Station breakdown

The website is currently off-line for reasons out of my control. Normal transmission will be resumed as soon as possible

UPDATE 15.10.07: Normal transmission has been resumed

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Telethon weekend hits Perth

This weekend, 13 and 14 October, Perth’s annual Telethon returns for its 40th year.

The appeal, raising funds for various children’s charities in Western Australia, began on TVW7 in 1968 and is now a statewide event through TVW7 and its regional affiliate Golden West Network (GWN).

The first Telethon raised $90,182. Since then over $74 million has been raised by the annual event. Previous telethons have featured international performers such as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson in the ’80s, both making the trip to Perth solely for Telethon.

This year’s telethon will kick-off with a live coverage of the red carpet arrivals at Perth’s Convention Exhibition Centre which is home to Telethon. A number of Seven Network personalities, representing shows including All Saints, Dancing With The Stars, Sunrise, Home & Away and The Morning Show, have made the trek to Perth to be involved with the event, joining resident TVW7 identities including local Seven News presenters Rick Ardon, Susannah Carr and Jeff Newman (a TVW7 veteran with 40 years’ service at the station) and Today Tonight host Monika Kos.

The telecast of Telethon begins on TVW7 and GWN, tonight (Saturday 13 October) at 7.30pm (WST) and continues until 9.00pm Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Weekend Sunrise will be broadcast nationally from Perth.

The PerthNow website is also conducting a blog of the event at Telethon As It Happens.

Pictured: Johnny O’Keefe (whose nephew Andrew, host of Deal Or No Deal and Weekend Sunrise, will be appearing at Telethon), Graham Kennedy, Bobby Limb and Stuart Wagstaff go shirtless in the name of charity for TVW7’s first telethon in 1968 (source: The West Australian)

UPDATE @ 23.10 (AEST) 14.10.07: Telethon has just signed-off after announcing its final total, a record this year – $6,527,576 including $1 million donated by the WA Government, and $500,000 from Prime Minister John Howard.

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Nine and Foxtel score Olympic win

The Nine Network and Foxtel have announced that they have secured the exclusive Australian broadcast rights to the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics from London.

It is the first time Nine has televised the Summer Olympics since it shared coverage rights with ABC and Seven in 1976. Seven has had exclusive rights to the Summer games in 1980, 1992, 1996 and 2000, and shared coverage with SBS for 2004 and 2008. Network Ten covered the games in 1984 and 1988.

The 2010 and 2012 deal incorporates broadcast, subscription, internet and mobile coverage rights. Mobile carrier Telstra is a part-owner in Foxtel, as is Publishing and Broadcasting Limited which is also a part-owner of Nine. The new deal should see a multi-channel bonanza as Foxtel has demonstrated with previous coverage of the Commonwealth Games, and with Nine’s promise of a new digital channel to be launched later this year and under current legislation could have another one on the air in 2009.

The announcement is no doubt a welcome boost to sinking morale at Nine which has suffered all sorts of behind-the-scenes drama and the loss of its long-time ratings crown since the passing of Kerry Packer in 2005.

In the meantime, new Nine CEO David Gyngell is also on the hunt for new game show formats at the international television conference Mipcom to add to Nine’s schedule following the recent popularity of game shows such as Deal Or No Deal which is crippling Nine’s critical lead-in to the 6.00pm news.

Source: Foxtel,

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Moving house is never easy

Anyone that has packed up and moved house will know that it is never always a smooth ride – and it is somewhat comforting to know that even the mighty Nine Network is not immune to these sorts of problems.

The Australian reports that the network was hoping to attract a buying price of around $100 million for the prime piece of real estate which currently houses TCN9 in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby. Their hopes of such a windfall could well be dashed now following the realisation that the transmission tower situated on the property – which broadcasts all three commercial channels for the Sydney area – can not be relocated. Joe Giovenco, chief of TX Australia which owns the tower on behalf of the Seven, Nine and Ten networks, said that the tower has to stay put otherwise viewers would be forced to re-align their antennas and moving the tower could impact on its signal strength across the city.

Also potentially affecting the site’s value is the proposal by the local Willoughby council that redevelopment of the site shall be limited to low-residential housing, with “medium to higher density housing to the centre and east parts of the site” – a prospect that does little to inspire a higher buying price.

In the meantime, the potential sale of Nine’s iconic studio building in Melbourne is also causing some action among the local council. The City Of Yarra is investigating planning options for the site should it be sold. The building, which was a piano factory and then a soup factory before it became “Television City” for GTV9 in 1956, is already covered by a heritage overlay which prevents any external redevelopment of the building structure. The sale of the building could see the building’s heritage status reviewed.

Nine is hoping that the GTV site in Bendigo Street, Richmond would attract a price of around $10 million given its inner-city location, though this figure may vary depending on what heritage restrictions are placed on the site by the council.

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TelevisionAU Website Update 2-Oct-07

FLASHBACK #43: TV’s Movie Men
Some of the people that introduced our favourite movies on television became just as famous as the movies they spoke about.

TV Week, 19 September 1987

Melbourne (1967, 1984)
Melbourne and regional Victoria (1967)
Sydney (1961, 1975, 1981, 1984)
Canberra (1962)
Brisbane (1977, 1980)
Darwin (1998)
Hobart (1960)


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Nine gets Gyngell, and says “me too” to HD

For those at the Nine Network there must be a sigh of relief as the network announces the return of former chief David Gyngell to the fold after three years in the United States.

Gyngell’s return comes after some high-profile executive departures including the stepping-down of former CEO Eddie McGuire and resignation of news chief Garry Linnell.

