Nine News boss Darren Wick has branded Sunrise the “bad guys” in a curious flurry of tweets that has raised eyebrows amongst industry observers.
The social media platform is lately his favourite strategy for trumpeting a tight ratings battle for Today in some markets, especially given journalists’ usage.
For a second week Today and Sunrise tied in Melbourne, last week at 55,000 rounded by OzTAM official. Wick congratulated the Nine team on an edge in raw numbers.
Congratulations @TheTodayShow @GeorgieG @deborah_knight @tomsteinfort @TJch9 with a good win in Melbourne, taking the week in a photo finish by 384 viewers. Officially, OzTAM will round the numbers out to the nearest thousand. But, momentum in Melbourne is on our side.
But Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell took exception to his “momentum” tweet, pointing out that there are no wins to claim:
Momentum is on your side? You have not won a week in Melbourne legitimately all year. Not a single week. @thetodayshow is running third to the ABC on some days, including this week. I notice you’ve gone quiet on Sydney now too.
Wick even tweeted to Seven chair Kerry Stokes, referring to Sunrise as “bad guys,” having previously drawn upon “good vs evil” analogies in a recent Mediaweek interview.
@TheTodayShow @sunriseon7 @MichaelPell @BrianaDomjen @kerrystokes131 @7NewsMelbourne Okay, help me out. Today win week in Melbourne by 55,413 to 55,029. That’s a daily average. A weekly aggregate means @TheTodayShow has won the city by 1,920. We won, bad guys lost. Questions?
Colourful tweets didn’t end there as entertainment reporter Peter Ford questioned the tie:
But Darren you yourself admitted you round to the nearest thousand. Why can’t you be happy with a tie?
Wick then replied:
“…It was a reference point a decade ago when daily ratings figures were rounded off to a thousand. I countered that this morning because I knew Seven would cling to that. You’re also on their payroll, which you need to declare. Sunrise lost. You know that.”
But Ford denied being on Sunrise‘s payroll and threatened legal action, prompting Wick to apologise and delete.
Peter, I accept your word that you’re not on the Sunrise/7 payroll and that you’ve only appeared on the programme, for a fee, five or six times this year. My apologies for any confusion.
Wick yesterday told TV Tonight an improved performance in Melbourne after a tough 7 months was a positive but acknowledged the OzTAM official tie, and clarified the “bad guys” reference was all in jest.
But he is understood to have since blocked Michael Pell.
It isn’t usually protocol for a News boss to resort to such colourful tweets, especially to a network Chair, given the crumbs being argued over. But Today has been in media crosshairs since it revamped in January.
New Seven CEO James Warburton may well be next in line for a cheeky tweet if Melbourne ties for a third week running?