Mediaweek Roundup: News Corp & ACM, Pilot Week, MKR + more

ACM

• NZME & Stuff, Herald Sun, West Australian, Amazing Race Australia, Mark Ruse and MasterChef

Business of Media

News Corp weighs up regional and community restructure or sale to ACM

News Corp is believed to be weighing up a major restructure of its regional and community publishing portfolio versus proceeding with a sale to Antony Catalano’s Australian Community Media, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

News Corp Australia managing director of mergers, acquisition and strategy Richard Skimin is believed to be running the potential sale process for the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company and charged with keeping New York management in the loop. Sources said News Corp, which is headed locally by Australasia chairman Michael Miller, is running to a strict deadline and if a sale could not be agreed upon, it is ready to pull the trigger on a major restructure of the division.

If a restructure is favoured it will likely mean the closing of titles and a focus on a long-term sustainable model. Miller warned when the media business suspended printing of the community titles that the mastheads needed to be a “viable business” and said some of the publications were “more community service than commercial business”, which was not sustainable.

[Read more]

NZME and Stuff’s merger saga just reached a bizarre new peak

NZME yesterday asked the commerce commission for urgent approval to buy Stuff for $1. Minutes later, Stuff’s owner said it was no longer in talks with NZME, reports The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive.

In the space of a chaotic few hours, the long-running courtship between print media giants NZME and Stuff dramatically escalated, as NZME informed the sharemarket that it was seeking urgent government permission to buy its rival. A hour later Stuff published a story in response, in which its owner, Australian media conglomerate Nine, said that talks between the two had broken off last week.

It didn’t stop there, with NZME posting a follow-up announcement just after noon, asserting that it remained “in a binding exclusive negotiation period with Nine” and “does not accept that exclusivity has been validly terminated”.

The episode began through a story on the NZ Herald site, one of a large number of media properties owned by NZME, which stated that it had filed an urgent application with the Commerce Commission to be given permission to buy its rival. It cited a price of $1, which would exclude certain non-media assets, but include all its liabilities, and a date of settlement of May 31.

[Read more]

News Brands

Editor of Herald Sun and The West defend publishing Laidley image

When the Herald Sun and West Australian pressed publish on a photo of former AFL coach Dean Laidley in custody, Twitter was already abuzz with the Laidley photos, reports Paul Barry on Media Watch. Which is not surprising given that more than 100 police officers had allegedly been sent them via WhatsApp.

But does that justify newspapers and TV showing them too, and adding to his shame? When they could have reported his arrest without the images and prurient details, which for all we know are entirely irrelevant to the alleged crime.

So how does the Herald Sun defend its decision? Editor Sam Weir told us:

The publication of the arrest story and photographs was clearly newsworthy and in the public interest. The story, photographs and accompanying headlines provided a complete and accurate account of the arrest of a high-profile person charged with serious criminal offences, and also a complete and accurate account of the fact there was a police investigation into the leaking of the images. Both were major news stories.

Email, Sam Weir, Editor, Herald Sun, 8 May, 2020

We had a similar response from the editor of The West Australian, Anthony De Ceglie, who told us:

Pictures of a high-profile public figure such as Dean Laidley being arrested are always going to be in consideration for the front page – no matter what the alleged offender is or isn’t wearing.

Email, Anthony De Ceglie, Editor-in-Chief, The West Australian, 10 May, 2020

[Read more]

Television

Network 10 says Pilot Week out, Amazing Race Australia on hold

10 has been forced to call off its third Pilot Week due to the production shutdown caused by coronavirus impact, reports TV Tonight.

The third week of new originals was due in coming months, although no dates had been set.

A Network 10 spokesperson said: “At this stage we are unable to include Pilot Week 2020 in our program schedule due to the impacts that COVID-19 has had on production companies.

“We are extremely proud of the success Pilot Week has achieved and we hope to bring many more entertaining, innovative and groundbreaking pilots to viewers in 2021.”

