2009 Wrap: Part II

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Digital channels, moral outrage over comedy, stars in controversy and Home and Away's gay kiss.

It was a promise in 2008 that was fulfilled in 2009: digital television. At the end of '08 we had ABC2, but within 12 months we would see ONE, SBS TWO, GO! and 7TWO join our free-to-air channels. Suddenly there was a whole lot more content on offer.

ONE brought us 24/7 sport, SBS TWO returned foreign language to prime time, GO! aimed fair and square at the youth market and 7TWO set itself up as a broad entertainment channel. But their arrival was not without some hiccups: regional markets were incensed that they had to wait for shows that their city counterparts were enjoying -- some are still waiting. TEN's decision to focus on sport meant it dropped high-definition broadcasts of its most popular shows. All three commercial networks are already looking to third channels in 2010.

Meanwhile Foxtel was not about to be upstaged. It unveiled 30 new channels, including more HD channels, Foxtel Download, upgraded its EPG and website. Its Record Me and iSuggest buttons also make life much easier for searching and recording your favourite shows. Tangle was undoubtedly Pay TV's best show in 2009, but Australia's Next Top Model remains its most popular. Other local productions including Project Runway Australia, Satisfaction, 30 Seconds and The Jesters proved better picks than The Pam Ann Show and Whatever Happened to That Guy?

In 2009, comedy went off the rails after The Chaser's War on Everything sketch on the "Make a Realistic Wish Foundation". The ABC was forced to apologise, take the show off air and relieve an executive of her duties. The show wound up soon afterward. Other shows followed suit with comedy gags that landed in headlines including Good News Week for a comment by Magda Szubanski about annoying cyclists, and Double Take's sketch on school bullying which promised "After School you Die". John Safran remained a comedy martyr with his provocative series Race Relations in which he was nailed, literally, to a crucifix in the Philippines.

Bad boy Kyle Sandilands (who also let fire at Magda Szubanski) was dropped by Australian Idol after a radio stunt backfired. Some say it was a fatal decision by TEN after the show struggled to impact.

Also in the spotlight were Home and Away's Jodi Gordon after a false report in which police were called to an alleged break in, co-star Todd Lasance was arrested in a King's Cross nightclub, Biggest Loser's Ajay Rochester was put on a 12-month good behaviour bond for fraud, Sea Patrol's Steve Bisley faced a domestic violence suit, The Footy Show's Sam Newman was accused of damaging a car after a traffic incident and was named in a separate defamation case, and most famously, Matthew Johns from the NRL Footy Show was forced to apologise for a 2002 group sex incident which he claims was consensual.

Also apologising in 2009 was Gordon Ramsay after demeaning comments about Tracy Grimshaw. It was a stoush that had the nation talking.

ABC's Good Game series became the target of angry fans after inconsistent explanations as to why it cut Jeremy "Junglist" Ray from the presenting team. He accused the show of wanting a female for "mass appeal", but management eventually cited behind the scenes friction.

Home and Away had its own controversy after suggestions it would drop a same-sex kiss between Joey (Kate Bell) and Charlie (Esther Anderson) for fear of a ratings backlash. It didn't, but some still accuse it of trimming the scene short.

Seven's Sunday Night moved in on 60 Minutes' 30-year turf after Mike Munro defected from Nine to Seven. But dumping Mark Ferguson for Peter Overton proved Nine's silliest mistake all year, as its Sydney news figures fell through the floor.

In other news, Andrew Denton introduced us to his Hungry Beast proteges, Nine hijacked SBS' beloved Top Gear, Rebecca Gibney won the Gold Logie, East West 101 took the AFI Awards' top Drama, Mr Squiggle turned 50, Media Watch hit 20, we were visited by the cast of Glee, and Julia Gillard is officially not Smarter than a 5th Grader.

See also: 2009 Wrap: Part I

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