Mediaweek Roundup: Stan, Foxtel, Claude Outdoor, Annika Smethurst + more

Claude Outdoor, ABC, Roger Covell, and Sarah Lambert

Business of Media

Stan grows audience, makes money – can it renew Disney deal?

Stan boss Mike Sneesby (pictured) wants to continue its content partnership with Disney as the streaming platform ramps up local production before an expected drop in international content, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Stan’s one-year deal with Disney expires in December, and investors are keen to hear if it will be extended as the US giant prepares to launch the keenly anticipated streaming service, Disney+.

Stan, which is owned by Nine Entertainment, has now “more than 1.6 million active subscribers”, thanks to its string of US shows and movies, and has been “EBITDA positive from March”, Sneesby told the Morgan Stanley Australia summit in Sydney yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Sneesby told The Australian that Disney had been “a great partner”, adding that it had a “really positive relationship with their local and international teams”.

“We’ve said to them quite openly that we’re open to continuing partnership in one form or another beyond some of this core period that people are referring to, and what that means I think is kind of up in the air.”

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Rationale for Foxtel IPO remains: Telstra’s CEO Andy Penn

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn says the telecommunications giant is fully committed to Foxtel and believes it still makes sense to list the under-pressure pay TV provider down the road, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Telstra owns 35% of Foxtel, while News Corp owns the other 65%. Previously Foxtel was 50-50 owned by News Corp and Telstra, but the ownership structure changed when it was merged with Fox Sports, which was 100% owned by News Corp.

“The whole rationale for doing the restructure was we could see that the media industry was going to go through this period of very substantial change and that bringing Fox Sports and Foxtel together would be beneficial to help Foxtel navigate that period, and to achieve that we needed to dilute down to 35%, we were happy to do that,” Penn told the Financial Review at the Morgan Stanley Australia summit on Tuesday.

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Claude Outdoor signs contract for Avalon Airport advertising

Claude Outdoor, sister company to TorchMedia, has secured the exclusive advertising rights to Avalon Airport.

The rights include large format billboards on the Princes Highway and Airport Drive and internals in the Domestic and International Terminals which feature new large format internal LED displays.

Avalon Airport services over 1,300,000 passengers following the recent opening of the International Terminal. The new International Terminal features anchor carrier Air Asia.

Phillip Hare, managing director of Claude Outdoor said:

“With the addition of the International terminal Avalon Airport is now a gateway to Victoria and in particular Melbourne, Geelong and the Surf Coast. We are also seeing an expansion in passenger numbers using Avalon as a hub connector to Sydney, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.

“Avalon is a fabulous addition to our airport solutions for SMEs and local businesses. Avalon presents the perfect opportunity to target both domestic and international travellers.”

Claude Outdoor’s airport media portfolio continues to grow, reaching nearly five million passengers annually. In addition to Avalon, Claude Outdoor’s portfolio includes Sydney’s Rex Terminal, Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.

News Brands

Press freedom undermined as Federal Police chase sources

The Morrison government has been accused of intimidating journalists and undermining press freedom, after the home of senior press gallery reporter Annika Smethurst was raided over a 2018 leak that authorities said could threaten national security, reports The Australian’s Richard Ferguson and Zoe Samios.

Hours after the AFP raid, 2GB radio host Ben Fordham revealed live on air that he was now involved in a Home Affairs Department inquiry for reporting on Monday that six asylum-seeker boats were headed for Australia.

In April last year, Smethurst, the political editor of News Corp Sunday newspapers, reported on a secret plan that would have allowed the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens for the first time and gain access to their emails, bank records and text messages.

News Corp Australia said the seven-hour AFP raid would “chill public interest reporting” and was a “clear and dangerous” signal to those trying to cover ­intelligence and national security matters. This raid demonstrates a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths,” a News Corp spokeswoman said. “The raid was outrageous and heavy handed.”

Fordham said there was “no hope in hell” he would give up any sources, even though he was not the target of the investigation into his asylum-seeker boats reports. “I don’t know how concerned I should be, because I haven’t been in a situation like this before,” he said. “I’ll co-operate with them as much as I can, but I’m not able to reveal my sources. Never have, never will. Agencies like Home Affairs are free to investigate leaks, just as I’m free to decide not to reveal my sources.”

