Mediaweek Roundup: ABC cost cutting, Ryan Phelan, Jackie O + more

• Sinead Boucher, Junkee, Ai-Media, Max & Partners, and AFLW

Business of Media

ABC board elects to take 10% pay cut amid economic slump

Board members at the ABC have elected to take a 10% pay cut over the next six months in recognition of the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus, which has sparked mass unemployment and cut a swathe through commercial media, reports Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy.

With the ABC poised on Wednesday to unveil its five-year strategic plan taking account of government budget cuts, Guardian Australia understands the board wrote to the Remuneration Tribunal and received its consent to cut fees by 10% for six months from July to December this year.

Board fees at the broadcaster range between $126,928 and $47,821, according to the ABC’s annual report.

The board’s move follows a decision by David Anderson, the ABC’s managing director, to take a 5% salary cut. Anderson told a staff meeting in mid-May that senior executives would forgo their bonuses and “at-risk” payments this financial year because of the Covid-19 crisis.

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ABC ‘Life’ unit in focus as MD Anderson prepares to unveil budget cuts

The ABC’s online lifestyle platform will be overhauled under a five-year strategic plan to be announced on Wednesday aimed at cutting costs and adapting the national broadcaster to a funding freeze imposed by the Morrison government, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios and Nick Bonyhady.

Managing director David Anderson will announce the long-anticipated plan to staff at midday in what will be his most significant announcement since he took over the top job from Michelle Guthrie in September 2018. The “Five Year Plan” is expected to include up to 250 job cuts across the organisation and change various departments including its product and content technology division and the ABC Life website.

High-level executives were briefed about budget changes on Tuesday afternoon but ABC sources said rank and file staff would not be informed of specific cuts until after Anderson’s online briefing. One ABC source assured that no changes would be made to the public broadcaster’s regional and rural newsrooms, which were praised for last summer’s coverage of the bushfire crisis.

[Read more]

From police beat to Stuff owner: Sinead Boucher, NZ’s newest media mogul

When Sinead Boucher started out in journalism her editors weren’t too bothered if she filed a story each day. Such was the number of journalists on the payroll at The Press in Christchurch, and such was the money fuelling the industry, reports Guardian Australia’s New Zealand correspondent Eleanor Ainge Roy.

Fast-forward 28 years and the paper, like all other Stuff mastheads, teeters on the verge of viability, and the brand has been involved in an ugly buyout process, shedding regional staff, scaling back original content and homogenising under the brand name in an attempt to survive the print media crisis.

“Some of those times [during the buyout process] were probably some of the lowest times I have had during my career,” says Boucher, Stuff’s new chief executive.

Stuff is New Zealand’s biggest media website, prints many of the nation’s daily newspapers, and employs about 900 staff, including 400 journalists. Staff agreed to 15% pay cuts in April during the national coronavirus shutdown

It was in the charged environment of the coronavirus lockdown – with the government announcing a media rescue package and Bauer closing some of the country’s most respected and iconic magazines – that Boucher, 49, reached out to Australia’s Nine, offering to buy Stuff for NZ$1.

She now has plans for a staff ownership model and a charter for editorial independence, although she says she has not yet decided what the exact model would look like. Plans for a merger with another company or laying off staff are off the table.

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Rob Stott promoted as Tim Duggan steps back from Junkee role

Junkee Media publisher and co-founder Tim Duggan will be taking a step back from the publisher in October this year, becoming editor-at-large after 14 years at the helm of the leading youth brand.

The move will see current managing editor Rob Stott (pictured), who has been with the company for three years, promoted to editorial director to lead the written and video output across both Junkee Media and content for parent company oOh!media. A new managing editor will be hired to replace Stott.

Duggan decided to step back from the business he formed with Neil Ackland to enable him to spend more time writing, travelling and developing other projects. His first non-fiction book, Cult Status: How to Build a Business People Adore, will be published on 2 July.

Duggan said that the last decade and a half had marked a special time in his career.

“I’m so proud of everything we’ve been able to build with Junkee Media – the team, the stories we’ve told, the content we’ve produced and the people we’ve reached,” Duggan said.

“Being an integral part of oOh!media for the last four years has also taught me so much, and I’m eternally grateful to Brendon Cook and the oOh! family for helping us grow and thrive.

“I’m also grateful to Neil Ackland, my business partner and CEO, who I’ve worked with every single day since co-founding a website with him in 2006 that somehow evolved into the beautiful beast that is Junkee Media now.

“It feels right to be finishing up full-time at Junkee when it’s in such a good place with a talented team and we’re starting to see business optimism returning, and look forward to still being involved in the company as editor-at-large.”

Neil Ackland, oOh!’s chief content, marketing & creative officer, said Duggan had been an integral part of the evolution of Junkee Media and that his influence would continue in his new role.

