Mediaweek Roundup: Nine, Macquarie Media, Melbourne Cup + more

• Bruce Gordon, ABC Life, Elle magazine, Alan Jones, Triple M, Struggle Street, Seven, The Block, NRL

Business of Media

Nine details offer for Macquarie Media shares, outlines radio plans

Nine Entertainment Co has released a bidders statement about its offer to acquire the remaining shares of Macquarie Media it doesn’t own to take full control of the company.

When Nine acquired Fairfax it became the majority owner of Macquarie Media as Fairfax’s controlling stake of 54% passed to Nine.

Nine has set up a vehicle to purchase the remaining shares called Nine Bidder, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nine. The directors of Nine Bidder are Nine chief executive Hugh Marks, Nine managing director of publishing Chris Janz, and Rachel Launders, Nine general counsel and company secretary.

In the document, Nine notes the independent directors of MRN unanimously recommend that [shareholders] accept the offer in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to the independent expert appointed by MRN opining (and continuing to opine) that the offer is reasonable.

Nine reminded MRN shareholders in the document the scope of the Macquarie Media assets:

• 2GB Sydney News-Talk is the most listened to station in Sydney and has been the number 1 radio station for over a decade, with 22.1% commercial share
• 3AW Melbourne News-Talk is the most listened to station in Melbourne, with 23.0% commercial share
• 4BC is Brisbane’s only commercial talk station with 12.6% commercial share
• 6PR is Perth’s only commercial talk station, with 13.7% commercial share.

Macquarie Media’s sports offering is delivered via Australia’s first national commercial sports radio network, the Macquarie Sports Radio network, which operates dedicated sports channels in Sydney (954AM), Melbourne (1278AM) and Brisbane (882AM).

MRN also includes digital and online media platforms and Macquarie Media Syndication, which is responsible for the syndication and delivery of programming content.

MRN principally generates revenue from the sale of advertising across its network of radio stations and royalties and commissions.

That business model has been under pressure on the past few weeks with as many as 80 advertisers boycotting the station in protest at comments made by breakfast host Alan Jones. It is not known how long those advertisers will remain off air.

Macquarie Media head of commercial Mark Noakes reached out to advertisers last week as the boycott continued to grow:

“For 122 consecutive surveys, spanning more than 15 years, Sydney listeners have voted 2GB as their favourite radio station. Our audiences have proven to be not only substantial in number, but also incredibly loyal to our stations and presenters.

“In a challenging and results-driven commercial environment, advertisers are searching for the most successful ways to connect their brand with their target audience. There is no denying Macquarie Media’s track record of success and these latest audience figures solidify Macquarie Media’s standing as an attractive commercial proposition for any advertiser.

“We remain grateful to our commercial partners for continuing to choose Macquarie Media’s channels to connect with their customers.”

See also:
2GB’s message: “Attractive commercial proposition for any advertiser”

Should Nine successfully acquire the shareholding it is seeking, the bidding document says it is intended that MRN’s existing business units will be integrated into Nine’s corporate structure.

Nine will then conduct a review to align the MRN business with Nine’s strategic objectives for the Nine group as a whole. Subject to that review, it is intended that the Nine Group will continue to operate the MRN business.

Regarding employees, Nine will conduct an analysis of its ongoing resourcing requirements for MRN as part of the Nine Group’s broader consolidation analysis.

ACMA to examine Bruce Gordon’s Prime stake after ASIC request

The media regulator will run the ruler over WIN Corporation owner Bruce Gordon‘s holdings in Prime Media after it was revealed the corporate watchdog has pushed him to divest interests in the rival regional television broadcaster to under the compulsory takeover threshold, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

A spokesperson from the Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed the industry regulator would be looking at Gordon’s holdings in Prime.

Late on Friday evening after market close, Gordon’s lawyers revealed ASIC had contacted WIN about its holdings in Prime following a number of transactions, including the selling of shares and the increasing of a cash-settled share swap, which has given him an economic interest in the company without voting rights.

Gordon’s shareholding in Prime is just 3.25 per cent after a selldown of stock from 14.99 per cent in May. However, Gordon has periodically increased a cash-settled share swap in Prime. As of Friday, his economic interest in Prime was over 20 per cent, more than was previously thought.

