Mediaweek Roundup: Greg Hywood, Stan loses Showtime, ABC, AAP + more

Greg Hywood

• ACM, regional media lifeline, Dulcie Boling, MTV, Simon Hill and Craig Foster

Business of Media

Stan to lose Showtime programming at the end of the year

Streaming service Stan is poised to lose the bulk of its key Showtime television programs at the end of the year, significantly weakening the appeal of the Nine Entertainment-owned group as competition for subscribers heats up, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Stan’s current Showtime deal expires in December, and The Australian understands that Showtime’s owner, US media giant ViacomCBS, plans to put its new programs and its extensive back-catalogue on to its own streaming service.

As a result, Stan is likely to lose about 500 hours of library content, including shows such as Californication, Happyish, Nurse Jackie and Dexter. It also won’t get any new Showtime programs.

However, Stan’s current Showtime deal means it will continue to get new episodes of existing shows on its platform, such as Billions, for the entire run of the show. A Stan spokesman declined to comment.

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Greg Hywood scores an assignment working for James Warburton

Greg Hywood has taken his first major Australian media assignment since Fairfax was eaten up by the Nine Entertainment Co in their $1.6bn merger, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

The former Fairfax CEO will undertake a review of Seven’s The West Australian and Sunday Times newspapers. We’re told his key focus will be to do much of what he did for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age: move the Seven papers to a “digital first” footing. However, his brief will also be to preserve the print operations at the same time he drives digital.

Seven boss James Warburton said on Sunday night that he was “delighted” that Hywood was “available” for the job, after he had most recently been involved in other mysterious media projects with global brands in Asia.

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Nationals leader urges government to reverse ABC cuts

NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has slammed the Morrison government’s “devastating” budget cuts to the ABC and accused his federal counterparts of an “incomprehensible” failure to deliver more jobs to regional Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Rob Harris and Jennifer Duke.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the NSW Deputy Premier seized on an exclusive report in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that revealed Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had ignored two separate proposals by the ABC to spend tens of millions launching regional studios and expanding coverage of remote areas, if the government dumped its funding freeze.

The concerns of regional Australia are top of mind for the government, with the National, Liberal and Labor Party gearing up for a three-cornered by-election battle for the South East NSW seat of Eden-Monaro on July 4. The campaigns in the bushfire-hit town have focused on recovery efforts, including tourism packages and coordination of local community assistance.

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AAP customers off limits for News Corp newswire

Australian Associated Press customers will be prevented from signing a deal with News Corp Australia’s newswire for six months under a proposed sale agreement with the new owners that is expected to be completed early this week, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources familiar with the contract between AAP and the consortium of philanthropists and investors led by chief executive Peter Tonagh said that News Corp will be unable to immediately poach customers from the revived AAP newswire and will instead run the content exclusively for its mastheads including The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun.

Any formal transfer of the newswire operations, should the sale proceed, will not occur until July 31 and all staff entitlements are expected to be funded by Nine and News Corp. But despite keeping the business running, AAP content will not be used by News Corp or Nine’s publications including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from July 1.

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News Brands

Catalano’s ACM brings back lion’s share of suspended print titles

Antony Catalano‘s Australian Community Media will return dozens of titles to print this week after many were suspended as advertising collapsed because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The Goulburn Post, Southern Highlands News, The Area News, The Wimmera Mail-Times and Port Macquarie News are among 50 to 60 titles that will return to print of the roughly 80 that were suspended amid the health crisis.

More than half of ACM’s 170 publications continued printing following the suspension of several non-daily print editions in April during the height of government-imposed restrictions on movement and gatherings. Four print sites had their operations suspended and staff stood down.

ACM’s 14 daily newspapers – including The Canberra Times, Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury – and its agriculture titles were unaffected by the suspension and continued to be printed the entire time.

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More than 100 regional media companies get $50m lifeline

More than 100 regional media companies will share $50 million in emergency relief funding from the federal government to keep local news running, following a collapse in advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Regional free-to-air broadcasters Prime Media, WIN Corp and Southern Cross Austereo, whose TV news operations are produced and provided by Nine, will get a slice; Australian Community Media will have a share; as well as smaller groups such as McPherson Media Group and Star News Group who will take part once they sign grant agreements with the government.

Of the 107 applicants, 92 are publishers, 13 are for radio and five are for television. Three applicants were successful across two funding streams.

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Magazine queens mourn demise of paper giants: ‘I’m just horrified’

“I’m just horrified at what they do these days,” former magazine editor Dulcie Boling tells The Australian’s Steve Jackson. “There’s no truth in any of the stories. It’s all just made up out of thin air. We can all do that. We can all write a story about nothing, but I used to base our stories on the facts.

“I also had quite strict rules about nasty and spiteful stories and captions about other women. I didn’t want to see any women put down in my magazine and anybody who did that or thought it was a great idea to make fun of another woman would be carpeted very quickly.”

Boling joined New Idea as a reporter in 1975 and was appointed editor two years later.

During her 15-year reign, she took the weekly magazine’s circulation from 400,000 to 1.2m, transforming it into a commercial powerhouse and becoming chairman and chief executive of Southdown Press (later Pacific Magazines) in the process.

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‘An opportunity and a responsibility’: MTV returns focus to music

After years of critiques that its programming had swayed too far into reality TV excess, MTV Australia is officially re-committing to its music roots, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Robert Moran.

On Wednesday, the network will debut four new channels of locally-programmed, 24-hour music content – just months after carrier Foxtel axed its other homegrown music channels, Channel V and Max.

Helen McMurdo, MTV’s senior director of youth and entertainment brands, says the network’s expansion was fostered by audience demand.

“Music is up 18 per cent year on year on Foxtel and it’s the fastest-growing category behind news, so there’s an exciting opportunity there,” says McMurdo.

“But music is always at the heart of what we do because our audiences are so passionate about it. Millennials say music is the number one mechanism they use to cope with stress – above exercise, above watching content, or talking to friends and family. So music is really important to us from a brand point of view, and I think this new set of channels demonstrates our commitment to that.”

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Sports Media

Australian football’s voice weakened by Hill, Foster exits

The two voices behind Australian football’s finest moment, Simon Hill and Craig Foster, have announced their respective departures from Fox Sports and SBS within the space of 72 hours in a major blow for the game, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

Hill and Foster were the commentary team behind the Socceroos’ famous penalty shootout win over Uruguay in 2005 that broke Australia’s 32-year World Cup qualification drought, and have been among the sport’s most passionate advocates in this country for many years.

Hill, one of Australia’s most popular callers in any sport, posted a statement on Twitter on Saturday morning confirming he was leaving Fox and would not be part of the pay-TV network’s coverage of the A-League’s season resumption next month.

Industry sources claim Hill was told this week his services were no longer required by Fox.

“My contract at Fox ends on Tuesday. While I will miss bringing the A-League and other football to you, it nevertheless gives me a chance to pursue other opportunities, on which I’ll hopefully have more news shortly,” Hill wrote on Twitter in a post that prompted an immediate flood of tributes.

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