Mediaweek Roundup: SBS, ABC, Stan, Nine, Ray Hadley, The Bachelor + more

• Regional broadcasters, Facebook, Malcolm T Elliott, John Stanley, and Super Rugby

Business of Media

Regional broadcasters ‘doing better’ than metros: Peter Horgan

Media planning and buying group Omnicom’s Australian chief executive Peter Horgan believes the regional free-to-air networks are weathering through an advertising downturn better than the metropolitan broadcasters, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

Television advertising spend was down 0.2 per cent in June 2019 compared to June 2018, but down 4.7 per cent for the full financial year, the latest Standard Media Index figures show. The majority of industries reliant on advertising have faced a tough 12 months, but Horgan said regional networks were likely to have performed better.

“I think the regions are doing slightly better than the metros at the moment,” he said, adding the regional broadcasters typically perform better than the SMI data suggests as this dataset looks at agency bookings and these networks often write business outside of agencies.

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Nothing special about SBS staff retention levels

SBS has been forced to launch a strategic overhaul to stem the exodus of “high performing” workers quitting the public broadcaster and to combat sky-high rates of young staff leaving before serving out their first year, reports The Australian’s Michael Roddan.

Internal board documents and reports presented to the most senior ranks of SBS – obtained by The Australian under freedom of information laws – reveal long-running concerns over the ability of the taxpayer-funded specialist broadcaster to retain talent, especially among Generation Y.

A paper presented to the board in June outlined in part a three-year strategy to keep a lid on voluntary turnover at 15 per cent this year and to reduce it to 13 per cent by the end of 2022.

In the year to May, SBS lost 14.4 per cent of its staff. At the same time, employees who left SBS after less than a year ­accounted for more than 28 per cent of all staff leaving.

A spokeswoman for SBS said the broadcaster operated “in a highly competitive and rapidly changing sector so we are pleased that our overall staff turnover is often better than industry” and noted that employee engagement was higher than the national average.

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Aunty vows to lift regional focus, for all Australians

Judith Whelan has defended how the ABC spends hundreds of millions in taxpayers funds across regional Australia, as the public broadcaster comes under increased pressure by the Morrison government to refocus on rural and regional reporting, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The broadcaster’s new director of regional and local operations also dismissed claims of left-wing bias by the ABC, saying presenters were “very keen to open all sides of arguments”.

The ABC, which has had its annual budget of $1 billion cut in recent years, has invested an additional $15 million into regional bureaus over the past two years.

Whelan believes the ABC is serving all Australians, despite criticism the broadcaster only serves the left-leaning.

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Streaming future: Disney, Nine talk Stan-Hulu tie-ups

Disney and Nine are believed to be in discussions about commercial partnerships, which could include their subscription video-on-demand services Hulu and Stan, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The talks between the two companies are ongoing and no announcement is imminent. But, Disney is known to be looking at how it can expand the Hulu platform globally, although the rollout is not as simple as its upcoming Disney+ service.

A partnership between Stan and Hulu could be focused on bundling opportunities for Disney+ and Stan, although there are a number of conversations about a range of commercial relationships over different time periods. Whether any deals are done remains to be seen.

News Corp’s pay TV business Foxtel is also believed to be talking to Disney to get Disney+ integrated into its new user interface in the same way it recently did with Netflix.

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News Brands

Nine grapples with making money from 60 Minutes’ YouTube videos

Nine Entertainment Co is in discussions with Google about how to make more money from YouTube after a 1 million subscriber milestone for 60 Minutes failed to turn the video website into a major source of revenue, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

A major investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes in July into allegations that Crown Casino was used in money laundering reached almost 700,000 views on YouTube in its first week online.

But, despite the large audience, the amount of revenue delivered to Nine from putting the show onto the video website was substantially smaller than would have been earned from advertising through the broadcaster’s own channels. This includes free-to-air and catch-up apps.

The show reached 100,000 views on catch-up app 9Now and had a traditional free-to-air TV audience of 780,000, 60 Minutes executive producer Kirsty Thomson said.

Nine managing director of partnerships Lizzie Young said the free-to-air broadcaster and Google are now working together to find a solution to ensure views are more lucrative on the video platform after the issue was first raised 18 months ago.

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Facebook offers US publishers millions to license news content

Facebook Inc. is offering news outlets millions of dollars for the rights to put their content in a news section that the company hopes to launch later this year, according to people familiar with the matter, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Representatives from Facebook have told news executives they would be willing to pay as much as $3 million a year to license headlines and previews of articles from news outlets, the people said.

The outlets pitched by Facebook on its news tab include Walt Disney Co.’s ABC News, Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones, The Washington Post and Bloomberg, the people said.

Facebook’s plans come as the company is facing growing criticism for its role in the news industry’s struggles by sucking up much of the advertising revenue that used to go to newspapers. Combined, Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google earned 60% of all digital advertising revenue in the U.S. last year, according to eMarketer.

The news-licensing deals between Facebook and news outlets would run for three years, some of the people said. Facebook is planning to launch the section sometime in the fall, the people said. It isn’t known whether any news outlets have formally agreed yet to license their content to Facebook.

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2GB pays tribute to Malcolm T Elliott who has died aged 73

Radio legend Malcolm T Elliott has died, aged 73, reported 2GB on Friday.

The former 2GB, 2UE and 2UW host started in radio in 1967 and went on to star on television shows like Blankety Blanks.

He is credited by many for revolutionising breakfast radio in Australia, making it fun and edgy, well before FM radio even existed.

