While Australian television is best known overseas for longrunning feel-good soaps such as Seven’s “Home and Away” and Ten’s “Neighbours,” the cheap, and some would say tacky, locally produced “clip, cut and paste” bloopers-type shows are now the most-watched programs in Oz.

The Seven Network’s “World’s Greatest Commercials” has consistently been featured in the top 10 programs of the opening weeks of this year’s survey and is hammering the rival Nine web’s vet “60 Minutes.”

Also launched this year, “Australia’s Funniest People” is doing particularly well with its under-40s target demographic, according to Seven program director Chris O’Mara.

“Clip shows are doing well and local dramas are doing the best,” O’Mara says. “People are generally sick of current affairs and are looking for light entertainment alternatives.”

What is new is the ratings success of these programs, taking over from the last couple of years of infotainment ratings blockbusters on all networks, including pubcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corp., when travel, gardening, home improvement, science, lifestyle, personal investment and pet shows ruled.

Launched last season, Nine’s “Just Kidding” topped the ’94 ratings, riding on the success of the web’s other hit “Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show.”

Nine has topped up its quota of clip show winners with several specials such as “The Very Best Worst Drivers” series, the eighth most popular program nationally in week five.

Thanks to clip shows, news and current affairs, plus sports, Nine won the 1994 ratings war with 32.6%, followed by Seven with 28.8%; Ten, 22.2%; and pubcasters ABC, 13.7%; and the Special Broadcasting Service, 2.7%. So far this year, the order stayed the same with the two pubcasters showing the most improvement. By week 14 of the survey, cumulative figures had Nine with 31.8%; Seven, 27.8%; Ten 22.3%; ABC, 15% and SBS, 3.1%.

Other top-raters include local dramas “Halifax fp” on Nine, and Seven’s “Blue Heelers” and “Fire.” So popular are Seven’s two new local dramas, they beat Nine’s telecast of the Academy Awards, which was only the 48th most watched program of the week, compared to “Blue Heelers” and “Fire” in 11th and 26th respectively.

Seven’s checkbook may change the ratings balance next year, as it forked out $75 million in February to snare the broadcasting rights for both the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

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