Mediaweek Roundup: Basil Zempilas, The Block, Big Brother Fire+ more

Seven, Streem, Stan, ABC, Nicole Kidman, Ross Stevenson, Kyle Sandilands, Dally M Awards, Bruce McAvaney, Fox Cricket and Rugby Australia

Business of Media

Seven locks horns with regional media over media laws

Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton says the Kerry Stokes-controlled broadcaster had a solution for the troubles of regional media, before its merger deal with Prime Media was blocked by Antony Catalano and Bruce Gordon, who have now launched their own lobbying effort to remove laws preventing them from buying Prime, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The Save Our Voices campaign is backed by Gordon’s WIN Corp, Catalano’s Australian Community Media, Prime and Southern Cross Austereo, and is aimed at removing legislation which prevents regional media companies from merging with each other.

“It’s ironic that two of the four parties spruiking ‘Save Our Voices’ blocked the Prime and Seven merger,” Warburton told The Australian Financial Review.

“ACM would have benefited in news gathering co-operation and on-air promotion for their newspapers, Prime would have got all the synergies with a full national operation and WIN would have benefited from a joint local sales effort that we would have looked to outsource.”

Catalano said he could not see any irony in ACM and WIN blocking the Seven-Prime merger or the Save Our Voices campaign.

“ACM voted against it because it was a shocking deal at the time, and now it would look even worse given where the Seven price sits currently. Prime shareholders would now be between 50 per cent worse off today. I think all Prime shareholders would be pleased that the deal was blocked,” Catalano said.

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Streem strikes new licensing deal as rivals ‘bicker’ in court

Media monitoring company Streem has struck a new licensing deal, which it says recognises the value of premium Australian news, as its two bigger rivals Isentia and Meltwater seek a cut in copyright fees, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The multi-year licensing agreement with not-for-profit organisation Copyright Agency, which represents hundreds of publishers including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, gives Streem access to more than 2000 publications for its corporate and government clients locally and abroad.

Streem chief executive Elgar Welch says the new deal is a “win-win for both the publishers and media monitoring customers”.

“It’s a multi-year agreement that was reached by negotiation, and that’s always better than being in a court environment,” he said. “And frankly, it beggars belief that Meltwater and Isentia are still bickering over the price of content in court.”

Streem’s deal comes as Isentia and Meltwater, the nation’s two biggest media monitoring companies, prepare to return to the Copyright Tribunal on Monday after an abrupt adjournment last Wednesday. The case only got under way last Monday and is expected to run for three weeks.

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News Brands

Basil Zempilas defeats Di Bain to become Perth Lord Mayor

Media personality Basil Zempilas will be the next Lord Mayor of the City of Perth, reports WAtoday’s Marta Pascual Juanola.

The Seven West Media commentator won 29.44 per cent of the vote on Saturday night, defeating rival and former ABC journalist Di Bain by 284 votes in a nail-biting count.

About 6000 electors voted in the long-awaited election, the first since the troubled council was suspended in 2018 and became subject to an extensive government inquiry.

Zempilas was officially declared Lord Mayor just after 9.20pm.

In his first speech as Lord Mayor Zempilas thanked his family, campaign team, and supporters, adding Saturday night was a night “I’ll never forget”.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone, and it’s a great opportunity for the City of Perth to have the fresh start that it has so desperately been looking for,” he said.

“Everything we do from this point on is for the ratepayers and for the residents of the City of Perth. That’s who we are here for and that’s who we are here to serve.

“We now have the leadership and the elected council that the City of Perth has been missing for the last three years.”

Although he will be departing his role as 6PR’s breakfast co-host at the end of the year, Zempilas plans to maintain the rest of his existing media commitments – including his evening role anchoring the sports segment on Seven, writing a weekly column in The West Australian newspaper, and leading Seven’s AFL and Olympics commentary.

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The Block 2021 heading to Melbourne bayside suburb of Hampton

TV Tonight hears whispers that The Block is headed to the bayside suburb of Hampton in 2021, reported David Knox on Friday.

