Mediaweek Roundup: AAP, Network 10, SBS, ABC, Roxy Jacenko + more

News Corp, Neil Mitchell, BBC Australia, David Mott, South Australia, Netflix, Seven, Cricket Australia, Craig Hutchison, and Brownlow Medal

Business of Media

ViacomCBS expected to import exec to help lead Network 10

Network Ten is believed to be getting closer to ending its hunt for a new executive to help with commercial and operations to work with content boss Beverley McGarvey, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

UK-based executive search firm Mission Bay has been searching for a chief operations and commercial officer (COCO) for Ten since chief executive Paul Anderson announced his departure in March, and finally left the business at the end of June. Anderson is not being directly replaced. Instead, Ten will run a dual-head structure with McGarvey and a new COCO.

McGarvey and the new COCO will report to Maria Kyriacou, president of ViacomCBS Networks International’s operations in Australia and the UK, who recently moved to the US giant from ITV studios.

Mission Bay is understood to have approached a number of senior executives in their search, including Foxtel executive Amanda Laing, who ultimately expanded her remit at the News Corp-majority owned pay-TV provider, as well as Nine executives Lizzy Young, Alexi Baker and Michael Stephenson. Former Zenith Media global chief executive Matt James and NBCUniversal international networks and television Australia and New Zealand MD Chris Taylor were also believed to be in the mix.

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‘Perplexed’ SBS boss rejected offer to move in and share costs with ABC

SBS managing director James Taylor rejected an offer from his counterpart at the ABC, David Anderson, to share offices and explore other merged services such as travel in a terse email exchange about how the two government-funded broadcasters could save money, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Anderson, who sent the letter before unveiling his five-year plan in June, said sharing office space would allow the two broadcasters to save money on on-site security and cleaners and share access to broadcast vans.

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Roxy Jacenko focuses on building her brands, running online marketing courses

Sydney PR maven Roxy Jacenko subscribes to H.G Wells’ famous mantra, “adapt or perish”, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

When the coronavirus brought the Australian economy to a sudden halt in March, Jacenko’s successful Sweaty Betty PR outfit lost 85 per cent of its business in just three days.

Knowing most of her regular clients wouldn’t be opening their wallets for at least another six months, Jacenko says she had to get creative in order to stay afloat.

Jacenko is currently putting the finishing touches on her second online course, titled The Marketing Bootcamp. The five-week course will kick off mid-October, consisting of live Facebook chats as well as social media and event training.

As well as working on her businesses, Jacenko is set to debut on Seven’s reality show SAS Australia, her second TV stint after appearing on Celebrity Apprentice on Nine in 2013.

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Raising funds is key for new AAP, says CEO Emma Cowdroy

Australian Associated Press newly appointed chief executive Emma Cowdroy is facing myriad challenges to keep the recently revived newswire viable – but the need to develop a strong fundraising arm is crucial, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

AAP secured a $5m lifeline from the Morrison government a few weeks ago with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher declaring the newswire was key for maintaining media diversity.

AAP is looking to raise $500,000 through a crowd-funding campaign, with almost $125,000 pledged since the appeal was launched in September.

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Newswire AAP discussed move into ABC headquarters

National newswire Australian Associated Press was in talks with the ABC about leasing space in its Sydney Ultimo headquarters but the negotiations were put on hold amid funding concerns, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

AAP has been searching for new office space since it was saved from closure by a group of investors and philanthropists in August and left its office in Rhodes.

An ABC spokesman confirmed negotiations had taken place to lease office space but said AAP ended the negotiations.

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McKinsey explores growth options for News Corp Australia

News Corp Australia has tapped management consultancy firm McKinsey to help develop growth opportunities for the Rupert Murdoch-controlled business following a year of major restructuring for the local publishing operations, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

In 2018 and 2019 after McKinsey worked through the integration of Foxtel and Fox Sports, it worked for more than a year on digital growth options for the pay-TV provider.

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Radio

Why 3AW radio king Neil Mitchell could struggle to stay on air

Melbourne’s “voice of the people” of talkback radio Neil Mitchell has been quietly battling a respiratory issue that could at its worse muffle the powerhouse news breaker, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Mitchell, who hosts 3AW’s ratings winning Morning shift, has been undergoing tests over recent months to get to the bottom of why his voice has become at times raspy, weakened or husky.

