Mediaweek Roundup: Paul Cronin, Hannah Gadsby, HBO Max + more

• Edwina Bartholomew tweet, ‘Kayo’s sister’, Anne Edmonds, Facebook, Seven, Nine.

Business of Media

Facebook claims ACCC ‘factual errors’, denies code of conduct needed

In its response to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s final report into the effect of the platforms on media and journalism, Facebook accused the regulator of “inaccurate” and “speculative analysis” based on “factual errors” and a misunderstanding of how digital platforms operate, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

In a forceful rebuke to ACCC chairman Rod Sims’s 613-page report, handed down in July, Facebook also rejected the watchdog’s recommendation of a new code of conduct formulated with media companies to pay for fair use of journalistic content and to share data on news rankings.

Facebook claimed the code – which media organisations have welcomed as a possible way to compensate for years of use of their content by the platforms – would “unfairly shelter media” companies that didn’t need the protection of a regulator.

Facebook claimed the ACCC – using old-fashioned journalistic parlance – “buries the lead” in not making clear that Facebook has not been found to have engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, despite an 18-month investigation.

“The final report buries the lead: after an exhaustive review of our business, there is no finding of anti-competitive conduct by Facebook. The final report instead concludes that significant remedies are warranted, even in the absence of any finding of anti-competitive conduct.”

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The AFR’s Max Mason reports:

Instead of the ACCC’s proposed code of conduct, Facebook said a digital news distributor code would be more appropriate. It said the code should be between users and digital services, rather than any code between platforms and media businesses.

Facebook said it supported 15 recommendations of the 29 made in the [ACCC’s] final report – 23 core recommendations and six sub-recommendations – but opposed five and noted four.

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Digital review overlooks Facebook’s benefits, understates media power

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand Mia Garlick comments:

The Digital Platforms Inquiry has considered an important range of issues in Australia that are critical to get right as they impact the availability of choice and opportunities for millions of Australians and small business owners that use our services every day.

Technology provides overwhelming benefits for Australian consumers, advertisers and small businesses and has democratised the sharing of ideas and information.

In our submission to the Australian government on the Digital Platforms Inquiry, we have proposed constructive solutions to help work towards a smart regulatory framework for the future of the internet.

Our aim is to achieve clear rules that deliver economy-wide privacy protection, data portability and a user focused digital news distribution model, while preserving the many benefits that technology delivers to Australians.

We support 20 of the final report’s 29 findings and recommendations in some form, however, the devil is in the detail and it is clear that there is more work to do to identify the best policy frameworks for the internet.

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Newsagent home delivery ends: Nine joins News in subs overhaul

Newsagents around Sydney and parts of NSW are being asked to stop home deliveries of newspapers from next year after Nine Entertainment Co decided to overhaul of its print distribution arrangements in a move that could also resolve a long-running stalemate over who owns the customer data, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.

Nine wrote to newsagents last week saying it was cancelling existing agreements covering home delivery and retail distribution from March next year and would seek discussions with outlets about continuing to sell newspapers in store.

“While Nine has terminated the Existing Agreements, it remains committed to the newsagent retail channel for its publications,” according to a letter signed by the director of circulation, contracts and clients, Wayne Couzins.

Nine said its move had been sparked by News Corp deciding to consolidate distribution of its newspapers across the Sydney metro area with one distributor.

The move was announced in June and followed 18 months of consultation with newsagents, a spokesman for News said.

The new arrangements are expected to see newsagent home delivery services replaced by a single delivery company that would be more efficient. But it would also increase pressure on newsagents to hand over the names and addresses of customers who have their papers home delivered through arrangements with the newsagent, rather than the publisher.

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Seven Studios holding the door open for future deal with Tim Worner

Seven Studios is on the hunt for partnerships in a move that leaves open the door for former network boss Tim Worner to make a return to programming with the in-house production that he once oversaw, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Therese Hegarty, who was appointed CEO of Seven Studios in May, says original content is “very valuable”, particularly given the explosion of subscriber streaming platforms such as Netflix, Foxtel Now, Stan, Kayo Sports and the soon-to-be-launched Disney+.

“To accelerate the growth of the business, strategic investment, mergers and acquisitions is always a great tool for acceleration,” Hegarty told The Australian. “So nothing’s off the table for us, we’re looking at everything. I think we could unlock more value out of the Seven Studios intellectual property through a strategic partnership.”

