Mediaweek Roundup: News Corp, ABC, Crown Resorts, Sunrise + more

• SmartBrief, Condé Nast Britain, Leigh Sales, George Calombaris, SeaChange, Tom Gleeson, Nova Red Room, and Adam Goodes

Business of Media

‘Trust us’ doesn’t cut it with tech titans: News Corp’s Michael Miller

Self-regulation by Google and Facebook has failed and the ACCC needs to follow through on recommendations to restore trust in the way news organisations and advertisers deal with the tech titans, News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller says, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Speaking during a panel discussion in Sydney on trust in news and advertising, Miller said he agreed with Australian Competition & Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims that it was no longer enough for digital platforms to work on the basis of “trust us”.

He added that the experience of media companies mirrored that of the regulator when dealing with Google and Facebook.

“In our experience, in servicing our own journalism, we sought a change from Google in their search algorithms on ‘one click free’ that took too many years,” he said. “We’ve had those conver­sations on trust, and they’ve taken too long.”

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ABC to increase rural, regional coverage under revived plan

The ABC will be forced to increase its coverage and involvement with rural and regional Australia under revived government plans to alter the national broadcaster’s charter, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher re-introduced legislation, which would require two ABC board members to require links to, or experience in, regional areas.

The proposed legislation would also involve the creation of a regional advisory council, to reflect the views of local communities. The ABC board would be required to consult with the council on any change to its services, which would impact regional Australia.

Fletcher’s announcement comes two years after a plan was first introduced by Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie in a bid to focus the public broadcaster’s attention on rural areas.

[Read the original]

Future buys SmartBrief, US publisher of 250 digital newsletters

British based publishing group Future has acquired SmartBrief Inc, a US-based digital media publisher of targeted business news and information. 

SmartBrief is a leading US-based digital media publisher of targeted business news and information by industry and delivers relevant industry news in partnership with trade associations, professional societies and corporations.

SmartBrief owns a database of 5.8m+ subscribers made up of senior executives, thought leaders and industry professionals.

SmartBrief, founded in 1999 and based in Washington DC, allows advertisers to target and engage with decision-makers and influencers across multiple sectors including food & travel, business, education, finance, health care, retail, tech, marketing and advertising.

Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO of Future, said: “The acquisition of SmartBrief will substantially boost our presence and market position in the B2B sector and enhance our technology capabilities.

“SmartBrief is a leading, respected provider of sector-focused newsletters and daily email briefings covering a range of key verticals. The addition of SmartBrief’s must-read information products to our portfolio will further extend the reach of our B2B operations.”

News Brands

‘Deceitful’: Crown bid to set record straight after 60 Minutes report

The high-powered board of the James Packer-backed Crown Resorts says the casino company is facing a “deceitful campaign” aimed at damaging its reputation and that reports linking it to Chinese crime gangs are “misleading”, report The Australian’s Sarah-Jane Tasker and Olivia Casey.

Executive chairman John Alexander and the board, which includes former Liberal communications minister Helen Coonan, former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, former Qantas boss Geoff Dixon and millionaire adman Harold Mitchell, have signed an open letter – published in a full-page advertisement in newspapers across Australia today – that they say sets the record straight on recent allegations made about the company.

“As a board, we are extremely concerned for our staff, shareholders and other stakeholders, as much as this unbalanced and sensationalised reporting is based on unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods,” the letter reads.

The claims made in a series of reports in Nine Entertainment Co’s newspapers and on 60 Minutes include allegations that Crown had a hotline to Australian consulates to fast-track visa applications for big-spending gamblers flying in from China. There were also allegations Crown laundered large sums of money through its Melbourne gaming venue and had connections to criminal organisations.

A Nine spokeswoman said last night that the company had declined to publish the Crown Resorts “setting the record straight” advertisement.

Instead it published online a detailed rebuttal of each of Crown’s defences.

“We reject Crown’s claims that the story was unbalanced and sensationalised,” the spokeswoman said.

“Nobody was paid to participate in the investigation. We stand by the accuracy of our multiple stories, the investigation and the hard work of our journalists. Crown was given the opportunity to provide comments in the stories but chose to give a single statement that we did publish.”

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Crime agency reveals investigation into organised crime at casinos

Australia’s peak criminal intelligence agency has announced a sweeping investigation into organised crime in Australian casinos amid revelations about Crown Resorts’ dealings with junket operators with links to suspected Chinese crime bosses and foreign influence agents, reports Nine newspaper reporters Nick McKenzie, Nick Toscano and Grace Tobin.

The chief of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Michael Phelan, told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that investigators across state and federal police and intelligence agencies have uncovered damning “insights into vulnerabilities … within casinos located in Australia”.

The announcement comes as Crown Resorts’s 11-person board launched an attack on an investigation by The Herald, Age and 60 Minutes in recent days, saying in a widely circulated advertisement that it was “deceitful,” “unbalanced” and “sensationalised”.

