Friday April 13, 2018

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SCA's Grant Blackley with Mediaweek on Sky News Business

• Trading climate and radio growth, PodcastOne growth and revenue, SCA as an acquisition target, gambling ads and sports rights

By Ingrid Willinge and James Manning

The chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo Grant Blackley was a guest on the Mediaweek TV segment on Sky News Business this week.

Blackley was asked initially if he was seeing good trading conditions as recent SMI data seemed to suggest.

“Yes, we are, and it is certainly better than the previous six months. There is improvement broadly in the radio sector and that seems to be strengthening on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

“Radio is a very resilient medium. In regional television we are growing at a reasonable clip because of the transition we have made as a Nine affiliate and the continued effort to get the full values of those ratings and revenue.

“We are also seeing our PodcastOne business getting some returns after an initial investment period.”

As to a question about the strength of regional revenues for the business, Blackley reminded viewers: “We are the only media company with assets in both television and radio. Regional is still under-represented with investment from agencies and advertisers.

“We have had a concerted effort to educate the market about the 40% of Australia that is being undercooked. National advertising was up about 12% for the December 2017 half and we are seeing that continue this year.

“Advertisers are starting to see the economic benefit of further investment in regional Australia.”

Media law reform triggering M&A activity

“We were pleased with the final outcome, which was debated over many years.

“A lot of people are getting their house in order with respect to where they want to be this year. We have a clear view of what we want to do and a clear strategy.

“Just about every media company would be running the numbers on each other. It is certainly not consuming our company and we are very comfortable with the organic development.

“We are acutely aware of media assets that could be attractive to us, but there is no burning desire to commit to them at this point.”

When asked if he thought SCA could be attractive as an acquisition, as a group or broken up, Blackley replied: “We have always been attractive. [Laughs]

“We are the largest radio group in Australia with 84 stations that have been rebranded and it is a scaled and simple business. We have the largest range of local clients out of any media.

“We have very strong television assets as well, affiliated with the Nine Network. Our audio-on-demand development also makes us attractive.

“But we are getting on with business – we are not waiting for any other event.”

PodcastOne and digital radio plans

“We sit on around 50% of the spectrum available. We previously had an unorganised brand strategy. We have organised that brand strategy with four brands under Triple M and three brands under Hit Network – with a fourth to come.”

Blackley explained how SCA is giving all its radio advertisers extended reach on those digital brands.

SEE ALSO: Brian Gallagher on a Southern Cross Austereo brand on the move

“Regarding PodcastOne, the beauty of the model – and we seem to be alone with this at this point – is that it is original content. We hit 10m downloads in the first 22 weeks from launch in April 2017. It took us 12 weeks to hit the next 10m. It has become investable media because we have sustained growth with 35 original authors, which we expect to grow to over 50 this year.

“The revenue is starting to flow. In the first six months it was in an investment phase. In the US it took about four years to get some scale. In Australia in a few years we might have a $50m market and we want to be a substantial player in that market.”

Gambling ad regulations

When asked how the ban on gambling ads during live sport could hurt Southern Cross Austereo, which covers much live sport on TV and radio, Blackley responded:

“The short answer is no.

“We have known about this for some time and have been prepared. We supported the Government on this. The concern we have is that advertisers are confused about the process. We have been very aware of the potential impact on us and we have worked with clients to mitigate wherever we can.”

Sports rights on SCA regional TV

When asked about Nine getting a deal with Tennis Australia, Blackley replied: “I think Nine should buy the cricket as well.” That’s one wish not getting fulfilled.

He did note however: “We are delighted with the tennis. We have always admired the tennis and Seven has proven that it is a successful launching pad for the start of the year.”

Top photo [L-R]: SCA’s Grant Blackley (right) with Sky News Business anchor Ingrid Willinge and Mediaweek’s James Manning

Pacific Magazines appoints new editor-in-chief for flagship New Idea

• ‘I look forward to playing a key role in the brand’s continued multiplatform growth.’

Seven West Media’s magazine and digital publishing division Pacific has appointed Emma Nolan as editor-in-chief of New Idea.

Nolan will also continue working with the Who brand as editor-in-chief. A recruitment process is under way to find a new editor for Who.

Louisa Hatfield, Pacific’s general manager, entertainment and family, comments: “With a multiplatform footprint of more than five million every month, New Idea’s power to entertain and connect with a huge community of Australian women is stronger than ever.

“Emma has strong commercial credentials, great creative vision and a powerful reputation for growing brands. I couldn’t think of a smarter and more talented journalist to take the helm of our flagship brand and evolve it into the future.”

Emma Nolan joined Pacific in September 2017 as editor of Who. Since commencing the new role, she has overseen the launch of Women Who, a video-led campaign in partnership with Holden to recognise inspiring Australian women, and next week will unveil Who’s first pop-up magazine, The Crown, a collector’s special edition for fans of the Royals and the top-rating Netflix show.

Nolan was previously editor of TV Week and played an instrumental role in driving the TV Week Logie Awards for the last 15 years.

Nolan commented on her appointment: “This is such an exciting time for New Idea and I look forward to playing a key role in the brand’s continued multiplatform growth. The opportunity to work with the incredibly talented and creative team here is a privilege.”

New Idea’s total audience footprint currently stands at over 5.2 million, with its digital audience climbing 78% over the last 12 months. As part of a diversified audience and revenue growth strategy, the team produces a weekly print magazine, website and 12 special editions every year, in addition to the social media sites New Idea Food and The Flawsome Mum, a new series of podcasts and originally created editorial and branded video.

Foxtel and Seven get the cricket, Nine sensationally backs out of negotiations

• Nine backs out of cricket negotiations as cost hit for six
• Fox Sports gets simulcast rights to all domestic matches, launching Fox Cricket channel
• Seven gets Test cricket and some Big Bash League clashes

With an official announcement pending as we publish this, Cricket Australia is expected soon to announce a new partnership with Foxtel via Fox Sports and Seven West Media.

