Mediaweek Roundup: Hamish Blake, The Undoing, AFL, Network 10 + more

Hamish Blake

• Fred Media, Google, Facebook, Village Roadshow, Kevin Rudd, Bluey, and NRL

Business of Media

Melbourne-based TV distributor Fred appoints new sales manager

Fred Media has appointed Zoe Allen (pictured) to join its team in Melbourne as sales manager responsible for Latin America, CEE (including Turkey and Greece), Africa, Israel and VOD.

Allen joins from Beyond Rights in London, previously Beyond Distribution, where she was VP sales, responsible for Benelux, CEE, the Baltics, Israel, inflight and AVOD. Prior to her nearly five-year period at Beyond, she spent two years at Passion Distribution. Allen started her TV career working across research, casting and location scouting at the BBC, and in production companies such as Betty and True North.

Reporting to Fred Media’s COO, Roger Vanderspikken, Allen is now in charge of expanding the client base in each territory and licensing Fred’s growing catalogue from third party producers as well as parent company WTFN, producer of titles such as Emergency, Bondi Vet, Paramedics and Mega Zoo.

Zoe Allen commented: “It has been a strange time to start a new role on the other side of the world, but the team at Fred Media has been extremely welcoming and I am excited to be working with such a great catalogue of existing content, as well as the wonderful new series we have in the wings, such as Harbour Force, which we are bringing to market for pre-sales. I welcome the opportunity to connect with new clients in Latin America, Greece and Turkey and to reconnect with the many wonderful contacts I already have in the other territories.”

Roger Vanderspikken added: “Zoe brings with her a useful understanding of working for a distributor with a parent production company, as well as an excellent track record of selling a wide range of unscripted and kids’ content into a variety of markets. Her background, enthusiasm and love of TV make her a perfect addition to the Fred Media team, and we are pleased to have her onboard for this busy virtual MIPCOM period while we are launching a raft of new programming into the marketplace.”

Tech giants Google and Facebook making headlines with others’ news

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison offered vocal support for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission after it recommended making big tech companies such as Google and Facebook pay for Australian news content, writes columnist Jennifer Oriel in The Australian.

Discussions about such reforms often are complicated by jargon about algorithms and taxation law that makes the case for reform a rather technocratic affair. But the basic principle of fair pay for fair work stands and democratic governments have the duty to uphold it against multinational companies exploiting legal loopholes to profit from Australian workers.

Put simply, digital platforms such as Facebook and Google should pay news producers for the news they produce, and the new legislation would ensure it.

Last week, the US House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust released a lengthy report after investigating antitrust concerns about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Traditional media pays journalists to report, investigate and analyse news with money raised from advertising revenue and subscriptions. The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed the business model as corporations try to recoup losses by slashing their advertising budgets. Australia needs a new deal to ensure the free press has a fair go and its workers have a future.

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BGH’s offer for Village Roadshow ‘fair and reasonable’

A yet-to-be-published independent expert’s report has declared BGH Capital’s takeover offer for Village Roadshow both fair and reasonable, as the cinema and theme park business’ largest independent shareholder agitates for the Australian regulator to stop the deal, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The Village Roadshow board is soon expected to release an independent report by Grant Samuel declaring the scheme fair and reasonable ahead of the November 26 vote for shareholders.

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News Brands

Rudd has become Murdoch’s accuser, but once he was his cheerleader

Kevin Rudd is treading – albeit much more dramatically – a well-worn path among Australian politicians. Those who wield power – or covet it – curry favour with Rupert Murdoch. Those out of power, and whose political ambitions are over, criticise him, comments University of Sydney academic Rodney Tiffin in The Sydney Morning Herald.

This pattern became firmly entrenched following the 1987 changes to media ownership laws. Under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, Murdoch took over the Herald and Weekly Times publishing company, which gave him control of newspapers accounting for about two-thirds of daily circulation. This is a degree of concentration not matched in any other Western democracy. Labor politicians since have had many, many opportunities to regret Hawke and Keating’s decision.

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‘Cynical’: Network Ten blasted for hard-to-find defamation clarification

Network Ten has been ordered to publish a defamation clarification in a more prominent position after a Federal Court judge found the broadcaster had run the text in the terms and conditions section of its website where it was “unlikely to be seen by anyone”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michaela Whitbourn.

American Dylan Hafertepen launched defamation proceedings last year against Ten over a November 2018 segment on The Project about the death of his Australian partner Tank Hafertepen, formerly known as Jack Chapman, who died after injecting silicone into his genitals.

