Mediaweek roundup: Carrie Bickmore, Olympics, smoothfm + more

Carrie Bickmore

• QMS, ABC, Fox Sports, rugby league, Farmer Wants a Wife, The Living Room, Netflix, Triple M Melbourne, Sky Sports Radio, 10 News, ViacomCBS + Morrison government

Business of Media

QMS in $200m legal stoush with Singleton, Carnegie and Whyte

An outdoor advertising business owned by John SingletonMark Carnegie and Robert Whyte is suing takeover subject QMS Media for up to $200 million, alleging it is entitled to lost revenues over a breach of a cooperation agreement, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The little-known legal proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court see QMS being hit with claims from Manboom for allegedly breaching an agreement signed in 2014.

QMS is the subject of a $420 million takeover offer from Quandrant Private Equity – the transaction is not yet complete. The buyout firm is understood to be across the legal proceedings, which predate its offer for QMS.

Sources said an internal assessment of different outdoor advertising sites by Manboom alleged it had missed out on between $150 million and $200 million from QMS under the agreement. An external assessment still needs to be undertaken.

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Government’s response to digital platforms response delayed until 2020

The Morrison government is gearing up to delay its long-awaited response to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission digital platforms inquiry until next year, with cabinet yet to discuss the still unfinished response to the landmark report, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Despite being handed the report in July, cabinet has not considered the final response, which is being managed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Attorney-General Christian Porter.

With one more parliamentary sitting week in the year and cabinet yet to discuss the response, the three ministers’ officers are quietly preparing to delay the reply until next year despite promising a response by Christmas.

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ViacomCBS promotes Network 10 boss Paul Anderson

Network 10 chief executive Paul Anderson is expected take charge of the combined Viacom and CBS Australia business after completion of the merger later this week, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios and Leo Shanahan.

Anderson, who has led the 10 business since mid-2015, will become chief executive of ViacomCBS Australia and will report to David Lynn, president and chief of Viacom International Networks.

The changes come two years after Network 10 was bought out of administration by US studio CBS.

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ABC might trim staff by over 120 next year to meet its budget

Management consulting firm LEK has been helping the ABC with its budgeting dilemmas, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

And the strong mail is that they have already been talking numbers on how many staff the ABC needs to cut to meet its budget.

The latest word suggests that a redundancy round of upwards of 120 people is being considered internally, after LEK, an ABC favourite, was asked to find solutions to Aunty’s $84m budget shortfall. LEK is already said to have influenced decisions such as the ABC’s ditching of its radio coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.

Any redundancy program will not take place until next year.

An ABC spokesman confirmed on Friday that LEK was “still doing some work for us for the next couple of weeks”. The spokesman denied LEK was “embedded” at the ABC, but was working “on a temporary basis to assist our own project management team as they work to identify the savings required to meet our budget shortfall”.

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News Brands

10 News First to trial 90-minute bulletins as lead-in to The Project

10 News First will trial a 90-minute news bulletin from Monday in all markets, reports TV Tonight.

With the summer non-ratings, and various changes elsewhere by competitors, 10 has opted to test an extended bulletin.

Central to the move is the network’s long challenge with the 6 pm slot.

Celebrity Name Game, which began in May, often rates lower than its predecessor Pointless. This impacts the entire evening schedule with the network having to rebuild its audience all over again.

On occasions 10 can even be leading with 7:30 and 8:30 shows, but still lose the night because of its early evening woes.

This isn’t the first time 10 has broadcast 90-minute bulletins. Back in 2011 it also broadcast 90-minute editions after shuffling 6pm with George Negus to a 6:30 slot (back then The Project aired at 7pm).

A Network 10 spokesperson told TV Tonight, “We have decided to take the opportunity of changes to the commercial news landscape along with an intense news cycle to better serve our audiences by offering a quality extended local news service in all states.

“This is a trial and in the meantime Celebrity Name Game will play on 10 Bold.”

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Sky Sports Radio wants Matty Johns for Big Sports Breakfast

Sky Sports Radio has earmarked Fox Sports stars Matty Johns, Yvonne Sampson and Gorden Tallis as potential Big Sports Breakfast show hosts next year, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

The station is looking to replace long-time host Terry Kennedy with a big name to work alongside Laurie Daley in the hope of becoming a major player in Sydney’s morning ratings. They have struggled to get above one rating point for years.

