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The late debate

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by debritz

A friend writes:

How bloody ridiculous is it for the ABC to be having a delayed broadcast on the Great Debate when it's already done and dusted on Nine? Like they couldn't move Engineering at the Cutting Edge, Big Ideas or Midday Report?

Health debate to air live

Posted March 22nd, 2010 by debritz

Updated: ABC1, Channel 7 and Channel 9 will air Tuesday's great health debate between Tony Abbot and Kevin Rudd live from about 11.30am. A Seven media release says its coverage, to be hosted by Chris Bath, will include "expert analysis and feature live reactions to the debate from Australian voters with the return of the 'Polliegraph'." Nine's coverage, hosted by Tracy Grimshaw, promises the return of the "worm" and expert analysis from Laurie Oakes.

Everything you ever wanted to know

Posted March 20th, 2010 by debritz

.. about Chatroulette*.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tech-Talch - Chatroulette
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

* But were afraid to ask.

Numbers game

Posted March 15th, 2010 by debritz

In The Australian today, Michael Bodey looks at the reasons the Vega radio stations in Sydney and Melbourne failed. He points, quite rightly, to a failure in the market research, with potential audience members misleading the researchers about what they actually wanted to hear. Of course, radio isn't the only medium that relies heavily on research. Many of the changes in newspapers over the past decade have been driven by surveys and focus groups. And, while it's undeniable that newspapers worldwide are losing readers, the papers that have had the biggest drops in circulation include those that have had dramatic makeovers driven by this research. Television, of course, is in a different situation. Since they advent of people-meters, programmers have an instant, accurate snapshot of what people actually are watching (and what they are not watching) - assuming the researchers have their demographic sample sorted out properly, that is.
Update: A Twitterer suggests that maybe it wasn't the research to blame, but the flawed implementation of the research.

Giving the game away

Posted March 14th, 2010 by debritz

A clever satire on television news from The Onion. Note: strong language.

Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

Rick rolls back

Posted March 13th, 2010 by debritz

Update: A little bird tells me (as my father used to say when he wasn't seeing a man about a dog) that Rick Burnett will be using the Nine news appearance to announce that he's taken up a new job which may have some synergies with his new "hippy" look (as shown in this picture I took of him a few weeks ago). It won't be at Channel 9, or any other TV station. (Saturday, March 13, 10.40am AEST)
Update 2: As revealed on Nine, that job is CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful. (Saturday, March 13, 6.27pm AEST)

Channel Nine Brisbane teaser ad, featuring former Extra host Rick Burnett, as posted on YouTube by regular commenter Kuttsywood on March 12.

What's it all about?

Who's the new guy

Posted March 12th, 2010 by debritz

On the subject of Doctor Who (see last item), here's the opening credits of the first episode of the fifth season, which introduces new Doctor Matt Smith. As mentioned on Spencer Howson's b612ABC breakfast show this moning, the program will screen in Australia on April 18, two weeks after its debut on the BBC, and will feature on the ABC's iView service from late on April 16:

And here's a BBC teaser for the new series:

Magda marches into Brisbane

Posted March 11th, 2010 by debritz

The Channel 9 Today show's "March with Magda" is coming to Brisbane on Monday, March 15. If you want to follow Magda Szubanski around New Farm Park for an early morning constitutional, be at the Rotunda at 6.45am on the day. It's part of the Jenny Craig/Women's Weekly "Australia's Greatest Weight Loss Challenge", with the aim of getting Australians to lose one million kilograms. In a Nine media release, Today co-host Lisa Wilkinson says: "Every time Magda is on the show, we get huge feedback from viewers who are inspired by her story, and want to take action themselves."

Footy Show returns

Posted March 5th, 2010 by debritz

Don't say you haven't been warned: The Footy Show is returning to Channel 9 next Thursday night at 9.30. This year it will face competition from a new show on Seven fronted by former Footy Show star Matthew Johns and featuring Shane Webke. It will premiere sometime this month. To misquote Roy and HG, sometimes too much sport is more than enough.

Seven takes Ipswich

Posted March 4th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven Brisbane is declaring victory in the battle for Ipswich. A day after both Seven's Sunrise and Nine's Today broadcast from the southeast Queensland city, Seven has issued a media release declaring it had an average of 76,000 viewers on the day. The release continued: "For 6 consecutive years Sunrise, hosted by Melissa Doyle and David Koch has remained south east Queensland’s number one breakfast program and in that time has not lost one week of ratings. " The folks at Nine know they have a way to go and, according to information relayed at a briefing (i.e. long lunch) for journalists (me included) and other media folk at the Normanby Hotel on Tuesday, they are pumping more money into the Queensland market with a view to making Today No. 1. The good news for viewers should be that intense competition makes for better TV. Or, it should ...

