Mediaweek Roundup: Foxtel, ABC, News Corp, David Speers + more

• New Daily, My Kitchen Rules, Andrew Denton, Logies, Olympics, and Rugby Australia

Business of Media

‘Prefer to pay nothing’: ABC boss plans to end $4m Foxtel deal

The ABC is negotiating with News Corp’s Foxtel to end a $4 million-a-year deal allowing Australians to watch the public broadcaster’s content on the pay TV platform, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

ABC managing director David Anderson told staff this week he had been in talks with Foxtel for months about stopping the payment as one of several savings measures the taxpayer-funded network is considering after the Coalition government froze its $1 billion annual budget.

The Foxtel arrangement for satellite with the ABC is similar to payments made to the pay TV platform by free-to-air broadcasters Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead), Seven West Media and Network Ten.

Anderson has been discussing how to reduce the cost with Foxtel since the end of 2018 and is looking to get rid of the fee entirely.

He is also looking at efficiencies by combining more back-end operations with SBS, he said at the meeting.

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Regional broadcasters struggle as advertising declines

The chief executive of regional television broadcaster Prime Media has warned that newsroom cuts in country Australia have become an unfortunate reality as advertising revenue dwindles, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

“Local news is an increasingly expensive endeavour when audiences and advertising revenues are declining,” Prime CEO Ian Audsley said.  “It is an unfortunate reality that business decisions like this one are not always in the public interest, but there are no plaudits for failure either,” he said.

“I know the WIN guys well – this would have been a torturous decision for them,” Audsley said. “They’ve been tremendous supporters of local news”.

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News Brands

Michael Miller: Why the fight for press freedom should unite us all

The fight over press freedom is not a fight to protect media organisations, writes News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller in a column published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

It is a fight to protect the public’s right to be fully informed. The issue is not new, but AFP raids on both Annika Smethurst and the ABC newsroom have brought it to a head.

This week Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine Entertainment Company; David Anderson, managing director of the ABC and I will address the National Press Club in Canberra to raise our strong objection to the recent raids and demand immediate changes to Federal legislation that can put journalists in jail for doing their job.

We object to the way warrants to search journalists, their data and their activities are granted without any ability to contest them.

We object to the way public service whistleblowers face punishment rather than protection. We object to the regime that allows too many documents to be stamped secret. We object to the huge number of federal laws passed in the last decade that include measures that criminalise journalism.

Our governments must understand that journalism supported by strong companies serve a real need in democracy.

I hope that when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into the impact of the digital platforms on media companies is handed to the Government on June 30 it contains recommendations to level the commercial playing field.

If it does, it is important that the government understands that commercial viability and press freedom are inextricably linked.

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David Speers breaks his silence on move from Sky News to Insiders

The incoming host of ABC’s Insiders David Speers says he has no plans to radically overhaul the popular Sunday morning politics program when he takes over from long-time host Barrie Cassidy next year, reports News Corp’s Claire Bickers.

In an exclusive interview with News Corp Australia this week, Speers flagged there would be some changes to the panel show in 2020.

But he vowed to respect the format Cassidy built over almost two decades.

“The Insiders show is obviously such a key political program, one that I’ve admired since its inception – so it is big shoes to fill,” the 44-year-old said.

“I would like to put my own mark on it in some way,” he added.

“We’re starting to think about how we do that and looking at some different ideas but nor do I want to make major changes to what’s a pretty successful format.

“I really want to respect the success it’s had and I really want to make sure we only build on that.”

He was reluctant to comment on the ABC’s direction but said: “It’s an organisation that I deeply respect and admire and I’m looking forward to being a part of.”

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New Daily editor exits for role with Nine’s publishing division

The New Daily’s editor, Patrick Elligett, is understood to have resigned from the business to join Nine Entertainment Co newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

Elligett, who was appointed editor-in-chief of the Industry Super Holdings-owned publication in 2017 after the resignation of Thomas Hunter, will become world editor for the two mastheads.

A replacement for Elligett has not been announced.

The New Daily is an online newspaper set up by six super funds including AustralianSuper, Cbus and Industry Super Holdings as a commercial venture.

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Television

Bellevue Hill trophy home to feature in next My Kitchen Rules

A luxury $12m Bellevue Hill trophy home will take a starring role in the next My Kitchen Rules, reports News Corp property columnist Jonathan Chancellor.

Seven has taken a three-month lease on the grand Mediterranean-inspired manor with Sydney Harbour views.

Seven advised neighbours the majority of filming will be conducted inside, although there is an amazing parterre garden with harbour views.

The property has five bedrooms, plus a library, which is likely as a sixth bedroom for the house co-ordinator.

The Australian’s Lisa Allen managed to reveal the exact location in her report:

Chosen for its high hedges and low-profile street frontage, a grand Mediterranean-inspired eastern suburbs villa once owned by the Paspaley family will be the TV set for the Seven Network’s popular My Kitchen Rules, which is fronted by Pete Evans and Manu Feildel. Filming starts at 68 Drumalbyn Road in Bellevue Hill, on July 1, according to a development application lodged with Woollahra Council. Ten contestants will be housed at the five-bedroom mansion, where Seven will film until September 29.