[Read the original]

See also:
The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes respond to Crown Resorts

Federal Police push back at media bosses wanting greater press freedom

Evidence could be destroyed and suspects alerted if journalists contested covert search warrants before they were carried out, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has warned in a submission to a press freedom inquiry, reports ABC News’ Tom Maddocks.

The ABC and News Corp are legally challenging the use of search warrants.

“Search warrants … are often the first point at which the investigation becomes overt, or public,” the submission states.

“However, it is often very important to the integrity of an investigation that persons of interest are not made aware of the investigation until such time as the warrant is executed.

“An opportunity to make representations or submissions at the time of issuance would undermine investigations by alerting suspects and providing opportunities to destroy evidence.”

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Seven apologises after Sunrise’s ‘dole bludger’ debate backlash

Channel 7’s Sunrise program copped a hammering on Wednesday over its treatment of the Newstart debate, thanks to a “badly phrased” segment, reports News Corp’s Sam Clench.

Sunrise co-host Natalie Barr introduced the segment by saying: “New figures have been released showing just how many dole bludgers are trying to take advantage of the welfare system.”

“An alarming number of people on Newstart are being penalised.”

Her use of the term “bludgers’’ sparked an immediate backlash.

Comedian and Triple M presenter Wil Anderson described it as “utter bullshit gutter journalism”.

Barr later said the show had “made a mistake” and the segment was “badly phrased”.

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Publishing

Magazine publisher returns to profit in 2018 despite turnover decline

Condé Nast Britain, which manages British Vogue, GQ, Tatler and 10 other brands, swung back to profit in fiscal 2018, despite a 7.8% decline in turnover, reports WWD’s Samtha Conti.

Ahead of filing at Companies House, the official register of UK businesses, Condé Nast revealed that profit was about 2.7 million pounds, compared with a loss of 13.6 million pounds in the previous year, when restructuring costs weighed on the bottom line.

Profit was still lower than in 2016, when Condé Nast Britain reported takings of 4.3 million pounds, roughly the same as in 2015.

Revenue in 2018 fell 7.8% to 104.6 million pounds, due chiefly to the cut in Glamour’s print frequency from 12 to two issues a year.

During the period, oversight of the Condé Nast College of Fashion moved from the British arm to Condé Nast International Ltd., which is being merged with the publisher’s US parent.

Condé Nast Britain, which operates 13 magazine brands in the UK, described 2018 as “a strong year,” with positive performance across the business leading into 2019. In 2018, Condé Nast Britain said it sold nine million magazines in 60 countries, had 17 million followers globally and produced 60 events.

Albert Read, managing director of Condé Nast Britain, said: “We are pleased with our 2018 results – combining continued strength in print with an expanding remit to new digital and events platforms.” He added that the company was cautiously optimistic about the future, despite market uncertainty.

Top performers in the year included British Vogue, which posted an increase in its Audit Bureau of Circulation figure of 1.1% year-over-year under new editor Edward Enninful. Condé Nast Traveller saw an increased ABC figure of 3.7% year-over-year under global editor Melinda Stevens, while Tatler’s ABC figure was up 1.2% under new editor Richard Dennen.

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Television

Leigh Sales asks George Calombaris about underpaying and MasterChef

In a 7.30 exclusive, Leigh Sales interviewed celebrity chef George Calombaris about underpaying his staff and leaving MasterChef.

LEIGH SALES: Can I ask what happened with MasterChef and with you with Channel 10 parting ways – Channel 10 suggested that it was because it couldn’t meet your demands and the other hosts’ demand for salary.

Is it accurate that you and the other hosts were demanding pay rises of up to 40 per cent?

GEORGE CALOMBARIS: What I can say is, that the sticking point that we got to with MasterChef and with Channel 10 was simply time.

The dollars were all signed off. That was all done and dusted. It was time.

And time for Gary to do more of his own stuff, Matt to do more of his stuff and for me to be in my restaurants more.

It takes up a long time. It takes, you know, six, seven months of our year and we just needed more time.

And that’s all it came down to.

[Read a transcript here]

Lightning strikes twice in Pearl Bay as Nine revives beloved SeaChange

When it landed on television screens in 1998, the ABC drama SeaChange promised its audience a glimpse into the fantasy of a simpler way of living. “You probably think I’m mad, but it feels good to me, ’cause from now on, I’ll live as close as I can to the sea,” sang Wendy Morrison in the show’s iconic theme song.

“I don’t know how much you can do it in the real world, but it’s a really attractive fantasy,” says Deb Cox, producer and, with Andrew Knight, co-creator of the original series. “And I think that’s why, with people going back to their first loves on Tinder, or on Facebook finding their lost love … there’s enough there for you to think fantasies can come true.”

A reboot or remake of SeaChange had been kicking around for the last half-dozen years with ITV, which owned the rights to the series, through successive management regimes.

The pitch which finally got a reboot over the line came from ITV and Nine in tandem, kicking off a conversation with Cox and her producing partner Fiona Eagger about why a renewed exploration of life in Pearl Bay would have meaning in 2019.

