Mediaweek Roundup: Australian correspondents leave China, Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Frost + More

• Ray Hadley, FutureBrand Australia, JCDecaux, Bauer Media, Daisy Pearce and Sam Armytage

News Brands

Last two Australian correspondents leave China after diplomatic standoff

The ABC and The Australian Financial Review have rushed their China correspondents out of the country after police demanded interviews with both journalists, resulting in an extraordinary diplomatic standoff, reports ABC News’ political reporter Matthew Doran and foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic.

Bill Birtles, the ABC’s correspondent based in Beijing, and Mike Smith, the AFR‘s correspondent based in Shanghai, boarded a flight to Sydney on Monday night after the pair were questioned separately by China’s Ministry of State security.

Birtles had spent four days sheltering in Australia’s Embassy in Beijing, while Smith took refuge in Australia’s Shanghai consulate as diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow them to safely leave the country.

The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith (left) and the ABC’s Bill Birtles flew out of Shanghai on Monday night/ABC

The saga began early last week, when Australian diplomats in Beijing cautioned Birtles that he should leave China, with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade giving the same warning to the ABC’s Managing Director David Anderson in Sydney.

ABC News director Gaven Morris said Birtles was being brought home following advice from the Australian Government.

“This bureau is a vital part of the ABC’s international newsgathering effort and we aim to get back there as soon as possible,” Morris said in a statement.

Business of Media

FutureBrand Australia appoints Stephen Barber as brand experience director

FutureBrand Australia CEO Rich Curtis has today announced the appointment of Stephen Barber to the newly-created role of brand experience director.

Barber will be responsible for leading and growing FutureBrand’s brand experience capability for customers and employees, strengthening the connection between brand purpose and everyday experience to give brands a measurable competitive advantage.

Barber’s appointment is the first since FutureBrand Australia became an independent agency in July 2020.

Richard Curtis

Richard Curtis

On the appointment, Curtis says: “Brand experience is what makes brands work in practice by investing in the moments that matter to customers and employees. Stephen’s role is to connect the insights that often exist in different parts of an organisation to create and deliver connected experiences that help businesses grow.

“We’ve been working with Stephen on several client projects since the start of the year and his contribution has shown how valuable this capability is to our clients and their growth.”

On his new role, Barber says: “Joining FutureBrand Australia makes perfect sense for me right now. Following the acquisition, the company has the best of both worlds: local, specialist expertise combined with the relationships and resources of FutureBrand globally, which I know well. Plus, because I’ve been working with Rich and his team on some key projects this year, I know the results we’re getting for clients and I’m excited about how we can embed these processes into our overall brand transformation offer to all our clients.”

Since acquiring FutureBrand Australia from Interpublic Group in July, Curtis’ immediate priorities have been to increase the company’s commitment to the Australian market by investing locally, while ensuring clients also benefit from his team’s collaboration with Futurebrand’s global network and resources.


‘Pete Evans is a dill’: Ray Hadley slams Alan Jones over joining Pete Evans podcast

There’s no love lost between the pair, but radio broadcaster Ray Hadley has savaged former 2GB colleague Alan Jones over participating in a podcast by controversial chef-turned-conspiracy theorist Pete Evans, reports News Corp’s Debbie Schipp.

The appearance saw Jones on Evans’ Evolve Podcast in August discussing everything from a mutual admiration for US President Donald Trump to the political response to Australia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jones, the former morning talkback king, who has used his departure from 2GB to increase his television presence on Sky News, told the Sydney Morning Herald he agreed to the appearance simply because Evans asked him to.

On Monday morning, Hadley was having none of it, slamming Evans as a ‘dangerous’ COVID-19 denier, and blasting longtime rival Jones agreeing to join his podcast was problematic on many levels.

“Pete Evans is a dill. I noticed that my former colleague Alan Jones [was] waxing lyrical on his podcast website,” Hadley said on air.

“Well the day that Alan Jones is an ally of Pete Evans is the day that we have a problem … “The day that Alan Jones thinks it’s OK to go on Pete Evans’ website in light of what we’re facing at the moment is the day we have a problem.

“This bloke is a very dangerous person, Pete Evans, not just because of his insane theories but he’s encouraging people to invest in something where they could lose a lot of money and they need to be really careful.”

[Read More]


R U OK? uses interactive JCDecaux panel for suicide prevention

JCDecaux and its partner suicide prevention charity R U OK? are helping Australians continue the conversation that starts with “Are you OK?”.

This month the suicide prevention organisation is using an interactive JCDecaux panel that uses voice recognition to trigger both on-screen and verbal responses. Passers-by are prompted via a floor decal placed in front of the panel as well as an on-screen call to action to ask: “R U OK?” The panel recognises the phrase and will dispense information on what to say and do if a friend, family member, colleague or peer says they are not OK.

JCDecaux has partnered with R U OK? to help realise its mission to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and to support anyone struggling with life.

R U OK? Day coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday 10 September. The interactive panel is an extension of the R U OK? Day theme explaining “There’s more to say after R U OK?”. JCDecaux will also feature the R U OK? campaign across its national Out-of-Home network during September.

Recent evaluation measures released by R U OK? show that among those people aware of R U OK? most feel confident they know how to have a conversation with someone who might be struggling but 31% lack confidence or are unsure how to have a conversation with someone who is not OK, making this Out-of-Home campaign messaging especially important.