Cricket Australia is believed to have secured a $1 billion+ package for its new rights deal, which could cover seven years of the sport.

Fox Sports will become the home of cricket as much of the sport – domestic and international – will now be available to Foxtel subscribers only.

Fox Sports is expected to launch a Fox Cricket channel at the start of the 2018/19 summer, which will feature every ball of Test cricket, International One Day games and International Twenty20 plus every game of the Big Bash League.

As it retired from cricket after a long innings, a Nine spokesperson said this morning:

“Nine is immensely proud of our decades-long association between Wide World of Sports and the game of cricket in this country. We wish Cricket Australia and its new broadcast partners well for the future success of the game.

“Cricket will continue to be a part of Nine’s schedule into the future with current deals in place covering the next Ashes series from England in 2019, the ODI World Cup in the UK in the same year and in 2020 the T20 World Cups to be held in Australia.

“But most of all, Nine is excited by our new partnership with Tennis Australia – a partnership that enables us to further evolve our business model into a new future, a partnership built on common values and vision to mutually build the game and Nine’s business as we connect with more audiences the way they choose.

“Our focus remains on the cross-platform opportunities in front of us and finding the best ways to continue to create value for our shareholders into the future.”

Mediaweek will have more detail about the new rights deal shortly.

Network Ten has issued the statement below in relation to cricket television rights negotiations.

Network Ten chief executive officer Paul Anderson said: “We are disappointed that our bid for the cricket television rights was rejected.

“Network Ten turned the Big Bash League into the television phenomenon it is today and one of the most popular sports in Australia, a sport that all Australians were able to enjoy for free. We had planned to extend that innovation to other forms of the game.

“Network Ten and our BBL team led by David Barham revolutionised the way cricket is broadcast in Australia and attracted new, younger viewers to the game. At the same time, we invested heavily in the Women’s Big Bash League, broadcasting matches in primetime for the first time and raising its profile significantly.

“We are proud of everything we achieved with the BBL and WBBL,” he said.

Sky News overhauls Sunday Nights: Paul Murray unleashed, Chris Kenny returns

• Kenny on Sunday premieres April 15 at 7pm
• Paul Murray Live now firing up Sundays from 9pm

Sky News has announced the debut of a refreshed Sunday night lineup that will see the launch of a new national affairs program anchored by News Corp columnist Chris Kenny and the return of Foxtel’s #1 talk show Paul Murray Live to Sunday nights.

Leading political commentator and associate editor of The Australian Chris Kenny is back on Sky News as anchor of Kenny on Sunday, a new two-hour program premiering this Sunday at 7pm on Sky News Live.

Direct from the Sky News Centre Kenny is promising a lively end to the weekend and a jump-start on the week ahead. Kenny and his panel will wrap up the day’s news and sport, take a look at what’s happening in the media, as well as what’s making us all laugh.

Chris Kenny said: “I’m excited to be returning to Sky News. I’m planning to welcome again some of my favourite guests and also new talent, providing viewers with the very best in news and views. While most of us relax with family and friends on Sundays, the Sabbath is crucial for newsmakers. The polls are published, the politicians head back to Canberra and it’s a day for major announcements, set-piece interviews and setting the agenda for the week ahead.”

Returning to Sunday is the top rating Sky News program Paul Murray Live, which will join Kenny on Sunday.

Award-winning broadcaster Paul Murray will fire up for two hours each Sunday night with Paul Murray Live at 9pm followed by PML Overtime at 10pm, taking an alternative look at the day’s news and featuring special guests and exclusive interviews to dissect and discuss the issues affecting all Australians.

Sky News’ Paul Murray

Paul Murray said: “Sundays give us a first crack at the issues that will dominate the week and I can’t wait to end the weekend with a good old-fashioned fire-up. I love the idea of people starting the day with First Edition and ending it with Paul Murray Live. The new timeslot gives us a chance to talk about all the big news, rip into sport and take extra time to talk to some really interesting people.”

Angelos Frangopoulos, CEO of Australian News Channel, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Chris Kenny back to the Sky News lineup and to see Paul Murray bring his unstoppable program to Sunday evenings. Sunday nights on Sky News will be dynamic, informative and must-watch viewing.”

Further announcements regarding the Sunday night lineup will be made soon.

• Kenny on Sunday, Sundays at 7pm
• Paul Murray Live, now Sunday-Thursday at 9pm, PML Overtime, now Sunday-Thursday 10pm
• Exclusive to Sky News Live, Foxtel Channel 601

Five Days of Denton: Day 3 – Jon Casimir on Legacy Media, Denton on CJZ

It is now only four sleeps until the premiere of one of the key programming links in Seven’s 2018 schedule: Andrew Denton’s interview.

Day 1: Andrew Denton and Jon Casimir on Seven’s interview format
Day 2: How Andrew Denton handcuffed himself to Kerry Stokes

So far this week, host Andrew Denton and executive producer Jon Casimir have explained the strategy and the concept behind interview.

Denton has also discussed with Mediaweek how he pulled off the Seven deal, explaining how handcuffing Seven West Media executive chairman Kerry Stokes in the past might have helped!

Jon Casimir

As well as being a significant figure onscreen across the past 30 years, and longer on radio, Denton has been busy behind the scenes too as a production company executive. The Zapruder’s Other Films business merged with Cordell Jigsaw in early 2012 to form what the partners branded CJZ – ”super indie”.

Just over 12 months later Denton departed CJZ and retired from television.

This is an excerpt from the full article, which appears on Mediaweek Premium. Read the full article hereor subscribe to Mediaweek Premium here.