Johns was a ratings smash hit in his former role as the face of Triple M’s Grill Team, driving huge advertising sales. He’s had 12 months off-air and has met with the station about the Big Sports Breakfast job in recent weeks.

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Human Nature to join smoothfm listeners on Christmas Long Lunch

Melbourne’s smoothfm is celebrating the festive season with a special Christmas long lunch featuring one of Australia’s most successful groups Human Nature. On Tuesday smoothfm’s Mike Perso and Jennifer Hansen, in partnership with the Chapel Street Precinct, will take listeners on the ultimate progressive long lunch.

Mike Perso said, “What a great combination, an iconic dining precinct and an iconic Australian act, just recently inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. It is the perfect way for our listeners to enjoy their last smoothfm long lunch for 2019.”

smoothfm’s guests will explore Chapel Street, one of Melbourne’s most popular dining and shopping destinations. The long lunch will start with cocktails at Ines Wine Bar, entrees at Rebel Blue, mains at Melbourne’s best Chinese restaurant David’s, dessert at the iconic Caffe é Cucina and conclude with decadent delights from Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio.

Celebrating their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame this week, smoothfm regulars Human Nature will treat guests to an intimate experience at David’s.

With 13 studio albums, four of which went to number one in Australia, 15 top 20 and five top 10 hit singles worldwide, and album sales in excess of 2.5 million in Australia alone, Human Nature’s combined releases have been certified 26x Platinum. The group have just released the new studio album Still Telling Everybody – 30 Years of Hits and will be performing a series of Concerts in Melbourne, Christmas at The Palms, on 10th and 12th December with two shows daily on 11th and 15th December.

Brownless and Brayshaw in Triple M Melbourne reshuffle shock

In a shock move, James Brayshaw and Billy Brownless have been handballed out of their afternoon timeslot at Triple M Melbourne, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Brayshaw and Brownless, who for more than a decade have hosted the mid-afternoon show Rush Hour – branded “when sport meets stupid” – are on the move.

The pair will relocate their show next year to the 6pm-7pm timeslot at the station, dropping into the slipstream of Mick Molloy and Jane Kennedy’s Kennedy Molloy drive show.

Triple M Melbourne content director Dan Bradley said: ‘We’re rapt JB and Billy are coming back for another year. They’re part of the fabric of Triple M and our listeners love them, as do we.”

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Carrie Bickmore re-signs at The Project after 10 refuses to sweeten offer

Carrie Bickmore has re-signed with 10’s The Project for 2020 bringing to an end months of stalled contract negotiations, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

While 10 refused to comment yesterday saying only it would not be drawn on contract talks, sources at the network say Bickmore re-signed last week after 10 refused to sweeten its original $750,000 contract offer.

Bickmore will continue as co-host of The Project in 2020 and beyond, appearing three or four weeknights alongside Waleed Aly and Peter Hellier.

This she will balance with her drive radio show on Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network  alongside Tommy Little, for which she is believed to be earning a lucrative seven figure sum.

Southern Cross Austereo had approached Bickmore with an offer to jump into its struggling breakfast shift in 2020 but the 38-year-old, who welcomed third child Adelaide just 11 months ago, decided her workload is sufficiently demanding with three young children at home, sources say.

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Netflix’s automated tool for content approved by Australian Government

Netflix Australia has been given a green light by the Australian government to use an automated content classification tool for its programming, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

The tool, the first of its kind for Netflix, assesses and classifies movies and content which appear on its platform for Australian audiences.

Netflix Australia first received approval to trial the classification tool in 2016, to establish whether it generated ratings and consumer advice which aligned with Australian community standards and decisions of Australia’s Classification Board.

Netflix Australia and New Zealand’s director of public policy, Nick O’Donnell, said the tool would continue to evolve to ensure Australians received content in line with the rest of the world.

“Reliable and consistent classifications help people make informed choices about what to watch,” he said.

“We’ve partnered closely with the Australian Government to develop a tool that generates classifications and consumer advice for Netflix content that is consistent with Australian community standards.”

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Network 10 axes Friday flagship, but keeps hosts for replacement

Network 10 has axed The Living Room ending a run of eight lifestyle seasons, reports TV Tonight.

