity from prosecution for a high-profile scalp came close to destroying Mr Defteros's life.
Lachlan Murdoch's Consolidated Media deal falls over
LACHLAN Murdoch has dumped his $3.3 billion deal to privatise Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd (CMH), with friend and fellow tycoon James Packer.
The announcement of the withdrawal by Mr Murdoch's private company, Illyria Pty Ltd, this afternoon comes after CMH shares went into a trading halt.
Mr Murdoch said in a letter to CMH that Illyria was not in a position to proceed with the indicative proposal set out in a letter to CMH on January 21 "due to material changes in the overall transaction terms''.
Illyria, and CMH's major shareholder, the Packer family's Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd (CPH), made a non-binding indicative proposal in January to each take a 50:50 stake in the media investment company.
It is understood there has been no room for negotiation from Mr Murdoch's original valuation of the group at $4.80 a share.
1. Gladiators Seven 1.571**
2. Seven News Seven 1.540*
3. 60 Minutes Nine 1.509
4. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.361
5. National Nine News Nine 1.317
6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.313
7. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.244
8. Police Files Seven 1.096*
9. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1.075**
10. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.071**
1 Doc Martin ABC 1,331,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,155,000
3 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 989,000
4 ABC News ABC 978,000
5 Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone Nine 967,000
Nine News Saturday Nine 923,000
Saturday Night AFL Ten 891,000
The Great Outdoors Seven 779,000
Michael Palin's New Europe Seven 720,000
The Bill ABC 672,000
1 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,305,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,299,000
3 Home And Away Seven 1,266,000
4 Today Tonight Seven 1,221,000
5 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,110,000
6 ABC News ABC 1,064,000
7 National Nine News Nine 1,022,000
8 A Current Affair Nine 957,000
9 The Biggest Loser (Aus) TEN 860,000
10 Collectors ABC 830,000
THE 50th Annual TV Week Logie Awards begin rolling out on Monday with a breakfast announcement of the nominees at Sydney's Luna Park.
For the first time the voting has been opened up to the public - and not just readers of TV Week - and the response has been good.
The awards will be held on Sunday May 4 at the Crown Entertainment Complex and broadcast live on Nine.
THE ABC's strategy to become an important player in an increasingly diversified digital world has received a blow, with the broadcaster understood to have lost the lucrative rights to supply news content to Telstra's BigPond.
Media understands the deal to supply BigPond with news content has been won by Australian News Channel, the company that operates the Sky News pay-TV channels. Australian News Channel is one-third owned by each of PBL Media, Seven Media and BSkyB, the British pay-TV subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (which owns The Australian).
BigPond's decision to award Australian News Channel the rights is understood to cover the primary rights to supply news content to both BigPond's main website, www.bigpond.com , and BigPond-branded mobile services. The right to supply BigPond internet and mobile users with news has been regarded as the jewel in the crown of the ABC's commercial internet and mobile content distribution.
The ABC's deal with BigPond is understood to been worth millions of dollars to the public broadcaster.
Seven sought $130,000 from charity for story costs
THE Seven Network has generated another behind-the-scenes scandal after it demanded $130,000 from a cancer charity for the production costs of a reporter from its Sunrise program to cover a celebrity fundraising walk in China.
Next Monday, Olivia Newton-John and a host of local and international stars begin a 228km trek over 21 days to raise funds for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre Appeal.
However, the network has pulled the pin on a deal to send Sunrise reporter Monique Wright to cover the event after its demand was rejected.
Seven's sales director, James Warburton, told the charity it had to come up with the network's production costs or Sunrise would withdraw from the walk.
PAY-TV sports channel Fox Sports has paid up to $10 million for the exclusive broadcast rights to the Australia-India Test rematch in India in October.
But the win could prove difficult for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, given strong free-to-air viewer interest in the first series, which proved a ratings winner for the Nine Network earlier this year.
The free-to-air networks are pushing the federal Government to relax anti-siphoning rules so they can show more sport on their new multi-channels.
And Mr Conroy recently indicated at the pay TV industry's conference that he may review the rules that prevent the free-to-air networks from showing sport that is on the anti-siphoning list on their multi-channels.
AUSTRALIA'S television executives have arrived in Cannes for the annual MIPTV content trade fair, which will be like noother.
The imminent launch of their commercial standard definition multi-channels on January 1, the production hiatus during the recent Writers Guild of America strike, and the much altered screening and up-front schedule for the US studios' new programs will affect acquisition plans and the fervour for new formats from Cannes.
The new channels will all need hours of new product, with industry speculation that the Seven, Nine and Ten networks will be relying on general entertainment strategies, albeit with more niche audience targeting, on the new multi-channels unless the Rudd Government makes concessions on sport content allowed to be programmed.
Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams has foreshadowed a hefty and unviable increase in acquisition fees now the free-to-air networks are chasing programs for their second channels, programs that previously would have had healthy lives on subscription TV.
A $65 MILLION deal by regional pay-TV operator Austar United Communications to sell its WiMAX wireless spectrum will be shelved after the federal Government withdrew funding for the OPEL broadband consortium.
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday announced the termination of the contract of OPEL, a joint venture between the SingTel-owned Optus and Futuris-owned Elders, to build its regional wireless broadband network. Mr Conroy blamed the inability of OPEL to meet minimum coverage requirements for "underserved premises" for his decision.
But the news has prompted Austar chief executive John Porter to launch an attack on the outcome and the handling at government level of the regional broadband coverage.
"It pushes back services in regional Australia for who knows how long," Mr Porter told Media yesterday.
THE ABC's complaints handling process was "seriously flawed" and created a buffer between program-makers and their critics, according to a critique in the latest issue of The Sydney Institute Quarterly.
Instead of responding directly, presenters and producers were diverting complaints into the public broadcaster's bureaucracy, resulting in lengthy delays in matters being resolved, the article said.
Of the 15,309 written complaints about the ABC finalised last financial year, 554, or 3.6 per cent, were upheld by its complaints arm Audience and Consumer Affairs, according to its 2006/07 annual report.
"In short, it is very, very difficult to get the ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs department to accept the legitimacy of a complaint," said the Quarterly, published by think-tank the Sydney Institute, of which Gerard Henderson is executive director.
Both sides claim victory as baffling - but crucial - battle looms
The pay TV and free-to-air (FTA) TV sectors are at loggerheads again over who's going to bite whom next year when the
terrestrial networks can tantalise audiences with 15 channels of new video stuff they won't
have to pay for.
Both sides point to Britain for
a likely result in Australia from 2009 and both sides say their
It's baffling but crucial stuff because if pay TV gets its way over the next five years and reaches 50 per cent of Australian households, FTA TV will lose 60 per cent of its audience viewing time in those homes. And there's at least another $300 million in advertising revenues which moves across to pay TV.
Battle royal looms for control of TV eyeballs. Paul McIntyre reports.
Free-to-air broadcasters are set to launch a $40 million advertising blitz to whack pay television and attract customers to digital terrestrial TV.
The campaign, to go to air in six weeks, is backed by the three commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, and will have more air time than the former Coalition government's advertising splurge for the GST, which was the single biggest television campaign seen in Australia. Unlike the paid GST ads, the digital TV ads will be run free.
So confident are some of the free-to-air broadcasters about the damage they can inflict on pay TV's - the ad blitz will bundle a line-up of 15 free digital channels available from next year - they say pay TV subscriptions might stall.
THE champagne corks will be popping and the lids being ripped off super-sized bottles of Sol Trujillo's favourite orange Gatorade at Telstra this morning as the big telco celebrates the Rudd Government's scrapping of the $1 billion regional broadband deal with Optus and Elders.
There's nothing like the pleasure of watching your number-one rival get it in the neck.
Telstra, led as ever by its human megaphone Phil Burgess, has been a screeching opponent of both the Government's deal with the consortium branded Opel and the WiMAX wireless broadband technology that Opel planned to use to connect up to one million households to a new regional fibre backbone.
At Optus' shiny new campus in Sydney's North Ryde, blood will be dribbling down the walls as Paul O'Sullivan and his senior executives slam their heads, time and again, in despair.
1. Home and Away Seven 1.502
2. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.479
3. Seven News Seven 1.299
4. Today Tonight Seven 1.253
5. The Footy Show Nine 1.186
6. National Nine News Nine 1.180
7. A Current Affair Nine 1.155
8. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.106
9. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.078
10. Getaway Nine 1.077
1. Seven News Seven 1.463
2. RSPCA Animal Rescue Seven 1.459
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.303
4. Home and Away Seven 1.300
5. A Current Affair Nine 1.222
6. National Nine News Nine 1.206
7. Underbelly Nine 1.195
8. ABC News ABC 1.175
9. Spicks and Specks ABC 1.095
10. The Real Seachange Seven 1.090
Channel 7 has started on Foxtel Satellite in Sydney, digital EPG channel 107.
AUSTAR announces vesting of B Class shares
AUSTAR United Communications Limited (AUSTAR) (ASX code: AUN) today announced the finalisation of its 2003 Senior Executive Share plan with the vesting of the remaining B Class Shares under the plan.
In accordance with the rules of the Senior Management Share Plan, 54,025,795 B Class Shares vested and as advised in the attached Appendix 3B form, have now been converted into Ordinary Shares taking the total Ordinary Shares on issue to 1,320,463,154.
FEDERAL Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has canned the former Coalition government's billion dollar regional broadband deal with the Opel consortium of Optus and Elders.
Senator Conroy came to the decision when internal analysis conducted by his department showed that Opel could not provide coverage "reasonably equivalent" to 90 per cent.
"The department performed an analysis of the detailed testing and mapping undertaken by Opel and determined that the Opel network would only cover 72 per cent of indentified underserved premises," Senator Conroy said.
"On the basis of that assessment, the Government determined that Opel's implementation plan did not satisfy the condition precedent of the funding agreement, and as a result the contract has been terminated," he said. "This was the final failed broadband plan produced by the former Coalition Government.
SEVEN Network chairman Kerry Stokes says West Australian Newspaper Holdings is going backwards despite the state's prosperity and growing population.
"In the midst of Western Australia's prosperity and growing population, WAN is going backwards in its core business of selling newspapers and attracting readers," Mr Stokes told a breakfast in Perth today.
"Circulation continues to decline, and for the highly profitable Saturday edition, at an alarming rate."
Mr Stokes' Seven, WAN's largest shareholder, is engaged in a battle to control the boardroom of the publisher.
1 NCIS TEN 1,470,000
2 Bondi Rescue TEN 1,450,000
3 Seven News Seven 1,366,000
4 Kitchen Nightmares U.S.A. Nine 1,323,000
5 The Biggest Loser (Aus) TEN 1,311,000
6 Home And Away Seven 1,288,000
7 Today Tonight Seven 1,284,000
8 It Takes Two Seven 1,204,000
9 A Current Affair Nine 1,179,000
10 National Nine News Nine 1,117,000
1. Border Security Seven 1.767
2. Seven News Seven 1.497
3. SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1.466
4. Enough Rope with Andrew Denton ABC 1.455
5. Today Tonight Seven 1.413
6. Home and Away Seven 1.381
7. Sea Patrol Nine 1.238
8. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.180
9. A Current Affair Nine 1.175
10. Desperate Housewives Seven 1.132
1 LIVE: NRL DRAGONS V TITANS Fox Sports 2 Mon 19:00 300 300 706 1,210
2 LIVE: NRL RAIDERS V DRAGONS Fox Sports 2 Sat 19:30 294 294 682 1,251
3 LIVE: NRL ROOSTERS V STORM Fox Sports 2 Sat 17:30 294 294 648 1,166
4 LIVE: NRL TITANS V SHARKS Fox Sports 2 Sat 21:30 262 262 646 1,250
5 LIVE & ACTIVE: AFL HAWTHORN V MELBOURNE Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:30 198 198 510 1,091
6 LIVE: AFL PRE GAME SHOW Fox Sports 1 Sun 16:00 187 187 247 1,127
7 LIVE: AFL WESTERN BULLDOGS V ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 Sun 13:00 184 184 463 1,095
8 LIVE: NRL WARRIORS V EELS Fox Sports 2 Sun 14:00 181 181 431 1,147
9 LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER CHINA V AUSTRALIAFox Sports 2 Wed 17:00 159 159 388 856
10 LIVE: SWIMMING: OLYMPIC TRIALS Fox Sports 3 Sun 19:30 135 135 276 1,185
NEARLY a year after opening its doors, pay-TV ad sales company Full Circle Media says it has reached critical mass and is helping to grow the category, along with its rival, Multi Channel Network (MCn).
Full Circle was formed last year when a handful of stations disgruntled with MCn broke away to form their own ad sales group, headed by Brian Gallagher.
Mr Gallagher admits the first months were tough for the company, as many advertisers had contracts directly with MCn rather than with the channels.
Channels such as TV1, The Movie Network and Sci Fi joined Full Circle. "MCn did not make our landing easy," Mr Gallagher said. "The first six months were tough." Mr Gallagher and MCn chief executive Anthony Fitzgerald agree that the added focus the new player brings to the sector has helped to grow the pie, with more advertisers looking at the highly targeted market.
1. Gladiators Seven 1.847
2. Seven News Seven 1.579
3. Police Files Seven 1.571
4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1.551
5. 60 Minutes Nine 1.404
6. National Nine News Nine 1.326
7. My Name Is Earl Seven 1.244
8. So You Think You Can Dance Ten 1.234
9. Grey's Anatomy Seven 1.138
10. ABC News ABC 1.125
1 Doc Martin ABC 1,310,000
2 ABC News ABC 1,099,000
3 Seven News Seven 1,097,000
4 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 998,000
5 National Nine News Nine 996,000
6 The Bill ABC 930,000
7 Collectors (Shorts) ABC 825,000
8 ABC News Update ABC 772,000
9 2008 Olympic Swimming Trials Nine 761,000
10 Gardening Australia ABC 725,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,355,000
2 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 1,252,000
3 Home And Away Seven 1,226,000
4 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,225,000
5 Today Tonight Seven 1,155,000
6 National Nine News Nine 1,097,000
7 A Current Affair Nine 999,000
8 ABC News ABC 985,000
9 The Biggest Loser TEN 892,000
10 Collectors ABC 850,000
TEN Network Holdings is confident that it will increase its advertising revenues over the next 18 months
This comes despite growing signs that the television ad market may be affected by the global credit crunch.
A growing band of leading analysts are tipping zero or even negative ad growth for the TV market for the 2009 financial year, as advertisers prepare to tighten their belts because of an expected toughening in economic conditions.
But Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon, told The Australian in an interview yesterday that the company was looking to offset the effect of the toughening outlook by picking up ad share from rival networks Nine and Seven.
KERRY Stokes's longstanding investment in China is set to pay another dividend.
A joint venture between Seven Network Australia and Beijing Television (owned by the Beijing City Government) is about to deliver substantial revenues through the Beijing International Media Services Company (BMC) established for August's Beijing Olympics.
Dubbed an "opportunist production group" by one of its competitors, the BMC has become the one-stop shop for global broadcasters and the prime live site for telecasts during the Games.
ABC managing director Mark Scott has confirmed a significant number of the network's 900 production staff involved in television and news programs will be made redundant this year.
"The precise numbers we won't know until our consultation process is over," Mr Scott said yesterday, adding that it would be "tough" on workers.
He said two external reports had revealed that the ABC could be more efficient if it automated its television studios, centralised its graphics department and rationalised its production resources into one department, ABC Resources.
The jobs at risk include producers, directors, camera operators, editors, switchers, production assistants, general studio crew and riggers. While broadcasters' and reporters' jobs are not at risk, desktop editing systems for use by TV journalists are being trialled.
THE managing director of the ABC Mark Scott confirmed there will be redundancies at the broadcaster as it moves towards automation.
But Mr Scott has stopped short at saying how many jobs will go.
Mr Scott told ABC Radio that two outside reports had shown the public broadcaster could be more efficient and he would begin a process of consultation with the unions to determine how many jobs needed to go.
"One of our major projects this year will be the replacement of TV news studio technology, which is reaching the end of its life cycle," Mr Scott said.
TELSTRA has struck a $9 million deal with the Seven Media Group to show exclusive live Beijing Olympics content on its BigPond mobile service after a protracted negotiation.
The deal, signed last night, means Telstra's Next G network will become one of four media partners for the Games along with Seven, its internet arm Yahoo7 and SBS.
The telco will also become one of four Olympic broadcast partners that will run ads on Seven, Yahoo7 and SBS.
Those packages are worth a reported $8.4 million, but it's understood the two parties have also struck a revenue-sharing arrangement that will vary depending on how many BigPond Olympics subscription packages are sold.
THE commercial TV networks are expected to cut back the amount of Australian music they broadcast if steep increases in copyright payments to recording artists are awarded against them in the federal court.
The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia has taken Free TV Australia to the Copyright Tribunal in an action that could lead to an increase in the broadcasters' annual copyright payments to the PPCA.
Under the previous five-year agreement between the parties, which expired in June last year, the networks paid the PPCA an annual license fee of $700,000 for the copyright that exists in sound recordings.
The PPCA has asked for that payment to be increased to equal an undisclosed amount the networks pay to another copyright collection body, the Australasian Performing Right Association.
ABC pushes for children's channel as part of digital drive
THE ABC is best placed to drive audiences to digital platforms, according to ABC managing director Mark Scott.
Minutes before Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced a $37.9 million package to push free-to-air digital TV penetration, Mr Scott told the Broadcasting Summit in Sydney the ABC's TV, radio and internet platforms would become the drivers of digital take-up, if the Government adequately funded the public broadcaster.
"We believe that there is a compelling case for the funding of a children's channel for the ABC," he said.
"We think there will be very strong take-up of digital television if there is a free-to-air children's channel available, funded by the Government, commercial-free, largely made up of Australian content, available in every family home."
