Honesty still the best TV policy

Admitting defeat, fixing mistakes, listening to the audience -how do TV networks compare when it comes to being candid?

Yesterday TEN admitted defeat on ONE as a 24 hour sports channel, by throwing out much of its programming in favour of more entertainment.

The channel was dragging its feet in shares, despite the network previously telling media it had a bigger audience than all the other sports channels combined.

Yesterday the network was more up front. “ONE’s poor weeknight prime-time ratings were unsustainable” was one of the lines in a statement.

Interim CEO Lachlan Murdoch went as far as to say the network’s half-yearly financial results were “unacceptable.” TEN is even looking to return to its youthful, bold and slightly irreverent self. Hallelujah for that.

These frank admissions also followed the acknowledgment that George Negus wasn’t quite right for 6pm and was moved to 6:30pm. If they can next ditch the late night replay they will just about have this right.

Admitting mistakes takes a lot in this game, but the audience respects honesty.

Last year TEN even conceded it got it wrong when it re-thought Don’t Stop Believing and duly cancelled the show in a massive programming about face. Big call.

I think the TEN audience will respond positively to these recent moves. It will appreciate being heard and that spin is being put aside (although The Bolt Report as a favour to Gina Rinehart may undermine those).

By contrast, how long has it taken Nine to wave the white flag on Charlie Sheen? Forever. The audience was also pretty clear cut after the first night of Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth and Million Dollar Drop. They were also very vocal about wanting Survivor on time. While it’s problems differ wildly from TEN, Nine isn’t yet showing the same sort of honesty with its audience. There’s certainly not much being shown when it comes to the network’s performance so far this year.

Seven, which is boasting a killer start to the year, also isn’t entirely up-front. Live sport? Where do we start? The audience is no longer naive. And while we’re being honest, how about that Packed to the Rafters “season finale” and a clear decision (as promised) on City Homicide? With all the juicy details we’re hearing, Seven had better hope this court case against James Warburton is worth it. It is frequently quick to rush to court (iiNET and TT v ACA two other cases in question) but the audience is watching and mud sticks…

Honesty on Seven’s starting times for their shows would be even better. Why do they let Today Tonight run overtime every night so that every other TV show for the night is late? Don’t they get it?

It really doesn’t matter if you’re a newsreader telling the audience your autocue buggered up, or a network CEO admitting an entire channel needs a re-think -we appreciate the honesty.

This week, TEN got it right.

30 Responses

  1. Great article David, think you pretty much hit every nail on the head there. Good on Ten for being up front about some of the mistakes they made altho, as has been said, it’s easier to be honest about someone else’s mistakes especially if you’re looking to have a bit of a cull in senior management.

    Nine could take a leaf or two out of their book.

  2. Let’s be clear David, while one motivation in changing ONE was to increase ratings, another clear objective was to reduce it’s output of sport so as to point viewers in the direction of Fox Sports where they produce more revenue to the Murdoch empire. By the way, I listened to Murdoch Jnr in the briefing and he stumbled his way through it in an amateurish fashion. The sooner they have their CEO the better.

  3. Honesty is the best pollicy. The reason most media CEOs dont want to admit when they get it wrong in some cases really wrong is because they want to keep the ellusion that they know what to do and when to do it. They want the people and most importantly the investors to think that they are capable in that job, otherwise their would be no need to pay them those massive checks they get. So the question then is who are the reall dummies the audience or the investors. In my opinion the investors are the reall dummies. This site has domstrated time and time again that the network executives are not worth the money they get paid. i am pretty sure that even an unemployed person watching Tv alot could do a better job.

  4. I think Rick mentions a very good point. Ten might be being frank and saying that One is unsustainable and all that, but the fact still remains that this change plays directly in favour of Mr Murdoch’s other pay-TV investments.

    Plus there’s Gina Rinehart’s alleged new pin-up boy Andrew Bolt getting a weekly show on the network which may also work in favour of her other investments.

    Perhaps they aren’t being as open and honest as we might think?

  5. I agree. Well DOne Ch10 We all like honesty.

    Only last night I whinged about the differeing start times. If i was always late to work I would have been given the sack by now after disciplinary action.

