Mediaweek Roundup: Kerry Stokes, Murdochs, The Project + more

CBS, UK harper’s bazaar, Nine,  The Lord of the Rings, Margaux Parker, iHeartMedia, and Neroli Meadows

Business of Media

Kerry Stokes joins ranks of business donors to bushfire relief

Billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes has pledged $10 million to Australian bushfire relief, amid a growing swell of public and government support, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich

Seven Group Holdings and Australian Capital Equity, which count Mr Stokes as their biggest shareholder, will together donate at least $5m in cash and $5m in services in kind such as equipment to bushfire relief and rebuilding efforts.

Stokes, who is executive chairman of the diversified Seven Group, said the companies are “uniquely placed to help provide short and long term solutions to the terrible damage being wrought across our country by the bushfires”.

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Weathering the storm: inside the Murdoch family climate schism

Not that long ago, Rupert Murdoch abandoned his climate scepticism and pledged to cut emissions within his media empire. Then, something changed, reports The Syndey Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

At a conference in Tokyo almost 15 years ago, Rupert Murdoch stood in front of a crowd and publicly declared his dedication to the climate change cause.

It was 2006 and the billionaire News Corp founder decided that while he had previously been sceptical of the global warming debate, it was his organisation’s duty to “take the lead” on the issue.

“Some of the presumptions about extreme weather, whether it be hurricanes or drought, may seem far fetched,” Murdoch said at the Tokyo event. “What is certain is that temperatures have been rising and that we are not entirely sure of the consequences. The planet deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

The statement would be referenced by business entrepreneurs such as Dick Smith and former prime ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull for years to come. In 2014, News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt wrote about how “warmists” demanded he write to his bosses’ script. Murdoch, who was 75 at the time, certainly did not say it by mistake.

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Judge Allows CBS Shareholder Lawsuit Thanks to What Leslie Moonves Said About #MeToo

A federal judge is allowing a group of CBS shareholders to pursue a lawsuit over what investors were told about sexual misconduct allegations at the company. Although sharply narrowing the focus of the suit that was filed in the wake of a New Yorker exposé about ex-chairman Leslie Moonves, the legal action will nevertheless proceed. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni issued a 48-page decision on CBS’ motion to dismiss.

The suit focuses on top executives including Moonves who allegedly sexually harassed women behind the scenes for years. The plaintiffs are alleging that amidst the #MeToo movement, the risk of CBS losing its key leaders was high, yet the company and its board of directors failed to disclose risks tied to a hostile workplace and issued misleading statements suggesting all was fine at CBS.

Reports The Hollywood Reporters Eriq Gardner, Read more

Media regulator scrutinises broadcasters over commercial influence

Australia’s media regulator has raised concerns about the disclosure of commercial deals on television and radio after finding eight out of 10 Australians are worried about the influence of advertisers on news, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios and Jennifer Duke.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will today release a discussion paper after analysing 160 hours of television news and current affairs on commercial networks including Seven West Media, Network Ten and Nine Entertainment Co, as well as 80 hours of commercial radio content.

The ACMA paper will put the broadcasters under pressure to provide viewers with greater disclosure about the links between news content and advertising arrangement after finding many viewers believed there was widespread commercial influence on news programs even if this was not the case. The ACMA is now considering whether impartiality of news content requires more regulatory focus and whether advertising relationships should be better disclosed to viewers.

“We were quite surprised by the level of concern,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said. “But that meant that it was something we should have a look at. Impartiality was high and commercial influence was significantly high, probably much higher than we expected.”

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News Brands

Major UK newspaper to no longer release circulation figures

Australian newspapers stopped releasing circulation data some time ago. Now a major UK newspaper and has broken ranks and will stop too, reports the UK Press Gazette:

Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, is pulling out of the ABC newspaper circulation audit, saying it is no longer a “key metric” for its subscriber-first strategy.

The group said it would instead publish its core subscriber numbers each month for the first time as it focuses on its target of reaching 10m registered users and 1m paying subscribers by 2023.

The papers’ final audit report shows the Daily Telegraph had an average December 2019 circulation of 317,817 while the Sunday Telegraph was on 248,288. Both saw a 12% decline from December 2018.

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Publishing

Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of UK Harper’s Bazaar, steps down

Glenda Bailey, the editor in chief of the luxury fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, will step down at the end of February. The move was announced by Hearst, the publisher of the magazine, on Wednesday.

Bailey, who led Harper’s Bazaar for nearly 19 years, was one of the last in a line of fashion editors producing expensive, glossy monthly magazines. Her departure follows a number of other notable changes at Hearst, and signals an almost complete shift from the old order of magazine publishing, which has been decimated over the last decade by the internet.

In 2018, David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines for eight years, stepped down. Troy Young, who had previously overseen the company’s digital presence, succeeded him. (Carey returned to Hearst Corporation earlier this month as senior vice president of public affairs and communications.)

Within a month, Joanna Coles, the chief content officer of Hearst and the former editor of Cosmopolitan, the Hearst magazine with the highest circulation, left. The editor in chief of Esquire, Jay Fielden, left the next year, as did Anne Fulenwider, the editor of Marie Claire.

