Mediaweek Roundup: Bauer Media, Lachlan Murdoch, News Corp + more

• Antony Catalano, Cate Blanchett, AFL, Nine, Fox Sports, and NRL

Business of media

Rob Munro-Hall new head of Bauer Media Global Publishing Business

Bauer Media has announced the appointment of Chris Duncan as the new CEO for the UK Publishing Business. Duncan takes over from Rob Munro-Hall (pictured) who has been appointed president of Bauer Media’s global publishing business.

Munro-Hall is the former head of Emap Australia, running the Australian division of the business between 2003-2006. Emap sold its Australian business to ACP Magazines in 2007 for $94m.

Duncan joins Bauer Media Group from News UK, where he played a leading role in driving direct revenue growth as managing director of Times Newspapers Limited, and most recently as managing director of platform partnerships where he was responsible for developing digital distribution revenues for News UK brands.

Rob Munro-Hall’s appointment comes after Sven Dams, who was co-head of BMG’s publishing activities and CEO of Bauer’s German business, decided to leave the company.

These changes are made with immediate effect.

Rob Munro-Hall commented: “I very much look forward to working with Chris. His broad experience and publishing expertise will help us retain and further extend our market leading position in the UK.”

Veit Dengler, COO of Bauer Media Group added: “I have full confidence that Rob Munro-Hall will successfully shape the future of our global publishing business, our largest business area, in a time where the publishing markets are experiencing accelerated structural disruption.”

CEO Lachlan Murdoch and senior Fox Corp staff to forego salaries

Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced on Wednesday that 700 senior members of the company would forego, or take reduced, salaries amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic so that other employees can continue to receive salaries and “FOX comes out of this crisis as an even stronger company” when things get back to normal, reports Fox News.

“While we don’t know exactly when we will return to normal and full operations across the company, we have decided to take several new actions to ensure that we remain strong and are well-positioned when this crisis recedes,” Murdoch wrote in a memo to staffers. “To that end, the most senior members of our company will be reducing their salaries so that, to the greatest extent possible, we are able to protect our full-time colleagues with salary and benefit continuation during the period we are most affected by the crisis.”

Murdoch then detailed the plans, effective immediately.

“The company’s named executive officers – Rupert Murdoch, John Nallen, Viet Dinh, Steve Tomsic and I – will forego our salaries through September 30, 2020. The rest of my direct-report executive team will reduce their salaries by 50% through the same period,” Murdoch wrote.

[Read more]

Former News Corp chief on Turnbull and role of Murdoch in downfall

Former News Corp chief executive Kim Williams says Malcolm Turnbull overstates the ability of the Murdoch press to influence elections because News Corp is “old media” with dwindling power, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

“I am surprised at the severity of Malcolm Turnbull’s comments because it attributes a level of power to old media that I don’t think they have any longer,” Williams told an Australia Institute webinar on the media in crisis.

Williams said at the time he was forced out of News after he launched a book by a Labor politician before the federal election at which News was backing the Coalition, and Murdoch told him it was an act of “corporate treachery”.

“I am personally pretty irritated by the term the Canberra bubble but I think Malcolm Turnbull is certainly living absolutely at the centre of the Canberra bubble in describing his departure from politics as being all about the Murdoch press,” William said.

“It may be a minor contributing factor, but I think he needs to look around him at his political colleagues.”

[Read more]

News Brands

ACM’s Antony Catalano applauds support for regional newspapers

Executive chairman of news publisher ACM Antony Catalano has applauded a Victorian government support package for regional newspapers and urged other states and territories to follow suit, reported The Canberra Times this week.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his government would spend $4.7 million on weekly advertising in more than 100 regional media outlets over the next six months to bolster local newspapers and keep regional Victorians informed about coronavirus.

ACM’s Catalano welcomed the Premier’s move as “a terrific first step”. ACM is the publisher of this website.

“Daniel Andrews has shown a distinct appreciation for the vital role our industry plays in connecting communities in the more remote parts of the state,” he said.

“We hope and expect that significantly more assistance is given to our industry to ensure our communities can get all the information they need regarding coronavirus and its economic and social impacts,” Mr Catalano said.