Hegarty was coy on a possible production deal with Worner, who is enjoying a break following 25 years with Seven West. “Tim’s an incredible executive, and as far as I know, he’s currently subject to a holdback, but you know we’re interested in partnering with anyone who’s got great content,” she said.

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Foxtel ramps up Project Ares ahead of launch of ‘Kayo’s sister’

Foxtel has begun assembling a team of about 40 people for “Kayo’s sister”, the pay-television giant’s new drama and entertainment streaming service, at Fox Sports headquarters in Sydney, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The News Corp-controlled pay-TV provider has been working on Project Ares for almost a year, following its release of the sports streaming service Kayo last November.

Sources with an understanding of the project told The Australian Financial Review that Foxtel had set up a team on the same floor as Kayo at Fox Sports headquarters in Artarmon – separate from Foxtel headquarters in North Ryde – as it works to prepare a launch of a new drama and entertainment streaming service.

Foxtel is looking at streaming to help it deliver growth as it faces headwinds in its traditional broadcast business.

It has hired staff and is believed to be seeking a chief executive to run the service, similar to Foxtel’s hiring former Amaysim boss Julian Ogrin as Kayo chief executive.

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News Brands

ABC books Bankstown boot camp to reconnect with burbs

The ABC is planning an overhaul of its news coverage to attract outer suburban and regional city Australians and increase its audience amid a slowdown in traditional television viewership, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

As part of the push, ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson will be among dozens of staff heading to the south-west Sydney suburb of Bankstown in late September for a two-day planning workshop focused on making content that is more relevant to average Australians.

Participants will discuss local issues, eat at local restaurants and speak with community groups.

ABC head of news Gaven Morris said the move was a “value-for-money proposition [as] Australians are taxpayers and paying for the ABC”.

Morris conceded there had been “some parts of the community that we don’t serve as well as we could be”. Fixing this would involve a closer look at the way stories are commissioned as well as the topics covered, with transport and hospitals likely to be given closer attention.

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Entertainment giant registering HBO Max in Australia

US entertainment giant HBO has filed for a local trademark of upcoming streaming service HBO Max potentially pointing to the arrival of another global video-on-demand product in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

The WarnerMedia-owned business revealed the new streaming service in July with a catalogue lineup of 10,000 hours of Max Originals and existing titles to be launched in the US in the first half of 2020.

There have been no details released about an Australian expansion, however Home Box Office Inc lodged a trademark application last week for HBO Max locally in a move that will spark speculation about the company’s plans for international audiences.

In the US, HBO Max will have exclusive streaming rights for all 236 episodes of Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars.

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Hannah Gadsby wins, kicks off Australia’s Emmy campaign

Australia has made a strong start to its Emmy campaign with comedian Hannah Gadsby securing a win for her Netflix special, Nanette, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

Gadsby took home the Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety special.

The award was presented at the first of three Emmy ceremonies; because of the large number of categories two “creative arts” ceremonies are held a week before the “prime-time” Emmy telecast.

Nanette, which the 41-year-old comedian wrote and starred in, was nominated in two categories: for outstanding writing and outstanding variety special (pre-recorded).

Gadsby’s win leaves Australia with seven potential Emmy wins still on its radar.

Melbourne cinematographer Germain McMicking is nominated in the outstanding cinematography for a limited series or movie category for his work on HBO’s True Detective.

And Zoe White has been nominated in the outstanding cinematography for a single-camera series (one hour) category for her work on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

One of Australia’s most decorated Emmy winners, production designer Deborah Riley has been nominated in the outstanding production design for a narrative period or fantasy program (one hour or more) category for her work on the final season of Game of Thrones.

Sydney-born musician Jasper Leak is nominated for outstanding music supervision for the Netflix special Quincy, while producer Anna Dokoza‘s short-form Netflix series Special is nominated in the outstanding short-form comedy or drama series category.

And two Australian creative designers – Patrick Clair and Raoul Marks – are nominated in the outstanding main title design for their work on the opening title sequence of HBO’s True Detective.

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Australian TV legend Paul Cronin has died, aged 81

Australian TV legend Paul Cronin has died at the age of 81 surrounded by his four daughters and grandchildren, reports News Corp’s Kim Wilson.

Best known for his iconic roles as Dave Sullivan in the much-loved series The Sullivans and Gary Hogan in Matlock Police, Cronin won five silver Logies and was crowned the King of Moomba in 1980.

He was a passionate AFL supporter; he was awarded the licence to establish the Brisbane Bears AFL team in 1986 and was president of the club from 1987 to 1989.