Inside the 'scandalous' Married At First Sight 2018 season with EP John Walsh

• ‘By comparison to what happened this season, 2017 wasn’t very scandalous at all.’

Producing the 2018 season of Married At First Sight Australia was a “rollercoaster” experience for Nine’s executive producer John Walsh. He described the journey as an “incredible” one.

“The 2017 season was the first time we supersized it, which went pretty well. It exceeded our expectations. We had hoped to improve on that this year, but we still had MKR and I’m A Celebrity, so we knew it wouldn’t be easy,” Walsh told Mediaweek.

Nine took a gamble in 2017 when it decided to air the first season of the supersized Married At First Sight Australia format against Seven’s juggernaut My Kitchen Rules. It was a gamble that paid off with the former giving the latter a tough competition in the overnight ratings. Looking at this result from 2017, Nine decided to replicate its scheduling decision for the format in 2018.

Once again, this proved to be a wise decision for the network. As reported by Mediaweek editor James Manning in his daily TV Ratings Analysis on March 22, 2018, “The series has been the #1 program for six of its eight weeks on air. The first episode did 914,000 and the audience dipped to 835,000 on its first Sunday, but that grew to 1.35m a week later and the series was flying high.”

One of the primary reasons why the past two seasons of Married At First Sight Australia have been a hit with the audience is that the couples taking part in the “social experiment” have more opportunities to meet each other at events like dinner parties and commitment ceremonies.

This is an excerpt from the full article, which appears on Mediaweek Premium. Read the full article hereor subscribe to Mediaweek Premium here.

Asis Media News: Phnom Penh Post drama, Thai ad spend drops, MasterChef Singapore + more

Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski rounds up the latest media news from the Asian market.

Court officials front Phnom Penh Post to collect $340,000

There were dramatic scenes at the Australian-owned Phnom Penh Post last Thursday when police and court officials entered its offices to enforce a court judgment to collect more than US$264,836 (A$344,814) that was awarded to former Post CEO Chris Dawe – a former Victorian Liberal Party candidate – in an unlawful dismissal case that is on appeal.

After negotiations, officials gave the Post 20 days to pay, with the new deadline being April 24. Assets at the Post’s newsroom and at its printing factory were inventoried so they could be seized and sold in case of nonpayment.

In mid-February this year the Post lost an appeal, and the Appeals Court ordered a “temporary implementation” of the judgment. This allows authorities to collect money or to confiscate property, for example, even if a final appeal decision has not been reached at the highest court.

The Post does have another appeal under way with the Supreme Court. The company also filed a request to delay the enforcement of the court’s ruling last week.

Defamation case against Cambodia Daily

A public defamation case hearing against Cambodia Daily deputy publisher Deborah Krisher-Steele is set to continue in Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.

The hearing began on March 23 when the court began trying the case against Krisher-Steele, who accused Cambodian tax officials of leaking a copy of the paper’s US$6.3 million (A$8.2 million) tax bill and other confidential tax documents to the Fresh News website.

The Khmer Times reported that in an email Krisher-Steel urged people to come to today’s hearing. “Please come to my trial, even though it is the day before Khmer New Year, and you will be able to find out what I think about this case,” she said.

The Cambodia Daily ceased operating in September after 24 years.

Time Out in Chinese for Hong Kong

Time Out launched its quarterly traditional Chinese language Time Out Hong Kong magazine on April 10, with a circulation of 150,000 copies aimed at both visitors and locals.

The launch of Time Out’s first local language print publication in Hong Kong follows the relaunch of the English language Time Out Hong Kong magazine and the launch of its traditional Chinese website last year.

Tim Webb, MD Asia of Time Out Digital, said, “The new title complements the existing digital platforms, social media and English language Time Out Hong Kong magazine and will offer our advertisers further opportunities to reach an engaged, experience-hungry audience, of which 95% go out and do something after engaging with Time Out.”

English-language MasterChef Singapore

Content investment and rights management company Motion Content Group and Singapore’s Mediacorp have announced that MasterChef Singapore will premiere this year on Mediacorp’s Channel 5. Motion Content Group, part of GroupM, had earlier acquired the rights to produce and broadcast MasterChef Singapore from Endemol Shine Group. The rights deal was negotiated by Fotini Paraskakis of Endemol Shine Group, Cathy Payne of Endemol Shine International and Steven Murphy of Motion Content Group, Asia Pacific.

MORE: Endemol Shine International CEO Cathy Payne talks content

In February it was announced the show was set to air on Chinese-language Channel 8 in Mandarin as English rights were originally not available. When potential applicants were asked online to rate their fluency in Mandarin, controversy erupted because Singaporeans felt it discriminated against non-Chinese-speaking participants and viewers. Singapore has four official languages – English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil – but people mainly communicate in English.

Motion Content Group then announced that “following further negotiations” the program would now air in English “and reach a more diverse audience”.

iflix launches short-form studio

Video streamer iflix has launched Studio2:15, its new creative production business for short-form (“Nothing over 15 minutes”) video content, led Craig Galvin. The new studio will create short-form content for the iflix platform, commissioning and producing collaborative projects between international, regional and local creative.

iflix’s Craig Galvin

The studio’s website promises to create “highly snackable, highly addictive, bite-sized content for the Sweet ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’ Browns of the world”.

Before iflix, Galvin was executive producer on global campaign, Louder Together, for the NGO, Global Citizen. He was also founder of Australian digital company, The White Agency, now whiteGREY.

Astro net profit well up, revenue slightly down

Astro Malaysia Holdings’ net profit rose 25% to RM181.79 million (A$61.1 million) for the fourth quarter ended January 31, 2018, due mainly to lower net finance costs because of favourable unrealised forex gain. But its revenue was 0.7% lower at RM1.39 billion YOY.

