Mediaweek Roundup: Melissa Leong, Michael Ebeid, Ray Warren + more

Google & Facebook, Harold Mitchell, SBS, Adelaide news, Wake Up, Derby Day, Ray Warren, and Summer of Tennis

Business of Media

Media bosses push government on tech giant crackdown

Australian media bosses are asking the federal government to urgently legislate a code to fight the market power of Google and Facebook amid concerns it is being delayed to accommodate the tech giants’ demands, reports The Sysney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

In his first public comments since the draft news media bargaining code was announced in July, News Corp Australia boss Michael Miller said it needed to be implemented in the next eight weeks to provide future financial certainty for news outlets. Nine Entertainment Co chief executive Hugh Marks has separately shut down the idea that the proposed legislation, which will force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for use of their news content, should accommodate the value of referral traffic.

“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has handed the government a ground-breaking solution to solve the power imbalance between the tech giants and Australian media companies,” Miller told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. “It is vital for the future of trusted journalism in this country that the original timetable of putting the solution in place this year is met.”

Dan Stinton, managing director of Guardian Australia, said it was urgent a bill was passed through parliament.

“Let’s just remember why we’re here. According to the ACCC, Google and Facebook have increased their collective share of the digital advertising market from 73 per cent to 81 per cent in little more than a year,” Stinton said.

[Read more]

Harold Mitchell hit with $90,000 fine in Tennis Australia case

Harold Mitchell has been hit with a $90,000 fine for failing to discharge his director’s duties properly while on the board of Tennis Australia, as it undertook intense negotiations over television rights eight years ago, reports The Australian’s Ben Wilmot.

The relatively light fine imposed by the Federal Court came after a controversial case brought by the Australian Securities Investments Commission, which was only partially successful, and drew criticism of the regulator’s “litigate first” strategy.

Mitchell said he co-operated throughout ASIC’s six-year investigation into the awarding to Seven West Media of the tennis television rights in 2013, for $195m from 2015 to 2019.

Mitchell’s statement said he decided to not appeal as he did not want “any more taxpayer funds wasted by ASIC”.

[Read more]

Canberra likes ex-SBS, Telstra exec Michael Ebeid for AusPost job

Recently departed Telstra group executive Michael Ebeid is understood to be top of politicians’ wish lists to replace Christine Holgate at Australia Post, reports The AFR’s Street Talk column.

As Australia Post’s board goes looking for the group’s third chief executive in three years, it is understood they’ve been given clear directions to think about an obvious candidate hiding in plain sight.

That candidate is Ebeid, who is well known in business and political circles thanks to his former two roles: running SBS and as head of Telstra’s enterprise business, from which he resigned last week.

When Ebeid left Telstra last week – a job that had him charged with a complex $8 billion business and 9000 staff across 20 countries – he hinted that he already knew where he would pop up next. He said: “Never easy, but the time is right for me & I’m excited abt pursuing a new business opportunity”.

Ebeid made $2 million at Telstra in the year to June 30 including salary, superannuation, incentives and the like and $1.6 million the year before, according to the telco’s annual report. Holgate, as Australia Post group CEO, made $1.6 million in FY20 and $2.6 million in FY19.

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SBS staff reject freeze on pay increases despite government request

SBS employees have voted against freezing salary increases for six months despite a request by the federal government earlier this year, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

An SBS spokesman said 73 per cent of employees voted against deferring pay rises by six months earlier this week. SBS staff received a 2 per cent pay rise when a new enterprise agreement came into effect earlier this year and are expected to receive another increase next February.

“Voting closed earlier this week and the proposed EA variation was not approved by EA staff, with 27 per cent voting in favour and 73 per cent voting against the proposed pay increase deferral,” the SBS spokesman said. “This means there will be no variation to the current EA, and the scheduled pay increase for EA staff will go ahead in February 2021 as planned.”

[Read more]

News Brands

Seven, Nine in “full blown media war” over Adelaide news

A “full blown media war” has been underway in Adelaide after Nine ran local promos targeting Seven’s decision to axe its 4pm local bulletin, reports TV Tonight.

Seven claims the bulletin was halted locally due to COVID while it was broadcast from Melbourne, but it has since been restored.

FIVEaa breakfast’s David Penberthy said “… it was a bit sneaky for Channel Nine to keep running ads denouncing Seven’s news service as not being local, last week.. the bulletin came back, the ads kept running.”

Seven reportedly sent Nine a “ferociously-worded” legal letter accusing them of false, deceptive misleading conduct.

A Nine spokesperson told TV Tonight, “We stand by our promo – it was factually correct and that’s why Nine refused Seven’s demands to pull it early. We note that despite their threats, Seven took no legal action.”

[Read more]

TV anchors and pundits criticise Trump’s baseless claims of fraud

Television news networks spent a meticulous election night reporting state-by-state results with prudence and context, reports The New York Times.

Then President Trump got involved.

