We were about due for a network stoush, and it has come in the form of Seven taking Nine to court over claims that Today is the #1 breakfast show.
Seven is taking legal action hoping Nine will have to remove its promos. Nine announced it had won the year after claiming 21 of 40 weeks won. But Seven maintains it leads in national numbers and the race is still too close to claim a winner.
Yesterday at Seven’s “Newfronts” CEO Tim Worner described Sunrise as being #1 at Breakfast.
But the legal spat may overshadow Seven’s 2017 announcements, which include bio dramas on Shane Warne, Paul Hogan & Olivia Newton-John and new Reality TV titles. Press is already giving more attention to the network war than talking up the shiny new shows. Like it or not a negative is way juicier than a positive.
The brawl over who can claim to be the leading show also emerges from an industry that uses hyperbole in network promos all the time. Was the Home and Away season premiere really “The most anticipated moment of 2016? ” Is You’re Back in the Room really “The television phenomenon taking the world by storm?”
Shaun Miller, media and entertainment lawyer, told TV Tonight, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, comprising the Australian Consumer Law, prohibits a person from engaging in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive.
“When Hungry Jacks states that ‘the burgers are better at Hungry Jacks’, that’s a mere advertising puff which cannot be measured in any way; it is a purely subjective claim that is not be likely to mislead or deceive any consumers and is not a false or misleading representation under the Australian Consumer Law,” he said.
“However, when Nine makes a definitive statement that Today is Australia’s “favourite breakfast program”, unless Nine can prove that Today is the highest rating breakfast program across the entire Australian population, then Nine is technically breaching the law.
“Of course, Nine would be within its rights under the law to claim that Today is Australia’s most ‘informative’ breakfast program, or most ‘entertaining’ breakfast program. Those descriptions are subjective and are not able to be scientifically proved or disproved.
“But the word ‘favourite’ means ‘most popular’ which means ‘has the most viewers and therefore the highest ratings.'”
Nine is expected to argue that Seven has used similar metrics for some of its claims in the past.
While we’re at it, there is smoke and mirrors in Breakfast TV ratings everywhere you look.
For starters the published ratings do not reflect the average of the entire show. They reflect the average of 7-9am. Both shows code a separate number for the audience before 7am.
Both shows also run past 9am to around 9:15am in order to prop up numbers for The Morning Show and Today Extra. That’s been a bug bear of Studio 10‘s for quite some time. OzTAM takes no action that requires them to address this, either in their numbers, nor in their incorrect EPG timings.
So the use of language and measurement is already open to wild interpretation that is likely to give lawyers a field day.
When industry is supposed to be coming together, to celebrate 60 years, to combat new platforms and a diminishing ad market, all this fight will do is determine who has the bigger penis.
Gotta love Australian telly.