Mediaweek roundup: The Crown, David Speers, Adam Hills + more

• VOZ, Sophie Monk, The Chase, Big Brother, Australian Open, Malcolm Turnbull, Murdoch + HBO

Business of media

Here comes VOZ: new total TV standard for viewing on all screens

The average Australian home has 1.8 TV sets but 6.6 screens in total (many have more!). People are consuming broadcast content across all of them, inside and outside the home, writes OzTAM CEO Doug Peiffer in The Australian.

Getting a true picture of total TV viewing has been a challenge. The imminent launch of Virtual Australia, or VOZ, however, is set to change that, bringing these two world-class measurement systems together in a single database, creating Australia’s new total TV reporting standard for viewing on all screen types, wherever and whenever it takes place.

Early insights from VOZ will begin to be reported in late February, with daily data available from late April.

[Read more]

Sophie’s choice sees former friends go to war over reality TV star

The genteel streets of Hunters Hill were the scene for one almighty showdown last weekend as two of Sydney’s leading agents – Titus Day and Sean Anderson – went head to head over the spoils of celebrity Sophie Monk, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery.

“We had been friends for 20 years, I went around to his [Sean Anderson’s] home to sort it out on Saturday and look him in the eye … let’s just say we are not friends anymore, it was a pretty tense visit,” Titus Day, who had been managing Monk’s career on and off for a decade, told Hornery.

In December, Monk’s lawyers sent her management firm Media Talent Management, owned by Day’s wife Courtney, a notice of termination. Day says he was completely “blind-sided” by the news that his former close friend and ally, Anderson, had signed Monk up as a client.

Anderson confirmed Day’s visit to his family home, which is understood to have caused considerable anxiety given it was unannounced and had followed heated exchanges between the two over Monk.

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HBO trademark move signals Australian streaming push

US entertainment giant HBO has officially secured a local trademark for a streaming service in a clear sign the entertainment giant behind Game of Thrones and The Wire is considering setting up a standalone business in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

HBO’s owner, US telecoms giant AT&T, last week revealed it had taken a $1 billion revenue hit as it withheld key shows in its portfolio from streaming services such Netflix and Hulu as it prepares to launch its own direct-to-consumer service, HBO Max, in May. Part of that launch includes commissioning original series.

Foxtel currently has the exclusive rights to air HBO content in Australia, a deal with two years left to run.

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News Brands

Chris Kenny: Anti-Murdoch hysteria is both baseless and bizarre

After using Australia’s horrifying bushfires to promote their climate change policies, some hysterical types are now using them to escalate their media wars, fitting up News Corp for no smaller crime than wrecking the Earth, reports The Australian’s Chris Kenny.

Richard Cooke writes for fringe leftist publications in Australia such as The Monthly. He seems to be as obsessive as Stephen Mayne when it comes to Rupert Murdoch and his media companies.

While Cooke is unknown at home, outside angry activist Twitter circles, the bushfire tragedies provided a pretext to share his bizarre Murdochophobia views in The Washington Post.

Beyond Twitter and the public broadcasters, there is a limited market for this sort of conspiracy theory. But Cooke also was used by Al Jazeera to run similar lines.

[Read more]

See also:
Australia’s catastrophic fires are a moment of reckoning for Murdoch’s media empire by Richard Cooke in The Washington Post

The Australian’s first look inside Malcolm Turnbull’s autobiography

Malcolm Turnbull’s keenly awaited autobiography, A Bigger Picture, isn’t due out until April. But The Australian’s Media Diary has never been deterred by a silly release date., reports Nick Tabakoff.

Today we can exclusively unveil the first juicy excerpts from the former journalist’s book (let’s just say they fell off the back of a truck). And with perfect timing, they will cause curly questions to be asked in Canberra in the year’s first sitting week.

The Turnbull book excerpts reveal the private text message correspondence between the former PM and Liberal powerbroker Mathias Cormann after the second leadership vote of August 2018 that saw Scott Morrison take the prime ministership.

Many political analysts believe Cormann’s decision to switch allegiances to Peter Dutton was the biggest factor in dooming Turnbull’s prime ministership.

Turnbull’s book, being published by Hardie Grant, will reveal that in the hours after he was deposed, Cormann dropped him a text to say he was “very sorry” and tell the ex-PM that he wasn’t part of an “insurgency”. But an angry Turnbull replied by telling Cormann he should be “ashamed” and accusing him of being “weak and treacherous”.