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No major changes to lifestyle website ABC Life after review

ABC managing director David Anderson has completed a review of the public broadcaster’s controversial website ABC Life and has decided against any major changes despite an efficiency review suggesting it was an area of potential savings, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

The outcome of the review into the one-year-old website comes after criticism that lifestyle content is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money, as the subject matter is well covered by commercial outlets, and as the government’s three-year funding freeze on the ABC’s budget kicks in.

An ABC spokesman said the public broadcaster had now completed its review and there would be no significant changes to the website.

“As with any new program initiative, it’s appropriate to assess whether it is meeting its objectives and where it sits within the overall mix of ABC content,” he said in a statement.

“The review looked at the performance of ABC Life against its objectives, surveyed some of its audience and looked at its overall reach.”

The review showed an average of 332,000 weekly users and found 86 per cent of readers were satisfied with its quality while 84 per cent believed it fit well with the ABC.

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Publishing

Bauer Media may close Elle magazine as licence deal ends

Bauer Media looks set to close women’s fashion and beauty magazine Elle, with its licensing deal with French media giant Lagardere on the verge of ending, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The near expiry of the Elle licence comes just weeks after The Australian reported that Bauer was considering closing Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, which could be the first big move by chief executive Brendon Hill.

It is understood US-based media group Hearst Magazines, which owns the licence of Harper’s Bazaar in Australia, is not happy with the fashion masthead’s local performance.

A Bauer spokesman said Elle, which has been licensed by the company in Australia since 2013, is a key brand within its portfolio. “It is one of the world’s most well-recognised magazine brands, with Elle Australia being one of 45 editions globally,” he told The Australian.

“Bauer Media has strong relationships with both Lagardere and The Hearst Corporation and remains committed to supporting Elle in Australia now and in the future.”

Bauer booked revenue of $224.3 million in Australia last year, of which about $142.1m came from the sale of magazines. A further $48.8m of its revenue came from advertising.

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Radio

Coles withdraws ads from 2GB after Alan Jones’ controversial comments

Supermarket giant Coles has joined the advertising boycott against Alan Jones‘ radio program on 2GB following the host’s inflammatory comments about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Laura Chung.

A Coles spokesperson said: “Coles values diversity, respect and actively promotes the rights of all of our team members and our customers.

“We stopped advertising on the Alan Jones program on Friday 16th August and have subsequently stopped advertising on 2GB.”

Coles is just one of the brands that has withdrawn its support for the radio shock jock. Others include ME Bank, Bing Lee, mattress brand Koala, Anytime Fitness and hardware retailer Total Tools.

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Alan Jones advertising boycott likely to cost $1 million

Nine Entertainment Co could potentially renegotiate its $114 million takeover bid for Macquarie Media if the radio business suffered a significant earnings hit amid a sponsor boycott against star broadcaster Alan Jones and a weaker advertising market, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

Nine, which owns this masthead and has a 54.4 per cent stake in Macquarie, made a conditional offer in August to buy the rest of the radio network.

A bidder statement from Nine released to the ASX on Friday explains that one of the conditions is “no adverse material change” such as an ongoing reduction to the annual underlying consolidated earnings (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) at the network of $3 million or more.

A 2GB source said the latest ad boycott was the “worst ever” for Jones’ show, adding that while in the past advertisers had resumed spending once the backlash quietened down there is now growing pressure from social media groups Mad F–king Witches and Sleeping Giants Australia discouraging brands from returning.

It’s not clear how much revenue has been lost due to the boycott so far but one source close to 2GB estimated it could be as much as $1 million.

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Triple M presenting James Reyne’s Boys Light Up anniversary tour

The Boys Light Up, one of Australian Crawl’s most loved songs, will turn the big 4-0 in 2020 and to celebrate, James Reyne will tour the nation paying homage to this enduring tune.

The song was written by James Reyne, and featured on the album of the same name, released in 1980 on EMI.  It was Australian Crawl’s debut album and also featured Indisposed, Downhearted, Beautiful People and Hoochie Gucci Fiorucci Mama.

Triple M will be presenting the shows around Australia, starting with a Wollongong on October 30 and ending in Brisbane on November 27.

