Mediaweek roundup: MAFS, Screen Australia, V’landys + more

• Lee Phillip Bell, coronavirus, SPA, Seven News, Foxtel + NRL

Business of Media

SPA disappointed at FTA threats halting children’s TV production

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) CEO Matthew Deaner has shared his dismay at Seven West Media’s statements that it will halt production on children’s content from next year:

“Children’s content plays a critical role in the production and viewing ecosystem,” said Deaner.

“Australian parents have a right to freely access quality Australian content specifically designed for the needs of their children across trusted brands such as Seven, Nine and 10. A move by any of these broadcasters to try and evade their obligations or pressure Government and the broader industry is disappointing.”

Addressing the commercial free-to-air broadcasters’ concerns about lower audiences for children’s content, Deaner added:

“In an age of abundance where so much content is available to everyone, everywhere, first run broadcast numbers for all types of content are in decline. However, well made and well marketed children’s content in particular has a lengthy currency with strong second and third run repeat audiences and alternate and online platforms, not to mention international sales in hundreds of foreign territories. A thoughtless removal of quotas would act as a reward to what has been a steady decline in investments, promotion and marketing of quality Australian children’s content and destroy so much of the ecology of the sector.”

Screen Australia announces new 18-member gender matters taskforce

Screen Australia has announced the 18 members of the new iteration of the Gender Matters Taskforce. The Taskforce will provide independent advice to the agency and work beyond Screen Australia’s direct sphere of influence to deliver outcomes for female creatives and assist in the broader industry efforts to achieve gender parity.

Formed in 2016 and updated in 2018, the Gender Matters Taskforce is a volunteer-based advisory body for Screen Australia made up of women working across the Australian screen sector. This will be the third iteration of the Taskforce and returning members include Joanna Werner, Deanne Weir and Lisa French.

Screen Australia Board member, returning chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce and acclaimed producer Joanna Werner said, “These 18 brilliant women represent a cross section of the screen sector and come from varying backgrounds with a range of expertise locally and internationally. This Taskforce will be integral in helping to shape Screen Australia’s next steps as well as promoting the broader industry systemic change that is needed.

“Whilst Screen Australia’s Gender Matters work has been important, the agency represents only a fraction of the $3 billion local screen industry. As the new Gender Matters Taskforce, we will be seeking to leverage our own expertise and connections to agitate for change in our individual areas of speciality, particularly in areas Screen Australia cannot reach.

“I really look forward to working with the new Taskforce to find targeted and achievable solutions to ensure we continue to make improvements to our industry and do our part to empower female creatives.”

The new Taskforce will meet three to four times a year with the first meeting scheduled to take place next month.

Taskforce members:

Sarah Bassiuoni: Bassiuoni is a Sydney-based writer and director.

Tania Chambers: Chambers is a producer and Manager Director of Feisty Dame Productions.

Liz Doran: Doran is an internationally acclaimed writer and producer.

Anusha Duray: Duray is the Acquisitions Manager for National Indigenous Television (NITV), as well as a skilled producer.

Bonnie Elliott: Elliott is an award-winning cinematographer who works across drama, documentary and video art.

Lisa French: French is the Dean of RMIT University’s School of Media and Communication.

Rachel Griffiths: One of Australia’s most prolific industry professionals across a range of mediums, Griffiths is an Academy Award-nominated and multi award-winning actress.

Monique Keller: Keller is Manager, Original Content for Audible with a focus on commissioning factual and scripted podcasts, and theatre.

Rosie Lourde: Lourde is a content creator traversing roles, formats and genres.

Kristy Matheson: Matheson has worked extensively in independent distribution and film festivals.

Que Minh Luu: Luu is an executive producer working across scripted drama, comedy and digital content at the ABC.

Meg O’Connell: O’Connell is the AACTA Award-winning producer behind the critically acclaimed online series Robbie Hoodfrom Since1788 Productions and Ludo Studio.

