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Bangkok: the lighter side

Posted May 17th, 2010 by debritz

Journalists, you just can't trust 'em ... The Nation newspaper's website ran this pointer on its front page.

The actual story reads somewhat differently.

For my updates on the violence in Bangkok and beyond, follow my Twitter feed, @debritz. I was on 612ABC with Spencer Howson this morning (Monday) and will be again in my usual Tuesday 6.50am slot. Also, I am due to speak to Carol Duncan on ABC Radio Newcastle this afternoon.

Pop go the radio stars

Posted May 16th, 2010 by debritz

The Queensland Pops Orchestra and conduictor Barrie Gott teamed up with radio stars Spencer Howson (612 ABC breakfast host), Bruce Redman (612 ABC drive movie reviewer), Loretta Ryan (4BH breakfast co-host) and blast from the past Wayne "Wayney Poo" Roberts for a concert with a difference at QPAC on Saturday night. Here's an exclusive picture of the radio stars:

Here's some audio from the event and here's somebody else playing what they played.

Numbers game

Posted May 15th, 2010 by debritz

The BBC's Have I Got News for You pointed out this gaffe from an item by Jason Beattie in the UK's Daily Mirror:

Guest host Martin Clunes quipped: "Forever, d-ckhead. The next one will be the 54th."

May 17 updateIn a similar vein, Channel 9 Brisbane has sent out this media release:
Sorry, but you can only win week 12 once.

Bad news year

Posted May 15th, 2010 by debritz

Nero from I, ClaudiusNewspaper sales in Australia are declining, but in an impersonation of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt* or an ostrich with its head in the sand, the official body representing publishers is reportedly blaming a "slow news year". The simple fact is that the population is rising but newspaper sales are falling -- across the board, by 3.1 per cent. Not only are papers losing numerical sales, they are reaching a smaller and smaller percentage of the total population. They are in grave danger of becoming irrelevant. Rupert Murdoch knows this; that's why he's fast-tracking plans to sell online content (but, as I've mentioned before, some of his titles really haven't got their online act together). I'm not prepared to set an extinction date for newspapers, but the figures don't lie (well, not since they changed the methodology) . Urgent action is needed not just on the online front, but in bolstering the print editions by paying attention to what people who buy newspapers actually want to read, rather than filling them with dross meant to appeal to people who don't buy newspapers and never will. (I'd suggest it's no coincidence that the Sun Herald, a huge offender in this area, dropped by 7.7 per cent.)
P.S. Of course, if Newspapers Work boss Tony Hale is right and it has been a slow news year, maybe Fairfax and News should channel William Randolph Hearst and commission staff to go out and create better news.
* Yes, I know the fiddle wasn't invented in the first century AD and the story is spurious.

Will X mark the spot?

Posted May 15th, 2010 by debritz

The Seven network's decision to invest heavily in The X-Factor will certainly bring a smile to the face of Simon Cowell, who is also trying to kickstart the franchise in the US. But does Australian television really need another talent show? What the industry really needs to do is invest in talent that can create and nurture new shows that aren't talent shows.

If you build it, they will come

Posted May 13th, 2010 by debritz

Digital radio now accounts for about 15 per cent of all listening in Britain, according to this Mediaweek report. And digital's weekly reach is up to 38.5 per cent of the audience. Of course, the UK is ahead of Australia on the move towards a switchover, but the news is generally good for broacasters that audiences are embracing the new technology. While there is no firm date for a complete switchover in Australia, I'm sure the folks who want to use the spectrum now used by AM and FM stations will be keen for it to be sooner rather than later - at least in metropolitan areas.

Nothing to see here

Posted May 12th, 2010 by debritz

Not only is Catherine Deveny no longer writing for the Fairfax group, it seems history has been revise 1984-style so that she never did. The no. 3 result in a Google search comes up with a link to a National Times/ The Age page that says: "Unfortunately we currently do not have any content for Catherine Deveny. "

Triple M surges in ratings

Posted May 11th, 2010 by debritz

Ian Skippen from Triple M home pageIn the Brisbane radio ratings survey 3 released today, 612ABC's Spencer Howson has reclaimed No.1 spot in breakfast, while Triple M has overtaken stablemate B105 to claim the overall lead. Overall, it's Triple M, B105, Nova 106.9 and 97.3FM in reasonably tight formation, while in breakfast Howson is followed by B105's Labby, Camilla and Stav, Nova's Meshel and Tim, and Triple M's The Cage with Ian Skippen (pictured). Triple M's overall win was helped along by big ratings for its music offerings during the day. 4BC's Jamie Dunn and Ian Calder had the biggest increase in breakfast, adding 1.6 percentage points to overtake 4KQ near the bottom of the pack. The survey included Dunn's on-air dummy spit, where he challenged 4BC management to back him or sack him. (Audio here.) In Sydney, 2GB has again begun drawing ahead overall and in breakfast, with talk rival 2UE well down among the also rans. ABC702's Adam Spencer added points to be a strong No.2 in breakfast, followed by 2Day's Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, who led the FM stations. Eddie McGuire had a setback in Melbourne, where his Triple M breakfast show lost points and is a long way away from leaders 3AW and ABC774. It's too early yet to judge the impact of the former 3MP entering the market as news-talk station MTR.
Disclosure: Brett Debritz is heard on Spencer Howson's top-rating 612ABC breakfast show each Tuesday about 6.50am. He also had several guest spots on 4BC, including its resurgent breakfast show, during the survey period.
(Updated Tuesday 23.45AEST)

