Welcome to the first Mediaweek Industry Awards that give our readers a voice to celebrate the best of the year.
The Mediaweek team has selected nominations in some categories, while readers can vote for anything eligible in other categories.
Our nominations have tended to go for major productions or companies. The nominations in the various categories aren’t exhaustive and there are some omissions. In radio we have stayed with commercial radio because that is our focus at Mediaweek. We don’t completely ignore ABC radio, but it is not our speciality.
In TV, ABC programs are eligible because many of them are made by outside companies, whereas ABC Radio is largely an internal operation. We started rather late planning this year. Next year we anticipate there could be more categories depending on reader feedback.
The 2018 OzTAM television ratings survey year ended on Saturday evening. From now until early February it is summer survey time.
The 2018 OzTAM television ratings survey year ended on Saturday evening. From now until early February it is summer survey time.
When the numbers are in on the Sunday morning following the final day survey for the year it triggers a mountain of press releases from the commercial FTA broadcasters to highlight what went well for them in 2018.
In a fragmenting TV market it is getting more challenging to decipher who has performed the best.
As Seven, Nine and 10 come to grips with the way viewers are consuming their content, the small print that accompanies the various ratings analysis grows longer and longer.
The networks, depending on their various performances, analyse primary performance, multichannel results and combined network shares. They are also factoring in BVOD data from their various streaming platforms. The linear TV data now also calls on either Consolidated 7 day or Consolidated 28 day results.
Each of the networks now has a different focus with changes to strategy as they fight for a piece of the total TV annual ad-spend of $4.15b.
Seven’s release was the shortest of the documents when it came to explanation. Brief comments from Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross and Seven West Media chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette were accompanied by a dazzling list of headlines.
The focus was very much on the combined network performance of all its channels. (Seven primary was also #1 all people for the year.) Both Nine and 10 have noted Seven’s play for a total audience across all channels, while their competition has different strategies and less channels.
The Seven release started noting it was Australia’s most-watched network in 2018 for the 12th consecutive year followed by 18 other victory banners.
Nine’s 2018 highlights centre around its performance of the primary channel ranking #1 in key demos.
As well as accompanying tables, Nine detailed the performances of its best programming and then supplied commentary from Michael Healy, Nine Network director of television, and Michael Stephenson, Nine’s chief sales officer.
The recently rebranded Network 10 was very keen to position itself as a network serving only people under 50.
With that in mind it was able to announce:
10 is the under 50s network dominating entertainment programming in its target demographics (under 50s, 16 to 39s and 18 to 49s).
A focus on that core audience was able to let it also announce:
10’s primary channel had the most growth year-on-year in its target demographics.
The Network 10 release provided commentary from Network 10’s chief executive officer Paul Anderson: “We head into 2019 with fantastic momentum.”
And also Network 10’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey: “We’ve established a brilliant line-up of marquee shows that perform well across all platforms and we are looking to build on this success in 2019.
• Seven’s Angus Ross talks to Mediaweek about 2018 victories
• One major 7.30pm timeslot announcement still to come
“We have won every single key demographic,” Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross explained to Mediaweek the day before the OzTAM survey year came to a stop.
“More people of every age watch the suite of Seven channels,” he added.
The improved performance in 2018 was about the back half of the year doing better than it did in 2017, although Ross stressed there is more to it than that.
“We had a very strong first half as well, even when you exclude the Commonwealth Games. We came roaring out the other side [of the Games] when My Kitchen Rules exploded as a team was booted off.
“The year-round performance of our spine of news was key, which includes 6pm news, Sunrise and The Morning Show. The entertainment schedule and the dominant suite of multichannels were also factors. That is what has delivered the result.
“Throughout the year we are never reliant on one show. We have depth across the year.
“We have smart agreements with the UK and US studios that delivers content and we are the only people who can get US dramas to deliver consistent numbers. We have the top three – 9-1-1, The Good Doctor and God Friended Me. They don’t only perform just on broadcast, but they work across all the screens of Seven.
“We are not just reliant on one 7.30pm show. TV is a business of hit and misses and we are better equipped to deal with any misses that come along. We always have options.”