THE federal Government and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy have backflipped and added a somersault to their digital television strategy.
Having disbanded the Howard government's Digital Australia and announcing $20 million in savings, Senator Conroy yesterday unveiled a $37.9 million funding and policy package to drive Australians to digital television.
The analog TV signal will be switched off on December 31, 2013 and all Australian televisions will have to be digital by that date. Senator Conroy told the Australian Broadcast Summit in Sydney yesterday the switch will be the largest change on a national scale since the introduction of decimal currency in 1966.
"It will affect every household and every TV receiver in the nation, including those in VCRs and other recorders," he said. He expected to announce a full digital switchover timetable for all regions by the end of 2008, with Mildura and Tasmania pegged as areas likely to move first.
PUBLICLY funded broadcaster SBS will ask for up to $20 million in extra and specially earmarked funding for its internet websites when it enters its first discussions with the Rudd Government for triennial finding later this year.
The national television and radio network receives $183 million each year from the Government but will increase its demands in talks later this year.
But since it has been forced by technology and user demand to ramp up its internet operations it has yet to get any extra funding, SBS digital media manager Marshall Heald told Media.
"Eighteen months ago our internet group was four blokes in the loading dock," Mr Heald said. "No one can argue that it isn't a requirement for national broadcaster. Digital is now on the commissioning panel at SBS. Everything we do is about cross-platform programming."
There is little doubt Australia's TV ratings system is antiquated. The sample is laughably small - 1250 homes nationally are used to reflect the viewing tastes and frequency of more than 20 million Australians - and it fails to capture the full spectrum of consumption, including time-shifted programs, personal digital recorders, portable video players, broadband and downloads.
Last week Foxtel and Austar announced they would launch, in partnership with their commercial advertising joint venture Multi Channel Network (MCn), a new audience survey that will monitor 10,000 homes nationally and include time-shifted viewing and audience engagement with interactive advertising (so-called i-Ads).
Such a system would be tilted towards the pay sector - all the homes will be pay TV homes - but it's a step in the right direction. It will allow a television business to monitor the audience's viewing habits away from the conventional TV set.
What seems astounding is that the free-to-air television industry hasn't taken steps to reinvigorate its own measurement system, particularly as the numbers it crunches seem to shrink annually.
TEN Network Holdings Ltd says the television advertising market is remarkably resilient despite the current malaise in global debt and equity markets.
Releasing the broadcaster's first half results, Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon said the company was already tracking ahead of last year in the March and April period and tracking well in other months.
Ten today posted a 617.3 per cent increase in first half net profit to $270.547 million.
The result includes an income tax benefit of $183.7 million stemming from the creation of the company as a consolidated group in February 2008.
1. Seven News Seven 1.408
2. Home and Away Seven 1.290
3. Today Tonight Seven 1.289
4. Olympic Swimming Trials Nine 1.167
5. National Nine News Nine 1.153
6. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.122
7. A Current Affair Nine 1.110
8. The Footy Show Nine 1.091
9. How I Met Your Mother Seven 1.090
10. Law and Order: SVU Ten 1.079
1 Seven News Seven 1,462,000
2 Home And Away Seven 1,342,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,336,000
4 Underbelly Nine 1,271,000
5 2008 Olympic Swimming Trials Nine 1,201,000
6 National Nine News Nine 1,169,000
7 Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World Seven 1,167,000
8 A Current Affair Nine 1,161,000
9 House ® Ten 1,141,000
10 ABC News ABC 1,141,000
No update tonight, will be back tomorrow..
Reports coming in that FOXTEL will soon announce more details and pricing on HD+
Report: TVtonight reporting that 7hd has axed The Night Cap.
ABC TV job cuts loom, union warns
CUTBACKS to in-house production of television shows could lead to significant job losses at the ABC.
Graeme Thomson, secretary of the ABC section of the Community and Public Sector Union, has warned that two secret reports may provide the ABC with grounds to lay-off production staff.
"We understand that these reviews were set up to examine the costs of internal versus external production," Mr Thomson told ABC staff.
"We know that the ongoing destruction of internal production capacity by management has reduced the efficiency of internal production."
THE Federal Government has announced a $37.9 million plan to shift Australians over to digital broadcasting.
The switchover to digital TV would be complete by December 31, 2013, federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told the Australian Broadcast Summit in Sydney today. At the summit, he announced a $37.9 million strategy to drive the digital transition.
But Senator Conroy told broadcasters that a policy announcement on digital radio was still under discussion within federal cabinet.
"This is a very tough set of economic circumstances the government is in. People shouldn't underestimate the challenges we have here at the moment," he said.
THE Federal Government has announced $37.9 million in funding to drive Australia's transition to digital television.
All Australian televisions will have to be digital by the end of 2013 under a Government plan.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today said the Government would spend $16.9 million on a digital switchover taskforce, which will coordinate the change.
The Government will also spend $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to undertake technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia.
THE Victorian Court of Appeal has rejected an appeal by the Nine Network to show the gangland crime series, Underbelly, in Victoria.
Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, along with justices Murray Kellam and Frank Vincent handed down the decision today.
Nine appealed late last month against a suppression order placed on the series by Supreme Court Justice Betty King on February 15, which included the transmission, publishing, broadcasting and exhibiting of Underbelly in Victoria.
Justice King made the order because of concerns by the Director of Public Prosecutions that the series would prejudice a murder trial starting on March 31.
1 Bondi Rescue TEN 1,571,000
2 Seven News Seven 1,519,000
3 Today Tonight Seven 1,456,000
4 Home And Away Seven 1,424,000
5 NCIS TEN 1,418,000
6 Kitchen Nightmares U.S.A. Nine 1,341,000
7 It Takes Two Seven 1,312,000
8 All Saints Seven 1,297,000
9 National Nine News Nine 1,223,000
10 The Biggest Loser TEN 1,211,000
THE ABC's talk stations lost market share as FM stations clawed back ratings in the second radio ratings survey of the year.
AM talk stations dominated the year's first Nielsen Media Research survey and 2GB and 3AW retained their market leads despite gains by FM in this second survey.
Sydney's leading station, Macquarie Radio's 2GB, dropped 1.6 share points but still retained market share leadership with a 12.7% share against 2Day's 11.0%.
2GB dropped 2.6 share points in the breakfast shift and 2.5 points in the morning shift but Alan Jones and Ray Hadley still hold commanding leads over 2Day's Kyle and Jackie O (up 1.4 points to 12.3%) and Chris Page (up 1.0 point to 10.6%).
UNIONS are bracing for the announcement of significant job cuts at the ABC.
The Community and Public Sector Union says it believes the public broadcaster is preparing to announce job cuts and redundancies in TV production.
While numbers are unknown, it is feared the job cuts could be the biggest since former managing director Jonathan Shier axed hundreds of ABC jobs in 2000 and 2001.
The ABC is currently undertaking a review of TV production performance, after which an announcement on jobs is expected, CPSU's ABC section secretary Graham Thompson said today.
"I'm anticipating cuts and outsourcing in the next couple of weeks," Mr Thompson said.
THE rise of internet television (IPTV) - and in particular, user-generated websites such as YouTube - will soon see free-to-air networks "simply disappear", along the lines of how vinyl records were superceded, according to one of the world's most senior media consultants.
Philip Evans, US-based senior partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group - and an internationally regarded expert on media convergence - also warned pay-TV operators they must not be complacent in the face of the IPTV threat.
Mr Evans has told The Australian in an extended interview that major audience disintegration for free-to-air TV could occur within a handful of years.
"I would anticipate, over the next five years, there will be a quite rapid decline in people accessing free-to-air broadcasting," Mr Evans said.
ADVERTISERS will at last find out how often Australians skip or fast-forward commercials under an audience measurement system launched by the pay-TV industry that could undermine the $3.8 billion free-to-air television sector.
Fusion Strategy founder and media analyst Steve Allen said if the data was made readily available, it would shake up the TV industry.
"This is Pandora's box," Mr Allen said. "Do you think if advertisers knew how much fast-forwarding (of commercials) was going on that it would be good for (the TV) business model? It should put the wind up the free-to-airs."
The as-yet-unnamed system, unveiled last week, will give the pay-TV industry and advertisers information about how consumers use their pay-TV set-top box and digital recorder to watch TV.
THE battle over copyright and television program guides has returned to the courts, with the Nine Network appealing against last year's Federal Court decision that found electronic program guide supplier ICE-TV had not breached Nine's copyright.
The parties were recently in the Full Federal Court arguing about the issue, with seven barristers retained in the case.
Nine argues ICE-TV is infringing its copyright by compiling information relating to the programs it puts to air, using "skill and labour".
But ICE-TV says it "predicts" what shows will be on the TV and only checks its guides against those published.
1 Border Security Seven 1,751,000
2 SCU: Serious Crash Unit Seven 1,637,000
3 Seven News Seven 1,588,000
4 Today Tonight Seven 1,455,000
5 Home And Away Seven 1,304,000
6 National Nine News Nine 1,264,000
7 A Current Affair Nine 1,113,000
8 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Nine 1,107,000
9 ABC News ABC 1,056,000
10 The Biggest Loser TEN 1,026,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,168,000
2 The Vicar Of Dibley Seven 1,073,000
3 60 Minutes Nine 1,064,000
4 National Nine News Nine 1,034,000
5 So You Think You Can Dance Australia TEN 988,000
6 The Biggest Loser TEN 973,000
7 ABC News ABC 860,000
8 Emerald Falls TEN 836,000
9 Belonging ABC 829,000
10 Animal Emergency Nine 774,000
1 Doc Martin ABC 1,239,000
2 ABC News ABC 1,037,000
3 Seven News Seven 993,000
4 National Nine News Nine 978,000
5 Collectors (Shorts) ABC 927,000
6 The Bill ABC 885,000
7 Ice Age Seven 883,000
8 ABC News Update ABC
9 Australia's Funniest Home Video Show Nine 801,000
10 Saturday Night AFL Ten 773,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,449,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,282,000
3 National Nine News Nine 1,161,000
4 Midsomer Murders ABC 1,140,000
5 Home And Away Seven 1,130,000
6 ABC News Update ABC 1,042,000
7 A Current Affair Nine 1,002,000
8 ABC News ABC 934,000
9 The Biggest Loser TEN 915,000
10 Better Homes And Gardens Seven 855,000
1 Seven News Seven 1,127,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,013,000
3 Home And Away Seven 995,000
4 ABC News ABC 985,000
5 National Nine News Nine 951,000
6 Samantha Who? Seven 919,000
7 How I Met Your Mother Seven 879,000
8 Getaway Nine 878,000
9 A Current Affair Nine 845,000
10 The Biggest Loser TEN 820,000
SOME of Australia's leading media companies are preparing for a round of belt-tightening as reverberations from a likely US recession lead to predictions of zero growth in advertising in free-to-air television, radio and newspapers.
There is even talk in local media of "margin calls" extending from being purely a financial market concept to a TV programming one as part of a more hard-headed approach to individual programs if they do not generate adequate advertising returns.
Signs indicate further tough times at the Nine Network, amid recent revelations the network's debt burden has blown out by $500million in the past 18 months and stands at $4.2billion.
Media understands an annual 3per cent pay review for staff has been rejected, months after staff thought it would be implemented.
A NEW pay-TV ratings system is likely to give Foxtel, Austar and pay-TV sales group Multi Channel Network (MCn) and their advertisers a break on their free-to-air TV rivals next year.
Foxtel and regional pay-TV group Austar, in conjunction with MCn, yesterday announced the launch of a new digital television audience measurement system (AMS) to begin mid-2009.
It will be the largest measurement system in Australia, providing viewing results from a panel of 10,000 Australian subscription TV homes.
It will give the pay-TV providers research into how Australians are adapting to the digital TV environment, the acceptance of the new standard definition and high definition multi-channels and trends in time-shifted viewing.
THE World Wrestling Entertainment company, purveyor of brands such as RAW, Smackdown, Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania, has opened its operations in Australia, setting up a beachhead for the assault on the on the burgeoning Asian market.
The publicly listed company, 70 per cent owned by the McMahon family and its patriarch, wrestler Vince McMahon, boasted 2007 revenue of $US485million ($525 million) and has pinned its future on international expansion.
Jonathan Sully, a former executive with toymaker Hasbro in Europe, has set up the Sydney office to leverage WWE events, broadcasts on Foxtel and licensing agreements in the region.
He said the future growth of the business could no longer be conducted from the company's US headquarters.
AS the music business rushes to embrace the digital age of downloads and websites to bolster sales, an unusual alliance between Universal Music and a pay-television channel has triggered a stampede towards a Dutch violinist and has other markets taking note.
Dubbed the Liberace of the violin, Andre Rieu and his brand of accessible waltzes and extravagant orchestral concerts is fast becoming a musical phenomenon. Australian sales of his DVDs and CDs are approaching the one million mark, making him Universal Music's top selling artist.
His upcoming national stadium tour has sold out, with people coughing up as much as $299 for a seat to see their man perform with his orchestra, a team of dancers, ice-skaters and with a replica of Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace as the backdrop.
"Something just really clicked with people and the concerts gave texture to those beautiful melodies that they've known their whole lives," Universal managing director George Ash says.
A QUEENSLAND-BASED mobile content developer has created Australia's first animated series able to be seen across mobile phone, television and internet screens.
Mobile content company Moket initially created Dojo Monkey, an animated series about a ninja monkey, as part of a video game, but managing director Dale Rankine saw the potential for it to exist across several platforms.
Mr Rankine said Moket was in advanced discussions with an international media company to commercialise the Dojo Monkey concept across TV, mobile and the web.
"We've developed a trailer that's one minute and 15 seconds (for the overseas TV network). We made it a bit longer than a mobile TV show so that we could show the idea for TV, but not so long that you couldn't see how it could turn into a 'mobisode' as well," he said.
THE Seven Network has marshalled support from some of Australia's top media buyers and advertisers to dismiss claims by West Australian Newspapers' directors that Kerry Stokes's push for a board seat would create an insurmountable conflict of interest.
Those quoted backing Seven in a six-page letter sent by the company last night to 30,000 WAN shareholders include Australia's best known media buyer, Harold Mitchell, and MediaCom chief Anne Parsons.
They represent billions of dollars in advertising revenue for leading media outlets.
Seven's move follows claims by WAN's board that the two companies are effectively competitors for the same advertisers as the two leading media companies in the Perth market, creating what they claim to be a conflict of interest should Mr Stokes and his right-hand man, Peter Gammell, succeed in their quest to be elected as WAN directors.
FOR Deborah Richards, the record 1000-strong turnout at yesterday's annual Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association conference was living proof of just how far the pay-TV industry body has come.
Last month, Richards clocked up 10 years as ASTRA executive director, and she says the growing conference numbers in those years have tracked its growing legitimacy as an industry voice, which she cites as her proudest achievement.
"Before, I constantly had to explain who we were," she says. "Now, we are expected to be at the table."
Before starting at ASTRA, Richards was a "broadcast bureaucrat", joining the Australian Broadcasting Authority in 1984 as secretary to the children's programming committee and working her way up to director of programming.
BROADBAND and communications minister Stephen Conroy has rattled the pay-TV industry, appearing to talk up the potential of free-to-air rivals using multi-channelling to broadcast sports on the anti-siphoning list.
In recent days the industry has increased pressure on the Government to fast-track a review of the anti-siphoning list not due until 2010.
Speaking at the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association conference yesterday, Conroy hailed the pay-TV industry for embracing digital technology and "shaming" the free-to-air TV networks into action.
But he went on to say that early discussions on anti-siphoning were looking at the free-to-air networks' multi-channel capabilities to handle sports on the list that are at present never seen.
SKY News political editor David Speers and federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy had a lot in common when they met at pay TV's 2008 Australian Subscription Television & Radio Association conference at the Sydney Hilton yesterday.
Audience members could be forgiven for thinking they were seeing double as Speers and Conroy, both resplendent in black suits, white shirts and subtly patterned red ties, settled into matching red chairs for a fireside chat. Oh, did we mention the matching spectacles?
Having sent a shiver through the audience for daring to suggest sports on the anti-siphoning list may be allowed on the free-to-air networks' multi-channels, Conroy then revealed he had the mettle to coach his beloved Chelsea Football Club.
With Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams beaming in the audience, Conroy also managed to fit in an extraordinary plug for Foxtel's IQ, a digital recorder that allows you to pause live TV and record your favourite shows. Conroy sounded as enthusiastic as paid Foxtel spokesman Hugh Jackman. In fact, it appears Conroy is not just a happy customer but has been busy spruiking the box to fellow pollies.
FALLING revenues and the decision by the Nine Network's WIN Television affiliate to stop screening late-night quiz show The Mint have caused the show to be axed.
The Mint and its precursor, Quizmania (which launched in mid-2006) initially generated millions of dollars in revenue for Nine. At its peak, thousands of callers would dial in each night for a chance to win a cash prize, a source close to Nine said.
The executive said The Mint was "sh*t TV" and losing the revenue stream from regional callers was probably the nail in its coffin. WIN boss Bruce Gordon has long held the view that even screening late-night infomercials showed a lack of respect for the viewer.
"You're preying on the weak and vulnerable," the Nine source said. "Probably the same people that play poker machines."
A parliamentary committee is to investigate the frequency and usage of swear words broadcast on television.
The Opposition initiated the inquiry today, citing a need to look at the effectiveness of the Broadcasting Code of Practice.
Senator Cory Bernardi, the Opposition's parliamentary secretary for families and communications, wants the inquiry to focus on the frequency and use of swearing, program classifications and how they reflect the content shown, and the effectiveness of the public complaints process.
He said it could take five to six months for Australian Communications and Media Authority to provide complainants with an official response.
