Nine News boss defends Clive James story

Nine News boss Darren Wick has talked up the network’s improved performance in today’s Australian. 

There’s no denying Nine News is winning the race in the two biggest markets, Sydney and Melbourne.

Last week Seven News was 326,000 in both cities, but Nine was 372,000 in Sydney and 407,000 in Melbourne.

A Current Affair also won over Today Tonight in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Seven remains in front nationally for both shows, but it must be concerned about the strength of its key rival.

However ACA has recently come under fire for its expose on Clive James and the use of (pixellated) nude Lara Bingle photos. Wick takes the view that these are par for the course.

“The Clive James exclusive was always going to create controversy,” Wick said. “ACA will have its detractors, but that goes with the turf — 1.42 million viewers watched the story, and none of them turned off. The simple fact is that it is part of the tapestry of tabloid television.”

So viewers get the stories they deserve? Nine is a long way from the Packer years it seems and quality journalism such as Sunday. But maybe he’s right. TEN tried something serious with George Negus at 6:30 and viewers turned off.

However, I do question the numbers he references.

The Clive James story which aired on Monday April 23 pulled 1.2m viewers in overnight ratings in 5 city metro, not 1.42m -and it lost that night to Today Tonight anyway. Were viewers really tuning in in droves?

The show had 1.2m viewers on the preceding Monday too, so I’m struggling to see where the audience is responding with their remote controls to stories of this kind.

Even with Consolidated data it’s hard to see how it may have risen to 1.42m viewers. Perhaps he means the show’s peak … but that’s not the rule of thumb for TV ratings reporting.

UPDATED: Nine claims the Clive James segment was getting 1.42m, which is indeed equivalent to a peak. Wick’s reference to 1.42m watching “the story” is thus true if carefully worded, while the episode overall averaged at 1.2m. 


  1. Actually, I started watching the Clive James story and I certainly did turn off. It crossed so many lines I lost count, and was so appalling to watch I had to flick to Neighbours.

  2. “Nine is a long way from the Packer years it seems and quality journalism such as Sunday”
    Never a truer word written David,sadly.

  3. At least they now freely admit they’re making ‘tabloid television’ given that for years they’ve been professing that it’s anything but..

  4. ACA has not had any credibility for years, if it ever had any. Tracy Grimshaw must cringe at some of the stories she has to announce, but then she keeps doing it, so that makes her as bad as the show itself. Tracy has been a great journalist for years, yet all she will be remembered for is hosting this crappy tabloid on-air version of a gossip column.

  5. Secret Squirrel

    “The simple fact is that it is part of the tapestry of tabloid television.”
    Translation – it’s perfectly acceptable for us to invade people’s privacy, show them no respect, harass and harangue them, and expose them to public ridicule because that’s how other ratbag media organisations behave. Wick is choosing to make “tabloid television” but then tries to defend abhorrent behaviour by saying that’s how it’s done by everybody else in that cesspit.

    At least he didn’t insult us by trying to take the moral high ground.

  6. While I’m not trying to defend the indefensible, I’m not sure this Wick fella ever claimed that this is journalism. Unfortunately people watch it so they will keep spewing this garbage out. I don’t think many TV Tonight readers would be avid viewers, but there are millions of braindead morons who lap it up. As for Grimshaw, the sooner she is off TV the better.

  7. Butterfly Carnage

    Shame on you ACA for this “story” on Clive James. Why did we need to know this? Tracy don’t you have any say it how low you’re prepared to go? When is sleaze and humilitation preferable to informitive and cutting edge journalism?

    Tracy before it’s too late, embrace the Erin Brockovich within. Please!

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