Mediaweek Roundup: Ben Fordham, AAP, Radio Ratings, The Voice + more

radio ratings

News Xtend, Fetch TV, Angelos Frangopoulos, Spotify Australia, Bubble Bath Bay, Claudia Karvan, AFL Footy Show, and Rugby Union

Business of Media

News Xtend broadens horizons with Singapore SMB deal

News Corp Australia’s digital marketing service News Xtend is making its first international foray, joining forces with Singapore Press Holdings to target the island state’s small and medium business sector, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

News Xtend, which has been one of the company’s fastest growing businesses over the past five years, is a digital marketing division that provides expert advice and know-how to SMBs. Its marketing specialists work one-on-one with business owners to understand their specific market needs and create targeted digital campaigns to increase customer numbers.

News Corp Australasia’s executive chairman Michael Miller said the partnership with SPH was a significant step for News Xtend.

“This partnership demonstrates News Xtend’s globally recognised and award-winning capability in running performance marketing campaigns,” Miller said.

“We’re now exporting our know-how by partnering with another media company that, like ours, has successfully transitioned to the digital landscape.”

[Read more]

Will Fetch TV boss Scott Lorson get Hugh Mark’s CEO role at Nine?

Hugh Marks, CEO of media company Nine, missed out on a potential $1.55 million short-term incentive in the financial year ended June 30, highlighting that life at the top of a major media company is not as rosy as what it once was, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

In a year in which Nine was forced to pay a premium price, put at over $100 million, for content for its streaming platform Stan, Marks farewelled two CFOs in unexplained circumstances — and the collapse of sales revenue brought questions about the wisdom of Nine’s top-dollar buyout of John Singleton’s Macquarie Media radio network.

Industry sources believe a successor for Marks’ job, if Marks were to quit, may have emerged in Fetch TV executive Scott Lorson.

Lorson was CEO of Nine affiliate ACP Magazines in 2007 and prior to that CEO of Ticketek. Sources say he’s a man with Nine DNA in his veins who would be a worthy successor to Marks.

[Read more]

News Brands

Angelos Frangopoulos to launch 24-hour UK news channel to rival BBC & Sky

Andrew Neil has quit the BBC to launch a new UK right-leaning opinionated rolling news channel which aims to start broadcasting early next year as a rival to the public broadcaster and Sky, reports The Guardian.

GB News, which has drawn comparisons with Fox News, promises to serve the “vast number of British people who feel underserved and unheard” by existing television news channels, explicitly pitching itself into the middle of the culture war.

GB News has also hired the former Sky News executive John McAndrew and appointed Angelos Frangopoulos, the former boss of opinion-heavy Sky News Australia, as chief executive.

The new station is being backed by broadcaster Discovery, although it still needs to confirm tens of millions of pounds in investment before its launch. GB News said it hoped to create at least 120 positions, including more than 100 journalist jobs across the UK.

[Read more]

AAP 2.0 architect leaves newswire following government handout

The architect of an eleventh-hour bid to save embattled newswire Australian Associated Press left the company as it secured crucial funding from the Morrison government to prevent it from going broke, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Nick Harrington, an investment manager who brought together investors and philanthropists to save the newswire before becoming head of strategy and corporate development, left the loss-making company days after it received a $5 million government grant. AAP, which has lost a string a key media clients, is attempting to secure more external funding through a code that will force Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for their content.

AAP chief executive Emma Cowdroy said Harrington’s role was always meant to be temporary but there was no indication this was the case before his resignation. He did not mention resignation plans in the only interview he gave about AAP. He did not respond to interview requests on Sunday.

“Nick resigned on September 21st,” Cowdroy said. “He was only ever coming across to transition into the new corporate structure.” Cowdroy said the role was unlikely to be replaced.

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High court judge Patrick Keane takes swipe at media on privacy

High court judge Patrick Keane has taken a thinly veiled swipe at “old media”, saying they will see “dollar signs” when faced with a choice between the right to know and the right to privacy, reports The AFR’s Michael Pelly.

In a speech at the Commonwealth Courts Building in Brisbane, Justice Keane said there was an element of self-interest in the current push to reform defamation laws.

He said the “vested interests of the old media are such that they can always be expected to sacrifice the privacy of citizens, that is to say, all those of us who do not own media outlets, in order to make more sales”.