Ross said when the initial overnight numbers come in, programmers are these days reluctant to reschedule programs until seven and maybe 28 days consolidated ratings are examined, as well as BVOD.
“Shows now need to be given more time. Some shows that initially disappointed us, have then resonated on other platforms, like Zumbo’s Just Desserts. If you look at the numbers now they are actually pretty good, but at the time we didn’t bring it back.”
The show will now be coming back to Seven in a partnership with Netflix.
When asked about the overall audience numbers this year, Ross said: “Versus our competitors this year, our audiences are in a better state.”
While at best audiences for successful shows have probably plateaued, Ross noted the share figures for the multichannels across the board have crept higher. “At this time of years the share for everyone’s multis are creeping up. That is based on what is on offer on the main channels. At the start of the survey year the multis tend to have smaller shares.
“What is not deniable this year is the incredible performance of 7mate. It is the #1 multichannel all people and in every demo.”
When asked about multichannel breakout hits, Ross refers to smart agreements with select US distributors. “We are very pleased with the performance of the Fox product on 7mate – across movies, The Simpsons and other animated content. 7mate has also been active with local commissions. Outback Truckers remains a powerhouse in addition to Salvage Squad.”
When asked about the biggest change to the suite of Seven channels for 2019, Ross mentions this weekend’s launch of 7Food Network.
“The strategies for each of the channels will remain as they are now. 7mate will also have more local commissions in 2019.”
At Seven’s Allfronts it revealed an short extra season of My Kitchen Rules. As to any other changes for the 7.30pm schedule, there is one new program that Seven will announce just days away.
He also confirmed that Bride & Prejudice would return after its recent success. “The show delivered the overall audience and the demo audience required.
“Seven is the only network this year that has both grown share all people and in every demographic. Our audience retention versus our competitors is a good story.”
Seven viewers tuning in for Test cricket this week will see a range of new promos about what’s ahead in 2019. “Given some viewers will be new to Seven there will be some different types of promos within the cricket – things Seven may not have traditionally promoted during our summer sport.
“We are prepared for a bumper summer in terms of audiences which will give us a solid platform to launch our Q1 schedule. People without summer sport to promote their content could be in a great deal of difficulty.”
Ross wouldn’t reveal the exact start date of My Kitchen Rules but you can imagine it might be about the time the Australian Open ends, even though that sport has a new home this year.”
Ross wouldn’t comment on the chances of The Blake Mysteries would be recommissioned for more episodes or telemovies. The telemovie screened on Friday with 500,000 metro viewers.
“We think there is an audience for that type of drama. I have a number in my mind, but this is a show that we need to check the seven days and BVOD performance for.”
7Plus is also hosting all 36 episodes of the old Doctor Blake Mysteries for its audience.
“I would love to have more The Blake Mysteries at the end of next year. If the audience suggests they would like more we will supply them.”
When asked if audiences had been getting too many shows about relationships, Ross said: “Some might say that, but we have just had a good run with Bride & Prejudice. It always comes down to each show. I have been burned before saying there is too much of something in a particular genre, only to have a show to perform well. There is merit in channels not programming the same type of show against each other, and I don’t think we have done for quite a while.”
Top Photo: Angus Ross
The chief executive of the new-look Nine Entertainment Co, Hugh Marks, has revealed to staff the extent of redundancies as Fairfax and Nine come together in the next few days.
In a note to all staff today, Marks said: “The new corporate structure is designed to strengthen our offerings to audiences and clients, including maximising our combined ability to invest in quality Australian content and journalism.”
The new group will be split into four operating divisions with management as follows:
Australian Community Media, Printing and Stuff – Led by Allen Williams, managing director community and printing. The New Zealand business, Stuff, will report through to Allen but continues to be run by CEO Sinead Boucher.
Publishing, including, Metro Mastheads, Nine Digital and Events, – will be led by Chris Janz as managing director, publishing.
Stan – led by CEO Mike Sneesby.
Television – led by Michael Healy as director of television.
Greg Barnes will be chief financial officer.