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The Australian: Dangerous intimidations hurt public’s right to know

The Australian Federal Police raid on the home of Canberra journalist Annika Smethurst is an ominous development for those who value, espouse and rely on press freedom in this country, comments an editorial in The Australian.

Yesterday morning AFP officers presented Smethurst with a warrant to search her home, computer and mobile phone. Such actions seek to cow reporters, publishers and whistleblowers from bringing into the public realm vital information about threats to citizens’ rights and freedoms in our democracy.

That the present AFP action comes more than a year after publication, and so soon after the federal election, is a worrying sign for publishers and their employees – and also whistleblowers.

Media companies have fought a brutal battle against incursions into the public’s right to know. Policymakers have scant regard for press freedom or the protection of journalists and sources. At best, such matters are an afterthought, with the insertion of limited defences into ever-harsher security legislation.

During the election campaign, Scott Morrison spoke about protecting basic freedoms, including the right to religious belief. Amid heavy-handed assaults on the public’s right to information and the creep of government into our lives, the Morrison government must step up. The Prime Minister has a duty to make sure citizens are kept informed by a viable, vibrant and unhindered press about vital issues that affect their lives.

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Daily Telegraph: Journalists shouldn’t fear working in a free society

Armies and navies keep a nation’s border secure, police ensure it is safe to walk the streets and it’s an independent press that, without fear or favour, is able to hold authorities who govern a nation and ensure they don’t overstep their mark. But they did just that on Tuesday.

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Annika Smethurst raid was more than an invasion of privacy

Seven federal cops. Seven hours. The rubbish bins. The oven. The underwear drawers.

Tuesday’s raid on the home of our national political editor Annika Smethurst was a shocking invasion of privacy – but it was much more sinister than that, comments Claire Harvey, deputy editor of News Corp’s Sunday Telegraph.

This is an attempt to intimidate journalists, and more importantly their sources, who attempt to reveal information that is in the public interest.

Annika’s story, published in April 2018, was absolutely in the public interest: it revealed secret plans at the highest levels of the Canberra bureaucracy to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to cyber-spy on Australian citizens.

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ABC journalists call on news chief to explain why story was pulled

ABC journalists have condemned alleged editorial interference by Adani and called on the news director, Gaven Morris, to explain why a story on the mining giant was never run, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.

Staff representatives from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and union officials met on Tuesday morning after Guardian Australia and Media Watch reported the Adani spokeswoman Kate Campbell made a direct call to Morris to complain about a story before it aired.

The radio story, which had been commissioned for Saturday AM, was pulled from the run-down hours later. The ABC said later this was done to give Adani more time to respond.

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Former SMH music critic Roger Covell dies aged 88

Roger Covell musicologist, author and chief music critic of The Sydney Morning Herald for 40 years, has died. He was 88, reports Peter McCallum in Covell’s former newspaper.

Covell was born in Sydney in 1931 but was brought up and educated in Queensland, moving there aged one after his father died of war injuries.

After graduating from the University of Queensland he lived for a time in the UK working as an actor and with the BBC. He became chief music critic of The Sydney Morning Herald in 1960, contributing reviews and articles in which he championed Australian composers and performers into the late 90s, when illness forced him to curtail his activities.

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Sarah Lambert and Bruna Papandrea team up on a TV adaptation

The mastermind behind Love Child, Sarah Lambert, is working on her next big TV series, teaming up with Big Little Lies producer Bruna Papandrea to adapt a best-selling Queensland novel, reports News Corp’s Amy Price.

This week Lambert is writing the pilot episode of the eight-part series, which has recently been backed by Screen Australia.

Lambert, who is also behind Foxtel series Lambs of God, said she learnt from long-running Channel 9 drama Love Child, which ended in 2017 after four seasons, that audiences are hungry for “brave storytelling”.

“If we tried to make this five years ago I would have thought it would be really hard, but it’s time,” she said. “It’s being really bold about the way we still stories and brave … and I think this will be big.

“We are still having this conversation about the male perception of violence against women. We still haven’t solved it and dealt with it.

“We need to look at not blaming women for it and that’s done really well in the book. It’s got amazing female characters.”

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