Reyne reflected on the song today, saying, “Boys Light Up is turning 40! By jove, who woulda thunk it. If I’d known what gave it legs I would’ve bottled it and drunk it. And I’m delighted that so many take this song into their hearts ‘cause it never really was a hit – it just scraped into the charts. But it seems to hit a nerve, a chord, a nail, a bell, a spot ‘cause I tell ya, we don’t play it I’m likely to get shot! Or met by blokes in car-parks full of vinegar and piss who wanna know what game I’m playing, wanna know, “What game is this?!” They say they’ve got it on the record on CD, 8-track, cassette and they drove 500 miles not to hear it! Most upset!

“So it’s always fun to play tub-mother-thumping with the band and these are the good old days so c’mon and clap a hand. It’s bigger and it’s brighter with god-damned age some guile; And grand! And once upon a time remember? It got banned. ‘Cause I think “they” thought the title celebrated smoking dope!

“But it had nothing to do with it. It’s what you’d call a trope. A figure, then, of speech for euphemist results and irony of ironies and censorship and tyrannies.

“It’s about a fab and natural act for CON-senting adults.”

Television

‘We’re in a hole’: Struggle Street puts spotlight on rural battlers

Most people in Barry Warburton‘s position wouldn’t want to be shadowed by a film crew – but for the 54-year-old dairy farmer, who features in the new season of SBS’s Struggle Street, it was a welcome distraction, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

“If you’ve got nothing to do, your mental health can suffer,” says Warburton, who lives in the drought-stricken Riverina region with wife Rosey and their two children. “I actually enjoyed having [the crew] come out here … and it’ll be good for city people to see the problems facing other parts of the country.”

In its first two seasons, Struggle Street focused on impoverished inner-city and suburban residents; its third season, which starts on October 9, was filmed entirely in the Riverina.

Wagga Wagga’s mayor and its St Vincent de Paul president were among those who welcomed the chance to discuss the region’s problems.

“I was totally surprised,” says Marshall Heald, SBS’s TV and online content boss. “I think they recognised that the benefits of spotlighting these issues would outweigh any potential negatives.”

Heald believes the 7 million Australians who live in regional or remote areas are under-served by major media outlets. “They face higher rates of poverty and poorer health than people in major cities, and they have unique challenges because of their geographic isolation,” he says.

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New and returning dramas at Seven and Nine held back to 2020

Seven’s upcoming Bevan Lee drama Between Two Worlds has been held back for a 2020 premiere, reports TV Tonight.

But network sources are extremely pleased with the finished product and are considering it to kick off their year.

The high concept thriller led by UK actor, Hermione Norris (Cold Feet, Spooks, Luther), also features Philip Quast, Sara Wiseman, Aaron Jeffery and newcomers Tom Dalzell, Melanie Jarnson and Megan Hajjar.

Another Seven drama Australian Gangster, initially flagged for 2018, may also have to wait for 2020 due to legal matters. It stars Les Norton lead Alexander Bertrand.

Meanwhile Nine may also be holding off season four of Doctor Doctor with Rodger Corser until 2020.

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Petra Starke on The Block: Euphemisms go down in a Blayze of glory

If you’ve ever spent your weekends perusing real estate listings, you know agents can sometimes have a rather colourful take on English when describing their properties, reports the Sunday Mail’s Petra Starke.

After watching The Block for several weeks, I’ve noticed the judges do the same thing; Shaynna Blaze, Neale Whitaker and Darren Palmer have their own special set of euphemisms to describe the contestants’ rooms, from the styling to the fittings to the ever-present faux fur throws (seriously, where are they all coming from? Does Shaynna have shares in a vegan rug company?).

I’ve compiled this handy glossary of design terms to help you understand what’s really going on The Block.

“European-style laundry” – a tiny room that’s too small to actually do laundry in.

“Statement rug” — so expensive that exactly what the statement is will become apparent after you spill your first red wine on it.

“Butler’s pantry” — a walk-in-wardrobe for your dirty dishes.

“Venetian plaster” — like regular plaster but with more tourists.

“Melbourne styling” — looks like someone would drink coffee in it.

“Scandinavian styling” — looks like someone would have a sauna in it.

“Hollywood styling” — looks like someone would do cocaine in it.

