Mediaweek Roundup: AFL TV deal, Andy Lee, Tech Giants + more

• NRL, David Penberthy, Ben Roberts-Smith, and Malcolm Turnbull

Sports Media

Coronavirus: Cut price AFL for 2020 as TV chiefs muscle up

The AFL has become embroiled in a dispute with the sport’s key broadcasters, who are jockeying for a cut to the costs of the existing television deal due to the fewer number of matches to be played this season, report The Australian’s John Stensholt and Courtney Walsh.

Broadcasters Seven West Media and Foxtel will lobby for a reduction of at least $125m from the AFL’s television deal, as the fight over control of the first block of games for the return of the 2020 season also intensifies.

The AFL is days away from releasing the playing schedule for the restart, but the impasse with broadcasters could disrupt negotiations regarding the structure of the season and the finals series.

But minds are increasingly turning to the AFL’s fixture list and broadcast rights, with Seven and Foxtel, along with Telstra, expecting a reduction of at least 30 per cent to the $400m rights the trio usually pays annually.

[Read more]

Broncos to lead way as NRL TV deal edges closer

NRL clubs are poised to receive some certainty around the draw on Friday but the wait for clarity around broadcasting talks is set to stretch into next week as negotiations with the Nine Network and Foxtel over a deal approaching $2 billion edge toward their climax, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

The season’s resumption will begin with the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday, May 28, before Latrell Mitchell and South Sydney face off against their bitter rivals Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

The commission will meet again on Friday to discuss the broadcasting negotiations, but it appears the clubs will need to wait until next week to receive confirmation of the details, although there remains a hope that commission chairman Peter V’landys can meet the deadline he had placed on talks.

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David Penberthy: Can someone remind Victoria that AFL is national game

Sections of the Victorian sports media and AFL love nothing more than taking potshots at Adelaide’s clubs. If only they realised there are other states just as dedicated (and less infected), writes News Corp’s David Penberthy.

The attacks on Port Adelaide’s [chairman] David Koch from over the border have been but one example this week of how sections of the Victorian sports media and people within the AFL itself love nothing more than taking potshots at Adelaide’s two clubs, sounding at times like they are willing them to fail.

Koch deserves credit as a lateral thinker and risk-taker who took over his club when it was at its lowest ebb and turned around its standing with new ideas. In partnership with his chief executive Keith Thomas, Koch changed the perception of the club from unwatchable basket case to a much more attractive proposition for both fans and sponsors.

This week the usual suspects were lining up to slot the Crows over the Barossa business.

As things unfolded, after SA Police investigated at the club’s urging, it became clear that this was less a concerted or brazen act of disregard for state laws regarding social distancing, than an accidental stuff-up that briefly breached an AFL rule.

The continuing fury out of Melbourne even after that fact became apparent was hysterical. I won’t name the bloke because he’s suffered enough on social media, but that Channel 7 reporter deserves a Walkley for tweeting that his mail was that the Crows would lose draft picks and be fined $100,000 for this egregious breach. Better get a new mailman, son.

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Comedian Andy Lee has taken up a new commentary role during isolation

Andy Lee has taken up a new commentary role to fill the void left by football, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The comedian has been calling in a new league that he’s created named the Australian Dice Football League.

It pits players from opposing sides against each other from their homes, as they roll the dice to gather the highest score.

“I try to get a bit of Bruce (McAvaney) but obviously he’s very special,’’ Lee said of his commentary style.

“I got a bit chilly so I put on the long brown felt jacket that Luke Darcy wears.

“I’ve also had the pink tie on which was more flamboyant like Hamish McLachlan. He tends to go a bit more high fashion.

“I mean I’ll be surprised if they bring the AFL back at all, I imagine Gill McLachlan is thinking maybe we can keep running ADFL.

“One round a week so it’s not that strenuous on the body rolling a dice but the mental pressure is exhausting for the players and they need the six day turnaround.”

ADFL matches, from Friday-Sunday, are available at, through the AFL app and Telstra social channels.

[Read more]

Business of Media

Google’s Australian revenue hits $4.8b, pre-tax profit $134m

Google has sidestepped the shrinking advertising market to post record Australian revenue of $4.8 billion, sparking immediate calls for the search giant to share a slice of its local income with publishers, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Financial accounts lodged this week with the corporate regulator for the 2019 calendar year show that a weakening economy and reduced spending from advertisers did not affect Google’s Australian operations.

Google grew its advertising revenue by 16 per cent to $4.3 billion in the full year to December 31. Total revenue, which includes sales of hardware products and other services, grew from $4.2 billion to $4.8 billion. Net revenue, which excludes certain costs of sales, was $1.2 billion, up from $1.07 billion year before.

The company made a pre-tax profit of $134 million, which resulted in $59 million in income tax. But the tech giant was forced to pay a total of $99.8 million in income tax due to an adjustment from 2018.

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Content bill for Facebook, Google might top $1bn, says News Corp Australia

News Corp Australasia boss Michael Miller has welcomed Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello’s demand that Google and Facebook pay $600m to media companies for news content – but has said real estimates could be as high as $1bn, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Following comments from the Nine chairman on Thursday, Miller also said the new code of conduct needed to be about more than just money, needing to address crucial issues such as algorithms and data sharing.

Costello told Nine newspapers that by his estimates, Facebook and Google should pay Australian media companies 10 per cent of the $6bn a year the tech platforms make in online ad revenue, based on what the platforms gain from news content and searches.

“Our modelling suggests the figure is much higher than $600m and former senator Nick Xenophon, whose advocacy sparked the ACCC inquiry into the platforms, has nominated $1bn,” Miller said.

[Read more]

News Brands

Open court ‘essential to war crimes rebuttal’, says Ben Roberts-Smith

Lawyers for Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith say it is “fundamental to his vindication’’ that allegations the former SAS operator committed war crimes in Afghanistan be rebutted in open court, reports The Australian’s Paul Maley.

Roberts-Smith’s lawyer, Bruce McClintock SC, told the Federal Court on Thursday it was essential his client be allowed to testify in open court, despite the Attorney-General invoking a rarely used national security gag order to suppress sensitive parts of the proceedings.

Roberts-Smith is suing The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers over a series of article that he claims portrayed him as a war criminal, a bully and an abuser of women.

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Book leak: Turnbull’s sleuths unravel the links of Canberra cabals

Malcolm Turnbull and his publisher Sandy Grant are continuing to investigate the mystery of who exactly received a leaked version of the former prime minister’s biography A Bigger Picture. They seem to be having considerable success, report Nine columnists Kylar Loussikian and Samantha Hutchinson.

To assist this effort, Hardie Grant has engaged HWL Ebsworth. Most scrutiny, when news first broke of the clandestine book distribution operation in April, was on Scott Morrison’s adviser Nico Louw. He had distributed a copy of the book to 59 people. And HWL Ebsworth lawyers have been writing to each recipient.

Sources told this column that one copy was forwarded to News Corp commentators Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin, and ex-PM Tony Abbott by another party.

[Read more]

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