Mediaweek Roundup: News Corp’s 50 new titles, SBS/ABC, Ray Hadley + more

news corp

Sharri Markson, Kylar Loussikian, Sid Maher, Ray Hadley, Margaux Parker, Farmer Wants A Wife, The Weekly, Wentworth, MasterChef, and Melbourne Cup

Business of Media

The AFR: SBS delves deeper into back-office mergers than ABC

The board and chief executive of the SBS have given significantly more consideration to the potential savings in merging back-office functions with the ABC, whose directors and managing director have only received one formal report on the matter since 2016 – the Peter Tonagh-led efficiency review, report The AFR’s Max Mason and Michael Roddan.

ABC sources said the potential renting out of parts of its Ultimo headquarters would present a natural opportunity for cost savings, making room for SBS, which houses its Sydney-staff on the lower north shore suburb of St Leonards. According to SBS’ 2018-19 annual report, the broadcaster had 1512 employees, compared with 4649 across the country at the ABC.

In a letter written by ABC chairman Ita Buttrose to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, leaked to The Sydney Morning Herald, Buttrose accused the minister of lying over suggestions the ABC failed to collaborate more closely with SBS.

An SBS spokesman said the broadcaster was a highly efficient organisation and regularly reviewed its operations to maximise investment in content and services.

“This includes exploring collaboration opportunities with the ABC and others where appropriate. Our efficient operations have been recognised by successive government reviews and processes.”

[Read more]

News Brands

News Corp to launch 50 digital-only local titles over three years

News Corp Australia is planning to launch more than 50 digital-only mastheads, with the first 15 to be up and running by the end of September, led by “grassroots journalism”, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The new titles will cover highly sought-after local crime and court stories, plus planning and development in the area, schools, health and lifestyle. Its subscribers will have also access to News Corp’s vast news content across its newly established newswire service and sports network, as well as newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph in NSW and The Courier-Mail in Queensland.

News Corp’s national community masthead network editor John McGourty says the company has “identified 50-plus sites where we think there’s an opportunity to grow new audiences in the future”.

“We plan to do those 50 over the next three years. We want to do this at a scalable, sustainable pace,” McGourty said.

Of the first 15 titles, eight will be in Victoria, five in NSW and two in South Australia. Some will compete with Antony Catalano’s Australian Community Media and independent publishers for readers and advertisers. All but one of the 15 titles will be in regional areas, including Albury-Wodonga, Ballarat, Bendigo, Gippsland, Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Shepparton, Dubbo, Hawkesbury, Port Macquarie, Orange, Tamworth, Clare Valley and Port Lincoln.

[Read more]

Editorial changes: Star columnists return to The Australian

Multi-award-winning journalist Sharri Markson has returned to The Australian in one of a series of key editorial appointments to the News Corp national news brand.

Markson will lead investigations for The Australian, joining her Walkley Award-winning colleague Kylar Loussikian, who returns as national chief of staff.

Markson held several senior positions at The Australian before winning the prestigious Sir Keith Murdoch award and Kennedy Awards journalist of the year in 2018 as national political editor of The Daily Telegraph. She is also host of Sky News Sunday prime-time show Sharri.

Sharri Markson

Sharri Markson

Loussikian rejoins The Australian in the key news role after several years at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, as well as a stint covering federal politics at The Daily Telegraph.

The highly credentialled pair won a Walkley Award together at The Daily Telegraph for a series of revelations that led to the demise of Barnaby Joyce as deputy prime minister.

Kylar Loussikian

Loussikian was part of the team writing the CBD column for Nine’s metro newspapers. He has been replaced there by another former journalist at The Australian, Stephen Brook who quietly arrived at his new post last Thursday.

Sid Maher

In addition to the The Australian’s new appointments, Sid Maher, who has held several key posts at The Australian, including news director and Canberra bureau chief, has been promoted to deputy editor.