Nine’s renovation series is so far only confirmed for a cul-de-sac location next year but Bronte Court is rumoured as the likely destination.

At 14km south of Melbourne’s CBD, Hampton is between the suburbs of Brighton and Sandringham. A Hampton location would also keep the renovation series in a bayside suburb. It is also within the City of Bayside which is the local council involved with the current series -very important for planning and filming permits.

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The Herald Sun followed up on Saturday:

Sleepy Hampton cul-de-sac Bronte Court will be home to next year’s series of The Block, reports Alice Coster.

Some residents are already doing their block over their street being used in the top-rating series.

Five properties were bought by The Block’s founding executive producer Julian Cress for the Nine Network after he doorknocked the owners with an offer too good to refuse.

Settlement is next month with the sixteenth series of the hit renovation show already filming in the Bayside area in New St, Brighton.

An email from concerned residents was sent out this week to Bayside Council Boyd Ward candidates about The Block moving into their backyard.

It’s understood one of The Block’s buyer advocates Nicole Jacobs has a property on the same cul-de-sac.

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Stan commissions State of Origin doco from Karl Stefanovic and CJZ

For the past few months, Karl Stefanovic has been working on the concept of a behind-the-scenes documentary featuring the Origin teams. Late last week, with the support of NSW Rugby League chairman George Peponis and his Queensland counterpart, Bruce Hatcher, a deal was struck for the project to go ahead, reports Nine’s Danny Weidler.

The Streaming company has backed the concept and it will be shot with the blessing of both states.

Stefanovic said: “The support of both NSW and Queensland is so important and I hope we can produce a product that is worthy of State of Origin – which is the best sporting product we have in this country.

“The idea is to be with the teams in this unique year where they are in a bubble and take rugby league fans to places they have not been. It’s a chance to see how the magic happens. It will be great for the sport and great for the fans and the sponsors.

“We have seen The Test on Amazon [about the Australian cricket team’s recovery from the ball-tampering scandal] and that was very good and now we can see this in league.’’

Stefanovic and Richard Weinberg are the executive producers and production house CJZ will be in charge of the project.

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Big Brother 2021 house evacuated due to fire during pre-production

Australia’s most famous house is making headlines again but this time the drama isn’t happening inside, reports 7News.

On Saturday Big Brother production staff and host Sonia Kruger were evacuated from the site as a hazard reduction burn around North Head on Sydney’s Northern Beaches jumped containment lines.

The show is about to start filming a new season, but it’s understood housemates have not yet entered the house. The only people affected by the evacuation were producers, crew, and Kruger.

“Due to the impact of a prescribed hazard reduction burn at North Head, the Big Brother crew onsite were safely evacuated. Filming is yet to commence and production will resume when it is safe to do so,” an Endemol Shine Australia spokesperson said.

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ABC iview to introduce compulsory log-in for streaming audience

ABC iview viewers will be required to register their personal details to watch programs such as Four Corners, Australian Story and Bluey on the online video platform, a strategy that replicates its commercial free-to-air broadcasting rivals, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The national broadcaster wrote in its new five-year strategic plan in June that it intended to introduce optional sign-in for users of ABC iview and other products like the ABC News app over the next five years. But ABC sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans are confidential, said the broadcaster intends to make password-protected access compulsory from mid- next year.

ABC sources said compulsory log-in was designed to make the product more personal for viewers. But it could raise concerns about data privacy, a consideration which was taken into account in internal discussions.

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Michael Idato with one of Hollywood’s most sought after TV producers

Nicole Kidman is not long home after a tiring day shooting in Byron Bay for her upcoming television series, Nine Perfect Strangers, based on the Liane Moriarty book about a group of people who meet at a health resort, so it’s understandable she might feel a little jaded, writes The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato in a Good Weekend cover story.