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Rich and famous lob up for a serve of tennis on final’s weekend

New Margin Call duo Jonathan Chancellor and Christine Lacy detail some of the seating arrangements on the final weekend of the Australian Open in their column in The Australian:

Nine CEO Hugh Marks was seen sitting alongside his 2GB afternoon drive talent Ben Fordham in the front row of the stadium, flanked by Nine’s enduring programming chief Michael Healy and similarly long-serving news boss Darren Wick. The newsman brought Melbourne-based A Current Affair journo-daughter Ashleigh Wick along for the show.

[Read more]

On Nine-owned 3AW this morning, breakfast co-host Ross Stevenson revealed that another guest at the tennis on the weekend, and sitting front row, was former Bandidos leader and “key underworld figure” Toby Mitchell.

David Speers on his move from Sky News to ABC’s Insiders

It’s known as “getting Speered”: a term describing the fate of politicians who try to dodge tough questions from Sky News alumnus David Speers, the new host of ABC’s Insiders, reports The Age’s Michael Idato.

While other broadcasters adopt the performative style of a Crown prosecutor – an approach that invites accusations of bias – Speers simply asks his guests to explain themselves. Those attempting to spin their way out of trouble usually end up in the conversational equivalent of a Chinese finger trap; their embarrassment amplified in the inevitable viral video.

In recent years, Sky has filled its evening schedule with conservative commentators: a strategy some critics predicted would fail. Instead, its weekly audience has grown to more than 1 million viewers, and it’s often the top-rating non-sports channel on Foxtel. “There were plenty of views I disagreed with but that’s not the reason I left,” Speers says. “The beauty of it is that we could have these arguments and thrash out an issue on air.”

[Read more]

Television

Seven delays Big Brother payments amid share price struggles

Seven West Media has delayed payment for major flagship program Big Brother as shares in the television network slumped to fresh record lows ahead of its half-year financial results, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The return of the hit reality-TV show, which previously aired on 10, was announced at the company’s annual Upfronts event last year. The program will cost between $20 million and $30 million to make, according to production sources, and will launch before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in winter.

Typically, a broadcaster would give a substantial payment to a production house upfront for a new show and provide the rest of the costs in instalments. However, sources close to the discussions said Seven had negotiated with production company Endemol Shine to pay the entirety of the cost at the end of production.

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Never mind Brexit, ‘the beard is off’: Adam Hills finally shaves

Australian comedian Adam Hills has shaved his “Brexit beard”, 15 months after declaring a self-imposed shaving ban until Britain formally left the European Union, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lucy Cormack.

The host of UK talk show The Last Leg was live on air during a special screening of the show as his fellow hosts Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe used electric razors to shave his beard.

Hills then tweeted that he would be selling his beard on eBay with all proceeds to go to Australia’s Red Cross bushfire relief fund.

Hills first made the pledge ahead of the original Brexit deadline set on March 2 last year by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Britain officially departed the EU at 11pm local time on Friday, three-and-a-half years after the country first voted to walk away.

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Andrew O’Keefe takes more time out from The Chase

Production on the 2020 season of Channel 7’s quiz show The Chase has been put on hold “for a couple months” as host Andrew O’Keefe continues to manage his personal and health issues, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Filming of the 2020 season of the ratings winning show was due to start in Melbourne this week, with Seven confirming recently that production was “on track” to commence in the first week of February.

However today Seven confirmed the filming of the show would be delayed again – this time by months.

“Production on The Chase is to be held over for a couple of months,” Seven said in a statement.

“Andrew O’Keefe is taking time to manage and recover from a health issue.

“The Chase continues 5pm weekdays on Seven unaffected by this delay.”

[Read more]

The Crown to end a season early with Imelda Staunton on the throne

Bad news for royalists: The queen’s reign will not last as long as previously expected, reports Vulture.

 Netflix has announced that its sumptuous royal drama The Crown will end in its fifth season, one season shorter than the six-season plan creator Peter Morgan had originally envisioned for the show. According to a statement from Morgan put out by Netflix, this was a creative decision, since “now that we have begun work on the stories for S5 it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop.”

The Crown is currently in production on its fourth season, still starring Olivia Colman as Elizabeth and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, which would bring the series into the 1980s as all the drama between Charles, Princess Diana (Emma Corrin), and Camilla (the multi-hyphenate Emerald Fennell) heats up. According to Morgan’s statement, Imelda would bring The Crown “into the 21st century” in the fifth season, which seems to imply that the show would end a little after Diana’s death in 1997, which Morgan also covered with Helen Mirren in The Queen. That’s certainly a major event to end your series on, but it’s really too bad that there’s nothing exciting going on with the royal family at the moment that might generate enough storylines for further seasons. No sir. Everything with the royal family is fine.”

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