Phillip Adams: Even for its critics, the ABC is vital

Health Warning. This column is written in support of the ABC so it may well cause apoplexy in some readers. Anyone thus afflicted should turn urgently to columns by colleagues – perhaps by Gerard Henderson or Chris Kenny, wrote Phillip Adams in his column in The Weekend Australian Magazine.

At night, using my pass to manoeuvre through many layers of security, I make my lonely way to Studio 243 on the fourth floor of the ABC’s Sydney HQ where I present, as I have done for 30-odd years, a program called Late Night Live. Eclectic topics, worldwide guests, good ratings, vast numbers of downloads.

Paradoxically, many – perhaps most – Liberal voters admire the ABC, as do a lot of Nat supporters. (People depend on the ABC in the bush – increasingly so.) I remember making this point to Andrew Robb when he was a Liberal Party apparatchik. He wholeheartedly agreed, albeit describing it as “our enemies talking to our friends”. Robb found attacks on Aunty counterproductive, particularly during elections.

At a recent Friends of the ABC rally I called for a minute’s silence. I asked the crowd to imagine that silence lasting an hour, a day, a week. An endless silence. That may well be the future. If you remain silent. And I’m talking to you Lib voters, to you Nat voters. Not just to that scruffy Labor mob.

You’ll miss us when we’re gone. Even you, Gerard and Chris. Aunty’s critics will have to find a new enemy to attack, someone else to blame for the collapse of civilisation.

[Read more]


Border crossing: Ray Hadley sets up in new Gold Coast studio

Virtually as soon as Annastacia Palaszczuk opened up the Queensland border, Australia’s highest paid broadcaster, Ray Hadley, packed his car and made a beeline for the Tweed Heads/Coolangatta checkpoint, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

It’s all part of Hadley’s new plan to broadcast his show – which simulcasts on both 2GB and 4BC – more often from Queensland, particularly given the tight upcoming October state election.

Nine has built Hadley a bespoke studio inside Nine’s Gold Coast studios on Cavill Ave in Surfers Paradise, a stone’s throw from his apartment on Main Beach. Hadley is wasting no time in broadcasting from there for two weeks, with plans to broadcast one week a month from the Gold Coast from now on.

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Triple M’s Margaux Parker shares blunt message to body shamers

Brisbane breakfast radio host Margaux Parker has hit out at trolls how criticise her about her weight, reports Amy Price.

Parker, a co-host on Triple M’s The Big Breakfast and a mother of four children to ex-NRL star Corey Parker, posted a message to her Instagram on Sunday, saying she had recently been the target of online trolls “displeased with how I look”.

“They had noticed I have gotten ‘bigger & bigger’ and that I should ‘put down the food’ you ‘fat mole’,” Parker said.

“I am a supportive wife and loving mother. A kind friend and a considerate person. My family loves me and I love me so why do people feel so concerned for me and my ‘weight’. Yes it fluctuates and yes I am OK with that.”

[Read more]


Seven and Farmer Wants A Wife: marriage made in TV heaven?

Seven Network is hoping the world’s most successful dating television show Farmer Wants A Wife will deliver ratings gold as the broadcaster ramps up local content investment, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Big Brother and Farmer Wants A Wife are part of boss James Warburton’s content-led strategy, focused on established and proven formats for its key evening viewing program schedule.

“Our ambition was to win the important demographics for advertisers, bring a younger viewer to the network and grow year on year audience,” said Warburton, who runs the network’s debt-laden parent company Seven West Media.

“Audiences are looking for fresh content. Big Brother has been the first big new tent pole for us and it has paid off. We have three new shows this year including Farmer, along with Plate of Origin and Celebrity SAS, which are looking like very good fresh offerings,” Warburton told The Australian.

“We will continue to invest in content. We have a further four new tent poles being commissioned for calendar 2021, which we will feature at our upfronts later this year.”

[Read more]

Charlie Pickering to host 100th episode of The Weekly on Wednesday

In this sixth season, The Weekly has had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in a remote writers’ room, and social distancing on set. Indeed, a new “bunker” set was also introduced, even though it was never the 2020 plan, reports TV Tonight.