In a wee-hours appearance from the East Room of the White House, Trump claimed without evidence that the election was being taken from him by “a very sad group of people.” His baseless statements – including an unfounded claim that the election was “a major fraud on our nation” – stirred up anchors at major networks, some of which cut away from his remarks before he was finished.

“This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,” the anchor Chris Wallace told viewers on Fox News. Referring to Trump’s false claims that he had “clearly won” Georgia and North Carolina, neither of which has finished counting votes, Wallace said: “He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.”

[Read more]


‘Err on the side of caution’: Carols by Candlelight ditches crowds

Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight will go ahead next month without a live crowd for the first time in the event’s 83-year history after organisers said it was best to “err on the side of caution”, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.

The annual Christmas sing-along last year drew a crowd of 10,000 to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The announcement that there would be no live audience for this year’s event comes after the city recorded its fifth consecutive day of no coronavirus cases on Wednesday. But Vision Australia chief executive Ron Hooton said public safety still needed to be taken into account.

“While the decision was made in the last few days, under stage three restrictions and despite fewer cases of COVID-19 in Melbourne, Vision Australia thought it better to err on the side of caution until there was greater certainty that COVID-19 was under control following the easing of those restrictions,” Hooton said.

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight will screen from 8pm on Thursday, December 24. The event will be broadcast live on Channel Nine and radio station 3AW.

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Wake Up remembered: “It was like the Frontline of breakfast TV”

This week marks seven years since Wake Up, 10’s last foray into breakfast television, was launched, reports TV Tonight.

The ambitious show, the brainchild of producer Adam Boland, ran for only six months, broadcasting Live from Queenscliff Surf Club at Manly Beach.

But despite hopes to reinvent Breakfast television, it struggled against the titans, Sunrise and Today.

Co-host James Mathison recently reflected on the project telling TV Tonight, “That was easily the most disastrous thing I’ve ever been anywhere near. On so many levels!

“It was like the Frontline of breakfast TV, the sequence of events around that…

“But what came out of it was a very close, beautiful relationship with a super, dear friend of mine, Natarsha Belling. So that was my big takeaway from what was not an overly-glorious moment for 10.”

[Read more]


MasterChef judge Melissa Leong lands cover of WHO Sexiest People issue

The 2020 breakout star of Aussie TV Melissa Leong has had a ‘pinch me’ moment, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The much loved new MasterChef judge has landed not just her first magazine cover but a starring role in the much anticipated WHO Sexiest People issue.

“It has certainly been a year of the unexpected on all fronts, so why not add an extra level of surreal on top of that,” Leong said.

“I don’t see it as an opportunity for me, alone. To be an Asian woman on the cover, I know this will mean something to others who aren’t used to seeing faces like ours in this capacity. We’ve a long way to go in Australia in terms of opening the doors to real representation and inclusion, and I hope this cover, like the many who celebrate diversity, signals to those who are yet to be seen, that their time is coming.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

‘Flogging a dead horse’: Ten’s racing coverage falls short

There is only one real rule of television: Know your audience, comments News Corp’s Joe Hildebrand.

This point came thundering home like Makybe Diva in the 2003 Melbourne Cup in a situation last weekend during Channel 10’s already infamous Derby Day coverage on Saturday.

To be fair to Ten, I didn’t watch it. To be fair to myself, neither did most of the country.

More to the point, the few who did seemed to instantly regret it.

Ten’s coverage of the Victoria Derby only pulled in 172,000 viewers while Seven’s broadcast of the fledgling Golden Eagle day in Sydney got 227,000.

Twitter is an appalling and dystopian barometer of the public mood but when you see almost 30,000 tweets being directed at a free-to-air broadcaster about a horse race then it’s fair to say that broadcaster is not having a good day. Trust me, I know how it feels.

[Read more]

Ray Warren retirement: Rabs concedes 2020 grand final could be his last

Cameron Smith is not the only retirement speculation story in rugby league, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

The man whose broadcasting career is as legendary as Smith’s playing achievements is undecided if this year’s State or Origin series will be his last.

The great Ray Warren told your columnist before Wednesday night’s game: “To give it away would be like cutting off my right arm.”

After 55 years of calling sport and becoming the voice of the game and rugby league’s version of Richie Benaud, Rabs says the Storm-Panthers grand final could have been his last decider.

“I’m going to sit back, relax and enjoy Christmas and January and then make a decision,” he says.

[Read more]

Melbourne could be the sole venue for complete summer of tennis

Melbourne could host every major tennis tournament of the summer as Australian Open organisers move to ensure the world’s best players can get into Victoria for the Grand Slam, reports News Corp’s Peter Rolfe.

Tennis Australia chiefs have given other states and territories until next week to guarantee the world’s best players will be able to quarantine and easily travel to Victoria for January’s Open.

If not, the ATP Cup scheduled for Sydney and Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart Internationals would all be moved to Melbourne and played either side of the Open and event qualifiers.

Organisers fear players such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams could be stuck in other states if another COVID-10 outbreak occurred and restricted entry to Melbourne.

[Read more]

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