Mediaweek roundup: MAFS, Logies, Google + more

• Dataminr, Facebook, Rugby Australia, NBL deal, Fire Fight Australia, Julia Lefort, Times Radio, MKR, SMH, Chris Mitchell + BBC

Business of Media

Google faces class action suit over incognito reviews

Google will face a new class action for the damage its malicious anonymous reviews have done to individuals and their businesses, according to the lawyer behind a landmark court ruling that will force the digital giant to hand over the identity of reviewers, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Following a direction by the Federal Court on Friday, Google will be compelled to hand over the details of potentially defamatory reviews in a streamlined process that will no longer allow the digital giant to obstruct potential lawsuits.

Only last week an Adelaide barrister won $750,000 over a malicious review that took five different pseudonyms.

In another defamation case brought by a Sydney plastic surgeon, a NSW Supreme Court judge found Google to be in contempt for refusing to remove reviews.

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Social media monitor Dataminr expands with new customers

Dataminr is in talks to sign up more Australian media organisations, as the US-based social media monitoring service promises to help find the next big news story with its artificial intelligence technology, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Dataminr also has three major local banks on its books, plus NBN Co, which is responsible for the national broadband network.

As part of Dataminr’s expansion, it opened its ANZ headquarters in Melbourne at the end of last year, with about 20 to 25 staff. That number was expected to double to about 50 people by year’s end.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook must accept some state regulation

Facebook must accept some form of state regulation, acknowledging its status as a content provider somewhere between a newspaper and a telephone company, its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has said, reports The Guardian.

He also claimed an era of clean democratic elections, free of interference by foreign governments, is closer due to Facebook now employing 35,000 staff working on monitoring content and security.

He admitted Facebook had been slow to understand the scale of the problem of foreign interference. He also defended his company from claims that it is leading to political polarisation, saying its purpose is to bring communities together.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, an annual high-level gathering of politicians, diplomats and security specialists, Zuckerberg sought to dispel the notion that his company had undermined democracy, weakened the social fabric or contributed to the weakening of the west through spreading distrust.

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BBC licence fee could be axed and replaced with ‘subscription model’

The British Government has signalled a new onslaught on the BBC – with a threat to scrap the television licence fee and turn it into a subscription service, reports the UK Mirror.

The Sunday Times quoted a senior source as saying there would be a consultation on replacing the licence fee with a subscription model, adding: “We will whack it.”

The broadcaster could be forced to sell off most of its radio stations in a “massive pruning back” of its activities.

The source told the paper that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “really strident” on the need for serious reform.

The paper said that the number of BBC television channels could also be reduced, the website scaled back and stars banned from cashing in on well-paid second jobs.

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News Brands

Chris Mitchell: Trump-hating journos blind on impeachment

Having misunderstood the process when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched her impeachment inquiry on September 24, much of the Australian media has resorted to post-facto justification of reporting that often implied President Trump could seriously have faced removal from office, comments The Australian’s Chris Mitchell.

It could not have ended better for Trump.

Yet on the ABC and in the Nine Entertainment papers Trump’s critics have had to content themselves that failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney broke with his party on one of the charges Trump faced.

Why aren’t journalists being punished for such misreading of politics? Yet readers and viewers seem to stick with the media they agree with even when those media get the politics wrong.

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Nine reporter criticises SMH for publishing Chinese propaganda

Nine Entertainment has come under heavy criticism from one of its most senior journalists and government MPs concerned about the growing role of Chinese influence for continuing to publish Chinese Communist Party “propaganda” in The Sydney Morning Herald, report The Australian’s Joe Kelly and Max Maddison.

The masthead inserted the China Dailysupplement last Friday, which praises the Chinese government and its response to the coronavirus outbreak, despite several of the organisation’s most senior journalists reporting extensively about the issue of Chinese influence.

Chris Uhlmann, political editor of Nine News, who has written extensively about the creeping influence of the CCP in Australia, told The Australian the China Daily insert was “extremely disturbing”. “Since the moment the decision was made (in 2016) to have the China Daily insert in The Sydney Morning Herald, I’ve made it clear that I’ve found it an extremely disturbing development that Communist Party propaganda has the apparent endorsement of an Australian media organisation,” he said. “I said that before I joined Nine and I haven’t changed my opinion.”

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Seven’s news team under pressure after MKR disappoints

With Seven Network’s ratings year off to a shaky start with its primetime television show My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals floundering, news and public affairs boss Craig McPherson knows Seven needs to hold onto the top TV news spot for a fifth straight year, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

But McPherson isn’t complacent, fully aware that they are up against Nine, whose has access to parent company’s Nine Entertainment’s stable of newspapers.

“Very confident, very confident but it’s TV. We’re up against a very, dare I say, well-resourced competitor that has got tentacles outside of where we are. That no doubt, can and will help I would expect in their audience,” McPherson told The Australian.

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Radio

Times Radio offering big money in effort to lure BBC presenters

New UK audio brand Times Radio is making lucrative offers to hire leading BBC presenters, with Radio 4 Any Questions host Chris Mason in discussions to join the new radio station and leading names such as the Today program host Nick Robinson being approached about roles, reports The Guardian.

Times Radio, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, will launch later this year and is designed to take on traditional speech radio outlets such as Radio 4. The station will not have any adverts and will instead be designed to drive awareness to the paywalled news outlet, promising a more upmarket take on speech radio.

Sources said Times Radio was promising potential recruits higher salaries, editorial freedom and the chance to build a national talk radio station from the ground up at a time of potential job cuts at the BBC and enormous scrutiny of the corporation’s output.

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Television

Seven confirms Julia Lefort director of Corporate Affairs & Publicity

Seven West Media chief marketing officer Charlotte Valente has announced the appointment of Julia Lefort (pictured) as director of corporate affairs and publicity. Lefort commences in the role immediately.

