Free TV: Is the end nigh?

This article - revealing that most television revenue in the UK now comes from subscriptions rather than advertising - should send a shiver down the spine of commercial free-to-air TV executives. It presages a future where people will pay directly for the content they want and advertising revenue will just be the cream for broadcasters. Conversely, a lot of people are saying the opposite will eventually true of newspapers - that the paid-for papers will disappear in favour of the freesheets. I disagree; I think that people will pay for what they really want, be it a movie, a newspaper, a magazine, a TV series or even a radio broadcast. The challenge for the commercial media is, as always, to produce things people really want.

Sergeant resigns his commission

It may just be a welcome distraction from the economic woes, but the biggest issue in the UK right now concerns former political journalist John Sergeant, who has quit the show Strictly Come Dancing (similar to the Australian show Dancing with the Stars). Sergeant's deliberately bad performances have endeared him to viewers but angered judges who haven't been able to vote him off because his high public vote has made him immune from eviction. The latest is that the BBC will now have to refund viewers who paid to vote for Sergeant after his decision to leave. Angry viewers have said the popular 64 year old was hounded out by the judges, and have threatened a boycott of the show. The bigger issue, of course, concerns all "reality" shows and the uneasy relationship between viewers' votes and the opinions of an "expert" panel. If people pay a premium to phone in and have their say, who are the judges to try to overturn their verdict? And, as Sergeant himself said, the show is about providing entertainment, not who is the best dancer.
PS: Older celebrities, including Cilla Black, have signalled their support for Sergeant. Even a Cabinet minister, Lord Mandelson, has weighed in to the debate, saying "John Sergeant should not bow out. He has become the people's John Travolta. He should be a fighter, not a quitter."

Sami sequel

From a Triple M media release:

Yep, the rumours* are true. Sami Lukis is moving to Sydney and will host Triple M’s breakfast with Phil O'Neil in 2009.
Announced on air this morning, Sami told her listeners and her co-hosts Ian Skippen, Greg Martin and Greg Sullivan that they would have to find a replacement for her, and be nice! Sami’s last day on air in Brisbane will be tomorrow, Friday November 21 because she and Phil will be launching their new show in Sydney on the first day of Summer - Monday, December 1.
Austereo Brisbane General Manager Richard Barker said it was an excellent opportunity for Sami, and while the station was sad to see her leave, it does certainly create an exciting opportunity for a new voice to join Skip, Marto and Sully on air.
Stay tuned for further developments!

* That would be the rumours first published here at Showbritz (thanks, of course, to one of my radio contacts).
And, of course, the release doesn't mention that the move is making the Brisbane station vulnerable at an important time ...

The show goes on

The secret to success in showbusiness is timing. Thus, the Cirque du Soleil folks must be pleased that they have only just arrived in Brisbane and are pitching their grand chapiteau (enormous tent) after the huge storms. Dralion opens on November 27.

Years in the making

File this University of Maryland research finding under "No s--t, Sherlock": Unhappy people watch more TV. And to think they had to research 34 years of data to come up with something I could have told them for nothing.

Time for a telethon?

Thanks to Kuttsywood for this idea: How about the Brisbane TV stations get together for a telethon to raise funds for those affected by the devastating storms? It would be an opportunity for all media to get together and support a cause that is very close to home.

Sami Lukis heads south

You read it here first! On October 30, I blogged that Brisbane-based Sami Lukis was rumoured to be heading south with the Triple M network. Now it has been reported that Lukis will join Phil O'Neill (a.k.a. Ugly Phil) in a bid to revive the Sydney station's flagging fortunes. My understanding was that they'd be doing a networked night show, but it seems now that they'll be tackling the all-important breakfast gig that fell vacant when The Shebang imploded. The move presents a challenge for Triple M Brisbane's Ian Skippen and The Cage program, which has gained ratings recently and will face a threat next year from 4BC recruit (and former Skippen colleague) Jamie Dunn, and for Brisbane's Channel 9, which employed Lukis as its weather presenter.

Farewell, Reg Varney

I have fond memories of Reg Varney as Jack Butler in On The Buses, and for his variety performances that were screened on TV when I was a kid. But I didn't know that Varney - who has died at the age of 92 - was the first person to use an ATM. According to this report, he used a cash machine at Barclays bank in Enfield, North London, in 1967. How come, then, when I first came to the UK 20 years later, ATMs were still as scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth?
PS: The same article reveals that Stephen Lewis, who played the apparently ancient Inspector Cyril "Blakey" Blake, is now just 72 - meaning he was only in his mid-thirties when On The Buses was in its hey-day. Amazing.

Movie planner

If you're planning to see one film a week in 2009 (with two weeks off for sanity's sake), here's a list of 50 flicks due for release next year. Star Trek and the latest Harry Potter seem to be given hits, but I'm not sure about how the rest will fare.

Missing the point

The world economy is in deep recession, war reigns in the Middle East and there is widespread human tragedy in Africa, but the Daily Mail is weighing more important matters: Where has Christina Aguilera's cleavage gone?

Syndicate content