Since relocating to Australia from the UK in late 2005, Paul Merrill has spent most of his time in magazine publishing here with Bauer Media.
By James Manning
He left briefly in 2011, but then returned two years later.
For much of the time since then he has been editor-in-chief of Bauer’s real life brand Take 5 and 12 months ago he added extra editor-in-chief duties across a range of puzzle titles, Empire magazine and others.
Among the newer titles under his watch is a new monthly called Take 5 Crime & Puzzles with a mix of true crime articles from Australia and around the world in a magazine with a selection of puzzles and competitions.
Any publisher these days would cherish the chance to launch a new title, with Merrill getting the opportunity to launch a few.
“The big one for us was last year was Take 5 Bumper Monthly and it is already the sixth most-read title on Australian newsstands,” Merrill told Mediaweek.
IPG Mediabrands has announced that following three years in the role as CEO of IPG Mediabrands Australia, Danny Bass has resigned his position.
“At the end of last year I spoke to Leigh Terry (CEO, IPG Mediabrands APAC) about my plans for the future,” said Bass. “Leigh was totally understanding and we both agreed that I’d leave Mediabrands in the coming months.
“These past three years have been a career experience that has far exceeded my expectations from when I took on the role at the end of 2015,” said Bass. “Supported by an executive leadership team with the highest standards of management and skills leadership, Mediabrands has been transformed into a highly respected, performance-driven business with high degrees of flexibility in helping solve clients’ business challenges.”
Bass added, “There’s been massive structural and skills innovation, balanced with a clear pragmatism about what clients expect from their media agency partner. I am hugely proud of where the business is at this point, with the new clients that have joined us, and the strength of our longer-term client relationships.”
Bass joined Mediabrands as CEO in November 2015. In the past three years the group has attracted national clients including The Australian Government, Tourism Australia, Lion, Nestle, Government of New South Wales, Optus, Western Australian Government and AGL.
The group has also been engaged by international appointments including American Express, Amazon and Johnson & Johnson.
Bass will remain in the Mediabrands business until approaching mid-year, working on a comprehensive transition with Leigh Terry, CEO IPG Mediabrands APAC.
On Bass’ departure and until a new CEO is announced, Mediabrands Australia will report to Leigh Terry, who is based in Sydney. He is a former CEO of Omnicom Media Group ANZ and experienced in the local market.
Terry said, “Danny’s credentials as Australia CEO speak for themselves. We have discussed at length his decision, we fully support him and obviously wish him the very best of fortune in his time off and future career steps. Across all our businesses, Mediabrands Australia has world-class leadership and the highest standards of talent. Our clients and future progress is in solid hands, and I am looking forward to helping lead and support the group in the foreseeable future.”
The January 2019 Digital Content Ratings for news publishers as measured by Nielsen shows news.com.au maintaining top spot as it again lifts its audience over 10m after it dipped a little to 9.61m in December.
After the holiday period, the total time audiences spent engaging with news content saw a 10% lift in January when compared with December 2018. In January, audiences spent an average of 1.7 billion minutes viewing news content with persons 55+ being the most engaged demographic by share of time (43%).
news.com.au was the top news entity with a unique audience of 10.2 million. It was followed by ABC News Websites (8.5m) and then nine.com.au (8.5m) with both publishers lifting following audiences under 8m in December.
Next in the Nielsen news rankings was smh.com.au (8.3m), followed by Daily Mail Australia (6.3m) and Yahoo! (4.7m) in sixth position. Yahoo! returns to the chart after a tagging issue saw them disappear from the top 10.
In seventh position was Guardian Australia (4.5m), followed by The Age with a unique audience of (3.9m). In ninth place was Fairfax Digital Regional Network (3.8m) and The West Australian (2.9m) in tenth place making a return to the top 10.
Active International, Australia’s largest independent barter and financial solution business, has acquired Paykel – an independent media agency operating in Sydney and Melbourne – founded by Tony Paykel in 1999.
The acquisition by Active International will see the agency join a global network of more than 500 staff operating across 14 countries.
Headquartered in the US, Active International was the first company to deliver corporate trading services (barter) in Australia, setting up its local operations in 1994.
Active International Australia group managing director Cameron Swan said, “The acquisition of Paykel is an exciting next step towards building out our capabilities, product and services even further. Paykel has an excellent track record for delivering positive client outcomes, a strong client focus and quality of service making them a very desirable media agency to have as part of our business. Together we will build an even greater client-first culture to our strategic thinking and accelerate our growth.
“Whilst initially it will be business as usual for both organisations – which will continue operating as separate entities – we look forward to working with the Paykel team to continue our growth and development as a broad communications business in the years to come.”
Paykel founder and managing director Tony Paykel said: “We’ll continue to deliver the same quality service that has seen us enjoy 20 years of success, but now with the added support of an independent network with global knowledge and resources. We have always sought opportunities to accelerate our innovation, and with the backing of Active International, we’re in an even stronger position to continue delivering on this vision.”