Whistle blown on Ref

Posted March 3rd, 2010 by debritz

A sneak preview of Jerry Seinfeld's new show, The Marriage Ref, has received scathing reviews in the US. Here's a few lines from the critics:
"Jerry Seinfeld''s new show almost cancels out Seinfeld." (Gawker)
"The most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show." (Time)
"Who knew Seinfeld could be this unfunny?" (Baltimore Sun)
"Painful, pointless, obnoxious..." (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
"How could a man as funny as Seinfeld produce such a remarkably unfunny show?" (Huffington Post)
Mind you, says: "My recommendation is to take a look at the show for what it is, and not for what so many are pissed off that it isn't."

Oscars to screen live

Posted March 2nd, 2010 by debritz

No need for Australian free-to-air viewers to wait until nighttime this year; Channel 9 has announced it will screen the Academy Awards live on Monday, March 8, from 11am. According to a Nine media release, the coverage will start with the Today Show’s Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson hosting a red-carpet special, crossing to Richard Wilkins at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles at 11am. The award ceremony proper, hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, will start at 11.30am.
Update: I spoke to Richard Wilkins today and, ironically, he says, as a viewer, he'd much prefer to wait until the nighttime broadcast, like a footy fan who turns away when the scores are on the news. However, he says, the internet and other news sources has created a demand for a live broadcast. And, of course, he'll be in LA, so there'll be no escaping it. (Still, it's hard to feel sorry for him.)

Breakfast showdown

Posted March 1st, 2010 by debritz

Coincidence or not? According to information from the two networks, both Channel 7's Sunrise and Channel 9's Today show will be broadcasting live from Ipswich, near Brisbane, on Wednesday. Well, presumably, they'll actually be broadcasting live to Sydney and Melbourne but on a one-hour delay to Brisbane. But they will be here.
Update: Spencer Howson tells me it's Ipswich's 150th aniversary on Wednesday, and 612ABC will have reporter Anne O'Keeffe on the scene, too. Time for your close-up, Cr Pisasale?

Not the news

Posted February 28th, 2010 by debritz

One of my pet hates has resurfaced -- the way films and television programs depict newspapers. Here's a still from a promo for the pay-TV channel 13th Street. No professional newspaper journalist I know would repeat the word "husband" from the main headline in the subhead, and none of them, I hope, would forget to put an apostrophe on the possessive form of the word.

The News is not all bad

Posted February 22nd, 2010 by debritz

The media release proclaiming a ratings victory in Queensland says "Nine wins gold" -- an allusion, of course, to the Winter Olympics. But it was the British program Top Gear and the American sitcom Two and a Half Men that helped Channel 9 snatch victory overall and among its preferred People 25-54 demographic last week. The Games didn't make the top 10 -- and neither, surely worryingly for the former undisputed king of the Bribane 6pm slot, did the Channel 9 News. Seven's Sunday News was No. 3 among all viewers, however Nine notes that its News had its best result so far this year, winning on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Presumably, the return of Melissa Downes after maternity leave will be credited, but it might also have to do with a big local story that happened early last week. Maybe viewers still "come home to Nine" when a Brisbane significant news story breaks.

What do you reckon?

Posted February 20th, 2010 by debritz

Some sharp media satire for the weekend, from British comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb:

It's network war on ice

Posted February 19th, 2010 by debritz

Foxtel today issued a media release blasting Nine's coverage of the Winter Olympics and accussing the free-to-air network of missing Torah Bright's gold-medal ceremony. Here's Nine's response.

A press release issued by Foxtel's public relations department this afternoon criticising the Nine Network's coverage of today's Winter Olympics action is both erroneous and inflammatory.
Foxtel CEO Kim Williams has subsequently apologised to Nine CEO David Gyngell regarding the contents of the release, which Mr Williams described as "disgusting", along with an undertaking that such behaviour will not be repeated.
In its release a Foxtel spokesperson asserted that Nine had been in a commercial break during the "history making award ceremony" for gold medalist Torah Bright, and that Nine presenter Ken Sutcliffe had minutes later presented that ceremony as "live".
The later assertion is totally false, as the record shows. And the event referred to was in fact a flower presentation ceremony - not the medal presentation which Nine will cover live tomorrow.
The Nine Network covered Torah Bright's winning gold medal run LIVE, as it did her first interview, and the first interview with her family. It did take a commercial break after that extended live sequence, but returned with the flower presentation ceremony in full, clearly indicating it had just taken place.
CEO David Gyngell pointed out that Nine was a commercial television station which provides free coverage, but must necessarily schedule ad breaks through extended live coverage.
"Our telecast of the Games has been first class, and the coverage of Torah Bright's fantastic win was entirely appropriate in every respect. Nor do I make any apology for Nine running a Woolworths commercial after her event was completed, and post all the relevant interviews and replays of the event. That is a commercial reality. And Woolworths are a great sponsor of the Games." he said.