“Tim has made an outstanding contribution to Junkee. There is no way we would be where we are today without him, and we’re eternally grateful for what he’s done for the Junkee brand. We’re glad that he’ll still be playing a role in the business and wish him all the best in his new adventures,” Ackland said.

“We’re excited to have Rob step up to add a new dimension to the editorial side of the business, which comes at a time when we have so many exciting projects on the horizon, such as the relaunch of our AWOL travel and lifestyle site.”

Float hopeful Ai-Media pitches corporate work, offshore growth

In a throwback to the pre COVID-19 era, initial public offering Ai-Media has spent the past few days in front of fund managers outlining its business and proposed path to the ASX boards, reports Street Talk in The AFR.

Fundies reckon the presentation (or phone call) was typically light on financial details. AI-Media management reiterated its $32 million revenue number, recorded across the first 10 months of the 2020 financial year, and talked about double-digit topline growth.

It said COVID-19 had presented an opportunity and a curse. While AI-Media’s work captioning and translating live events – sporting games, conference and the like – dried up overnight, corporate clients needed captioning and translation services for their round the clock online meetings.

Funds were told the business’ shareholders included former Austar and Foxtel executive Deanne Weir (who doubles as chairman), chief executive and co-founder Tony Abrahams, and a host of other investors brought in during recent funding rounds.

[Read more]

See also: Ai-Media expanding with US acquisition, closes fundraising round

Gerard Max’s Melbourne media boutique bought by global agency

Global marketing agency Hearts & Science has signed on the dotted line to snap up a Melbourne boutique and bolster its outpost Down Under, reports Street Talk in The AFR.

The Omnicom Media Group-owned Hearts & Science has acquired ex-Nine sales director Gerard Max‘s boutique agency Max & Partners, with Max set to join Hearts & Science as a managing partner out of its Melbourne office from this month.

Max is expected to bring key clients – including online retailer Catch, Maserati Melbourne, sports equipment business Mizuno and milk powder outfit Nature One Dairy – across to Hearts & Science alongside him and his team.

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ARN breakfast host acquires incredible $11m residence

Superstar radio host Jackie O’s search for a new home during COVID-19 is over, with her snap purchase of an incredible home in Woollahra for $11 million, reports News Corp’s Stephen Nicholls.

It’s the Nick Tobias-designed four-bedroom, three-bathroom residence with double garage overlooking Cooper Park – owned by high-profile stockbroker Angus Aitken and his wife Sarah – that hit on Friday.

The sales agent, Ben Collier of the Agency – who had the plum listing exclusively – had a guide of above $10 million. But my sources say it’s fetched $1 million more. It’s been up online for just three days but buyers have been shown through the home over the past few weeks.

When contacted, Collier said he couldn’t confirm the identity of the buyer or the purchase price due to a confidentiality agreement. But multiple sources have confirmed that the popular “Kyle and Jackie O” co-host won the keys and revealed what she paid.

Rubinstein refused to comment when contacted this morning, but it makes sense he was involved since he was the agent that did the deal on the Vaucluse home she shared with former husband Lee Henderson.

[Read more]


Ryan Phelan domestic violence charges: Girlfriend Chelsea ‘devastated’

Ryan Phelan’s girlfriend says she is “completely devastated” after the former Channel 7 host was charged with domestic violence offences against her, report News Corp’s Mark Morri, Jonathon Moran and Karlie Rutherford.

Phelan agreed to be interviewed by detectives and presented himself at Manly Police Station yesterday before being charged with assault occasioning bodily harm against his live-in partner Chelsea Franklin on Saturday night.

“I am completely devastated. I’m heartbroken,” the ballet teacher told The Daily Telegraph. “He was my best friend and lover. We have had an amazing wonderful relationship so I hope he is okay.”

In a bold move, Phelan’s co-host Sally Obermeder, dressed in white, opened Tuesday’s show by acknowledging the former TV host’s charges.

“Before we go on I want to take the opportunity to address Ryan Phelan’s absence from the program. Ryan will not be returning to The Daily Edition due to the serious allegations that have being made against him,” she said.

“The network was unaware of these allegations until notified last night. We are all understandably shocked by the situation but as the matter is now before the courts, we won’t be commenting further.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

COVID-safe: AFLW to remain untouched from cost cutting

The national women’s competition will be spared from the AFL’s dramatic cost-cutting with the league’s commission determined to plough ahead with plans to grow AFLW despite the toll of the coronavirus, reports The Age’s Daniel Cherny.

While this year’s AFLW season was cut short – before a premiership had been won – because of COVID-19, the AFL confirmed late on Tuesday afternoon that the women’s league would restart as scheduled next February with a nine-round home and away season and three weeks of finals, as enshrined in the AFLW collective bargaining agreement, signed after weeks of acrimony last October.

“It is the commission’s view that it is critical at this juncture to provide clarity to the AFLW clubs and players by demonstrating our ongoing commitment to women’s football and the NAB AFLW competition,’ AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

[Read more]

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