Mediaweek roundup: Karl Stefanovic, John Fordham, Tom Malone + more

• Mike Raymond, Bauer Media, Optus Sport, Tokyo Olympics, Kyle Sandilands, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, Isentia + Facebook

Business of Media

Private equity suitor likes the look of Bauer Media’s magazines

Private equity firm Mercury Capital is in advanced talks to buy Bauer Media’s Australian and New Zealand publishing business, which is home to magazines including The Australian Women’s Weekly and was once the backbone of the Packer family’s Australian Consolidated Press, reports The AFR’s Street Talk.

The paper reports Mercury Capital is seeking to win Bauer Media’s approval with a $150 million offer, which would end the German media company’s difficult seven-year stint in Australian publishing.

The surprise bid comes only three weeks after Bauer signed a $40 million deal to merge its local arm with long-time rival Pacific Magazines, owned by Seven West Media, in an effort to shore up its future. That deal is scheduled to complete before the end of this year.

Bauer’s local business is what is left of ACP Magazines, which it bought from Nine Entertainment for $525 million in 2012.

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Isentia appoints Russ Horell new chief commercial officer

Isentia has appointed Russ Horell (pictured) to the role of chief commercial officer.

Horell has had a long career at Isentia. His most recent roles were country manager for New Zealand and Queensland manager.

Commenting on the appointment Isentia’s CEO Ed Harrison said: “Russ is a high achiever with a proven track record at Isentia who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Isentia executive leadership team. He has consistently produced excellent results for his clients and the company.

“During his time as country manager, he has built a high performing, extremely engaged team in New Zealand which has delivered in terms of customer service as well as client acquisition and retention. The appointment highlights the depth of our management team and I know Russ will play an integral role as we continue to implement our transformation strategy”.

Horell replaces the previous chief commercial officer, Sean Smith, who will leave Isentia at the end of 2019. To ensure a smooth handover, Horell will commence in his new role on 25 November.

Horell said: “I am delighted to be taking over as chief commercial officer and to be leading a strong commercial team who are united in their passion for servicing our clients which continues to be a key factor in the ‘Isentia difference’.

“My experience in delivering value to clients across two countries as well as the numerous positions I have held within sales and account management, mean that I am well equipped to deliver the direction that our teams need and the standards our clients expect. I wish Sean Smith all the best in his new role and thank him for his guidance over the years”.

Facebook cops blast from Andrew Forrest fraudulent ads

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has slammed Facebook for its lack of action over fraudulent advertising on its platforms, flagging a push for governments around the world to step up their scrutiny and regulation of the social media giant, reports The Australian’s Paul Garvey.

The iron ore billionaire has delivered a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, slamming him and his company over its “socially reprehensible recalcitrance” over fraudulent advertising. “Facebook is not a billboard, it is one of the world’s most pernicious publishers,” Forrest told The Australian.

“It is time for Facebook to take responsibility and stop profiting from criminals.”

Forrest is among a host of prominent Australians whose image has been used by fraudsters as “celeb-bait” to push their scheme through ads on the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Images of Forrest, casino billionaire James Packer, former NSW premier Mike Baird and television host David Koch have been appropriated by scammers for ads run through Facebook and other online platforms.

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Media People

John Fordham, master of the stars, bows out as family celebrates life

John Fordham– manager to the stars and celebrated wine critic – has died after a long battle with throat cancer, reports The Australian’s Emil Ritchie.

The 75-year-old father of radio broadcaster Ben Fordham died surrounded by family at 7am on Sunday, just days after being told his condition was terminal. He had been battling cancer for several years, reports Emily Ritchie.

Ben Fordham told The Australian the family wasn’t feeling sad but rather “proud and joyous” and ready to celebrate his life. “It’s a weird feeling but we’re not sad, we’re genuinely happy,” he said. “We’re a family who’s never felt afraid of telling each other we love each other, so none of us have that feeling of ‘if only’.”

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Vale John Fordham: Celebrity agent, family man and great mate

John Fordham spent his last day swapping race tips with Alan Jones, having a punt, a beer, laughing with Joey Johns and trying to finalise a tense contract negotiation for one of his biggest clients, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

Hours later, Sydney lost one of its most colourful and mischievous characters with the passing of the celebrity agent at 7am Sunday morning at age 75, losing a long and brave battle against throat cancer.