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Television

Promotions for Nine publicity duo Stamper and Stuart

Nine has appointed Terry Stuart as Communications Manager with long term Head of Publicity and Marketing Michelle Stamper promoted to Director – Marketing and Partnerships, reports TV Tonight.

Both have been long term senior roles at GTV9, stemming back to Nine’s days at Bendigo Street, Richmond.

Terry Stuart will lead the Publicity team in both Television, as well as responsibilities for 3AW, reporting to both Stamper and Nine publicity boss Victoria Buchan.

Michelle Stamper will report to GTV9 managing director Matt Scriven and sit on the Melbourne executive team as well as sitting on the Group Marketing Leadership team run by Lizzie Young. Her role will cover local marketing strategies for Nine Melbourne, 3AW and The Age.

Victoria Buchan said in a staff email, “I want to congratulate Michelle on this new expanded role and I know she will really make a difference and have a big impact on the success of our business in that market across all our brands.”

She added, “Terry is a great asset to our business, his knowledge and experience will ensure the comms team nationally gets well represented in that market.”

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Australia takes over Middle-Earth

Three Australian actors will head the cast of the new Amazon Prime Video prequel to The Lord of the Rings, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

Though the streaming platform is yet to release firm details of characters and storiesthe series will feature, it has confirmed that Tom Budge (Bran Nue DaeJudy & Punch), Markella Kavenagh (Romper StomperPicnic at Hanging Rock) and Tyroe Muhafidin (Two SandsCaravan) will be among the leads. The series will also star Morfydd Clark (Dracula), Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Undoing) and Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones). The series, steered by showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, will be set in the “second age” of Middle-Earth, before the events depicted in the books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The first season will comprise eight one-hour episodes; production will commence in New Zealand in February.

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Channel 10’s The Project set for a re-shuffle

The Project is set for a re-shuffle as Channel 10 tries to bring more certainty to its on-air team in 2020, reports The Herald Sun’s Colin Vickery.

And Grant Denyer’s Celebrity Name Game appears doomed with Ten happy with the ratings of its expanded 90-minute nightly news bulletin.

Ten wants to strengthen its early evening ratings which have been a weak spot at a time when 7.30pm shows such as Australian Survivor and The Masked Singer have been flourishing.

The Project was a ball of confusion for most of 2019 with a rotating roster of fill-in hosts covering extended absences by Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar.

Sundays were locked in with Lisa Wilkinson but most other nights were a lottery with Gorgi Coghlan, Dave Thornton, Joel Creasey, Susie Youssef, and others presenting.

Ten believes ratings will grow if viewers have more confidence about who they will see when they switch on the show in 2020.

Bickmore (who is reportedly contracted for three nights per week), Helliar, and Waleed Aly would likely be locked in for Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays right throughout the year.

“You won’t see the same faces six nights a week but what I would like to have is consistency and familiarity,” Ten program chief Beverley McGarvey said.

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Radio

‘I know you are only 11 but there’s some things you need to know …’: Margaux Parker’s letter to herself

On the eve of her 35th birthday, radio announcer Margaux Parker has written a letter to her 11-year-old self, warning about the trappings of social media and of trying to be the perfect size 8, reports The Courier Mail’s Kylie Lang.

Parker, who fronts Triple M Brisbane’s The Big Breakfast, plans to read the letter on air on Friday.

It follows an on-air “fail” by Parker, who is married to league legend Corey Parker, when she promised to reveal a “bombshell” Brisbane Broncos announcement on Thursday, then didn’t.

In the letter to her much younger self, Parker, who has previously revealed her own battles with weight and body image, says it is “totally OK to be any size you want to” and that life would be unbearable without being able to eat good cheese and drink great wine.

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iHeartMedia sacks over 50 radio hosts, invests in artificial intelligence

57 on-air talent and execs employed by the US broadcast company have lost their jobs, or as iHeartMedia has termed it, been “dislocated”, reports Radio Today.

As MBW reports, the latest staffing changes have made waves due to the statement that came with the news citing a renewed investment in artificial intelligence.

“We are modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in,” said iHeartMedia.

It’s believed that the 57 are mostly radio jocks carry decades of experience working across genres of music including Rock, Urban, Country, Top 40, Hits and more.

“During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500.”

Sport

Neroli Meadows joins ESPN’s coverage of Superbowl

Neroli Meadows has scored a new TV gig, working for ESPN at the Super Bowl in Miami, reports The Herald Sun’s Jackie Epstein.

Meadows, who was a high-profile host on Fox Sports, said it was a bucket list event.

“It’s exciting, it feels like a big adventure,’’ Meadows said.

“I lived in the States for six months when I finished my studies in 2005 and always wanted to experience a Super Bowl.

“I’ll essentially be doing colour and on the ground coverage.

“It’ll be fun to do something completely different and work with an overseas team.”

Meadows is the court announcer on Rod Laver Arena in the first week of the Australian Open. She also worked at the Brisbane International in the same role.

The Super Bowl is on February 3 Australian time and her role with ESPN Australia.

“In Miami it will be such a festival feeling,’’ Meadows said.

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