Mediaweek Roundup: Telstra, Stephen Conroy, Peter Dutton, Waleed Aly + more

• Stephen Conroy, FFA, Cricket World Cup, and Wimbeldon

Business of Media

Brisbane joins Sydney and Melbourne in payphone battle against Telstra

Brisbane City Council has joined the Federal Court battle between major cities and Telstra over the telecommunications giant’s right to install new large advertising billboards with its payphones, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The City of Melbourne had initially launched a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal action in March. Telstra then moved to escalate the dispute to the Federal Court after it was clear several councils were concerned about the payphone upgrades.

The City of Sydney joined as an applicant after Telstra pushed the action to the Federal Court.

The upgrade includes 1860 payphones across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide being installed with large digital advertising boards. In March, the City of Melbourne rejected 81 applications for JCDecaux to upgrade Telstra payphones, including new 75-inch (190-centimetre) digital advertising screens.

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Why Stephen Conroy missed out on chairing industry body

Former Labor heavyweight Stephen Conroy narrowly missed out on becoming chairman of the television industry’s lobby group after a surprise federal election result sent the broadcasters back to the drawing board, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

Free TV Australia’s former chairman Harold Mitchell stood down in November after allegations from the corporate regulator that he gave confidential information to Seven West Media during negotiations for the 2015-19 tennis rights when he was also a board member for the sporting code.

In the eight months since Mitchell’s departure the free-to-air television industry group’s board has been considering potential replacements.

Multiple media sources said the board had considered Conroy as the frontrunner to replace the legendary adman months ago.

However, the plan to give Conroy the job was aborted after the May election, which saw the Coalition returned to government.

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News Media

‘Nobody is above the law’: Journalists committed a crime, says Dutton

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has rejected demands to drop police action against three high-profile journalists, declaring reporters are committing a crime by receiving top-secret documents, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Bevan Shields.

As the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police, Dutton has come under pressure to order the agency to abandon any investigation into ABC journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, and News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst.

Dutton on Friday rejected demands from media chiefs to drop any action against the reporters.

“Nobody is above the law and the police have a job to do under the law,” he told the Today program.

“I think it is up to the police to investigate, to do it independently and make a decision about whether or not they prosecute.”

Critically, Dutton added: “These are laws that go back decades in western democracies like ours where, if you’ve got top secret documents and they’ve been leaked, it is an offence under the law and police have an obligation to investigate a matter referred to them … and they’ll do that.”

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Bauer goes up a gear on TV content with more WhichCar on 10

Bauer Media’s Australian business is set to make more television shows as part of the publisher’s efforts to boost its audience across different media platforms, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The company has given the green light to a second series of TV show WhichCar, which has surprisingly gained a strong female audience, and is working on two more shows targeting women.

Terry King, WhichCar’s executive director and general manager of publishing, said the first season did well with more than 200,000 viewers per week on Network 10 earlier this year, of which 41 per cent were female.

The car show is an extension of Bauer’s fastest-growing auto consumer website,, which reaches more than 1.2 million people a month. That has nearly doubled since the website’s overhaul in May last year, King said.

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‘It wasn’t a career move’ – Waleed Aly’s TV gamble

“When you add it all up, it starts sounding like a pretty stupid idea,” says Waleed Aly. He’s talking about his own appointment as host of The Project in 2015, six years after Charlie Pickering had well and truly made the role his own, reports The Age’s Melinda Houston.

Now, as The Project prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary (officially, on July 20) he still sometimes wonders why he’s there.

“I would look at Charlie when I was on the desk with him and think, there’s no way I could ever do that,” Aly says. And despite the fact that he was already a Walkley-award winning journalist and experienced broadcaster – including on The Project – he felt severely deficient when it came to the requirements of hosting.

You get the feeling Aly regards himself chiefly as an academic who writes (he contributes to this newspaper, The Guardian and The Australian, among others). But to the rest of the country he’s first, foremost and perhaps exclusively host of The Project. Which, while it may not have been on his personal to-do list, is not a bad gig. For one thing, it seems like a convivial sort of workplace. (“Jerks don’t end up on our desk,” he agrees.)

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Sports Media

FFA seeks ‘football person’ to replace Gallop as chief executive

For the first time in the organisation’s history, Football Federation Australia will be led by a “football person” with David Gallop‘s replacement set to be found from within the game, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Dominic Bossi.

The FFA board is on the lookout for a new chief executive following Gallop’s resignation on Thursday and while the criteria for the redefined position is yet to be finalised, the directors are unanimous that their next leader must have an established career in football.

The Herald understands Sydney FC chief Danny Townsend, PFA chief John Didulica, former Socceroo and SBS presenter Craig Foster, Football Federation Victoria chief Peter Filopoulos and FFA chief operating officer Mark Falvo have already been marked as potential candidates. It is understood no applications have been submitted for the role.

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Sport still a winner for the networks, despite the cost of rights

Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup have beaten expectations despite a volatile advertising market and lucrative sports rights arrangements, according to broadcasters, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.

But Seven’s chief sales officer, Kurt Burnette, and Nine’s director of sport, Tom Malone, still believe the sports rights model is “broken” and, while the arrangements for the international competitions have performed, the cost of airing various sports codes need to be reviewed.

Burnette said Wimbledon was worth the investment, given audience growth, but said the advertising market still wasn’t where it needed to be.

“Sport can rise in a sinking tide but the ad market is not particularly strong,” Burnette said.

Malone said the Cricket World Cup, which Nine sub-licenses from Fox Sports, “exceeded expectations” boosted by the success of the Australian team.

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