1 Seven News Seven 1,354,000
2 Today Tonight Seven 1,181,000
3 Home And Away Seven 1,146,000
4 Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World Seven 1,115,000
5 A Current Affair Nine 1,112,000
6 National Nine News Nine 1,084,000
7 House ® Ten 1,062,000
8 ABC News ABC 1,043,000
9 The Biggest Loser Ten 1,036,000
10 Spicks And Specks ABC 1,031,000
FOXTEL, AUSTAR and MCn ANNOUNCE MOST COMPREHENSIVE DIGITAL TELEVISION AUDIENCE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA More details here
ABC shelves channel for children
The ABC has shelved plans to launch ABC3 next month, a dedicated television channel for children and teenagers.
The station, which was to have been commercial-free and feature programs for viewers under 17, was announced last November by the ABC's director of television, Kim Dalton. Like ABC2, it was to be available to viewers with TVs that receive a digital signal.
Labor had shown strong support for the children's channel and was widely expected to match or better the former Coalition government's promise during last year's election campaign of $82 million over four years to fund the channel, buy programs and commission new programs.
But Labor sources told the Herald the policy was one of several put on ice mid-campaign after the Reserve Bank increased interest rates and Kevin Rudd decided to make a virtue of spending less than John Howard.
The ABC has now decided it cannot go ahead with the channel until funding is secure.
NETWORK Nine's A Current Affair will have to apologise on air for repeated inaccurate and unfair reporting.
It will also have to send the program's staff to be retrained by broadcasting authorities.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has highlighted the seriousness of the program's latest transgression, saying it was the fourth time in three years that ACA had been found guilty of breaching the industry code covering accuracy and the fair representation of viewpoints.
It is understood Nine has hired new lawyers to cope with the complaints process.
WHAT can you make of West Australian Newspapers' claim that Seven Network's attempt to put two representatives on the board bears a "strong resemblance" to the early stages of the way Kerry Stokes took control of Seven "without paying a control premium"?
According to WAN's non-executive directors, if Stokes succeeds in gaining board representation it's "inevitable that he will assume effective control, either immediately or over time".
Seven's response, is that two seats on a five person independent board (which is what Seven is seeking) does not constitute control.
But what if WAN is correct and, as happened with Seven, Stokes were to subsequently go on to exercise effective control?
1. Kitchen Nightmares Nine 1.417
2. Bondi Rescue Ten 1.363
3. Seven News Seven 1.342
4. Home and Away Seven 1.287
5. Today Tonight Seven 1.281
6. The Biggest Loser Ten 1.187
7. A Current Affair Nine 1.142
8. National Nine News Nine 1.122
9. All Saints Seven 1.093
10. ABC News ABC 1.079
THE free-to-air TV industry's new support for multi-channelling has prompted the rival pay-TV sector to call for an accelerated review of the contentious anti-siphoning rules, not due until 2010.
The news came as the Nine Network yesterday became the last of the commercial free-to-air TV networks to announce the launch of a high definition (HD) multi-channel.
Deanne Weir, the group director of corporate development and legal affairs at regional pay-TV group Austar, said the free-TV industry was now hoping to show sport on their multi-channels, which was already on the list.
As the rules now stand, the free-to-air TV networks cannot show sports on the list on their multi-channels (such as Nine-HD) until they have first been broadcast on their main channel.
THE pay-TV industry lifted its spending on Australian drama by 43 per cent in 2006-07, figures from the broadcast regulator reveal.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority said today pay-TV spending on drama lifted from $18.41 million in 2005-06 to $26.44 million in 2006-07.
"The subscription television industry is a major supporter of Australian drama production," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said.
"This investment in Australian drama enhances viewer choice and access to Australian drama. It also provides opportunities for Australians to create and participate in a wide variety of productions, including feature films such as Romulus My Father and September, telemovies such as The King and drama series such as Love My Way-Series 3 and Satisfaction.
WEST Australian Newspapers chairman Peter Mansell claimed yesterday that a push by the Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Network to take two board seats was the first step in a process that would cost WAN $500 million.
The WAN board has argued a move by Mr Stokes to requisition an April 23 extraordinary general meeting to overthrow its four non-executive directors -- and install himself and right-hand man Peter Gammell as board members -- is the start of a Seven bid to control the group, without paying a takeover premium.
Seven denies this, claiming WAN's board is hiding its own underperformance.
Yesterday Mr Mansell intensified his attack at a media and analysts briefing, which was also attended by WAN CEO Ken Steinke, by seeking to quantify the cost of Seven tightening its hold.
Better late than never - Nine on a high definition
IF CHANNEL Nine is perturbed that today's launch of its high-definition channel comes three months after Ten's launch and five months after Seven's, its executives are doing an excellent job hiding it.
While Seven described its launch as "Australia's first new commercial channel in four decades", and Ten heralded "A brand new world of free television entertainment", Nine candidly says the biggest lure of Nine-HD is the ability to watch the same programs you already watch but with better quality.
"I think there's a lot of excitement about it, and justifiably so," programming executive Simon Baird said of the interest in HD from networks and viewers.
"It's just that we have to match that technical excitement with the reality of what's going on in the market, and just ensure that our business is focused on providing the right sort of programming for the market, given its relatively small size at the moment."
AUSTRALIA'S top consumer group has called for tough regulation of digital TV to stop it becoming a backdoor for the entertainment sector to "gain control of the living room".
The comments by the independent consumer group Choice came in its response to the call by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for submissions on how it should develop codes and standards for digital TV.
Choice said digital TV innovations could "further blur distinctions between computers, home entertainment equipment and telecommunications".
"This convergence raises a number of concerns in the area of consumer digital rights (including privacy if the connection to a network allows return transfer of information), telecommunications and accessability," it said.
WESTERN Australian Newspapers chairman Peter Mansell said a number of institutional shareholders supported the present board's make-up.
At a briefing this afternoon, WAN confirmed a meeting would be held on April 23 to allow shareholders to vote on a request by Seven Network to remove all four of the publisher's non-executive directors.
Seven, which holds 19.4 per cent of WAN, wants its executive chairman Kerry Stokes and Peter Gammell, a Seven non-executive director, on the new board.
Mr Mansell said he had not yet received any formal support from WAN investors.
THE Seven Network has pipped Nine to win the latest television ratings survey.
In the fifth week of the 2008 survey - the last before a fortnight's hiatus over Easter - Seven won the week by total viewers with a 28.2 per cent share against Nine's 27.6 per cent, Ten's 22.5 per cent, the ABC's 16.6 per cent and SBS's 5.1 per cent.
Seven's third weekly win, against Nine's two, rested largely on the shoulders of the oft-derided audience of over-50s, the same audience Nine used to bulk up its total figures in 2007.
Although Nine won the week in its now coveted 25-54 age group, the 55-plus demographic helped Seven throughout the week, particularly on the competitive Wednesday night.
Sorry, no update tonight. Next update will be on Monday...
ABC launches 1, 2 and 3 new online TV channels
Just like the BBC in the UK, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has launched a range of online channels. The first will let you 'catch up' on broadcast programs, the second has a range of documentaries while the third will offer to sell you digital media - but it's all still in 'beta'.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is launching a series of dedicated online channels, rather than simply relying on podcasting and vodcasting to get its digital content out to Australians.
As the content with be geo-IP locked, only Australians will be able to enjoy the ABC's new channels, although pod and vodcasts of selected show should continue to be available to all through iTunes and online.
The ABC's Managing Director, Mark Scott, believes now is the time to "fully embrace the potential of digital media to expand the reach and appeal of the ABC's content to its audiences".
ABC Roll Out IPTV Service That Will Suck Bandwidth
The ABC has announced four new Internet-based services that will deliver content to a PC or directly to a media player. ABC Playback, is a full-screen media player that will offer three channels of TV content delivered via the Internet. The new Internet service could end up with users chewing up vast amounts of broadband bandwidth as they stream content says a senior Telstra executive.
"We love these new services because once a consumer has used up their bandwidth allocation under a fixed price agreement they will have to pay for additional usage. The role out by TV station of IPTV content will drive up bandwidth useage and consumers have to be aware of this when they are accessing Internet Radio or IPTV offerings which are often large files. In some cases like with the ABC the content will be accessed via a unique browser." they said.
ABC Playback will initially be offered in beta form to 5000 testers round Australia, starting from March 26. The beta period is expected to last for about three months.
The three Playback channels are: Catchup, which will show repeats of recently aired shows from ABC1 and ABC2; Real, a natural history channel; and ABC Shop, which will offer programs for purchase as digital downloads.
THE ABC plans to launch a breakfast television program on ABC2 as part of another push into digital media.
ABC managing director Mark Scott yesterday announced a number of new digital services to be introduced by the national broadcaster this year, including the creation of a 24/7 online streaming content website from a new continuous news centre by a specialist production team.
Media understands part of this initiative will include a breakfast TV news and current affairs program capitalising on the organisation's extensive news resources. Initial plans include placing cameras in ABC radio studios to allow live ABC2 broadcasting of key interviews from the popular AM and local breakfast programs.
The new program, which is yet to be staffed, is expected to capitalise on the space left by Seven's Sunrise and Nine's Today, which have moved into softer breakfast territory.
THE Seven Network's Melbourne chief has made a plea for the AFL to consider setting broadcast matches on merit, rather than setting a broadcast schedule in stone at the start of the year, as Australian football prepares to kick off its sesquicentennial year.
Seven Melbourne managing director Ian Johnson said the ability to pick the most exciting match-ups in each round as the season unfolded was on his wish list of things to improve the broadcast of the sport.
However, he admitted that under existing arrangements it might never happen.
Rugby league, celebrating its centennial year, has a deal with the Nine Network to alter the matches to be broadcast so it can pick the most popular match-ups five to 10 weeks before the round.
THE Nine Network has confirmed a softly-softly approach to high-definition television as the free-to-air network focuses on its plans to introduce new standard-definition digital channels on January 1.
Although public and retail hype tends to concentrate on HD screens, PBL Media's director of strategy David Coleman said household penetration of the new technology so far did not justify large-scale programming investment in the format.
Nine's HD channel has been on air with little fanfare for a few months, in contrast to the heavily promoted Seven and Ten HD channels. "A lot more people have standard definition digital today than high definition, so on January 1, 2009, there will be more people able to watch the SD channel than the HD channel," Mr Coleman said.
"And we've got to think through all the commercial issues and make sure the programming and the investments we make in these channels is proportionate to the revenue.
THE message from Nine Network chief executive David Gyngell is clear: Nine's owner, PBL Media, will keep a tight hold on its purse strings when it comes to spending on new platforms and technologies.
Three months after the rival Seven and Ten networks made prominent launches of their new high-definition channels, Nine, once known as television's big spender, has made a much lower-budget splash about its own HD channel. In keeping with the network's new no-frills image, Gyngell has indicated the new channel will have little specialist programming and a simulcast of its free-to-air signal in prime time.
Signs are also emerging that the launch of Nine's standard definition channel in 2009 will also likely be an austere affair, in keeping with its frugal image under PBL Media, which is 75 per cent owned by private equity firm CVC and 25 per cent owned by Consolidated Media Holdings.
As Nine's new reputation for counting pens and paper clips rapidly becomes its signature, the question on many lips is whether PBL Media's spiralling debt burden has been the real factor behind the cramping of the network's style.
ELEVEN members of The Chaser comedy program will face court in July over their prank role at APEC.
On the first day of September's APEC summit in Sydney, police allowed a three-car convoy - with Canadian flags on the front of the vehicles - into what was then the city's "high-security zone".
The fenced-off area was erected to ensure the safety of visiting world leaders, including George W. Bush and Russia's Vladimir Putin.
The prank, in which the convoy passed through two checkpoints unchallenged by police, was uncovered only when Chas Licciardello, a member of the comedy team, emerged from one of the cars dressed as Osama bin Laden.
SLOW progress on the new media front, the need to rebuild Nine in Perth and Adelaide, and a rocky revenue situation are being cited as factors behind the decision of WIN Corporation's chief executive George Papadopoulos to resign.
WIN sources said yesterday that Mr Papadopoulos was burned out after a busy year in which the company spent $268million to buy Nine's affiliates in Perth and Adelaide.
But industry sources said the writing was on the wall after it emerged last month that Mr Papadopoulos would report to WIN's new managing director David Butorac.
Mr Butorac, who has a pay-television background, joined the company in February with a brief to integrate WIN's regional and capital city stations and to build its multimedia presence.
MEMBERS of ABC TV's satirical Chaser team will front a hearing in July for charges over a fake APEC motorcade.
A two-week hearing has been scheduled for the charges, against 11 people involved in driving a convoy of three cars into APEC's multi-million-dollar high security zone on September 6 last year.
The hearing will run from July 7 until July 18, Magistrate Michael Price said today, after he rejected a prosecution request for another adjournment after being told the Director of Public Prosecutions may take over the case.
"I think the matter has had sufficient history for this court to list a hearing date," Mr Price told Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court.
PIRATED copies of the Nine's crime series Underbelly, banned by court order in Victoria, have been seized during raids in Melbourne.
Police and investigators from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft found DVDs containing the first nine episodes of Underbelly, as well as pirated movies, during the raids on a western suburbs commercial premises and a house yesterday.
Under a Supreme Court order, anyone in Victoria caught exhibiting or transmitting Underbelly faces prosecution for contempt of court. Nine is appealing the court ban, which was imposed after fears the series could prejudice an upcoming underworld murder trial.
Copies of Underbelly have been widely circulating in Victoria, despite the ban.
ENTERTAINMENT services will overtake voice as the major source of global mobile and broadband revenues by 2011. Mobile TV will be the biggest revenue stream to the tune of $40 billion, according to Ericsson.
But telecommunications, technology and media companies would continue to fight it out for mobile TV revenues as no dominant business model had yet emerged, according to Annikki Schaeferdiek, vice-president of marketing and strategy for Ericsson's multimedia division.
Addressing an audience of internet executives in Sydney last week, she predicted entertainment services would increasingly go mobile, driven by the growing number of mobile internet connections in developed Asian markets and consumers' desire, in more mature markets, to get online whenever and wherever it was convenient.
Last month, Ericsson kicked off a business-to-business marketing campaign, positioning itself as the only end-to-end mobile TV provider capable of offering network infrastructure, broadband, multimedia services and applications, as well as hardware devices through its Sony Ericsson joint venture.
HI-5, one of Australia's most popular children's TV programs, has been bought by Nine and production group Southern Star.
The two companies jointly purchased the production company behind Hi-5, Kids Like Us, for an undisclosed sum.
Kids Like Us - which was owned by former Nine executive Posie Graeme-Evans and Hi-5's co-creator Helena Harris - started auditioning for the TV program in 1998 and it has since become a global brand.
The TV series now screens in 118 countries and has a global audience of more than five million people.
It has also won three Logies in Australia and five ARIA's for best children's album.
THE Nine Network has nabbed another weekly ratings win from the Seven Network.
The rivals have split the first four weeks of the official TV ratings year with two weekly wins each. Nine's victories have come largely thanks to the one-day international cricket series, which again gave it the top-rating program on Sunday and Tuesday night, and Seven's reticence to unload its full prime-time schedule before Easter.
Nine won week four with a 29.1 per cent network share, ahead of Seven's 27.3 per cent, Ten's 22.4 per cent, the ABC's 16 per cent and SBS's 5.3 per cent, according to OzTam figures.
Nine also scored a win in its main demographic, the 25-54 age group, with a 30.5 per cent share against Seven's 26.7 per cent and Ten's 25.7 per cent.
THE dwindling worth of the struggling PBL Media-owned Nine Network, and concerns about its debt levels, are believed to have played a significant role in the decision by Lachlan Murdoch's US backer, SPO Partners & Co, to pull out of the bid for Consolidated Media Holdings.
The Australian has established that PBL Media has been forced to find about $500 million in additional debt in the last 18 months to finance a number a major purchases, including Ticketek, Sydney's Acer Arena and the Newcastle-based NBN Television.
These latest debts are understood to have taken the already highly-geared PBL Media's total debt burden from $3.7 billion to $4.2 billion.
While the debts have spiralled, there has been an increased focus on the returns PBL Media is generating.
Free-to-air landing the hits so far in TV sector brawl
IT IS no coincidence that seconds after the common ownership links between Channel Nine and Foxtel were broken a real dogfight erupted between the pay and free TV sectors - with Nine happily throwing punches.
The free-to-air broadcasters are intent on breaking pay TV's momentum this year and the still-under-wraps FreeView project, lifted directly from Britain, is the latest tactic.
The commercial broadcasters have been quietly suggesting for some months that their new digital standard definition and high-definition TV channels - 15 in total will be operating by next year - will slow the household viewing migration to pay TV.
More channel choice on free-to air, they say, will scratch the public itch for more programming options. Interestingly, the free-to-air broadcasters are not alone in claiming the gloss will come off pay TV audiences and subscription growth over the next two years. Prominent media buyers are taking the same line with some qualification. They are not predicting radical, overnight changes to audience trends but they do expect change.
CHANNEL SEVEN'S planned TiVo digital video recorder service could be scrapped within weeks if free-to-air broadcasters proceed with their biggest assault yet on pay television.
The free-to-air industry is likely to launch its own FreeView-branded recorder early next year that will offer access to as many as 15 free digital TV channels and an electronic program guide.
Seven refused to comment this week, while some observers argued that both products could co-exist. There were suggestions yesterday, however, that a decision on the future of the TiVo service in Australia would be made next week after all free-to-air broadcasters had formally met to discuss the FreeView project.
"Seven has got a real choice to make," said one TV executive, who did not want to be named. "I don't think TiVo can survive." Another said Seven's position on TiVo was "very fluid".
AUSTRALIA'S media regulator has been deluged with more than 50 requests for prior approval of new television formats as part of plans to expand digital television services in Australia.
But two years after the services were first mooted, Australia's federal Government is no closer to revealing when they will be made available.