“Wow factor” — something in the room is gold.

“Sexy” — something in the room is black.

“High end” — you can’t afford it.

“Artwork” — a royalty-free photo someone found on the internet, blew up in Photoshop, printed on to canvas in China and then charged $300 for.

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Sports Media

Network 10 expands team covering the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival

Network 10 has revealed its full team of hosts and reporters covering the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

With the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival two months away, it all begins with AAMI Victoria Derby Day on Saturday, 2 November, followed by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday, 5 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday, 7 November and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day on Saturday, 9 November.

Network 10’s broadcast will be anchored by coverage hosts Matt White and Roz Kelly, with Francesca Cumani spearheading the racing team.

Making her mark as fashion reporter is Anna Heinrich who along with roving reporters Kate Peck and Beau Ryan, will be covering all things celebrity and fashion in the world-famous Birdcage. They’ll also be dropping by The Park, home of Australia’s largest and most prestigious fashion event, Myer Fashions on the Field.

With The Park set for a stellar line up of entertainment, music fans and racegoers alike are in for a treat. Scott Tweedie will be on hand as Roving Reporter so viewers at home don’t miss a thing.

Network 10’s head of sport, Matt White said: “A huge part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is the fashion, the celebrity spotting and all the glitz and glamour that truly makes it one of the best events on the Australian sporting calendar.

“You’ve already heard about our incredible team of racing experts, and now I’m thrilled that we have assembled such a talented bunch of reporters to bring viewers all the colourful action from around the track.”

Photo:  10’s Melbourne Cup Carnival team: Beau Ryan, Kate Peck, Matt White, Roz Kelly, Scott Tweedie, Anna Heinrich

TV rights: Nine wants to axe NRL club for second Brisbane team

Rugby league broadcaster Channel 9 wants to kill off an existing NRL club to make way for a new Brisbane team in a move that could leave one of Sydney’s nine traditional clubs facing extinction, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

The network wants – and is likely to get – the competition changes by 2023 when the next multibillion-dollar TV broadcast deal is in place.

Channel 9’s director of sport Tom Malone has told The Sunday Telegraph the network was against increasing the number of teams from 16 and wants at least one club to go to accommodate a new team.

“That could come from another team being relocated there, or better still another club being discontinued and a new club established in Brisbane,” Malone said. “In a perfect world you’d probably have one or two less teams.

“What clubs should go? I’m not going to get into that one. It’s a hard decision but probably one that needs to be made in the longer-term interests of the game.”

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany also wants a second Brisbane team as part of the next broadcast deal but does not support moves to kick out a club.

“They love their rugby league in Brisbane and it seems a natural fit,” Mr Delany said. “You get that inter-city rivalry which enhances tribalism and that’s ultimately what we want.

“It’s all about generating more fans and bigger TV audiences. I don’t know if you’d get that real tribal traction with rugby league in Perth that you’d get in Brisbane.”

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ScoMo ready to fight against Nine’s ambitious NRL team dream

• PM says TV plan is “rubbish”, commentator wants Sharks moved to Perth

Scott Morrison has defiantly declared his beloved Cronulla Sharks will survive any attempt from the NRL to cut a Sydney suburban team from the premiership, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

The Prime Minister was in the crowd of 18,985 for Paul Gallen’s farewell game at Shark Park on Sunday, on the day league broadcaster Channel 9 revealed its shock agenda to chop at least one team from the competition as part of the next multibillion-dollar TV deal.

“Channel 9 doesn’t run the game, the NRL does,” Morrison said. “This is rubbish. Cronulla is here forever. Suburban grounds are the heart and soul of rugby league.”

Some league identities have shown support for Channel 9’s plan, including their own commentator, Blues legend Brad Fittler.

Fittler has suggested the NRL follow the AFL’s model in relocating teams from South Melbourne to Sydney and Fitzroy to Brisbane.

“To me I think the Cronulla Sharks could go to Perth and have this history that goes on forever and play some games at Cronulla and some at Perth and work out what makes it viable financially,” he said. “Taking Manly to the Central Coast looks like a no-brainer to me, it’s a northern part of Sydney, it encapsulates that area and they’ve got the same vibe about both the areas.”

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