Censorship won't solve schoolyard violence

Posted February 18th, 2010 by debritz

Like millions of kids of my generation, the one before it, and the one now, I've watched thousands of hours of cartoons and live-action television shows and films in which the characters have died in the most awful ways. It has not inspired me, or the vast majority of others who consumed this material, to take a weapon to another person. Yet, in the wake of the tragic schoolyard stabbing at Shorncliff this week, Queensland Opposition politician Vaughan Johnson reckons we need censorship to "shield" children from the "filth" on television. Johnson should study his history. The fact is that we had lived in less violent times since the introduction of film, television and video games. If he doubts it, he should read up on the ways people died in ancient and medieval times, and even in 19th century Australia. Humans had at their disposal an ugly array of weapons and torture techniques that could inflict slow, painful death -- and all of them devised by people who had never seen a crime drama on TV or played Grand Theft Auto. To think censoring film and television beyond the restrictions already in place will magically solve schoolyard violence overnight is, at best, naive and at worst dangerously misguided. Good parenting and good schooling will make a difference, though.

Time-shifting: a solution

Posted February 17th, 2010 by debritz

Further to my previous post about time zones, maybe Australian TV and radio stations could use their websites or some of their digital spectrum to provide a genuinely live feed, especially for programs that are likely to generate real-time feedback in social media.
Update: The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get. The networks (especially TV but now radio, too) are the ones who took away our local viewing options and forced us into having a national water-cooler conversation with the same programs on at the same time across Australia. But when the time zones change, and with social media allowin real-time conversations, it's just tough luck for us. If I was a TV executive, I'd be addressing this as a serious issue.

Twitter Tardis time

Posted February 17th, 2010 by debritz

Twitter is a great tool for other media - as demonstrated yesterday in Brsbane where local media were able to provide flooding and transport-delay updates. But, as I've said here before (and on 612ABC last week), it presents a problem for national media trying to promote their shows when daylight saving means "live" is not "live". Some advice for tweeters from national TV and radio programs that are shown on delay interstate: how about adding to the tweet the time the segments you're promoting will be seen/heard elsewhere? People who don't live in the southern vortex get mighty upset when it's assumed that they do.

Seven claims first week of ratings

Posted February 15th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven is claiming a win in south-east Queensland the first official week of ratings for 2010. Despite crowd-pullers like the Inifgenous All Stars v NRL All Stars rugby league game (on Nine, 359,00 viewers and second overall) and Two and a Half Men (also Nine, 293,000 viewers and third most popular program) , the biggest show of the week was Seven's Sunday News with Sharon Ghidella, which scored 417,000 viewers. Seven claims a 29.9% share, including 7Two, and 26.8% for the main station on its own. Seven claimed half the Top 10, Nine had three programs and Ten had two (although not the much-touted Biggest Loser). In a small victory for local programming, Seven's Queensland Weekender with Dean Miller beat Nine's Funniest Home Vidoes (aka the show where children and animals hurt themselves for our benefit).

Nine picks up Masterchef winner

Posted February 15th, 2010 by debritz

Julie Goodwin, who won Channel Ten's MasterChef last year, has just been named as part of the Today show team on Channel Nine. With Poh Ling Yeow now ensconsed on the ABC, it's odd that Ten hasn't picked up either the winner or runner-up of its ratings blockbuster.

Rebates for all?

Posted February 15th, 2010 by debritz

According to a report in The Australian, radio stations are likely to lobby the Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, asking him to match for them the $250 million rebate it gave the television licence holders. Fairfax Media chief Brian McCarthy told the paper: "I don't quite understand why TV licence fees were reduced while radio licence fees weren't included. I don't think TV is any different." Of course, there are many other businesses who also have strong cases to ask for a reduction in the fees, taxes and other charges they pay the government -- and I'm sure they would be especially keen if, as with the gift to the TV networks, no strings are attached. As The Australian points out, critics are saying that the television stations should be obliged to spend at least some of their savings on Australian content.

David Leckie gives the game away

Posted February 14th, 2010 by debritz

The Sunday Telegraph has what starts out to be an interview with Matthews Johns about his new TV show, but the highlights of the story are the quotes further down from Channel Seven boss David Leckie:

"... We're in very good shape at this network. OK, the Cougar Town, it's a s*** show but we promote it and we get nearly 1.4 million watching it.
"If we can promote Cougar Town, we can promote Matthew Johns. At that time of night (Thursday at 7.30pm) we're against Getaway that has been there (at Nine) since I started - 15 years. It's a nice little program and The Biggest Loser is on Ten at the moment. By the time Matthew goes to air I'm not sure what Ten will have, the ABC have (Kerry) O'Brien. Matthew will do great."