Having recorded his best ratings in 23 years at AW with last week’s ratings survey, Mitchell revealed he had been diagnosed with adult asthma and had undergone speech therapy.

“I have developed asthma, which is not unusual in my family, everybody seems to do it when they get to my age,” Mitchell said.

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Television

COVID-19 increases hunger for quality content: BBC Australia boss

BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand general manager Fiona Lang says demand for premium drama, children’s content and classic comedy during COVID-19 has delivered bumper audiences for its programming, with families turning to trusted content during lockdowns, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

BBC Studios sells programming across pay and free-to-air TV, channels to pay TV providers such as Foxtel, Fetch and Sky New Zealand, operates a live events business, and produces shows such as Dancing with the Stars for the Ten Network, Filthy Rich and Homeless for SBS, and the Great Australian Bake Off for Foxtel.

BBC co-commissions children’s TV sensation Bluey, produced by Queensland’s Ludo Studio – a cartoon that tells stories of a six-year old blue heeler dog and her family in a quintessentially Australian way. BBC has the international distribution rights (it has now done a deal with Disney+) as well as global merchandising rights.

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How fitness fanatic TV boss kept production ticking during COVID

Like most Australians cooped up in isolation David Mott took the opportunity to get his house in order. But for the veteran TV executive it was a little flashier than just learning how to make a good sourdough starter, reports WAtoday’s Hamish Hastie.

A self-confessed fitness fanatic, the Esperance-born, now Sydney-based head of ITV Studios Australia dropped $5.25 million on a new apartment in Darling Point. He then decked it out with $15,000 worth of gym equipment after his favourite workout spot closed down. It’s a purchase he jokes probably wasn’t the best idea.

ITV delayed its raunchy, tropical skin-fest Love Island but Mott beams with pride when he explains that none of their in-production shows suffered a permanent shutdown and they have been able to keep job losses to a minimum.

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SA’s COVID-free status and locations the perfect recipe to lure films & TV

More than $1.2bn worth of “footloose” film productions around the world are looking for a new home – and South Australia is in the box seat, reports News Corp’s Lisa Woolford.

Key industry figures say the state is perfectly placed to capitalise on its current COVID-free status.

SA Film Corporation chief executive officer Kate Croser has been fielding requests from across the world looking to shoot in our fabulous locations.

“With the SAFC’s Adelaide studios facilities back open for business, we know that there is currently as much as $1.2bn worth of footloose production around the world looking for a new home,” she said. “And with SA one of the safest places in the world right now, and one of the first places in the world to have resumed screen production after COVID delays, we are attracting global interest as a really attractive location for filming and production.”

Croser hints there will be big announcements out of SA in the near future.

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How a Sydney teen walked into a role on Amazon’s Walking Dead spin-off

Hal Cumpston was in Los Angeles in February, about to experience the difference scoring a lead role in a major American TV series can make in the life of a 20-year-old Australian lad, when everything changed, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

“It was supposed to be the time I took meetings, acted like a real actor, possibly got some traction on the scripts I had written, paid for an apartment,” the Bondi-born star of The Walking Dead: World Beyond says. “And then the sky fell in.”

Right now, Cumpston should be shooting the second season of the show in Richmond, Virginia. Instead, he’s home in Sydney.

But with the first season set to drop on Amazon on Monday, Cumpston is in no mood to complain. In fact, he’s still not sure how he got here. “I need to get my origin story down pat because I don’t know the exact details,” he jokes.

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‘Explosion of unscripted content’: Netflix push into reality TV puts rivals on notice

Netflix’s slate of original reality shows has surged by as much as 700 per cent over two years, as streaming services seek to diversify their catalogues in the ongoing battle to win and retain subscribers, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.

Australian reality TV producer Chris Culvenor, who helped develop the Netflix series Dating Around, said Netflix’s rush to invest in reality would inevitably influence the content people watch on free-to-air TV and vice-versa.

“We’re seeing broadcasters take new risks,” he said, citing his forthcoming extreme miniature golf series Holey Moley, which has been commissioned by Seven and began shooting in Queensland last week.

“There’s a generation of programmers who are competing with Netflix and Amazon and they need to compete with programs that are world class.”