“We said to the network look, ‘We think it’s going to be weird using our big, shiny floor showbiz set, with no one in the audience,’” he explains.

“The ABC were great. They gave us the ability to respond to this change and to put in the work to make a show that was set in the times that we’re broadcasting in, and react to it. But without letting the times get in the way. The fact of the matter is we’re a News-content show and there’s kind of been one big story for the whole year, and I think our set reflected that.”

Amongst his content highlights from 100 shows was taking an early editorial stance on racism directed at Adam Goodes.

“It was at a time when all the noise in the media was in one direction. We really felt like we were the odd ones out: being a white guy in the media saying ‘No, I reckon this is super racist,’” he continues.

“So the fact that we were able to use our platform to express that at the time, against the media tide, I was pretty happy with that. It then ended up being reflected in the documentaries, that subsequently came out.

“But we don’t expect credit for stuff like that, we’re doing our job and we’re making jokes.”

Pickering, who studied as a lawyer before shifting to comedy, also credits his co-executive producer Chris Walker, formerly of The Project.

“I think he’s the most talented TV producer in the country. I get to work every day with a guy who’s one of my best mates, and we just make each other laugh. We challenge each other and push each other. That has been just such a rewarding experience. It’s definitely a huge part of why the show is still here after 100 episodes.”

[Read more]

Wentworth doesn’t sacrifice drama despite the challenges of COVID

Wentworth star Bernard Curry says he is proud of how well the cast and crew have adapted to filming during COVID-19, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Production on season eight Part B resumed last month after a three-month shut down.

“We had lots of meetings about under what conditions we would return,’’ Curry said.

“We were all unanimous that we didn’t want to sanitise or compromise the drama.

“We have protocols in place to protect people but we also need to protect the drama and it was a great collaborative process to get back into production.

“We’ve been back four weeks now and we’re really happy with how we’ve been able to adhere to guidelines and still create drama. It’s an amazing outcome for us.”

Curry said the new season of Wentworth would start with a bang.

Marta Dusseldorp joins the stellar cast, with other guest stars including Peter O’Brien, Kevin Harrington and Tom Wren.

[Read more]

Callum defends Laura as they secure spots in MasterChef’s final four

With 10’s cooking competition entering its final week, fan favourite Callum Hann described Laura Sharrad as a “brilliant cook” and said any online criticism of the young star was simply an example of “tall poppy syndrome”, reports News Corp’s Antimo Iannella.

“It’s because she’s so good. Anyone who is awesome at anything in life, there’s going to be people who love them and people who want to cut them down,” said Hann, who along with Sharrad, Emelia Jackson and Reynold Poernomo, is in this season’s top four.

“I think anyone who doesn’t think Laura is one of the hottest young chefs in Australia is kidding themselves.

“A lot of people say she only cooks pasta but if you’ve watched the show, she’s only cooked it a handful of times…her knowledge of a variety of cuisines is incredible for someone as young as she is.”

With the MasterChef finale set for next Monday, Hann and Sharrad said they’ve both got something special left up their sleeve.

“You don’t want to be the Crows in the grand final against Richmond a couple of years ago and you’ve used up all your good stuff,” said Sprout Cooking’s Hann.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Network 10’s Melbourne Cup broadcast rights under review

Network 10 and the Victoria Racing Club are in discussions about the different ways that the Melbourne Cup could be broadcast if restrictions created by the coronavirus are still in place and fans cannot attend on the day, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

10 commenced a $20 million five-year broadcast deal with the Victoria Racing Club last year for the four-day Melbourne Cup week, but the value of the deal could be diminished if restrictions remain in place when the carnival begins in late October.

Industry sources close to the discussions said that 10 had not specifically requested a reduction in the broadcast rights, but was working through four scenarios with Victoria Racing Club to assess the financial impact the restrictions could have on the week. The worst-case scenario would be the Melbourne Cup without any crowds, while other scenarios involve different levels of attendance.

[Read more]

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