Mediaweek roundup: MAFS, Survivor, Facebook + more

• ACCC, T20 World Cup, John Oliver, Cosmos + Reg Grundy

Business of Media

Russel Howcroft announces screenwriter is new CEO of AFTRS

Russel Howcroft, chair of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), has announced the appointment of Dr Nell Greenwood (pictured) as CEO. 

Dr Nell Greenwood is an academic leader, screenwriter and creativity advocate with more than 25 years of experience in screen education and international film and television production.

“Dr Greenwood’s leadership will ensure the School is at the forefront of international screen education practice, producing graduates who are agile across multiple platforms, entrepreneurial in the global marketplace and creatively bold. She brings a rare and valuable skill set to the role. She has significant experience in film and television production, having worked at the highest levels in Australian and international production companies, and is passionate about screen education, with a decade in teaching and course development.  Nell’s intellectual rigour, creative instincts and meticulous pursuit of educational excellence will enhance AFTRS’ reputation as one of the world’s best film schools,” said Howcroft.

Dr Greenwood’s career started in content development and she has held several senior industry roles including Head of Development at the Irish Film Board, Head of Development at Natural Nylon Entertainment (home to Jude Law and Ewan McGregor) as well as Head of Development at Element Films (producers of The Lobster and The Favourite) before embarking on a career as a screenwriter. Her writing credits include False Witness for UKTV (Foxtel), which won an AFI, as well as Pride and Joy, which was nominated for Best TV Film at the 46th Monte Carlo TV Film Festival. Dr Greenwood began teaching and discovered a passion for education, in particular creativity and how to engage and foster students’ brilliance and unique creativity in the classroom. She is also passionate about increasing female representation and diversity within the screen and broadcast industry and forging deeper inter-disciplinary connections across industries here and abroad.

Since 2013 Dr Greenwood has held multiple senior roles at AFTRS including Head of Screenwriting, Course Leader Masters and Head of Programs and, most recently, Director of Curriculum & Student Registrar. She has a PhD from The University of Sydney on Creativity and the Unconscious in the Screen Arts Classroom.

“I am delighted and honoured to be taking on this role. Having worked at the school for the last 12 years, I am very proud of the extraordinary talent we have here – our staff and students – and how much potential the school has to flourish during a time of change and opportunity.  Under the previous CEO, Neil Peplow, the school embarked upon a forward-looking commitment to excellence in creative education and I can’t wait to expand and progress the great work he began,” Dr Greenwood said.

Google, Facebook examined as ACCC begins ad investigation

Australia’s competition regulator has kicked off its investigation into advertising technology services by Google and Facebook by calling for information on the industry’s practices and user experience, in the wake of its landmark digital platforms inquiry, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s inquiry will also focus on services provided by advertising and media agencies during the purchase and optimisation of digital display ads.

The regulator wants information on the various ad tech or agency services used to sell digital display ads and generate revenue, plus feedback on the experience with selling digital display ads. It wants to hear from any website or app owners that generate income by running digital display ads.

In response to the ACCC’s digital platforms inquiry, the Morrison government in December gave Google and Facebook the chance to work with media companies on a voluntary code of conduct to oversee commercial arrangements, in a bid to even out the playing field between traditional and new media.

If a voluntary code between the companies is not introduced, the government will seek to mandate one by November 2020.

[Read more]

Facebook in Australia sued over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook faces the threat of a $1bn-plus fine for exposing the personal data of more than 300,000 Australians, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Facebook in Australia has been accused of exposing for sale and “political profiling” the personal data of up to 311,127 Australians after a Facebook app was used by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy to steal personal data from potential voters for campaigning purposes.

The move, by Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk, comes after a two-year investigation into the impact of Cambridge Analytica on Australian users and actions by regu­lators in the US, Canada and Britain.

In action lodged in the Federal Court on Monday, the OAIC claims Facebook “committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law”. Ms Falk alleges these were “systemic failures to comply with Australian privacy laws”.

A spokesman for Facebook said: “We’ve actively engaged with the OAIC over the past two years as part of their investi­gation. We’ve made major changes to our platforms, in consultation with international regulators, to restrict the information available to app developers, implement new governance protocols and build industry-leading controls to help people protect and manage their data.”

[Read more]

Reg Grundy’s widow and daughter settle over TV mogul’s millions

Reg Grundy’s widow and the late TV king’s estranged daughter have settled their bitter legal battle over his $900 million fortune, reports News Corp’s Lucy Hughes Jones.

In 2017 Grundy’s only child Viola La Valette launched a lawsuit disputing the former Wheel of Fortune host’s will which left the bulk of his riches to his second wife, former actor Carolyn Joy Chambers-Grundy.

