Mediaweek Roundup: Neighbours, Village Roadshow, Fox Footy + more

• Google, Facebook, Howard Stern, SBS, Have You Been Paying Attention? and Fox Footy

Business of Media

Village Roadshow board holds line against dissident shareholder

Village Roadshow’s board is holding the line against dissident shareholder Mittleman Investment Management, which is trying to scuttle a scheme of arrangement proposed by private equity firm BGH Capital, reports The Australian’s Ben Wilmot.

The battle for the famed movie and theme park company has come to life this week, with Mittleman upping its stake to about 10.5 per cent and calling for the corporate regulator to intervene as it seeks to head off two structured takeover schemes proposed by BGH Capital.

The Melbourne-based private equity group has teamed with the founding Kirby family and former chief executive Graham Burke, who together control about 42 per cent of the register, to propose a privatisation.

[Read more]

US inquiry asks if tech giants ‘view themselves above the law’

A high-ranking US Congressional committee has slammed the power of digital platforms including Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, calling for more powers to combat their influence, reports The Australian’s John Durie.

The US House Judiciary Committee said the question was raised whether the companies “view themselves above the law”.

The report tabled Wednesday (AEDT) comes as Australia’s competition watchdog is due to hand its media bargaining code to the federal government in the next couple of weeks.

In several submissions, news publishers raised concerns about the “significant and growing asymmetry of power” between dominant platforms and news organisations, as well as the effect of this dominance on the production and availability of trustworthy sources of news.

[Read more]

News Brands

Guardian Australia launches new weekly app, Australia Weekend

Guardian Australia has launched Australia Weekend, a digital reimagination of the traditional weekend newspaper, offering a new way for readers to experience Guardian journalism in Australia.

Available to subscribers on iOS and Android phones and tablets, Australia Weekend offers readers early access to the journalism planned for the weekend, as well as a curated selection of the week’s essential news and analysis from Australia and the world.

Available to download at 6am (AEDT) every Saturday morning, each week’s edition replicates the experience of reading the weekend newspaper, but with the added convenience and portability of mobile devices. Readers have the opportunity to catch up with Guardian journalism  – to reflect, understand, and make sense of the week  –  at their own pace, at a time and place that suits them.

The elegantly designed digital edition is the result of extensive research and conversations with readers, which identified a clear appetite for context and curation amid an increasingly relentless news cycle. Each week’s edition is finite and completable, offering a break from endlessly scrollable news feeds, and providing a natural companion to Guardian Australia’s existing breaking news-oriented Live app.

Lenore Taylor, editor, Guardian Australia, said:

“More and more Australians are relying on Guardian Australia to provide a trusted, independent voice. At the same time, readers tell us they want space, away from the grind of constant breaking news, to catch up on what’s most important and understand what it means.

“Australia Weekend combines the best bits of a print weekend newspaper with the convenience and style of the digital medium. It’s the best of both worlds — the weekend paper in the palm of your hand.

“Each edition provides subscribers with early access to some of the best journalism we have planned for our website over the weekend, as well as a considered selection of the week’s essential journalism from Australia and the world, providing space to reflect and make sense of the week.”


Payday! Howard Stern nears deal with Sirius XM for $170m a year

Howard Stern, the radio shock jock who’s maintained his star power in the podcasting era, is nearing a contract renewal with Sirius XM Holdings Inc. that would boost his pay to about $170 million a year (US$120m), according to people familiar with the matter, reports Bloomberg.

Stern’s contract with Sirius expires at the end of December, and the 66-year-old has been negotiating a fresh deal for the better part of the year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are ongoing. His previous five-year contracts, which cover production and staff, topped out at roughly US$80 million to $100 million.

Analysts have speculated that Stern could leave Sirius for Spotify, which has built a large podcasting operation to complement its online music service. But even though Stern’s team held preliminary conversations with Spotify, they didn’t progress very far, according to people familiar with the talks.

[Read more]


SBS appoints development executive to commissioned drama slate

SBS has announced the appointment of Donna Chang (pictured) as development executive, scripted, working across SBS’s slate of distinctive and critically acclaimed original drama series. 

Chang will take a leading role in developing SBS’s pipeline of commissioned scripted fiction projects which reflect and explore the diversity of Australia. As well as working across long form event series, she will also support the development and production of SBS’s short form and feature initiatives which provide opportunities for emerging talent from often underrepresented backgrounds, to share their unique stories of contemporary Australia.

Chang joins SBS from Lingo Pictures where she was head of development, working there since 2018 across a range of projects including The Secrets She Keeps. Prior to that, she was a development executive at Screen Australia, and has been a story development external assessor for Screen Australia since 2015. She spent several years working in the UK after being selected as one of three emerging Australian producers to win a six-month international placement with Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, in London, where she continued to work for several more years as a production executive before returning to Australia.

