Mediaweek Roundup: Mitch Fifield, Paul Fletcher, Isentia + Foxtel

• Peter Stefanovic, Sky News and TV Week Logies

Business of Media

Outgoing Communications Minister Mitch Fifield heading to UN role

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday revealed his new look ministry following his recent election victory.

Paul Fletcher (pictured) has been named the new Minister for Communications, Cybersafety and the Arts.

[Read reaction from media organisations to his new appointment elsewhere here today.]

The outgoing comms minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, looks to be headed to New York. Morrison said Fifield should become Australia’s next ambassador to the United Nations.

“It was Mitch’s call about what he wanted to do. I would have been very happy for Mitch to continue to serve in communications and arts,” Morrison said yesterday.

Meanwhile Fletcher said yesterday:

“I am deeply honoured to be appointed as Minister for Communications, Cybersafety and the Arts.

“I have worked extensively in the communications sector since the mid-nineties – as a policy adviser, as a senior executive at Optus for eight years, as a consultant serving the sector, and more recently as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications from 2013 to 2015.

“The communications sector serves a vital human need – for people to communicate with each other – and makes a critical economic and social contribution to our nation. As Minister I will aim to take forward policy settings, which maximise this contribution.

“With many parts of the communications sector facing profound and continuing change, sound policy settings will be more important than ever.

“A key priority will be completing the rollout of the NBN. In 2013 we inherited a shambles from Labor with barely 50,000 premises connected to the fixed network.

“Today 9.28 million premises around Australia are able to connect to the NBN and almost 5.3 million premises are connected.

“Another priority will be to continue the Morrison Government’s work to make the internet a safer place for the millions of Australians who use it every day.

“I am also delighted that the portfolio includes responsibility for Australia’s vibrant and critically important arts sector. Australia’s performers and creative artists are world renowned – and make a profound contribution to our national identity.

“Our Liberal National Coalition has a strong track record in the Communications portfolio under my distinguished predecessor Ministers Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield and the Hon Malcolm Turnbull – and in the Howard Government years Senator the Hon Richard Alston, in whose office I served. I hope to be able to build on their achievements.”

Top image: CRA chair Grant Blackley with Mitch Fifield and Eddie McGuire

A to-do list for Paul Fletcher, Australia’s new communications minister

Appointing Paul Fletcher to the communications portfolio would have been among the easiest decisions Prime Minister Scott Morrison had to make with his latest cabinet reshuffle, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s John McDuling.

It was an obvious choice – before entering parliament Fletcher ran regulatory affairs at Optus – but despite being well qualified he will still face plenty of challenges in the new role.

First up, the competition regulator is expected to next month release its final report into digital platforms – Google and Facebook – and their impact on the media business.

The government also has to decide whether to proceed with cuts to the ABC budget and also sitting on a screen content review that could recommend the likes of Netflix face local content quotas.

If the media industry had one request of its new minister, it would likely be for a review into Australia’s defamation laws, following a string of troubling judgments.

[Read the original]

Foxtel has its newspaper moment: Can Kayo sustain TV giant?

Pay TV operator Foxtel is in the fight of its life in a world that has rapidly shifted from under its feet, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Foxtel is having its classifieds newspaper moment.

Much like Fairfax Media’s newspapers before digital upstarts SEEK and Carsales upended its rivers of gold, Foxtel had a near-monopoly on paid content.

But the paid television market has shifted dramatically in the past five years and like Fairfax before it, Foxtel profits are under extreme pressure from digital.

According to News Corp’s accounts, at the end of the 2013-14 financial year, Foxtel’s average revenue per user (ARPU) on its broadcast cable and satellite service was $96 and it had 2.6 million subscribers.

By comparison, News Corp reported earlier in May that Foxtel’s ARPU for broadcast subscribers was down to $79, and there are now 2.4 million broadcast and commercial subscribers.

It has however locked in 505,000 paying subscribers for Foxtel Now – the streaming equivalent of broadcast Foxtel – and 209,000 paying customers to sports streaming service Kayo Sports.

[Read the original]

Isentia taps machine learning as it targets $11m in cost cuts

Media monitoring incumbent Isentia is banking on machine learning to hit its cost-cutting target, with the company looking to automate the way it digests broadcast content, reports The Australian’s Supratim Adhikari.

Having already automated the processing of newspaper content, Isentia boss Ed Harrison said that it was looking to replicate the move in the broadcast space, as the business looks to hit its $11m cost-cutting target by the end of the 2020 financial year.

Harrison, who joined Isentia a year ago from Yahoo Australia, told The Australian that the efficiencies delivered by the company’s investment in technology is not only helping it combat the threat posed by rivals Meltwater and Streem but also deliver insights to customers faster.

[Read the original]

News Brands

Peter Stefanovic to co-anchor breakfast show on Sky News

Former Channel 9 star Peter Stefanovic will co-anchor Sky News’s flagship breakfast show First Edition alongside Laura Jayes and said he was “thrilled” to take on the “great challenge”, reports News Corp’s Fiona Wingett.

After 15 years with Nine, Stefanovic, 37, had his contract suddenly ripped up last December while in Mexico celebrating the wedding of his brother, former Today show host Karl Stefanovic, to Jasmine Yarborough.

“New gig, new year, new me,” the former foreign correspondent and experienced host laughed. “I’m excited. Thrilled about it, actually. It’s a great challenge, a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic privilege to be asked to be part of the Sky News team.

“I’ve been watching with great admiration, not just for Laura, but for all of the reporters and hosts on Sky, especially during the election campaign. I hope, with my experience, I will be able to add to that.”

Stefanovic will also front a new documentary series unravelling one of the most extraordinary stories in criminal history: Sky News Australia’s probe into the infamous gangland figure Lawyer X.

[Read the original]

Television

Gold Logie nominees have Confidential feeling underwhelmed

Confidential hates to be negative, especially when addressing the time of the year that recognises the people who keep us so entertained, but this year’s Gold Logie nominees have left us feeling underwhelmed, comments the News Corp entertainment column.

The 61st TV Week Logie Awards nominees were announced on Sunday, hosted by Sarah Harris and Richard Wilkins at The Star, Gold Coast, where the awards night will be held for the second year.

But a gardener, a weatherman, a comedian who was blamed for rigging the top-gong last year, an already-winner and two losers from last year don’t exactly incite excitement. Oh, and a Neighbours actor.

Even Confidential had to resort to a Google search for a couple of names, and delving deeper:

• Corser does have a following, but his latest show Doctor Doctor averaged little more than half a million metro views per episode in its third season (and this is his third go at the gold).
• Morey’s reason for nomination isn’t even on a main channel anymore.
• Mac is a weatherman.
• Gleeson’s Hard Quiz has been discontinued and last year he successfully campaigned for Grant Denyer to win the gold, saying: “Because the Logies are an absolute joke, how good would it be if you won the gold for a show that wasn’t on air?”

[Read the original]

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