Rachel Okine: Okine is an international acquisitions, financing strategy and story development specialist who currently works as the Managing Director of Aquarius Films.

Fiona Tuomy: Tuomy is an award-winning screenwriter, director, producer and developer working across storytelling genres and platforms.

Deanne Weir(Deputy Chair): A former media lawyer and executive turned producer, investor and company director, her company invests in entrepreneurs and storytellers to help them change the world.

Joanna Werner(Chair): Werner has over 20 years’ experience in the film and television industry, she has produced over 94 hours and 173 episodes of television and a feature film, all of which have sold extensively around the world.

Malinda Wink: Wink is the Global Director for Good Pitch at Doc Society.

Sophia Zachariou: Zachariou is the CEO of Bunya Productions.

Rachel Griffiths, Liz Doran and Que Minh Luu

First reported case of coronavirus to impact TV industry

Denmark reported its first coronavirus case on Thursday, a man working in the media sector who had returned from a skiing holiday in northern Italy which has become a hotspot for the disease, reports The Local.

“The man who came back from a skiing trip with his wife and son on February 24th has been suffering since then from a cough and a temperature,” the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen, DHA) said in a statement.

“The man tested positive, but the results of his wife and son are negative,” it said.

The first Danish person to have been infected is an employee of the broadcaster TV2, who had been on holiday in the Sondrio region in northern Italy, the area of Europe which has seen the highest number of cases.

In a Facebook post, the man, Jakob Tage Ramlyng, wrote that he and his family were “deeply shocked” that “what we thought was highly unlikely is now reality for us”. He acknowledged his post would be cited by media.

Colleagues of Ramlyng at TV2 may now be contacted by health authorities and some may be placed in quarantine at their homes.

[Read more]

News Brands

Brendan Donohoe latest to pull plug at Seven News Melbourne

Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton was happy to advertise he had shaved $20 million in costs from studios around the country at the broadcaster’s half-year results, reports Nine publishing’s CBD columnists Samantha Hutchinson and Kylar Loussikian.

But it’s hard to imagine that a stream of high-profile resignations in quick succession from the network’s Docklands studio was part of the plan.

Seven’s state political reporter Brendan Donohoe handed in his notice on Thursday morning, ending a near-30-year stint inside the network. The well-regarded broadcaster, who is married to long-time Age sports columnist Caroline Wilson, has been a mainstay at the network and on Spring Street since starting in April 1990.

The veteran did not return calls on Thursday, or respond to questions whether the decision had been prompted by a change of direction by new news director Shaun Menegola. But it’s worth noting Menegola has a packed schedule on the recruitment front in the coming week given the newsroom has lost several senior staff members in the past two months.

[Read more]


Poppy Jennings exploring her options against Channel 9 over MAFS

Married at First Sight bride Poppy Jennings is exploring her options against Channel 9 and production company Endemol Shine amid claims Nine producers ignored her feelings about being uncomfortable around her on-screen ‘husband’, reports News Corp’s Mibenge Nsenduluka.

“This is going further,” the Wollongong mother-of-two said at the United Cinemas Opera Quays opening night this week.

Last week, viewers were left frustrated when Jennings, 38, dumped Melbourne FIFO worker Luke Eglin, 39, which left him in tears. However, she claims the footage was heavily edited and out of context.

When asked why she didn’t speak up further at the time, Jennings said MAFS producers reminded of her airtight contract.

“I’m just a little person, why the hell would I speak up?” she said.

“Would you like to go up against Goliath? I’ve always probably been more of a David than anyone thought I was. It never sat well with me in my gut to remain silent.”

[Read more]

TV watchdog hit with complaints over shocking new lows on MAFS

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has received three complaints about the new season of Married at First Sight, reports News Corp’s Nui To Koha.

