Mediaweek Roundup: Kyle Sandilands, Foxtel, AAP, Aussie Larrikin + more

Kyle Sandilands

• News Corp, Facebook, The Guardian, Lego Masters, and SEN

Business of Media

Why regional papers needed to go: News Corp boss Robert Thomson

News Corp global chief executive Robert Thomson says the shutdown of more than 100 print newspapers in regional and community areas in Australia in favour of a digital-only model was necessary to ensure the viability of the titles shifting to online, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

“We did have the strategic review, the net result of that, we’re suspending the printing of over 100 community and regional titles in Australia,” Thomson told the Credit Suisse virtual communications conference overnight.

“That’s not a decision that was taken lightly. It’s an unfortunate action, it’s a necessary action. That action was taken cognisant of the consequences, being respectful of the traditions of those newspapers, but also being very aware it’s all well and good to have a tradition, but it’s our job to fashion the future,” Thomson said.

[Read more]

Veteran AAP executive Emma Cowdroy to lead newswire for new owners

The consortium of investors and philanthropists expected to buy Australian Associated Press’ newswire will appoint long-standing executive Emma Cowdroy to the helm of the organisation, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources said AAP chief executive Bruce Davidson is expected to lead what is left of AAP – Mediaverse, Medianet and Pagemasters, while Cowdroy will be appointed chief executive of the newswire once the sale is completed.

Cowdroy, who is currently AAP’s group general counsel and has worked with the company for almost 20 years, has been involved in discussions relating to the potential sale of AAP.

Nine and News Corp, under Davidson’s leadership, will retain the Medianet, Mediaverse, Pagemasters and Racing businesses. Pagemasters is expected to be a smaller operation once News Corp brings subediting and production in-house later this year. The remaining businesses could still be sold, but there are no imminent plans.

[Read more]

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook to allow users to block political advertising

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed the social media platform is to launch a campaign aimed to boost voter registration and turnout. And Facebook will also be allowing its users to avoid the delivery of political advertising if they wish.

Writing in USA Today, Zuckerberg said:

Platforms like Facebook can play a positive role in this election by helping Americans use their voice where it matters most – by voting. We’re announcing on Wednesday the largest voting information campaign in American history. Our goal is to help 4 million people register to vote.

To achieve this, we’re creating a new Voting Information Centre with authoritative information, including how and when to vote, as well as details about voter registration, voting by mail and information about early voting. We’ll also include posts from state election officials and verified local election authorities. We’ll show this centre at the top of the Facebook News Feed and on Instagram to make sure everyone gets a chance to see it.

We have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the vote itself. In 2016, we were slow to identify foreign interference on our platform. Since then, we’ve built some of the most advanced systems in the world to protect against election interference – investing billions of dollars in technology and hiring tens of thousands of people to work on safety and security. We’ve learned from this experience and have protected against interference in more than 200 elections around the world.

The threat of election interference is real and ongoing, but our systems are more prepared than ever. We took down more than 50 networks of malicious accounts in 2019, and we’ve removed 18 this year. This work is never finished, but we’ve learned a lot and have adapted our systems to protect against interference.

By giving people a voice, registering and turning out voters, and preventing interference, I believe Facebook is supporting and strengthening our democracy in 2020 and beyond. And for those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you – so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads.

[Read more]

News Brands

Aussie Larrikin shows Sky News audience loving local doco specials

The premiere of Sky News Australia’s fourth locally produced documentary, The Death of the Aussie Larrikin? Screened on Tuesday night with an average audience of 122,000 making it the #1 program on Foxtel on Tuesday.

The Rowan Dean-hosted program reached a total of 233,000 unique viewers.

Additionally, Sky News was the number one channel on Foxtel with a 4.0% share.

The Death of the Aussie Larrikin? was also the highest rating program on Sky News on WIN, reaching 115,000 viewers across the WIN regional free-to-air network.

The Larrikin doco follows the channel’s previous top-rating documentaries, Bad Blood/New Blood, Lawyer X: The Untold Story and MH370: The Untold Story.

The Death of the Aussie Larrikin? featured Dean speaking with Delvene Delaney, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Paul Fenech.

Earlier this year MH370: The Untold Story Part 1 had an average audience of 175,000. Prior to that Bad Blood Part 1 did 122,000 and Lawyer X Part 1 did 103,000.

