Mediaweek Roundup: Alan Jones, Macquarie Media, QMS, Coles + more

• News Corp, Sky News, Jane Hutcheon, Nova, ABC, The Masked Singer, Utopia, and 3AW

Business of Media

Macquarie shareholder Alan Jones supports Nine’s takeover of stations

Star 2GB talkback radio broadcaster Alan Jones is leaning towards taking Nine’s offer to buyout minority shareholders in Macquarie Media, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Jones signed a new contract to stay with Macquarie as host of 2GB Sydney and 4BC Brisbane breakfast talkback radio shows for another two years from July 1.

The former Wallabies coach told The Australian Financial Review he did not have any specific comments on Nine’s proposal to buy the 45.5 per cent of Macquarie it doesn’t already own, but said he was leaning towards supporting the deal.

“As you would appreciate … the offer is open but shareholders must take best advice,” he said.

“If you’re asking me whether my inclination would be to accept the offer, the answer is yes.”

Jones holds a stake in Macquarie of about 1.3 per cent, worth about $3 million under Nine’s offer.

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Wilson buys up more of Macquarie Media in campaign against Nine

Fund manager Geoff Wilson is talking a big game as he tries to get Nine to shell out more dosh for the remaining share of Macquarie Media, report Michael Koziol and Samantha Hutchinson The Sydney Morning Herald.

And he’s putting money where his mouth is. CBD can reveal Wilson Asset Management snapped up a substantial block of shares yesterday – well over half of the million that were traded. They add to the 4 per cent stake Wilson says he already owns.

The buy-up follows his declaration of “extreme disappointment” at Nine’s $113.9 million offer for the 45 per cent of Macquarie it doesn’t already own.

Wilson says that should be at least $30 million higher because of franking credits owned by shareholders.

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QMS appoints senior marketer as group continues to grow

QMS has appointed Nick Errey (pictured) as head of communications, a newly developed role to reflect the continued growth of the business and the implementation of its strategic objectives across the broader group.

Errey joins QMS with over 14 years of out-of-home experience, where he was a key part of the oOh!media marketing leadership team that oversaw the company’s communications and corporate marketing activity through its growth phase. 

QMS said Errey’s appointment is fundamental, as the group continues to solidify its strategic position as a premium quality digital outdoor media company and enhances the progression of QMS Sport into a fully integrated global sports platform.

QMS chief marketing officer Sara Lappage said: “Nick is a highly respected member of the out-of-home industry, and I am thrilled to have him join the QMS marketing team to help us deliver on our ongoing goals for the business. Nick’s understanding of the sales, marketing and communication requirements needed for rapidly growing media businesses is highly valued, and I am really looking forward to working with him again.”

Commenting on his appointment Errey said: “With its big ambitions and real passion for driving the out-of-home and sporting industry forward, I am excited to be part of the QMS team to help share the vision and story of such a vibrant and progressive business, that puts audiences front and centre for advertisers to be truly memorable.”

News Brands

University rejects report claiming News Corp fuels far-right

Victoria University has rejected claims its academics found News Corp publications had ­fuelled far-right sentiment, amid concerns its research is in danger of being distorted, reports The Australian’s John Ferguson.

The university rejected as inaccurate a front-page claim by Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper that News Corp journalists had intensified far-right recruitment. “At no point does the (academics’) research report claim that News publications fuelled far-right sentiment,” a university spokeswoman said.

“The report does, however, argue that mainstream media content was used extensively by far-right groups.”

“The researchers are concerned about having their research taken out of context,” a spokeswoman said. The Saturday Paper splashed its edition last weekend with the false claims about the unreleased work of VU academics on the impact of media on race hate, and continues to make them in its online edition.

The article was written by Rick Morton, a former journalist at The Australian whose employment with News Corp ended earlier this year. The Saturday Paper’s report focused heavily on the work of The Australian.

The Saturday Paper’s editor-in-chief, Erik Jensen, said yesterday: “The research shows that articles from The Australian rate highly among those shared on far-right Facebook groups. Given the paper’s paywall, the sharing is disproportionate. This material is used to recruit and embolden far-right activists – which the research shows. We stand by our reporting.”

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See the article by Rick Moron in The Saturday Paper here.

Sky reporter Laura Jayes defends herself over Islamophobia claims

Sky News political journalist Laura Jayes has hit back at online critics, who attacked her reporting that the young man who allegedly stabbed people in Sydney shouted “Allahu akbar!”, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Jayes told The Australian that she “100 per cent” stands by her reporting on Twitter of the attack as it unfolded yesterday in Sydney’s CBD, and that she was just doing her job as a journalist.