The complaints to ACMA come as MAFS sinks to new lows, including a disgusting toothbrush incident, claims producers are manipulating drama behind the scenes, and growing questions about the matchmaking skills of the show’s so-called experts.

An ACMA spokesman said the authority had received three complaints about the latest season of MAFS.

“Under the co-regulatory system, the ACMA will refer complainants to the broadcaster in the first instance.

“If the complainant does not receive a response from the broadcaster within 60 days, or is not satisfied with the response, they may refer their complaint to the ACMA.”

Since the show began in 2015, only three out of 48 couples are still together, and the experts’ low success rate has prompted claims of deliberate mismatching for ratings.

[Read more]

Young and the Restless & Bold and the Beautiful co-creator dies at 91

Lee Phillip Bell, the co-creator of the iconic and long-running daytime dramas The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, has died at the age of 91, reports News Corp.

No cause of death was released but her death was confirmed by her children.

“Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother,” read a statement from her five kids.

“Gracious and kind, she enriched the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her tremendously.”

Along with her husband, William Bell, Lee Phillip Bell was a TV powerhouse.

Together, she and her husband created the soap opera The Young and the Restless and, in 1987, the pair created the spin-off The Bold and the Beautiful.

The Bell family’s daytime drama success wasn’t limited solely off-camera. Bell’s daughter Lauralee Bell, 51, has portrayed recurring character Christine Blair on The Young and the Restless since 1983.

[Read more]

Sports Media

NRL wants to work with broadcasters to reshape rugby league

National Rugby League chief executive Todd Greenberg says the sporting body will work with broadcasters to make changes to how the sport and competition run in order to maximise value for their biggest revenue partners and keep the entertainment value of the game going into the next round of rights negotiations, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

With free-to-air and subscription television revenue under continued pressure, Greenberg said the NRL will examine how potential changes, special events – like the recently introduced Magic Round, and even whether a State of Origin match could be played overseas, could affect the next broadcast deal.

Greenberg’s comments came as the NRL reported a $30.1 million surplus for its 2019 financial year, which finishes at the end of October. Broadcast revenue was $324.6 million in 2019, while non-broadcast revenue grew by $25.1 million to $203.9 million, lifted by major events, such as Magic Round in Brisbane, where a full round of the NRL season was packed into three days at Suncorp Stadium.

[Read more]

Peter V’landys holds talks with streaming giants over NRL content

ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys will host club bosses on Friday morning at Rugby League Central with a bad case of jetlag but a much greater understanding of the broadcasting landscape after a rapid-fire trip to the west coast of America, where he held talks with broadcast bosses and some of the world’s biggest streaming services, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

It is understood V’landys and NRL commercial manager Andrew Abdo travelled to San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they met executives from streaming giants Amazon Prime, Facebook and Google.

[Read more]

V’landys’ secret Murdoch meeting as Greenberg future grows murky

Rugby league executives have been clocking up the frequent flyer points in the past two weeks, jetting from one side of the world to the other, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was in the UK last week for the Roosters’ successful World Club Challenge campaign, while ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and chief commercial officer Andrew Abdo were in the US this week.

V’landys refused to comment on the secret trip with Abdo when this column contacted him, but it can be revealed he met with Fox Corp executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch in Los Angeles.

He and Abdo then headed to San Francisco where they met with the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon – presumably about the looming broadcast negotiations when such streaming services will be used by the NRL as leverage for a fatter deal.

[Read more]

Foxtel on probable rugby union exit: ‘No hard feelings’

Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany has signalled a willingness of the subscription broadcaster to go without rugby union rights on Fox Sports and sports streamer Kayo pointing to the changing nature of consumer demand, but says he has “no hard feelings” toward Rugby Australia, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

In his first public comments since Fox Sports walked away from negotiations with Rugby Australia for a new rights deal, Delany told The Australian he wouldn’t be making running commentary on the “live bid” but pointed out RA’s last two rights bids had gone to market and the two parties “know where each other stand”.

[Read more]

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