Mediaweek Roundup: The Block, 96 FM, Disney streaming, AAP + more

• Google, Facebook, oOh!media, triple j, Brad Blanks, Triple M, 4BC, National Geographic Kids, Matt Preston, Karl Stefanovic and Netflix

Business of Media

Google, Facebook profits won’t be wiped out by publishers’ payments: ACCC

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission boss Rod Sims has said the amount publishers will receive from Google and Facebook will not completely wipe out the tech giants’ profits, but will take into account how much journalism costs to produce, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios and Fergus Hunter.

Local media companies have been searching for a ball-park figure that could give them guidance on how much they can expect to receive from the tech titans for use of their news content under a new code of conduct announced by Sims one week ago.

Sims said it would not wipe out the tech giants’ profits. Google Australia posted a 2019 a pre-tax profit of $134 million while Facebook Australia’s profit was $22.7 million in 2019.

“When it goes to arbitration, there’s three things the arbitrator takes into account,” Sims said. “One is the direct, but much more importantly, the indirect value of media on the platforms and I realise that is complex. Secondly, the cost of journalism, the cost to produce the media content. And thirdly, don’t put an undue burden on the platforms.”

[Read more]

Could Disney’s wish upon a Star be coming to Australia?

The Walt Disney Company – quietly, by its standards – unveiled another piece of its plan in the global streaming wars which could have major implications for Australia down the road, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

While many have been waiting for a global plan around its US general entertainment streaming service Hulu, Disney has decided to start fresh outside of the US with a new service, Star, leveraging a brand it acquired via its $US71 billion ($100 billion) acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets.

“We plan to launch an international direct-to-consumer general entertainment offering under the Star brand in calendar year 2021,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek told investors last week.

The new service will not license content, but will just use Disney’s own content, which goes well beyond the well-known branded Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic portfolio.

“Hulu also, I must say has no brand awareness outside of the US and nor does Hulu have any content that’s been licensed to it internationally,” he said. “So this gives us the ability to market this under the Disney umbrella and have synergies with our existing platform. So that’s our basic rationale there.”

Chapek did not give any details on whether the service would launch in Australia, or any other country, and a local Disney spokeswoman said the company had nothing to share.

[Read more]

oOh!media slashes billboard rates by up to 95% to maintain audience

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions forced oOh!media to offer discounts ranging from 10 to 95 per cent on its billboards, as it deals with upended traffic conditions across major cities, reports The AFR’s Natasha Gillezeau.

Buyers working at media agencies said oOh!Media had dropped rates by around 30 per cent overall and it had offered two-for-one billboard and panel deals during a period of considerable change and uncertainty in consumer behaviour.

Chief executive Brendan Cook said he would characterise the drop in prices less as discounting, and more as a measure to offer advertisers the same audience numbers that the company could promise them before COVID-19 hit.

“All media is going to be value-driven to some extent, and when there is less value in the market, we are saying that if audiences are down, how can we make up those audiences for you elsewhere. So it’s not ‘discounting’ in the traditional sense. It’s about making up those audience numbers that we can promise advertisers in other places,” Cook said.

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News Brands

AAP newswire customers to pay same price for reduced service

The new owners of Australian Associated Press’ newswire are asking long-standing customers to pay the same amount for news content that they did when the service had a higher number of staff and more frequent coverage, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Acta Diurna AAP, which launched officially last week under new chief executive Emma Cowdroy, will need to secure contracts with former clients of AAP to shore up funding and prevent News Corp Australia from poaching customers when its non-compete clause is lifted in six months.

“The former AAP company is in the process of transferring its customer contracts to the new AAP as is standard practice in any sale process,” Cowdroy said. “AAP’s new service is focused on the highest value elements of the Newswire’s offering such as courts, sports and politics. These are the very elements that our customers told us they rely on heavily.

“It is in the interests of all of AAP’s customers that we are commercially sustainable so that their newsrooms can continue to depend on AAP as the most cost-effective means of obtaining truly independent and accurate news reporting. AAP has been in contact with its customers and we continue to liaise with them throughout the transfer process.”

[Read more]

Radio

96FM celebrates 40th birthday with archive and listener giveaway

Perth radio station 96FM, now part of the ARN KIIS network, has been celebrating 40 years since it launched on August 8, 1980.

The station launched a special section on its website to celebrate the milestone:

Photo: Fred Botica on air at 96FM in 1986

Welcome to 40 years of the history of 96FM, Perth’s first commercial FM radio station launched at 4pm on Friday August 8, 1980.