Justice Keane’s speech – the Michael Whincop memorial lecture – was delivered on August 27 and recently posted on the High Court’s website.

[Read more]


Got an idea for a podcast? Spotify Australia wants to hear it

Spotify has three Australian original titles (Search Engine Sex, I Can’t Stop, Gee Thanks) and three exclusive titles (Generation Betoota, Vice Extremes 2 and The Dad Kit), reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

The company will announce two more in each category before Christmas and intends to increase its investment in local original and exclusives by 30 per cent next year, resulting in an additional 15 to 20 titles.

Spotify’s Australian creative producer of podcasting Leah Harris‘s job is to develop and fund local original formats instead of acquiring exclusive rights to existing series. She is open to ideas from all Australians, including those with no industry experience.

“My number one thing is that anyone who wants to pitch an idea must know their audience,” she says. “Who are they, where do they live, what might they eat for dinner? Once you know who you’re talking to or who you’re creating [a podcast] for, you can’t go wrong.”

While news, sport, comedy and true crime are among Spotify’s most popular podcast genres, Harris will consider all suggestions. She wants these initial titles to attract sizeable audiences; once Spotify has established a larger podcast following, she’ll explore more niche proposals.

Over the past year, the number of podcast episodes on Spotify jumped from 450,000 to 1.5 million.

[Read more]


Media writers deliver Survey 6 Sydney radio ratings forecast

Radio executives at 2GB’s parent company Nine will learn on Tuesday if their gamble on new breakfast host Ben Fordham has paid off or if their 17-year run as Sydney’s number-one radio station is over, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

The release of the survey 6 radio ratings results — the first since April due to the extraordinary six-month pandemic-forced survey suspension — is being touted within the ad industry as the most important radio survey in 35 years because of the retirement of Sydney talk radio legend Alan Jones, the man upon whose reputation 2GB was rebuilt in 2001.

Having strategically launched Fordham’s breakfast radio career at the start of the survey shutdown following Jones’s shock departure from the airwaves, Nine will find out next week if their 2GB overhaul has been a success or if radio bosses have misread a market that remains loyal to established stars and advertisers who still regard Jones as the greatest salesman in the business.

Among stations tipped to experience audience and share hikes in the latest survey, which clocked listening habits from July 26 and September 19, are Smooth, WSFM, KIISFM, Nova and the non-commercial ABC702.

[Read more]

The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff reported:

Privately, 2GB’s best guess is Ben Fordham will rate a 12 — about a third below Jones’s towering 17.9 in his last survey before leaving.

And if you were to apply a one-third audience loss across its entire new-look weekday line-up, 2GB’s overall ratings could fall from its market-leading 15.4 share in April to around a 10. In that scenario, 2GB’s two-decade crown would be in play. The ABC (second on 9.8 in April), KIIS, WSFM or even Smooth would only have to pick up a portion of 2GB defectors to take over the Sydney radio crown.

[Read more]

Radio braces for post-Alan Jones ratings reality check

On Tuesday, the radio world will learn whether the heavily promoted 2GB Ben Fordham experiment has paid off, when the latest GfK metropolitan radio survey – the first since April, and the first to cover Fordham’s performance in his new gig — will is released, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Philippa Noilea-Tani, national head of investment at media agency Wavemaker, said key talent changes would have driven a change to the age and gender listener profile of some stations.

“With Alan Jones stepping down, the most notable change I am expecting to see in the survey is across 2GB breakfast. Alan Jones certainly left Ben Fordham with very big shoes to fill,” she said, noting that when Jones left radio station 2UE in 2001 his listeners followed him to 2GB.

“I have no doubt some of Alan’s avid listeners won’t stick around for Ben. However, the majority will.”

“Working from home was an instigator of increased listening,” according to Elizabeth Baker, head of investment at media agency Zenith. “Audio became a companion as well as a core news source and there are still a lot of people who have not returned to the office environment.”

[Read more]


Michael Pell to run The Voice: Sunrise EP continues transition to primetime

Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell has been tapped by Seven CEO James Warburton to lend his magic touch to more prime-time offerings, having overseen the breakfast staple for a decade, reports News Corp’s Amy Harris.

Pell has been tasked with running the network’s next big shiny-floor production The Voice, which is Seven’s big ratings hope for 2021.

