Mediaweek roundup: MAFS, Bauer, Tom Gleeson + more

• George Ogilvie, Sunraysia Daily, Southern Cross Media, Andrew Hornery, Prime, WIN, Google and Facebook, News Corp and Seven West Media + Southern Cross Media

Business of Media

Survival play: Southern Cross Media gets $170m at 9c a share

Broadcaster Southern Cross Media has secured a $170 million equity lifeline to help keep the lights on, reports The AFR’s Street Talk.

It is understood Southern Cross boss Grant Blackley and chief financial officer Nick McKechnie secured the equity package after a weekend spent pitching the debt reduction story to existing and new institutional investors.

Investor sources said the deal was split into a $50 million-odd institutional placement and $120 million non-renounceable rights issue underwritten by Macquarie Capital.

The deal would be done at 9¢ a share, fund managers said, which was about a 20 per cent discount to the theoretical ex-rights price and well short of its last close at 16¢.

[Read more]

News Corp denies interest in buying Seven West Media

News Corp’s most senior executive in Australia has dismissed speculation the Rupert Murdoch controlled media giant could move to acquire Kerry Stokes‘ television company Seven West Media, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Seven shares have fallen to their lowest levels on record during the COVID-19 pandemic and the company’s market value has shrunk to just $112 million, well below its $540 million net debt position.

But News Corp Australasia’s executive chairman Michael Miller told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that his business was focused on helping newspaper titles and subscription service Foxtel through the crisis, instead of bailing out Seven.

“No,” Miller said when asked whether News Corp was looking at deals with Seven. “We have been consistent with what our priority is. We also have good confidence in Foxtel as a long-term subscription model and Kayo has had a great start to the first two rounds of the NRL.”

[Read more]

Google and Facebook told: strike news deal with media now

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has vowed to intervene and force tech giants to share revenue with media companies struggling under commercial pressures exacerbated by COVID-19 if a deal can’t be negotiated in good faith, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

The Morrison government has vowed to enforce a code if a deal is not reached by November, and with a progress report due in May, Sims has reminded the tech companies he has power to intervene if the report did not show enough progress towards an equitable deal.

“If we don’t think progress is occurring then, of course, we will have to take a more active role,” he said. “I mean, there’s no point wandering through to November and just letting things not progress. So now we understand we have an important role to play here.”

Facebook policy director for Australia and New Zealand Mia Garlick said the company was talking with “a range of Australian media partners on new rules for the industry and continues to invest millions of dollars to support the local news industry”.

[Read more]

Prime, Southern Cross and WIN plead for government help

Regional broadcasters Prime Media, Southern Cross Media and Bruce Gordon’s WIN are in talks with the federal government about securing tens of millions of dollars in financial assistance, as the coronavirus crisis wipes out advertising revenue, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The crunch talks come as Free TV Australia, which represents the commercial free-to-air television broadcasters, seeks an emergency relief package from the government.

The media’s plea for help spurred the Morrison government on Monday to bring forward the release of $5m from its multi-year $48m Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund to support public interest journalism during COVID-19.

[Read more]

Bauer offered NZ magazines to Govt for a dollar, but got no response

Bauer offered to sell its New Zealand magazine business to the Government for just $1, but never got a clear response, a spokesman for the company says, reports Stuff.

The German company announced on Thursday that it was closing its New Zealand business, which employed 237 staff and produced titles including The Listener and North and South with immediate effect.

A spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi said on Friday morning that Bauer did not approach the Government for assistance prior to deciding to close its operation, but later clarified he was not disputing that such an offer to sell the business had been made.

Bauer’s spokesman said the company wrote to Faafoi last weekend.

“Bauer was explicit it was not interested in a short term subsidy or support, primarily because its view was that the issues of the business were much bigger than that and that it would be essentially dishonest to take a short-term taxpayer subsidy because it wouldn’t resolve the issues,” he said.

But in its letter to Faafoi, Bauer did offer to sell the business “essentially as a going concern and the Government obviously didn’t accept that offer”, he said.

“It was for $1.

“It was one line in a letter, saying ‘this could be an option, if you want to consider it let us know’.”

The Magazine Publishers Association has called for the Government to review its ban on magazine publishing during the level 4 lockdown.

Executive director Sally Duggan said on Thursday that magazines were “the only product banned from supermarket shelves by government”.

Duggan estimated there were about 250 magazine and periodical publishers in New Zealand, employing 1500 people.

[Read more]

NZ media in crisis: Blame guide for the Bauer Media shutdown

Bauer Media blamed the COVID-19 crisis for its decision to close its New Zealand titles including Metro, The Listener, North & South and Woman’s Day, writes Mediawatch New Zealand producer Hayden Donnell.

The government blamed Bauer.

In turn, some bloggers, newspaper industry figures, magazine publishers, and Bill Ralston blamed the government.

