Mediaweek Roundup: Seven West Media, Sophie Walsh, MasterChef, NRL + more

• The Secrets She Keeps, Dally M probe and Channel 7 cuts AFL shows

Business of Media

Speeding ticket for Seven West Media as share price spikes

Seven West Media has been questioned by the ASX about conspicuous share price and volume spikes that have seen its stock rise by more than 50 per cent in the past three days, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

The debt-laden media company has denied any imminent announcement despite a restructure of the network’s debt expected to be finalised soon.

The Kerry Stokes-backed media company has $569.5m in net debt (as of December last year) which, combined with drastic advertising losses and sports cancellations on the back COVID-19, has dragged Seven’s share price to record lows.

The share price dropped to 6c in April, however in the past three days SWM shares have spiked in price and volume, bouncing from a low of 8.6c on Monday June 1 to an intraday high of 13.5c on June 3.

Seven sources on Wednesday attributed the price rise to value investors buying up the stock after a sell-off of SWM by some institutional investors.

[Read more]

News Brands

Nine’s Sophie Walsh assaulted in live cross by man in London

Nine’s Europe Correspondent Sophie Walsh (pictured above) has been assaulted during a live television cross in London by a man making motions to stab her.

Walsh had been speaking to 9News Adelaide’s Brenton Ragless last night when the man approached her and yelled the words “Allah Akbar”.

Walsh screamed out as he grabbed her, reports Nine News’ Luke Cooper.

“Sorry, I just had somene come up and try and… A man just came up and grabbed me. It’s okay, he’s not armed,” she told Ragless.

The man was then chased and detained by Nine’s camera operator, Jason Conduit, and other bystanders at the scene until police arrived.

It is unclear whether the man was armed with a screwdriver, however he has since been arrested for threats to kill and possession an offensive weapon.

Walsh remains shaken by the incident, but is unharmed.

“Nine News appreciates the enormous pressure our international correspondents are under and is offering Sophie Walsh ongoing support,” Nine has said in a statement.

“Sophie is grateful for the outpouring of support she has received from the public and wishes to reassure our viewers that she is safe and well.”

[Read more]

Second Nine News reporter attacked in London during protests

A second Nine reporter has been attacked while reporting on protests over the death of US man George Floyd, reports Nine’s Natalie Oliveri.

Europe correspondent Ben Avery was ambushed by crowds while on-air, reporting on protests happening in London on Thursday morning.

While speaking to Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon on Today just after 5.30am, Avery and his camera operator were grabbed by angry crowds and forced to flee.

“A bit of a clash with us here at the moment,” Avery can be heard saying.

“OK, guys. What’s happened, we’ve been trying to walk away from the danger here. It’s been following us,” he said.

[Read more]


DCD Rights announces new sales of thriller The Secrets She Keeps

UK-based distributor DCD Rights has confirmed new sales of its six-part psychological thriller The Secrets She Keeps, ahead of its US launch on Sundance Now.

The series was made by Lingo Pictures for Network 10 and has just finished screening in Australia.

AMC Networks’ streaming service Sundance Now has picked up North American rights with transmission starting on Thursday 16th July. The series is also currently airing in Latin America on DIRECTV Satellite Services and DIRECTV GO, OTT platform.

The popular drama series, starring Laura Carmichael (Downton Abbey), has also been picked up by RTL Crime Germany and C More has secured rights in Denmark and Norway.

DCD Rights has already signed deals in the UK, North America, France and French Speaking Europe, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Israel, Russia, CIS & Baltic States for the Lingo Pictures Production, produced for Network 10 Australia, with production funding from Screen Australia in association with Create NSW.

Nicky Davies Williams, CEO at DCD Rights, said: “Boasting a strong cast, The Secrets She Keeps is an extremely well-written and suspenseful drama offering appeal for a wide audience demographic. We are delighted by the international interest this series has attracted and to be able to announce further sales in major territories underlines its continued global success.”

The Secrets She Keeps (6 x 60’), also starring Ryan Corr (Bloom) and Hazem Shammas (Safe Harbour), is an adaptation of bestselling author Michael Robotham’s acclaimed novel, which tells the story of two women who have a chance encounter in a supermarket in an affluent Sydney suburb. They are the same age, both heavily pregnant and due at the same time. Meghan (Jessica De GouwThe Crown, The Hunting) is a glamorous online ‘influencer’ on the rise with an ambitious television sports reporter husband Jack (Michael DormanPatriot, Wonderland). Agatha (Laura Carmichael – Marcella, The Spanish Princess) works in the supermarket as a shelf stacker. Both women have secrets and both will risk everything to conceal the truth. But their worlds are about to collide in one shocking act that cannot be undone.

