Mediaweek Roundup: Pirate sites blocked, National Press Club, Fox Sports + more

• Equity Ensemble Awards, Sports Illustrated, and Swimming World Titles

Business of Media

Copyright win: Federal Court orders more pirate sites blocked

Village Roadshow has won another battle in its efforts to block copyright infringing websites, with Australia’s telecommunications providers ordered by the Federal Court of Australia to move on the pirate sites, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom, Vodafone Hutchison Australia and Vocus have all been ordered by Justice John Nicholas to block 76 website domains – including Torrentking, Toonova and Solarmoviex – as part of the creative industry’s ongoing effort to stamp out piracy under site blocking laws passed in 2015.

“This is another big win. We have taken significant steps forward in the fight against piracy in recent days, building on our progress over the past couple of years,” Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke said.

“It means almost 1000 pirate websites and domains have now been blocked in Australia and we expect this list to continue to grow as we expand the efforts to shut down smaller and emerging websites. As each new court order is obtained, we provide that information to Google, which then delists those sites from its search results.”

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News Brands

ABC, News Corp & Nine leaders uniting for press freedom at Press Club

The National Press Club of Australia has confirmed, in what it calls a rare display of media unity, the chief executives of the ABC and Nine Entertainment and the executive chairman of News Corporation Australasia – David Anderson, Hugh Marks and Michael Miller – will appear together at the National Press Club to add their weight to calls to preserve press freedom.

The live televised forum in Canberra will be moderated by the president of the club, Sabra Lane.

The Press Club commented:

The Australian Federal Police raids on the home of News Corporation Australia journalist, Annika Smethurst and on the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation raise serious concerns to press freedom and democracy in Australia.

News Corporation journalist, Annika Smethurst, reported on federal government plans, which proposed giving the Australian Signals Directorate the ability – for the first time – to spy on Australian citizens.

In the ABC’s case, reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, reported on The Afghan Files in 2017, which revealed allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces personnel in Afghanistan.

Journalists are bound by their code of ethics to not disclose sources, and to demand they do is asking them to break a covenant recognised the world-over as crucial to uncovering misconduct – when authorities would prefer the public stay in the dark.

Reaction to these raids has unified the media and journalistic community.


ABC cast members from Riot and Mystery Road win Equity Awards

The cast members of two landmark ABC dramas have been celebrated at the annual Equity Ensemble Awards, which honour outstanding performances by Australian actors.

The cast of ABC gay and lesbian rights drama Riot, produced by Werner Film Productions, received the award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Mini-Series/Telemovie at a ceremony in Sydney on Monday night.

The cast of the ABC’s crime drama Mystery Road, produced by Bunya Productions, won the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Award. Series two of Mystery Road, which features the return of Aaron Pedersen as Indigenous detective Jay Swan, is in production.

Mystery Road has been a magnet for awards since it was screened, winning drama awards from the Australian Writers Guild and Screen Producers Australia. Its biggest victory so far was at the 2018 AACTA Awards where it won five separate awards including Best Drama Series.

ABC programs Back In Very Small Business, Sando, Squinters, Pine Gap and Rake were also nominated for Ensemble Awards, which are chosen by members of Actors Equity, part of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.

SBS program Homecoming Queens received the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Award.


Sports Illustrated has a new publisher, digital company TheMaven

The digital platform company TheMaven has bought the right to publish Sports Illustrated – digitally and in print – for at least the next 10 years, ending the former owner Meredith’s relationship with Sports Illustrated a few weeks after the landmark magazine’s intellectual property was sold to the Authentic Brands Group, TheMaven and Meredith announced Monday, reports The New York Times.

TheMaven, based in Seattle, also announced the creation of Sports Illustrated Media, to be run by the veteran media industry executive Ross Levinsohn, a former publisher of The Los Angeles Times.

A company filing said the plans for the title include building the brand worldwide.

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Sports Media

Football, rugby hit as Foxtel sports rights budget cuts bite

Football and rugby’s second-tier domestic competitions, the FFA Cup and the National Rugby Championship, are in the firing line amid the first wave of budget cuts at embattled subscription television provider Foxtel, report Georgina Robinson and Vince Rugari in The SMH.

The Herald reports Rugby Australia is in negotiations to shoulder a portion of the NRC’s production costs while rights for the FFA Cup could be on-sold to another network as Fox Sports looks to reduce costs under the weight of a $417 million financial loss in 2018.

Fox Sports’ waning appetite for the round-ball code is clear – it tried to wriggle out of a $5 million annual increase in its contract with FFA as part of the A-League’s expansion, and is considering selling off two of the five weekly games to a free-to-air partner.

Along with the Seven and Ten networks, it is believed SBS has been involved in preliminary talks over the A-League’s free-to-air rights and may yet emerge as the cup’s saviour.

Asked on Monday about the FFA Cup’s future on the pay-TV provider, Fox Sports head of television Steve Crawley said he was “unaware of any discussions” around the tournament.

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Australian rights for the swimming world titles remain unsold

Australians could miss out on the chance of watching one of the best swimming teams we’ve produced in years because the sport’s governing body hasn’t been able to sell the television rights, reported News Corp’s Julian Linden on the weekend.

With just five weeks to go before events get underway in Gwangju, South Korea, still no Australian broadcaster has purchased the rights.

The stumbling block is the high fees FINA is demanding, though neither Swimming Australia or its broadcast partner, Channel 7, would comment on the asking price or negotiations.

Last week’s Australian trials in Brisbane produced some of the closest and fastest racing seen in years, which is great news for Australia’s prospects at next month’s world championships in South Korea and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But the problem was hardly anyone knows what just happened because the trials weren’t shown on Australian TV, only through internet streaming services.

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