Following her reporting, some users on Twitter accused Jayes of Islamophobia.

She was informed of the attack by two of her sisters, one of whom was a direct witness to the actions and screams of “Allahu akbar!” by alleged perpetrator Mert Ney, while the other saw the subsequent panic unfold from the window of an office block.

“The thing that comes first is informing the public, not political correctness in hindsight,” Jayes said.

Chris Willis, executive editor at Sky News, stood by Jayes’s reporting. “She did her job, she was reporting facts, she got it right and she was reporting a developing story,” he said.

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Broadcaster, author and journalist Jane Hutcheon leaving the ABC

Sydney-based TV presenter, tour-leader and author Jane Hutcheon (pictured) yesterday announced she was leaving the ABC.

Hutcheon has reported and presented for ABC TV news and Foreign Correspondent from 1995 – 2008. She has been the host of the ABC News interview program One Plus One since 2010.

Hutcheon said yesterday:

After nine years and five hundred interviews, I will be leaving One Plus One – and the ABC – in mid September 2019.

I’d like to say that my mainstream journalism career as a reporter, foreign correspondent and presenter has been a complete privilege. One Plus One is my baby and you don’t leave something you’ve created without a heavy heart. This was my decision alone.

I’m leaving because I need challenge.  After years of learning from my interviewees, inspiring people who have created vibrant lives from the realities life deals, I too, want to be a little bit brave. I’ll be working on my own projects, collaborations and will continue to leading tours with Renaissance Tours and the Art Gallery Society of NSW.

I’m happy to say that One Plus One will continue without me, initially with guest presenters. I will be curating a collection of my favourite interviews from over the years and for my final program (date TBC) – you asked for it – I will be the interviewee!

Radio

Nova Entertainment appoints Amy Ward to join Fitzy and Wippa team

Nova Entertainment has appointed Amy Ward (pictured) as publicist, based in the Sydney office, with a core focus on Nova 96.9’s Fitzy & Wippa breakfast show.

With over 14 year’s publicity and marketing experience across the entertainment, media and travel sectors in Australia and the UK, Ward spent over seven years at Southern Cross Austereo, working across the company’s television (Seven and Network Ten) and radio (2Day FM and Triple M) platforms in multiple markets and was trade marketing manager for APT Travel Group in London.

Tony Thomas, Nova Entertainment’s chief marketing officer said, “Amy has extensive experience, across a wide range of entertainment mediums, and her passion for radio and the Nova brand made her the right choice to lead the strategic publicity for Fitzy & Wippa breakfast show.”

Ward’s core responsibility will be driving the publicity, and providing scale to content and partnerships, for Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa breakfast show as well as working across the Nova and smoothfm networks and the company’s multiple platforms.

The role will report directly to Jane Elliott, Nova Entertainment’s national publicity director, and will work closely with the publicity team and all functions within the business.

Amy Ward joined the team this week replacing the outstanding Cathrine Mahoney.

Radio ratings: How Coles came to dominate digital-only radio

Prices might be down, as the popular marketing jingle goes, but listeners are definitely up, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.

Coles Radio is winning the hearts and minds of Australian digital radio listeners, with no sign of slowing down. The supermarket giant has been the number one DAB+ station in Australia for months, with a record national cumulative audience of just over 250,000 people.

The supermarket’s easy-listening strategy appears to be working. Its audience has grown by 26 per cent over the past two years, with most of its listeners living in Melbourne (81,000 people), followed by Sydney (75,000) and Brisbane (49,000).

While Coles Radio is a popular choice for hundreds of thousands of Australians, some are a little shy about owning up to the fact they listen to music closely associated with buying bread and milk.

Nova’s head of podcasting, Jay Walkerden, is responsible for Coles Radio. In 2014, the supermarket giant asked Nova to program music for more than 14 million of its in-store customers. The commercial broadcaster threw another idea into the mix: why not launch a fully fledged digital radio station?

“We played with a bunch of music formats,” Walkerden says. “Coles Radio is aimed at what is a pretty vast audience. It’s a tricky way to program a radio station.”

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Nova’s Kate, Tim and Marty accuse show of taking their segment

The hosts of Nova’s Kate, Tim and Marty are livid that one of their most popular segments has been taken by a US radio show, reports News.com.au’s Andrew Bucklow.

For years the trio has been playing “The Age Game” on their drivetime radio show in which Kate Ritchie and Marty Sheargold battle it out against each other to correctly guess celebrities’ ages.

But they were shocked when they recently discovered that The Morning Mash Up, a breakfast radio show that broadcasts on SiriusXM in New York, started playing a very similar version of The Age Game on their show late last year.