We’ve gathered up photos, audio, videos, press clippings and put together articles telling the story of 96FM over four decades for you to enjoy.

It’s a collection of the memories of a bunch of current and former staff and friends of the station, and we’re very grateful to everyone who’s contributed to it so far.

Visit the archive here.

Among those recalling their time at the station is ARN national content director Duncan Campbell, who has posted on social media:

It was 40 years ago today that 96fm in Perth began broadcasting for the first time. In fact it was at 4pm today and the first song to be played was FM (no static at all) by Steely Dan. Gary Roberts was the station’s first programme rirector and it’s launch was the most successful in FM station history in Australia with a massive 12.9% share in its first survey.

The station’s overall share grew to over 30% and 96FM dominated the Perth market for 12 years.

Many people I know worked there and some still do like Gordon O’Byrne, Gavin Miller, Steven Fitton, Gary Shannon, Declan Kelly, John Dawson, Brad McNally to name a few. Kyle Sandilands worked there in the mid 90s as did I when it was purchased by Southern Cross. I worked out of the old Wellington St studios briefly as the station was being relocated to Hay Street where it is today. ARN bought the station in 2015 and after a shaky few years hired back Gary Roberts and the past 18 months have seen the station return to a strong #2 in position in the market.

Congratulations to Gary Roberts and all those who work at or worked at what is arguably one of Australia’s most iconic FM stations. 40 amazing years broadcasting to Perth!

Another radio anniversary: 40 years since Double J became Triple J

Forty years ago this week 2JJ moved over to the FM band and morphed into 2JJJ and then national youth network triple j, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

Here’s some of the highs and lows from Australia’s most uniting – and divisive – radio station.

BANNED ON THE RUN

2JJ burst on the AM airwaves in Sydney in 1975 playing Skyhooks’ racy (for 1975) You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed, which was banned from commercial radio at the time.

2JJJ christened their switch from AM to FM with Gay Guys, a b-side by Perth band Dugites, which was also blackballed from commercial radio.

By July 1981 they were officially triple j (and officially lower case).

UNEARTHED

The station launched Unearthed in 1995, as a competition to discover unsigned musical talent.

Grinspoon were the first winners, launching a career that continues to this day.

In 2001 schoolgirl Missy Higgins entered a song she’d written called All For Believing to Unearthed – it won, got major airplay and saw her sign a record deal with silverchair’s label.

She’s now sold over one million albums in Australia alone.

Other Unearthed discoveries include Flume, Courtney Barnett, Rufus Du Sol, The Rubens, Gang of Youths, Killing Heidi, Thelma Plum, Vance Joy and Tones And I.

NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES

When Barry Chapman was appointed triple j GM in the late 80s he started prepping the network for national listeners.

In 1990 some of the station’s most loved Sydney-based presenters, including Tony Biggs and Tim Ritchie, were axed, leading to protests outside the studios and even a public meeting at Sydney Town Hall to protest against the ‘bland out’.

Some claim the station never recovered, however the national exposure has helped thousands of local musicians get exposure across all of the country – allowing them to extend their tours to city and regional areas.

[Read more]

Brad Blanks recalls how he landed gig with Scott Shannon 20 years ago

New York’s biggest Australian radio star has been recalling how he landed his US gig as he passes a milestone in the Big Apple:

Twenty years ago I came to New York City for my childhood mate Cameron’s wedding, writes Brad Blanks.

He was marrying Amalie. After the wedding I had a little idea that looking back on was quite crazy. At the time I was an out of work accountant living right near Bondi Beach, Sydney. Cash was draining quickly and no one was hiring accountants before the Sydney Olympics. After that awesome New York wedding I had some free days in the city. My crazy idea was to pitch New York radio stations to be someone’s exclusive Sydney Olympics correspondent. I rang 20 radio stations with the idea and every one of them hung up on me because they couldn’t understand my accent. One station I got past the switchboard to someone’s voicemail. That voicemail had a celebrity recorded greeting and that celeb was the late Aussie star, Steve Irwin (what an omen!). Bruce Goldberg, the guy who’s phone it was, was the executive producer of the Scott and Todd Show at WPLJ New York. He called me back straight away. Big thanks to Bruce who took a chance on hearing my idea and had me go into the radio station the following day to pitch him the Olympics concept. So I went in on a hot August morning in 2000 and after a nervous chat and Bruce throwing my sweat-drenched one page pitch paper and dreadful demo tape in the trash, he surprisingly threw me straight into a radio broadcast studio. Someone ordered me to put headphones on and I saw the “ON AIR” light turn on. I was on the air with a legendary radio duo Scott Shannon and Todd Pettingill with news guru Patty Steele and traffic star Joe Nolan weather legend Bill Evans, producer “Monkey Boy” Joe Pardavila and show booker Diana Ferrito. By this stage of the morning I was figuring out that although I was not familiar of this radio program it was a huge one! Being 17 floors above Madison Square Garden were handy indicators of hugeness. Many thanks to Scott and Todd for making my first moment on radio a fantastic experience and kickstarting one heck of a journey on your show. And also ironing out the last name of Blanks!