The new services - also enshrined in legislation a year ago by former communications minister Helen Coonan - were promised by the previous government to promote diversity of media ownership following the removal of the longstanding cross-media rules.
The government expected numerous new narrowcast and datacast channels to be made available on the new digital TV Licence A and for mobile TV services to spawn on Licence B.
THE ABC will team with management consultants Deloitte, computer giant Intel and the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association in a world-first initiative to find and promote Australian-born digital content and ideas.
The grouping could see the development of the next generation of digital content, but the partners are not guaranteed they will be able to cash in on what emerges.
The new partnership, called AIMIA Innovatives, will be launched tomorrow night at the annual AIMIA awards.
AIMIA president Guy Gadney told Media AIMIA Innovatives hoped to find concepts such as the global YouTube hit Lonely Girl 15. That appeared to be a 15-year-old girl's video diary but was in fact a marketing tool for a production company.
Aunty taken to task for sneaking prices into ABC Shop ads
THE ABC has been taken to task again on the issue of advertising, this time for running price-driven retail advertisements on television for ABC Shop products.
Media recently revealed the national broadcaster was considering commercial models - including an advertising-supported model - for a new ABC mobile portal.
The ABC section secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, Graeme Thomson, said ads went to air on February21 promoting gardening merchandise that included price information and invited customers to come to ABC stores to purchase it.
The CPSU said the ABC clearly breached its charter by broadcasting advertising rather than "interstitials" promoting ABC content.
THE Ten Network is claiming to have increased its Australian rules football advertising revenue this year despite relinquishing coverage of the Grand Final - rumoured to be worth about $10million in advertising revenue - to rival and fellow free-to-air AFL broadcaster Seven.
A Ten source said while the Grand Final would be shown by Seven this year under the terms of the broadcast rights deal the two networks share, Ten would better its 2007 AFL advertising revenue.
Ten's general manager of sport David White would not comment on the size of the packages but last year Ten was reported to have signed AFL deals totalling $60 million, compared with $45million for Seven.
However Seven is also expecting to boost its AFL revenues after renewing all of last year's advertisers and claims the network that shows the Grand Final - typically one of the most-watched television events of the year - gets the most revenue.
MACQUARIE Media Group has unveiled ambitious moves to capitalise on its new-found position as Australia's only large-scale cross-media proprietor, as it looks to closely align its television and radio advertising packages across the regions.
In an interview with Media, MacMedia's chief executive Mark Dorney and Australian broadcasting assets boss Rhys Holleran said the company would use its acquisition of the Southern Cross Ten regional TV network last November to revolutionise the packages it offers to advertisers.
"We are now the only media company in Australia that can offer television and radio together to advertisers on a large scale," Mr Holleran said. "We will be offering them integrated solutions on TV, radio and online. It's a great entry for us into the new digital world."
The Southern Cross Ten acquisition - made possible by last year's far-reaching changes to the country's media ownership laws - means about 80 per cent of consumers in regional Australia can now watch a TV channel and listen to a radio station owned by MacMedia.
SEVEN Network executive chairman Kerry Stokes has stepped up his campaign for the hearts and minds of the shareholders of West Australian Newspapers, sending investors a letter asking for their support in the company's April 23 directors' ballot.
He has also launched a 1800 hotline to convince WAN shareholders they should throw out all the company's non-executive directors, including chairman Peter Mansell, while voting Mr Stokes and his right-hand man, Seven director Peter Gammell, on to the board.
The establishment of the 1800 number is another clear sign Mr Stokes will throw considerable resources at persuading WAN shareholders of his case, that he is appalled by the board's performance.
In the letter, which reached most WAN shareholders yesterday, the Seven chairman claimed he would be a non-competitive presence on the Perth-based board: "Seven Network Limited is a shareholder, not a competitor.
DESPITE fears of a recession and a crippling writers strike that has left television broadcasters bleeding viewers, ad buyers and network executives in the US say the annual ad buying ritual known as the up-front is likely to be stronger this year than last.
The up-front is a vital event for broadcasters: they sell about three-quarters of their yearly ad inventory during these negotiations.. Ad sales executives across the TV industry are holding preliminary meetings with media buyers, and several say they don't see signs of a pullback.
"We don't really see a market slowdown in spending at this time," said Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing at Walt Disney's ABC television network. "We have marketers ... talking about early deals."
One factor: some marketers in recent years have held back during the up-front, only to be forced to pay more in the so-called scatter market, which is reserved for ad purchases bought closer to the air date.
THE five capital city community TV stations today joined forces in a new industry body, aiming to put further pressure on the federal government to switch the sector from analogue to digital transmission.
The main objective of the Australian Community Television Alliance would be to lobby communications minister Stephen Conroy for a conversion plan to bring the community channels in line with the rest of the TV industry.
ACTA president Andrew Brine, who also runs Perth community TV station Access 31, said the sector faced an uncertain future with the federal government yet to reveal its conversion plans.
"The former government made vague promises, but never really presented a formal proposition whereby we could make the necessary switch to digital," Mr Brine said.
"So we are now in the hands of Senator Conroy who has indicated that he is working on a solution to this critical problem."
The ACTA members are Perth's Access 31, Sydney's Television Sydney, Channel 31 in Melbourne and Brisbane and Adelaide's C31.
The ACTA would also work with community TV licensees to foster the development of new programs and initiatives and increase awareness of the existence of the sixth free-to-air channel, Mr Brine said.
FOXTEL has struggled to connect new customers left without access to its pay-television service across Australia.
The backlog has been caused by problems with its new subscriber management system.
The cable TV company said it had boosted staff in its call centre by 150 to deal with a backlog of calls caused by "teething issues" with the new system, which left an estimated 1200 new subscribers without service.
"The Foxtel call centre continues to deal with a backlog of calls and, regrettably, this is resulting in difficulty for some subscribers in making contact," a spokeswoman said.
The call centre had tried to contact subscribers left without service over the weekend, she said.
The interactive voice recognition system, known as ViVA, replaces paper and SMS-based subscriber systems previously used by technicians to connect Foxtel set-top units to the service.
THE Nine Network has promised three Victorian judges not to air any of its banned underworld series Underbelly during a forthcoming gangland murder trial in a last-ditch attempt to try to get the show broadcast in the state.
Lawyers for the network told the Court of Appeal yesterday they only wanted to screen the first three episodes - which would run before Easter and the murder trial - and then wait until the trial was over before airing the remainder of the 13-part drama series.
Nine has appealed against the decision by Supreme Court judge Betty King to suppress the highly anticipated $13 million show after fears its dramatisation of Melbourne's gangland war would prejudice the murder trial, which is due to begin on March 31.
The steady growth of pay television and the promise of new free-to-air digital channels in 2009 have prompted free-to-air TV networks to look at launching a localised version of the British brand FreeView.
THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will examine claims by Kerry Stokes's Seven Network that it is not seeking to control the board of West Australian Newspapers Holdings, despite moves last week to wage war on the organisation's current directors.
Mr Stokes's right-hand man, Seven director Peter Gammell, said last week Seven's move to call an extraordinary general meeting - with resolutions to remove all WAN non-executive directors - was "not about controlling the board", but "refreshing the board".
ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel has told The Australian Seven's claim would be studied closely. "I have noted Mr Gammell's comments that the moves made in respect of the WAN board are designed to result in a situation where Seven nominees have a minority position on the board," he said. "We need to look at the reality of those moves and the reality of what the outcome would be - rather than accepting at face value Mr Gammell's comments as to Seven's intentions."
Mr Samuel said his interest in the possible Seven board positions at WAN followed a rise in its shareholding last year to 19.4 per cent now.
THE Seven network has barely won the third week of the television ratings year, with the Nine Network lamenting a lost opportunity.
If its hit crime drama Underbelly was screening in Melbourne and not only in judge's chambers, Nine would likely have an overall ratings lead over commercial rival Seven.
Seven pipped Nine with a 28.1per cent overall share for the week ending Saturday, ahead of Nine's 27.9 per cent, the Ten Network with 21.0 per cent, the ABC with 16.6 per cent and SBS with 6.4 per cent, according to OzTAM figures released yesterday. Seven has now won two of the first three weeks of the ratings year and holds a slight overall lead over a resilient Nine.
Nine can thank the cricket for its recovery, with Friday and Sunday night audiences for the one-day international series providing strong ratings figures.
ASTRA today announced the speakers for the ASTRA 2008 Subscription Television Conference in Sydney on Wednesday 19 March. More details here
Report - Austar's MyStar - New enhancement, L48, now available, fixes the bookmark function.
Sky silent on pay TV merger plan
Sky TV chief executive John Fellet is not commenting on speculation that Sky TV might merge with Australian pay-TV operator FoxTel.
Mr Fellet set off the rumour-mill last Friday when he said that Sky TV had deferred a decision on whether to proceed with a share buyback that had been endorsed by shareholders in October, because of an "opportunity".
He did not comment further on the nature of the proposal, which he said had about a 20 per cent chance of proceeding.
Mr Fellet said that if Sky was to merge with FoxTel it would probably have to inform the market first, but he did not want to issue a denial each time he was presented with speculation.
IN a groundbreaking move, the International Olympic Committee has ended the grip of free-to-air television on its broadcast rights.
The IOC has awarded the Italian rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics to News Corporation's pay-TV arm Sky Italia.
It is the first time a pay-TV group in a large market has been awarded the IOC's full broadcast and electronic rights, effectively becoming the gatekeeper of the rights. The move follows the $110million deal by the Nine Network and Foxtel for Australian rights to the same Games.
The Italian deal ends the hold on Olympic TV rights by Italy's state-owned TV network RAI, which has traditionally broadcast the Olympics in the sports-mad country and will broadcast the Beijing Games.
MULTICULTURAL broadcaster SBS has suddenly ditched plans to outsource its TV broadcast system.
SBS and TV playout group Red Bee Media announced in March the plan for SBS to outsource most of its TV broadcast operations to Red Bee, which is owned by the listed Macquarie Capital Alliance Group.
But in a statement this morning, SBS said the deal was off.
"Both parties have negotiated in good faith since the announcement in March 2007 that Red Bee Media had been selected as preferred supplier to provide outsourced TV broadcast services to SBS,'' the statement said.
KERRY Stokes's Seven Network has recorded a drop in first-half net profit, amid renewed analyst concerns about what the company plans to do with billions of dollars in reserves still awaiting a long-term strategy.
The company yesterday reported an 18.7 per cent drop in net profit to $126.3 million for the six months to December 31, although the drop was distorted by the sale in November 2006 of more than half of the Seven Media Group -- which contains its television, magazine and online assets -- to private equity firm KKR.
The company is now sitting on a cash mountain of more than $1.6 billion from the Seven Media transaction, with the company revealing it has invested an additional $715 million in shares -- which are now worth $775 million following rises in their value.
The company declined to describe what these listed investments were, except to say they were "high-yielding, liquid securities of major corporations".
SEVERAL weeks after the Seven Network signed the last of its major Olympic sponsor advertising packages, some of the world's largest marketers are jockeying to make the most of their spending in one of the few markets in a Games-friendly time zone.
Seven's approach to the Games has been described by observers as bullish, flush with the success of its first annual ratings victory in years. Although the network is not ready to reveal how many Olympic partners it has signed, sources suggest a record number will be unveiled in coming weeks.
"I believe they have signed 12 or 13 in the final wrap," one media industry source said.
"It appears to have been a great success for them, although it has certainly been a highwire act because the costs are higher, but it will bring in the extra funds they want.
REGIONAL pay-TV operator Austar United Communications is struggling to keep up with demand for the MyStar box - its answer to Foxtel's iQ digital video recorder - with 10,000 of the devices installed in subscribers' homes weeks after the box's official launch.
Chief executive John Porter told The Australian yesterday there was now a backlog of about 1500 customers waiting to have a MyStar box installed within the next two weeks: "We have a backlog of 7000 new customers (waiting for installation), of which 20 per cent are (taking up) MyStar."
Mr Porter unveiled a 23 per cent rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for Austar to $174 million for the year to December 31.
Bottom line net profit was down 63 per cent to $77.3 million, but this figure was affected by a tax gain the company made during the 2006 year.
IF YOU are thinking of becoming a Foxtel customer in the near future, think twice.
Callers to the pay TV operator are lost in a telephone maze of recorded messages with little chance of talking to a real person - unless they want to pay their bill.
Since Foxtel changed its computer system holding existing customers' records last week, the company has drowned in a backlog of calls. Unless they are very lucky, callers cannot connect to an operator.
Potential customers who press "option one" are told Foxtel is too busy to take their calls. The callers are then cut off. Existing customers are similarly ignored with the message "we are busy bedding down our new computer system".
The problem began on February 14, when the company "upgraded" its customer service system with the promise of "servicing our customers better", as promised in one of the recorded messages.
Kerry Stokes calls for WA Newspapers board to be sacked
CHANNEL 7 chairman Kerry Stokes has called for the board of WA Newspapers to be sacked.
In a press release issued today the Seven Network called for West Australian Newspapers Holdings Limited to call an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders at which it will put resolutions for the removal of all non-executive directors.
"We have been appalled at the lack of leadership of the board and the resulting performance of the company," Mr Stokes said.
"Financially the reduction in the current dividend is symptomatic of the board's performance.
FOXTEL, Australia's leading subscription television (STV) provider, today welcomed the decision of the Full Federal Court of Australia to dismiss, with costs, an appeal by a STV pirate (Mr Phillip Haddad) who was assisting consumers to pirate access to STV signals.
The Full Federal Court of Appeal determined that in Haddad v FOXTEL Management Pty Ltd  FCAFC 11, the appeal by the appellant was dismissed with costs.
On 28 March 2007 the Federal Court ruled that the activities of Mr Phillip Haddad along with others were illegal and awarded more than $1million in damages to FOXTEL. Mr Haddad then appealed this decision. Following today's decision by the Full Federal Court, the award of $1million in damages to FOXTEL still stands.
THE Foxtel board table is going to become an increasingly pivotal place in the evolving, integrating media, telco and internet spaces.
Both because it has most of the key players sitting around it.
But also because it links the critical infrastructure - the existing Telstra cable and ADSL2+ hosting telephone wires; tomorrow's FTTN network if and when it's built - with some of the key users and content providers.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and either James Packer's media empire or Packer and Lachlan Murdoch's media partnership.
That sets up huge incentives for co-operation, which should be troubling for the other telcos and media players. But just as much incentive for very real tensions between Telstra and the other two.
BigPond Sports Weekend - a big challenge to regular sports broadcasters?
Telstra BigPond's continuing forays into the world of broadcast television have just become even bolder with the launch of the "BigPond Sports Weekend", further cementing the Internet and mobile phones as strong content alternatives to free-to-air and pay TV.
Telstra is pulling out all the stops in its launch of the BigPond Sports Weekend, due to make its debut on the 23rd of February, 2008, with a continuous 9 hour broadcast of sports, news and information every Saturday and Sunday.
Aimed at "redefining the way Australians watch their favourite sports", the "fast-paced" show will be hosted by Russell Barwick and John Gibbs, with Ali Mutch and Will McCloy at the newsdesk.
Foxtel "Call Storm" Customer Database Down For 4 Days
Foxtel has admitted that they have had database issues when they migrated a new customer service database over to handle new Foxtel services, however they do claim that no records are missing. However they have said that tey have had to bring in over 100 staff to handle what they describe as "Customer Call Storms".
Foxtel has admitted that they have had database issues when they migrated a new customer service database over to handle new Foxtel services, however they do claim that no records are missing. However they have said that tey have had to bring in over 100 staff to handle what they describe as "Customer Call Storms".
Foxtel has admitted that they have had database issues when they migrated a new customer service database over to handle new Foxtel services, however they do claim that no records are missing. This is despite two customer service personnel being unable to find my own personal record when I phoned in with a faulty Foxtel set top box.
They have also admitted that they were forced into a 4 day database close down due to a "Call Storm" that resulted in them having to bring in 100 additional staff to handle calls. These calls were not processed unless there was an emergency or urgent need for action.
A major upgrade of the Foxtel pay TV customer database has seen thousands of customer profiles and information totally wiped resulting in consumers who call with a technical problem being told that they don't exist.
Consumers calling the Foxtel service hotline are met with a recorded message that tells them that due to a computer upgrade their call is unable to be processed other than for a technical problem.
When I called Foxtels customer service centre to report a faulty Foxtel console I was put on hold for over 30 minutes. When I finally got through I told the customer service operator the street address as well as the telephone number of the property where two Foxtel services were installed.
A MISSILE fired from a US Navy warship has hit a defunct spy satellite in space to try to prevent its toxic fuel tank from crashing to Earth, the Pentagon says.
The SM-3 missile was fired from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific at about 10.26 EST (2.26pm AEDT) and hit the bus-sized satellite about 133 nautical miles (247km) above the ocean, the Pentagon said.
"A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the US military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere," it said.
"Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours," it said.
THE ABC will be forced to cut $70 million worth of services to meet the federal Government's planned Australian drama quotas unless it's given a funding increase, the federal Opposition has warned.
The Government has promised to amend the ABC's charter to mandate minimum levels of Australia drama, reflecting similar obligations which apply to commercial TV networks.
Opposition communications spokesman Bruce Billson says that in order to meet the 120-hour per annum quota, the ABC will need about an extra $70 million a year, based on average production costs of at least $500,000 to $600,000 per hour. But the government has not promised to increase the ABC's budget.
THE Coalition has increased pressure on the Rudd Government to clarify its plans to impose drama production standards on the ABC.
One of Labor's few broadcasting commitments during the election campaign was to change the ABC charter to require ABC television meet the Australian drama production standards met by the commercial networks.
The Broadcasting Services (Australian Content) Standard 2005 requires commercial free-to-air TV licensees to broadcast a certain amount of first-run Australian drama in prime time (5pm to 11pm), which is regulated through an annual and three-yearly points system.