Michael Stephenson will continue in his role as chief sales officer with Lizzie Young continuing as group director of content strategy, which includes Powered.
Other corporate appointments include Alexi Baker as director of strategy and corporate development, Rachel Launders as general counsel and company secretary and Vanessa Morley as director of people and culture.
Domain will continue to be led by Jason Pellegrino and Macquarie Radio led by Adam Lang. Both businesses will remain as separately listed companies with independent boards.
Marks noted that a total of 144 roles will be made redundant due to duplication and some vacant positions will no longer be required. This impacts approximately 92 people.
Mark said: “We have spoken to or will speak to those affected as soon as possible so that all employees have clarity and certainty before we commence operations as a combined business.
“Where appropriate our aim is to immediately redeploy affected employees or if this is not possible they will have immediate access to outplacement services and support through the Nine and Fairfax employee assistance programs.”
HT&E has announced a management change with the simplifying of the organisation structure between its corporate division and Australian Radio Network (ARN).
The radio leadership team will now report directly to Ciaran Davis, managing director & CEO. As a result, the role of ARN CEO will no longer exist therefore Rob Atkinson will leave the business in early 2019 after a period of transition and handover.
ARN is the principal business of HT&E after a five-year transformation that included the exit from traditional publishing, NZME demerger and most recently the sale of Adshel for $570 million.
Hamish McLennan, chairman of HT&E said: “We’re focused on streamlining the organisational structure between the corporate and ARN divisions with one managing director/CEO across HT&E and ARN, allowing us to optimise the cost structure, reduce corporate costs and ultimately set the business up for ongoing operational effectiveness and further growth. Ciaran is perfectly placed to lead the business into the next phase of its growth.”
Ciaran Davis said “I would sincerely like to thank Rob for his contribution to ARN, driving a new vision for the business during significant change to our show and talent line up. I would also like to pay tribute to the vital role he played running Adshel for five years.
“I’m excited to be working even more closely with the ARN executive team to achieve their vision to create the future of audio entertainment. HT&E is a fantastic business underpinned by ARN and a balance sheet the envy of the traditional media sector. This structure will allow us to look at growth opportunities across the sector where we can further leverage our natural strengths and focus with content creation, audience delivery and our relationships with advertisers.”
Network 10 has appointed Peter van Onselen as its network political editor.
In this role, van Onselen will be spearheading 10’s political coverage across all of its brands including 10 News First, The Project, Studio 10, 10 Daily and 10 Speaks. He joins 10 from Monday 10 December and will report to network director of news content Ross Dagan.
Ross Dagan said: “Peter is an experienced, award-winning journalist and commentator and it’s fantastic that he’ll be bringing his insights, experience and credibility to the network. He is respected across the industry and is skilled across all platforms.
“At a time when cutting through the spin is more important than ever, Peter will ensure we know exactly what’s going on in Canberra, even when the politicians might not want that to be the case.
“Peter is joining 10 at an exciting time. We have great momentum across our news and discussion programs and with 10 Daily. The addition of Peter bolsters our already experienced and talented line-up of journalists ahead of what’s sure to be a crucial election.”
Peter van Onselen said: “10’s incredible team of journalists work exceptionally hard and are not afraid to be different. This is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of that. There are great things happening at 10 and I can’t wait to get amongst it.”
Van Onselen is a professor of politics with a PhD in political science and the foundation chair of journalism at the University of Western Australia. He has extensive broadcast experience from Sky News, the ABC and Nine and is also a contributing editor of The Australian, a role he will continue to perform.
Most recently, he spent almost 10 years at Sky News where he was a key member of its political commentary team and host of a number of programs including PVO NewsDay and Australian Agenda.
He is the author or editor of six books including four best sellers. His biography on former Prime Minister John Howard, John Winston Howard: The Biography, was rated by The Wall Street Journal as the best biography of 2007.
Van Onselen has won Walkley and Logie awards for his broadcast journalism as part of the Sky News political team.
Bauer Media has announced the structure of its Elle and Harper’s Bazaar team, confirming exciting new appointments and a renewed cross-platform approach.