JCDecaux Head of Creative Solutions, Ashley Taylor, said: “This campaign provides the space to model a really important conversation. Our interactive street furniture panels can help people learn more about how to have a conversation with someone who is struggling. Understanding audiences are conscious about things that they touch as a result of COVID-19, the voice recognition functionality provides a safe way to continue to deliver meaningful messages, hands free.”

R U OK? Campaign Director, Gennie Sheer said the generous support from JCDecaux this year has helped encourage more Australians to stay connected during challenging times.

“It’s important that Australians feel they have the skills to navigate a meaningful conversation especially if someone says they’re not OK,” Sheer said. “The JCDecaux interactive activity complements our broader campaign to educate and empower people with the knowledge and confidence to start a conversation that could change a life.”

The voice activated component of the R U OK? campaign appears on George Street in Sydney’s CBD.


Bauer unites leading magazine publishers to support National Newsagent Week

Leading magazine publishers are uniting to celebrate National Newsagent Week, in recognition of more than 38 million magazine sales generated from newsagents annually.

Australia’s 2,900 newsagents remain the primary channel for magazine sales and figures from printing and distribution company, Ovato, reveal that through COVID magazine sales at newsagents have recorded double digital increases in the food (+35%), home interest (+22%), puzzles (+20%), children’s (32%) and craft (+16%) categories.

Spearheaded by Bauer Media, magazine publishers including, DCThompson, Genera, Just Media, Lovatt’s Media, Marketforce, NewsLifeMedia, Next Media, Puzzler Media Australia, Seymour, Universal and Yaffa Media, have joined forces to launch an initiative celebrating the role newsagents play in Australia’s retail landscape.

Working in conjunction with the national peak body for newsagents, Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA), the publishing industry is offering customers who purchase a magazine at any newsagent the chance to enter a draw and win $50,000 from now until the conclusion of National Newsagent Week (19 to 26 September 2020). The promotion is being supported with point of sale material, social media and daily advertising across national and metro newspapers.

Andrew Cohn, head of retail sales and circulation at Bauer Media said: “As one of the inaugural participants of National Newsagent Week we’ve worked to bring the concept to life to recognise one of the hardest working industries in Australia. To see suppliers working together and alongside ALNA has been an extremely positive experience for all. It gives us a chance to highlight the importance of the newsagent industry as an essential service and the role they play at the heart of the community.” 

Ben Kearney, CEO of ALNA added: “As we have seen during the COVID crisis, consumers have turned to magazines for inspiration and escapism and newsagents have been ready to conveniently meet that demand. We’re delighted to have the support of the country’s leading publishers as we recognise the many and varied products and services newsagents provide to the community during National Newsagent Week.”


TV talent negative after SEN positive case

Seven AFL boundary reporter and AFLW star Daisy Pearce has been given the all-clear following a COVID-19 test, after being in contact of an SEN radio employee who tested positive last week, reports TV Tonight.

The Herald Sun reported she dropped out of Friday night coverage to isolate and await test results, but has since been given the all clear.

SEN told the newspaper it was not an AFL identity who tested positive but could not advise more due to privacy. 

TV Tonight can confirm two FOX Footy talents who work at SEN have also tested negative, with one to remain in isolation awaiting the results of a second test.

[Read More]

Home and Away star Sam Frost to strip off for charity

She plays body confident character Jasmine Delaney on Home and Away but Sam Frost says in real life, she struggles with her image, reports News Corp’s Mibenge Nsenduluka.

Frost is set to strip down for charity on Channel 7’s The All New Monty: Guys and Gals this week and she admits she’s nervous.

I’d like to say I feel comfortable in my body, but the truth is body image is something that I’ve battled with my whole life and I don’t want to be like that,” Frost, 31, said.

“I’m trying to get more comfortable in my own skin, and I’m trying really hard to push away those insecurities.”

The former Bachelorette star will join the likes of Erin Holland, Wayne Carey and Patti Newton as they bare it all to raise breast cancer awareness.

[Read More]

Channel 7 Sunrise presenter Sam Armytage sells Southern Highlands weekender

Channel 7’s Sunrise presenter Sam Armytage has sold her Southern Highlands weekender, reports News Corp’s Jonathan Chancellor.

She has secured a $3.1m off-market buyer for the Burrawang cottage, in a deal well up on her $2.2m purchase price from three years ago.

Armytage also sold her North Bondi home for $3.15m in July, just a month after her June engagement to Richard Lavender, a Quirindi-born equestrian ­businessman.

It would suggest Armytage intends living with her fiance at his longtime Berrima estate elsewhere in the Highlands. He celebrated his 61st birthday on Saturday with Sam turning 43 on Friday.

[Read More]


Sonny Bill Williams Sydney Roosters return was Foxtel’s most streamed NRL game ever

Sonny Bill Williams is a 110 kilogram human headline and the Sydney Roosters superstar is now a television ratings winner, delivering record ratings for the Foxtel group.

Williams‘ highly anticipated NRL return on Saturday against the Canberra Raiders in the grand final replay had sports lovers from all over the country tuning in to Fox League, Kayo, Foxtel Go and Foxtel Now in record numbers.

The match was the most streamed NRL game ever and was fifth most watched in the subscription television history.

A total of 468,000 tuned in to the match with 161,000 of those viewers streaming the clash across Foxtel’s streaming services.

Williams first game of NRL since 2014 was also the third most viewed match so far in season 2020.

[Read More]

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