Industry expectations within the ABC and among the independent production sector are that the Government would increase the ABC budget to allow it to meet such commitments, rather than ask it to find the extra funds internally.
GAMBLING critics have slammed a decision by the Victorian Government to allow punters to place bets for the first time through their pay-television remote control.
Under a deal brokered by Two Way, Foxtel and Tabcorp, Victorians with a TAB account will be able to place bets on all thoroughbred, harness and greyhound races held across Australia without leaving the comfort of their couch.
The subscription-only service will also provide racing results, track conditions, detailed form guides, approximate and final dividends, and personal account information. The provider of the service, listed interactive TV group Two Way TV, yesterday confirmed it had received regulatory approval and will launch the service in April.
But anti-gambling groups say this new way of betting will make it easier for teenagers to bet and harder for problem gamblers to resist temptation.
TAXPAYERS forked out more than $3 million to help produce gangland drama Underbelly, which has been banned from airing in Victoria because it will unfairly prejudice an upcoming murder trial.
As the rest of the country tuned into the second episode of the $13million series last night and many Victorians downloaded it from the internet, The Australian has confirmed the taxpayer-funded Film Finance Corporation Australia gave the producers of the show $2.938 million in 2006-07. Victorian taxpayers, who have yet to see any episodes of the drama on the Nine Network, also gave Underbelly $214,500 from the coffers of state agency Film Victoria.
Supreme Court judge Betty King last week banned Nine - and any other Victorian - from showing the gangland drama in the state until a scheduledmurder trial finished.
Sports rights give Foxtel the motivation to expand
PAY-TELEVISION operator Foxtel will use its exclusive internet rights to broadcast the 2010 winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games and the 2012 summer Olympics as the linchpin for a substantial expansion of its online presence.
News of the pay-TV operator's internet expansion has come as Foxtel has announced record bottom line and operating profit for the December half year. The results were driven by rapid subscriber expansion, particularly in the Sydney market.
In an interview with Media yesterday, Foxtel's chief executive Kim Williams revealed the group was working extensively on its internet strategy as part of plans to offer consumers access to Foxtel at any place and time.
"The internet is an absolute mainstream, front-of-mind issue with all consumers," he said.
"Foxtel needs to respond to that in a way that is relevant to customers and ensures they get a good service offering."
THE James Packer-controlled Consolidated Media Holdings - which owns stakes in Foxtel, Premier Media and online jobs search engine Seek - will soon receive another multi-million-dollar dividend from its Foxtel stake, adding to the $50 million gained from the business last year.
The revelation came as CMH yesterday announced its first profit result since being spun out of Mr Packer's former group Publishing and Broadcasting Limited last year.
The result for the group, for which Mr Packer and fellow media scion Lachlan Murdoch have made a $3.3 billion takeover offer, showed CMH had more than doubled its effective bottom-line net profit to $57 million for the six months to December 31, up from the $26 million figure on a like-for-like basis for the same period last year.
The result has been buoyed by a bullish performance from Foxtel and Premier Media, which owns the Fox Sports channels.
FOXTEL DELIVERS SUBSCRIBER, PROFIT AND TV VIEWING SHARE GROWTH
FOXTEL today announced continued growth in subscribers, improved profitability and a solid revenue increase for the half year to 31 December 2007.
FOXTEL's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 62% to $165m for the half year to 31 December 2007 from $102m in the first half of the 2007 financial year. FOXTEL in the latest half recorded a $73m profit (before tax and refinancing charges, after depreciation and interest and including joint ventures) representing a $51m improvement on the previous corresponding half.
PAY television provider Foxtel has lifted its first half earnings after an increase in subscriptions drove its revenue up by 17 per cent.
The media group, which is 50 per cent owned by Telstra and 25 per cent owned by Consolidated Media Holdings and News Corporation (parent company of News Limited, which publishes NEWS.com.au), said new product releases in 2008 will further boost the viewing experience of its growing customer base.
Foxtel booked a pre-tax profit before refinancing charges of $73 million for the December half year, up from $22 million in the previous corresponding half.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 62 per cent to $165 million, from $102 million.
Chief executive and managing director Kim Williams said Foxtel continued to grow its subscriber base, revenues and profits.
"Foxtel will continue to create new entertainment horizons for Australian consumers and raise their expectations of television with a variety of new product releases scheduled for 2008,'' Mr Williams said.
CONSOLIDATED Media Holdings says it remains well positioned to capitalise on the strength of subscription television and employment classifieds markets.
CMH, which was spun out of the Packer family's gaming and media empire Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd last year, booked a first-half net profit of $57 million. Net profit on a pro-forma basis for the 2007 first half was $27 million.
Cons Media has a 25 per cent interest in PBL Media - which owns Channel Nine, magazine business ACP and a 50 per cent interest in ninemsn and other websites. The rest of PBL Media was sold to private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific.
Cons Media also owns a quarter stake in Foxtel, half of Premier Media Group which owns Fox Sports, and 27 per cent of employment website Seek.
Police, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Emergency Management Australia are all on standby as the United States prepares to shoot down a failed spy satellite.
The US military has said it hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week - just before it enters Earth's atmosphere - with a single missile fired from a US Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.
The US has told Australia and a handful of other nations to be on standby for falling debris from the highly classified satellite, because there is a minute possibility of the strike misfiring and debris falling on land rather than water.
"The Australian government has been advised formally by the US government that the president (George W Bush) has authorised the US Department of Defence to attempt to shoot down an inoperable satellite," a DFAT spokesman said.
FOXTEL will market its electronic program guide (EPG) as premium advertising real estate as it prepares to relaunch its interactive advertising products later this year.
The pay-TV company will create a new, advertiser-only space on its EPG that will house long-form entertainment content for brands.
A template that will cut the cost of making an interactive ad - which enables a viewer to request sponsor information or pause a program to access long-form advertising content by pushing the red button on their remote control - also will be launched.
Foxtel is also expected to follow moves in Britain to include more sponsored content with the programs a viewer records to his or her set-top box.
However, the Nine Network has been forced to cancel plans to make the first episode of its gangland drama Underbelly available in the on-demand section of Foxtel's EPG, so pay-TV viewers could download it and watch it in their own time.
HE Nine Network is already half-way to equalling its ratings performance of last year after winning the first week of the official television ratings.
Although Nine now chooses for commercial reasons to acknowledge its ratings only among 25- to 54-year-old viewers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the network achieved an overall ratings win with a 28.7 per cent share in the five capital cities.
Seven recorded a 27.2 per cent share against Ten's 22.5 per cent, the ABC's 16.4 per cent and SBS's 5.3 per cent.
Last year, Nine won only two of the 40 official ratings weeks, according to OzTAM data.
Nine's early success this year is because of its cricket coverage and the Ten Network.
THE Nine Network has won the right to fast-track its fight against the Victorian ban on gangland drama Underbelly after it argued the gag order breached the human rights of all Victorians and could potentially make every person in the state a criminal.
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the network could have its appeal against the suppression of the $13million underworld series heard by the Victorian Court of Appeal in the coming weeks rather than months.
But the Director of Public Prosecutions, in an extraordinary attack, said the network had exercised "poor judgment" in not foreseeing legal problems when producing Underbelly and the court "should not help them out of this mess" so it can regain lost advertising revenue.
"Why should Channel Nine receive priority simply in order to improve its profits?" DPP Jeremy Rapke QC told the court. "It is apparent the (legal) advice they got was wrong."
ONE of the longest stand-offs in Australian media has come to an end, with the Seven Network and pay-TV group Foxtel yesterday agreeing a retransmission deal after five years of often acrimonious debate.
The deal is a significant breakthrough for the pay-TV sector, as it means all of the free-to-air TV networks and their programming information will be available through pay-TV for the first time.
And it should also aid the federal Government in its quest - soon to be enacted in legislation - to switch off all analogue TV signals by 2013.
That is because Seven's inclusion on the digital pay-TV service is likely to mean pay-TV homes will be counted as "digital" homes when determining how many homes have digital TV.
A US Defence official says the Pentagon plans to shoot down a malfunctioning US spy satellite before it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere next month.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says an Associated Press report, which said the preferred option was to fire a missile at it from a Navy cruiser, "is accurate".
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced a press conference later with senior officials to discuss how they plan to deal with the satellite, including "any military aspects with respect to the way ahead".
After months of lobbying the Seven Network to join its pay TV service, Foxtel will finally be able to offer its subscribers access to channel Seven after the two companies announced a partnership today that will see Foxtel retransmit Seven programs - which is unusual since Seven has been preparing to launch its TiVo digital video recorder for some time.
Media analysts have been concerned that Seven was losing significant viewing traffic due to its failure to cut a deal with Foxtel, as research shows that over 1 million households in Australia now have Foxtel with up to 80 per cent of these using their Foxtel box as a means to access and record free-to-air TV.
The failure of Seven to deliver Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) content to Foxtel was a major problem for consumers.
In addition, consumers who used the Foxtel EPG to record Seven network programming often found their programs cut short at the end, due to the failure of the Foxtel EPG engine to identify precisely when a network Seven program began and ended.
SEVEN and Foxtel ended years of disagreement today announcing the channel had signed a retransmission deal with the pay-TV group.
The news means Channel Seven will become available to satellite pay-TV subscribers for the first time.
And Seven's programming options will also be seen on Foxtel's electronic program guide for the first time.
Seven was the only free-to-air TV network to not have a retransmission deal with Foxtel.
Channel Nine, the ABC and the SBS have been retransmitted on Foxtel for years, and Ten came on board late last year.
But Seven refused to join, arguing Foxtel - which is 25 per cent owned by The Australian's owner News Ltd - should pay for its signal.
THE battle for mobile television is already heating up this year, with Telstra's BigPond preparing to launch the first weekend sports show produced solely for mobile TV.
Bigpond Sports Weekend will be launched on February 23 and will provide customers with 18 hours of locally produced sports coverage on Saturday and Sunday.
"It takes online and mobile sport to the next level," BigPond chief executive Justin Milne said.
"We've put a comprehensive sports package together for the mobile, leveraging our exclusive rights for the NRL, AFL and V8 Supercars, as well as news content. It's 18 hours of fast-paced sports action on the mobile, starting from 9am Saturday morning, going through to 6pm, and back again on Sunday."
NETWORK Ten plans to expand into mobile television and social networking this year as it seeks to build its digital division into a key profit contributor.
The plans, outlined yesterday by Ten's digital chief Damian Smith, follow comments by Ten's main owner, CanWest Global chief Leonard Asper, in an interview with Media in December that he wanted Ten to become a bigger player in the digital space.
"(It's) not just having a Ten website and group of websites but, potentially, having other web or digitally based properties, like News Corp has bought MySpace," Mr Asper said.
Mr Smith said his plans were in line with Mr Asper's ambitions for Ten Digital: "We've indicated, financially, that in five years' time we want to be a meaningful contributor to Ten's overall profit."
AUSTRALIAN television viewers have been spared serious disruption to this year's schedule with the resolution of the Writers Guild of America strike.
After a 100-day lockdown of Hollywood, guild members yesterday voted to accept a new agreement that supplied a number of improvements, including a 2per cent to 3 per cent payment of gross receipts for work that is streamed live on the internet (albeit after a window of 17 to 24 days).
Nevertheless, the short-term losses experienced by US film and TV writers are unlikely to be recovered by the gains, even in the medium term.
And the implications of the agreement for Australia's creative pool are limited.
NDERBELLY managed to attract enough viewers to give Nine a national ratings win, despite being banned in Victoria.
Nine won Wednesday night with a share of 30.1 to Seven's 25.7, a remarkable feat given its best show could not be screened in one state.
Underbelly had a four-capital-city audience of 1.326 million and would easily have gone over 2 million with the addition of Melbourne, the city in which the story is set.
Instead of the much-hyped premiere, Melbourne viewers had the following statement from Eddie McGuire: "A court order issued in the Supreme Court yesterday (Tuesday) means that Underbelly cannot be shown in Victoria on television or via the internet," he said.
SEVEN was the clear winner in the summer ratings race. The network won seven of the 10 unofficial ratings weeks that ended on Saturday.
The Australian Open men's final tennis on Seven was the most watched program, with an average audience of 2.447 million. Nine's Australia v India Twenty20 cricket match was of less interest with an audience of 2.077 million.
The ABC's most watched show was Spicks and Specks: A Very Specky Christmas, which averaged 1.601 million.
Seven's win was exceptional given Ten's successful launch of So You Think You Can Dance Australia in the final week of summer and the cricket on Nine.
AUSTAR has announced that its new Personal Digital Recorder, MyStar, has hit a chord with regional Australians, just a week following the product's launch to new customers on 1 February.
AUSTAR CEO, John Porter, said, "MyStar sales have so far exceeded our expectations, with our customers telling us this service adds a whole new dimension to the way regional Australia watches TV". MyStar was successfully launched to existing customers in late 2007.
1 LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER AUST V QATAR Fox Sports 3 Wed 19:21 345 345 812 1,395
2 LIVE: FOOTBALL: A-LEAGUE SEMI FINAL LEG 2 QLD V SYD Fox Sports 1 Fri 21:00 171 171 407 1,263
3 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Sun 11:05 164 282 1,843 1,006
4 FAMILY GUY FOX8 Sun 21:00 131 170 1,105 1,233
5 LIVE: FOOTBALL: WORLD CUP QUALIFIER POST GAME Fox Sports 3 Wed 21:38 127 127 265 1,286
Pay television provider Austar United Communications Ltd says sales of its new personal digital recorder, MyStar, has exceeded its expectations, following the launch of the product last week.
Austar, which primarily offers digital satellite services in regional and rural areas, released MyStar to existing customers in late 2007 and to new customers at the beginning of February.
"MyStar sales have so far exceeded our expectations, with our customers telling us this service adds a whole new dimension to the way regional Australia watches TV," Austar chief executive John Porter said.
MyStar allows viewers to record two programs while watching another, and integrates free to air and satellite capability under the control of one remote.
Doing some much-needed sorting recently, I found a Bulletin magazine with a cover date of February 10, 1998 -- exactly ten years ago this week.
The fact that the Bulletin no longer exists was curious enough, as was rereading my story about a new fad called Internet shopping -- including statements like "commercial Australian Web sites are now seriously testing the waters of online shopping" and references to "Amazon.com, a US-based online bookstore with almost a million customers."
This particular issue, however, caught my attention because of the cover story on digital television. "Coming: pictures that leap off the screen," ran the headline, with two models sitting enthusiastically in front of a life-sized shot from then current-release blockbuster Titanic.
With duelling press releases and umpteen doctors of spin, the emerging "HD" war was starting to sound a little like Macbeth. Scratch the surface, however, and it's more like Much Ado About Nothing.
Since last year, Seven and Ten have been buzzing about their high-definition channels, which ostensibly cater to a new generation of viewers who have yet to buy the hardware to receive it. Let's make that clear - new channels for audiences that do not yet exist.
To use a medical analogy, we're building millions of hospital beds for a disease few people have caught. Nice to know they're there but there's a risk they will have cobwebs on them by the time they roll the first patients through the door.
The cable platform Foxtel upped the ante last week, launching its own HD+ service, promising consumers even more high-definition digital TV programming by the middle of the year - for an additional charge.
THE Rudd Government will use sport to drive the take-up of free-to-air digital television by allowing TV networks to show big-ticket sporting events on new channels such as ABC2 and the commercial networks' alternative high-definition channels.
Under changes being considered by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the Government may allow TV networks to broadcast sporting events, which are now protected under anti-siphoning laws, on their free-to-air digital channels.
The sports most likely to be in Labor's sights include soccer, tennis and netball.
The Government plans would help prevent a repeat of the situation before the 2005 Ashes Test cricket series between Australia and England, when the broadcast almost went to a pay TV channel after the free-to-air commercial channels did not take up the rights from the England Cricket Board.
THE 2008 television ratings year began with a whimper, after the increasingly absurd breakfast TV battle failed to deliver anything new on Sunday morning.
The Nine Network's Sunday program entered the new year without one host, Ray Martin, and 1 1/2 hours earlier than normal, at 7.30am. But the dominant breakfast performer, the Seven Network's Weekend Sunrise, also moved its opening forward to 7.30am, and didn't miss a beat, providing accessible, topical fare.
Rather than invoke a revolution to the long-running current affairs program Sunday, the changes were more akin to a pedicure. The pity is the once-great program will suffer an even bigger battering in the ratings after its timeslot shift.
Nine's slight alterations, made by default and design, slightly improved on last year's format. Ellen Fanning flew solo without Martin or his predecessor, Ross Greenwood, and appeared better for it.
THE Ten Network will challenge Nine's 30-year dominance of cricket broadcasting after securing the rights to the new Indian Premier League for five years.
Ten chief executive Grant Blackley and general manager of sport David White will today announce the network's coverage of the Twenty20 series, which starts on April 18.
Ten is believed to have paid between $10 million and $15 million for the rights, and will broadcast IPL matches from 9.30pm on its main channel followed by repeats on its high-definition digital channel, Ten HD. The station will broadcast each of the 59 matches over the 44-day tournament live from India. This means a match would be broadcast every night, except Monday.
HOLLYWOOD'S screenwriters have backed a deal to end a three-month strike that has paralysed television and film production.
Writers Guild of America board members in New York and Los Angeles approved the new contract after meeting on Sunday and will now hold a vote of the union's members early next week to rubber-stamp the decision.
With widespread support for the agreement, writers are expected to be back at their keyboards by Wednesday, bringing to a close the most serious labor dispute to hit the US entertainment industry in decades.