During the period, Astro’s total customers grew by 7% to 5.5 million, an increased TV household reach from 71% to 75%, primarily driven by NJOI, Malaysia’s first subscription-free satellite TV service, which had a revenue growth of 21% for the year.

mm2 partners with SPH for launch

Singapore-based Entertainment company mm2 Asia is partnering with Singapore Press Holdings to create a lifestyle, entertainment and news portal. mm2 announced that it had entered into a binding term sheet with SPH to set up a joint venture which will engage in digital editorial and video creation under the AsiaOne brand. mm2 and SPH will hold 51% and 49% equity interest respectively in the joint venture, which will have a paid-up capital of S$1 million (A$992,000).

mm2 last year announced a deal to buy Cathay’s cineplexes subsidiary, which runs eight cinemas in Singapore, after its attempt for a 50% stake in Singapore’s Golden Village cinema chain owned by Australia’s Village Roadshow fell through.

Beach House Pictures partners with CCTV9

Beach House Pictures, a Blue Ant Media production company, has partnered with China’s CCTV9 to co-produce a new five-part docu-series Art of Craft, which celebrates the inspiring lives and brilliant minds of the world’s top craftsmen. Supported by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the series will be Singapore’s first co-production with CCTV9, China’s national channel on factual programming.

Art of Craft, now in production, will be broadcast on CCTV9 later this year and is available for pre-buy at MIPTV 2018 via Blue Ant International.

SPH second-quarter net profit plunges

Singapore Press Holdings’ net profit for its second quarter fell 25% from the previous year. Net profit for the three months ending February 28 was S$40.2 million (A$39.6 million) compared with S$53.5 million YOY. Group operating revenue fell 1.8% YOY to S$233.7m. Revenue for its media unit dropped 7.4%. Ad revenue fell 9.3% and circulation revenue was down 7.5%.

Fake news is big news in region

Indonesian Communications Minister Rudiantara last week threatened to shut down Facebook if it fails to crack down on fake news during upcoming elections, or if there is any evidence that the personal data of citizens is being collected. “If I have to shut them down, then I will do it,” Rudiantara said, noting Indonesia had earlier blocked the messaging app, Telegram.

Malaysia and Singapore have also unveiled plans to tackle fake news.

On April 2, Malaysia passed a law that would punish citizens on social media or those working at a digital publication for spreading fake news with a 500,000 ringgit (A$168,000) fine and a possible a prison sentence of up to six years.

In Singapore, activists criticised a parliamentary committee that is examining possible legislation to combat fake news. A 10-member committee was set up in January to tackle online falsehoods, which the government says can threaten national security.

Thai ad spend drops in Jan-Feb

Nielsen reports that Thailand’s ad spend had dropped 7.15% in the first two months of 2018, but the Media Intelligence company predicts a rebound this year. Media Intelligence director Pawat Ruangdejworachai forecasts total 2018 ad spend of 91 billion baht (A$3.7 billion), an increase of 6% from last year, which he said “was considered the worst level the industry has seen since 2010”. Nielsen reported that the 2017 ad spend was 101 billion baht, 10 million baht higher than Media Intelligence’s prediction for this year’s growth. Nielsen also reported that 2017 ad spend, although down 6%, was an improvement on 2016’s ghastly 12% ad spend plunge.

Mediaweek Asia In Brief

• The governor of Thailand’s Chiang Mai wants criminal charges laid against English-language magazine Citylife Chiang Mai for posting a “blasphemous” painting on Facebook showing ancient kings wearing pollution masks to promote a rally to tackle the annual toxic haze. The Bangkok Post reported that police were investigating the case, while the magazine said its Right to Breathe campaign was cancelled.

• Shares in iQiyi, Baidu’s Netflix-style Chinese video streamer, dropped in their trading debut after the company raised $2.25 billion in a US initial public offering on March 29. IQiyi’s filings showed it had 421 million mobile users at least once a month with 126 million logging in at least once a day, making it the most popular video streamer in China.

• TicToc, Bloomberg’s 24/7 Twitter news service, which launched on December 17 last year, has now expanded into Asia with a dozen journalists working out of the Hong Kong newsroom.

• Astro is Malaysia’s official broadcaster of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, with coverage on Astro, Astro GO and NJOI Prepaid. Astro has also launched its World Cup Channel Pass, which gives all 64 live matches in HD.

• The newly launched BBC Studios is developing new production opportunities in Beijing. Executive producer Matthew Springford, who has extensive program-making experience, will be based at the BBC office in Beijing with the BBC Studios’ distribution team and will be working with Chinese TV stations and digital platforms to co-develop and co-produce original programs and new formats.

• iflix is premiering the Korean breakout hit, Grand Prince, and will feature new episodes weekly every Monday and Tuesday, 24 hours after the initial TV broadcast by TV Chosun in Korea. iflix group chief content officer Sean Carey said, “This is yet another attempt to satiate the unending appetite for historical Korean drama we observed around the region.”

• China will merge its state television and radio stations to create a new broadcaster that will be one of the largest in the world. Chinese state media reported the merger of China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio International and China National Radio under a single network to be named Voice of China, echoing its US counterpart, Voice of America.

• KKR-backed pan-Asian media and entertainment investor Emerald Media has bought a significant minority in Global Sports Commerce for about $80 million (A$104 million). This comes a month after GSC and affiliate Techfront received funding to support acquisitions of Screencorp in Australia and Oled & Carnegie in New Zealand. GFC is partnered with many world sports bodies, including NRL Australia, AFL, New Zealand Cricket, and Cricket Australia.