Already this year Pell has steered the successful relaunch of Big Brother and also produced Seven’s marathon 10-hour Firefight Australia broadcast – one of the network’s highest-rated shows of 2020.

It’s expected Seven will announce a new official title for Pell in the coming weeks.

[Read more]

Melbourne writer suing ABC over kids’ television boat show

A row over what inspired an ABC kids’ show is to go to Federal Court, reports News Corp’s John Masanauskas.

Melbourne writer Annie Duncan has claimed the ABC’s Bubble Bath Bay animation ripped off her creation, Buster the Brave Little Wooden Boat.

Duncan said that the national broadcaster rejected her pitch for a Buster series in 2010, but that in 2011 the ABC “had 13 pages of emails with a third party” about her concept.

In a statement of claim, Duncan said she met writer Claire Madsen at a Rusden College drama and media department reunion in 2013.

“Ms Madsen said words to the effect that she was working on a children’s animation (and) it was about a little boat in the harbour,” the statement said. “She did not know who the original writer was.”

Bubble Bath Bay was first broadcast on ABC Kids in early 2015 after the network commissioned an external firm to produce it. The program, later renamed Sydney Sailboat, has sold successfully overseas.

Duncan chose to sue the ABC in the Federal Court, arguing that the “similarities between Bubble Bath Bay, Buster the Brave Little Wooden Boat and Buster and Jack are so similar as it could not be said to be a coincidence”.

The ABC declined to comment as the case was before the courts.

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A star is born as Claudia Karvan gives TV novice a career bump

To say Kelsey Munro is living a dream is almost an understatement. With little experience and no screen credits in television, the 44-year-old is now having her first show produced by none other than Claudia Karvan and John Edwards, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Louise Rugendyke.

“It actually doesn’t even feel real because I’ve hardly had the conversation out loud with that many people,” says Munro, whose day job is as a senior research analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra. “I just kept thinking it’s going to fall over, it’s not going to happen because there are so many planets that have to align for a TV show.”

Munro fell into writing while on maternity leave from The Sydney Morning Herald in 2014.

“I had a bit more time, sort of, except for the two small children, and I just sat down to see if I could teach myself how to do it,” says Munro. “I really enjoyed it and eventually, when I finally let other people read it, they were really positive about it. So I thought, ‘OK, I’ll see where this goes.’”

Bump has been shooting around the inner west since August, with Sydney Secondary College’s campus at Blackwattle Bay standing in for the show’s fictional Jubilee High, while empty offices at the Royal Blind Society’s former headquarters at Enfield have been turned into parts of the school’s interior.

It’s due to screen on Stan by the end of the year and by then, hopefully, Munro will have come to terms with her sudden, not-quite-overnight success.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Grand Final Eve Footy Show spectacular is being resurrected

Nine’s AFL Grand Final Eve Footy Show spectacular is being resurrected with Rebecca Maddern set to make a surprise return to footy-mad production, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Maddern and Shane Crawford will join Tony Jones, Billy Brownless, Nathan Brown, Matthew Lloyd, Damian Barrett and Kane Cornes in the three-hour prime-time special which will combine footy with fundraising.

The Grand Final Eve: My Room Telethon will kick a goal for the My Room Children’s Cancer Charity while previewing the 2020 Grand Final.

Maddern said the show, which airs at 7.30pm on Friday, October 23, would celebrate what has been a unique and unusual AFL season.

[Read more]

Network Ten bids for rugby union, Amazon also enters picture

Network Ten has bid for the rights to broadcast Wallabies Tests from next year but wants a cheaper deal from Rugby Australia that could put further financial pressure on the embattled code, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The television network currently pays RA about $3.5 million a year to broadcast the Tests as part of a $285 million deal signed in 2015 alongside pay TV companies Foxtel and BSkyB.

Industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiation process is confidential said that Ten had lodged the bid late last week, offering to broadcast the Wallabies matches on its network again but for a lower price. International Tests played in Australia and New Zealand and all matches of the rugby World Cup that involve the Australian team must be broadcast on free-to-air television under anti-siphoning laws. The length of Ten’s new deal is open to discussion as is the potential to pick up new game formats such as a State of Union, a similar format to the NRL’s State of Origin. Ten and RA declined to comment.

Foxtel has not formally put in its bid but remains in discussions about airing Super Rugby and Test matches.

[Read more]

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