On the air

Posted May 11th, 2010 by debritz

If you missed my regular Tuesday spot on 612ABC, you can listen here. I spoke to Spencer Howson about teaching English to foreign students, finding cheese in Bangkok and how Stephen Hawking may be able to help Daryl Somers an Hey Hey It's Saturday's disgruntled fans.

Chirpy chirpy cheap cheap

Posted May 10th, 2010 by debritz

The Australian's Sally Jackson writes that the sacking of The Age's Catherine Deveny "has again demonstrated how vulnerable news outlets are to embarrassment from the tweeting of their journalists". At least Deveny's tweets from the Logies -- including one where she said she hoped 11-year-old Bindi Irwin "gets laid" -- weren't published on The Age's front page, which is what some news website are doing with tweets from their staff and contributors. As I've already noted, this is a dangerous practice as it potentially puts the paper in the position of publisher of the comments. How long before we see the first big Twitter defamation case in Australia?

Going for broek (sic)

Posted May 9th, 2010 by debritz

There's no stopping Britain's Daily Mail when it comes to pursuing its own agenda. According to the rightwing newspaper's website, a poll says "most voters want Tories to govern without Lib Dems". Well, that's not what the voters said at the only poll that counts just a few days ago. The truth is that Tory leader David Cameron snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he failed to win a majority despite the pathetic performance of the Labour Party. He may end up running the country, but his mandate is pretty shaky.

Meanwhile, in Brisbane, the Courier-Mail's website is running the following blurb for Terry Sweetman's column. Things must be very dire indeed for LNP boss John-Paul Langbroek if the web production staff at Brisbane's only daily paper can't spell his surname properly. For the record, Sweetman gets it right in the actual column.

Update: Since I wrote this, the mistake has been corrected.

Kendra and me: a clarification

Posted May 9th, 2010 by debritz

Some of you may have read about a sex tape involving Kendra Wilkinson, the reality TV star and former Playboy centrefold. I can assure you that this is the only picture of Kendra and me in existence and that I am not the person featured in the video.

Thought for the weekend

Posted May 7th, 2010 by debritz

Wouldn't it be great of Stephen Hawking could invent a machine that would allow diehard fans of Hey Hey to tape the show on a Wednesday night but watch it on a Saturday, 15 years ago?

A matter of standards

Posted May 5th, 2010 by debritz

I was just looking at a news story on the website of a well-known newspaper and noticed how the formatting - in this case the presentation of quotation marks - changed midway through the story, then reverted to the previous style towards the end. Once upon a time, newspapers employed professional sub-editors and other production staff whose task it was to make the product read and look as if it had been compiled by professionals. A lot of what they did was not immediately noticeable to the general reader, but it was considered important because it ensured consitencey and separated the work of professionals from that of amateurs. The standard of design and editing often marked the difference between a paid-for quality paper and a free rag. So, I find it ironic that in the same week Rupert Murdoch revealed that a pricing policy for his papers' websites is imminent, many of his (and other publishers') titles are still presented online in an extremely amateurish fashion. I don't know a lot about running a business, but I reckon you should get the product right before you start charging for it.
P.S. Just in case you're thinking of criticising the production standards of this site, bear in mind that it's free and it's written and published by me on my own in my very limited spare time.

The view from here

Posted May 4th, 2010 by debritz

Online listener Roger has branded me "young" and "naive", which I don't half mind, but you can judge for yourself after hearing my segment on the 612ABC Breakfast with Spencer Howson show here.

My Logies prediction

Posted May 1st, 2010 by debritz

Sorry if the heading implied that I was going to list who I believe will be the winners of the TV Week Logie Awards, to be presented on Sunday night. Instead, my prediction is about the nature of the winners, not their names. I bet they are, for the most part, not representative of the quality and diversity of television nor of the interests of the vast majority of TV viewers. While it's true that TV Week has broadened the ways in which people can vote for the Logies, the awards themselves will represent only the views of those who were motivated to vote. I say, let's either make voting for the Logies compulsory, so we get a true measure of public opinion*, or ditch the current system altogether and have a Logies Academy similar to the peer group that decides the Oscar winners.
* Although we have that already; it's called the ratings and it means more to the networks than any number of trophies ever will.