    Wake up Networks! We still watch what we wnat even if you make us late. It only annoys us more!!

  6. Bravo David!!! Great article and I would like to see more like it. Couldn’t agree more. I’d also like to see networks be more transparent when it comes to moving shows around and changing timeslots. They shouldn’t make it a game of hide and seek. Tell us you’re moving it and give us notice!

  7. The truth? The Truth?? They can’t handle The Truth!!!!
    Sorry, had to do that … from the first day that “ONE” went all sport, most of us said it was wrong … we all knew it, why didn’t they? And it is by no means a positive for them that they ignored the blatantly obvious for so long!
    Now let’s get some good shows on there!!!!

  8. Cant understand Ten,Like any product to survive you need to Advertise it
    Let ten viewers know what’s on ONE and 11. It hard to keep up with all the channells now and program changes so quickley.
    So Ten start flogging other shows on one and 11 hint hint for SYTUCD Final tonight,

  9. Stand up David Knox and take a bow.

    It would be nice if networks stopped telling us what we want to see, and instead listened to us telling them what we want. Starting shows on time is the biggest issue i think, and really isn’t that hard considering majority are pre-recorded, edited well in advance. Does H&A really need to have an ad break at 7.30, and then come back after the ad just to say what’s up next episode and then credits? Today Tonight does that too.

    If they choose not to fasttrack shows, well they do so at their own peril. But when they show it months or years behind the US, don’t turn around and say well no one’s watching so we’ll take it off. No one’s watching because you’re months behind and people have found other ways to watch it.

    Don’t even get me started on live sport. Seven is pathetic, doubt it will ever change. Nine now have the means to show NRL live in Adelaide on their other digital channels, but choose not to. Again, pathetic. And they’ll say no one watches NRL in Adelaide, but the only figures they are basing this on is a 1am broadcast.

    Ten probably treat viewers the best and try to do the right thing most of the time. They’ve got great shows. Unfortunately they don’t have an audience.

    Until networks smarten up and treat viewers better, my tv will be turned off. I only watch Australian shows on tv now. Got sick of waiting around until 8.43 for a show to start and sick of reading spoilers in October, when the show wasn’t starting in Australia until Feb.

  10. I agree David. Unfortunately, honesty is all about perception, it’s not going to win you any extra eyeballs. Plus, it’s also easier to be honest about mistakes made by a regime that you’re trying ouster.

  11. Ten should also admit they’ve been a cheepskate network for many years now only making Australian drama to fill their quota and not very good drama at that.

    Also what happened to their promise to focus on an older demographic and appeal to a wider audience? Ten was supposed to go older and Eleven younger but it was just another promise that never eventuated and I think soon enough Negus will be the first casualty of that.

    They also fail to mention the underlying reason for One’s backflip and didn’t that have something to do with Murdoch’s interest in Fox Sports or something? Anyhow hopefully he can be as good as managing a network as his father was and get it out of its current turmoil but so far with the vision ahead I’ve seen for Ten and One that doesn’t seem likely.

  12. Nine would rather sling mud at Seven than admit to their own appalling incompetence in the programming department. Caliing Seven narcissistic because they succeeded in the first part of the year and they failed is laughable when Nine’s slogan was “still the one” for eons.

  13. They all lie!

    Nine fast tracking new shows to the ‘Home of Comedy’ like Mr Sunshine and Episodes, where are they? Seven and the whole Rafters things, fans still don’t know what happened.

    At least TEN has admitted it’s mistakes and is doing something to fix it, it’s still a shame in a sports made country we can’t have one 24/7 FTA sports channel, no wonder FTA is lagging behind PayTV for viewer satisfaction. I just hope ONE continues to shows live sport where possible and not move things out of prime-time for better rating general entertainment shows.

  14. Exactly right, I think that is why this site is so popular, cuts through all the spin and tells us what is really going on with our favourite shows. Sometimes the Go! Facebook is honest but other times they are trying to sugar coat or are deliberately vague. The truth gets out anyway, but if we hear it from the networks themselves then they earn some goodwill even if the news is bad.

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