Mediaweek Roundup: ABC job cuts, News Corp, The Voice + more

• Music industry, Line of Duty, Little Britain and Lisa Sthalekar

Business of Media

ABC job cuts loom as MD asks staff to volunteer for redundancies

The ABC has asked staff to volunteer for redundancies as it prepares to axe more than 200 positions to meet the Federal Government’s $84 million budget cut, reports ABC’s Jane Norman.

In an email to all staff, managing director David Anderson confirmed he will outline the national broadcaster’s five-year strategy by the end of the month, along with its response to the looming funding shortfall.

“The budget challenge presented to us by the indexation pause remains and we will also need to finalise savings initiatives to meet this challenge,” he said in the email.

It is unclear exactly how many of the ABC’s 4,650 staff will go but Anderson said employees in some divisions will be able to volunteer for redundancies from today, through an expression of interest process.

[Read more]

Hundreds more jobs to go at News Corp Australia and ABC

Hundreds of jobs in journalism are going after News Corp and the ABC both announced significant cuts as they reshape their businesses towards lower costs bases, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Staff at News Corp were briefed on Tuesday that the Rupert Murdoch controlled publisher will cut under 100 jobs across its metropolitan mastheads, including The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun, as well as its national newspaper The Australian.

At the same time, staff at the ABC were told management expects up to 250 redundancies will be necessary to meet the $41 million per year budget gap, following an indexation freeze.

As of June 30, 2019, the ABC employed 4649 people across Australia, equivalent to around 4007 full-time employees. At the time, 2810, or 70.1 per cent, were employed for content making.

[Read more]

Musicians warn gov’t venues and jobs will be lost forever without aid

More than 1000 musicians and music workers from Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham to Jessica Mauboy and Tina Arena have sent an SOS begging the Federal Government to back the embattled industry with financial support for its post COVID survival, reports News Corp’s Kathy McCabe.

There is “deep anxiety” within the arts community about the future of 4000 venues and thousands of skilled workers, such as sound and lighting technicians, who may be forced to leave the music industry because of the indefinite pandemic shutdown.

It can take eight years to develop the skills of the specialised crew who make gigs happen.

The open letter features the who’s who of Australian artists from big name chart-toppers including the entire Barnes family, Savage Garden, Gotye, Guy Sebastian, Icehouse, Tina Arena and Midnight Oil, through to alternative and emerging artists such as the Teskey Brothers, Thelma Plum, Stella Donnelly, Jack River, The Rubens, Alex Lahey and Lime Cordiale.

[Read more]

Television

Coaches stuck, new mentors, no audiences: COVID-19 impacts The Voice

Making a TV show in the middle of a pandemic outbreak was never going to be easy. Not making it turned out to be even more challenging – but the enforced downtime ended up creating something truly unique, reports nine.com.au’s Lulu Wilkinson.

This season, coaches Kelly Rowland and Boy George will connect via satellite, while mentors The Veronicas and Marcia Hines join the team to assist.

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, things have finally started to change for TV productions and this week, The Voice Australia finally resumed shooting. That came with a scaled back crew, hygiene at the forefront and safety a key priority for everyone concerned.

Like many companies, the crew has been split into two core teams to be able to adapt to any future changes.

“Kelly and George have been working closely with us to figure out the best way for them to continue to mentor the talent they have invested in from the Blind Auditions,” confirmed the show’s supervising executive producer Leigh Aramberri. “We have managed to work out a way for them to mentor remotely via FaceTime and they will both be sitting in their red chairs via satellite.”

For the hands-on factor, Kelly and Boy George have enlisted local mentors to assist the artists on the ground. The Veronicas will mentor Boy George’s team, while Marcia Hines will assist Kelly with her team. Both coaches are happy to entrust their teams with the experienced singers, especially when it comes to practical advice.

[Read more]

ITV Studios new TV home of world’s best police drama Line of Duty

ITV Studios is the new international home of the upcoming sixth season of the hit police drama, Line of Duty, created by Jed Mercurio and produced by World Productions.

Currently in production, although paused during lockdown, Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting, Boardwalk Empire, Giri/Haji) guest stars in a new leading role as Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson – a senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder, whose unconventional conduct raises suspicions at AC-12. Series leads Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar will all return.

In Australia Line of Duty is available on Netflix, Foxtel, Stan and Acorn.

Jed Mercurio, creator and writer of Line of Duty said, “Everyone involved in Line of Duty will be delighted that the series will be available to our many loyal fans around the world.”

Ruth Berry, managing director, Global Distribution at ITV Studios, said, “I’m so pleased that we can take the upcoming season of the hugely addictive and hotly anticipated Line of Duty series to market. It’s a formidable show that has grown from strength to strength and really is ‘must-see’ drama. We are thrilled to represent another Jed Mercurio and World Productions masterpiece on the global stage.”

Line Of Duty is written and created by Jed Mercurio, and made for BBC One by World Productions. The new series will be directed by Daniel Nettheim (Broadchurch, Doctor Who), Gareth Bryn (Hinterland, Last Tango In Halifax), and Jennie Darnell (Bodyguard, Hetty Feather), and the producer is Ken Horn (The Moorside, Line of Duty series five). Executive producers are Jed Mercurio, Simon Heath for World Productions, and Tommy Bulfin for BBC One.

Little Britain removed from streaming platforms due to use of blackface

Little Britain has been removed from all UK streaming platforms due to concerns about the use of blackface by its two stars, David Walliams and Matt Lucas, reports The Guardian.

The comedy sketch show, which first aired in 2003 on BBC Three, has been removed from Netflix, BritBox and BBC iPlayer – with the pair’s follow up, Come Fly With Me, also taken down by Netflix for the same reason.

Little Britain has long been the subject of controversy for material including its “I’m a lady” sketches, where the pair don women’s clothes and facial hair, its depiction of “portly Thai bride” Ting Tong – played by Lucas – and Desiree DeVere, a black woman played by Walliams in full blackface.

The show has come under fire again recently amid renewed focus on issues of race and representation, at a time when Black Lives Matter protests are taking place across the globe.

[Read more]

In Australia five seasons of Little Britain and one of Come Fly with Me are available on Stan.

Sports Media

‘Time for him to leave the game’: Sthalekar slams Boycott

Former Australian all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar has taken aim at Geoff Boycott, declaring his claims only a former male Test cricketer can be a commentary expert as “ridiculous”, reports The Age’s Jon Pierik.

Boycott, the former England captain, has published a controversial column in the London Telegraph, coming in the wake of his departure after 14 years as a radio commentator on the BBC’s Test Match Special. His contract was not renewed but he says health concerns – he recently had a quadruple heart bypass and, at 79, falls in the dangerous territory in terms of COVID-19 – was also a factor.

Confirmation of his axing came as Isa Guha was appointed host of the BBC’s nightly Test highlights package when it next month returns to broadcasting cricket on TV for the first time in 20 years.

Boycott insists that only men who have played Test cricket should be “expert” commentators in Test cricket coverage. While former male players have dominated those roles for decades, particularly on television, that has changed in recent times, with women having greater prominence.

[Read more]

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