Ray Martin blames current affairs on ratings system

Ray Martin again hits out at the dumbing down of serious current affairs, and blames the ratings system and TV producers.

Martin, whose comments were part of an interview to promote his new book, Ray Martin’s Favourites, says only ABC and Sky News offer serious political interviews or debates.

“There was a time … in which Channel Nine was the network Australians turned to in crisis,” he said.

He blames the advent of minute-by-minute ratings in 1989, when ratings diaries were abandoned, for the state of current affairs shows.

“When minute-by-minute ratings came along, we would find we’d lost 100,000 viewers in Sydney and 90,000 in Melbourne the moment the PM came on, whether it was Keating or Howard,” Martin said. “If you’re only winning by 10,000 against the other mob, you can’t afford to lose 200,000 viewers.”

Former Immigration minister Philip Ruddock saw viewers flee in droves.

He also blames TV and radio executives who sneer at working-class Australians.

“Commercial TV and radio are both guilty of this. It’s the unnamed executive producers at these programs – they call them ‘string-bags’.

“They regard them as fairly stupid, fairly dopey. They’re not. They’re smart. And they’ll go with programs that work and programs that tell them something.”

Source: Sunday Telegraph


  1. It’s important not to confuse intelligence and relevance.

    There are a great many people who are very interested in consumer, family and other household issues, because they have a big impact on their life.

    The ABC used to offer these people TV programs like “The Investigators” and “PGR”, and they still have “Life Matters” and “The Health Report” on RN. To be fair, this year they launched a new health TV show “Tonic”.

    The topics covered by TT and ACA can be intelligently covered on TV shows.

  2. The general public has clearly shown their preference for trashy TT and ACA.

    6.30 with Negus was excellent but clearly that is not what people want. They would prefer to know the cheapest place to buy apples or the latest weight loss fad.

    massive massive sigh ;-(

  3. Pity Ray didn’t have such high journalistic standards when he was fronting such current affairs shows.

    I’m down with the Ruddock effect, he always made me reach for the remote! Still does when he occasionally pops up unannounced (all programs containing any Philip Ruddock should have to have content warnings up front – “The following program contains scenes of Aboriginal persons who have since died, and an appearance by Philip Ruddock”).

  4. Mike Willesse and Jana Wendt both won gold Logies for hosting ACA when they did more serious current affairs. The reason i think is that they and the show had cred. This was in a time when they were up against big name variety hosts and soapy stars. Tracy is great,not her fault,she is a fantastic interviewer when given the chance. Matt White is a nice bloke but all he does is read an autocue. Maybe it is us the audience that is the problem. Our lives have become very fast and our attention span has become very short.

  5. Did anyone see Ray’s ‘interview’ (read: promo) with Michael Buble? It was painful. Some ‘journos’ get all the luck – flying to London to spend ten minutes with that pretender would have been a nice little earner for Ray.

  6. The only “crisis” in which I’d turn to Channel Nine for anything is if the dial on my TV was stuck and I couldn’t flip over to another channel.

  7. Ray is right.I would like to say to Him Nine has gone to the dogs since Kerry Packer died.
    The only ones these days that offer the real deal are ABC and SBS.

  8. So what is Ray’s point? That TV networks should air interviews that half their viewers will turn off? That strikes me as being pompous.

    And then he follows up saying people turn of political interviews by saying that viewers are actually very smart… so is it therefore also smart to not bother with interviews that smart people don’t want to watch?

    Surely the point is that we’re lucky to still have the ABC for those who want some actual current affairs reportage.

  9. Rays version of current affairs was different to todays version, it was better journalism, there was less rant and bias involved, it was more factual and they still managed to do light fluffy stories with out it looking like a promo for the next big thingy !

  10. daveinprogress

    From memory, Ray fronted ACA for quite some time, while its content was less than sterling, and i think that was why he eventually quit, but the low quality content predates Tracey’s ACA, and TT.

  11. “They regard them as fairly stupid, fairly dopey. They’re not. They’re smart. And they’ll go with programs that work and programs that tell them something.”

    Isn’t this the opposite of what has happened with Negus? Seems to contradict himself.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.