Anybody for Rollerball?

Posted April 29th, 2010 by debritz

How much humiliation should contestants on "reality" TV programs endure in the name of entertainment? The latest case involves Australia's Got Talent judge Brian McFadden, who reportedly told a wannabe comic to "f--- off back to England". Anne Ferguson Howe, 50, said the personal attack came after Kyle Sandilands taunted her about her weight - although she says she had no problem with Sandilands because he shook hands with her later. A Channel 7 spokesman is quoted as saying: "All contestants who take part in the auditions know what to expect. Usually everyone joins in the spirit of the day and has a lot of fun. In this case the exchange was unacceptable and didn't fit with the vibe of the show, so was deleted." Ms Howe says she's concerned that the edit favoured McFadden. Will anything come of this? I guess the show's producers are hoping that the controversy earns higher ratings for the show, which has so far failed to match the megasuccess of its big brother, Britain's Got Talent.

Origin of 3DTV

Posted April 28th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 and Harvey Norman have teamed up, with a little help from the federal government with the temporary provision of extra spectrum, to screen the State of Origin rugby leagye in 3D. A gimmick or a glimpse of things to come? A bit of both, probably, but I bet the NRL is glad for the timley diversion from the Storm salary cap scandal.

The view from here

Posted April 27th, 2010 by debritz

While it's still too early to write off the new series of Hey Hey It's Saturday as a complete flop, Channel 9 executives must have the jitters. And they won't just be looking at the numbers when they decide the show's future. They will also be looking at the cost of producing the program (apparently the reason it was axed in the first place) and, especially, the audience demographics. The challenge for boss Davd Gyngell (who famously moved at lighting speed to axe This Afternoon within weeks of its debut) -- and for the bosses at the other networks -- is to know when it's a matter of throwing good money after bad. And that applies not just to Hey Hey but to every program on the schedule. Low-rating shows stay on air for any number of reasons -- in some cases, just to stymie another station -- but sentiment doesn't play a part in decision making any more. It may well be that Daryl Somers and co. should have been happy with the legacy of the two mega-rating reunions last year rather than the slow death of a weekly series that is exposing the show's flaws.
P.S. Some people are saying Hey Hey should be returned to Saturday nights. I can't see that happening because the total available TV audience, and potential ad revenue, is too low to sustain the show's budget. Oh, and if it does change nights, you can be damned sure Channel 7 won't give it a free ride.

Talk the talk

Posted April 22nd, 2010 by debritz

It seems some bright spark has registered the web name Judging from where it points, I don't think it was John Singleton.

Daniel is the new Stav

Posted April 20th, 2010 by debritz

My sources say funnyman Daniel Viles will replace Stewart "Stav" Davidson on the "panel of experts" on the 612ABC afternoon program hosted by Richard Fidler (pictured). As reported exclusively here at, B105 managment has pulled the pin on Davidson's 612 appearances despite the fact that he's been on the ABC longer than he's been on the commercial station - and the fact that the stations appeal to entirely different demographics.

Seven shoots for the stars

Posted April 19th, 2010 by debritz

Channel Seven has announced that Daniel MacPherson will host its new program, Beat The Star, which promises to "pit an average Aussie family against a star from the world of sport and entertainment in a series of big challenges". A Seven press release says the show, which will premiere soon, "will test their physical and mental abilities, along with their capacity to engage in unexpected activities. Guts, determination and a high tolerance for embarrassing situations will be vital in their quest for glory. Each family could win big cash prizes as they battle it out in front of a huge live studio audience. For the Star, they are battling for their pride, ego and dignity!" Will it be a winner?

A new talk station for Brisbane?

Posted April 18th, 2010 by debritz

Rumours are flying in cyberspace that 2GB owner John Singleton, who has just launched Melbourne Talk Radio, is considering starting a commercial talk station in Brisbane. The first question is: where would he get the licence? My understanding is that there will be no new licences in the foreseeable future, as the current players have been given a guarantee that their investment in the transition to digital will be protected. So that means buying or leasing an existing station. 4BH is not doing especially well but its owners, Fairfax, are highly unlikely to hand it over to Singleton if he's going to compete with their talk station, 4BC; and there's no reason for Austereo and DMG to offload their successful stations. The only possibility I could see is a deal with ARN to convert 4KQ to talk, in the way 3MP became 3MTR. However, KQ is ARN's only fully owned station in Brisbane and its "gold" format is likely to do better in the ratings as the uptake of digital receivers gains pace, offering much better quality than the current AM signal. Perhaps a more pressing question is: is there room for another talk station in the Brisbane market? While analysts agree that 4BC should be doing better in the ratings, its hard to see a big enough audience for two commercial stations plus 612ABC.
Having said that, Singo, if you're keen to have a go, I'm looking for a gig!
PS: Maybe Singleton is looking at River 949 as a possible talk vehicle. Based in Ipswich and broadcasting into Brisbane's southern and western suburbs and much of Logan, it is arguably in the heart of talk-radio territory. However, it is not officially part of the Brisbane radio market and is excluded from the all-important metropolitan ratings survey.