Eugenie Kelly and Genevra Leek will take the helms of their respective brands – Kelly as editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Leek as editor of Elle. Bauer noted both editors have a deep understanding of the titles’ heritage in the luxury sector and will continue to build on the success of both.
• Founding Elle Australia editor-in-chief leaving after five years
• Justine Cullen to edit David Jones’s content portfolio at Medium Rare Content Agency
•Harper’s Bazaar editor Kellie Hush departs Bauer Media
Susannah Guthrie has been appointed as digital content director, while Mahalia Chang who will take the role of digital managing editor. Together, they will spearhead the two brands’ digital strategy.
Sarah-Belle Murphy will continue to oversee the category as general manager, publishing and digital operations.
Speaking on the new structure, Murphy noted both titles’ impressive cross-platform headway in recent years, adding that a dual focus will only serve to bolster existing success.
“Both Elle and Harper’s Bazaar have had incredible cross-platform growth year on year,” Murphy said.
“I’m excited about the future under our new structure and talented team who will drive growth in our existing channels and extend our brands in new directions – from events, bespoke client activations, and products – that’that will set a new bar for how our brands connect with our consumer.”
The Harper’s Bazaar and Elle teams are as follows:
• General Manager, Publishing & Digital Operation – Sarah-Belle Murphy
• Digital Content Director – Susannah Guthrie
• Digital Managing Editor – Mahalia Chang
• Editor, Harper’s Bazaar – Eugenie Kelly
• Creative Director, Harper’s Bazaar – Huw Reynolds
• Copy Director, Harper’s Bazaar – Tom Lazarus
• Editor, Elle – Genevra Leek
• Creative Director, Elle – Carly Townsend
• Copy Director, Elle – Natalie Reeves
• Art Editor – Michelle Jackson
• Copy Editor – Alexander English
• Acting Features Director – Hannah James
• Culture Director – Elle McClure
• Beauty Writer – Kate Lancaster
• Beauty & Wellness Director – Janna Johnson-O’Toole
• Fashion Director – Naomi Smith
• Fashion Features Director – Grace O’Neill
• Market Editor – Samantha Wong
• Fashion Editor – Caroline Tran
• Fashion Office Coordinator – Nichhia Wippell
Each of Seven’s expanding family of multichannels has a specialist looking after the content and the programming mix. Those people work with Seven’s head of programming Brook Hall to liaise on strategy and promotion.
The broadcaster’s suite of channels grows by one on Saturday December 1 with the launch of 7Food Network.
“The label couldn’t be more self-explanatory,” Hall told Mediaweek. “That is important in a busy media world when you are launching new brands. It was also an existing brand in this market previously.”
Hall is referring to the SBS Food Network channel, which previously had the rights to much of the content from Discovery that will now be showing up on 7Food.
7Food will be hoping to attract anybody who eats! It will no doubt skew female, just as 7flix does with its appeal to mothers and younger people.
7mate is targeting men 16-49, while 7TWO has an audience of grocery buyers and older viewers.
Hall was keen to stress that the initial weeks on air for 7Food Network will mainly be about learning what the audience wants. Viewers can expect the schedule to adapt pretty quickly to programming that resonates with the audience while little-watched shows will be harder to find.
7Food in summer is programmed around themes on different nights.
Sunday is cake night, which is being branded as Sweet Tooth Sunday. Programs include Ridiculous Cakes, Cake Wars, Cupcake Wars and Cake Masters.
Monday is all about baking. Watch out for Best Baker In America and Holiday Baking Championship.
Tuesdays are branded Double Trouble Tuesday with a look at restaurants and diners with Mystery Diners and Restaurant Impossible.
Wednesdays will feature Gordon Ramsay hosted programming. First up will be Ramsay’s Costa Del Nightmares and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares UK.
Thursdays are looking like they might have more male appeal with The Great Food Truck Race and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Hall said 7Food will anchor every night with Chopped at 6.30pm, which runs for an hour.
Seven has a long tradition of lifestyle programming that focuses on food from Better Homes & Gardens to My Restaurant Rules.