• iflix has appointed Luis Duran as global head of partnerships to help accelerate the company’s growth. Duran previously worked at Portuguese mobile payment service provider TinWe Group, and before that he was with Delta Partners for 10 years.

iflix’s Luis Duran

• Regional video streamer iflix has launched Coconuts TV on iflix, an edgy six-episode documentary series highlighting Southeast Asia’s weirdest stories, from the Miss Tiffany’s transgender beauty pageant in Pattaya to midget boxing in Manila.

Aussies in Asia: Thailand-based TV personality Andrew Biggs

Aussie expat Andrew Biggs is big in Thai media. He’s high-profile and he’s hot, having been voted by the Thais in 2008 as one of the coolest bald men, alongside Bruce Willis and Thai journalist Suthichai Yoon.

By Peter Olszewski

And while the many of the people milling at Thailand’s international airports may not have heard of him, they certainly hear him now, loud and clear – over the PA system.

“I’m the dulcet Australian tones you hear while waiting for your number to be called at immigration,” he told Mediaweek.

He’s also about to embark on a big project of video on demand teaching courses online, plus there’s talk of a new TV show.

“Oh, and I’m about to star in a Thai horror movie,” he says, “Actually it’s a comedy-horror, about a foreign couple being haunted by Thai ghosts.”

Just reading Biggs’s CV is exhausting. His first Thai media job was with news outfit Nation Multimedia Group, where after a bit he launched a junior magazine for high schoolers. He hosted Thailand’s first English talkback radio program in 1995, and in 1997 wrote a best-selling Thai-language book, which he followed up with another, which sold 200,000 copies. All up he’s now written 19 books, all in the Thai language, except for one.

He hosted a morning TV program, Talk of the Town, for nine years, and hosted Weekend News on TV for three years, portrayed himself in the movie SARS Wars, won two awards for excellence in using the Thai language (a first for a westerner both times), hosted the daily English Minute TV program as well as various news and educational radio shows, writes columns for the Bangkok Post newspaper, Filmax magazine and Kom Chad Luek newspaper, and starred as a monk in a Thai TV comedy series The Digital Monk, which ran for two years. And he’s hosted radio shows on two FM stations.

He owns and runs the Andrew Biggs Academy that teaches English at all levels and runs workshops and seminars, and owns Khroo Chang Publishing.

He’s done a lot, but says he probably most enjoyed the morning TV show, Talk of the Town.

“That ran for nine years and shot me to alleged stardom,” he says. “I shared a stage with a puppet, a bird that sat on the window ledge as I taught English. It was a lot of fun, though after nine years I was happy for it to end.”

Biggs began his media career in Brisbane, where he grew up, with a cadetship at The Courier-Mail, which then sent him to Melbourne as its correspondent for two years. He worked in Sydney for The Sydney Morning Herald, then back to Brisbane for Macquarie National News radio for a short time, then back to The Courier-Mail.

In 1989 he left Brisbane, bound for London. But his initial two-day stopover in Bangkok morphed into two months. He then went to London, but returned to Bangkok after a week and taught English at a school for a year before being hired by The Nation newspaper.

That job led to TV work – Biggs was sitting in the editor’s office when a sales rep said a Bangkok bus network wanted to make a daily TV show that teaches English. Biggs says, “The editor turned to me and asked, very casually, ‘Could you do that, Andrew?’

“I suggested I had a face that was ideal for radio but yes, I’d give it a try. And suddenly Bangkok commuters were asking who was this bald-headed foreigner teaching them how to tell foreigners to buzz off, and other stuff.”

Part of Biggs’s success is the knack of being in the right place at the right time.

He’s a columnist for the Bangkok Post’s Sunday edition, and in a column in March he explained how he first became a columnist.

In July, 1993, Longman published a new English dictionary, defining Bangkok as a city known for “its Buddhist temples and a place where there are a lot of prostitutes”. This prompted academics to suggest book burning and police to ban the publication.

This March, Biggs wrote, “A weekly political magazine asked me to write a column, in Thai, about my take on the whole thing. It was my first attempt at a column in Thailand, and talk about starting off with a bang, if you’ll excuse the pun.

“In that short column I argued that Longman was wrong to define Bangkok as it did… but could you blame them?”

The notoriety of Biggs’s comments on top of the notoriety about the dictionary’s comments helped establish Biggs as a columnist, and almost a decade ago he began writing the Bangkok Post English-language column.

“I guess I’m also proud that I’ve been able to churn out a weekly column, in English, for nine years,” Biggs says. “That’s a long time.”

Of course, with all that high-profile media activity, Biggs attained celebrity status.

“I think it’s hilarious that I am perceived as a celebrity,” he says. “I admit I went through a period, some 10 years ago, where I think it had an adverse psychological effect on me.

“But I’m older now, and I think it’s kind of funny. The only downside is I can’t really get drunk and dance with lampshades on my head – not in public, anyway.”

TV Ratings Analysis: Thursday April 12

• The Front Bar’s Mick, Sam and Andy join Seven’s winning Comm Games lineup
• Wentworth premieres on ABC, Goggle season wraps on TEN, NRL on Nine

By James Manning


The pole vault and diving were some of the sports on offer Thursday as Australia and Seven won more gold. Australia leads the medal tally by a long way, just as Seven leads the ratings by a massive amount after eight nights of competition and another with the Opening Ceremony.

A Commonwealth Games edition of The Front Bar screened late in the night with 319,000 – 54,000 in Sydney and Perth and 126,000 in Melbourne.