It’s a disappointing but understandable outcome given the widespread shutdown.

Meanwhile hopes for The Amazing Race Australia to begin filming in June are also out.

“We continue to monitor domestic flight restrictions as well as social distancing regulations to ensure The Amazing Race Australia can go back into production at the right time,” the spokesperson added.

[Read more]

Remembering Mark Ruse, distinguished producer who has died suddenly

Mark Ruse, who was partnered with Stephen Luby in Ruby Entertainment for 20 years, died unexpectedly on Saturday. He was 64, reports Don Groves at IF.com.au.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Ruse produced more than 250 hours of prime-time comedy and drama, more than 20 hours of documentaries and 300 hours of live television.

“Mark was a true gentleman; incredibly talented, understated and generous, he gave many lucky people a leg up in the industry,” Julie Marlow, screen industry consultant and former Film Victoria director, tells IF. “He was a joy to deal with and will be sadly missed by so many.”

Luby said of his colleague and close friend: “Mark was a man of incredible integrity, kindness, creativity, intelligence, dedication, work ethic, humour and goodness.

“His express philosophy was to ‘enable other people’s talents to shine.’ He loved to support and nurture people’s creative journeys (including mine).

“Producer skills developed since his formative years at Swinburne Film and Television School in the 1980s were distilled into an elixir of creative insight and a wise problem-solving capacity that I came to rely upon at every turn.

“He was equally at home providing incisive script feedback, negotiating a contract or doing a Producer Offset final return.”

Ruby Entertainment’s most acclaimed drama is The Secret River, the ABC miniseries directed by Daina Reid, adapted from the Kate Grenville novel.

Starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Sarah Snook, Lachy Hulme and Tim Minchin, it won the AWGIE for best miniseries screenplay for Jan Sardi, Mac Gudgeon and Grenville, and was nominated for eight AACTA Awards.

[Read more]

Cold or still simmering – is My Kitchen Rules on the chopping block?

Fuelling rumours My Kitchen Rules will not be renewed is Seven’s investment in Plate of Origin, a soon-to-launch cooking competition starring MKR judge Manu Feildel and MasterChef alumni Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

Speculation intensified last week when the debt-laden network, which declined to comment for this story, “amicably” parted ways with Feildel’s MKR co-host Pete Evans.

At first glance, it appears MKR is being broken up and sold for spare parts.

“But it would be a brave programmer to say the show is over and done with,” says Ben Willee, general manager and media director of the Spinach advertising agency. “It’s been a ratings juggernaut for so many years. We’ve seen other reality shows reinvent themselves and Seven would have to be very confident about what they put in MKR’s place before they axe it.”

The show’s value to Seven, Willee says, extends beyond the size of its audience. An original Seven creation, MKR has been sold to more than 160 countries and its format licensed to several international markets. Like most reality franchises, MKR commands a premium from sponsors who want their product featured in the program as well as the ad breaks. It also punches above its weight in the lucrative 25-54 demographic, including those who do the bulk of their household’s grocery shopping.

[Read more]

TV reveal: MasterChef fans stunned by Chris’ marriage revelation

MasterChef contestant Chris Badenoch was eliminated from the competition in Sunday night’s episode, but not before a revelation about his personal life left some fans of the franchise “shook”, reports news.com.au’s Nick Bond.

A package that rolled during last night’s episode revealed a fact about Chris that only MasterChef fans with very long memories could recall: He’s married to fellow contestant Julia Jenkins.

The pair met when they were both contestants on the debut season of the show way back in 2009, with then-23-year-old Julia placing fifth and then-41-year-old Chris coming third, behind winner Julie Goodwin and runner-up Poh Ling Yeow.

After those tentative beginnings, Chris and Julia have stayed the distance, marrying in a simple ceremony in Daylesford in 2013 (they had a wheel of cheese instead of a wedding cake).

[Read more]

 

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