Mediaweek Roundup: 2GB dominates 4BC, NRL, Masked Singer + more

Ben Fordham 2GB

• Prime Media, The Financial Times, B2B + Nine

Business of Media

ACMA probes Bruce Gordon’s Prime Media holdings

The media regulator has launched an investigation into the complex set of holdings WIN Corp owner Bruce Gordon has had in rival regional television broadcaster Prime Media, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Sources told The Australian Financial Review the Australian Communications and Media Authority has been examining Gordon’s interests in Prime for the past month after the corporate regulator forced the media mogul to sell down his economic holdings to less than 20 per cent.

The investigation by ACMA continues but sources indicated that the media regulator would be likely to conclude Gordon did not intentionally exceed the maximum 15 per cent of voting shares he is allowed to own in Prime.

Gordon is prevented from owning more than 15 per cent of Prime securities by the rule barring an owner holding more than one television licence in a market.

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Terry McCrann: Nine finally gets the 1989 media mix

The Nine Entertainment – interesting word that – group now has the first fully owned media network we have ever seen in Australia spanning newspapers, television and radio in the two biggest cities of Sydney and Melbourne and also mostly (TV and radio) in the third biggest, Brisbane, writes News Corp’s Terry McCrann.

The combined Nine FTA-TV, print media and radio empire now has a total value of $3.2 billion – barely half what James Packer got just for the TV all of 13 years ago.

Further, around $1.1 billion of that comes from Nine’s 60 per cent stake in the Domain real estate print and mostly digital advertising business. “Everything else” is worth barely $2 billion – almost exactly as much as the whole Domain is worth.

Now, almost exactly the same has happened at News Corp, the Murdoch-controlled “other” major media group and of course publisher of this paper.

Today, News Corp is valued at $12 billion.

Nearly $9 billion of that comes from its 62 per cent stake in REA (Real Estate Dot Com), which has a market value of $14 billion – easily the biggest of any media/advertising company in Australia.

So everything else in News Corp adds up to $3 billion.

Thank goodness then, for the other of the two most spectacular and spectacularly timed deals: the decision by Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son and successor as executive chairman and CEO of Fox (the US electronic media business) and as co-chairman of News Corp to buy into REA when he, Lachlan, was running the Australian arm in the late 1990s in his mid-20s.

At that time REA was at death’s door; Murdoch secured a 40 per cent stake for just $2.5 million.

And the rest would be multi-billion dollar history.

Now, the News Corp stake in REA is up to nearly $9 billion, and three-quarters of the total group value.

Nine is, despite its 50-50 takeover of Fairfax (Fairfax shareholders got half the shares in the new company), and corporate board and management clearly believe it is, in the “entertainment” business not the news business.

Certainly, the two Melbourne and Sydney broadloids have – with the odd exception – long since ceased being in the news business.

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News Brands

Reuters creates events business for news with B2B company buyout

Thomson Reuters, the company behind news agency Reuters, has bought a global B2B events company which it has rebranded as Reuters Events and will operate under its news division, reports Press Gazette.

FC Business Intelligence delivers conferences and exhibitions to the energy, insurance, travel and technology sectors, among others. It is now part of Reuters News.

Reuters president Michael Friedenberg said: “This acquisition allows us to combine Reuters globally trusted brand, scale and editorial excellence with FCBI’s deep expertise in highly specialised events for professionals.”

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How The Financial Times is pursuing subscribers still in their teens

The Financial Times is expanding how it appeals to school students by creating more focused content and, in a novel twist, releasing a board game. One of the outcomes is that by instilling regular reading habits in younger people, they go on to subscribe to one of the FT’s university student packages, reports DigiDay.

The FT Schools initiative, where students between 16 and 19 years old can create online accounts giving them access to the FT’s content, began in the U.K. in June 2017 and expanded globally in January 2018. FT Schools now has more than 40,000 student accounts at 2,800 schools in 101 countries. As part of the program, students receive weekly emails featuring content tied to their specific fields of study, whether that’s economics, politics or the environment. It also shares video content and more tactical help with articles about how to get ahead in exams and interviews.

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Radio

As Nine completes Macquarie takeover, 2GB now dominates 4BC

The final local weekday program produced by 4BC for 4BC went to air just over two weeks ago as Mark Braybrook hosted his final drive program before the end of survey six. Brisbane media had speculated 2GB’s Ben Fordham would be heard in the market very soon.

Before that though was two weeks of Karl Stefanovic who hosted the 2GB/4BC drive survey break fortnight.

Braybrook no longer identifies himself as a 4BC commentator on his social media handles, it simply says “gone fishing”.

