Mediaweek Roundup: Lego Masters, Annika Smethurst, Cardinal Pell + more

• Music touring, TCB Media Rights, Dare magazine, Informer 3838, Adam Hills, George Calombaris, and Seven

Entertainment Business

Michael Gudinski predicts no international artists will tour this year

Music promoter Michael Gudinski has warned overseas musicians were unlikely to tour Australia this year and the live music scene may not recover until early 2021 according to a top promoter, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

The respected promoter said the industry needs to be realistic about the long term impact of the coronavirus.

“I have a firm belief you won’t see international acts touring Australia this year,” Gudinski said.

“No one can predict what’s going to happen, everyone wants everything to go back to normal but it’ll happen in stages. It’s unrealistic to think things will get back to normal on a mass gathering level before late February, March or even April to be honest. It’s not going to be a case of one day where it’s ‘OK here we go again’.”

Gudinski is supporting a night AFL Grand Final with only Australian entertainment – if the event happens.

“If it goes ahead this year, without a doubt it’ll be all Australian musicians, I’ve already got some things in mind,” Gudinski told the Herald Sun.

“I was talking about an all-Australian Grand Final before all this went down.

“We’ve had no discussions yet but I’ve been watching what’s happening with the AFL intently. I think Gil (McLachlan) and the AFL have been leaders out of all the sports in Australia.”

[Read the original]

Beyond International acquires TV distributor TCB Media Rights

Following the approval by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Tuesday 14 April 2020, Beyond International Limited, through its wholly owned subsidiary Beyond Entertainment Limited, has acquired the entire issued share capital of UK based television distribution business TCB Media Rights Ltd from FTI Consulting Canada Inc. (solely in its capacity as the court appointed receiver and manager of Kew Media Group Inc.)

After several months of speculation about its future, Canadian-based global producer and distributor Kew Media Group collapsed at the end of February.

Beyond managing director Mikael Borglund said: “This acquisition further strengthens Beyond’s business both domestically and internationally.

“TCB Media Rights’ extensive catalogue of non-scripted factual programming is extremely complementary to ours, with many of the same customers worldwide and ongoing relationships with producers in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

“Beyond Distribution and TCB Media Rights will continue to operate as full-service distribution companies for the foreseeable future, and I am looking forward to welcoming the TCB Media Rights team to the Beyond Group,” he continued.

Not long after Kew Media Group launched it acquired a number of international production businesses to get scale quickly. One of those businesses was Australia’s Essential Media Group which cost Kew Media $32.8m. The purchase of Essential was seen by some as one acquisition too many for Kew Media. Essential Media’s Greg Quail and Jesse Fawcett recently regained control of the business.

News Brands

News Corp wants Smethurst investigation to end after High Court win

News Corp is calling for an investigation into journalist Annika Smethurst to end after the High Court delivered a partial victory for the political editor in her challenge against the police raid on her home last year, reports Fergus Hunter in The Age and The SMH.

The court unanimously found the warrant executed at Smethurst’s home by the Federal Police was unlawful on technical grounds, because it “misstated” relevant criminal laws and was not specific enough about the alleged offences.

“The entry, search and seizure which occurred on 4 June 2019 were therefore unlawful,” the court decided, according to the judgment summary.

News Corp said the ruling sent an “indisputable message” that the police raid was illegal. The Labor Party welcomed the verdict and said the government must rule out prosecution of Smethurst and commit to a suite of reforms to protect press freedom.

[Read more]

Press freedom: Annika Smethurst warrant-raid win is a hollow victory

The High Court’s decision striking down the legal basis for last year’s police raid on the home of journalist Annika Smethurst is a hollow victory. It delivers no lasting benefits for press freedom and rewards unlawful conduct by the Australian Federal Police, reports The Australian’s Chris Merritt.

The point has now been made that the AFP were wrong to enter Smethurst’s home armed with a flawed search warrant. But the High Court has made another point: it has allowed the AFP to retain the information it seized during that unlawful raid.

This should concern everyone, not merely the media. The AFP has been allowed to barge into a private home without a lawful reason, seize private property and treat that property as its own.

[Read more]

Andrew Bolt interview with Cardinal Pell sets a Sky News record

The Sky News Australia world exclusive television interview with Cardinal George Pell on The Bolt Report with Andrew Bolt saw the program achieve its highest ever ratings with an average overnight audience of 161,000. The Bolt Report was also the #1 program on Foxtel yesterday (14 April) and Sky News was the #1 channel across Foxtel overall.