And it just so happens that a radio producer who used to work at Nova in Sydney, Ben Harlum, is now a senior producer for The Morning Mash Up in the US.

The New York-based producer told news.com.au he wasn’t worried about upsetting the Kate, Tim and Marty hosts, saying, “I feel honoured to join a long list of celebrities, listeners and co-workers who have managed to piss the guys off.”

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Television

Writer sues ABC over ‘unconscionable conduct’ involving TV format

The ABC is in hot water over a claim that its popular children’s animated series Bubble Bath Bay ripped off an idea unsuccessfully pitched to the broadcaster, reports News Corp’s John Masanauskas.

Writer Anne Duncan wants $770,000 in damages after accusing the ABC and Screen Australia of unconscionable conduct by passing on confidential information to other writers.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has heard that in 2010, the ABC rejected Duncan’s creation Buster the Brave Little Wooden Boat for kids’ programming.

In 2011, Screen Australia knocked back a grant application by Duncan, who runs Story Time Productions, to produce an animated series called Buster and Jack.

In her statement of claim, Duncan said that in 2013 she met a person named Claire Masen, who had told her that she was the main writer for an animated series called Bubble Bath Bay that was centred on a little boat.

Duncan said that Masen told her she didn’t know who had created the series, first broadcast on the ABC Kids channel in early 2015.

Duncan claims that Bubble Bath Bay is substantially similar to her creations, and that in 2015 other parties had rejected her pitch for Buster and Jack because of that same similarity.

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Somewhere along the way, Utopia became a cultural touchstone

It’s giving nothing away to reveal that in the latest season of Utopia the euphemistically named Nation Building Authority looks no closer to starting a single project. Far from that being a spoiler, it’s a positive harbinger of the eight new episodes of the rightly celebrated Working Dog comedy, writes The Age’s Paul Kalina.

Four seasons in, the NBA is still floundering in bureaucratic red-tape, putting out fires that it didn’t start, dispensing advice to self-serving politicians whose listening skills might at best be described as highly selective and covering its arse for blunders that might actually reveal the inconvenient truth that the organisation serves very little purpose.

“A collector’s item then!” exclaims the ever-eager security officer and handyman Brian (Jamie Robertson), having located in a storeroom promotional props for tunnels, roads and bridges that were never built. It’s the gulf between the utopian idealism of the title and the mundane realities of the everyday world where the show lives.

As satire of the modern world, Utopia does a brilliant job of reminding us of the extent to which our lives are ruled by the decisions of faceless, unelected bureaucrats, processes supposedly designed to simplify our lives, the chicanery of so-called “public private partnerships” and the ease with which corporate jargon and spin are used to cover up events that might be more plainly called scandals.

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The Masked Singer 2019: First look at Australian version

A “big superstar” will be appearing on The Masked Singer Australia and judging by the show’s panelists’ reactions, it’s set to be just as bonkers as overseas versions, reports News.com.au.

“This show is insane!” Jackie ‘O’ Henderson exclaims in the first look of the reality show.

Based on overseas versions, The Masked Singer Australia sees celebrities in elaborate costumes singing their hearts out as panellists Jackie O, Dannii Minogue, Lindsay Lohan and Dave Hughes try and guess who they are.

The panellists try their best to unmask the person in the costume, but their guesses are made all the harder by the celebrities’ outfits of choice as they dress up as a fly, octopus, wolf lion and alien.

But it’s a celebrity in a unicorn costume with obvious star power that really grabs their attention.

Definitely, definitely American,” Hughes says as the mystery star finishes their performance.

“Big superstar right here,” Henderson adds in agreement.

In the US, The Masked Singer averaged 11 million viewers when it launched in January and has been renewed for two more seasons.

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Sports Media

Long-time Sports Today co-host Dwayne Russell leaving 3AW for SEN

One of the most successful radio partnerships is coming to an end with Dwayne Russell set to switch stations next year, reports News Corp’s Scott Gullan.

For the past 15 years Russell and Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy have been the hosts of the top rating drivetime Sports Today program on 3AW.

They’ve become an institution in the 6pm-8pm timeslot but that’s all about to change with Russell being lured to SEN.

It’s understood the Fox Footy commentator will have his own show on the sports station, most likely in the afternoon slot previously occupied by Andy Maher who recently moved to drive where he co-hosts with former Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy.

Russell, who calls football for 3AW on Friday nights, will also join SEN’s calling team next season.

The former Geelong defender already has a close relationship with SEN boss and Crocmedia owner Craig Hutchison, given he does a weekly show into Adelaide for the network.

Since January, Russell has hosted Dwayne between 3-4pm daily on SEN SA.

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