This radio spot was from the show I’ve been on for the last six years, the Scott Shannon in the Morning show on WCBS-FM 101.1 New York’s Greatest Hits, where we talked about my 20th Anniversary in the radio business. Some funny pictures are painted in this wild piece of radio and some wonderful nostalgia…..bravo Super Shan, Patty Steele and exec prod Louis Pulice … good fun…. and Cameron and Amalie just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary! Glad you two got married and thanks for letting me sleep on ya couch with your cat all those weeks!

Listen to Brad on Scott Shannon in the Morning celebrating his 20 years

Radio station Triple M under fire for crude parody based on Richmond incident

Radio station Triple M has again found itself in hot water for crude content after posting a song about Richmond’s inappropriate touching during post-game celebrations, reports News Corp’s Simeon Thomas-Wilson.

Two years on from the station’s Barry Hall fiasco, the station penned a song in response to the Mabior Chol situation to the tune of Richmond’s club song titled “We’ve Got Your Balls In Hand” which was posted on social media on Saturday.

The song was loaded with inappropriate puns about the Chol incident and drew the ire of the AFL, which contacted the station to voice its “concern”.

The offensive post has since been deleted.

In a statement, the AFL said the inappropriate behaviour by the players was not something to be celebrated or joked about.

“The AFL contacted station management today to voice our concern at the content that was yesterday uploaded on their digital channels, and ensure they were aware that the AFL’s position on the recent unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour by the players should be rebuked and not be celebrated,” the AFL statement read.

[Read more]

Scott Emerson goes full circle, returning to radio in 4BC career shift

Journalist and former government minister Scott Emerson travels full circle on Monday by returning to radio to head 4BC’s drive team, reports Brisbane Times’ Tony Moore.

Believe it or not, Emerson was once a Triple J newsreader. “I was seconded away from ABC News,” he says.

But from Monday at 3pm, he will be back behind the console, with the hit Romantics tune What I Like About You already set to go as his theme tune.

Things have changed in the radio booth in the past 30 years, he admits.

“It’s faster, and I’m slower,” he says with a laugh. “But the show is going to be pretty pacy.”

Emerson tells a good story or two, which will suit the old 4BC talkback radio fans.

He recently travelled through outback Queensland, stopping at Winton’s famous North Gregory Hotel, where Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda was said to have first been performed publicly.

“He loved the place, as do most travellers, me included.”

Emerson resigned from the LNP last month to take up the 4BC position.

“I will make sure that all the tough questions are asked of everyone to make sure 4BC listeners get the answers they want,” he says. “No fear, no favour.”

[Read more]

Publishing

National Geographic Kids leads way as magazine sales surge

Subscriptions to magazines are booming during the coronavirus crisis, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Against a double-digit drop in advertising revenue across the broader Australian media sector, digital subscription retailer isubscribe’s recent sales have been the best April to July period for almost two decades, according to managing director Hunter Drinan.

National Geographic Kids is the most popular magazine on its Australian and New Zealand websites, with upmarket women’s magazine Vogue holding top spot on its British site. Locally, Gardening Australia, Better Homes & Gardens, National Geographic and Australian Traveller round off the top five selling magazines.

Across its three markets, the privately-owned company sells 5000 subscription products, including magazine and newspaper subscriptions, plus boxes of beauty and wellness products. About 70 per cent of its customers are female, aged between 35-59, with a “slightly higher disposable income”.

It has more than 1000 clients worldwide, of which 400 are locally based, including ABC, Executive Media and News Corp Australia. For every subscription isubscribe sells, it receives a 25 per cent commission. That is essentially what news agents and supermarket chains receive.

[Read more]

Television

Matt Preston on quitting MasterChef: ‘I asked myself – what have I done?’

For years, Matt Preston – along with friends and fellow TV hosts Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris – had been the poster child for Network 10’s MasterChef, the cooking-competition series that made them household names and that permanently upended the Australian free-to-air TV landscape when it debuted and became a runaway hit in 2009, reports Karlie Rutherford in Stellar magazine.