The Guardian: Petition calls for UK newspaper to be shut down

Local Australian editors and supporters of the woke UK paper The Guardian have gone to ground in the wake of accusations of hypocrisy over the paper’s historic backing of slavery – including the fact it was founded on money from the slave trade, reports News Corp’s Clarissa Bye.

The left-wing Guardian has editorialised in favour of the Black Lives Matter protests and even backed the toppling of historic statues in Britain – but now won’t comment after a petition called for the same “cancel culture” treatment to be dished out to it.

More than 11,000 people have now signed the petition, which points out the paper, which started life as the Manchester Guardian, was founded in 1821 using profits from a cotton plantation that used slaves.

The paper set up a digital green left platform in Australia with the help of former PM Malcolm Turnbull, who kept his role secret until this year.

But it won’t comment about its infamous past. Nor would contributors, such as Greens MPs David Shoebridge and Senator Mehreen Faruqi.

Editor Lenore Taylor referred queries to her London bosses and said global editor-in-chief Katharine Viner “addresses that issue” in a 2017 essay.

“I have not editorialised on the matter,” she said.

[Read more]

Radio

Kyle Sandilands reveals he’s scheduled for a throat operation

Kyle Sandilands has opened up about his health concerns again on KIIS FM this week, revealing he’s booked in for a “throat operation” in the coming months, reports news.com.au.

While Sandilands suggested the procedure was imminent on air on Wednesday morning, he did not provide further details on his health situation.

The topic was raised during a segment on The Kyle & Jackie O Show with their resident psychic Georgina Walker, when Walker suggested an “unlucky day” was looming for the host in July.

“I think I do have to have an operation on my throat,” Sandilands responded.

[Read more]

Television

Hamish Blake reveals Disney objection to Lego Masters’ Star Wars episode

Host Hamish Blake has revealed Disney made producers of Lego Masters cut part of the reality show’s recent Star Wars episode because of his inappropriate antics with Stormtroopers, reports News Corp’s Amy Price.

Blake, who hosts the Channel 9 Lego-building competition, said the network had to get permission from Star Wars owners Lucasfilm and Disney to feature Star Wars on television, including having Stormtroopers in the episode.

But parts of the episode never aired after it was sent to the powerhouse production companies for approval.

Blake made the revelation during a virtual visit to the Queensland Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

“They were really lovely and they let us do the Star Wars episode, but there were a few things I did with the Stormtroopers that initially we had in the episode which then when they saw it, they were like ‘no, you can’t put that on TV’.”

Juiced TV’s virtual visits are designed to keep spirits high at the hospital during COVID-19 lockdown.

Blake spoke to patients at the QCH for more than an hour on Wednesday morning.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Foxtel, AFL at loggerheads over broadcast rights extension

Foxtel has been unable to reach agreement with the AFL for an extension for its broadcast rights due to the substitution of games in NSW, South Australia and Western Australia on to free-to-air TV broadcaster Seven West Media, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Foxtel locked in a saving of about $90 million over the next three seasons of the current agreement through to the end of the 2022 season, while Seven will save about $70 million on rights fees in the same time.

But Seven signed an extension with the AFL until 2024, while Foxtel did not.

Foxtel recently signed an extension with the NRL until 2027 – an extra five years on the agreement in place – and sources said Foxtel was looking for a similar extension with the AFL.

However, the AFL’s agreement with Seven, which has four games per round but is able to substitute games out in particular states, is not seen by Foxtel executives as a good deal for the pay TV broadcaster.

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SEN show Crunch Time hit by budget cuts after COVID-19

SEN’S award-winning radio program Crunch Time has been crunched, reports News Corp’s Scott Gullan.

The Saturday morning show has been dialled back by an hour for this season and will start at midday instead of its regular 11am timeslot.

Gerard Whateley will continue to host the show but given budget cuts and other issues surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, it has been scaled down.

Ironically a similar show on Fox Footy, which features members of the original Crunch Time team, has been locked in for the rest of the season.

Saturday Countdown from midday is a podcast style show involving Anthony Hudson, Mark Robinson, David King and Dermott Brereton, all of whom have worked on the SEN show previously.

[Read more]

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