Commonwealth Games on Seven

April 4: Opening Ceremony 2.0m, Primetime primary share 43.8%
April 5: Night 1 1.23m/1.16m, Afternoon 554k, Day 418k, Primetime primary share 33.0%
April 6: Night 2 1.01/1.09m, Late night 566k, Afternoon 468k, Primetime primary share 30.7%
April 7: Night 3 979/973k, Late night 499k, Afternoon 583k, Day 471k, Primetime primary share 32.3%
April 8: Night 4 1.24/1.24m, Afternoon 710k, Day 482k, Late night 466k, Primetime primary share 31.4%
April 9: Night 5 1.33/1.45m, Late 539k, Afternoon 458k, Day 321k, Primetime primary share 29.2%
April 10: Night 6 1.24m/1.48m, Late 624k, Afternoon 515k, Day 341k, Primetime primary share 34.2%
April 11: Night 7 1.15/1.19m, Late 474k, Afternoon 428k, Primetime primary share 31.5%
April 12: Night 8 Night 1.09/1.16m, Late 742k, Afternoon 447k, Day 277k, Primetime primary share 32.2%


A car hoon, an insurance fail and the dangers of public Wi-Fi filled out most of A Current Affair with 681,000.

The NRL clash between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs was on 301,000 with 207,000 in Sydney and 93,000 in Brisbane.

The Footy Shows had a metro network audience of 284,000. Sydney did 71,000 while Melbourne was on 131,000.


Maude Garrett was with The Rock on The Project with 411,000 watching.

Week four of Show Me The Movie! followed with 374,000 after 370,000 a week ago. Guests included Sam Simmons, Chrissie Swan and Michala Banas. Chrissie sparred wonderfully with Captain Creasey, but it is Jane Harber who is often the funniest.

Meave O’Mara’s SBS food show was one of the programs watched on the final episode of series seven of Gogglebox. Dope smokers caught on RBT also featured on the show before the viewing families left their respective TV rooms until later in the year. Gogglebox finished the season on 533,000 for TEN.


The first of the four-part Kiri starring Britain’s best actress Sarah Lancashire started at 8pm with 424,000.

Then it was time for series one, episode one of Wentworth, which did 203,000.


Great British Railway Journeys again led the way with 221,000.

Next best was Luke Nguyen’s Food Trail on 125,000 and World News on 124,000.

Week 15 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine Ten SBS
ABC 9.0% 7 32.2% 9 15.6% TEN 10.8% SBS One 3.7%
ABC 2 2.2% 7TWO 5.5% GO! 2.3% ONE 2.3% VICELAND 0.8%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 3.5% GEM 1.6% ELEVEN 2.6% Food Net 0.8%
ABC News 1.3% 7flix 2.8% 9Life 2.4% NITV 0.2%
TOTAL 13.0% 44.1% 21.8% 15.6% 5.5%
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates Ten Affiliates SBS
ABC 9.3% 7 28.6% 9 16.1% WIN 11.5% SBS One 2.9%
ABC 2 2.6% 7TWO 6.3% GO! 2.8% ONE 2.6% VICELAND 0.6%
ABC ME 1.2% 7mate 3.7% GEM 2.4% ELEVEN 2.6% Food Net 0.9%
NEWS 24 1.5% 7flix 2.5% 9Life 1.8% NITV 0.3%
TOTAL 14.6% 41.1% 23.1% 16.7% 4.7%
86.3% 13.7%
Thursday FTA
  1. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Night 8 Seven 1,162,000
  2. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Evening 8 Seven 1,093,000
  3. Seven News Seven 1,015,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 871,000
  5. Nine News Nine 839,000
  6. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 776,000
  7. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Late 8 Seven 742,000
  8. A Current Affair Nine 681,000
  9. ABC News ABC 666,000
  10. Gogglebox Ten 533,000
  11. 7.30 ABC 511,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 485,000
  13. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Afternoon 8 Seven 447,000
  14. Kiri ABC 424,000
  15. The Project 7pm Ten 411,000
  16. Ten Eyewitness News First At Five Ten 395,000
  17. Show Me The Movie! Ten 374,000
  18. The Front Bar Seven 319,000
  19. The Project 6.30pm Ten 304,000
  20. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 301,000
Demo Top Fives

16-39 Top 5

  1. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Night 8 Seven 243,000
  2. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Evening 8 Seven 226,000
  3. Gogglebox Ten 171,000
  4. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Late 8 Seven 164,000
  5. Seven News Seven 148,000


18-49 Top 5

  1. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Night 8 Seven 413,000
  2. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Evening 8 Seven 366,000
  3. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Late 8 Seven 289,000
  4. Seven News Seven 271,000
  5. Gogglebox Ten 269,000


25-54 Top 5

  1. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Night 8 Seven 452,000
  2. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Evening 8 Seven 413,000
  3. Seven News Seven 314,000
  4. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games: Late 8 Seven 310,000
  5. Gogglebox Ten 289,000
Thursday Mutlichannels
  1. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Night 8 Feed 2 7TWO216,000
  2. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 181,000
  3. Peppa Pig-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 180,000
  4. Hey Duggee-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 178,000
  5. Fireman Sam-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 175,000
  6. The Hive-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  7. Floogals ABCKIDS/COMEDY 167,000
  8. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 167,000
  9. PJ Masks-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 167,000
  10. Peppa Pig-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 162,000
  11. Thomas And Friends-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 158,000
  12. Octonauts ABCKIDS/COMEDY 158,000
  13. Kazoops!-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 155,000
  14. Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Late 8 Feed 27TWO154,000
  15. Play School Celebrity Covers ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  16. Andy’s Baby Animals ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  17. Play School-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  18. Neighbours ELEVEN 142,000
  19. The Justine Clarke Show! ABCKIDS/COMEDY 141,000
  20. Go Jetters-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 140,000
Thursday Subscription TV
  1. Live: NRL Roosters v Rabbitohs FOX LEAGUE 190,000
  2. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 86,000
  3. Selling Houses Australia LifeStyle Channel 67,000
  4. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 66,000
  5. Live: NRL Thursday Night League FOX LEAGUE 61,000
  6. Grand Designs: House Of The Year LifeStyle Channel41,000
  7. The Bolt Report SKY NEWS LIVE 39,000
  8. PJ Masks Disney Junior 39,000
  9. NCIS TVH!TS 38,000
  10. Puppy Dog Pals Disney Junior 38,000
  11. Criminal Minds TVH!TS 36,000
  12. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 35,000
  13. Gold Rush Discovery Channel35,000
  14. Claude Disney Junior 34,000
  15. Paul Murray Live SKY NEWS LIVE 33,000
  16. Claude Disney Junior 33,000
  17. PJ Masks Disney Junior 32,000
  18. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 32,000
  19. Doc McStuffins Disney Junior 32,000
  20. Puppy Dog Pals Disney Junior 32,000