The parties reached a settlement on April 24 this year. Ten agreed to publish a clarification on the 10play website for at least 14 days, stating Ten “did not intend to suggest and does not suggest that Mr [Dylan] Hafertepen had anything to do with that death” and if “anyone took it to mean that” the suggestion was unreservedly retracted.

The Federal Court heard last month that Ten published the clarification in May at the bottom of a lengthy “terms of use” page accessed via a link at the bottom of the website.

In a judgment on Monday, Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann said, “Ten doggedly maintained that it had absolute discretion as to where on the 10play website”, because the terms of a settlement agreement were “silent on the matter”.

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‘Where will the next Bluey come from?’: Kids’ TV producers fear worst

The maker of one of Australian television’s most successful exports, the animated series Bluey, is among more than 20 children’s television producers who have warned of job losses and business closures unless the federal government revisits its recently announced screen reforms, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

If the government does not adjust its policies urgently, the producers warn, “many thousands of jobs will be lost and highly successful and profitable production companies will be forced to close”.

Under the reforms announced by arts minister Paul Fletcher last month, the free-to-air commercial broadcasters no longer have to screen Australian children’s content. Nor do the streamers have any obligation to do so.

The changes effectively leave the entire sector at the mercy of the ABC and SBS/NITV, neither of which received additional funding for children’s content in last week’s budget.

The changes risk undermining the proven export potential of Australian children’s TV content, says Charlie Aspinwall, co-founder of Ludo Studio, the Brisbane-based company that makes Bluey.

Ludo was among 22 production companies that signed an open letter urging the government to rethink its reforms, which it said had “left the sector stranded”.

The signatories include Jonathan M. Shiff Productions (Mako Mermaids), Northern Pictures (Hardball), Sticky Pictures (Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors?), Media World (Little J & Big Cuz) and Cheeky Little Media (Bottersnikes and Gumbles), and claim to represent “the majority of independent Australian children’s screen content producers”.

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Hamish and Zoë’s new gig – selling Australian travel to Australians

Tourism Australia have deployed husband-and-wife team Hamish Blake and Zoë Foster-Blake in a new $7 million campaign designed to encourage Australians to take a local holiday, reports News Corp’s David Mills.

While the duo say it’s not exactly a tough sell, given everybody in the country feels like a holiday right now, it comes at a critical time, with tourism sector losses estimated to be as high as $1 billion per month since the closure of international and state borders.

The campaign, which will be rolled out from today across print, social media, radio and outdoor advertising, showcases both big-ticket destinations as well as those that may be less familiar.

“There’s no chance you could see all of Australia, and the more you dig the more you find,” Hamish said.

“There’s hundreds and hundreds of places that you might not be familiar with or you might not have been. We’ve got this window of opportunity to explore Australia in a way that we might not have been thinking about a year ago.”

Zoe said like a lot of couples, they had previously put off plans to see different parts of the country.

Hamish said it “wasn’t much of a slogan”, but if the campaign had an underlying message, it would be “Australia: It’s Been Here All Along”.

The Melbourne-based couple said their ultimate Aussie getaway was one complete lap of the continent.

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First review of Nicole and Hugh in HBO’s The Undoing: “Preposterous”

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant star as a couple torn apart by scandal in David E. Kelley‘s Big Little Lies follow-up for HBO.

If you’ve ever been part of a group project at school where each member decides that someone else will pick up the slack – resulting in a half-completed mess that reflects poorly on everyone involved – the new HBO drama The Undoing should send a chill of familiarity down your spine, comments Inkoo Kang in The Hollywood Reporter.

It’s almost hard to believe that stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, series writer David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) and series director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager, the Oscar-winning In a Better World) could come up with a show so limp, so generic, so dispiritingly bad as this six-hour drama that only has enough story for a two-hour feature. (Five episodes were sent to critics.) It’s as if all the key decision-makers were in a collective spell, made to trust that someone else would do the work of making their program watchable.

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Sports Media

Foxtel reveals streaming numbers lift AFL and NRL ratings year-on-year

Foxtel has reported the NRL Week 2 Finals round attracted an average audience of 447,000 per match across Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Foxtel GO and Kayo; up +27% on last year’s Week 2 Finals.

This is the all-time highest rating weekend of NRL Finals Footy on Fox League (Foxtel Platforms + Kayo).

Breaking the NRL numbers down, Foxtel reported that linear audiences were +6% YoY and the streaming audience (Go/Now/Kayo) up +170% YoY.