“Right now we are considering how we can best leverage some of that content. Those brands will be in the 7Food schedule very soon. We have the biggest cooking show of all in MKR and we are discussing how best to introduce that.
“The first changes to the initial summer grid will probably be the introduction of some of Seven’s Australian content. That includes series that Manu Feildel has made for Seven. We will later be announcing a new Australian production for the channel as well.”
One thing many potential 7Food viewers could be interested in would be international versions of the MKR format. “Absolutely,” said Hall. “It’s up for discussion now as to whether it might run in conjunction with the next series on Seven or perhaps when it finishes. It is such a powerful brand in our market and so far we have held all the other versions back.”
Other markets that have adapted MKR include New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Russia, UK and USA.
The new channel has attracted much commercial interest although at the 2019 Seven Allfronts. Seven noted there would be reduced commercial inventory at launch.
Although Seven now has the content pipeline that helped drive SBS Food, Hall told Mediaweek the vast majority of content on 7Food will be first-run.
“Some titles may have had some seasons elsewhere, but most of the episodes we are showing will be new ones. We have selected what we think our viewers will respond to.”
McCarthy, who has been in the role since March 2009, said that he had recently been planning changes to the newsroom operations, which had prompted him to consider his own future.
“After nearly 10 years in this very demanding role, I decided it was time for a break before I look for new challenges,” McCarthy said.
Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes paid tribute to McCarthy for his outstanding contribution to the company over the past decade.
“Brett has proved himself a great newspaper editor over many years. He has led The West with integrity and deepened the paper’s connection to the community. I have always respected his judgment,’’ he said.
Fewster said: “Brett led by example and set the agenda in WA. I would like to thank him for his contribution and his recent role in promoting the successful ‘We’re For You’ campaign. Brett leaves The West in the enviable position of reaching 91% of WA.”
McCarthy has worked in newspapers for more than 30 years since he started as a cadet journalist in Brisbane in 1984 straight out of high school. He moved to WA in 2001 as editor of The Sunday Times after having a successful career in Sydney at The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph before rising to be deputy editor of The Sunday Telegraph.
“I’m really proud of what The West has achieved over the past 10 years. It has been a great journey,” he said.
“The proudest achievement of the newspaper while I’ve been editor was our role in the successful campaign to get WA a fair share of the GST.
“I’ve worked with a great team of first class journalists here at The West, some of the best in the country. I know they will continue to take this newspaper from strength to strength, telling the stories that matter to West Australians.
“I really feel now is the right time for me to move on. I appreciate Stokes and Fewster allowing that to happen quickly so I can enjoy the holidays with my wife and children before looking to the future,’’ McCarthy said.
McCarthy finishes at The West later today, November 30.
Marvel’s Spider-Man has swung back into the number one spot on the retail sales chart this week off the back of massive Black Friday discounts.
By Cam Shea, editor in chief, IGN Australia
Not only was the game available on its own for half its regular retail price, but several retailers were bundling it with PlayStation 4 Pro units; an attractive upgrade for gamers that don’t want to be left behind by aging console hardware. God of War also saw significant price cuts, explaining its appearance further down the chart.
After a soft start, Battlefield V has landed at #2 this week, demonstrating the series still has plenty of clout with shooter fans. It may, however, be one of the most undercooked entries in the storied series at launch, with IGN’s review saying that it was released “well before it was ready.”
Rockstar’s landmark open-world Western, Red Dead Redemption II, is still selling well, alongside other heavyweights FIFA and Call of Duty. Last week’s number one game Spyro Reignited Trilogy has slipped down the chart, as has Fallout 76 and Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu. NBA 2K19 rounds out the top ten.
• Summer’s first hit: Nine’s 40th anniversary 60 Minutes special
• Early Christmas at Seven: Love Actually keeps it competitive
• 7Food Network close to matching SBS Food on day two
By James Manning
The first night of summer schedule for 2018/19 sees Seven and Nine still close together.
The 6pm news bulletins were locked together before Sunday Night slipped behind at 7pm with a repeat episode going head-to-head in that slot with 60 Minutes for possibly the first time this year.