The day before, Fordham had hosted a who’s who of sporting legends and radio stars at his bedside at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst. Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns and Canberra coach Ricky Stuart, radio legends Alan Jones and John Laws and former Australian cricket captains Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell all paid Fordham a visit, such was the respect and love for a true larrikin, prankster, wine connoisseur and loving father to Ben, Nick and Sarah and devoted husband to Veronica.

He’d often lunch with TV bosses and newspaper legends Col Allan, John Hartigan and Roy“Rocky” Miller. On Friday morning, Daily Telegraph editor Ben English personally delivered him a copy of the paper. Your columnist was supposed to visit Fordham at 10.30am yesterday with Sunday Telegraph editor Mick Carroll to say goodbye.

Sadly, Ben Fordham rang at 7.30am to break the news that it was too late.

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Australian Financial Review columnist signs off

One of The Australian Financial Review’s marquee columnists, Matthew Stevens, is pulling up stumps, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

Stevens, who also spent 18 years as a senior columnist and reporter with The Australian as part of a glittering 40-year journalism career, has revealed he will retire in January: “It is true. I am going to retire, and contemplate my options after retirement.”

Stevens said part of the reason for his retirement was the career success of his high-flying wife, Samantha Stevens, who is a group executive at Origin Energy and its corporate affairs supremo: “The success of my partner has allowed us to have choices. We have primary school-aged children, and we don’t want to use after-school care.”

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One of a rare breed, Johannes Leak fits the bill at The Australian

The Australian’s Steve Waterson reported on the appointment of a new lead cartoonist at the newspaper:

In the 55 years since The Australian was founded, only half a dozen artists have held the position. Australia has plenty of funny people, and plenty of fine caricaturists, but those talents are seldom found together.

Factor in merciless newspaper deadlines and the number of candidates vanishes into the low single figures.

If anyone could teach cartooning it would be Bill Leak, whose virtuosity graced this newspaper until his death in 2017. And ascending the cartoon world’s throne today is Bill’s son Johannes, who absorbed his father’s love of cartooning from infancy. He has lived on the NSW central coast for years, and relishes his down-to-earth Ettalong Beach community. “There’s a great danger for a cartoonist in living in the inner-city bubble,” he says. “You get tapped into the mainstream here in a way that maybe you wouldn’t if you’re bang in the middle of town. This is a place that wipes away all of that inner-city chatter.”

After 2½ years working all across the paper, Johannes has satisfied editor-in-chief Christopher Dore, who declares him “the perfect person for the job”.

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Radio

New radio boss Tom Malone ready to handle Jones, Hadley

Nine’s new managing director of radio Tom Malone will have a difficult task on his hands as he enters Macquarie Media’s offices on Monday, charged with handling Alan Jones and Ray Hadley while driving revenue for the business, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

Malone, who begins his role as Nine completes its takeover of the radio business that owns 2GB and 3AW, said he would focus on serving audiences the right content, while controlling spending.

“You got to focus on your content, keep your costs under control and drive ad revenue top line,” Malone said.

Malone said it was too early to tell what the future of his other network, Macquarie Sports Radio, would be.

“I’ve got to have a look at what the strategy is for that network and see what the best content is and how that complements the other stations,” he said.

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See also:
The SMH: Nine’s new radio boss pledge to win back advertisers spooked by Alan Jones

The AFR: Nine’s Tom Malone to soothe advertiser concerns over Alan Jones

Kyle Sandilands and Imogen Anthony to keep agent Bruno Bouchet

With news of Kyle Sandilands and Imogen Anthony’s break-up comes speculation of who gets what post-split, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.

And while we expect the couple’s farm animals will go to Anthony and their massive luxury car collection to Sandilands, Sunday Confidential can reveal both of them will get to keep their agent, Bruno Bouchet.

It is believed Bouchet, who negotiated Sandilands’ $50 million contract, will continue to represent them both.

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Television

Nine had good reason to axe Stefanovic last year. What’s changed?

Statistically, Karl Stefanovic’s return to Today in 2020 – following his axing from the program last December – is likely to fail, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

From a gut-hunch perspective, his pairing with 60 Minutes reporter Allison Langdon gives Channel Nine’s ailing breakfast show a fighting chance.

Since 2005, commercial breakfast programs – including 10’s now-defunct Breakfast and Wake Up – have tried their luck with 15 different anchors. Only five can claim long-term success: David Koch, Melissa Doyle and Samantha Armytage on Sunrise; and Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson on Today. To put it bluntly, most presenters fail.