Media News Roundup

Sports Media

Facebook Studio Live sessions about GC2018 accumulate 7m+ views

Facebook Australia’s daily Facebook Studio Live sessions with Australian and international athletes alongside Facebook videos have been watched by more than seven million people across the globe since the start of the Commonwealth Games last week.

These sessions are a part of Facebook Australia’s partnership with GOLDOC, Seven West Media and The Star.

Facebook Studio Live is hosted by 7Sport’s Monette Russo and Shura Taft, and streamed from The Star’s Celebration Lawn. Each live stream of the sessions has received more than 60,000 views.

Seven West Media’s chief digital officer Clive Dickens said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Facebook, The Star and GOLDOC to drive social engagement with what will be Australia’s biggest event of the decade.

“Our aim is to help every Australian experience the excitement and passion of the Games across the many screens of Seven and through social channels. Highly successful campaigns during the Summer of 7Tennis and the Winter Olympics have shown the value of Facebook in driving coverage and engagement throughout Australia, and we expect these fun live streams to resonate with social audiences.”

Facebook’s MD Australia and New Zealand Will Easton said: “Through Facebook Live technology and our partnership with Seven we’re focused on creating a fun experience that brings people closer together and builds a community around the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.”

The Facebook Studio Live sessions continue to take place twice a day at 5.30pm and 8.30pm. The content is streamed globally to the Commonwealth Games Facebook page @GC2018 and Seven’s Facebook page @7CommGames.

Vic Government investment secures AFL Grand Final in Melbourne for 40 years

Etihad Stadium and the surrounding precinct will get a $225 million makeover in a landmark deal that also locks in the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne for 40 years, reports News Corp’s Matt Johnston.

The agreement between the AFL and Andrews Government will pave the way for Melbourne Cricket Club to embark on a $1 billion redevelopment of the MCG’s Great Southern Stand in about a decade, increasing the capacity above its current 100,024.

The package includes $242 million to upgrade facilities at suburban grounds and local clubs – including making Ikon Park in Carlton the home of women’s football.

In return for the Etihad upgrade money, the AFL will frequently have to open the ground to other major events and sporting codes, including rugby and soccer.

Hosting rights for the Brownlow Medal will also be locked into Victoria for 10 years.

[Read the original]

Business Of Media

Video-on-demand service Dendy Direct will cease operations next month

Dendy has announced that its transactional video-on-demand service Dendy Direct will cease operations on May 14, 2018.

Dendy Direct was launched in 2014. The company explained the move in a statement yesterday, which reads in part:

“Since launching the on-demand service four years ago, there have been several disruptors to the Australian VOD landscape, which has changed consumers’ attitudes and viewing behaviours.

“The pressures of keeping up with rapidly changing technology have become too challenging for a local independent business. Dendy has decided to focus on its core business of delivering quality cinema experiences to the Australian consumer.”

HT&E’s largest shareholder asks if outdoor sale will mean radio-only strategy

HT&E’s largest shareholder has called on the radio and out-of-home advertising business to make clear its strategy, whether it is for sale or is looking to sell selective assets, following oOh!media’s rejected approach for Adshel, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Simon Mawhinney, chief executive of Allan Gray, which holds 19.2% of HT&E shares on issues, said the company’s announcement on Wednesday that it had rejected an indicative offer from oOh!media for Adshel did not provide sufficient information and it was not unreasonable for shareholders to want more.

“Firstly, we want to know what the price offer is for two reasons: it will help shareholders decide whether the board has made the right decision by shareholders, and then it will assist with price discovery from here on in because this probably is a reasonably sought-after asset,” Mawhinney told The Australian Financial Review.

[Read the original]

Foxtel expected to cut back its digital marketing budget with Facebook

Foxtel, one of Australia’s biggest advertising spenders, is slashing its digital marketing budget with Facebook, partly in the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica improperly handled data on 87 million users, reports The Australian’s Darren Davidson.

In recent weeks Facebook has sought to reassure advertisers that the social network is introducing new settings to protect the privacy of users amid investigations by Australia’s Privacy Commissioner and the competition regulator.

But after two days and more than 10 hours of questioning of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Capitol Hill, Foxtel chief marketing officer Andy Lark is not convinced.

Lark said Foxtel was “looking very aggressively at how much we invest in Facebook”.

While he declined to disclose the size of the pay-TV operator’s marketing budget, independent tracking by third parties puts the figure above $60 million annually. Of this, Foxtel spends millions on Facebook ads.

[Read the original]

News Brands

Speculation Australian-owned Phnom Penh Post sold to Malaysian investor

The Australian-owned Phnom Penh Post has responded to swirling rumours that it has been the subject of an acquisition by mainly Malaysian interests, reports Mediaweek’s Peter Olszewski.

The Post’s CEO Marcus Holmes

The Post’s CEO Marcus Holmes said, “The Post is in discussion with another party about an investment. This type of discussion has happened many times in the 25 years that the Post has been operating.

“At this time, the Post can confirm that the discussions are ongoing, and remain confidential, with all parties bound by non-disclosure agreements, as is normal for these types of talks.”