Seven then went with a Christmas staple, the movie Love Actually. The film won its slot convincingly after Blue Planet ended. Let’s hope it screens again Christmas Eve.
The first full day of ratings for the new 7Food Network were for Sunday, the second day the channel has been on air. (It launched at 6am on Saturday.) It had a primetime channel share of 1.1%, which took it close to SBS Food on 1.3%.
The 7Food Network audience is still very small of course, with the biggest Sunday attraction its first Sweet Tooth night with the shows Cake Wars and Cupcake Wars.
The 40th anniversary special of 60 Minutes made for compelling viewing as it chronologically went through the archives from episode one in February 1979. All of the original reporters were brilliant contributors to the special as was founding executive producer Gerald Stone. The current team did well too with their insights, particularly Liz Hayes and Charles Wooley. The program easily won the 7pm timeslot with 777,000.
Nine then programmed a replay of Blue Planet II, which also did well on 527,000.
More Monty Python fun with Michael Palin joining The Sunday Project in what must have been one of the best interviews of the year on the show – including many of the superstars the show has jetted around the world to secure. The episode did 357,000.
The channel’s best audience of the night was for The Graham Norton Show with 366,000 watching another entertaining episode that featured Steve Carell, Dawn French, Michael B Jordan and Ruth Wilson.
The Grand Designs franchise continues to deliver on two nights a week for the channel.
It delivered the channel’s biggest audience of the night with 402,000 watching the self-building in the city mini series.
Sherlock was back in the 8.30pm slot with 367,000 watching a repeat of the first episode of series four.
An episode of Civilisations did best with 161,000 followed by a repeat of Vikings Uncovered on 157,000
|ABC 2||3.0%||7TWO||3.3%||GO!||3.4%||10 Boss||3.7%||VICELAND||1.6%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.7%||GEM||2.6%||10 Peach||2.4%||Food Net||1.2%|
|ABC 2||4.0%||7TWO||4.6%||GO!||5.6%||10 Boss||2.6%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||3.9%||GEM||4.8%||10 Peach||2.6%||Food Net||1.5%|
|ABC 2||3.2%||7TWO||4.0%||GO!||4.9%||10 Boss||2.8%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||0.8%||7mate||2.6%||GEM||3.5%||10 Peach||1.8%||Food Net||1.3%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC 2||3.7%||7TWO||5.8%||GO!||5.6%||WIN Boss||2.4%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||1.5%||7mate||3.5%||GEM||6.2%||WIN Peach||1.8%||Food Net||1.3%|
|ABC NEWS||1.9%||7flix||1.8%||9Life||3.5%||Sky News on WIN||0.4%||NITV||0.2%|
|SUNDAY METRO ALL TV|
Friday Top 10
Saturday Top 10
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
Australia’s biggest radio company, Southern Cross Media Group, will use ambitious growth plans for original podcasting as the catalyst to transform itself from a radio group into an audio and entertainment leader in coming years, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.
In an exclusive interview with The Australian, the group’s CEO Grant Blackley said he wanted to make original podcasting – currently a loss-maker for the company – into Southern Cross’s biggest profit growth driver, led by household names like Hamish and Andy.
“We want to become the Fox Sports or Netflix of podcasting,” Blackley said. “The key is original content. Fox Sports creates original content in cricket, football and other sports. And what we go to Netflix most of all now is for original series. So what we are establishing is a premium, original-first model for podcasting.
“We are creating a future asset today,” he said. “It’s a bit like the early days of an REA or a Domain, a Seek or a Foxtel. It’s an enormous start-up cost, but in the next fiscal year we will break even on that investment, and once we get to break-even, we will benefit thereafter.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is expected to release a draft report from its “world-first” inquiry into the impact of digital platforms such as Facebook and Google on traditional media this week, possibly as soon as Monday. And no-one is entirely sure what to expect, reports Fairfax Media’s John McDuling.
The report will take into account months of submissions from the traditional media industry, the digital giants themselves and the broader public, as well as public forums involving media representatives and individual consultation sessions between the regulator and the companies involved.