Directed by Catherine Millar and Jennifer Leacey, with Lingo Pictures’ Jason Stephens and 10’s Rick Maier as executive producers, the series is produced by Helen Bowden and Paul Watters and written by Sarah Walker and Jonathan Gavin.

See also: Helen Bowden on making 10’s drama hit The Secrets She Keeps

How Melissa Leong helped turn MasterChef’s fortunes around

Casual MasterChef fans could be forgiven for asking one simple question when the show’s three new judges were announced last October: Who? reports’s Nick Bond.

Granted, most probably recognised Andy Allen, who won season four of the show, but food writer Melissa Leong and restaurateur Jock Zonfrillo were anything but household names.

Departing judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan had become the most recognisable trio on Australian TV – 10 was taking quite the risk replacing them with relative unknowns.

It’s paid off. Ratings during last year’s season of MasterChef slumped to as low as 366,000 viewers – this year, about a million viewers are tuning in to each episode.

[Read more]

Sports Media

The SMH reports commentators’ bets emerge in Dally M probe

Rugby league television personalities Bryan Fletcher and Paul Kent have inadvertently become entangled in the NRL’s Dally M betting scandal, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Barrett and Kate McClymont.

Their names appeared on betting records provided to police investigating the use of inside information to successfully wager on Melbourne Storm’s Craig Bellamy to win the coach of the year award in 2019.

Former NSW and Australian player Fletcher and journalist Kent are both employees of Fox Sports which broadcast the end of season Dally M awards ceremony on October 2, three weeks after voting was finalised.

Last week two executives of sports data company StatEdge, which compiled the voting results for the NRL, were charged with using prior knowledge to bet on the result of the coach of the year.

The NRL had been notified of the winners in four categories including coach of the year just after 6pm on September 13 via an email from Ben Trevisiol, the general manager of StatEdge. Police will allege within an hour of sending the email Trevisiol and Joshua Wilson, the chief executive of StatEdge, started betting on Bellamy to win coach of the year.

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NRL turns up code war heat – attempt to sabotage AFL broadcast deal

Not satisfied with just beating the AFL to the punch in resuming its season, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys attempted to ram home the NRL’s dominance by sabotaging the rival code’s broadcast rights deal, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas.

The NRL, led by V’landys and interim chief executive Andrew Abdo, requested a “most-favoured clause” in its five-year extension with Foxtel that would have prohibited the pay television provider from striking a better deal with the AFL.

While Foxtel knocked back the clause request, which would have guaranteed the NRL received more per game than the AFL, it highlighted V’landys’ appetite to take the fight to the code that long regarded as the benchmark of Australian sport.

The NRL under the V’landys regime has drawn the ire of the AFL, which was left behind as the 13-man code returned to competition with record television ratings last week.

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Streaming-rights battle brewing after drop in millennials watching NRL

A battle for NRL streaming rights could be on the horizon after revelations an alarming number of young viewers are switching off rugby league on television, reports AAP.

Statistics released by Roy Morgan on Wednesday indicate that NRL TV viewers under the age of 34 have dropped 10 per cent in the past four years.

Viewership has declined across all age groups, but it is the drop in the young demographic that will be of most concern at Rugby League Central.

“Overall this important demographic comprises around 25 per cent of the 6 million NRL TV viewers,” Roy Morgan industry communications director Julian McCrann said.

“A further 25 per cent are aged 35-49 while around half are aged in the 50-plus age bracket. For the NRL to turn around the decline in TV viewership, it’s vital to find a way to re-engage this audience.”

The development comes on the same day it was reported the NRL would block Telstra from streaming its matches after the 2022 season.

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Channel 7 cuts AFL shows Game Day and Talking Footy

Channel 7 has “suspended” its two main AFL shows days out from the season resumption with both Game Day and Talking Footy falling victim to cost-cutting, reports News Corp’s Russell Gould.

Game Day, hosted by Hamish McLachlan, has been a Sunday staple for 11 years, shown nationally and boasting big name regulars including AFL legend Leigh Matthews.

Talking Footy has gone through several incarnations since it was first broadcast in 1994, and most recently has been hosted by former Western Bulldog Luke Darcy since 2013.

In announcing its full roster of AFL games coverage of Rounds 2-5 when the season resumes on June 11, Channel 7 also confirmed the two main news and analysis shows were being put on ice.

There was no indication given as to when, or if, they might return.

In a statement the network confirmed the “the prevailing market conditions” had forced their hand.

“The prevailing market conditions that have severely impacted most sporting bodies throughout Australia have meant Seven has made the decision to temporarily suspend Talking Footy and Game Day,” the statement read.

[Read more]

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