The NRL SF#2 Eels v Rabbitohs was the #1 match of the weekend across Foxtel Platforms + Kayo with 448,000 making it the #2 highest ever NRL Finals game on Fox League of all time.

The NRL SF#1 Roosters v Raiders attracted an audience of 445,000 making it the #4 highest ever NRL Finals game on Fox League of all time.

Looking at Foxtel’s Fox Footy channel, the AFL Week 2 Finals round attracted an average audience of 389,000 per match across Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Foxtel GO and Kayo; up +4% on last year’s Week 2 Finals.

While linear audiences down -12% YoY, the streaming audience (Go/Now/Kayo) was up +110% YoY.

Friday night’s SF#2 between Richmond v St Kilda attracted a cumulative audience of 383,000 across Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Foxtel GO and Kayo; up +2% on the corresponding Friday night fixture last season (Geelong v West Coast).

Saturday night’s SF#1 between Geelong v Collingwood attracted a cumulative audience of 395,000, making it the highest rating match of the Week 2 Finals round. This was up +6% on the corresponding Saturday night fixture last season (Brisbane v GWS).

Preliminary Final weekend off one of the biggest ever in Australian sport

This weekend will be one of the biggest in Australian sporting history with Seven promising fans a powerhouse Preliminary Final triple-header – Port Adelaide v Richmond, Brisbane Lions v Geelong and The Front Bar Preliminary Final Edition – along with two of the Spring Racing Carnival’s truly iconic races, the Caulfield Cup and The Everest.

The coverage begins Friday night with a match-up at Adelaide Oval between a rejuvenated Port Adelaide team looking to continue its fairytale 2020 rise and a battle-hardened Richmond side chasing its third flag in four years.

Seven has announced commentators Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor (pictured) will be at Adelaide Oval for the big clash, and will again lead Seven’s coverage at the Gabba on Saturday night, when hometown favourites the Brisbane Lions square off against Geelong, with Chris Scott’s men riding high after their imposing 68-point Semi Final win over Collingwood.

Seven’s commentary team of Wayne Carey, Luke Hodge, Daisy Pearce, Hamish McLachlan, James Brayshaw, Luke Darcy, Matthew Richardson, Abbey Holmes, Jude Bolton and Mark Soderstrom will also feature in the coverage. Both broadcasts will start at 7.00pm AEDT on Channel 7 and 7mate in Sydney and Melbourne.

Saturday’s sporting action kicks off at 12.00pm AEDT with two of the biggest meetings of the Spring Racing Carnival – Everest Day at Royal Randwick and Caulfield Cup Day – on Channel 7, 7TWO and 7plus.

The weekend will finish on a high when Hamish McLachlan and Jacqui Felgate host the AFL’s 2020 Brownlow Medal count from 7.00pm AEDT on Sunday.

The Preliminary Final action gets off to an early start at 8.30pm AEDT on Thursday night when The Front Bar team puts the finishing touches on its own meticulous Grand Final preparations, with three-time premiership Cat Paul Chapman and Melbourne midfield star Angus Brayshaw joining Mick Molloy, Sam Pang and Andy Maher at the bar.

Managing director Seven Melbourne and head of network sport Lewis Martin commented:

“This week we embark on the biggest festival of sport in Australian history. With the AFL Preliminary Finals, The Front Bar Preliminary Final edition, The Everest and Caulfield Cup, topped off by the Brownlow Medal count, Seven is the only place to be this weekend.”

Post-match on Friday night, Adam Cooney and Cam Luke will settle in on the Armchair Experts sofa, offering viewers their unique take on all the fallout of the Power-Tigers Preliminary Final before looking ahead to the Lions-Cats clash.

AFL locks in locals to rock historic Brisbane Grand Final

The AFL has gone local for its 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final entertainment, with rising rock band DMA’S, pop powerhouse Cub Sport and Wolfmother lead singer Andrew Stockdale among the acts to play at the historic premiership decider, reports the AFL’s Callum Twomey.

In the first ever night Grand Final and flag clash played outside of Victoria, the Australian bands will perform at the Gabba on October 24 in front of what is expected to be the most watched game in football history.

Brisbane’s own Sheppard will also perform, as will Electric Fields featuring Thelma Plum and Busby Marou, in what is an all Australian line-up. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is also set to deliver a key performance on the biggest stage.

The acts will be split across pre-game and half-time slots to maximise the new entertainment format in the historic decider. Sheppard, whose hit song Geronimo was released in 2014, will take the stage at half-time. 

The League has also booked in Mike Brady to perform legendary song Up There Cazaly from the MCG on Grand Final day, with the performance to be beamed into the Gabba during the night.

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