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Seven eyes youth market in television ratings fight

CHANNEL Nine Perth is closing the ratings gap on arch rival Channel Seven Perth, setting the scene for another hotly contested ratings battle in 2004.

Channel Seven was Perth’s most watched television network this year with a market share of 27.6 per cent, however Channel Nine and Network 10 are heralding wins in their core demographics.

Network 10 is a clear favourite for the 16-39 demographic with a market share of 34.1 per cent. Its closest contender is Channel Nine with 27.9 per cent of the market.

Channel Nine has overtaken Channel Seven as the market leader in the 25-54 age bracket, growing its market share by 13 per cent to hold 28.8 per cent of the market. Network 7 has 27.1 per cent of this segment.

Channel Nine Perth programs manager Rob Pedretti said this year was a significant period for the station.

“In a nutshell we went way up. We didn’t have a lot of failures this year in terms of programming,” he said.

“AFL certainly helps but also more people in Perth are watching television. And that’s helped us increase our share.”

Channel Nine hopes the growing market share will translate into larger profits.

The station’s Perth sales director, Michael Mitchell, said the network’s rate negotiators in Sydney were considering his proposal for a zero per cent rate increase and a shelving of bonus offers to advertisers.

“The end result for me is that, whether the market adopts a tightening up of bonuses or it retains the rate system and the rates go up, there is revenue growth for us,” he said.

But despite any gains made by Channel Nine, Channel Seven remained ahead of the field according to its program and communications manager Ray Wardrop.

“As far as competition goes it has been the most competitive year I’ve ever known. It’s more competitive but we still have the runs on the board,” Mr Wardrop said.

“Now instead of a 20-goal win it’s a six-goal win, but a win is a win.”

On both national and local levels the Seven Network was tweaking its product for next year in an attempt to regain ground in the youth market, he said.

“We are going to target and increase the share in the 25-54 demographic with younger programming and skewed to a female audience, but we are not going to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Mr Wardrop said.

The changes will include more reality TV programming, he said.

In the local market Network Nine is hungry for the top spot for its 6pm nightly news program, particularly for viewers aged 25-54.

Nine has recruited former Network 10 reporter Sharlyn Sarac to read the weekend news, replacing Peter Holland. Natalia Cooper has been appointed to read the weather in 2004.

But while Mr Pedretti believes Nine’s new-look news team is gaining audience share, Mr Wardrop points to Seven News’ continued dominance.

 “People in Perth like familiarity and they like consistency. Our news has come out on top in Perth across all demographics,” he said.

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