Writers went on strike on November 5, forcing the postponement or cancellation of numerous popular television shows and movies, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
WGA members met in New York and Los Angeles on Saturday to go over the fine points of the proposed new deal, agreed after months of ugly wrangling with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
THE late Kerry Packer would be angry if he turned on the Nine television network he built and saw its content, according to Ray Martin, the network's most famous face for the past 20 years.
"I think he (Packer) would be angry and we'd certainly know what he liked and didn't like," Martin said yesterday. "He'd be saying 'let's not do television for today; let's do it for 10 years' time'."
Martin said commercial television was screening "absolute crap" and driving viewers to pay-TV and the internet.
Speaking after announcing he was leaving Nine after 30 years, Martin told The Weekend Australian that commercial TV had too much death, blood, violence, sex and bad language, and was alienating "ordinary Australian families".
CONVENTION says the official television ratings year is a fait accompli: the Seven Network will win convincingly.
Yet analysis of schedules for the official survey year, beginning on Sunday, suggests there are many opportunities for Nine to wrest back share from Seven.
Seven won its first ratings year in more than two decades with a 29 per cent share of night-time viewers in 2007 against Nine's 26.9 per cent and Ten's 21.9.
Nine and Seven shared the ratings spoils through the summer, with Seven winning all weeks other than the last of 2007 and the first of 2008, which went to Nine. While the Beijing Olympics will complicate matters for Seven's competitors, each network goes into the new season hoping for, rather than anticipating, break-out hits.
Wear out the red button on your FOXTEL remote control by getting Active with select FOXTEL programs in February 2008. Across a mix of genres, FOXTEL's Active applications offer up to 317 hours of interactive content on FOX SPORTS, The History Channel, FOX8, UKTV, MOVIE NETWORK, Movie Extra and W.
All Active content in February is available to all FOXTEL subscribers in addition to FOXTEL's five 24-hour interactive channels which include Sky News Active, FOX SPORTS Active, Weather Active, Air Active and Sports Selector.
Australian television has come up trumps at the prestigious New York Festivals International Television Broadcasting Awards, with programs from the ABC, Nine and Foxtel among the winners.
The ABC was a standout performer at the event, which recognizes broadcast achievements across more than 32 countries.
The station picked up a total of seven gongs, mostly in the documentaries and current affairs section, including an illustrious Grand Award for Cuttlefish: The Brainy Bunch.
The documentary, about the brain of cuttlefish and what that can teach us about the human brain, aired on the ABC in March last year but received little attention.
Another ABC documentary Crude, about the history of oil, won a gold world medal in the environment and ecology category.
The ABC's Foreign Correspondent was also a big winner, getting four awards including the UN sponsored silver award for cultural issues for its India Widows story.
Foxtel's popular drama Love My Way, a Nine Network documentary about the controversial sleeping drug Stilnox and a music video from indie rocker Laura Imbruglia were among other Australian winners at this year's awards, which had more than 200 entries.
Imparja Television is aiming to increase locally produced content, following its switch to Nine Network programming.
From February, Imparja will broadcast Nine content exclusively, giving viewers full access to the powerhouse of Australian television.
Imparja's CEO, Alistair Feehan, said that until now, the station had purchased the entire programming output of two networks (Nine & Ten), and could never use all the shows it was paying for.
"This change means a 50% saving in program costs for the station," said Mr Feehan.
"We will plough as much of that money as possible back into local content, sourced from our viewing area," Mr Feehan said.
Imparja is repositioning its news service to cover the stories that really matter to its viewers - 60% of whom live in Queensland. As well as broadcasting the Queensland edition of National Nine News each evening, an additional journalist has been employed to research and produce regular local news updates.
A new, locally produced, weekly current-affairs program will also begin in March.
MICROSOFT'S $50 billion bid for Yahoo could unleash chaos in Australia if regulators try to force the two companies to unscramble their local media omelette.
The deal already faces serious hurdles locally, and the added confusion of the media joint-ventures between Nine-MSN and Seven-Yahoo has advertisers pondering whether the cost of taking on the rampant Google is ultimately in the best interests of the business.
Colin Segalov, executive director of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, which represents companies spending $25 billion on marketing annually, including $1.4 billion online, said there were grave concerns about the power that could be wielded by the new entity already dubbed "Microhoo" or "Yasoft".
"We've not discussed it widely with the board yet, but the AANA would immediately share the World Federation of Advertisers' concerns about aggregation of media if we are going to end up with a limited choice of media and obviously a potential to influence, if not control, costs," Mr Segelov said.
Large advertisers have spent millions with both Seven and Nine on cross-platform promotional deals for the new television season, and most campaigns are augmented with online initiatives through portal partners. Such deals would be under threat if Yahoo fell under the ownership of Microsoft.
NUMBER two telco Optus has delivered a steady third quarter result, with underlying profits up 5.9 per cent to $143 million as its mobile subscriber numbers edged past 7 million.
Optus revenues were up only 3.6 per cent to almost $2 billion as it stopped reselling Telstra fixed line services to new customers and struggled as it lost market share in an extremely competitive mobile phone market.
The performance in its key mobiles business, which delivered 70 per cent of its profits, slipped below third placed Vodafone for the first time in a number of years. Optus added 108,000 new mobile phone subscribers compared with Vodafone's 141,000. Telstra and Hutchison have yet to unveil their results.
Optus confirmed its full-year earnings outlook which was for flat earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) on revenue growth of 3.6 per cent
Optus' EBITDA grew by 1 per cent in the third quarter to $506 million.
AUSTRALIA'S largest privately owned media group, Bruce Gordon's WIN Corp, has appointed international pay-TV executive David Butorac to the new role of managing director but denies it is again preparing to list.
WIN, which owns the regional TV network affiliated with the Nine Network and last year spent almost $270 million buying Channel Nine in Perth and Adelaide, appointed Goldman Sachs JB Were to assess a potential stock market float last year.
But Mr Butorac, who was running the Malaysian pay-TV group Astro All Asia before its float, did not believe a local listing was imminent.
"I don't think there's any current plans for a float," he said yesterday.
"WIN is a fabulous private company and with Bruce and (chairman) Andrew Gordon at the helm they have built it to where it is today, and there's no plans to change that."
Foxtel's 'surprisingly affordable' high-definition is on its way, writes Simon Tsang.
The high-definition bandwagon must be a heavy cart by now, because everyone seems to be jumping on it. It is still a good six months from launch but Foxtel held a "press event" in Sydney to unveil details of its new high-definition service.
The subscription-television provider will deliver four 24-hour HD channels under the banner of Foxtel HD+, scheduled for a mid-year launch. Foxtel's executive director of content, Patrick Delaney, described the new HD channels as carrying "five times the resolution of a standard-definition picture [and Foxtel's] HD channels are the best-looking HD signals in Australia".
The pay TV service follows free-to-air networks Seven and Ten, which launched their respective high-definition channels late last year (Nine is planning to launch its channel in March). Initially the mid-2008 launch will be dominated by documentaries and sport, with dedicated content from the BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Fox Sports and ESPN.
AN AMERICAN spy satellite that is due to fall out of the sky within weeks has an orbit plane that takes it through Australian skies.
US officials said they had no control over the satellite, which is the size of a small bus, and had no idea where any debris might land.
The Federal Government agency Emergency Management Australia said it had a number of contingency plans in place if the craft, which contains dangerous materials, failed to fully burn on re-entry and hit Australia.
Emergency Management Australia spokesman Alistair Wilson said the plans involved "liaising with the emergency services in different states that might be affected and notifying them so they can be ready on the ground".
The plan was developed in 2001 when there was a remote possibility of debris from the Mir space station falling on Australia.
Hollywood's striking writers and its major studios made "significant progress" in recent talks aimed at ending their labour dispute, a source briefed on the discussions says.
Word of a breakthrough came as the Writers Guild of America strike neared its three-month mark and after 11 days of low-key contract talks that followed a separate labour deal between the studios and Hollywood directors.
The current writers' talks were initially conceived as "informal discussions" designed to sketch the outlines of a potential settlement and to lay a foundation for the resumption of full-scale bargaining that collapsed in acrimony on December 7.
But the latest sessions proved more fruitful than expected, evolving into substantive negotiations now expected to lead straight to a deal that would put the 10,500 striking writers back to work.
Microsoft/Yahoo! deal a cloud over NineMSN, Yahoo!7?
The proposed takeover of Yahoo! by Microsoft is obviously of international importance, but it has particular significance to the Australian market.
The issue is that both companies chose to establish their Australian online presence in collaboration with TV networks. Microsoft led the way by forging a deal with the Nine Network to operate NineMSN, while Yahoo! teamed with the Seven Network to set up Yahoo!7.
Competition between free to air stations has always been strong, and Nine is still smarting from being knocked from its long-held number one position by Seven, which has enjoyed a good run in the last few years on the back of shows such as Desperate Housewives, Lost and 24.
It seems unlikely that the two networks would be overjoyed at the idea of being linked to the same online partner, even if - as seems likely - the existing branding is maintained.
Telstra appointee may mend fences with rival Foxtel shareholder
ANDREW Butcher, the Australian who led News Corporation's communications unit in New York for 10 years, has joined Telstra after recently returning to Australia.
Mr Butcher has been named as Telstra's director of international communications (executive services) with a brief to improve awareness of the telco on the global stage.
And Phil Burgess, Telstra's group managing director of public policy and communications, agreed that Mr Butcher's appointment may also improve relations between Telstra and News, both of whom are key shareholders in pay-TV group Foxtel.
"I am delighted that we could attract a professional with Andrew's experience, temperament and record of achievement," he said. "And, who knows, in a triumph of hope over experience, he might even help us improve our relationship with News Limited. Stranger things have happened."
The two companies have been at loggerheads for years, initially as rival shareholders in Foxtel. Those problems were highlighted in testimony and documents provided during the recent C7 trial.
NEWS Corporation is expected to report a 10 to 15 per cent increase in second-quarter earnings this week, while the group's chairman and chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, will also arrive in Australia to help celebrate his mother's 99th birthday.
News will report its latest results tomorrow morning. Analysts expect it will provide a strong start to the media sector's reporting season with the most bullish prediction of a 15 per cent increase in earnings to $US1.3billion ($1.44 billion).
The result by News, owner of The Australian, is expected to comprise large earnings increases at the TV, cable, magazine and book publishing divisions.
But after a record film result at the same time last year, due to the success of films such as Borat and Night at the Museum, this quarter's film result is expected to be 20 per cent below that of the same time last year.
AUSTRALIA's booming $1 billion online advertising market will be radically reshaped if Microsoft's $49.5 billion hostile bid for online media group Yahoo succeeds.
Microsoft and Yahoo operate the two biggest internet portals here - Microsoft and PBL Media are joint venture partners in ninemsn, while Yahoo and Kerry Stokes' Seven Media teamed up to run the Yahoo7 portal.
Ninemsn was formed in 1996 after Microsoft failed in its first portal attempt - the short-lived, pre-internet "bulletin board" venture On Australia, in partnership with Telstra.
Yahoo7, on the other hand, was formed only two years ago after both Yahoo and Seven had struggled to establish a credible internet business in Australia.
Both portals, which aim to have something for everyone and to be the launching point for users' internet sessions, are struggling in the market .
Foxtel's upcoming iQ2 high definition personal video recorder poses some serious competition to the almighty TiVo
Speaking at a Sydney preview event this week, Foxtel managing director Kim Williams revealed details of Foxtel's HD+ service, due to launch mid-year with four channels of sport, movies and docos. To access the service, Foxtel subscribers need to upgrade to the new Foxtel iQ2 PVR. The iQ features a 320GB hard drive good for up to 30 hours of HD recording or 90 hours of standard definition. The stand out feature is the inclusion of four HD tuners - allowing users to record two Foxtel or free-to-air programs whilst watching a third. The fourth tuner will be used to trickle Foxtel Box Office HD movies to the box in advance, giving subscribers access to instant on-demand 1080i high definition pay-per-view movies.
The sports giant will launch its initial ESPN-branded high-definition service outside the United States, when it begins televising ESPN HD Australia sometime in the middle of this year.
Not a simulcast of ESPN domestic product, the service, which will feature major sporting events and local programming tailored specifically for Aussie sports fans, will be one of four new HD channels added by Foxtel in Australia.
Officials said that ESPN HD Australia will be transmitted via undersea fiber optic cable, providing over 100 Mbps of signal bandwidth service. Moreover, the fiber transmission path not only has the capacity to send/ receive feeds from the region, but to provide additional regional program services down the road.
"The launch of ESPN HD Australia reinforces our commitment to provide fans worldwide the best quality sports programming," said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, in a statement. "ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD have been important drivers of HD growth in the U.S and continue to be among the most frequently watched HD services. We are pleased to be offering fans in Australia that same big picture experience."
FOXTEL has persuaded the BBC to create one of four high-definition television channels to be launched by the end of June.
The pay TV operator shed light on its HD strategy yesterday, revealing each new channel would be broadcast exclusively at HD capabilities - a significant improvement on Foxtel's current broadcast signal.
Its pioneer HD channels will be the BBC HD channel (tailored for Australia, mainly featuring dramas and documentaries), Fox Sports HD, ESPN HD and a documentary channel combining HD shows from National Geographic and Discovery.
But a shortage of satellite capacity will mean Foxtel's major HD launch will not be until May next year, when a new Optus satellite is operational, because HD channels require almost four times the bandwidth of Foxtel's regular digital channels.
Foxtel subscribers wanting the HD channels will have to buy one of the operator's second-generation digital video recorders, the iQ2, and pay a monthly surcharge, although the company did not reveal the service cost or launch date.
JUST when you thought you could escape the digital TV age, Foxtel has other plans.
In the biggest lure yet to get yourself a set-top box, Foxtel yesterday launched four new high-definition channels to give consumers another reason to make the switch.
While all the major networks are introducing HD channels, Foxtel will switch on four high-definition channels with new and first-run programming, as well as a high definition version of its already popular on-demand Box Office service from mid year, Foxtel chief Kim Williams announced yesterday.
Each of the new channels will feature content from BBC HD, Fox Sports HD, ESPN HD, National Geographic HD and Discovery HD and feature Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
Powering the new service will be Foxtel's new iQ2 set-top box which features a larger 320GB hard drive to record up to two programs at once while viewing a third.
A portion of the iQ2's hard drive will also be partitioned to contain all of the high definition Foxtel Box Office pay-per-view offerings so when a customer chooses to rent the film it will start instantly rather than waiting for a lengthy download.
MARK Burrows has resigned from Fairfax Media to avoid a conflict of interest as an adviser in the Consolidated Media Holdings privatisation.
Burrows, a non-executive director with Fairfax, works for advisory group Lazard Carnegie Wylie, which is acting for Lachlan Murdoch's privately owned Illyria investment vehicle in its privatisation plan for Consolidated Media.
"I believe that Lazard Carnegie Wylie acting for Illyria would not give rise to a potential conflict with my role as a director of Fairfax Media," Burrows said in a statement.
"However, I acknowledge that perceptions of a potential conflict have arisen and that these perceptions are not in the best interests of Fairfax or the proposed transaction," he said.
FOXTEL has muscled in on the marketing hype surrounding Seven and Ten's recent high-definition channel launches.
It has revealed plans to launch four 24-hour HD channels and on-demand HD movies by June.
The pay-television company said the launch of Foxtel HD+, which will be accessible through the new iQ2 HD set-top box as a premium service, would boost subscriber numbers as consumers made the shift to HD TV.
Trials of the technology are expected to take four to six weeks, making it unlikely the product will be available before April, but the announcement pre-empts Seven's plans to roll out its TiVo digital video recorder in the first half of this year.
Foxtel chief Kim Williams said the company would also retransmit free-to-air HD signals such as Ten-HD on its cable service and via satellite if the broadcaster met the carriage cost.
A new high definition (HD) Foxtel iQ set-top box and a HD service called Foxtel HD+ will be released mid-year, providing viewers with a mixture of standard definition (SD) broadcasts, four HD channels offering immersive HD pictures and Dolby 5.1 surround sound, and on-demand HD movies.
Details of the new box, called iQ2, and the new Foxtel HD+ service which will be "the most comprehensive HD service available to Australian consumers," according to Foxtel, were revealed at a media event today in Sydney.
The new box will allow customers to watch both HD movies and TV shows provided by the four new Foxtel HD stations, along with SD shows on Foxtel's current service which offers more than 100 channels, an electronic program guide (EPG) and interactive services including games.
A 320GB hard drive and three tuners will allow users to record two programs and watch a third program simultaneously, with a fourth tuner added to hold on-demand movies, meaning users can access them straight away without having to wait for them to download.
On-demand HD movies will be available for 48 each, allowing users to pause, rewind and fast forward the film as with a DVD movie.
Foxtel has secured licensing agreements to air popular HD channels, BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD and ESPN HD.
The Free TV consortium that backs free-to-air TV services today released a statement to the public singing the praises of high definition (HD) TV services from the Seven and Ten networks, coinciding with Foxtel's announcement of a next generation, HD set-top box launching mid-year.
"You don't need to pay a 'premium' to get high definition (HD) television", Free TV CEO, Julie Flynn, said today.
"In fact you don't have to pay anything at all because the best HD television content is already available in Australia - and it's free!"
Foxtel today announced the introduction of a new HD set-top box called iQ2 and a new service called Foxtel HD+ which, when launched in the second half of 2008, will offer subscribers over 100 different TV channels including four HD stations - BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD and ESPN HD.
Though pricing for the box and the service has yet to be confirmed by Foxtel, the company did reveal today that consumers would pay more for the HD service than the current SD service offered today.
The Free TV consortium however is attempting to keep its customer numbers up by marketing new free-to-air HD services such as 7HD and Ten-HD.
FOXTEL today unveiled details of its new High Definition (HD) service - which will be known as FOXTEL HD+ - and revealed the initial exclusive channel line-up at launch would comprise the world's strongest subscription television brands, namely BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, FOX SPORTS HD and ESPN HD, plus for the first time the introduction of blockbuster movies in HD and On Demand through FOXTEL Box Office.