To date, the George Pell interview has had an additional 106,500 streams across Sky News Australia’s online platforms.

Earlier this week Mediaweek reported Sky News has been the #1 channel on Foxtel for more than five weeks (1 March – 7 April), with total audience increasing +63% year-on-year, reaching 2.4 million viewers.

As part of that growth, The Bolt Report (weeknights at 7pm) hosted by Andrew Bolt is up +38% year-on-year, with a reach of 710,000 viewers.

[Read more]

Publishing

Australian Seniors to release first Dare magazine from Medium Rare

Australian Seniors has announced the launch of Dare, a magazine targeting over 50s, will be released later this month. The 100-page high gloss magazine will be mailed directly free of charge to more than 150,000 Australian Seniors customers bi-monthly. Customers will receive the May/June issue on 24th April.

The bi-monthly magazine will focus on helping people embrace the challenges, pleasures and opportunities that come with living a daring life. Dare will influence all demographics in this sector by speaking to them in their own language, with content driven by an understanding of their needs.

“Over the past six months we have been working closely with our partner Medium Rare Content Agency, to launch Dare. The magazine is just another way we will tell the incredible stories of Australia’s over 50s, who our research shows are healthier, busier and better informed than any previous generation,” said Brenard Grobler, chief executive officer, Greenstone Financial Services.

Medium Rare content agency was appointed in December 2019 by Australian Seniors to publish the magazine for Australia’s over 50s. The content agency will provide editorial and media sales services across Dare magazine, the website and social media accounts.

Dare is edited by Michelle Endacott, following on from a decade at The Australian Women’s Weekly.

“Our 50-plus audience is more adventurous than ever before. In our first issue, we feature stories on internet dating scams and social media privacy, as Australian Seniors research shows the readers are very tech-savvy – 84% are adopting new technology,” Endacott said.

Starting from April 30, Australian Seniors and Medium Rare will also make subscriptions available to those currently not customers of Australian Seniors. Alternatively, copies can be purchased for $9.95 at Australian Seniors retailers, once they reopen.

Television

Informer 3838 runs legal gauntlet bringing Nicola Gobbo story to life

Such are the sensitivities surrounding Informer 3838, the miniseries about criminal barrister turned police informer Nicola Gobbo, that the writers of the show have asked their names not appear on it, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

Ordinarily that only happens on movies that have been savaged beyond recognition by a producer or a studio (if you ever see the name “Alan Smithee” on the credits, that’s why). But in this instance it was because of fears that one or more of the people portrayed in the show might not be too happy with what they’re seeing. And when the offended parties are police and/or gangsters, it doesn’t pay to be cavalier.

“It’s because of safety fears,” says actor Rhys Muldoon, who plays drug dealer Terrence Hodson in the series.

“One of the writers doesn’t care, but one of them really does,” says Rory Callaghan, CEO of Screentime, which has produced the show for Nine.

Of course, that writer is not the only one feeling the heat. Nine is anxious to avoid a repeat of the scenario that bedevilled its original Underbelly series back in 2008, when the show was prevented from going to air in Victoria because it was deemed a risk to ongoing legal proceedings. When it did finally air the following year, it was with some names changed and faces pixelated, lest any potential jurors be unduly influenced by what was on screen.

This time, despite the fact there’s an ongoing inquiry into the events it depicts, Callaghan feels they’re on safer ground.

“The Royal Commission’s findings are yet to come out so we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says. “We’ve been pretty careful to ensure that everything we cover is pretty much in the public domain.”

[Read more]

Not a fan of rugby? Adam Hills will change your mind with this doco

Adam Hills has built his reputation as a comedian and TV host on being a nice guy, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Louise Rugendyke.

He’s affable, he’s friendly, he lifts people up, having decided early on in his career there was no need to talk down to his audience. He takes a similar approach on his British chat show The Last Leg and, while he sometimes veers dangerously close to smug, his good intentions win through as he champions for the underdog – well, basically everyone who doesn’t vote Tory.

He’s in a unique position to do this – Hills was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis – and though he has joked that he doesn’t consider himself disabled because there is nothing he can’t do, what he has done is use his profile to give others with a disability a chance to show there is nothing they can’t do either.

It’s that spirit that runs through this documentary about Hills’ ambition to get the Warrington Wolves physical disability rugby league (PDRL) team to Australia to play the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the World Club Challenge. It could have been a vanity project showing Hills indulging his blinding passion for rugby league but, instead, he’s shifted the camera enough to allow those that play in the Wolves the chance to tell their story and show their hearts and personalities.