David, the son of TV pioneer Bruce Gyngell, was in charge of Nine in 2004-05 but resigned after citing interference from senior management at Nine’s parent company PBL. But now, PBL’s new off-shoot PBL Media, which controls Nine’s east coast stations as well as regional operator NBN and Nine Darwin, is a different beast under the control of private equity firm CVC and after conceding defeat to Seven this year, Gyngell has been lured back to try and steer the network back to ratings leadership.

With Gyngell in control, and some promising programs from its supply deal with its American contacts, the network is facing a new optimism going into 2008. Also hoping to boost Nine’s fortunes in 2008 will be their new high-definition channel which has been announced by PBL Media chief Ian Law.

The new channel has apparently been in planning for some time though Mr Law has still been vague about what Nine has in store for the new channel which is apparently launching as soon as November – a month ahead of similar channels planned by rivals Seven and Ten which were announced weeks ago.

There is also some doubt about Nine’s ability to provide a dedicated high-definition program feed given their lack of expenditure to upgrade equipment in the past and also not having control over their whole five-city network – aspects which both Seven and Ten are ahead in. Nine has announced an upgrade of equipment worth $150 million but it is hard to envisage that being in place by November.

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Kate’s leaving Summer Bay

The end of an era in soap-opera land with Kate Ritchie – a soap veteran at the age of 29 – deciding to leave Home And Away after twenty years playing former foster child Sally Fletcher.

Ritchie, then aged 9, was part of the show’s original cast line-up and with fellow cast member Ray Meagher has hit the record books for the longest running characters in an Australian series.

Her departure from the long running series comes after a year that has included a stint as co-host on the drive-time program on radio network Nova, co-hosting Seven‘s popular It Takes Two, and winning the TV Week Gold Logie for most popular television personality. She will be taping her final scenes later this year, but will be appearing on-air until around April next year – which could be enough to inspire TV Week’s younger readership to vote her for another Gold Logie.

Ritchie is reported to be maintaining ties with the Seven Network while pursuing other interests.

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Burke’s back

Twenty years after launching Burke’s Backyard on television, garden guru Don Burke is back again at the Nine Network for Burke’s Backyard Spring Special.

Burke’s Backyard began as a radio program on Sydney’s 2UE and in September 1987 made the move to television with a Saturday afternoon timeslot which subsequently earned ratings high enough to justify a move to prime time – so it was not long before the program was shifted to Friday nights, just the right time to attract all those budding gardeners ready to tackle the weekend.

The move to prime-time in 1988 paid immediate dividends, and generated many thousands of letters sent in from viewers each week. The success of the program led to a magazine spin-off, and the program continued through the ’90s giving Nine strong Friday night ratings.

But by 2004, Nine decided that the show was “too old” and not sexy enough for the 21st century and let the program out to pasture, though Burke’s spin-off program Backyard Blitz, hosted by Jamie Durie, continued for two more years before it too was considered a bit old-hat.

However, Nine’s axing of the programs came back to bite them this year when rival Seven signed up Durie to host his own new show Australia’s Best Backyards. Nine tried to spoil Seven’s new catch with two-year-old, though unscreened, episodes of Backyard Blitz. The two shows have fought it out against each other, but both kept strong ratings – confirming the star-power of Jamie Durie, who has also captured the eye of one Oprah Winfrey who featured him on her show earlier this year.

Now as the supply of Backyard Blitz episodes has dried up, and as Nine’s creative cupboard is looking somewhat bare, they’ve decided that Burke’s Backyard was not such a bad show after all. Three years after axing it, they’ve given it a reprisal for a one-off special to up against Burke’s former colleague now at Seven – but if it rates, Burke and his backyard buddies could be back in a regular timeslot.

Burke’s Backyard Spring Special, Sunday 23 September, 6.30pm on Nine*

* Melbourne. Other areas check local guides/affiliates.

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Seven gets HD envy??

Nothing like a bit of healthy competition in the TV biz! No sooner has Network Ten announced their new high-definition channel to be launched later this year – the Seven Network has now announced that they will also be launching their own HD multi-channel in the coming months.

While Ten has put a name to their new channel (the very creative TenHD!) and given an indication as to the channel’s content, Seven have really only said that they will be launching a new channel so one suspects that they are not as progressed as Ten is but obviously using Ten’s lead to say “Hey, we’ll be there too!”.

It is probably safe to say though that Seven’s new break-away HD channel will feature a fair amount of sport – with the network having coverage rights to AFL, V8 Supercars and next year will have the Olympic Games. Plus they’ll no doubt relish the opportunity to extend their hit shows such as Dancing With The Stars, It Takes Two, Kath & Kim and City Homicide with time-shifting or additional features on the new channel.

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A new channel… seriously!

Exciting news in the world of digital television with the Ten Network announcing that they are going to be the first commercial network in Australia to offer a separately-programmed high-definition channel.

TEN HD, to commence in December, will offer programs currently simulcast with the analogue and standard-definition channels, but significantly also promises 50 hours per week of exclusive content plus 11 hours per week of time-shifted content including Ten News.

The new high-definition channel will include extended programming of its major franchise formats including Australian Idol, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance, plus sports coverage, movies, documentaries and themed-programming such as dedicated sci-fi nights. The new channel will certainly boost the take-up of digital tuners which has lagged somewhat – in the six years since digital television began only 28 per cent of households have converted to digital free-to-air television and with analogue signals potentially being switched off in the next three to five years, there is a need to increase market penetration of digital receivers.

The launch of TEN HD marks the first channel since restrictions on high-definition multi-channels were lifted earlier this year and in metropolitan areas is the first digital multi-channel to launch since ABC2 began in 2005. From 2009, commercial networks will also be permitted to open an additional standard-definition channel – something that has been allowed on the national broadcasters ABC and SBS since digital television began in 2001.

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