Mediaweek roundup: Steve Price, Andrew Bolt, Facebook + more

Steve Price

• George Calombaris, Seven West, Rugby Australia & Fox Sports, Kayo, AFL, Messenger Community News, Paul Barry, Sing Tao Daily, Onus, New York Times + Mirvac

Business of Media

Facebook lashed by News Digital boss for rising scam ads

Facebook has been urged to take urgent action against a rising tide of scam ads that use real news sites to lure unwitting consumers to part with their money, amid concerns the company is dragging its feet when it comes to a code of conduct on fake news, reports The Australian’s David Swan.

News Digital Networks Australia (News DNA) managing director Julian Delany said the publisher had reported the fake ads to the tech giant since September with “little success” and that Facebook’s assurances it had taken action against the scammers rang hollow.

“It is hugely damaging to our brands and to the distribution of quality, trusted news to the Australian public,” Delany said.

[Read more]

Onus on tech giants to pay their share of journalism costs

This year will be a pivotal one for journalism as news publishers and the big tech companies work together to forge commercial business partnerships that lay the foundations for a positive future, writes News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller in The Australian.

News Corp will begin talks this week with Google over the federal government’s directive that the tech giants commit to a code of conduct for the negotiation of terms with media companies.

In these discussions with Google – and we hope Facebook also takes part in similar talks – we are confident that 2020 will mark a turning point for media sustainability in the modern digital world.

The agreements reached this year will come from the government’s response to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s inquiry into digital platforms.

News Corp has led the global debate about the need for a rebalancing of the relationships between the tech giants and publishers to ensure a strong and vibrant media sector.

The solution is now clear, fair and will be mandated if necessary: Big Tech should pay publishers from the profits and in the process secure a strong, sustainable media industry and a healthy society.

[Read more]

TV chef in crisis meeting to save teetering food empire

The hospitality empire of celebrity chef George Calombaris is on the brink of collapse and could be placed into voluntary administration as early as this week, with about 500 employees facing an uncertain future, reports The Age’s Gemima Cody.

A decision to appoint an administrator to oversee Made Establishment is set to be made at a meeting on Monday afternoon, months after the ailing business was battered by a major underpayment scandal and a tsunami of negative media coverage.

Calombaris, who left his role as a star judge on MasterChef last year, did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The fate of 18 restaurants and fast-food outlets remains unclear. These include Melbourne CBD venue Gazi, souvlaki chain Jimmy Grants, Yo-Chi frozen yoghurt stores and Calombaris’ flagship fine dining establishment, Press Club, which became Elektra Dining in October.

[Read more]

Developer Mirvac buys Channel 9 headquarters for $227 million

Listed property developer the Mirvac Group has emerged as the buyer of the landmark Nine Network head office site in Willoughby – in a deal worth about $227 million, reports News Corp’s Amanda Sheppeard.

The prolific developer is reportedly keen to get started on the approved masterplan for the 3ha site, which includes 460 apartments across 10 mid-rise buildings, ranging in height from four to nine storeys.

Joint venture party, LEPC9 formed by partners, Australian property fund the Lotus Group and Hong Kong-based fund managers Euro Properties, bought the Artarmon Rd site in 2015 for $147 million.

Mirvac has also entered into an agreement to acquire the TX Australia transmission property which adjoins the Nine site. As part of its plans and subject to approvals, Mirvac intends to demolish the TX transmission tower and repurpose that site.

[Read more]

The New York Times tops 5m subscriptions, but ads decline

In the last three months of 2019, The New York Times Company reached one major business goal and got more than halfway toward another, reports the company.

Both are related to what has become the company’s main business: making money directly from customers who pay to do the crossword, check out recipes and follow the news on their computers, tablets and phones.

As the company disclosed last month, in 2019 it passed US$800 million in annual digital revenue for the first time, an objective it had pledged to meet by the end of 2020. Most of that $800.8 million – more than $420 million – came from news subscribers.

In the fourth-quarter earnings report that came out on Thursday, the company said its total subscription figure was over five million, a high. The company’s stated goal is to reach 10 million by 2025.

The company added more than one million net digital subscriptions last year – the most new subscriptions annually in the newspaper’s history.

[Read more]

News Brands

The Price is right for departed 2GB afternoon host

Talk radio host Steve Price has wasted no time in moving on from his surprise dumping by Nine Radio boss Tom Malone, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

Price negotiated himself the sweet deal of Nine paying him about $500,000, including his entire year’s salary for 2020, without so much as a “non-compete” clause to stop him from working anywhere else.

His big new relationship is with Austereo, where he has negotiated a weekly 45-minute segment on Eddie McGuire’s Hot Breakfast on Triple M on Tuesdays, and Price will also start weekly podcasts with the PodcastOne network, including a new travel show. The word is that he could yet land more radio gigs with Triple M, which is broadening its talk show presence.

[Read more]

Media Watch’s Paul Barry fans flames, dodges climate change facts

The ABC’s Media Watch, hosted by Paul Barry, claims the high moral ground, declaring it exposes “conflicts of interest, journalistic deceit, misrepresentation, manipulation and plagiarism”. But the problem is that it is full of journalistic deceit, misrepresentation and manipulation itself, reports The Australian’s Chris Kenny.

It flouts ABC charter demands for objectivity and accuracy. Rather than be an independent arbiter of media standards, Barry uses it to target the ABC’s commercial rivals and wage ideological battles supporting political causes dear to the green left.

