And so the 2GB radio train keeps full steam ahead, continuing to dominate the latest ratings here in Sydney while the most significant move elsewhere is by WS FM which takes over as the number 1 operator on the FM band. No one has really thrown a hand grenade into the market so far in 2018 so it's still a case of "wait and see" as to how the industry is going to shake-out for the year. 2CH has sneaked back over the 4% level but the bottom line for the old 2UE - which has now shifted from Lifestyle to Sports 954 - has crashed to 1.9%, threatening to disappear off the radio radar.
On the other side of the electronic fence, the big news in the first half of the year is a complete about-turn in TV.
Ch 7 has lost the Australian Open Tennis to Ch 9 but in turn 7 has joined Foxtel to sneak off with the summer's cricket, ending an iconic period in Australian sport which dates back to the 70's.
It's dramatic stuff really. But I'm not complaining. Your reporter is a complete Foxtel fanatic, glued to the news, documentaries, crime shows and of course Fox Sport. I've got my AFL channel, Golf, Soccer, NFL and now a channel of wall-to-wall cricket. This is like going to heaven. My favourite Fox Channel is the Sports Update - 500 - with a group of absolutely wonderful presenters. They LOVE their sport and do their job with marvelous enthusiasm and camaraderie.
But I have one increasingly concern. A few weeks back I tuned in to Ch 500 and they announced that they were about to review the weekend round of AFL. When the segment arrived it was hosted by a former footballer, now employed by a bookmaker. And this was all about the bookies, trust me. Every second sentence was about the odds and the special deals gamblers could get if they jumped on board immediately. It was totally crass. I was surprised at Fox Sports allowing the technique to be used but even more surprised at how flagrant it was. Nobody made any attempt to disguise it. A week later I tuned in for a panel discussion on the weekend sports results and lo and behold there, smiling like a professional con man, was another bookie mouthpiece and once again we went through the whole charade of how he pretended to comment on the matters of the day while working his backside off to promote as many gambling deals as possible.
I know the money must be good but I'm afraid Foxtel is going to have to bite the bullet... Either put an end to this nonsense itself or face somebody higher up the food chain stepping in and doing it for them. As far as I'm concerned if the bookmakers want to pass on their message let them buy advertising time just like everybody else.
Here's another intriguing bit of sports marketing, rather like my soccer queries in earlier blogs. Australian Basketball has just signed one of our biggest exports, Andrew Bogut, to return downunder, playing with the Sydney Kings next season. This is being hailed as a masterstroke. Supporters argue it will lift the sport's profile, sending attendance figures and TV ratings up to the ceiling. I don't think it will. My interpretation is that basketball – which is absolutely adored in America – will remain a relatively minor sport downunder, whoever plays it.
The other "Avis whinge" that I return to this time is the amazing decision of the AFL to fragment the Sydney market by trying to create a completely new franchise, GWS, in the Harbour City.
I've criticised this for years. I'd describe the move as similar to Woolworths taking on Bunnings by switching to the Hardware market (Boy... Did THAT go well !)
According to my maths in recent weeks, GWS is turning into a major flop and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with its on field performance, which has been admittedly fairly volatile since its inception. But take a look at crowd figures if you will... GWS is drawing an average home attendance of 10,380... Its' lowest level in 4 years. You can't just INVENT a footy club. Maybe the Americans can do it but here in Australia you need a bit more history - you need long term fan attachment. I can tell the AFL what to do. Forget the "franchise fantasies" and scrub both GWS and the Gold Coast Suns. Put the $50m saved into resources for the Sydney Swans and the Brisbane Lions ensuring they cement Aussie Rules in Rugby League heartland over the next 50 years.
Or, if you have all of this money to spare try uniting the three warring footy factions in Tasmania and operating a franchise in the Apple Isle. You don't have to win anybody over down there... This is an island full of total footy fanatics. And oh yes... It happens to have produced some of the greatest players we've seen in the VFL/AFL.
Finally caught up with an old colleague (like we haven't had contact in 45 years!) when I managed to get to phone Paul Konik – ("the Laconic Mr Konik"/"Konk") - ex PD at the old 3XY. A few years back I found out Konk was still on air, I think he was actually doing breakfast?, in Wangaratta. I immediately messaged him advising him to retire as a matter of urgency and take up bowls or growing roses. I found out this week that he gave it up a couple of years ago and that he had tried running his own cafe and raising Arabian Horses but would never descend to rose growing.
One of the intriguing issues of this era is the election of Donald Trump to the White House and its impact on politics. It's clear the The Donald is extremely unusual and absolutely certainly a total showpony, who seeks to employ essentially "yes men/women". But are there any positives to emerge from the initial period in office? I think the first thing to acknowledge is the emergence of two key issues, often discussed out in the electorate, but now being openly debated at the elite level of politics in Washington. 1) The issue of America's right to choose who comes across its borders, the right to say who will be allowed into the USA; and 2) the protection of America's "blue collar workforce". The politically correct argument is that free trade works in allowing third world countries to use their advantages, in cheap labour, to gain access to western markets. But Trump is asking who is protecting the American worker, the bloke who grabs a shovel or a pick and goes out to do a hard day's work to put food on the family table and pay the mortgage? Who speaks for the worker who isn't gifted enough to go to Stanford or do an IT degree at UCA?
Who speaks for the man who used to be the backbone of US industry... The labourer who took pride in working with his hands? Economic philosophers call this "the dignity of work". Trump wants to know why the US is telling these men that their jobs have gone and are instead being transferred to Vietnam, India and Mexico. Who is Trump responsible for... The voters in America or the poor from the third world?
We had another interesting clash in recent times when the Great Leader from North Korea warned Washington that he was ready to press his RED button and launch all out war. President Trump responded that he was ready to do the same, reminding the North that he too had a red button but that his was "a lot bigger". Millions of men across the Globe nodded and thought, "God, I wish I'd had the guts to say that!" I pay tribute today to Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor in the Weekend Australian for the following wonderful quote... "He (Kim) runs his regime like a Shakespearean royal murder play without the poetry."
I keep hoping Trump will go to the UN one day and say to the assembled bureaucrats, "Well team... You've had a wonderful time here in New York since the 40's, but now it's time to say farewell to the great junket. We're ceasing to host the UN in ten years time, so you're going to have to find another home... Hey, how about Moscow, Brussels or Tehran? Oh and by the way, we won't be paying 25-30% of your costs anymore... It'll more likely be around 15%. So, good luck with that. "Oh man... I would so love to see that.