Mediaweek roundup: Tones and I, AAP, MipTV + more

• Bobbie Battista, ACMA, Jackie O, Modern Family, Endeavour + Rugby Australia

Business of Media

AAP demise a ‘wake-up call’ over tech giants impact

The loss of Australia’s news wire service should act as a “wake-up call” to the devastating impact cashed-up global tech giants are having on media organisations in Australia, its chairman said on Wednesday, reports News Corp’s Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson.

His comments come amid warnings there would be “more bad news” unless the government acted to protect the sector.

The loss saw the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance slam the Morrison government for failing to protect the vital service by acting on recommendations contained in an 18-month inquiry into digital platforms.

AAP chairman Campbell Reid echoed the union’s sentiments, saying the impact of news stories published free of charge by social media networks and search engines had forced the closure of the outlet known for impartial, accurate, and comprehensive reporting. “The AAP decision is a wake-up call for Australia that the detrimental impact the digital platforms are having on media companies is very real and has now reached a tipping point,” he said.

“That is the reality. That is at the heart of why AAP is closing. No one should kid themselves otherwise.”

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Shareholders did not want to subsidise AAP for competitors

Staff of newswire Australian Associated Press, which will be shuttered in June, were told that major shareholders Nine Entertainment and News Corp said they no longer wanted to subsidise a breaking news service for their competitors, reports Guardian Australia’s Ben Butler.

The AAP chairman, Campbell Reid, who is also a News Corp executive, and AAP chief executive, Bruce Davidson, addressed staff on Wednesday morning.

Reid told staff that Nine and News Corp felt they were propping up a newswire that helped competitors. He also said some news organisations had cancelled their subscriptions.

However, it is believed AAP’s shareholders, which also include Kerry Stokes’ Seven, were unhappy at paying millions to keep the company going while non-shareholder subscribers paid far lower fees for the same service.

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Organisers announce MipTV cancelled due to coronavirus fears

After days of uncertainty, French conference organiser Reed Midem has officially cancelled MipTV, its TV market in Cannes, and postponed drama sidebar Canneseries, as France steps up efforts to contain the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reports Variety.

Reed Midem informed both attendees and clients, including exhibitors, in one fell swoop on Wednesday afternoon.

The cancellation – which also covers offshoot events MipDoc and MipFormats, which take place the weekend before the market – marks another big blow for both Cannes and Reed Midem, which had to move Mipim, its real estate showcase initially scheduled to take place March 10-13 in Cannes, to June 2-5, where it will coincide with music industry conference Midem.

Reed Midem said in its memo: “In the current context, many of our clients have expressed concerns about travelling at this time. Rescheduling MipTV in the coming months is not feasible, so the most appropriate course of action is to cancel MipTV for 2020.

“The well-being of our clients, partners and staff is our priority. We are grateful to clients for their support and constructive input during this challenging period. We look forward to welcoming everyone to MIPCOM in October 12-15 and we are delighted that Canneseries will be at our side again this year.”

MipTV keynotes this year included Sony Pictures Television president Wayne Garvie and Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon. Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch was also set to receive a sustainability award.

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News Brands

ACMA finds Seven News in Queensland misled viewers

An Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation has found Channel Seven News in Queensland misled viewers during a news item reporting a complaint of misconduct in relation to a local council.

The news report from May 2019 stated that a member of the council “was cleared of allegations made against him” which the ACMA found to be inaccurate.

The statement referred to the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission’s (CCC) decision not to investigate the matter which had been referred to it by the Local Government Conduct Review Panel.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the CCC making a decision not to investigate is not the same as clearing a person of allegations.

“The term ‘cleared’ implies there had been a finding. This was not the case,” O’Loughlin said.

“Seven News in Queensland has a good record of compliance with industry rules but on this occasion, they have dropped the ball.

“It’s important for Australians to be able to have trust in the news programs they see on TV, and inaccuracies such as this erode that trust.”

As a result of the findings Seven will circulate a copy of the ACMA’s investigation report to Queensland editorial staff and include the decision in its Code of Practice training sessions to ensure future compliance with the industry’s code.

Former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista has died at 67

Former CNN anchor Bobbie Battista has passed away at the age of 67, according to a family spokeswoman, reports CNN.

Battista died on Tuesday morning after a four-year battle with cervical cancer, according to Wendy Guarisco, family spokeswoman.

“Bobbie was the consummate trooper in her struggle with cancer, she was courageous and fearless in her battle and thoughtful for all the others in her life even as she fought through the pain,” Battista’s husband John Brimelow said in a statement on Tuesday. “My dear partner of 25 years of marriage has cut her earthly bonds and is now in peace.”

Battista was one of the original CNN Headline News anchors when the network launched in 1981. She anchored several news programs on CNN, including TalkBack Live, which aired before a studio audience in the CNN Centre in Atlanta, featuring newsmakers and public participation.

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Tones and I: Dance Monkey singer buys $5.1M Mt Eliza house

Tones and I has splashed serious cash on a luxury mansion on the Mornington Peninsula, reports News Corp’s Jayitri Smiles.