[Read more]

George Calombaris praises MasterChef’s new judges, contestants

George Calombaris has heaped praise on the new MasterChef Australia era, drawing comments from fans who are saddened he is no longer part of the line-up, report News Corp’s Holly Byrnes and Zoe Smith.

The embattled celebrity chef left the 10 reality cooking show last July along with fellow judges Gary Mehigan and Matt Preston over a pay dispute.

Since then, the Melbourne celebrity chef has faced financial difficulties with the collapse of his restaurant empire.

Calombaris took to Instagram after the opening episode of the new MasterChef series, congratulating the “awesome crew, contestants and judges”.

Fans were quick to comment on his post, with many lamenting the departure of the original three judges.

[Read more]

Lego Masters return: Hamish Blake ready for a plastic distraction

“Any distraction, in any form, for people at the moment is a good thing,” Hamish Blake suggests to TV Tonight..

“We are wall-to-wall in monitoring this situation. Everyone’s got their noses in their phones and online all day to try and figure out what’s happening around the world.

“So to be on someone’s distraction list is a good thing.”

Season Two of Lego Masters plans to be just that… a colourful, playful, slightly-silly and family-friendly entertainment offering.

Nine unveils the first of its 11 episodes – 2 more than its debut season – this Sunday. Eight new teams, aged from 18-49 will battle it out for the 2020 title and a $100,000 prize.

In between production wrapping in January and the nation’s recent lockdown, Blake was busy stockpiling podcasts with Andy Lee.

“We’ve never had a moment like this, certainly in my generation, where globally the focus is on one thing. Hopefully the good that will that come out of it is something that carries with it that message: about what makes it great to be a human being, what makes it great to be a society. Art in any of its forms is probably top of that list.

“A lot of my mates are in TV production, so just seeing the way people are adapting and pivoting is, I think, a little bit inspiring. We’ve always done it one way, and even if this is a great lesson in anything, it’s people finding there’s many ways to do what they did before.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

D-Day for the NRL’s broadcast battle with rights holders

Rugby league’s seemingly bitter broadcasting battle is set to reach a climax before the weekend as the respective heads of the Nine Network and Foxtel prepare to eyeball each other and thrash out plans for the remainder of this season, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany and Nine boss Hugh Marks are expected to join ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys at a meeting as early as Thursday, those discussions likely to determine the schedule for 2020 and the amount of money the NRL has to dispense to clubs and players. V’landys will arrive at the meeting safe in the knowledge the game has up to $250 million in their back pocket, albeit in the form of a line of credit from British banks.

The preferred draw as it stands would result in each team playing each other once before a series of marquee matches are incorporated into another five weeks.

That would give the broadcasters more premium content and alleviate the concerns of clubs who lost games before the season went into hibernation.

[Read more]

Seven reaches out to NRL about potential broadcast partnership

Channel Seven, the home of AFL, has reached out to the NRL about the potential of acquiring rugby league content in the future as Channel Nine looks to offload one of its three free-to-air matches, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas.

The news comes as Nine boss Hugh Marks prepares to meet with Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys on Thursday to renegotiate the broadcast deal for 2020 and determine when and how the season will resume.

The Herald has also been told by sources with knowledge of discussions that Fox Sports will not surrender its simulcast arrangement with Nine, the publisher of this masthead, nor does it intend to scrap the Friday 6pm game, as Nine is hoping.

Nine’s preference, largely in a bid to bank the $130 million saving it announced to the stock exchange last week, would be for the NRL to wait until crowds are allowed back before the season resumes – even if it means no rugby league until 2021.

It’s anticipated Nine’s tactic will be to stall. Prolong discussions for as long as possible to ensure there is less content to pay for.

[Read more]

Paul Kent: Rugby League is a solution, not a problem

It seems only reasonable in this era of misinformation that Tuesday’s meeting between ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and Channel 9 boss Hugh Marks ended with none of the small explosions many expected, reports News Corp’s Paul Kent.

Speculation that Nine would leverage the shutdown to wrestle back exclusive rights for Friday night and Sunday afternoon football appear wide.

Marks is believed to be at ease with the current broadcast arrangement.

Speculation that Nine would try to pinch a Saturday game from Fox Sports also fell short.

Nine has no call on Fox Sport’s contract rights.

What proved correct was Nine’s insistence it be part of the conversation about what the resumed season looks like and the statement out of League Central suggested that will happen soon and they will also invite Foxtel boss Patrick Delaney.

[Read more]

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