The Perth-based publisher of the Post, Bill Clough, said, “The Post is open for business, and welcomes discussions about investment in our strong brand here in Cambodia.”

Read Peter Olszewski’s Mediaweek Asia roundup today.

Seven’s news and public affairs team wins two awards in New York

Seven’s news and public affairs team has been recognised with two awards at this year’s New York Festivals International TV and Film Awards.

Seven News earned the Gold World Medal for Coverage of a Breaking News Story for its broadcast of the shooting massacre at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel in October last year, the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

Seven News US correspondent Ashlee Mullany and cameraman Duncan McLeod were staying inside the hotel, five floors below the shooter, and woke to the sound of rapid gunfire. Both gathered the little equipment they could, raced outside and within minutes were live to air via a mobile phone link. They then broadcast for some 48 hours after the shooting.

Craig McPherson, Seven’s director of news and public affairs, said: “Under enormous uncertainty and pressure Ashlee and Duncan produced extraordinary storytelling as this tragic event was unfolding around them. The mayhem and fear was there for all to see. On a terrible night they accurately brought home to Australia what they were witnessing, for days leading the coverage. The award is great recognition of their commitment to their craft and our audience.”

Seven’s Sunday Night was awarded a Silver World Medal in the Special Report category for The Wall of the Wild West.

The major investigation saw Seven’s US bureau chief Mike Amor and cameraman Duncan McLeod travel to the US border with Mexico to investigate Donald Trump’s rallying cry to “Build the wall”.


Dramatic move by Philippines’ leading magazine publisher in transition to digital

The Philippines’ leading magazine publisher, Summit Media – which launched its first magazine in June 1995 – will no longer publish print editions of its magazines, which include Cosmopolitan, FHM, Preview, Top Gear, Town & Country, and Yes!

The company said, “This month, Summit Media completes its full digital transformation. The 450-strong company can now be called digital first as it bids farewell to its magazine past, closing the six remaining print editions of brands already thriving online as,,,,, and”

Summit Media president Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng commented: “As we embark on our new journey towards a wholly digital future, we look back at the values that made us successful, and one thing that stands out is our respect for our audiences. Our brands, each with its own strong voice and well-defined identity, have resonated with our audiences because they stand for something, which is why for 23 years Summit published the most successful and well-loved magazines in the country’s history.

“Today, we embrace the way our highly connected audiences now prefer to consume content. As we follow them from print to digital, we will continue our relentless pursuit and delivery of quality, up-to-the-minute content and a dynamic and engaging editorial experience, this time aided by data, which now pervades and informs many of our editorial decisions.

“In the past three years, Summit Media has become the leading creator of digital native advertising content in the country, generating more volume than all our competitors combined. On top of this transformation, the company’s other pillars – out-of-home (OOH) media, book publishing, and content marketing – remain robust.”

Read Peter Olszewski’s Mediaweek Asia roundup today.

Bauer Media ordered to pay Rebel Wilson’s “eye-watering” legal costs

The magazine publisher who defamed Rebel Wilson has been ordered to pay her eye-watering legal costs, reports News Corp’s Shannon Deery.

It is expected that will push Bauer Media’s total payout to the Hollywood star to well over $5 million – and then there are its own legal bills for the long-running case.

Wilson spent more than $1.4 million fighting the epic defamation battle, saying Bauer’s take-down of her had damaged her reputation in Hollywood.

[Read the original]


SBS appoints ad man John Sintras as new chief audience and content officer

SBS has announced the appointment of John Sintras as its new chief audience and content officer.

John Sintras

Sintras was most recently the New York-based global president, business development and product innovation at IPG Mediabrands. He was also previously CEO and chairman of Starcom Mediavest Australia.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said: “John is a seasoned and respected Australian media leader with a strong track record of inspiring teams to make a purposeful difference. I’m delighted to welcome him to SBS’s executive team.

“John’s passion in leveraging transformation and technology to deliver business growth, together with his in-depth knowledge of data optimisation and insights, will be invaluable for SBS’s future as a multiplatform digital broadcaster.”


UKTV starts promoting Royal Wedding week – docos and BBC live coverage

There is plenty of expectation about what could be the biggest event on TV this year. The NRL and AFL Grand Finals will be in the running, as are the grand finals of the reality shows The Block, My Kitchen Rules, MasterChef Australia and Australian Ninja Warrior.

However, there is a forthcoming event that will be telecast to a massive audience across Australia that will be right up there in terms of audience – a Royal wedding.

This week UKTV announced it will be carrying the BBC’s live, uninterrupted coverage of the Royal wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The couple will exchange vows at 9pm (AEST) Saturday May 19 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle with The Archbishop of Canterbury to officiate as the couple make their marriage vows. Following the service, a Carriage Procession will commence at 10pm (AEST) from St George’s Chapel through Windsor Town returning to Windsor Castle via the Long Walk. UKTV will show the BBC’s main Royal wedding program of the marriage itself and the Carriage Procession, with live coverage before and after.

In the run-up to the Royal wedding, UKTV will also be showing a collection of royal documentaries including: Britain’s Royal Weddings (Wednesday May 16 & Thursday May 17 at 8.30pm) – the intimate story of Britain’s royal weddings, from the Queen Mother through to Princess Margaret, told from the point of view of the people who were there.

There will also be documentaries about Princes Harry and William on the eve of the wedding, Friday May 18.

Tim Christlieb, director of branded services, BBC Studios, Australia and New Zealand, said: “No-one does a Royal wedding quite like the Brits. People will be lining the streets and tuning in all around the world to celebrate and as the Australian home of great British events, UKTV will be right there with the very best, uninterrupted, extended coverage direct from the BBC. This is an iconic, global event and we intend to enjoy every moment of it.”

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