Malcolm T underwent five heart by-passes in 2004 and was in poor health at his Lismore home in recent years but his passing is being described as a “tragic event”.

Alan Jones paid tribute to his old friend, saying it’s “a sad note in the world of broadcasting”.

“He had an impact on a lot of people and made a very significant contribution.”

Ray Hadley was an avid listener to Malcolm T as a young man before they became colleagues at 2UE and then 2GB.

He heaped praise on the radio legend and his impact on the industry.

“I know in latter years his contribution was mired in controversy, but he revolutionised breakfast radio in Australia back in the 1970s.

“He turned breakfast radio into a formula of fun and satire, aided by the late Tony Dickinson and Peter Shanahan.

“The three of them made radio madcap, cutting edge and fun to listen to.

“He was zany, he was crazy but it was successful.”

[Read the original and listen to tributes from Alan Jones and Ray Hadley]

Photo: 2GB

Legal setback for Hadley over defamation action by Josh Massoud

Ray Hadley already has one legal drama brewing with his former best friend and colleague Chris Bowen launching proceedings over bullying claims, and on Friday another of his foes, sports journalist Josh Massoud, had a victory in the District Court which dismissed an attempt to have his claims for aggravated damages in his defamation proceedings dismissed, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery.

Massoud is suing Hadley’s employer, 2GB, along with KIIS 106.5FM, The Daily Telegraph, Nine Network, and Fox Sports over reports published in May 2018, which resulted from a blistering attack by Hadley on Massoud which featured on his radio show.

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John Stanley wants to bring ‘Zemanek’s spirit’ to nightly talkback gig

Talkback radio veteran John Stanley, the new permanent host of 2GB, 3AW and 4BC’s nightly 8pm slot, wants to tap the spirit of an unlikely old friend in his new gig: the late provocateur Stan Zemanek, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Robert Moran.

“Stan turned night time into primetime,” says Stanley, who as a station manager at 2UE during Zemanek’s popular reign helped craft the shock-jock’s on-air persona. “He’d go right out on a limb to get the audience fired up and calling in. It was very entertaining radio; lots of energy and fun.

“Now, we’re different characters and I wouldn’t call myself a shock-jock in the slightest, but in a laid-back way I think I can be quite provocative and encourage debate,” he adds.

Despite the evocative nod to “the man radio listeners loved to hate”, Stanley’s soft-spoken presence eschews the bluster typically associated with talkback radio, says Macquarie Media CEO Adam Lang.

“He has an incredible bank of knowledge and a quirky sense of humour, and he’s an almanac when it comes to events,” Lang says of Stanley.

“I think there’s a misconception that everyone [at 2GB] is marching to the same political tune or has the same cookie-cutter approach on all issues,” Stanley says, “[but] my views are probably in the centre, because I’m a journalist, basically, who’s doing talkback.”

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Reality TV: Abbie claims Monique called The Bachelor a c**t

News Corp’s Amy Harris reports the C-word surfaces for the first time on The Bachelor this week. (And no, it’s not “class”.)

In a moment that will go down as one of the more memorable showdowns in what is a showdown heavy series, femme fatale Abbie “I’m a Gemini” Chatfield pulls out the rudest of words on Wednesday night during a confrontation with would-be beau Matt Agnew.

She doesn’t call Agnew the C-word, it must be clarified.

Instead she relays that it was her fellow Queenslander and love rival Monique Morley who used the word when describing Matt.

“Yes, she said it,” Chatfield told Sunday Confidential this week.

“I just thought that it was something Matt should have been aware of … so I decided to confront him about it. If people were saying stuff like that about me … I’d want to know.”

How noble.

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Andrew Hornery: Lack of originality is the reality of TV

Are there really no original ideas left in television anymore? asks The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery.

All those clever minds being paid oodles of money to deliver ratings winners and yet all we are delivered is an endless supply of copycat television.

Last week it emerged Channel Seven was developing a new reality television series and has applied to trademark the phrase “The Honeymoon Crashers”, with casting currently underway.

“This is your chance to be part of Seven Studio’s new reality shows,” the notice on a casting website read. “We’re looking for real people with unreal personalities.”

Yes, well the emphasis here has to be on “unreal”.

Yep, it sounds awfully similar to Nine’s ratings blockbuster Married At First Sight, and comes just a few months after Seven’s Bride and Prejudice series was on our screens, another reality show that followed a very similar path to MAFS, in all its ugly, cringe-worthy glory.

Over the next three months all of Australia’s commercial television networks are hatching plans and coming up with concepts they hope will become 2020’s big ratings winners.

But if the last few years is anything to go by, sadly we may have seen them all before.

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Sports Media

FTA versus STV: Rugby faces dilemma in next broadcast deal

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany has warned the pay-TV giant won’t pay as much for broadcast rights to Super Rugby should Rugby Australia pursue a plan to make more of its sport available for free, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Delany told The Australian Financial Review that Super Rugby, which has been on Foxtel since 1996, is an important sport to its subscribers and the News Corp-controlled pay-TV business has been a dedicated supporter of the code.

“Rugby has only ever been on Fox, Super Rugby was invented by Fox, it has always been on Fox,” he said.

But Delany said Super Rugby’s problem was that it produces fewer good games that Australians care about than more popular codes such as AFL and the National Rugby League do.

“That’s fine, if they want to put some on free-to-air, that’s fine, but it changes the whole value equation for us.”

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