The program shows only occasional interest in revealing ABC deceptions and cannot bring itself to examine the organisation’s chronic political bias.

Last week’s first program for the year was a classic of the genre because it misrepresented people and facts in order to promote global warming alarmism and denounce News Corp journalism.

[Read more]

Chinese newspaper Sing Tao Daily goes into liquidation

The largest and longest-running Chinese language newspaper in Australia, Sing Tao Daily, went into liquidation on Thursday, ending its 38-year legacy and adding uncertainty to the diversity and independence of the Chinese-language media in the country, reports News Corp’s Heidi Han.

The sudden closure of the local publication that formed part of 16 overseas editions of Hong Kong’s second-largest Chinese-language newspaper comes as Australia’s largest non-English language community is overwhelmingly embracing digital media, including popular social media platform WeChat.

With a circulation of more than 15,300 for weekdays and 25,000 for the Saturday paper nationally, according to Dentsu Aegis, Sing Tao had also been facing criticism globally for being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.

[Read more]

Andrew Bolt: I’ve been talking about the planet warming for 15 years

We sceptics can’t go on like this. These bushfires demand we all stop pretending and face the facts, writes News Corp’s Andrew Bolt.

And, yes, it starts with me.

So I admit: the planet has warmed.

I admit: this warming could affect a lot of people.

I admit: man’s emissions probably play some role.

I admit: the Liberals’ response has been hopeless and MUST change.

Enough. How can Prime Minister Scott Morrison possibly agree that global warming is a menace – giving us bad things like a “longer, hotter, dryer, summer season” – yet still promise to do less than Labor to save us?

That’s simply not credible when people are freaking about a climate emergency that some think will wipe us out.

I’ve actually said nothing here that I haven’t said for more than 15 years.

In 2005, for instance, I wrote: “Over the past century the world has warmed, cooled and warmed again” and “most scientists (think) our emissions are partly to blame”.

So let me repeat yet again the facts that we must all stop pretending aren’t true.

[Read more]

Messenger Community News launches digital title for Adelaide Hills

For the first time in its 68-year history, Messenger Community News will have a presence in the Adelaide Hills with the launch of a daily online news site.

The Adelaide Hills News will deliver the stories that matter most to residents of the region, which encompasses two councils and about 100 local towns.

It is News Corp SA’s third digital-only masthead, after the launch last year of The Upper Spencer Gulf News and The City.

All are published by community newspaper division Messenger Community News.

Journalist and Hills local Lydia Kellner has been named editor of the publication.

Kellner commenced her journalism career in Townsville more than a decade ago, where she worked in community and general news.

She then became real estate editor for the Townsville Bulletin, and in 2017 moved to Adelaide as senior real estate reporter.

[Read more]

Sports Media

AFL works on rights extension with Seven, Foxtel, Telstra

The AFL is believed to be working on an extension to its broadcast rights deal with Seven West Media, Foxtel and Telstra, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Under the current deal, News Corp, which owns 65 per cent of Foxtel, is paying $1.3 billion over the life of the agreement, Seven is paying $840 million and Telstra is paying $600 million.

Foxtel has all nine AFL matches per round live, Seven shows, on average, 3½ games per round, while Telstra owns the digital rights.

“The AFL don’t give a running commentary on our broadcast rights,” an AFL spokesman said. Seven, Foxtel and Telstra declined to comment.

[Read more]

Kayo numbers have faltered and that’s worrying for Foxtel

Whether Kayo’s shock slump is a hiccup or something more remains to be seen, but Foxtel and News Corp executives will be sweating on their $105 million per year bet on cricket, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Deep in the release of News Corp’s results on Friday, it was revealed Kayo, the sports streaming service that has been identified as a core pillar of Foxtel’s future, showed a decline leading into the end of 2019.

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson downplayed Kayo’s slump, pointing to the AFL and NRL seasons as the key drivers of growth and delivering cricket a yorker, labelling it not as compelling as the winter codes.

On Friday, News Corp, which owns 65 per cent of Foxtel, revealed Kayo had more than 370,000 paying subscribers as of February 5. This compared with more than 402,000 as of November 5, 2019. It had 42,000 paying subscribers at the end of December 2018.

[Read more]

Seven West Media warning as rugby rights deal in balance

Seven West Media boss James Warburton has warned sporting bodies they should better demonstrate their value to broadcasters as Rugby Australia prepares to stoke interest in the television rights for the struggling code, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

With Seven also preparing to extend its current broadcast right deal with the AFL, Warburton said sports must demonstrate “revenue and growth” opportunities in a clear signal he would not enter a bidding war to show Wallabies Tests or Super Rugby.

“Sporting bodies should consider what they offer TV networks in incremental revenue and growth opportunities,” Warburton said. “We will be very disciplined in our rights negotiations — we already have the No 1 one winter and summer sports.”

[Read more]

Rugby Australia and Fox Sports’ broken marriage needs a divorce lawyer

Rugby has contributed significantly to the many problems that have led to its fractious relationship with Fox Sports and the clear peril this represents to the game’s future funding, writes Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Cully.

The arrogance of Super Rugby expansion – who in their right mind thought Australia could sustain five Super Rugby teams? – served up a lot of dross that the punter was expected to consume because it provided Australian “derbies” (a fabrication).

But let’s be frank: Rugby Australia and Fox Sports are both damaged parties, using models that may not even be sustainable.

Fox Sports is absolutely right to be driving a hard bargain in these negotiations, and it is certainly not the only pay TV operator that is demanding more of sports rights-holders.

[Read more]

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