Mediaweek Roundup: ABC, Google, FIFA Women’s World Cup + more

• Guy Sebastian, International Format Awards, Cameron Daddo, T20 World Cup, and Craig Foster

Business of Media

Arts reporter on of the casualties in ABC’s war on costs

The ABC’s news division has abolished its arts and entertainment round, cut jobs in Brisbane and Melbourne from its investigations unit and reduced the number of annual episodes for Foreign Correspondent and Australian Story as part of its cost-saving measures, report The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich and Nick Tabakoff.

This is in addition to the axing of its chief economics correspondent’s position, held by Emma Alberici, and two business reporters, with up to 70 roles to be axed from the news division.

Foreign Correspondent will lose two episodes and be broadcast 22 times a year, while Australian Story will lose four stories a year.

One of the jobs to be abolished in the ABC’s investigations unit will be the freedom of information editor’s role, based in Brisbane.

The ABC’s national arts, culture and entertainment reporter, Michaela Boland, whose position on the specialist reporting team has been made redundant, told The Australian she was committed to challenging management’s decision. “The arts and culture are of massive significance to Australians, and I’m going to spend the next few weeks working to convince ABC management of this,” Boland said on Thursday.

[Read more]

Ita Buttrose lashes government over handling of ABC funding cuts

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has lashed out at Communications Minister Paul Fletcher over the Morrison government’s handling of its multimillion-dollar budget cuts and accused him of lying about the national broadcaster’s efforts to collaborate with SBS, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rob Harris and Zoe Samios.

In a fresh war of words between the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and the Coalition government, Buttrose has accused Fletcher of twice failing to provide the ABC board and management with the critical data that informed an independent report proposing the closure of two broadcast channels and the sharing of back-office and support services with fellow public broadcaster SBS.

Buttrose said several media reports, which ABC management believes were informed by Fletcher, had suggested the ABC “had neglected to ‘collaborate more closely with SBS'”.

Buttrose has also said the government misrepresented the ABC’s efforts to work closer with SBS.

In a strongly-worded letter to Fletcher, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Buttrose said the ABC’s board had asked her to “convey its concerns” about Fletcher’s lack of response to correspondence between the pair in September last year.

“This is incorrect,” Buttrose wrote. “David Anderson has had several conversations with SBS about sharing costs”.

[Read more]

Google signs landing agreements with a number of publishers

Google has landed agreements with a number of publishers to license news content, including in Australia, in an about-face that shows the tech giant is ready to begin paying for news, reports The Australian’s David Swan.

After years of declaring it would not pay media companies for using their content, Google said late on Thursday that it had reached agreements with Adelaide-based local newspaper publisher Solstice Media, Schwartz Media and The Conversation, as well as Germany’s Spiegel Group, publisher of Der Spiegel, and Brazilian media company Diarios Associados.

Google has not signed any partnerships with publishers in the US however, or with any major publishers in Australia yet including News Corp, publisher of The Australian, or Nine. It is understood to be in advanced talks with Australian Community Media, which publishes about 160 rural titles, as well as the major publishers.

[Read more]

Entertainment

Arts funding: Guy Sebastian defends himself after Scott Morrison appearance

Guy Sebastian has defended his appearance at a press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying his decision was not political but to defend the arts and entertainment industry.

The pop singer flanked Morrison at a theatre in Rooty Hill on Thursday to announce a $250 million package aimed at creating jobs, however his appearance was met with backlash on social media and ‘Guy Sebastian’ quickly became the top trending topic in Australia.

“Guy Sebastian just got political – and for me – he’s on the wrong side,” one Twitter user said.

One of the major criticisms of Sebastian’s support for the package was that the successful mainstream star doesn’t represent the struggling artists that need help from the government.

Sebastian defended himself following the outcry saying he joined Morrison to “provide perspective of the deep seeded economic hardship that has crippled the entertainment industry due to the COVID pandemic”.

“The whole industry from tech crew to musicians and all those that consult to the entertainment community are in serious need of stimulus,” he said.

[Read more]

Television

Holey Moley, Old People’s Home win international format awards

Australian producers Eureka Productions and Endemol Shine Australia have won at the International Format Awards held by UK-based trade publication C21, reports TV Tonight.

Holey Moley by Eureka Productions won the Best Competition Reality Format. The series is now in its second season on ABC (US) where it is winning its slot and demos.

Seven is now looking to 2021 for an Australian production, with a set likely in NSW or Queensland which could be used as a hub for other international productions.

Meanwhile Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds by Endemol Shine Australia won Best Factual Format. Based on a UK series the production was commissioned by Josie Mason-Campbell who this week was made redundant by ABC.

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Studio 10 apologises for ‘offensive’ interview with Lawrence Mooney

Lawrence Mooney has struck again, reports news.com.au.

Studio 10 was forced to apologise to viewers this week after the comedian, under the guise of “Sydney’s meanest TV critic, Rudi Vanderstone”, dropped some clangers at the expense of industry names.

Among his risque quips, he called Studio 10 “a place on television where careers can go to die,” described MAFS as “real estate agents and beauticians falling in love under the auspices of alcohol to rub their skin together….” and referred to morning TV as a space for “sl*t-shaming and casual racism”.

It was the latter that seemed to cause the most offence to hosts, and the look on Natarsha Belling’s face said it all.

“So what do you think of our show Rudi? What do you think of Studio 10?,” host Joe Hildebrand had asked the comedian, who is hosting the Steaming Brown Logies in lieu of the actual event, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, on Triple M’s Moonman in the Morning.