But last year, when he and his co-hosts announced they would not return to the show they helped put on the map, it made front-page news. At the time, Preston explained that contrary to rumours, the reason contract negotiations had stalled did not involve disagreements over money – rather, he said, they were unable to agree on terms, and said that MasterChef’s lengthy filming schedule did not allow time for other creative pursuits.

Ultimately, he says, “I asked myself a really simple question: ‘Is this the worst thing that could happen career wise?’ And the answer was no. I loved working on the show. I loved the people I worked with. I am always going to be thankful for the experiences I had doing that show.

“But the worst thing that could have happened was if I lost the writing gigs. That’s who I am. I always defined myself as a food writer.”

Preston’s time in the TV wilderness was not to last long. Soon after former Network 10 boss James Warburton stepped into a new CEO gig at the Seven Network, Preston was one of the first people he called.

“James came knocking with the opportunity to make a show that didn’t take nine months of my life, giving me the option to spend more time writing or filling in on ABC Radio,” Preston tells Stellar. “I love that. I need new challenges.”

George Calombaris will not be joining this latest TV venture. “George wasn’t allowed to play with us at Seven,” says Preston. “He was still contracted at Network 10. I’m mindful of the fact it’s hard [for him] – before the promos for Plate of Origin ran, Gary and I got in contact and said we loved him. All these transition points are hard.”

[Read more]

Today host Karl Stefanovic as unpopular as ever, survey claims

Nine brought him back onto the Today program hoping he could save the sinking ship, however new research has revealed Karl Stefanovic is more unpopular than ever before, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.

A study commissioned by a rival network and leaked to this column surveyed more than 3500 television viewers and found almost 40 per cent were “negative” towards Stefanovic and 30 per cent of his own Today viewers are reportedly “feeling burnt out” or “negative” towards him.

Nine last night scoffed at the opposition’s claims, saying Today’s ratings are up 10 per cent year on year in total people.

“The show has won the last four weeks in Brisbane. On Friday, the Today was the most watched breakfast show on the east coast, Melbourne and Brisbane,” the spokesman said.

“We are – as are viewers – happy to wake up with Ally and Karl.”

The new research, which was conducted in July, comes as Sunday Confidential understands the father-of-four is preparing to ink a new contract with Nine – one which will see him realise his ambition to remain as host of Today.

[Read more]

Netflix reveals $110m spend on Australian children’s shows

Streaming giant Netflix says local quota rules are unnecessary and can breed mediocre shows after revealing it has invested $110 million in Australian original and co-produced children’s programs in the past four years, reports Michael Lallo.

In an exclusive interview with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Netflix executive Ed Horasz argues local quota obligations for subscription video-on-demand services – an option being considered as part of a broader government review of Australian screen content – are unnecessary.

“We commission stuff from Australia because the quality is fantastic,” says Horasz, global director of licensing and co-commissions in the “kids and family” genre. “I’ve never been a fan of quotas because they can breed mediocrity.”

Netflix spent $109.4 million across nine series including some created, filmed and set in Australia (Izzy’s Koala World, The Inbestigators, Bottersnikes and Gumbles); and New Zealand co-productions such as The New Legends of Monkey.

[Read more]

The Block 2020: Contestants, season premiere date announced

It’s now less than a fortnight until the launch of The Block 2020. Domain.com.au property reporter Jemimah Clegg has revealed the start date (Sunday August 23) and profiled each of the show’s teams.

This year’s season of The Block is set to be a bit different in more ways than one. Each couple is tasked with renovating one of five houses from five different eras from the 1910s through to the 1950s, moved from around Melbourne to The Block site in Brighton.

Throw in a global pandemic and a pause in filming during the height of lockdown, and the contestants this year have truly faced challenges like no other group of Blockheads before them.

We spoke to them before they got started on the most unusual season yet.

Harry and Tash, Victoria

The Block

A local father-and-daughter team, IT and telecommunications specialist Harry and production manager Tash have wanted to apply for The Block for the past few years, but the timing was just never quite right.

“One year we forgot!” Harry says. “But this time everything aligned, which is great.”

Tash says the pair may have the home court advantage – if not for the fact that they know the streets of Melbourne, but because her mum (Harry’s wife) will be not too far away.

“She’ll do some drive-bys with a moussaka or two,” Tash says.

She says her experience in project management through her job and Harry’s renovation know-how will hold them in good stead to take on the competition.

[Read more]

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