The inquiry is supposed to focus on the market power of the digital platforms, whether that is impacting the quality of news consumers receive, and how it is affecting media and advertising markets more broadly.
Last week’s departure of Fairfax Media from ASX listings marked the formal end of the 177-year-old Fairfax publishing business, writes the former editor-in-chief of The Australian, Chris Mitchell.
But how good is the deal and can Greg Hywood’s time in the top job be seen as a success? Given the history of mismanagement before Hywood’s arrival as CEO in 2010 – after being sacked from the company and given a multimillion-dollar redundancy in 2003 – the former editor-in-chief and publisher of The SMH, The Age and AFR has done better than many market watchers expected, even if he has disappointed Fairfax’s journalists.
While the larger regional Fairfax titles might produce editorial synergies I can’t see the smaller ones being of long-term interest to Nine. News-generating cost savings will be available from synergies between The Age and SMH operations and Nine’s television and online services.
The merged group could try to sell The AFR. It is arguably the country’s most successful newspaper commercially right now after two years during which editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury has engineered dramatic digital subscription rises. The strength of its hard paywall, like that of The Australian when it introduced paid online subscriptions in 2012, highlights one of Hywood’s mistakes. The Age and SMH paywalls are so porous it is easy to obtain Fairfax content online without subscribing.
Mitchell also comments about Hywood in an article by Fairfax’s John McDuling and Jennifer Duke today:
Greg Hywood’s well-documented rise at Fairfax (and brief departure) culminated in his appointment as chief executive in 2011. This week, nearly eight years on, he will formally step down from that position as the publisher’s merger with Nine Entertainment Co is completed.
He will walk away with $8 million golden handshake, and solid respect from his peers and colleagues in the business sphere.
On a corporate level, there’s little doubt Hywood’s tenure as chief executive of the publisher was a success. Even his fiercest critics admit that.
“All things considered he did a pretty fair job,” says Chris Mitchell, former editor in chief of The Australian newspaper, which often lambasted Hywood and Fairfax. “Seven years ago was a hard time to get into the business.”
But his stewardship of the mastheads is much more open to debate. On his watch, thousands of staff, including many high-profile journalists and entire cohorts of subeditors, departed. The Herald and The Age morphed from broadsheets into tabloids. And, in the age of digital first, the newspaper websites, which had a different tone and feel to the historic print titles, took over.
Federal Labor is pushing for a revamp of the country’s defamation laws as media industry heavyweights join forces to push for reforms that support public interest journalism and adapt to changes in online publishing, report Fairfax Media’s Michaela Whitbourn and Colin Kruger.
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who will be the country’s first law officer if Bill Shorten wins office next year, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that current defamation laws had not kept up with changes in digital technology and worked against media companies.
Media bosses including Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood, News Corporation Australasia boss Michael Miller and the ABC’s director of news Gaven Morris, have banded together to call for urgent reforms, saying the current laws are unworkable and undermine democracy.
“Media outlets are more constrained in terms of reporting than they should be for an open market and open democracy, there is absolutely no doubt about that,” said Hywood, who will step down as Fairfax chief executive when the merger with Nine is completed this month.
“There is an urgent need for Australia’s defamation law to be updated. Other countries like the UK have updated their laws … and we need to catch up,” Miller said.
A series of defamation actions involving well-known Australians such as actors Geoffrey Rush and Craig McLachlan, former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith and property developer Chau Chak Wing are current before the courts.
Bauer Media’s general counsel and general manager Adrian Goss said Australia could learn from the changes introduced in Britain.
Nine News Perth’s news director Shaun Menegola stepped down from his role, effective immediately, last Friday, reports WAtoday’s Daile Cross.
Nine Perth director Clive Bingwa thanked Menegola for his energy and effort in producing a quality news product.
Nine Network director of regional news, Michael Dalton, will take over as news director.
On Thursday Nine’s deputy news director Vanessa Beasley confirmed she was leaving her position with the team after five years.
US television series Preacher is coming to Victoria for its fourth series in a deal that will inject $50 million into the Victorian economy and generate 740 jobs for local cast and crew.
