Mediaweek Roundup: 10 News, Studio 10, NRL, Facebook + more

The Australian, Apple Daily, Peter V’landys, Facebook, Phil Gould, and Ben Ikin

News Brands

Mal Walden: “History repeats itself so often at Channel 10”

Legendary news broadcaster Mal Walden, who departed Network 10 in 2013, has seen it all, reports TV Tonight.

During his 50 years in the media, 40 were spent reading news, and 26 of them at 10. He is more than familiar with the various hiring and firings that are endemic to the ‘third broadcaster.’ More than any other network 10 has built and burnt down its news departments only to rebuild them again.

Yesterday 10 announced plans to cut news staff in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide, ‘centralising’ them with bulletins from Sydney and Adelaide. It’s a familiar strategy.

“There’s an old saying, ‘If you don’t listen to history, you’re bound to repeat it.’ History repeats itself so often at Channel 10,” Walden told TV Tonight.

“It’s a very sad situation, particularly at the moment when so many people are losing their jobs. These people are the ones that have been providing all the information about the crisis we’re going through in these unprecedented times. When you dedicate your whole day to doing that sort of thing then you find yourself in the same situation, it’s pretty tough. Very, very sad.”

During his years at 10, Walden presented various incarnations of TEN Eyewitness News, at different times, durations and titles.

“Initially we were a half hour news bulletin, when we first started at five o’clock. Then we went to an hour with First at Five, then we went to 90 minutes during the ‘news revolutionary’ period, then we went back to an hour… it’s ever changing. That’s about the only thing you can say about the industry.”

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The Australian’s digital audience jumps 21 per cent to 3.77m in July

The Australian is the fastest-growing top 10 news site in the country, increasing its audience as the public seeks out authoritative news and analysis on the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis, reports Lilly Vitorovich in the News Corp newspaper.

The Australian’s digital audience surged 21 per cent to 3.77 million in July from the previous month.

The jump cements the performance of The Australian as the No 1 subscriber-only news site in the country.

Other news sites also recorded a rise in their online audience, with News Corp’s news.com.au recording the second-biggest move, up 20.2 per cent last month to 11.63 million, according to latest figures from data and analytics group Nielsen.

Australians are flocking to news sites during the coronavirus crisis, with the second wave in Victoria triggering fears of more cases in other states.

News Corp’s Melbourne-based Herald Sun saw a 25 per cent jump in online audience to 3.3 million, outpacing an 18 per cent increase in Nine Entertainment’s The Age, during July.

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People-power surge as Hongkongers buy Jimmy Lai’s newspaper

Hongkongers rushed to buy the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily on Tuesday in a show of support for its billionaire owner, Jimmy Lai, who was arrested the day before as police rounded up critics of China, with fears growing of more arrests to come, reports The Australian’s Glenda Korporaal.

The arrest of Lai and a raid on Apple Daily’s offices in Hong Kong by 200 police was followed by the arrest of 23-year old Agnes Chow, one of the former leaders of the disbanded Demosisto group, and Wilson Li, a former activist who describes himself as a freelance journalist working for Britain’s ITV News.

Fears are growing for the situation in Hong Kong as police move quickly to detain critics under the tough security laws imposed­ on the city since June.

Apple Daily vowed to “fight on”, in a front-page story on Tuesday of its 71-year-old owner being led away in handcuffs, among 10 people arrested this week under the new security laws

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Peter V’landys accused of turning ‘defamation trial into Gogglebox’

Lawyers for NSW racing boss Peter V’landys are being accused by the ABC of trying to twist a high-stakes defamation trial into an episode of popular reality TV show Gogglebox, reports The Australian’s Kieran Gair.

V’landys, the chief executive of Racing NSW and Australian Rugby League Commission chairman, is suing the ABC and journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna for defamation in the Federal Court over an exposé aired on 7.30 last year.

Barrister Sandy Dawson SC, appearing for the ABC, questioned how Mr V’landys could claim damages for “hurt feelings” over a program he is yet to watch.

“He’ll walk into your honour’s courtroom in September, sit down and watch the program for the first time ever in what could only be described as Gogglebox: courtroom edition,” he said.

Barrister Bruce McClintock SC, appearing for V’landys, said the program amounted to a “set up” that was designed to portray V’landys as a person who “callously permitted the wholesale slaughter” of horses.

McClintock said the footage would be aired while V’landys is in the witness box in September so Justice Michael Wigney could observe his reaction.

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Facebook removes 7m posts for sharing fake news on coronavirus

Facebook said it had removed 7 million posts in the second quarter for sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures, reports Reuters.