The Dance Monkey singer, real name Toni Watson, is understood to have spent a whopping $5.1 million on a Mt Eliza property last week.

Multiple sources, including agents and buyer’s advocates who work in the area, confirmed the transaction exclusively with the Herald Sun.

It comes just a month after the singer, who grew up in Mt Martha, made an $800,000 off-market deal in Frankston’s Lakewood Estate. It’s believed she bought that more humble home for a family member or friend.

Harcourts Central agent Gerard Cosgrave would not comment on the identity of the buyer after inking the deal for the grand Mt Eliza property.

The singer famously lived out of her van, and then in a hostel rent-free, in 2018 after quitting her retail job at Southland to move to Byron Bay.

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Jackie O: radio host’s Vaucluse home comes up for auction

Radio host Jackie O’s extraordinarily beautiful Vaucluse home has just hit the market, reports News Corp’s Stephen Nicholls.

And Sydney families are going to love what’s beyond the white picket fence.

Ray White TRG principal Gavin Rubinstein is quoting a $6.5 million price guide ahead of a March 31 auction for the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home with tandem parking for two cars at 9 Cambridge Ave.

CoreLogic records show the popular Kyle and Jackie O co-host bought the house on the 766 sqm block for $2.7 million in 2012.

But she and husband British photographer Lee Henderson, who separated on good terms in 2018, transformed the home with quality builders Horizon Habitats.

It’s now an up-to-the-minute family home with quality fixtures and fittings, full of northern light, with a chef’s kitchen with marble island benches and a Lacanche double oven.

The large open-plan living area opens to a sunny level back yard with a prized north-easterly aspect.

There’s a pool and cabana in manicured gardens.

[Read more]


For the creators of Modern Family, goodbye is hard to say

Few moments in the decade-long history of Modern Family are as memorable as one of its earliest: son-in-law Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) presenting the newly adopted baby Lily to the extended Pritchett-Dunphy family to the musical strains of the Nants Ingonyama, better known as The Circle of Life from The Lion King, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.

That scene, a de facto baptism of the show’s eventual success, exploded a myth that multi-ethnic and sexually diverse television audiences want to watch stale, inauthentic caricatures in sitcoms. In stark contrast, Modern Family gave us what it said on the label: a blended family that included gay son Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), no-nonsense Latina stepmother Gloria (Sofía Vergara) and her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez).

More than a decade later, the series is now in its final season, and meeting the cast makes for an emotional encounter. There is a sense that after close to 250 half-hour episodes, they are collectively ready to move on to something else. But there is also a deep sense that this particular cast, unusually close in a town that does not always foster such friendship, is struggling to find the words and a way to say goodbye.

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The hunt for a detective’s name inspires one of TV’s best series

For years, one of the world’s greatest mysteries was the seemingly trivial, “What is the Christian name of Detective Chief Inspector Morse?”, a character created by novelist Colin Dexter and played in television’s Inspector Morse (1987–2000) by John Thaw, writes Scott Murray in The Age/The SMH.

Morse is the policeman who resolutely tried to keep Oxford stable and safe, before delighting in a pint of ale and his joint passions of opera and dangerous women. But he stubbornly remained a mystery to audiences, and only in the 12th novel and third-last television episode did we finally discover his first name: Endeavour.

Four years after Morse’s on-screen death, his legacy was revived by scriptwriter Russell Lewis in Lewis (2006-15). It features Morse’s former assistant, Detective Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whatley), traumatised by the death of his wife, and Detective Sergeant Hathaway (Laurence Fox), a former Oxford student who has lost his religious faith and direction in life. Somehow, two disconnected souls find a way to realign the troubled lives of others.

In 2012, at the height of Lewis’ success, there unexpectedly appeared a parallel series, a prequel named Endeavour.

Endeavour is my favourite television show (with Foyle and Lewis hovering close). I love being swept away by its melancholic intensity, by the crisp and richly layered storytelling that respects and challenges its audience. I applaud its highlighting values too often denigrated in an ideological war that the bad guys seem to be winning.

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Sports Media

Ex-Ten boss to shake up Rugby Australia board manoeuvrings

Former Ten boss and News Corp senior executive Hamish McLennan has emerged as a heavy-hitting candidate for the Rugby Australia board and a potential rival to chairman-elect candidate David Mortimer, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson.

Numerous senior Australian rugby sources have confirmed that McLennan, a media specialist and former right hand man to News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch, is on the shortlist for three vacant director roles.

His nomination and potential election to the board could have ramifications for RA’s broadcast rights negotiations, which are in their final stages under the stewardship of chief executive Raelene Castle and strategist Shane Mattiske.

McLennan, who was overseas and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, has launched an impressive governance career in the past eight years.

He is deputy chair of $92bn investment management group Magellan as well as chairman of media group REA, and Here There & Everywhere (HT&E), the parent company of Australian Radio Network (ARN).

But it is his long history with News Corp and related companies that will pique interest at this delicate juncture in Australian rugby’s history.

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