Pay TV operator Foxtel will begin high definition broadcasting by the middle of the year ahead of a full HD upgrade in 2009.
Foxtel today revealed that four of its 100+ channel suite would be shown exclusively in HD, including Fox Sports, BBC and ESPN.
Subscribers will only be able to see the higher quality signal if they upgrade to Foxtel's iQ2 combined set-top box and hard drive recorder.
Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams confirmed subscribers would have to pay extra to access HD channels, justifying this on the basis the picture quality of each would be a significant improvement on the current channels.
While Foxtel's current iQ box includes two tuners - enabling subscribers to simultaneously record and watch different channels - the iQ2 has four.
This will enable subscribers to simultaneously record on two channels while watching a third channel, with the fourth tuner used solely for Foxtel's on-demand video service.
Foxtel has announced it will be soft-launching its high-definition broadcast service mid year with a fully-fledged service to be expected halfway through 2009.
Dubbed HD+, the service will initially launch with four 24/7 channels shown exclusively in full HD, including Fox Sports, BBC, Discovery and ESPN. Foxtel Box Office on demand movies will also be broadcast in HD.
"This is a significant moment in our short but very colourful history," said Foxtel chief executive, Kim Williams. "Foxtel HD+ will deliver HD TV the way it should be. The service will optimise viewer experience, ensure more consumer choice, and provide unequalled customer and technical support and programming for Australian viewers."
Williams expects that once Foxtel gains access to the Optus D3 satellite in May 2009, the broadcaster will be able to "significantly" expand its cable capacity and offer a wider range of content.
Foxtel to launch four HD channels mid-2008, more to come
Foxtel's upcoming HD+ service will offer four high definition channels of movies, sport and docos at launch mid-year, plus high definition movies on demand.
The four 24-hour HD channels will include BBC HD, Fox Sports HD and EPSN HD - with Discovery HD and National Geographic HD initially combined on one channel. The new channels will broadcast sport, movies and documentaries in a mixture of native 720p and 1080i resolutions. Local high definition sports content in 1080i will include AFL, NRL, Super 14s, A League and Twenty20 cricket.
The new high definition content will be available to both cable and satellite Foxtel subscribers from mid-year with the upgrade to a HD Foxtel set top box. According to Foxtel, only 25 per cent of its subscribers currently own a HD compatible television. Those without a HD compatible television will still be able to watch the HD channels, but they will be downscaled to SD.
Extra high definition channels will be on offer in May 2009 when the pay TV provider gains access to the new Optus D3 satellite plus extra bandwidth on the Telstra cable network. Foxtel plans to offer multiple HD channels for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, with eight HD channels scheduled for the 2012 London Olympics.
Hollywood's striking writers and major studios have narrowed their differences after a week of informal talks, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Representatives of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began meeting last Wednesday for informal discussions in their first face-to-face talks since contract negotiations collapsed on December 7.
The current talks are aimed at laying the groundwork for official bargaining to resume.
Some 10,500 WGA writers went on strike in November.
Since then, television production of scripted comedies and dramas has ground to a near-halt, films have been delayed and Hollywood's awards season has been severely curtailed.
VIEWERS will see more local programming on TV as the networks prepare to launch one of the toughest years in memory when the ratings season starts on February 10.
While competition is always stiff between commercial networks fighting for a share of Australia's $2.5 billion advertising pie, the recent practice of screening imported series immediately and the impact of the ongoing screenwriters strike in the US, places intense pressure on programmers to produce strong local shows.
Instead of the launching the year with 24 or more episodes of popular American dramas such as Desperate Housewives, CSI and House and fewer than half that number are available.
While Seven's Melbourne programmer Graeme Hill describes the strike as an "opportunity'', network executives privately concede their prime-time schedules are full of holes.
THE ABC's iconic squiggle logo will not be disappearing any time soon, the state broadcaster says, following reports it would be ditched in favour of a new look.
The Australian said today that the broadcaster's looping logo would be taken off air after more than four decades in favour of a younger and fresher brand, and ABC TV - still known to older Australians as Channel Two - would become ABC1.
The Australian said it understood the renaming of ABC TV would be the centrepiece of the biggest television rebranding in the public broadcaster's history.
The change would bring ABC TV into line with the corporation's digital network, known as ABC2, and the coming dedicated digital children's channel, which would be known as ABC3.
It believed the squiggle would be retained as the broadcaster's corporate logo but would no longer be the key focus of its television identity.
ABC TV - still doggedly known to older Australians as Channel Two - will become ABC1 and the broadcaster's looping "squiggle" logo will be demoted after more than four decades in favour of a younger and fresher brand.
ABC director of television Kim Dalton said today the squiggle would share space with a new logo spelling out ABC1.
"We're announcing next week a new look for both ABC television and what's at the present known as ABC2," Mr Dalton said.
"That's going to involve a new onscreen look. But the worm will absolutely be retained as part of the branding for both of our channels."
Mr Dalton said the main thrust of the new look would be to rebrand ABC TV as ABC1.
IT hasn't been "the one" for some time. Now the Nine Network's not even No 2.
The television pecking order has been turned on its head, with Seven recording its best ever advertising performance and Nine its worst, placing third behind Ten for the first time.
Nine's share of the $1.593billion capital city advertising market fell 0.6 percentage points to 30.81 per cent, an all-time low, just behind Ten on 30.84 per cent. Seven extended its lead with 38.7per cent for the year, a record for the network.
Nine's poor performance came despite the TV advertising market growing by 9 per cent in the cities and 10.8 per cent in regional areas, figures for the six months to December show.
LACHLAN Murdoch's company insists his investment in a slice of Indian cricket is unrelated to his business deal last week with James Packer.
Less than a week after announcing a $3.3 billion bid for Consolidated Media Holdings, Mr Murdoch emerged on Sunday as a co-owner of one of the eight teams in the new Indian Premier League.
While his father, Rupert Murdoch, has often bought sporting teams to provide content for his media businesses, Mr Murdoch's private investment company Illyria said its decision to buy into the Jaipur-based Twenty20 team was unrelated to the bid for CMH.
"There's absolutely no connection ... it's just an investment he made without even thinking about the relationship," said Illyria spokesman John Connolly.
He said Mr Murdoch owned only "a very small percentage" of the team, which Illyria bought with the UK-based Emerging Media for $US67 million ($76 million).
Mr Murdoch and Mr Packer are bidding for CMH, which owns 50 per cent of Premier Media (owner of the pay-TV sports channel Fox Sports), 25 per cent of pay-TV group Foxtel and 25 per cent of PBL Media, which in turn owns Network Nine.
THE Nine Network is planning to move its blue-chip current affairs program Sunday from 9am to a 7.30am timeslot, a move that could cost the program its high-profile new co-host, Ray Martin.
The plans are understood to include a move away from the trademark Sunday "cover story" format to a series of shorter, tabloid-style reports, punctuated by news bulletins.
Martin said last night he would now "need to talk" to senior management about his role at the program.
Contacted last night by The Australian, Martin said he had not formally been told of the changes, due when the program returns on February 10. "It's news to me, and if it's true, it's an interesting departure from 25 years of tradition. At 7.30, it becomes a very different program," he said
Martin joined Ellen Fanning as Sunday's co-host in the lead-up to last year's federal election after the unsuccessful pairing of Fanning with Nine's finance editor Ross Greenwood.
ACCLAIMED TV producer Sue Masters has bowed out as the Ten Network's head of drama after slightly more than seven years in the job.
Her credits at Ten included series The Secret Life of Us, CrashBurn and White Collar Blue; mini-series My Brother Jack, After the Deluge and Mary Bryant; and telemovies BlackJack, Temptation and Small Claims.
"I am very proud of every production the Ten drama team has brought to life during my tenure," Masters said.
Although her programs often won critical praise, Masters agreed it had been difficult to lure large audiences to evening drama on Ten. Even veteran soap series Neighbours has struggled in the ratings.
The network targets younger viewers and has most success with frothier fare such as So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother, Australian Idol and The Biggest Loser.
"It is probably a little bit harder, but not impossible," Masters said of her attempts to attract viewers. "Ten has had very strong years of drama and less strong years."
Ten's news release on its 2008 schedule on Monday did not include any new local dramas but did mention upcoming programs Ice Road Truckers and Pussycat Doll 'Girlilicious'.
Masters said new drama productions would be announced soon. "Ten has quite a few coming through," she said.
THE proposal for Lachlan Murdoch to privatise Consolidated Media Holdings with James Packer could give the struggling Nine Network another high-powered advocate just when it needs one - but how active Mr Murdoch will be in Nine's interests is less certain.
Figures due out next week are expected to show Nine's share of television advertising revenue fell to about 31 per cent across the five capital cities in the six months to December, down from 33.8 per cent in 2006, a loss of at least $40 million.
Those numbers reflect a 10.7 per cent prime time ratings slump last year, indicating the magnitude of the turnaround facing Nine chief executive David Gyngell.
Mr Gyngell - who is close to both Mr Murdoch and Mr Packer - was reportedly elated when news of the CMH deal broke on Monday. He refused to comment yesterday.
An informed source said Mr Murdoch would be a hands-off investor in PBL Media - which owns Nine, ACP Magazines, NBN and half of Ninemsn, among other media investments - unless CMH eventually buys back the remaining 75 per cent of the company now owned by private equity firm CVC.
AUSTRALIAN Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said yesterday he would closely examine Lachlan Murdoch's position on the News Corporation board, as part of a broader investigation into Mr Murdoch's joint $3.3billion proposal to take over Consolidated Media Holdings.
The comments came as the market gave a mixed reception to the bid by Mr Murdoch's Illyria and James Packer's private company, Consolidated Press Holdings, with some market players and media analysts welcoming the bid while others opposed it.
Mr Samuel said: "One of the questions we've been asked is: does Lachlan Murdoch's role on the News Corporation board have a consequence in terms of competition issues (relating to the bid)?. Does it give rise to any concerns in the future about whether it leads to anti-competitive relationships? Well, that's a relevant issue that we'll look at."
Mr Samuel also made reference to comments Mr Murdoch made on Monday, in which he noted: "This is completely my own transaction. This is nothing to do with News Limited, or for that matter, News Corporation."
The ACCC chief commented: "He maintains he's independent. Well, we'll have a look at that."
Alliance strengthens Murdoch's grip on advertising
THE Murdoch family could substantially increase its hold on the $11 billion Australian advertising market following a play by Lachlan Murdoch for half of James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings.
Mr Murdoch's plan to form a joint venture with Mr Packer to privatise CMH could result in Murdoch family interests controlling close to 20 per cent of the total advertising market.
A Nielsen analysis for the 2007 financial year showed News Limited (owner of The Australian) already attracted 18.8 per cent of revenue, including FPC Magazines (which it bought last year), although Nielsen does not measure the internet and pay-TV.
Advertising and media-buying sources said while the plan could further concentrate media ownership, it was not expected to adversely affect advertising rates and was a vote of confidence in the long-term health of media businesses.
Hamish McLennan, the New York-based Australian chief executive of advertising network Young & Rubicam, said the deal would boost the Murdoch presence across multiple media platforms, particularly pay-TV and the internet.
I'm back: Lachlan Murdoch's $3.3b deal with Packer
LACHLAN MURDOCH has jumped back into the media business, linking with James Packer to snap up the former PBL's media assets, including stakes in Channel Nine, ACP Magazines and the pay TV companies Foxtel and Fox Sports.
The $3.3 billion deal will see Lachlan, the eldest son of Rupert Murdoch, and James, the heir to the late Kerry Packer's empire, in a 50-50 venture to privatise the sharemarket-listed Consolidated Media Holdings.
The joint venture would take on CMH's 25 per cent stakes in Foxtel and PBL Media as well as its 50 per cent holding in Fox Sports. The pair want to buy out CMH's shareholders with $4.80 a share paid in cash and via Seek shares, offering 24 per cent above the latest market value.
"I've been wanting to add value to businesses, and for me to pay that kind of premium means I have to be able to add value to these businesses," Mr Murdoch, 36, told the Herald last night. "I know these businesses very well [so] I can go in there and add value and roll my sleeves up."
PBL Media, 75 per cent owned by the private equity firm CVC, controls the one-time jewel in the Packer family's crown, the now struggling Nine Network, as well as ACP Magazines and stakes in online ventures such as ninemsn and carsales.com.au.
AS Sydneysiders tried to avoid being drenched in the wet weekend that had just passed, two men spent Saturday and Sunday in a nondescript building in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills.
One was Lachlan Murdoch, the other James Packer, and by the end of the weekend they had done a deal worth $3.3 billion to carve up a significant chunk of the Australian media.
They spent Saturday and Sunday in Murdoch's office in Surry Hills, Packer and his advisers with Murdoch and his. A constant stream of sandwiches, bottles of water and cups of coffee came through the door.
The deal was only finally clinched about 10pm on Sunday.
For Packer, it would have held a certain appeal. There is a business scenario sometimes talked about at the very highest levels of the Packer organisation that includes a powerful phrase: "We might buy it back one day."
THE proposal that the sons of Australia's two great media titans combine once more - in a bid for Australian media assets - was conveyed to James Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings by Lachlan Murdoch recently, and put jointly to Consolidated Media Holdings by James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch yesterday morning.
Consolidated Media's board met around lunch time yesterday to consider the joint proposal, under which Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer would effectively take joint ownership of a company that would own media assets including 25 per cent of PBL and 25 per cent of Foxtel.
The deal is innovative, as one might expect, given the lineage of the principals; its full value is just over $4.80 per Consolidated Media share, but that includes about 76c of value that would come from the distribution of Consolidated Media's 27 per cent shareholding in the online job agency Seek to Consolidated Media shareholders.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding the deal, however, is can the regulators feel comfortable Lachlan Murdoch, in this deal, is acting entirely independently of his father, Rupert? The obvious signs are that he is.
He has not been an officer of Rupert Murdoch's News group since mid-2005, when he quit as chief operating officer and returned to Australia from New York and established a company with the express purpose of exploring media expansion opportunities here.
The competition regulator says it is already examining Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer's plan to spend more than $3 billion buying Consolidated Media Holdings (CMH) from shareholders.
Under the proposal, the pair will each own 50 per cent of the company, which has stakes in businesses including Foxtel and the Nine Network.
Mr Murdoch's father, Rupert Murdoch, owns another share of Foxtel through News Corporation.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel says the ACCC will scrutinise whether Mr Murdoch's family links with News Corporation poses any problems for media competition in Australia.
1 LIVE: CRICKET: DOMESTIC TWENTY20 FINAL WA V VIC Fox Sports 1 Sun 18:30 274 274 789 1,543
2 AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL FOX8 Tue 19:36 150 189 516 1,161
3 AN AUSSIE GOES BOLLY FOX8 Mon 20:31 139 171 622 1,288
4 THE SIMPSONS FOX8 Tue 19:10 124 157 1,848 987
5 CASINO ROYALE Movie One Sun 20:30 120 166 576 1,610
LACHLAN Murdoch is poised to make a stunning return to the media industry in a $2 billion-plus deal to privatise James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings.
The Australian understands an announcement on the deal will be made to the Australian Securities Exchange later today.
It is believed Mr Murdoch, who set up a private investment fund after resigning as an executive with News Corporation in 2005, will become the newly-privatised vehicle's executive chairman.
He has raised the capital to fund the deal outside News Corp, which owns the company that publishes The Australian.
As part of the deal, Mr Murdoch and CMH's current deputy chairman, James Packer, are expected to each take a 50 per cent stake in a joint venture vehicle to run the company. The deal marks yet another step by Mr Packer away from public scrutiny.
The new joint venture will include CMH's 25 per cent stakes in Foxtel and PBL Media, a 50 per cent stake in Fox Sports and 27 per cent of online recruitment firm Seek. PBL Media owns the Packer family's one-time flagship Nine Network and ACP Magazines, as well as stakes in online ventures such as ninemsn and carsales.com.au.
Reports coming in that the MyStar (Austar's Personal Digital Recorder) will be available for public release from Monday, 21 January for current subscribers and available early February to new subscribers. More information on the MyStar at www.austar.com.au/mystar.
Nine faces uphill battle in 2008
THE Australian television landscape could look very different in 2008, as Nine tries to claw back ground lost to Seven.
So far the local industry has been relatively unaffected by the US writers' strike, but that could all change soon.
The ratings period starts on February 10 and networks will soon find themselves running out of episodes of some of their most popular shows.
On average Australian networks reportedly have only half a series or less of many new shows ready to go, after filming on all big TV shows in the US stopped more than two months ago.
About 10,500 screenwriters have been striking since November 5, crippling Hollywood film and TV production.
This month the Golden Globes awards were reduced to a bland, 30-minute press conference because many actors threatened to boycott the events rather than cross picket lines of striking writers.
THE Australian Workers Union will move for the entertainment industry to take action to support striking screenwriters in the US, despite the head of an industry body warning it is "not our fight".
AWU national secretary Paul Howes this week joined 140 placard-carrying screenwriters and celebrities outside 20th Century Fox studios in Los Angeles, telling them he would investigate ways to support their cause with action in Australia.
"When I return home to Australia I will be working with our other unions to ensure we can take action and solidarity actions in support of you guys," Mr Howes said. "This is truly an international dispute, and the implications of the dispute are being strongly felt all around the world."
About 10,500 screenwriters have been on strike after negotiations over their new pay deal broke down more than two months ago. The stoush has cost Hollywood the glitz of the Golden Globes, and the Academy Awards ceremony on February 24 is now under threat.
Mr Howes said the issues facing US screenwriters - who are pushing for royalties for new media, such as films and TV shows sold over the internet - would affect Australian writers, making it their fight as well.
