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SYDNEY — The Aussie ratings race — won in a close contest by the Nine Network — has produced a slew of local hit skeins.

Nine won the year with a 29.2% aud share (total viewers 6 p.m.-midnight), according to figures released Dec. 3 by ratings service OzTAM.

Seven followed on 27.8%, though it was the standout web in terms of aud growth, and Ten finished third with 22.2%.

Nine also had the highest rating non-sport program of the year with “The Great Escape,” an interview with two miners trapped in a shaft collapse in Beaconsfield, Tasmania, which drew 2.7 million viewers. A one-off interview with “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s widow, Terri, drew 2.5 million to make the top 10.

The only other top 10 non-sport show was the series four finale of Seven Network’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

But a solid bank of regular local skeins has emerged.

“While every network has its hits and misses, we are most proud of our new series such as ‘What’s Good for You,’ ‘Missing Persons Unit’ and ‘What a Year,’ ” says Nine’s programming topper Michael Healy. “They all performed strongly and are currently in production for 2007.”

Health skein “What’s Good” drew regular auds of 1.4 million while nostalgia skein “What a Year” led a pack of look-back shows that prospered in the year in which TV in Oz celebrated its 50th birthday.

David Mott, program topper for Network Ten says local programs were a key driver in the web’s success in its new target demo of 18-49s.

“We are proud that the risks we’ve taken have brought such strong results,” says Mott of local formats.

Those shows include “Thank God You’re Here,” in which personalities are dropped into situations that they must ad-lib their way out of, which has been the break-out hit Australian show of 2006.

Ten stripped “The Biggest Loser” at 7 every weeknight with a weigh-in show at the end of the week. “Thank God” has proven a big seller overseas, a rarity for homemade formats. Meanwhile, Blighty adaptation “Jamie’s Kitchen” drew regular auds over 1 million.

The web also breathed new life into its “Australian Idol” and “Big Brother” franchises.

Seven’s local hits included the continued boffo run of reality skein “Border Security” with auds of 1.5 million; newcomer “The Force,” which was the biggest local preem of the year for a series; and singing competition “It Takes Two.” Seven also had the top rating local drama with medico show “All Saints.”

On the overseas front Seven juggernauts “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost” were once again ratings gold; Nine continued to benefit from the “CSI” franchise and Ten’s “House” was its No. 1 Stateside success.

But it was not all hits for the webs in 2006. Seven quizzer “The Master” was axed after just one outing; Ten’s reality skein “Yasmin’s Getting Married” was jilted before it even got up the aisle and Nine buried its one-time hit gardening skein “Backyard Blitz.”