Mediaweek Roundup: SCA, Nine, PwC, Karl Stefanovic, AFLX + more

• Department of Home Affairs, GateHouse, Seven and E! News

Business of Media

SCA to outsource TV and radio transmission to Broadcast Australia

Southern Cross Media Group will outsource its television and radio broadcast transmission services to Broadcast Australia (BA). Under the agreement, SCA will transfer transmission assets to BA, and BA will provide SCA with managed and maintenance services for over 500 radio and TV transmission services around Australia. The agreement is for an initial term of 15 years.

The transition to BA will commence over the next few weeks and SCA expects to complete the transition to BA by March 2020. SCA’s previously announced outsourcing of its television playout operations to NPC Media is progressing and is also expected to be completed by the end of this financial year.

BA is part of BAI Communications, a global communications infrastructure group with operations in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, UK and the USA. BA has a long history of delivering resilient broadcast and telecommunications network solutions. In Australia, it is the long-term managed transmission broadcasting services provider to the ABC and SBS.

The transaction will result in a non-cash loss of $9.2m from the sale of SCA’s current broadcast transmission assets to BA, and this will be recorded in the 2019 financial year. The transaction is expected to deliver future cashflow savings to SCA.

SCA’s chief technology officer Stephen Haddad said: “The outsourcing is a logical step for SCA, consistent with the group’s strategy of delivering content and media platforms and moving away from asset intensive activities that can be delivered by specialist service providers. With the transition of television playout to NPC Media, the use of Telstra’s DVN network for distribution and this outsourcing of transmission services to BA, SCA has created a streamlined and efficient service that minimises the cost of delivery of broadcast radio and television to SCA’s licence areas.”

As broadcasting transmission services are progressively transitioned to BA, some current SCA roles will no longer be required.

“We will work closely with affected employees to maintain operations during the transition and to support them in identifying new opportunities as the transition is completed,” Haddad said.

Nine to consolidate TV and news media staff in North Sydney tower

Nine Entertainment has confirmed it is taking additional office space, securing a 25,000 sqm lease for 12-years in Winten Property Group’s  landmark $1.2 billion 1 Denison commercial office building in North Sydney.

Nine is extending its original lease from 18,500 sqm to bring together all of its key Sydney television and publishing divisions into one office.

Nine’s new landlord explained the new lease comprises a ground floor reception and studio plus 13 floors from level G to nine in the low-rise and floors 19 to 22 in the mid-rise with floor plates ranging from 1,650 sqm to 2,517 sqm.

Nine will soon commence its fit-out, designed by Bates Smart Architects and will start occupying its new home from the second half of 2020.The company is moving employees from Willoughby, Pyrmont and the CBD into the new state-of-the-art North Sydney location.

Other media or tech companies also moving into The Wintern will be Microsoft and SAP.

Pyrmont parts of the empire not moving in are the part-owned businesses Macquarie Media and Domain.

Nine’s publishing division needs to vacate its current One Darling Island home in Pyrmont before its new office space will be ready. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review will have a temporary home for around nine months from later this year across the road in Pyrmont in the former Seven offices.

GroupM wins EA Games and opens m/SIX office in Sydney

The international advertising network The&Partnership and their global media company m/SIX have announced the opening of their APAC main hub in Sydney, Australia.

m/SIX has called new Sydney office opening a significant milestone for the agency network and its plans for growth in 2019.

Following the recent win of the global Electronic Arts account, m/SIX now has media planning and buying responsibility for EA in Australia, New Zealand and across APAC. Kevin Rooney (pictured) joins as APAC CEO, overseeing the new m/SIX hub launch to service EA and to enable the agency to continue its rapid growth in the region.

m/SIX’s current clients in the region include Burger King and Malaysian Airlines.

Jess Burley, global CEO of m/SIX said: “We’re really excited to establish this new regional APAC hub for m/SIX in Sydney. There is a great opportunity to continue our growth in the region, providing the very best data-informed communications strategies and bespoke, flexible partnerships with both existing & new clients.”

Leaving Tokyo, where he held the position of CEO for Mindshare Japan & Korea, Kevin Rooney returns to m/SIX as APAC CEO where he will lead the network within the region. A WPP veteran, Rooney has over 15 years experience within roles across North America, Global (based in UK) and APAC, in both business development and management.

During his time at Mindshare APAC he helped set a new record in R3’s New Business League of #1 in APAC and also topped the RECMA reports as #1 media agency in the region. Additionally, during this time, Rooney also helped establish m/SIX in the region, playing a key role in the initial expansion of the agency into Asia.

PwC’s figures change dramatically in updated Facebook report

PwC has excluded Nielsen data from an updated version of a Facebook-commissioned report about video consumption with the consulting firm insisting its consultants know the best way to use the research house’s data, reports The AFR’s Edmund Tadros and Max Mason.

The report’s co-author, PwC CMO advisory partner, Justin Papps, said PwC was correct in the way it wanted to use Nielsen’s video viewing data and that the firm’s interpretation would be “most useful for marketers”.

“We removed the Nielsen data from the second report because we were unable to gain permission to use the Nielsen Digital Panel or the Digital Content Ratings data to describe total reach in the way we believe is most useful for marketers,” Papps said.