Fordham’s first show into Brisbane and other markets was on Monday. Listeners have been getting more detail about what’s happening in the sunshine state. Sydney listeners had an update on the Queensland premier’s foot injury on Monday afternoon, with the Sydney-based host explaining her trip to Roma this week will now be filled by another Queensland member of her party.

After launching his media career at Sydney’s Radio 2UE and Sky News Australia, Ben Fordham joined the Nine Network in 1999 and has enjoyed lengthy stints with A Current Affair and the Today show, and more recently as co-host of the ratings blockbuster Ninja Warrior.

Forham also won the prestigious Walkley Award for his coverage of the 1997 Thredbo landslide.

Ben Fordham said: “There’s some exciting stuff happening in Queensland and I’m really keen to get amongst it all. We’ll be talking about drought, population, mining, public transport, the justice system, sport and anything else that’s on your mind. I’ve been campaigning for some time to move an NRL grand final to Suncorp Stadium so that idea should find some strong support in Brisbane. We’ve also got to make sure this Olympic bid gets across the line for Queensland in 2032. The signs on that are super strong so you can bet the next decade is going to see some dramatic changes. My family has a lot of history in Brisbane, and my uncle David broadcast sport on Channel 7 and Channel 10 here for many years.”

MML Chief Executive Officer Adam Lang said: “I am delighted to be announcing Ben Fordham Live will now be heard Monday to Friday on 4BC. Ben’s passion for live, engaging radio ensures Brisbane listeners will be receiving the latest news and traffic, as well as having the opportunity to discuss a whole range of Brisbane and national issues every day on the open line. Ben’s credibility with his audience and his ability to deliver a result for advertisers make him an excellent choice to join the line-up at 4BC.”

Television

Robert Moran: Lindsay Lohan deserves a Logie for The Masked Singer

There’s one main reason why TV competition The Masked Singer is a primetime success, pulling in more than a million viewers an episode for Network 10 – and that reason is Lindsay Lohan, writes The Sydney Morning Herald’s Robert Moran.

But those people are not me and they’re wrong. The show’s drawcard is clearly Lohan, Hollywood royalty among a judging panel of local whatever (Dave Hughes‘ sultry locks excepted).

It’s perhaps predictable that Lohan’s pre-season appointment was met with such hostility, criticised as “stunt casting” for the sake of making headlines. Aussies hate when Americans get our TV jobs, echoes of cultural cringe and industry inferiority again brought to the fore. Imagine complaining about Lohan, though? What a sad existence.

For all the online mockery of Lohan’s stilted reactions when faced with a de-masked Gretel Killeen or Nikki Webster, she’s been a good sport embracing the “celebrities” on display, warmly praising their onstage efforts and blindly accepting our insistence she’s not being trolled – like that time Hughesy earnestly explained to her that Sheppard‘s Geronimo is a “famous song in Australia”. It’s no Sorrento Moon but fine, sure Hughesy.

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Darren McMullen is the voice behind the prawn on The Masked Singer

Actor and TV presenter Darren McMullen has apologised to family and friends for keeping secrets, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The 37-year-old was tonight revealed as the man behind the prawn costume on hit Channel 10 show, The Masked Singer.

The former host of The Voice, who is currently playing the character of Findlay Knock in Nine’s SeaChange, also suggested a career on Broadway could be his next move.

“It has been really tough (keeping the secret), especially with family and friends,” McMullen told Confidential.

“They all knew I was back working on something but the fact that I wouldn’t tell them what annoyed the hell out of them. Hopefully they’ll understand why I couldn’t say anything now and they will start talking to me again.”

McMullen is the fifth celebrity outed on the reality show, following the departures of former Big Brother host Gretel Killeen, rugby and rugby league great Wendell Sailor, performer Nikki Webster and cricketer Brett Lee.

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Sports Media

NRL grand final: TV audiences down, streaming up

Despite the NRL grand final’s historically-low TV audience, streaming on 9Now was up in comparison to last year. The broadcaster claims Sunday’s clash was streamed 413,000 times, an increase of 113 per cent in comparison to 2018, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.

Nine’s director of sport, Tom Malone, said the broadcaster was very happy with the weekend’s figures.

“At its peak, more than 3 million Australians were glued to their TV screens for last night’s thrilling NRL Grand Final,” he said. “As viewer consumption habits evolve, the numbers streaming the match on 9Now went gangbusters. More than 15 million minutes of NRL content was streamed on 9Now yesterday, with overall digital viewing up by 81 per cent on last year, further vindicating Nine’s strategy to acquire all rights across all platforms so we can reach viewers anywhere, anytime.”

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