Mediaweek Roundup: Tim Worner, oOh! Media, The Australian + more

Peter Tonagh, Kevin Rudd, The Clarions awards, Lisa Wilkinson, Emma Alberici, Scott Cam, The Block. My Kitchen Rules, Hungry Ghosts, W magazine, and Robb Report Australia

Business of Media

Tim Worner back in the saddle soon as gardening leave ends?

Could Tim Worner be heading to the racing world? His year-long gardening leave that followed his departure from Seven West Media last August is up any day now, reports The Australian’s Jonathan Chancellor.

The odds are shortening for Worner to end up in the sport of kings. Sure the racing world is awash with rumours, but racing has been one of Worner’s passions away from the office.

Indeed he had a Darwin Cup entrant earlier this month, the six-year-old galloper Live And Free, which he co-owns alongside Seven presenter Hamish McLachlan, his brother Gillon, the AFL chief, and cricket legend Michael Slater.

Worner could potentially be a candidate to replace David Attenborough who recently announced he will be stepping down as the wagering giant Tabcorp chief. There’s also a board seat vacancy at Tabcorp since its chairman Paula Dwyer retires later this year, to be replaced by board member Steven Gregg.

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Peter Tonagh joins ACT Capital Partners as chairman

Former Foxtel and News Corp Australia chief executive Peter Tonagh has invested in media-focused investment manager ACT Capital Partners, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The media executive and company director for AAP and Village Roadshow will also become chairman of ACT, after buying roughly a third of the investor manager business, which was founded by media executive and adviser Adam Schoff in August 2018.

“For me the simple premise is I spend a lot of my time looking at new media organisations. I’ve learnt I’d rather focus my time on those areas because I know them well,” Tonagh told The Australian Financial Review.

Tonagh said he and ACT under Schoff had been looking at a number of start-ups in common and found similar investment focuses.

“It hasn’t changed what I look at. I’m in a position now where we can do things on larger scale,” Tonagh said.

Tonagh now owns a third of ACT, Schoff about 25 per cent, former Sony and Warner Bros executive Sander Schwartz owns 5 per cent, and Wolf Capital, the family office of the Wilson family, owns 40 per cent, as well as being early investors in the fund which the investment manager runs.

Tonagh has already invested in a number of media start-ups, including The Squiz, a daily digital update of Australian politics, news and current affairs, and Inkl, which compiles news from different publishers across the world under one subscription plan.

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oOh! Media asks staff to volunteer for pay cut extension

oOh! Media has asked staff to take a smaller pay cheque until the end of the year as the billboard company tries to cope with low demand from advertisers, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Employees at oOh! Media have been working reduced hours with lower salaries since April and were expected to return to full time work in the next few weeks. However, continued weakness in advertising spending caused by economic factors related to the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put financial pressure on the business.

oOh! Media and rival billboard companies including JC Decaux and QMS Media have been significantly impacted by the advertising downturn because they are heavily reliant on the money as a source of revenue. While other local media businesses have withdrawn earnings guidance, renegotiated broadcast deals and shut newspapers, oOh! Media launched a capital raise and cut staff hours and pay by 20 per cent.

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News Brands

A note from The Australian’s Editor-in-Chief on Johannes Leak cartoon

“Readers may be aware The Australian’s cartoon has today caused some controversy. I want to explain to you its context in this statement,” wrote the paper’s editor-in-chief Chris Dore in response to plenty of anger on social media to the cartoon.

“The words ‘little black and brown girls’ belong to US presidential candidate Joe Biden, not The Australian’s cartoonist Johannes Leak.

“When Johannes used those words, expressed in a tweet by Biden yesterday, he was highlighting Biden’s language and apparent attitudes, not his own.

“The intention of the commentary in the cartoon was to ridicule racism, not perpetuate it.

“In the context of Biden’s words, this is evident. Clearly some, including those without that context, have wrongly attributed Biden’s words to Johannes, and in doing so have attributed abhorrent and inaccurate motives to him.

The Australian, and Johannes, opposes racism in all of its guises.”

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Kevin Rudd rages over controversial Kamala Harris cartoon

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has complained to the press regulator about a controversial cartoon in The Australian newspaper of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, days after its editor-in-chief Chris Dore was forced to defend its publication, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Rudd and Labor MPs Andrew Leigh, Mark Dreyfus and Andrew Giles have all publicly criticised the News Corp-owned masthead for inciting racism and causing offence late last week after it published a cartoon by Johannes Leak that described Senator Harris as a “little brown girl”.