ACM has temporarily suspended the operations of four press sites and the printing of a number of its non-daily newspapers until June 29.

ACM’s 14 daily titles, such as The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald, Illawarra Mercury, The Border Mail and Bendigo Advertiser, are not affected by the temporary shutdown.

News Corp Australia has halted printing of 60 community papers.

The Elliott Newspaper Group last month suspended printing of its titles, though has since resumed publishing a Saturday-only print edition of its Sunraysia Daily in Mildura in Victoria’s far north-west.

The Andrews government’s newspaper advertising package was developed in consultation with the Victorian Country Press Association.

[Read more]

Television

‘Women aren’t a monolith’: Blanchett wants Mrs America to spark debate

There is a moment in the life of author and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly which gave actress Cate Blanchett a firm grip on the character of the woman at the centre of the new limited series Mrs America, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

Frequently compared to another conservative leader, the singer-turned-anti-gay rights campaigner Anita Bryant, the two women shared separate incidents in which protesters targeted them with a thrown pie.

Mrs America, which stars Blanchett and an extraordinary assembly of actresses, including Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, Tracey Ullman and Sarah Paulson, is the story of the clash of cultures between the conservative author and the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the United States constitution which would have guaranteed equal legal rights regardless of sex.

Prior to Schlafly’s death in 2016, Blanchett glimpsed her briefly when “this little old lady was literally wheeled out that same year to endorse [US presidential candidate Donald] Trump,” she says. “And then Trump was at her funeral. And I was thinking, why? So I sort of reverse engineered my understanding of her and started to really understand the power of Phyllis Schlafly’s Rolodex.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

AFL considers restarting season with 18 clubs based in Victoria

Victoria could house all 18 clubs in one mega hub under a radical AFL plan to restart the season, report News Corp’s Sam Landsberger, Jay Clark and Gilbert Gardiner.

Games would be split between the MCG, Marvel Stadium and GMHBA Stadium as up to 500 players and officials relocate to Victoria for an extended period.

Suburban grounds with TV broadcast facilities such as Moorabbin, Ikon Park and Whitten Oval would also enter the frame with every game to be staged in football heartland.

The AFL expects fans to be locked out of games for the rest of the season and the MCG has already put its hand up to host as many as six ghost games per week.

It has emerged as a best-case scenario to bring every club to one place, however the logistical nightmare means the AFL is considering running multiple hubs

That could see Adelaide, Perth, Sydney or Queensland hubs run simultaneously with Melbourne.

Players in a hub would be subject to coronavirus testing as often as twice a week.

[Read more]

Nine & Foxtel talks: NRL focused on broadcast deal in 48 hours

Interim NRL boss Andrew Abdo will make it his priority to future-proof the code by striking a broadcasting deal with the Nine Network and Foxtel within the next 48 hours, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys and Abdo are believed to have held further discussions with Nine on Wednesday. The sense is they are edging towards a breakthrough, hence the decision by Project Apollo officials to lock in further talks before the weekend.

The immediate priority is to sort out funding for the remainder of this season, although talks have also been held over an extension to the existing deal, which runs until the end of 2022.

[Read more]

NRL moves closer to three-year broadcast extension with Nine and Fox

The NRL is moving towards finalising a new broadcast deal with Channel Nine and Fox Sports that would extend the game’s television partnership until at least the end of 2025, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas reported on Wednesday.

Just a day after parting ways with chief executive Todd Greenberg, the Herald has been told by sources close to discussions that the NRL is negotiating the details around a three-year extension that will be worth less per annum than the $325 million Fox and Nine currently pour into the game each season.

Discussions between ARLC chairman Peter V’landys, Foxtel boss Patrick Delany and Nine chief executive Hugh Marks continued on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for Wednesday’s innovation committee meeting that will likely decide the immediate future of the game.

Those discussions centred around what could effectively be a new five-year broadcast deal, given that both Fox Sports and Nine, the publisher of this masthead, are only two-and-a-half years into the current five-year arrangement.

[Read more]

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