MACQUARIE Media Group, fresh from its recent joint takeover with Fairfax of Southern Cross Broadcasting, will rename its Australian operations within a month to reflect its newly expanded portfolio of assets.
The Australian understands the group's flagship local operation, Macquarie Regional Radioworks (MRR) - Australia's largest owner of regional radio stations - is to be fully rebadged as Macquarie Southern Cross Media.
The name change reflects Macquarie Media's November completion of its purchase of the Southern Cross Ten regional television network across the country. It is believed the rebadging is to be completed by mid-February, when use of the MRR name will cease.
Graham Mott, head of the former Southern Cross's metropolitan radio assets (owned by Fairfax Media after the takeover), revealed last year the Southern Cross name had to be taken out of logos and presentation for the radio assets, because Macquarie had purchased it.
"Under the sale agreement, we do not retain the rights to use the term Southern Cross," he said.
It's tough, being a jihadist mouthpiece these days. First, the U.S. Treasury blacklists the brain behind Iraq's pro-insurgent satellite channel. Now, Hezbollah's al-Manar station has been booted off of the air, after a brief run on a Thai-owned satellite covering Asia, Australia, Africa, and Central Europe.
In 2006, the American government declared al-Manar a terrorist organization, for raising funds and conducting surveillance for the jihadists of Hezbollah. And even before that, Al-Manar has been chased off of one satellite after another, the Counterterrorism Blog notes. "AsiaSat ceased broadcasting al-Manar in 2005, and the Spanish government ordered the banning of Hezbollah TV broadcasts to Latin America via Hispasat."
TEN and pay-TV group Foxtel will share the exclusive Australian broadcast rights to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
Under the agreement, Ten (ASX: TEN: quote), majority owned by Canada's Canwest Global Communications, and Foxtel will share all the live broadcast rights, except for the opening and closing ceremonies, which Ten will show exclusively.
The Commonwealth Games will run from October 3 to October 14 in 2010.
Ten and Foxtel will also look to on-sell the radio rights. Foxtel has secured the subscription television and exclusive new media rights, including mobile, Internet and handheld digital video broadcast.
Foxtel is a joint venture between News Corporation, Consolidated Media Holdings (ASX: CMJ: quote) and Telstra (ASX: TLS: quote).
Ten Network chief executive Grant Blackley said the terms of the deal were confidential but the Commonwealth Games is a "major marquee event" on the sporting calendar.
"The fact is we don't do sports deals unless they make sound commercial sense - this one does," Buckley told journalists during a conference call.
OPRAH Winfrey is to launch a new network with Discovery Communications that will be a "natural extension" of her show.
The Oprah Winfrey Network will be a multi-platform media venture "designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives," according to a joint statement with Discovery, which owns the Discovery Network and Animal Planet, among others.
The new channel will debut in 2009 in more than 70 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel.
"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold," said Winfrey, who is among the top-earning US celebrities and ranked second to US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a recent US poll on most admired women.
"For me, the launch of The Oprah Winfrey Network is the evolution of the work I've been doing on television all these years and a natural extension of my show," she said.
THE Hezbollah-backed television channel al-Manar is once again broadcasting into Australia, despite a tightening of laws that prohibit programs supporting terrorism.
The Lebanese channel has been picked up by the Thai satellite communications company Thaicom, and is currently being broadcast across Australia, Africa, Europe and Asia.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Communications and Media Authority said yesterday it would commence inquiries to "determine whether and how the service is being broadcast in Australia, and will then consider any appropriate action".
The Israel-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre issued an alert regarding al-Manar, saying the broadcasts "compromised the efforts of the international community to limit the spread of Hezbollah's incitement programming".
THE major commercial television networks may make money out of the Hollywood writers' strike because they do not have to pay as much for US programming as in previous years, according to Australia's best-known media buyer.
Harold Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell and Partners, told The Australian yesterday that major networks could profit from maintaining advertising rates, while shelling out less for American shows on hold because of the strike: "In the short term, there could actually be a financial upswing for the free-to-airs, from not having to pay for first-run drama they aren't getting."
The US strike, where writers are demanding payments from major studios for internet and DVD broadcasts, has been running for more than two months.
All scripted Hollywood shows have shut down production, meaning that Australian networks are receiving vastly reduced numbers of episodes of first-run American programs than in previous years.
Instead of a normal series averaging 22 episodes, networks will receive just 10 to 14 first-run episodes of some of their main ratings-drivers from the US, including Seven Network's Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives, Nine Network's various CSI franchises and Cold Case, and Ten Network's House and various Law & Order franchises.
Mr Mitchell said this could lead to an Australian season of "repeats versus repeats", leaving networks with lower costs: "Presumably, they'd charge no less in ad rates." But he cautioned against taking viewers for granted. "People could gradually drift away from free-to-air TV to pay-TV if it happened over a period of time," he said.
Tim Worner, programming head for ratings leader Seven, agreed that a repeats overkill could be dangerous.
"We have to be careful - with some shows, you're starting to see their bum through their pants," he said.
Mr Worner said Seven devised a plan last October to prepare for the worst. "The essence was turning a problem into an opportunity." That plan included holding back US programming that could have run during the summer, and expanding and extending Australian production.
Other networks have also made contingency plans. Nine's programming boss Michael Healy said the network had decided to make more local programs: "There are shows we have already commissioned because of the writers' strike."
Ten's programming head David Mott is also in commissioning mode, with the network to reveal more local shows "within the next week".
Any new shows Ten produces this year in reaction to the writers' strike would be in "genres you can get up reasonably quickly: for example, quiz shows and studio-based shows".
He said Ten's major local franchises, such as Australian Idol and Big Brother could also be expanded.
As NBC's Golden Globe Awards full telecast has been cancelled due to the Writers' Strike, the following amendment has been made to the Arena schedule:
Monday 14th January 2008
12.00pm The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Will be replaced by:
12.00pm Royal Variety Performance 2007
8.30pm The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Will be replaced by:
8.30pm The Royal Variety Performance 2007
11.00pm Sex and the City
Saturday 20th January 2008
4.30pm The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Will be replaced by:
5.00pm The Royal Variety Performance 2007
Note adjusted start times of: 2.15pm Movie Saving Lives
Telstra's revenue under pressure
TELSTRA'S traditional fixed-line telephone and data business is about to deteriorate further amid speculation that imported chief executive Sol Trujillo may depart before the end of the year.
Telstra arrested the decline of its fixed-line business - which still contributes 50 per cent of its profits - with a big effort early last year to win back customers.
But that trend is now set to reverse as Australians continue their migration to mobile services and Telstra's rivals develop broadband offers using the company's copper network, according to Macquarie Securities analyst Andrew Levy.
Fixed-line revenues would continue to decline as a result of subscriber migration to mobiles and unbundled local loop (ULL) services, Mr Levy said.
"We expect declines to re-accelerate compared with the June 2007 half but to remain moderate compared with declines of a few years ago."
The new decline in fixed-line revenue is likely to be exacerbated by the competition regulator's decision last week to once again cut the price at which Telstra must rent its copper wires under the ULL arrangement.
The decision was the latest blow to a two-year-old bid by Telstra to charge its rivals a blanket $30 monthly. At present their are four geographical bands for basic network prices, and Band 2 covers about 70 per cent of the population.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told Melbourne-based Primus during arbitration that it had to pay only $14.30 monthly in Band 2 - down from the previous level of $17. The new price will be passed on to other companies. Telstra will report its first-half results on February 21, as chief executive Sol Trujillo's five year, $12 billion "transformation" project nears its halfway mark.
Mr Levy has tipped that the company's underlying earnings will tick up by 1.1 per cent, excluding a $100 million dividend the telco will get from its pay-TV operation, Foxtel.
TransACT announces acquisition of Neighbourhood Cable
TransACT Communications has announced it will acquire the Victorian company, Neighbourhood Cable, from 1 January 2008. The acquisition comes after a period of continuing growth by both companies and positions the enlarged entity as the second strongest telecommunications service provider in four of the top 30 population centres in Australia.
TransACT Chief Executive Officer John Mackay said, "The acquisition will capitalise on the strengths of both companies to deliver an even more competitive service to customers.
"The acquisition will enable us to provide our services to over 200,000 homes and Neighbourhood Cable customers will now have access to TransACT's popular product bundling options, including our mobile phone service, TransMOBILE.
"Importantly, the acquisition positions us well to actively contribute to the Federal Government's national broadband agenda as both companies have extensive telecommunications infrastructure in their regions."
TransACT and Neighbourhood Cable share a common business goal of delivering high quality affordable telecommunications services. The marketing, sales and customer service teams will join forces to deliver exceptional value, service and support to customers.
WITH Austar having hived off its regional wireless broadband spectrum this week to focus on pay TV, there is renewed talk Foxtel may revive its quest to buy its regional counterpart.
The sale of the spectrum licences to an Optus-led consortium removed any risk that Austar may spend large amounts to build and operate a regional wireless network, analysts said this week.
The deal "makes it less complex, it's now just basically pay TV", said Greg Fraser, an analyst at Shaw Stockbroking. "It's a real no-brainer for Foxtel to buy it and put the two together."
Foxtel, which is owned by News Corp, James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings and Telstra, was close to buying Austar last year.
The talks collapsed in late May when Telstra did not want to cough up more than $1.80 a share for the company. John Malone's Liberty Global, which controls Austar, wanted $2 a share, valuing the company at $2.5 billion.
Foxtel's chief executive, Kim Williams, said at the time that the two sides had "a difference in relation to price and that rendered any further discussion on the matter really meaningless." A spokeswoman for Foxtel declined to comment on the issue this week.
In October Austar shed four senior executives and another 33 positions in a move it said was designed to "better reflect the company's streamlined focus on its core television business". The changes further bolstered speculation it was preparing for sale.
A tie-up with Austar "is a deal that ultimately makes sense for Foxtel as it creates a larger pay TV business," said Fraser McLeish, an analyst at ABN Amro.
AUSTRALIAN sports fans are the most pampered in the world when it comes to success on the field and access to live events. But this success masks some abominable gaps.
Take, for example, the ludicrous, cheapjack monopoly known as Foxtel, known to many as Foxsmell, the home of endless product recycling, shameless padding, constant self-promotion, monopoly price-gouging and umpteen channels of old British and American reruns.
The centrepiece of Foxtel's ongoing insult to viewers is Fox Sports, owned by News Corp. What is inexplicable about News Corp's behaviour in Australia is that it provides a quality sports product overseas, through Fox Sports in the US and Sky Sports in Britain, yet in Australia it serves up the most insulting dross via Fox Sports, which operates like a sheltered workshop while charging a hefty price for its product to Foxtel, which is 25 per cent owned by News Corp. Foxtel then passes the cost on to its subscribers.
To see how lazy and complacent the Australian branch of News Corp is compared with its overseas versions, we need look no further than the past 24 hours.
Yesterday, in one of the biggest football games of the year, before a capacity 72,000 crowd and a national TV audience of millions, was the championship game of the college football season in American football. I happen to enjoy American football more than any of the other four football codes. Many will disagree, but Fox Sports has been flogging American football for years and the audience is growing.
From today, there will be regular updates most days. Updates will usually be up early evenings. For breaking news stories throughout the day, please check the forums.
Please note, that some pages have not yet been updated, and some are still being developed.
Sky News Business Channel now on Channel 602 Digital.
FOXTEL HD is on its way! Get ready for sharper images, brighter colours and real-world detail.
Launching mid-2008 with up to four dedicated 24-hour channels, FOXTEL HD will be the ultimate way to enjoy your favourite programs.
State blocks pay-TV betting
PLANS to offer Australia's first pay-TV wagering service on the Foxtel platform have hit a hurdle, after the NSW Government said it was not prepared to support the proposed service "in the current circumstances".
Interactive television group Two Way TV had agreed with Foxtel and gambling giant Tabcorp last year to create a pay-TV wagering service as an application on the Sky Racing channel. Subscribers with Tabcorp accounts would be able to bet on races using a button on the Foxtel remote control.
It is understood the NSW Government informed Two Way TV on Monday night that the state's Gaming and Racing Department would be looking at the service as part of a broader review of the area. This review - to which Two Way will make a submission - is expected to report by the middle of the year.
Two Way chief executive Ben Reichel said last night: "The previous indications were that our service would not be caught up in the review. We are obviously extremely disappointed."
Mr Reichel agreed with the suggestion the company had been seeking to launch the service at the end of November.
The man tasked with modifying TiVo for the Australian market has revealed extensive details about the TV recorder's capabilities, but he was tight-lipped about its price and launch date.
Not only will Australians be able to record all free-to-air television channels using TiVo, they will also have access to a movie download store and about 100 free internet video channels, Joshua Danovitz, TiVo's international general manager, said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Also at CES, TiVo revealed for the first time the exact model that was being customised for Australia.
It will be the high-end series 3 version containing dual high-definition TV tuners, allowing users to record two shows at once while at the same time watching a previously recorded show stored on the built-in hard disk.
But Danovitz would not reveal how much storage space there would be, nor an exact price and launch date, saying it was up to the Seven Network, which was spearheading TiVo's local launch, to make the announcement.
Seven has said TiVo will launch before August, in time for the Beijing Olympics, but the final price is still unclear. Some say the box will cost about $500.
Danovitz said all of the TiVo features available to US users would be offered to Australians but it was up to Seven to decide on the timing.
Best Buy Inc.'s chief executive said Tuesday that he is "very nervous" about being able to supply customers with the millions of digital TV converter boxes needed ahead of the shutdown of most analog TV transmissions in 13 months.
"I think it's one of the biggest risks our industry has," vice chairman and CEO Brad Anderson told an industry audience at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Full-power television stations will turn off their analog signal on Feb. 17, 2009, after which they will broadcast in digital only. Viewers who receive their signals through an antenna instead of cable or satellite and don't have a digital-ready TV will have to buy a converter.
The Nielsen Co. estimates that 14.3 million households rely on over-the-air television broadcasts for programming. Still others have sets that receive analog broadcasts as a complement to cable, satellite or digital sets in the same household.
"The number of converter boxes that is going to be required could put tremendous pressure on us to solve all those problems" in a short time, said Anderson.
"We're very nervous about the potential risk. Once it gets turned off, it could be very interesting," he added.
Apart from the supply issue, customer education looms as a problem for the retailers. Speaking on the same panel, Phil Schoonover, the CEO of Circuit City Stores Inc. said Anderson's caution was appropriate. He contrasted the digital TV transition to the introduction of high-definition television sets, which mainly attracted the well-heeled and technically savvy.
AUSTAR United Communications has made a surprise decision to sell all of its WiMAX regional wireless broadband spectrum to the Optus-led Opel consortium for $65 million and focus its attention on regional pay-TV operations.
The decision flies in the face of Austar boss John Porter's comments in October that a sale of the spectrum was unlikely.
"We don't need the cash," Mr Porter said at the time.
"Our instincts would be to try to partner with other companies" to build and operate the spectrum.
Yesterday, however, the regional pay-TV operator said selling the spectrum was best for the group, after negotiations with a number of parties, including Optus and the Seven Network, in recent months.
Austar last year made more than 30 staff redundant, including its entire wireless broadband engineering division, in what was seen as a clear sign it had abandoned any ambitions to be a sole operator of a regional WiMAX network.
The NSW government has rebuffed an approach from Two Way Ltd seeking in-principle support for a proposed pay TV betting service to be offered with Tabcorp and Foxtel.
Two Way creates advanced interactive media and gambling applications, which can be deployed on TV, mobile or internet.
Two Way said that the NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, Graham West, had declined to give the support, preferring to wait on the outcome of the state's review of betting in NSW.
"The minister states that he is not prepared to give in-principle support to the proposed service in the current circumstances," Two Way said.
Two Way chief executive Ben Reichel said he was disappointed with the decision.
"We were only told last night, so it has been really disappointing for us," Mr Reichel told AAP.
"Our service is really an extension of the existing wagering offer in NSW and people can already bet by phone and internet.
"We didn't see why there is any fundamental issue with what we were proposing."
However, the minister elected to wait for the outcome of a review of NSW wagering regulation, which will encompass consideration of advances in technology.
In November last year, the New South Wales government announced a review looking at the exchanges, as well as TAB fixed-odds betting, bookmakers and sports betting following racing industry concerns about new forms of betting.
The move follows concerns about online betting exchanges, such as Betfair and Centrebet, being allowed to operate in New South Wales.
AUSTAR has sold its regional wireless broadband spectrum to an Optus-led consortium for $65 million, ending months of negotiations that included interest from the Seven Network.
The deal helps allay mounting pressure on Optus to get its hands on the wireless spectrum it needs to roll out a broadband network in the bush.
The Opel joint venture between Optus and Elders won almost $1 billion in federal funding for a regional broadband network in June, but has been under pressure to reconsider its plans following the change of government.
The price for the 2.3 gigahertz and 3.5 gigahertz spectrum licences is slightly higher than some investors had expected.
The Seven Network had also been in talks with Austar, which is controlled by the US billionaire John Malone, to buy the spectrum since September.
Under the agreement Austar will also enter into wholesale arrangements to resell broadband products using either Optus's or the Opel consortium's networks.
Austar's director of corporate development, Deanne Weir, said the deal meant the company could focus on providing retail services such as broadband, voice and mobile, without the distraction of building and operating a wireless network.
Sky News Australia has today launched the first all Australian business channel, with the camera's switching on early this morning.
The network, operated by Australian News Channel, a joint partnership between Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the Seven Network and PBL, will broadcast up to 16-hours of locally produced business material, covering the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to Reuters content, and News Corp's own BSkyB and US based Fox Business Network.
The new addition fits well into the expanding portfolio of Murdoch's own business media, with News Corp last year launching its Fox Business Network, aimed at building on the wildly successful Fox News Channel, and the company's recent acquisition of the Wall Street Journal.