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Denton on TV shows: Most end up charred corpses by side of the road’

Veteran Aussie interviewer Andrew Denton was the cover feature in a Good Weekend profile by Konrad Marshall. Here is Marshall and Denton talking about his Seven series:

A team of eight staff scour the history of each interview subject, watching hours of footage, reading books, listening to radio interviews and scanning years’ worth of articles, all of which is gathered into a poorly-named “brief” that can be up to 30,000 words long, from which questions are drawn and debated, added and subtracted, tweaked and revised.

The ratings for Interview, now in its second season on the Seven Network, generally hover around or below half a million viewers, and fluctuate wildly based largely on the guest. It’s not yet part of the furniture. Should it fail, Denton won’t lose too much sleep.

The reality of television makes him think – somewhat grimly – of the 1991 Gulf War, and footage he once saw of “the highway of death”, a road lined with the bombed vehicles of retreating Iraqi military forces. “When you look at how many shows are released in any given year, most of them end up as charred corpses by the side of the road,” he says. “Only a few keep driving on to victory.”

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TV Tonight profiles two TV Week Gold Logie outsiders as voting opens

Costa Georgiadis: Grow for Gold, Amanda Keller: Staying power

In 2017 Costa Georgiadis wasn’t sure if he would score an invitation to the Logie Awards, reports TV Tonight.

Two years later he is up for the Gold Logie and Most Popular Presenter while Gardening Australia is nominated for Most Popular Lifestyle.

“How classic is that?” he laughs.

“I suppose being out and about around the country, you meet a lot of people. I traverse a fair cross-section of this great big land we live in.

“When you get your head around how many people you rub shoulders with in transit, at destinations, schools, community gatherings – you suddenly take stock that you’re fortunate enough to have contact with a lot of people.

“But I might have to do a lot of ringing around to get the preference of some of these bigger names!”

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Of all seven Gold Logie nominees, none comes close to the longevity of the crowd favourite, Amanda Keller, reports TV Tonight.

Since her research days on Wonder World in 1983, Keller has worked at every network (including Foxtel) in both presenting and acting roles. Whether in variety, light entertainment, factual or scripted comedy, she’s just about done it all.

But despite never winning a Logie Award, the 10 presenter hates having to campaign for votes.

“I would love to win a Gold Logie, but it’s so hard to say to people ‘Please vote for me!’” she tells TV Tonight.

“It’s a strange week because it’s not like the old days when Don Burke would get all his assistants to fill out the vouchers to TV Week. Now voting is open until the end of the red carpet so there’s this campaign feeling to it. I hope I’m not Hillary on the night.”

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Sports Media

Seven tips ratings gold at Olympics: Tokyo audience biggest ever

Seven West Media’s chief revenue officer and director of Olympics, Kurt Burnette, believes more Australians will watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics than those in Sydney almost 20 years ago, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

Burnette and his team are predicting more than 20 million Australians will watch the Tokyo Games from July 24 to August 9 on TV thanks to a convenient time difference, and five million will watch from digital devices.

“We know the time, the date and how many brands will be there,” Burnette tells The Australian. “There will not be another event generating an audience like it again in Australia in this or the next decade.”

But it hasn’t come cheap for Seven. In 2014, Seven obtained the rights to Rio 2016, Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018 and Tokyo 2020 for a rumoured $200 million. Seven declined to comment on ongoing talks about future rights, but Burnette says one-off events are worth the large investment.

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Women’s sport takes center stage but pay still ‘despicable’

Australia’s female athletes are getting more spotlight than ever before and rising to the top of the world, but it is only the beginning of a journey needed to build financially viable careers and inspire the next generation, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment managing director Jamie Gilbert-Smith said brands and sporting associations need to step up, invest in women’s sport to close to pay gap to ultimately grow long-term.

“The pay in women’s sport is despicable,” Gilbert-Smith said. “Yes, there is a greater focus on women’s sport and it’s a good thing, but it’s a start, there’s so much we need to do to develop women’s sport as a viable industry so we’ve got young women seeing opportunities in playing sport, in the media around sport.”

In the Forbes World’s Highest-Paid athletes list there is just one woman, Serena Williams, in the top 100.

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Rugby Australia aims to get more games available for free

Rugby Australia is exploring how it will make more of its sport available to viewers for free, in an effort to grow the audience, which has largely been locked up by pay TV business Foxtel, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

“Rugby Australia recognises that we need to do all that we can to be more accessible at more levels and with more products,” Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said.

Rugby Australia is looking to battle an alarming fall in Super Rugby crowds and it is hoped that by making the broadcast more available to viewers than just pay TV, it could promote interest in the sport.

“The days of it being just a free-to-air and Fox Sports option is not the modern world that we live in,” Castle said.

Sources said Network 10 was weighing bidding for rights to live Super Rugby matches that line up with the 7.30pm timeslot on Friday or Saturday and involve at least one of the Australian teams.

Foxtel is understood to pay about $15 million in cash plus several million in contra advertising, and on-sells Wallabies matches and a Super Rugby replay match to 10 for $4 million.

10 has rights for a Sunday morning replay of a Saturday night Super Rugby match. Fox Sports has exclusive live rights to the Super Rugby competition. 10 also broadcasts the international Wallabies matches.

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