With homes in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Sutton Forest, NSW, Kidman has set up temporary camp in Byron Bay while she films Nine Perfect Strangers, which also stars Asher Keddie and Melissa McCarthy. She drives herself to the set each day and spends her nights in a rented house she shares with her sister, Antonia Marran, and a mixed tribe drawn from Nicole’s two and Antonia’s six children.

Through her production house, Kidman has added the string of executive producer to her bow, and is part of a broad trend in which her peers, including actors Reese Witherspoon and Charlize Theron, have also launched successful production companies, resulting in a wave of content that has put women over 50, including Laura Linney (Ozark), Gillian Anderson (Sex Education), Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show) and Laura Dern (Big Little Lies), into the No. 1 position on their call sheets.

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The Block’s Scott Cam opens up about his future on the hit show

The Block host Scott Cam has hosed down rumours he is set to depart the hit renovation show, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Cam was the subject of a strange report in New Idea suggesting Jamie Durie, who was the original host of The Block, was being looked at to replace him on the Channel 9 show and that he was facing the chop.

It was news to everyone, including Cam.

“I am a bit surprised by that too,” he said.

“But I always take it with a grain of salt. They never contacted me, I don’t know where that story came from.

“I have been at Channel 9 for 21 years on a permanent basis and I have got a few good years left in some contracts, so I reckon I am staying put.”

The Block’s executive producer Julian Cress backed Cam.

“Every TV show is the sum of its parts, but with The Block the parts Scott Cam represents are both its heart and its soul,” Cress said.

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Australia’s highest-rating announcer gives himself a Covid test

At 5.30am this morning a Rolling Stones instrumental introducing Australia’s highest-rating breakfast show went a little longer than usual. Instead of the usual comforting tones of Ross Stevenson, his executive producer Kate Stevenson was the first voice listeners heard, welcoming co-host Russell Howcroft at the start of a new week.

Stevenson quickly explained that the croaky voice Ross had toward the end of last week had not improved and he had decided to be tested for Covid-19. A test which he took himself. He will be off air until he gets what will hopefully be a negative result and his throat recovers.

The two Stevensons (no relation to each other), appear together and separately on-air at the Nine-owned Melbourne station. They host the Saturday morning 3AW show The Moveable Feast together, and Kate often hosts breakfast survey breaks on weekdays alongside Network 10’s Stephen Quartermain.

The sangria the radio king brewed with girlfriend wins BWS contest

They were pictured jetting into Byron Bay last week, for Hollywood actor Zac Efron’s 33rd birthday bash and Kyle Sandilands and Tegan Kynaston now have another reason to celebrate, reports News Corp’s Mibenge Nsenduluka.

The couple have won BWS’ Local Luvva campaign, beating out 300 independent winemakers, brewers and distillers across the country to secure shelf space for their Nueva Sangria and they’re both thrilled.

“I’m not much of a drinker, but I really do love this sangria. Typically, we have it when we have barbecues with friends. It’s a great refreshing drink in the afternoon and it can easily be matched with any food,” Sandilands said.

Kynaston, who is a co-owner of Nueva, added: “This is a great opportunity for us to take Nueva Sangria to a new level and give more people the opportunity to enjoy it. Our little surprise hit is all grown up and ready for the BWS shelves.”

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Sports Media

Nine offers $30 million for rugby union broadcast rights

Super Rugby union matches could be on free-to-air television live for the first time next year after Nine Entertainment Co lodged a $30 million bid for the broadcast rights aimed at wresting the game away from pay-TV group Foxtel, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources familiar with Rugby Australia’s discussions with media companies who requested anonymity said Nine had offered to pay about $30 million a year in cash and free advertising. The television, publishing and digital company decided late last week to offer more cash than free advertising to sweeten the deal. Nine declined to comment. RA declined to comment.

Foxtel pays between $30 million to $40 million a year for the rights but was hoping to renegotiate price in the same way it landed new deals with the AFL and NRL.

Foxtel, Ten and BSkyB are at the end of a $285m five-year deal with RA signed in 2015.