In a letter to Australian Press Council (APC) chair Neville Stevens on Sunday, Rudd described the cartoon as an example of a newspaper “fuelling racist and sexist prejudice in our society beneath the fig leaf of press freedom”. He warned the regulator not to be a “toothless tiger” and uphold his complaint.

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Retail ban: More newsagents act on newspaper content

The Kamala Harris ‘cartoon’ in The Australian a few days ago was racist and grossly offensive, writes Melbourne newsagent Mark Fletcher.

On seeing it, I asked the staff at my own shops to remove it from sale. While I agree we should not act as censors, sometimes we have to take a stand. What The Australian published went too far in my view. I felt better not selling it. I don’t care what others think, this was the right decision for me.

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The Australian in running for The Clarions awards

Six journalists at The Australian have been nominated as finalists for Queensland’s media awards, The Clarions, reports the paper.

Reporter Michael McKenna and photographer John Wilson have been nominated for the top award for investigative journalism over their series of reports about state government inaction and secrecy over the defective Paradise Dam, near Bundaberg, which led to a commission of inquiry being established.

National crime correspondent David Murray, audio producer and editor Chris Bosley and multimedia editor Eric George have been nominated as finalists in the radio, documentary and podcast category for The Lighthouse series, which investigated the disappearance of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez last year.

Queensland political reporter Sarah Elks has been nominated for rural journalism over her expose on safety issues in Queensland’s coalmines.

Harper Collins to publish Lisa Wilkinson’s ‘tell all’ on Nine divorce

Lisa Wilkinson is secretly working furiously on a tell-all autobiography, The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff reports, using the extra time she has from not shuttling between Sydney and Melbourne for 10’s The Project because of COVID-19.

And from what we’re told, no juicy detail will be off limits. Readers can expect Wilkinson to reveal the ups and downs of her relationship with former co-host Karl Stefanovic and her 27-year marriage to bandana-fancier Peter Fitz­Simons, as well as her time back in the 1980s and 1990s as one of Kerry Packer’s most celebrated magazine editors.

But there’s no doubting the memoir’s most anticipated detail: a full account of Wilkinson’s workplace break-up with Nine and the Today show.

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Emma Alberici’s next chapter to air out Aunty’s bloomers

It’s been almost two months since ABC chief economics reporter Emma Alberici – for now, at least – filed action in the Fair Work Commission against her employer after learning her position was likely to be axed in a round of belt-tightening, report Nine newspapers’ Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook.

Alberici squared off against Aunty management in an FWC telephone hearing on Friday. There’s another scheduled for Tuesday, again taking place in front of Fair Work deputy president Val Gostencnik. But it’s not the biggest event in the journalist’s diary this week.

Alberici has also written a book. Her publisher Hardie Grant, is doing the big reveal on the manuscript on Monday, including the title and content. It’s been variously described as a memoir and reflection on the life of a journalist working in a tough environment.

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The Block’s Scott Cam on NCA interview: ‘I handled it badly. I regret it’

A week before the return of The Block, host Scott Cam speaks to News Corp’s Adrienne Tam in Stellar magazine.

Late last year you were named Australia’s first National Careers Ambassador by the federal government, an appointment that attracted criticism for the taxpayer-funded salary.

Look, I did get some negativity with the NCA. You know, I’ve never had an aggressive interview before. [Cam was interviewed on Sky News in March about the role]. And all I was trying to do was get a message across about people trying to hire apprentices and people trying to become apprentices. It was a genuine message I’m really passionate about and have been for 20 years.

So I was just taken aback and I handled it really badly and learnt a lesson. Because we were getting off-topic and we were talking about something everybody knew about already. Anyway, I regret it and it won’t happen again.

I’m still pushing for apprentices, but I wasn’t going to be able to fulfil the second part of the requirements [in his NCA role], so I gave the money back, which I would have done anyway regardless of publicity. But I’m still on the job on social media, and I’m still going to continue [advocating for apprentices]. I’ve been doing that for over 10 years, for nothing, which no-one knows about, but that’s beside the point. I’ll still continue to do that, regardless of what people say.

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The Block: ‘People having breakdowns while operating power tools’

Nine newspaper have previewed the return of The Block:

This year’s Block concept is “5 Houses, 5 Decades”, which is a great excuse for getting Scott Cam into a one-piece bathing suit for promos, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty it’s still about fixing up old houses: these are just a bit older than usual. Houses from the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have been plonked down on a plot in Brighton, and five teams of people desperate for a bit of sleep deprivation have been brought in to bang away at them until they’re vaguely liveable. Like most reality gimmicks, the whole “journey into the past” concept is vaguely diverting for the first five minutes, but to sustain interest The Block will need to do what it’s always done: show us ordinary people having nervous breakdowns while operating power tools.