However in a surprise twist, the four hosts – Amanda Keller, Chris Brown, Miguel Maestre and Barry Du Bois– will return in the same slot in 2020.

A Network 10 spokesperson told TV Tonight, “The Living Room will not return in 2020.

“We are thrilled that the brilliant team of Amanda, Barry, Miguel and Chris will be back at 7.30 on Friday nights next year, watch this space for more information.”

The lifestyle program produced by WTFN began in 2012 with a 30-episode run in 2012 up against the juggernaut that is Better Homes & Gardens and addressed a revolving door of shows in a challenging Friday night slot.

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Natalie Gruzlewski says “I do” to returning Farmer Wants a Wife

Television presenter Natalie Gruzlewski will make her primetime return in 2020 as host of Farmer Wants A Wife.

The reality show has created more happily-ever-afters than any other dating show, with nine marriages and 19 babies in Australia (with another on the way) and 147 marriages and 280 babies worldwide.

Gruzlewski hosted eight seasons of Farmer between 2007-2012 when it was broadcast on Nine. Since stepping away from television in 2014, the Gold Coast-based personality has focused on raising her family, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to helm the return of the feel-good, matchmaking format.

“I’m excited to be returning to TV for Farmer. It’s a privilege to be a part of the show and witness those special connections as they start to form,” said Gruzlewski. “I’ve seen firsthand how this process can change lives and I can’t wait to get back into it.”

Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross said: “Natalie radiates natural warmth and sincerity and we’re delighted to welcome her to the Seven family.

Farmer is the original true romance show, delivering more happy endings than any other, and Natalie is the perfect choice to help guide our new crop of single farmers in their search for love.”

Farmer Wants A Wife is a Fremantle and Eureka co-production for Channel Seven.

Sports Rights

Seven to lose out as ABC refuses to budge on Olympics radio rights

Radio audiences won’t be the only losers after the ABC decided to save money by not broadcasting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

Seven West Media will miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars it was expecting to get for passing on the radio rights to the public broadcaster.

This is bad news for Kerry Stokes‘s Seven, which in 2014 paid about $200 million for all media rights for the 2016, 2018 and 2020 games. Seven had expected to recoup about $400,000 from the ABC by effectively on-selling the radio rights, according to media executives with knowledge of the deal. (Seven does not own a radio network).

The executives said Seven and the ABC had been conducting talks about alternative arrangements for the deal. The majority of the ABC’s costs would have come from sending a team to provide commentary and produce the event in Japan.

The ABC did not necessarily need to pay for its own team and could choose not to send staff offshore or to Melbourne instead using Seven’s commentary to keep costs down, a broadcast source said. It is unlikely the ABC would broadcast Seven-only commentary, with the broadcaster adamant it will not go to Tokyo.

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Commentary legend slams Channel 9’s rugby league coverage

Peter “Zorba” Peters launched a scathing attack on Channel 9’s rugby league coverage in his segment on Sky Sports Radio on Sunday, highlighting its inability to fix the feud between Andrew Johns and Erin Molan and slamming the use of Johnathan Thurston and Sam Thaiday, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

It was interesting that stand-in host Neil Breen, a Channel 9 employee, didn’t defend his network.

“Channel 9, in a two-year period, have lost this mantel as the top television station for rugby league in Australia,” Peters said.

Peters also slammed Nine’s failure to adequately replace Steve Crawley, now the boss of Fox Sports.

Breen did little to counter Peters’ opinion, even suggesting former boss David Gyngell had been critical of their coverage.

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Fox Sports commentator knocks back offer to join Nine’s WWOS

NRL caller Dan Ginnane has knocked back an offer from Channel 9 to stick with Fox Sports, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

Planning for life after the soon-to-be-retiring Ray Warren, Nine approached Ginnane recently to jump ship.

Nine are now left with only one caller – Matt Thompson– should Warren retire in the next 12 months.

Fox Sports head of live TV Steve Crawley is delighted to have secured Ginnane and says comparisons to Warren “are not totally ridiculous. He’s got a lot of talent and we’re very happy to have him on board.”

Ginnane’s close friendship with night host Paul Murray at stablemate Sky News helped Fox Sports.

“It gives us a great team with Warren Smith, Andrew Voss, Brenton Speed, Matt Russell and now Dan,” Crawley said. “We need that many callers because we cover eight live games every week.”

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