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Sports Media

Seven West Media hits Cricket Australia TV discount bid for six

Seven West Media has rebuffed a last-minute bid by Cricket Australia to salvage the sport’s lucrative television deal, with the broadcaster insisting the cash discount tabled by CA – in recognition of the looming season’s weakened schedule – does not reflect the extent of the network’s predicted financial losses, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

It is understood that last week CA offered Seven a discount “in the vicinity of 20 per cent” on its annual fee of $75m, but the network deemed that the estimated $15m cash reduction “wasn’t nearly enough” given the “unacceptable adjustments” to this summer’s cricket program.

Fox Sports, which shares the television cricket broadcasting rights with Seven, is believed to have been offered a similar compensation deal by CA, but its negotiations with the sport’s governing body are said to be “positive”.

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Craig Hutchison rakes it in despite a COVID pay cut

Sports reporter turned media mogul Craig Hutchison has taken a hefty pay cut to help his company, Pacific Star Network, through the coronavirus crisis, but still took home a salary of more than $600,000 last financial year, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Hutchison, who is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Pacific Star Network which is changing its name to Sports Entertainment Network, was paid a total salary package of $624,246 for the 2019-2020 year compared to $767,405 the previous year.

He also received an additional $400,000 for talent and consulting services that were paid via his company Craig Hutchison Media Pty Ltd which covers a variety of TV and radio roles including his hosting of Footy Classified, The Sounding Board podcast and SEN’s Off The Bench. He received the same amount the previous year.

Hutchison, along with the other Pacific Star Network directors including Craig Coleman and Chris Giannopoulos, took a 20 per cent pay cut as COVID-19 started to have a dramatic impact on the Australian economy.

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Jacqui Felgate joins Hamish McLachlan to co-host 2020 Brownlow Medal count

Long-time Channel Seven sports presenter and Footy Central host Jacqui Felgate will join Hamish McLachlan (pictured) in hosting the AFL’s Brownlow Medal count, on Sunday October 18.

In a year when the Brownlow count will be held as a made-for-TV event, Felgate and McLachlan will co-host a special broadcast on the eve of Grand Final week, with Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale the favourite to be crowned 2020’s fairest and best player ahead of a star-studded field that includes Travis Boak, Christian Petracca, Jack Steele and past winners Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield.

Front Bar stars Mick Molloy, Sam Pang and Andy Maher, will also join Seven’s broadcast to add their unique take on the night’s proceedings, while one of this year’s Brownlow favourites will be put under the spotlight in an interview with a hard-hitting team of NAB AFL Auskickers.

The AFL Mark of the Year, AFL Goal of the Year and Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award will also be announced during Seven’s broadcast.

McLachlan, who will host his second Brownlow count this year, is excited by 2020’s different format:

“It will be a different Brownlow count this year, not having a room filled with the players, but the significance of the night remains just the same. To be crowned the game’s fairest and best is life changing, so we will try very hard to ensure that prestige remains amongst all the changes we face. Lachie Neale and Trav Boak look to be the two for me, but this year has shown whatever you think, counts for very little. I’m really looking forward to working with Jacqui. Jac loves her footy, is a great live performer and will do a terrific job bringing to life the players’ stories.”

Felgate says it will be a privilege to be part of football’s most iconic night as the first ever female co-host:

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for so many, but Brownlow night will give Australians the chance to celebrate the very best in footy, both on and off the field. It’s an honour to stand alongside one of the finest broadcasters in the country in Hamish McLachlan, and to look back at the remarkable moments that gave us so much joy – when we needed it the most. It will be a Brownlow with a difference, but it will be something very special indeed. And I promise to keep everyone on time, there will be no excuses this year!”

Managing director Seven Melbourne and head of network sport Lewis Martin commented:

“This year’s count will be a Brownlow like no other. A lot could go wrong, there’s no mistaking that. We’ll be relying on a lot of technology and plenty of moving parts coming together on the night. But the broadcast will be in safe hands with Hamish and Jacqui, with a little help from The Front Bar team. And we can always rely on two things on Brownlow night – the gripping drama that just builds and builds during the count, and the prestige that’s instantly bestowed on the player who joins a who’s who of football’s greatest names on the Brownlow honour roll.”

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