Amanda Duthie, head of scripted (acting) at SBS, said: “It is exciting as we exit the Covid cloud to be gearing up with commissioned content across the slate and welcoming the exceptional talents of Donna Chang to the SBS team. With big plans for SBS across features, short form and prime time series, Donna brings experience and sensitivity in developing outstanding fiction, demonstrated by her work in Australia and overseas.”

Donna Chang said: “It’s been a dream of mine to work in the nexus of screen and inclusivity. There is a real audience hunger for authentic, distinctive storytelling from underrepresented communities, and I’m elated to be joining the SBS Scripted team at this critical time. I look forward to supporting creators in making world-class content.”

Chang’s appointment to the scripted commissioning team comes as SBS’s new comedy-drama series, The Unusual Suspects, starring Aina Dumlao, AACTA award-winner Miranda Otto and Michelle Vergara Moore continues production in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Other commissioned dramas coming up for SBS include New Gold Mountain, a four-part revisionist western telling the untold story of the Australian gold rush from the perspective of Chinese miners, and The Tailings, a short form drama series giving an insight into life in regional Tasmania, and set to premiere on SBS On Demand in 2021. 

In the role of development executive, scripted, Chang will report to and work closely with the head of scripted. Chang commences 12 October.

How Ed Kavalee often wins Have You Been Paying Attention?

He may be a perennial champ on Have You Been Paying Attention? but Ed Kavalee insists there are some logical reasons why he wins the 10 quiz most weeks, reports TV Tonight.

Insisting he doesn’t see the questions in advance, he tells TV Tonight he does have two advantages.

“The first is that the others are morons,” he jokes. “The second is I do radio everyday. As you know, from reading things, you get an osmosis from looking things up to do on the radio.

“If we just sat there, and no-one was answering any questions, we’d have no quiz. So often my role is to help move it along a bit.”

Have You Been Paying Attention? recently marked its 200th show, not bad for a show that drew mediocre ratings of 301,000 in its original 30-minute Sunday slot. But 10 stuck with the show eventually settling into a one-hour Monday slot it now consistently wins.

Kavalee: “It started as an extension of a podcast that me, Santo & Sam were doing, where Tom would come in and ask us questions and we would make funny answers. Rob (Sitch) heard it and said ‘There’s something here…’ and went into the Working Dog ‘brains trust.’

“Next thing I knew I was sitting on a set.”

Format rights for New Zealand, hosted by Hayley Sproull, and Cypriot versions have since been sold.

[Read more]

Virus-hit Britain recruits Dr Karl Kennedy from Neighbours

The United States has Dr Anthony Fauci. Victoria has Professor Brett Sutton. In Britain, we have Dr Karl Kennedy, reports Nine newspaper’s Bevan Shields.

Alan Fletcher, the actor behind Australian television’s most enduring GP, has been recruited by the National Health Service to help spruik its new coronavirus app. Neighbours still rates its socks off here, and calling up Ramsay Street’s popular medico is a shrewd move. Strict adherence to government rules is needed to avoid a major second wave but fatigue is setting in and new voices are needed to cut through.

“There are a lot of people in Australia who still have very strong affiliations with the UK and we watch what is happening there with as much dread as we watch in our own country,” said Fletcher, who has played Dr Karl for 26 years and shares the title of longest-serving cast member with Jackie Woodburne, who plays his on-screen wife Susan.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Lyon, Brown and Riewoldt headline Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview

Melbourne great Garry Lyon will host a special one-hour finals analysis show every Thursday night on Fox Footy for the remainder of the Toyota AFL Finals Series. From this Thursday, October 8, he will be joined by three-time premiership player Jonathan Brown and former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt as they dissect the upcoming blockbusters on Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview.

The trio will team up with other Fox Footy experts David King and Leigh Montagna as they take a Lab deep-dive in to the final games, clubs and players that all have the premiership cup in sight.

“This extraordinary season is coming to a conclusion and it warrants exceptional examination – that’s what we’ll try and do with the benefit of the talent we have at Fox Footy and all our resources,” Lyon said.

With Friday night’s teams being revealed on Thursday, Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview will guarantee fans will have all information needed to cheer on their club.

Hosts Sarah Jones and Eddie McGuire will lead Dermott Brereton and Brown for Friday night’s match-up between Richmond and St Kilda, while Lyon, Brown, Riewoldt team up again on Saturday with Alastair Lynch at the ground when Geelong take on Collingwood.

Fox Footy’s Ultimate Preview airs on Thursday nights during finals at 7.30pm on Fox Footy, channel 504 on Foxtel.

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