All the contradictory finger-pointing made it hard to know how to apportion anger and disappointment over the closure.

[Read more]

Advertisers urge brands to stop blocking ads beside COVID-19 news

Australian media companies have urged brands and advertising agencies to stop blocking digital advertisements that appear around COVID-19 news articles as the industry faces its biggest downturn in decades, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Industry association IAB Australia, which represents digital publishers including News Corporation and Nine Entertainment Co, last week said changes to stop ads from appearing around topics such as “crisis”, “COVID-19” and “coronavirus” could result in big advertisers ending up on less reputable websites. The push was backed publishers including Guardian Australia, Daily Mail, Pedestrian TV and News Corp.

[Read more]

News Brands

A country newspaper shut. The staff had different ideas

Last Tuesday, Elliott Newspaper Group managing director Ross Lanyon stood before most of his 80 employees and told them they were being stood down, including himself, and publication of one of Victoria’s older country newspapers, the Sunraysia Daily, would cease indefinitely.

The staff had other ideas.

On Saturday, the “Sunny Daily”, as it is known in Mildura and the wider Mallee region, was brought back to life by its journalists, printers, advertising salesmen, finance and administrative employees.

[Read more]

Andrew Hornery: ‘Frocks for favours’ scandal rocks Daily Telegraph

Sydney’s “frocks for favours” controversy is raising some intriguing questions about the inner workings of the social pages of Rupert Murdoch‘s Daily Telegraph newspaper, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s PS columnist Andrew Hornery.

PS reports Sydney Confidential’s fearless red carpet reporter Mibenge Nsenduluka was “gifted” an expensive designer gown from the French fashion house Balmain recently by Nissy Nassif, the wife of controversial property developer Jean Nassif.

Following PS’s inquiries, Nsenduluka and The Daily Telegraph editor Ben English issued statements on Friday.

Nsenduluka admitted she now “recognised I made a mistake” by accepting the dress.

“I have returned the dress as a result. I’ve also been reprimanded for this error and I’ve learnt my lesson.”

English added: “The Daily Telegraph has strict guidelines on the acceptance of gifts. This line was clearly crossed, and we’ve reinforced to the reporter how important it is to observe these guidelines.”

The paper limits such gifts to the value of $100.

[Read more]

Television

Tom Gleeson in Stellar on the Logies being cancelled

Some people in the entertainment industry probably think I started the coronavirus deliberately so there would be no [TV Week] Logies, Gold Logie winner Tom Gleeson tells Stellar magazine.

I didn’t know if the Logies would happen. I was trying to be upbeat about the whole thing before it was cancelled. I think in these tough times positivity is in short supply. [Pauses.] OK, I’ll give you the inside scoop. I did start the virus. It was me!

Actually, this is like becoming retired at 45. I was about to do the biggest run I’ve ever done and was running hot. I was in the middle of a national tour that was absolutely killing it, I was doing the Adelaide Fringe and selling out every night, I won the award for Best Comedy and had all these things to do.

Then my two shows in Hobart and the Melbourne Comedy Festival got cancelled. So it’s been an adjustment from doing that and feeling very important… to just being at home twiddling my thumbs.

[Read more]

MAFS: Police to issue warning to Nine & contestants over complaints

Overworked police will warn Channel 9, Endemol Shine and celebrity agents that they do not have the time to be unwitting participants in the next season of Married at First Sight, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.

Multiple contestants have filed police reports in recent years, sometimes with a paparazzo in tow, leaving police bemused and frustrated – especially when it later becomes a storyline on the reality TV show.

“I’m going to go to Channel 9 myself before the next series airs to say this is something you need to warn all the contestants about,” a senior police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Sunday Telegraph.

“It has happened a lot this year. We take all police reports seriously, but what’s happening with MAFS contestants is a gee-up. We are in the midst of 24/7 dramas.”

[Read more]

Vale: Director and actor George Ogilvie dies aged 89

Director/actor George Ogilvie, who helmed productions of The Dismissal, Bodyline and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, has died, aged 89, reports TV Tonight.

He had a long directing career in Australia in all mediums; ballet, opera, theatre, television and film.

Ogilvie began as an actor with the Canberra Rep Theatre before moving to the UK and returning to Australia in 1965.

He became Associate Director with the Melbourne Theatre Company where he directed some 23 plays. It was followed by 4 years (1972-1975) as Artistic Director of the South Australian Theatre Company and later as freelance director working with the Australian Opera, the Australian Ballet Company and various Australian theatre companies and teaching at NIDA and Actors Centre Australia.

He directed The Dismissal (in which he also played Senator Jim McClelland), Bodyline, The Shiralee, The Feds, The Last of the Ryans, Touch the Sun, Blue Heelers and films Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, The Crossing and The Place at the Coast. He last appeared on screen in 2014’s The Water Diviner.

[Read more]

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