Despite growing audience anger free-to-air Australian networks are sticking to their dirty tricks for ratings.

Ratings are important for network stations. The higher a programme’s rating, the more can be charged for an advertising slot.

So there is a real financial incentive to boost ratings as much as legally allowable.

Things like last minute scheduling changes, promotional build-ups months in advance of the premier, splitting up shows over two or more nights are just some of the tricks free-to-air programmers use to attract and keep their audiences.

Earlier this year Channel Seven threw the dice. Its flagship current affairs program had been losing ground to Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes. Both programs were airing footage concerning the recent Martin Place tragedy.

Both shows were scheduled to begin at the same time, but in an effort to undercut their rival Channel Seven started airing Sunday Night 20 minutes early. Their hope was that viewers would be so engrossed they would forget to turn over to 60 Minutes.

In this case the strategy backfired. Those who did want to watch Channel Seven’s slightly superior coverage tuned in to find the program almost a quarter of the way through.

The message from all this is for viewers not to get angry at themselves when they’ve only recorded half of the program they meant to. It’s quite likely the station airing it has moved the timeslots around.

In an effort to undercut the enormously popular 60 Minutes on channel 9 channel 7 began its coverage of their Sunday Night program 20 minutes before it was scheduled. The hope was that veiwers would be so engrossed in their program they’d forget to change channels.

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