The women have been locked in a marathon NSW Supreme Court stoush ever since with a man claiming to be the media mogul’s long lost son even joining in the fight for inheritance at one point.

But last week La Valette – who changed her name from Kim Robin Grundy– reached a confidential settlement with her Logie Award-winning stepmother.

The only provision Grundy made for his daughter were annual payments of $250,000.

[Read more]


Survivor Australia star grateful for final phone call before mum died

Lee Carseldine would do anything to get five minutes to say a proper goodbye to his mum after tragically withdrawing from reality show Australian Survivor when his mother had a stroke, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

But the Survivor contestant is grateful for the small comfort that his last phone call before entering the reality competition was to tell his mum, Elizabeth, how much he loved her.

“A sudden loss is harder to take sometimes,” the 44-year-old former professional cricketer told Confidential.

Survivor Australia was shot at the end of last year with Carseldine withdrawing from the competition, which is shot on a Fijian island immediately after getting the call from producers.

His mother died at the end of September and Carseldine flew home to be with family.

He is hoping sharing his story to raise awareness and funds for The Stroke Foundation in a bid to “turn something really tragic into something positive”.

[Read more]

Married At First Sight remains an insult to marriage

I used to wonder if I was one of the only people in Australia who refused to watch Married At First Sight (MAFS) on principle, comments freelance writer Gary Nunn in a column for News Corp.

Now I simply wonder why anyone watches it in the first place.

I totally get that, in today’s doomsday-ish world of coronavirus, bushfires and Trump’s likely second term, we need some escapism in the form of trash TV.

But there’s trash, then there’s get in the bin – and MAFS is undoubtedly the latter.

For gay people like me, here’s why.

In 2020, people like me can finally, one day, marry the person we love in a same-sex wedding. It’s still quite new; I’ve only been able to share in that fairytale dream for a couple of years.

But I shrink every time another episode of MAFS airs. The equality I now enjoy doesn’t suddenly make MAFS OK. In fact, it makes it worse.

Every single person who claimed that the sanctity of marriage was their primary concern should join me in condemning MAFS as the very worst type of scrape-the-barrel reality TV of a society that prioritises entertainment value over any moral values whatsoever.

[Read more]

Cosmos returns for season 3 with ‘Possible Worlds’ on Nat Geo

Science is sexy.

That is what 135 million people who tuned into the second season of Cosmos will tell you, reports’s Lexie Cartwright.

The wildly popular science series returns to screens in its third outing with Possible Worldson National Geographic, after the huge success of A Spacetime Odyssey, which aired back in 2014 and stands as the most watched science program in history.

Produced by Family Guy genius Seth MacFarlane and hosted by acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the show, which is also available to stream on Foxtel Now, has been nominated for 12 Emmys (it won four) and is watched by 45 million in the US alone.

Possible Worlds is made up of 13 episodes with an emphasis on the future, and what it could look like in years to come. It comes 40 years after the original, hosted by late astrophysicist and astronomer, CarlSagan.

[Read more]

John Oliver slams Disney-owned streamer for censoring jokes

John Oliver says a Disney-owned streaming platform in India has been censoring jokes mocking Disney characters in its broadcasts of his HBO late-night show, Last Week Tonight, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Oliver started out Sunday night’s episode by explaining that Disney-owned Hotstar, which distributes the series in India, decided to, in his words, “self-censor,” and did not upload a recent episode of Last Week Tonight that was critical of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister.

“What’s worse is, it’s apparently not even the first time they have censored us,” Oliver said. “We’ve discovered that they’ve been quietly doing it for a while now, but not for the reason that you might expect.”

He referred back to a 2019 episode about the US census in which he’d shown a clip of an ad from the 1980s encouraging citizens to fill out their census form; the ad included a cameo from Mickey Mouse. In the episode, Oliver joked that Mickey was a cocaine addict. But in the episode that streamed on Hotstar, the joke was cut out entirely with a jarring transition to a close-up of Oliver’s face.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Cricket T20 World Cup: This is about programming – not gender

From a packed MCG and watershed day for women’s sport to Australia’s victory in the ICC T20 World Cup, Sunday was a day to remember. Then right on cue, like a perfectly timed Alyssa Healy cover drive, came the outrage, comments broadcaster and writer Megan Hustwaite in a News Corp column.

As this historic spectacle unfolded on International Women’s Day, some knickers were in a knot and the term “disgusting” was bandied around in response to the Nine Network screening the final, live and in HD, on its digital channel 9Gem.

Women’s sport advocate and AFLW pioneer Susan Albertitold a pre-game MCC function “I think it’s disgusting it is going to be on Gem and not on the main channel.”

There are dirty words in television but digital channel isn’t one of them and it’s about time people realise sport screened live on Gem, Go, 10Bold or 7Mate is a good thing.

[Read more]

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