“Twenty years ago it was for me about a woman having a mid-life crisis, because why not?” Cox says. “Television had said [women] can be doctors, they can be lawyers and you know, and I thought, well, why can’t they make mistakes? Why can’t they crash and burn like men. I wanted to see women who were fallible.”

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Love affair with reality refuses to die, but some are better than others

It’s the reality-TV shuffle and it’s a game that’s played several times a year. One crop winds up on commercial free-to-air TV, amid on-screen tears and cheers, and a new batch begins. In recent weeks, MasterChef, The Voice and House Rules folded their tentpoles and Survivor, The Block, Australia’s Got Talent and The Bachelor cranked up theirs, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.

Not all reality-TV shows are created equal: some are better than others. Viewers who have an automatic aversion to the genre believe there’s no such thing as good reality-TV. But they’re wrong. Just as there are good and bad dramas and comedies, there are good and bad reality shows.

In the latest crop, Survivor gets many of the key elements right. Now into its fourth season, 10’s version has nailed the visual spectacle of the challenges and the crucial elements of casting and conflict. Again framed as a Champions vs Contenders face-off, the season sets up an opposition not only between the competing tribes but also between people who’ve proven their ability, and been rewarded for it, and those who haven’t yet had their time to shine.

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Melinda Houston: Confessions of a food-show junkie

There is something intrinsic to food shows – at least, to most of them – that lowers our blood pressure and soothes our souls, writes The Age’s Melinda Houston.

At its most basic, there is nothing more reassuring than having food in our bellies and that is surely part of the appeal. The sight of plentiful food strikes some atavistic evolutionary chord and lets us know that everything is OK.

The secret ingredient of the food channels: They all repeat the same shows over and over again across the day. Which is not, actually, a drawback.

Rather, it’s part of the genius of the food channels. Not only do they not suffer from a lack of original content, it’s how they work. It’s like catching up regularly with an old friend. After the first, say, decade, you rarely surprise each other. But there’s genuine comfort in working the same conversational ground over and over again.

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‘Get in touch with your audience’: Tom Gleeson to Tracy Grimshaw

Comedian Tom Gleeson has a strong message for those who criticised his controversial Gold Logie speech, reports 2GB.

After mercilessly mocking the TV awards show in his Gold Logie campaign, several media personalities ripped into the comedian for his so-called “lack of respect”.

But none more so than A Current Affair presenter Tracy Grimshaw, who called him “smug” and “graceless”.

But Tom Gleeson told 2GB’s Ben Fordham yesterday he’s got a message for the haters.

“There were various people who aired their views, and I know Tracy Grimshaw had a bit of a whinge on Channel 9, but I got nothing but non-stop praise from the people who watched it at home.

“So it’s hard for me to feel anything other than pride.

“Tracey, if you’re listening, I recommend you probably get in touch with your audience and what they do and don’t like, ‘cause they think I’m a hero.”

[Listen to Ben Fordham’s interview with Tom Gleeson]

Radio

Smallzy hosts Nova Red Room Sydney event with Warner’s Bazzi

LA based singer, songwriter and producer phenomena Bazzi performed for the first time in Australia for Nova’s Red Room at the Lair in Sydney’s Metro theatre this week.

With over three million global streams to date and three platinum Australian singles, Bazzi was accompanied onstage by his guitarists in an intimate performance for a crowd of over 300 people.

Nova’s busy Sydney morning host and national evening announcer Smallzy hosted the evening.

The audience helped Bazzi sing his new single Paradise and he also performed the top 10 singles, Mine, Beautiful and 3:15.

He promised to return back to Australia to do a full show for fans.

Guests included Francesca Hung, actress and model, DJ Tori Levett, singer Jacko Brazier and model and actress Alli Simpson and boyfriend Mitchell Bourke. Representing Bazzi’s music company were Billy MacLeod, Warner’s VP Publicity & Promotions and Beth Appleton, Warner’s GM Australia and SVP Marketing Australasia at Warner Music.

Sports Media

Adam Goodes: Football wasn’t “safe place” during booing controversy

AFL champion Adam Goodes says the booing controversy that killed his career turned his “safe place” on the football oval into a field of dread, reports News Corp’s Nui Te Koha.

“Football, for me, was a place where I got accepted for being a good footballer,” Goodes, a Sydney Swans superstar and dual Brownlow Medalist, says in the documentary The Australian Dream, which premieres at the Melbourne International Film Festival tonight.

“It didn’t matter where I came from, It was a safe place that helped me break down barriers.”

But he said the booing controversy changed his outlook on football, and the arena it was played on.

He says: “It actually became a place I hated to walk out onto.”

Football identities including Nathan Buckley, Eddie McGuire, Gilbert McAdam, Michael O’Loughlin, Paul Roos, John Longmire, Herald Sun commentator Andrew Bolt, and broadcaster Stan Grant are interviewed in the film.

The Australian Dream opens nationally in cinemas on August 22.

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