Facebook released the data as part of its sixth Community Standards Enforcement Report, which it introduced in 2018 along with more stringent decorum rules in response to a backlash over its lax approach to policing content on its platforms.

The company said it would invite external experts to independently audit the metrics used in the report, beginning in 2021.

The world’s biggest social media company removed about 22.5 million posts containing hate speech on its flagship app in the second quarter, up from 9.6 million in the first quarter. It also deleted 8.7 million posts connected to extremist organisations, compared with 6.3 million in the prior period.

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Television

Inside Studio 10’s ruthless decision to axe TV legend KAK

The writing has been on the Studio 10 wall for some time, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The biggest surprise out of the announcement that Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Natarsha Belling had been made redundant though is the fact executives are pushing ahead with the program in 2021.

Whatever that looks like, it will be a very different scenario to what we have seen for the past seven years. And Confidential’s tip is that it will resemble more that of rivals at The Morning Show and Today Extra with Sarah Harris leading a double header as the main host with a rotating roster of 10 talent seen throughout the week.

The bottom line for 10 boss Beverley McGarvey that pushed yesterday’s decision was ultimately to do with cost cutting.

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How lockdown restrictions have handed TV creators a chance to shine

Coronavirus shutdowns mean that networks and streaming services will be hungry for content. So there’s a chance for TV makers with bright ideas who can adapt to the new regulations and, to deploy some fashionable buzzwords, nimbly pivot to profit from the new normal, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.

As well as shows being produced in conditions that accommodate the restrictions, others are being made about people at home while life goes online. That’s the case for a couple of local notables, Retrograde and Loving Captivity. Brimming with vitality and enhanced by their acuity, these homegrown efforts make the most of the limitations. In fact, they seem to thrive on them, creating a vibrant sense of connection between their characters. Both benefit from the necessary back-to-basics approach: the emphasis is on writing and performance.

Made up of six, 22-minute episodes, Retrograde (ABC iview) is created by Mark O’Toole and Meg O’Connell and directed by Natalie Bailey. It’s built around a virtual bar attended by a handful of friends who shared a house when they were in their 20s. Their interactions are lively: as we learn about them, they josh and call each other out as close friends can.

The casting is spot-on and the opener is a model of economical writing. Madhuri, aka Maddie (Pallavi Sharda), is packing to move to Korea, where she anticipates taking up her promotion with a travel company start-up. The lockdowns put an end to that plan and leave her homeless.

Also making the most of the limitations is the polished little gem Loving Captivity, a two-hander created and written by Libby Butler and Lewis Mulholland, directed by Butler and starring Mulholland and Christie Whelan Browne. With six six-minute episodes streaming on Facebook, it’s a model of minimalism as it charts the developing relationship between single mum Ally and beau Joe through their online engagements.

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Sports Media

The Sun-Herald column that led Phil Gould to Auckland Warriors

The precursor to Phil Gould’s new role at the Warriors was a column he penned for the Sun-Herald in June, reports Adrian Proszenko.

In it, Gould wrote about the need for Rugby League Central to invest in international football, to the point where New Zealand would eventually be strong enough to house two competitive NRL teams.

The column struck a chord with Michael Maguire. The Wests Tigers and Kiwis coach is also passionate about the global game and reached out to Gould. They took their vision to ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys just a few weeks before the Warriors called on Gould for help with, among other things, developing their pathways programs. The timing couldn’t have been better.

While Gould hasn’t taken up an official role with head office to date, the Warriors got their man.

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Ben Ikin makes official play for Broncos chief executive role

Ben Ikin has made his ambitions to take charge of the Brisbane Broncos official, with the former player turned television analyst confirming he had sent his application to become the club’s next chief executive, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Phil Lutton.

Current Broncos CEO Paul White will step down when his contract finishes after the NRL season and Ikin has now taken the first step to becoming his replacement.

Ikin has enjoyed a successful career as the host of NRL 360 on Fox but also has a strong business pedigree, having served on the board of the North Queensland Cowboys as well as being an independent director of the Queensland Rugby League.

He was widely tipped to be a frontrunner for the job and he said on Tuesday that he had taken the plunge after long discussions with his family.

“Submitted yesterday (Monday),” Ikin told ABC Radio Brisbane. “It was a big decision for me because I’ve got a great job with Fox Sports, so I had to get approval from News Corp to have a crack.

“I was in, I was out, it’s a $50m turnover business, it’s more than just a footy team. It’s a great opportunity. The resume has gone in, officially.”

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