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Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge coy on My Kitchen Rules return

Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge says he is not banking on TV for his future, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Fassnidge, who is part of Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules family, said he was yet to hear what was happening with the show next year owing to the impact of COVID-19.

“I think it is all up in the air no one knows what is happening. TV is a little bit like Melbourne at the moment, they are in a world of pain,” Fassnidge said.

“I never banked on TV. That is why we always had our restaurants going and other stuff like catering.

“I am 47, I know exactly what TV is. I don’t trust anyone in TV. If I was 27 I would have believed everything they say.”

MKR underperformed in the ratings this year and co-host Pete Evans has since departed the network.

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New SBS series Hungry Ghosts casts net wide for new talent

If audiences want to see new faces in their local dramas, they need look no further than Hungry Ghosts, the new SBS drama set in Melbourne’s Vietnamese community, reports TV Tonight.

Producer Stephen Corvini, who previously made Better Man in 2013, says much has changed in casting options in the intervening seven years. Casting agents Maura Fay & Associates searched comprehensively to fulfil 30 Asian-Australian actors and 325 Asian-Australian extras.

“When you look there are many,” he tells TV Tonight.

“If people are complaining about often seeing the same sorts of faces, we’ve got some extraordinary talent that has had very little film or TV exposure, led by Catherine Van-Davies, who’s quite a well-known theatre actor. She will be absolutely loved by our audience.”

The Matchbox Pictures series, directed by Shawn Seet, is written by Timothy Hobart, Michelle Lee, Alan Nguyen, Jeremy Nguyen and John Ridley.

In addition to new television faces, there are others more familiar: Ryan Corr, Clare Bowen, Bryan Brown, Justine Clark, Susie Porter and Gary Sweet.

Hungry Ghosts screens 9:30pm Monday 24 – Thursday 27 August on SBS.

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Famous names save W as former Conde Nast title sold again

W magazine, the oversize fashion magazine whose 450,000-person circulation belies an outsize influence, is changing hands again, reports The New York Times.

Now to be known as W Media, its new operating partner will be Bustle Digital Group, a web company whose properties include Bustle, an online magazine for women, and Mic, the social justice-focused website, along with a group of investors that includes the movie and television producer Jason Blum, the racecar driver Lewis Hamilton and the model Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter, who is just 18.

“We did it all over Zoom,” said W’s editor, Sara Moonves, who will remain. “None of us even met in person.”

Moonves, 35, got help putting together the group from the model Karlie Kloss, who is also investing. Moonves met her in 2009 during a Vogue shoot, Kloss’s first, with Annie Leibovitz.

Moonves is the daughter of Les Moonves, the former head of CBS.

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Luxury magazine Robb Report Australia announces new awards

Publishing brand Robb Report Australia & New Zealand is launching a new luxury awards program.

Robb Report’s inaugural Property, Finance and Investment Awards will highlight and herald the Top 5 individuals, businesses and properties across 10 local luxury sectors – the prestigious collection of winners to be announced as part of Robb Report’s dedicated Property, Finance and Investment (PFI) issue, on sale November 5, and further supported and promoted across the brand’s targeted channels.

PFI Award categories cover luxury property, agents and advisors, architects, interior designers, wealth advisors as well as highlighting necessary moves in sustainability and innovation, among others.

“Against the ongoing backdrop of COVID – and we in no way look to diminish the arduous effects it has had on so many – the PFI Awards are acknowledgement of the stoicism, determination and achievement of many of the industries and individuals we work with closely at Robb Report,” said Richard Clune, editor-in-chief.

“Perseverance is invaluable and central to driving a sense of normality – and right now it’s very much necessary. It’s why I’m proud to push forward with all that we’re doing at Robb Report and as part of that, to officially launch the 2020 PFI Awards and the associated positivity they’re set to deliver.”

An award-winning luxury title, Robb Report this month unveiled its design issue, featuring lauded Australian industrial designer Marc Newson in a rare interview, alongside architects Chris Wilkinson and Achille Salvagni, digital artist Chris Labrooy, menswear’s Nicolas Gabard and acclaimed motoring designer, Ian Callum, among others.

“There is no shame in saying this was a tricky issue to pull together – we’re in publishing, after all,” Clune explained. “But we rallied, firmed our support amongst our friends, embraced digital opportunities and found creative ways to engage new revenue. The result is an exemplary issue and I’m chuffed about what this small, dedicated and passionate team has managed the past few months, just as I’m excited about the various initiates, such as the 2020 PFI Awards, we’re set to unveil before the close of the year.”

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