Nielsen last week accused PwC of using the wrong data set in its now-retracted My Screen: Video Consumption in Australia report. That incorrect data set meant the reach of Facebook’s video platform was over-inflated.

PwC responded by switching to Roy Morgan data.

The change in data provider in the updated PwC report has cut the estimated video reach of Facebook by about 1.6 million to 15.7 million Australians and of YouTube by 3.1 million to 13.5 million. The first report had also used seven-day reach data for free-to-air TV and monthly reach data for Facebook and YouTube.

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News Brands

Department of Home Affairs hits back on media freedom

The Department of Home Affairs is pushing back against demands by Australia’s leading media organisations for a right to contest warrants targeting journalists, claiming reporters may destroy evidence, reports The Australian’s Mark Schliebs.

The ABC has hit back at such suggestions, saying there are already laws against the destruction of evidence and a similar set of British laws explicitly prohibits the disposal of any material being sought by authorities.

In its own submission to the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, the Department of Home Affairs defended the current regime as “appropriate”.

While it said “the government is open to considering suggestions”, current legislation already reflected the need for any “limitations on rights and freedoms (to be) reasonable, necessary and proportionate for the pursuit of a legitimate objective”.

“We do not consider that contested hearings for warrants would be an appropriate area for reform,” the department told the inquiry.

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US publisher GateHouse buys Gannett with private equity loan

Two of America’s largest newspaper companies have agreed to combine in the latest media deal driven by the industry’s struggles with a decline in printed editions, reports AP.

GateHouse Media, a chain backed by an investment firm, is buying USA Today owner Gannett for $US12.06 a share in cash and stock, or about $US1.4 billion.

The combined company would have more than 260 daily papers in the US along with more than 300 weeklies. It would be the largest US newspaper company by far, with a print circulation of 8.7 million, seven million more than the new No. 2, McClatchy, according to media expert Ken Doctor.

The combined company would take the Gannett name and keep its headquarters in Gannett’s current home of McLean, Virginia.

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Seven flirts with another Married At First Sight rival format

Seven is developing a new reality format in a bid to tap into the phenomenon that is Nine’s Married at First Sight, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Broede Carmody and Jennifer Duke.

The broadcaster applied to trademark the words “The Honeymoon Crashers” earlier this year, 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.”

A Seven source confirmed the casting-call was for a concept called The Honeymoon Crashers but stressed this was the show’s working title. Another source close to the broadcaster described the show as currently in the “brainstorm phase”.

TV executives from rival networks believe The Honeymoon Crashers could replace Seven’s canned Temptation Island reboot, which was originally slated for the summer programming period. A production source familiar with The Honeymoon Crashers said the show will likely be an “ugly hybrid” of other reality programs, with relationships put to the test and plenty of voyeurism.

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‘Stop bragging’: Karl Stefanovic’s surprise Today show return

Karl Stefanovic made a surprise return to the very program he was dramatically ousted from late last year – and couldn’t resist an opening “brag” about his current career fortunes, reports’s Nick Bond.

Stefanovic appeared via satellite from Honolulu, chatting to his former co-host Georgie Gardner and her current co-host Deb Knight about his prime time Nine show This Time Next Year, which starts up for a new season next week.

Stefanovic opened by explaining his exotic surroundings.

“I am on assignment here for 60 Minutes. This is the first location of many around the world over the next few weeks for me, so it’s a lovely place to start. It’s a balmy 89 degrees (31 celcius) out here and about 92 in the studio, so it’s beautiful,” he told his former colleagues.

“All right, stop bragging, we know you’re doing some work,” said Knight.

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E! News to Move from LA to New York, becoming a morning show

E!’s flagship news program is getting a new home, in more ways than one, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

E! News, which has aired at 7 p.m. ET/PT from Los Angeles [daily at 6.30pm on E! in Australia] for most of its life, will transition to a morning show in 2020. It will also switch coasts and originate from NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Centre studios in New York.

The changes to the show are part of a larger revamp of the cabler’s entertainment-news programming, which include several new shows set to debut in 2020 and an expansion of late-night show Nightly Pop to four nights a week. The move of the flagship show to mornings is designed to give pop-culture fans a dose of news at the start of the day and offer insight on unfolding stories.

Giuliana Rancic and Jason Kennedy currently anchor the nightly E! News from Los Angeles. It’s unclear at the moment whether they will make the move to New York, and the change in locale will result in layoffs for some 20 staffers who currently work on the LA telecast.

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Sports Media

AFL drops unloved AFLX from the 2020 pre-season schedule

AFLX will not be part of the 2020 pre-season with club CEOs told of the decision at their two-day meeting in Nagambie on Tuesday, reports The Age’s Peter Ryan.

Two different formats of the competition have been held each of the past two pre-seasons with a lightning premiership style format involving clubs being held in 2018 before an All-Star concept was trialled this season.

The AFL said that the main reason AFLX was not included in next year’s pre-season was because they wanted to give the AFLW competition – which has four new clubs in 2020 – clear air. They are also working through what the pre-season might look like for clubs and players as they attempt to de-clutter the program.

Clubs consider AFLX to be a reasonable format for the game to be showcased in developing markets where full-sized football grounds are rare and the AFL is hopeful there might be an opportunity to involve the stars of the game in an AFLX game played overseas at an appropriate time.

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