Compared to last year, Today‘s national audience is down 17 per cent to an average of 292,000 viewers. This can’t be blamed on the broader decline of live television; Sunrise (457,000) and ABC News Breakfast (248,000) have both held steady.

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Six women left behind during Stefanovic’s on-off Today reign

When Karl Stefanovic returns to the helm of the Today show next year Nine bosses will be holding their breath and praying seven is his lucky number, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

That’s the number of female co-hosts Stefanovic has been paired with across 14 unsuccessful seasons at Today.

And despite the churn of clever women through the program’s ranks since 2005 – the last two, Georgie Gardner and Deb Knight, dumped on the Todays crap heap last month following Nine’s latest failed reboot of the breakfast show – Stefanovic endures, having once again whispered into the ear of a CEO and promised without proof of evidence something he is yet to deliver to Nine, a sustained ratings win.

Stefanovic confirms coaxing Nine bosses with “I’m your lucky charm” – a statement drenched in irony based on his scorecard.

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Tony Jones leaves Today on own terms due to ‘unsustainable’ workload

Leading Melbourne sports presenter Tony Jones is leaving Channel 9’s Today show on his own terms, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Jones, or TJ as he is known, has not been pushed as the show undergoes yet another major overhaul with hosts Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight being ousted on Friday in favour of Karl Stefanovic, who is making a phoenix rising return to the program, and Allison Langdon.

Jones informed 9 last month that he did not wish to continue with the program into 2020, although he had privately made his decision some months beforehand.

Jones joined Today as its sports presenter in January. He was with the program two days a week, Monday and Friday, but was on call to cover any significant sports news on the other days.

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Sports Media

Legendary Supercars commentator Mike Raymond dies

Legendary former Supercars commentator Mike Raymond has died, aged 76, following a battle with pneumonia, reports Supercars on its website.

Raymond was the voice of Australian touring car racing for two decades from the mid-1970s, playing a significant role in the growth of the sport.

That included involvement in formulating the 5.0 litre V8 rules for 1993, setting the foundations for the current Supercars competition.

He is most famous for his commentary at Bathurst and his role with innovations such as RaceCam, allowing the commentary team to speak to drivers during races.

The in-race conversations between Raymond and the likes of Dick Johnson, Peter Brock and Peter Williamson are entrenched in Great Race folklore.

Raymond had cut his teeth commentating speedway and worked as a producer at ATN7 (Sydney), before progressing to head of sport.

He was inducted into Bathurst’s Legends Lane and the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2018.

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See also:
Tributes flow for legendary commentator Mike Raymond

Some of Australia’s greatest touring car drivers have paid tribute to the late legendary commentator Mike Raymond.

Having spent two decades calling the Australian Touring Car Championship for the Seven Network, Raymond’s was one of the most recognisable voices in Aussie motor racing, reports motorsport.com.

News of his passing has sparked a flood of tributes from ATCC/Supercars legends, John Bowe, Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes among those to pay their respects.

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Games over for ABC as broadcaster says ‘no’ to Tokyo

Next year’s Tokyo Olympics will represent the end of an era in Australian broadcasting.

The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff reports the ABC has taken the unprecedented decision to pull out as an official broadcast partner with the Games. Aunty’s decision ends nearly seven unbroken decades where it has been the Olympics’ sole non-commercial radio broadcaster, and is a clear sign that significant cost-cutting is already under way at the ABC.

An ABC spokesman has confirmed the move. “This is an incredibly tough decision, especially given our 67-year run as the official non-commercial Olympic Games radio broadcaster,” the spokesman said.

“Due to competing budget priorities coupled with the fact that Australians can access Olympic Games coverage in many other ways, we have chosen not to pursue rights in 2020.”

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Optus Sport wins live rights to Barclays FA Women’s Super League

Optus Sport has strengthened its investment in women’s soccer, announcing exclusive live rights to Barclays FA Women’s Super League for the next three years, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Laura Chung.

“This is our first deal in the Asian region and demonstrates the ever-increasing global appeal of the league,” FA senior broadcast manager Tom Gracey said.

“The popularity of women’s football is at an all-time high and this agreement is a fantastic opportunity for viewers across Australia to enjoy the skills, excitement and competitiveness that the Barclays FA Women’s Super League has to offer. We commend Optus for being at the vanguard of elevating and broadcasting more top-level women’s soccer.”

Last year, the FA WSL season became Europe’s only fully professional women’s league. From November 17, Optus Sport will broadcast 50 live matches per full season and 40 fixtures of the 2019-20 season, which is already underway.

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