Secured by the Victorian government via Film Victoria, Preacher is set to be the biggest budget television production to come to Victoria since Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific (2007).
The production schedule for the 10-part series will span seven months in Melbourne and regional Victoria, with pre-production set to commence at Docklands Studios Melbourne before the end of the year.
Based on DC Comics’ supernatural comic book series, Preacher follows a conflicted preacher who, during a crisis of faith, gains extraordinary power.
Preacher stars UK actor Dominic Cooper and is produced by Sony Pictures Television and Playmaker Studios. Commissioned by the AMC network in the USA, the series streams locally on Stan.
Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher said: “Securing the production of Preacher for Victoria is a major coup; it is the biggest budget television production to film in our state in more than a decade. We look forward to showcasing the work of our industry internationally, and to seeing Melbourne shine on screens around the world through this series.”
Debra Richards, CEO of Ausfilm, said “Ausfilm was instrumental in securing the series with the production team participating in Ausfilm’s familiarisation program. The team were in Australia for two weeks earlier this year and scouted various locations and sound stages around the country, meeting with crew and Ausfilm members to see if they could make the production work in Australia.”
Cassandra Thorburn is set to appear on the re-booted Channel 10 version of Dancing with the Stars next year, reports Fairfax Media’s Andrew Hornery.
Thorburn’s name has been mentioned in hushed tones around 10, with the network keen to cash in on the huge amount of publicity her marriage break-up with Karl Stefanovic has generated over the past two years.
Indeed, the acrimonious split has portrayed Thorburn very much as the scorned woman, though she is keen to not be seen as the “victim” as her ex-husband and father of her three children walks down the aisle in Mexico next week to his new love, the much younger Jasmine Yarbrough.
Handsome, charming and recently single, Channel 10 presenter Scott Tweedie ticks all the boxes to be the next Bachelor, reports News Corp’s Confidential.
Confidential can reveal that The Loop host has been approached by production to hand out the red roses on the next season of the reality show after splitting from his girlfriend.
A source close to Tweedie said producers are very keen to secure the well-liked host for the job.
Originally from Queensland, Tweedie moved to Sydney to follow a career in TV. After working at ABC, he was picked-up by Channel 10 and has become their go-to guy in recent years.
Next month he will head to South Africa to work on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
After eight years of 4am starts, sometimes with less than two hours’ sleep, something had to give. Sharing his time between Triple M’s Grill Team in Sydney and Fox Sports’ rugby league coverage, Matty Johns says he knew a year ago he couldn’t maintain his hectic schedule, reports The Australian’s Adrian McMurray.
As 2018 wore on, he thought of pulling the plug on breakfast radio on a daily basis. With 12 months left on his deal with Southern Cross Austereo, a meeting that was intended to extend his time at the station instead shifted to engineering his exit.
“I started recognising when I was turning up here, I was tired all the time,” Johns tells The Australian at Triple M’s Sydney studios before his final week on air. “When you’re tired, you can’t perform how you want to.
“Fox Sports has been so good to me – I don’t want to go anywhere else. For next year, we’re working on a few new segments but some of those are secret.
“Triple M has been good to me and good for me as well. Andrew Denton told me if I got five years out of breakfast radio, I’d be doing well. I’m proud of the eight I’ve got out, we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Divinyls co-founder Mark McEntee is bravely reigniting the legendary Australian band for an epic national tour after a serendipitous studio session with a rising LA rock singer, reports News Corp’s Kathy McCabe.
McEntee hasn’t entertained the idea of getting the band back together since his musical partner and revered rock icon Chrissy Amphlett died in 2013.
But after playing on a cover of the band’s global smash I Touch Myself recorded by Lauren Ruth Ward in Los Angeles earlier this year, the guitarist and songwriter decided he wanted to perform the band’s songs again.
The band to play 18 gigs around Australia from late February will feature Ward singing alongside McEntee, Blondie and former Divinyls guitarist Frank Infante and Sleepy Jackson’s drummer Malcolm Clarke and bassist J Cortez.