Ash Bradnam back on air next year?

Posted April 16th, 2010 by debritz

Former Nova 106.9 star Ash Bradnam (pictured with Meshel Laurie) hopes to return to Brisbane radio next year, Channel 9 has reported. The station said Bradnam, who was sacked following a drink-drive incident, had been in talks with a "rival station", without naming it. He told Lane Calcutt: "I can't wait to get back on air and start having fun again." As things stand, it seems there would be no place for Bradnam, who has admitted he is an acoholic, in the Brisbane FM breakfast firmament, although anything could happen before the new year. He is certainly a good talent and, as part of a team with David "Luttsy" Lutteral, Meshel Laurie and Kip Wightman, was a huge ratings winner for Nova for many years. Nova's new team of Laurie and Tim Blackwell has recently ceded first place to Labby, Camilla and Stav at B105, but the competition is very tight.

No need for feed?

Posted April 15th, 2010 by debritz

An update on this item about the Twitter feed on the front page of, and whether it's a good thing for its parent company, News Corp. As I write, the scrolling feed features a series of free plugs for a rival media organisation; lots of personal chatter, some of it bordering on the inane; and a link to a story that mocks the pricing policy of the iPad edition of the Wall Street Journal (proprietor: News Corp).
Update One of my tweeps writes: Someone thought this a good idea? Obv I read paper for insights like "Wont be seeing Hubby for 4 days...tres sad, I'll miss him.."

Kyle dethroned

Posted April 14th, 2010 by debritz

Australia's Got Talent, which much-promoted new judge (and Big Brother reject) "King" Kyle Sandilands, premiered to just 233,000 viewers in Brisbane last night and was No. 7 on the local top 10. It was the worst performing market for the Seven Network show. The no.1 show in Brisbane last night was Nine's Top Gear, with 350,000 viewers. Seems we like fast cars more than fast talk.
PS: Australia-wide, Australia's Got Talent was no.2 with 1.493 million viewers. Not a bad debut, but Underbelly 3 got 2.237 million.

Anger management

Posted April 14th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 Melbourne cameraman Simon Fuller has been sacked for calling a Muslim man, the father of a court defendant, a "f---ing terrorist". But will all TV news services now move to ensure that their cameramen, producers and reporters outside courts and in other stressful situations do not "bait" people to get angry reactions for the camera? Media Watch's original story on the issue is here.

Alf opens up about drink-driving

Posted April 13th, 2010 by debritz

Allan Langer on Channel 7 NewsOn Channel 7 Brisbane News, rugby league great Allan Langer has told how he has received hate mail in the wake of his drink-driving conviction. "Alf" - who was videoed at a Brisbane pub dancing on a table top in his underwear before he went behind the wheel - spoke openly to reporter Pat Welsh about telling the news of his night’s behaviour to his wife Janine, his children and his mum. "I shouldn't have been in the car at that time ... and I've learnt a big lesson," he said. Langer also commented on the fallout from the footage that was taken at the Normanby Hotel: "There was a little offer from Dancing with the Stars, but looking at the video, I don't think I've got much hope."
PS: Reports that Langer had had "eight to 10 pots of Fourex" at the Normanby seem a little off the mark. The pub doesn't have Fourex on tap.
Meanwhile, the ABC is boasting that The 7.30 Report's Kerry O'Brien has secured an exclusive interview with US President Barack Obama. It will screen on Thursday night.

It's Sully v Ossie

Posted April 13th, 2010 by debritz

What to watch on Wednesday night at 7.30? Hey Hey It's Saturday on Nine or Brace for Impact: Inside the Hudson Plane Crash, followed by the premiere of The Pacific on Seven, or The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can dance on Ten? Or Inspector Rex and Carla Cametti PD on SBS or the ABC line-up of The 7.30 Report, The New Inventors, Spicks & Specks and Hungry Beast? Have television viewers ever had it so good? Well, yes, but you'd have to say that there is something for just about everyone somewhere in there.

Crime pays again

Posted April 12th, 2010 by debritz

Channel 9 reports that, with a peak audience of 2.486 million, Underbelly, The Golden Mile is Australia’s most successful television program launch for 2010, attracting an average of 2.237 million viewers across its first hour last night.

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