“Well I thought you’d never ask. It’s great that there’s a place on television where careers go to die,” he responded, adding: “As a Dutchman, I love to settle down in the morning with a cup of coffee to watch some sl*t shaming and casual racism.”

While Hildebrand laughed at the joke, Belling looked appalled, her mouth open in shock.

[Read more]

Cameron Daddo on his Australia soapie debut at Summer Bay

When he recently began a guest role on Home & Away, Cameron Daddo made his debut in soap opera, reports TV Tonight.

He’s worked as a performer since 1987 on stage and screen, but the closest he’s ever come to soap was Melrose Place spin-off Models Inc. alongside such names as Linda Gray and Carrie-Anne Moss.

“I would see that as an evening soap, or melodrama. But that was the only one I did. I’ve never worked on an Australian soap before,” he tells TV Tonight.

But playing singer-songwriter Evan, the estranged father of Home & Away’s Ryder (Lukas Radovich), he was kept on his toes with their frenetic pace.

“As actors we can spend a lot of time standing around and contemplating our navels while we’re waiting for set-ups and things like that. But that just doesn’t exist in the world of Home & Away. I often found myself saying, ‘We’re actually doing this!’” he recalls.

“It’s like one rehearsal for cameras and then bang, you’re into it! If everything fell in, we’re moving on.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Australia and New Zealand win 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid

Australia and New Zealand will host the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup after FIFA president Gianna Infantino swung behind the trans-Tasman bid for its technical excellence, reports The Australian’s Jacquelin Magnay.

The Australia-New Zealand dual bid, the first in which countries will jointly host a World Cup, beat Colombia 22-13 during voting of the FIFA council in Switzerland early this morning.

“You have made not one but two countries extremely happy. We are pleased what we have been given, we know the work to be done,” Football Federation Australia president Chris Nikou said.

Seven Australian and five New Zealand cities will host the World Cup in July 2023. FIFA has pledged $US100m in prizemoney and team-related costs but is hoping the World Cup will be commercially attractive enough to be able to stand on its own in the future.

The vote itself was significant, revealing vestiges of the old-FIFA and some last minute lobbying which included concerns about potential border closures and quarantine issues in Australia and New Zealand if the coronavirus pandemic continued and there was no development of a vaccine.

[Read more]

Moving the T20 Cricket World Cup could cost them free-to-air broadcaster

Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup could risk being stranded without a free-to-air-broadcaster, as Channel 9 waits to see when the tournament will be moved to, reports News Corp’s Ben Horne.

There are fears Australia may be forced to wait until 2022 to host the T20 showpiece due to COVID-19, but any change at all from the scheduled slot this October opens up the possibility Channel 9 could explore its options to get out of its deal and save $15-20 million under the force majeure clause.

In the event that the World Cup rights did get put out to market again, the International Cricket Council would struggle to find another taker, given the uncertain current climate which may be best defined by Channel 7 reportedly trying to sell off the Big Bash earlier this year only to be knocked back by an equally cash-strapped Channel 10.

It’s understood doubt over global broadcasting rights arrangements is one of the main reasons why the International Cricket Council is yet to confirm that the Australian tournament will be moved to either October 2021 or 22, and an announcement may not come until the middle of July.

[Read more]

Craig Foster has left the building: Host makes final SBS appearance

Craig Foster has made his final appearance as a fulltime SBS employee on the hosting rights coverage after Australia and New Zealand won 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup rights this morning. It brings to an end his 18-year career at the broadcaster.

Craig Foster said: “My deepest gratitude to SBS Chairpersons, Directors, management, colleagues and our loyal viewers across football and news for an incredible journey. SBS provided not just an opportunity, but a mission back in 2002 and I instantly knew that we were aligned in our values, love of football and vision for the game.

“But the organisational spirit of inclusion, acceptance of diversity and promotion of Australia’s multicultural heart struck me most deeply.

“We brought this to life through football, but the mission was always to create a better Australia and world.

“My own challenges lie in this field and I will miss the people, above all, though I will never be too far away.

“I will always be deeply proud of having called SBS home for so long and look forward to walking down memory lane and thanking everyone personally over the next month.”

SBS Managing Director, James Taylor, said: “Craig is one of the finest football analysts and commentators, and has made a significant contribution to SBS over almost two decades.

“He embodies the personal and professional qualities that SBS espouses and we will watch with interest as he continues to break new ground, both as a former professional athlete and a strong advocate for social inclusion.

“While he will be missed as a regular in the studio, and by all that have worked with him, we look forward to working with Craig down the track.”

SBS Director of Sport, Ken Shipp, said: “Craig has lived the values of our Charter in promoting multiculturalism, inclusion and social harmony and his list of achievements is vast.

“From his famous, passionate commentary on the Socceroos’ 2005 World Cup Qualifier, developing a primary school football game for Harmony Day, winning three Logies as part of our amazing SBS World Game team, to championing the game of football in a way of which few are capable, Craig walked in the shoes of former great football advocates, Johnny Warren and Les Murray, and carried a proud legacy for two decades.

“I will enjoy watching him continue to rise. The door remains always open to work together again and I know there is nothing that he cannot achieve. Craig will always be part of the SBS family.”

SBS Sport presenter, Lucy Zelić, said: “There will never, ever be another Craig Foster and SBS, together with the Australian football community, have been immeasurably fortunate to have a man of his talents, credibility and professionalism dedicated to the cause.

“I always knew the day would come when Craig would be called upon for a greater purpose and I have no doubt in my mind that my beloved friend will continue to shine and inspire us all on his journey. He will always have a seat beside me at SBS, ready and waiting.”

SBS plans to continue working with Foster in the future on the network’s marquee football events.

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