Leckie goes on to say: "I look at it this way: Matthew in my view is an outstanding television talent and, my God, we're very happy he's here. We've got Kyle Sandilands as well. So, f***ing hell, do you think I'm worried about Matthew? Kyle. He's on fire!"
The Australian's Amanda Meade tweeted a link to the story with the comment: What will advertisers think about the CEO of Seven David Leckie saying Cougartown is a "shit show"? My guess is they won't care much as long as the numbers stay up. My take on it is that Leckie's like the magician who gives away the secret to his tricks. TV, apparently, isn't about finding and programming great shows, it's about using marketing to convince people that the shows you've got are good. Or, then again, maybe the viewers actually do like Cougar Town ...
Update: Seven spokesman Simon Francis explains here that Leckie is not in the demographic for Cougar Town but is "happy to be in the minority".

Free TV a Foxtel killer?

Posted February 11th, 2010 by debritz

Foxtel's Kim Williams says the pay-TV provider has no reason to fear free-to-air digital services and that any impact from audience drift will be short term. However, in the UK a survey has found that up to 17 per cent of subscribers to Sky TV's paid HD service might make the switch to Freeview HD in the next six months. With the ABC set to launch its fourth digital service and Nine and Seven already talking about their third services, free-to-air viewers in Australia will soon have the choice of 12 channels (although not all of them in HD), with even more to come. And as broadband speeds get faster, there's sure to be a lot of free online offerings (legal and otherwise). If they get the programming right, Foxtel could feel the heat.
PS: My Foxtel contract is coming up for renewal soon, and - although I wouldn't have said this six months ago - I am seriously thinking of ditching it. As I mentioned in my spot on 612ABC last week, what I really want - and I know I'm not alone - is the unimpeded choice to watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it. And, for that, I will pay good money. Hasten the day!

Superduper Bowl

Posted February 9th, 2010 by debritz

Super Bowl XLIV drew 106.5 million viewers in the US - making it the most-watched show ever in America. It beats the record of 106 million viewers, held by the last episode of M*A*S*H in February 1983. But the US population has grown by 31 per cent since then - and you can bet people around the world won't be watching repeats of the 2010 Super Bowl game in 27 years' time.

Live and kicking

Posted February 9th, 2010 by debritz

When is live not live? When it's on television and on delay, of course. It's something we in Queensland put up with every summer, when "live" shows from Sydney and Melbourne are, in fact, an hour old. So what's the big deal? Well, last night a lot of my Twitter friends were furiously tweeting for an hour about the ABC's Q&A program, featuring Kevin Rudd answering questions in Old Parliament House, Canberra. Meanwhile, Four Corners and Media Watch were playing on ABC TV here in Brisbane. After that, a promo came on with Q&A host Tony Jones announcing that the program would soon be coming up "live". If we're not going to win the battle on daylight saving in Queensland, at least we should be able to watch "live" programs as they happening - especially if we want to join in real-time debate and commentary online.

Hamish and Andy look to the future

Posted February 5th, 2010 by debritz

First the bad news: Hamish and Andy will be quitting their popular national drivetime show, heard in Brisbane on B105. Now, the good news: not just yet. Andy Lee told me at the Austereo Brisbane launch at GoMA on Thursday night that the duo wouldn't be doing radio forever. But, they will remain a double act - they are, he stressed, old mates who had always worked together, unlike some of the media's artificially created teams. With management reps both in Australia and the US, where they've already performed a well-received turn on The Jay Leno Show, Hamish and Andy are open to offers down the track. But, Lee says, it's got to be the right project at the right time. Lee (right) and Hamish Blake were certainly a hit with the ladies at the Brisbane launch, although some attendees (below) also sought out the company of Triple M's HG Nelson (aka Greig Pickhaver) and Ian "Skip" Skippen.

Let Kyle be your judge

Posted February 4th, 2010 by debritz

Kyle Sandilands has been announced as one of the judges of Channel Seven's Australia's Got Talent. I wish him well in this fresh start. Honestly. Brisbane auditions will be held on Tuesday, February 9, at the University of Queensland Union Level 2, Union Complex (Building 22), Union Rd, St Lucia from 11am–6pm.

A legal matter

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by debritz

A man - who I won't name for reasons that will soon become obvious - has appeared in a Brisbane court. The same man appeared in court many years ago. Briefly, Brisbane's two major internet news sites mentioned the man's "prior" before realising that to do so was prejudicial to his right to the presumption of innocence and, consequently, to a fair trial. They would also have been aware that publication of the information could be a breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. The ABC television news and the print edition of The Courier-Mail's coverage of the story was limited to the matters now before the court. However, at least one commercial television news service either deliberately decided to flout the law, or its reporter and editors were unaware of the law, and details of the man's previous conviction were broadcast. Astounding.

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