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Cutting-edge hologram to debut at 2020 Dally M Awards on Fox League

Rugby league will head to Hollywood by way of a galaxy far, far away with cutting edge technology to deliver a Dally M experience unlike any other in the game’s history, reports News Corp’s Nick Campton.

With COVID-19 forcing a change to the regular Dally M Awards, Fox League will employ new hologram technology to create a virtual world for rugby league’s night of nights.

Life-sized holograms will be projected next to hosts Yvonne Sampson, Lara Pitt, Jess Yates and Hannah Hollis to recreate the usual awards experience as closely as possible.

“We’ve engaged a company called Big Picture who have used this technology with Disney before on Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” Fox League executive producer Jamie Lockyer said.

The technology has been used for the Winter Olympics and during this year’s US Open but will be making its Australian debut at the Dally M’s.

For the first time, Fox Sports will fire up all three of its studios in order to bring the awards show to the viewers like never before.

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How Bruce McAvaney pulled off the impossible during the pandemic

Seven’s Bruce McAvaney was finally due to be in the same broadcast studio as Brian Taylor at the Adelaide Oval for Friday night’s Port Adelaide-Richmond AFL preliminary final, reports News Corp’s Glenn McFarlane.

It was the first time that has happened since March.

Then the pair – and the rest of the commentary team – were due to fly to Brisbane for Saturday’s Lions-Cats preliminary final at the Gabba, where a specially-built small studio will allow McAvaney to be a part of the network’s racing coverage of the Caulfield Cup and the Everest.

He’s excited – and grateful – to be back calling at venues.

After missing a trip to Tokyo for the Olympic Games this year, he is hopeful of being there next year.

A phone call at the end of every year with Seven Melbourne managing director Lewis Martin ratifies McAvaney’s plans for the following year.

It’s the television equivalent of a handshake agreement based on respect and trust.

“Lewy rings me and says ‘Macca, what do you reckon?’ I say to him ‘Lewy, what do you reckon?’, and we go from there,” he says. “He has been wonderful for me.

“It is a fluid arrangement surrounded by trust and a relationship that has been there for a long time. “I can categorically say that I am not going to be working for anyone else. My broadcasting career will be finishing at Seven and that’s the way it should be.”

Importantly, lessons learnt in the pandemic might have paved the way to extend McAvaney’s calling longevity.

“When you get towards 70, and that’s what I am getting towards now, you do get to a moment where you have to say ‘OK, how much longer can the network want me and how much longer would I want to do this?” he says.

“I think it (calling remotely) may have opened the door to give me a longer life as a broadcaster.

“You would never call a Grand Final remotely, or an Anzac Day game, or a blockbuster Friday night game. But there may be an opportunity where I don’t have to get on a plane every week of the year.”

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Fox Cricket to show Sheffield Shield matches starting today

The Marsh Sheffield Shield returns to television screens around Australia from today with Fox Cricket to show matches from Karen Rolton Oval over the next three rounds.

The news comes after the opening round of the Marsh Sheffield Shield in South Australia which was streamed on Kayo Sports, and the CA Live app.

It will be the first time in almost 20 years that a regular season Marsh Sheffield Shield match has been televised in full.

The trio of Fox Cricket matches begins with South Australia’s clash with Tasmania, featuring current Australian Test stars Travis Head and captain Tim Paine, from Monday October 19.

Stephanie Beltrame, Cricket Australia’s executive general manager, broadcasting & commercial, thanked Foxtel for their commitment to domestic cricket.

“What a win for cricket fans across Australia,” Beltrame said. “We’re delighted to bring the Marsh Sheffield Shield back to television screens around Australia from Monday.

“Some cricket fans would remember First Class matches being televised in the early 2000s. With the help of Foxtel, we’ll be bringing the competition into homes around Australia once again, in addition to the successful opening round streams on Kayo, and the CA Live app.

“We thank Foxtel for their ongoing support of Australian Cricket and look forward to tuning into the Marsh Sheffield Shield on Fox Cricket.”

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