Daughters Katherine, Jane, Susanne and Jules were by his side when he passed away Friday night.

“He was the most wonderful father, he was protective, he would have done everything for his girls. We loved him so much, he adored mum so much,” Susanne said.

At the height of his career Cronin was one of the most recognisable faces on Australian TV. His other credits included Homicide, Division 4, Solo One, Mathew and Son and The Flying Doctors.

He was also well known for a series of drink driving ads in the early 1980s with the tag line, ‘What sort of a friend are you, would you let a friend drive home if he’s had too much to drink?’.

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Paul Cronin, Australian actor who helped set up Brisbane Bears, dies

Australian actor Paul Cronin has died, aged 81, reports ABC News.

He was also a passionate AFL supporter and helped set up the Brisbane Bears, serving as president of the club from 1987 to 1989.

In a statement, the Brisbane Lions, the club that eventually replaced the Bears, said its players would wear two black armbands when they played GWS Giants tonight, as a mark of respect for Cronin as well as former St Kilda great and Richmond coach Danny Frawley, who died in a car crash on Monday.

Cronin was perhaps best known for playing motorcycle policeman Gary Hogan in Matlock Police and Dave Sullivan in The Sullivans.

Cronin made his mark as ‘archetypal white Aussie dad’.

Actor Sigrid Thornton, who worked with Cronin on The Sullivans, said his passing was a “really sad loss”.

“Paul was loved by everybody with whom he worked — he was a very warm, generous gentleman,” Thornton said.

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Lawsuit unlikely over Edwina Bartholomew tweet about Seb Costello

Channel 7 has laughed at the idea of a lawsuit over comments Sunrise reporter Edwina Bartholomew made about Channel 9 reporter Seb Costello, reports News Corp’s Sally Coates and Briana Domjen.

Heavily pregnant Bartholomew replied to a video of Costello reporting outside the Victorian state parliament on Thursday with a comment that she later deleted.

It was then reported that Channel 9 were in talks to decide how to proceed legally, with a possible defamation suit in the works.

But sources at Channel 7 say there was no way their rival would want to take this to the courts.

“There is no way in God’s earth Nine will have this play out in a courtroom,” the source said. “They are bluffing by saying they will take legal action.”

The tweet stayed up for 50 minutes before it was deleted.

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Anne Edmonds on ‘unstable’ characters + why Aussie comedy doesn’t rate

Anne Edmonds is prepared for any backlash that may arise from her taking part in Channel 7’s new feel-good reality show The Real Dirty Dancing, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

The Melbourne comedian joined the likes of Hugh Sheridan, Jude Bolton, Jamie Durie and Jessica Rowe to head to West Virginia where the iconic 1987 movie was filmed.

As well as revisiting the venue of the fictional “Kellerman’s Resort” where Baby was indeed saved from being put in the corner by Johnny, the celebrities were given dance lessons and performed in front of Dirty Dancing superfans.

The unexpected offer to join the show came as Edmonds was knee-deep in her latest stand-up show What’s Wrong With You? at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

While she’s appeared on Have You Been Paying Attention? and The Project, this could be middle Australia’s first extended taste of the comedian known as “Eddo”.

“I did it for fun (not exposure),” Edmonds clarifies.

“I know what the mainstream can be like. I’ve had them turn on me before, so I know what that’s like, too. As a comic, I’m always myself no matter what. They’ll either take to that or they won’t. They rest is up to Twitter I guess. Tweet me if you want.”

That “turn” came in May 2018 when Edmonds went on The Project as her character Helen Bidou, the sarong-loving, spray-tanned fashion expert from ABC breakfast TV show parody Get Krackin’.

Twitter users call Bidou “woeful” and that The Project needed to “get her off air”. Edmonds found it hilarious.

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Seven promises 1 minute ad breaks for Secret Bridesmaids’ Business

Seven has set late September to premiere its new drama miniseries Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, and TV Tonight reveals Seven sources have confirmed commercial breaks of no longer than 1 minute.

Seven will screen 4 x 1 minute breaks across all six episodes, in a bold move to give viewers an experience much closer to the streaming model. It’s a vote of confidence in the series and good news for viewers.

The series, based loosely on a play of the same name by Elizabeth Coleman, draws upon the Mornington Peninsula for much of its backdrop. It features Abbie Cornish, Katie McGrath, Georgina Haig, Alexander England, Oliver Ackland, Dan Spielman, Annie Jones and Nicholas Bell.

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