Commenting on the appointment, Valente said: “I’m thrilled to welcome Julia to the team. Her experience in shaping and leading communication strategies across both corporate and consumer stakeholders will be key as we continue to transform Seven West Media into an audience-centric business.

“Julia is perfectly suited to lead both our corporate affairs and publicity teams, driving strategy and ensuring synergistic messaging across both functions.”

Lefort joins SWM with over two decades of experience in stakeholder communications and engagement, most recently as director communications at the department of premier and cabinet, New South Wales. Prior to this, she led corporate affairs at Scentre Group and held senior corporate affairs and public relations roles at Westfield Group, as well as consumer-facing publicity roles at Pacific Magazines and Opera Australia, where she started her career.

Lefort said: “I’m delighted to be joining Seven West Media at such an exciting moment. The Seven brand is a tremendously powerful one, reaching 18 million Australians each month and I am looking forward to shaping and driving the way with communicate with our audiences into the future.

“I’m excited to be working as part of the SWM team as we continue to transform the business.”

MAFS stars turn fleeting fame into big bucks on Instagram

Married At First Sight contestants are turning their 15 minutes of fame into a $300,000 windfall, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.

But that means get ready to see more of them – both in appearances and quite probably in nude scandals.

After years of cast members breaking rules and contract clauses, Channel 9 and production company Endemol Shine have given up and allowed their participants to enlist an agent for the first time.

And most have wasted no time in doing so, with almost half the cast employing celebrity agent Max Markson to make them some quick cash.

One of the highest earners from the MAFS stable is Martha Kalifatidis who, along with her TV husband and real-life boyfriend Michael Brunelli, has a smorgasbord of Instagram clients.

It is estimated she has earned about $300,000 from her account.

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Entertainment

Most Popular TV Commercial returns to TV Week Logie Awards

The 62nd TV Week Logie Awards will once again recognise the Most Popular Television Commercial, with the winner taking home a coveted Logie statue and a $100,000 Bauer Media advertising package.

The award recognises excellence in television advertising and is open to advertisers, as well as creative, media and content agencies.

The three finalists will have the chance to rub shoulders with the stars of the small screen, with each finalist receiving two tickets to television’s night of nights on the Gold Coast in June. The winning commercial will also be announced during the 2020 TV Week Logie Awards telecast.

The 15 finalists will be selected by a 10-strong panel of leading industry peers, including Russel Howcroft, partner and chief creative officer, PWC; Kim Portrate, CEO of Think TV; and Dee Madigan, ECD at Campaign Edge. The winner will then be decided by the ultimate arbiters of TV advertising, the general public.

Thomas Woodgate, editor of TV Week, said: “We had a great response last year from agencies and advertisers across the country when we introduced the Most Popular Television Commercial to the TV Week Logie Awards, so we’re delighted to be bringing it back in 2020. This is an award that agencies and advertisers are desperate to win – and the fact that the winner is determined by the public means that much more. On top of that, it is a great opportunity for the winner to be recognised on the biggest night in Australian television. We can’t wait to see who the public picks as the winner and to present the TV Week Logie Award to the winning agency on June 28 at The Star Gold Coast.”

Entries are now open and will close on March 31.

Fetch RFS ticket purchase donates $100,000 to Bushfire Relief

Fetch TV partnered with Fire Fight Australia promoters TEG Live and TEG Dainty last week so 1,000 NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers could attend Sunday’s concert for National Bushfire Relief at ANZ Stadium for free.

Fetch TV bought 1,000 tickets which were distributed by the NSW Rural Fire Service to volunteers and their families in appreciation of their incredible effort and sacrifice during the recent bushfire crisis.

The $100,000 proceeds from the ticket purchase will go to Fire Fight Australia, with funds to be distributed to organisations providing vital support services to people and communities impacted by the bushfires.

Scott Lorson, CEO of Fetch TV said: “Fetch TV is proud to support the Fire Fight Australia concert, and delighted to recognise the amazing efforts of our RFS heroes. The funds raised will help support impacted communities on the long road ahead. We hope that the RFS team and their families are able to relax and enjoy a great show.”

Sports Media

Larry Kestelman reveals Hungry Jack’s to extend its NBL deal

Billionaire Jack Cowin will on Monday agree to a three-year extension for his Hungry Jack’s chain to sponsor Larry Kestelman’s National Basketball League, in a sign of confidence in one of the country’s fastest-growing sports leagues, reports The Australian’s John Stensholt.

The deal will see Hungry Jack’s retained at a more lucrative amount than its current contract, which Kestelman clinched with Cowin on the eve of the 2017-18 season and continues through to mid-2023.

There is a possibility of a further extension to at least 2025. Basketball is enjoying a renaissance in Australia and the major sponsor extension for the NBL comes at a time when other sports have been struggling to attract retail or commercial partners.

Kestelman will in May celebrate the fifth anniversary of his $7m takeover of the NBL in a unique deal that resulted in a rare privatisation of an entire league.

Crowds since then have risen 50 per cent and the NBL this season has sold out about 85 per cent of its tickets this year. The league will begin its finals series late this week.

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Lions 2025 Australian tour to be included in next rugby TV deal

Rugby Australia is believed to have secured the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour to help boost the value of its next broadcast deal for the struggling code, as Foxtel and Optus get set to battle for a rights package that for the first time will incorporate club rugby through to the Wallabies, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Optus, Foxtel and Network Ten are understood to have signed non-disclosure agreements for the process and RA will send out tender documents this week with the hope of wrapping up a new broadcast deal by early April. Foxtel, Ten and RA declined to comment. Optus said it would not provide ongoing commentary after CEO Allen Lew confirmed the telecommunications giant’s interest last Thursday.

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