Paykel will continue to lead his team as managing director, with Cameron Swan taking on the group leadership role of group managing director.
Top photo: Tony Paykel [L] with Cameron Swan
A new TV podcast from Andrew Mercado and James Manning starts with Andrew’s on location report from the first Australia Decides Eurovision event on the Gold Coast.
He attended two dress rehearsals and the live TV concert with some Eurovision experts and delivers their take on the weekend. And then there’s Sally4Ever – the truly shocking new series from Julia Davis. Wow! Andrew also finds time to talk about three new Australian dramas all launching on FTA TV in the next week.
The box office weekend takings for the top 20 movies has dropped below $10m for the first time this year.
By James Manning
Ever since the blockbuster final weekend of 2018 (where the takings were $28.4m) the takings have slipped every weekend since. They have nearly halved in the past fortnight from $18m to $9m.
There were four movies earning over $1m on the weekend, and three of the movies in the top five were new releases.
However, the most interesting stat we got up to speed with was the multi award-winning Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody making its mark on the all-time top 10 Australian box office chart.
Bohemian Rhapsody now sits at #9 on that chart with $52.44m to-date. The film needs another $800,000 for rise up the chart to reach #6.
The psychological horror release attracted mixed reviews, yet it has managed to lead the chart this week after opening on 204 screens with a screen average of $6,474.
After three weeks on the chart, the Oscar hopeful has again taken over $1m from 289 screens (+21 on last week) with a screen average of $3,963 and a total gross to-date of $6.12m.
Clint Eastwood’s last movie also took just over $1m on its third weekend on the chart. It too also added close to 20 screens to 291 for its screen average of $3,704. The movie has earned $6.49m so far.
The final movie to take $1m is the first weekend of the US black comedy that stars the now very controversial Liam Neeson. The movie opened on 240 screens with a screen average of $4,233.
There were 227 screens showing the legal drama based on the life and early career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film recorded a screen average of $3,219.
The screening of an ad for season three of The Handmaid’s Tale during the 2019 Super Bowl has helped push the series back to the top of the Digital Originals charts in Australia and New Zealand.
The series’ US home, Hulu, has also revealed it won’t be launching season three until June 5.
Also new to that chart this week in both markets is the new Netflix original Russian Doll. Almost exactly a year after production started, Netflix released the series on February 1. Starring is Natasha Lyonne (pictured) who co-created the series alongside Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. It has also opened with near universal acclaim from critics.
On the Overall TV charts, Game Of Thrones has moved back to the top in both territories. Returning to the chart in Australia is Nine’s hit 2019 season of Married At First Sight. The Handmaid’s Tail is back in the top 10 here too.
• Married At First Sight posts another new series high – 1.298m
• My Kitchen Rules grows week-on-week: Up over 900,000
• Murder, Lies & Alibis on 550,000; Instant Hotel returns under 400,000
By James Manning
Monday: Week 7 2019
FTA TV news/current affairs
• Seven News 993,000/TBA
• Nine News 925,000/933,000
• A Current Affair 770,000
• ABC News 697,000
• The Project 211,000/429,000
• 10 News First 377,000
• SBS World News 120,000
• Sunrise 277,000
• Today 196,000
Week 7 Reality Battle
Married At First Sight
• Sunday 1,263,000
• Monday 1,298,000
My Kitchen Rules
• Sunday 1,046,000
• Monday 906,000
I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here
• Sunday 544,000/625,000
• Monday 560,000/566,000
My Kitchen Rules continued to improve with a Monday audience of 906,000 up from 840,000 a week ago and 819,000 a fortnight ago for the season launch. Last night’s episode featured the first group one elimination from the new MKR Restaurant. It was goodbye to Karito & Ian on a night where the scores weren’t too bad for some food that didn’t look appetising on the plate.
Seven’s Instant Hotel then returned with a smallish launch crowd of 385,000. The first stop this series was Razz and Mark’s Coober Pedy dugout.
Continuing controversy surrounding Married At First Sight is keeping the ratings high and the show set another peak last night with a touch under 1.3m tuning in. The producers and contestants are certainly pushing all the right (wrong) buttons so far this year.
Earlier in the night A Current Affair was short of 800,000 after a week six average of 692,000.
The second episode of Mark Llewellyn’s Murder, Lies & Alibis did 569,000 after launching last week on 586,000.
Pointless started primetime for the channel on 170,000 and then the first half hour of The Project did 211,000. Not good enough 10’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey tells Mediaweek this week in an interview and podcast we published yesterday.
The audience ramps up after 7pm though with The Project on 429,000 with topics ranging from guest contributor Fifi Box’s baby news to Waleed Aly with former champion boxer Khalid Baker and his quest to clear his name.
Justin Lacko did well to make it through until the last week of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and he left the jungle last night more famous than when he went in. The audience watching the final Monday episode this season started on 560,000 and edged higher to 566,000 for the elimination.
The final episode of Back Roads opened up as it usually does with some spectacular photography as Heather Ewart visited Queensland town Windorah, population 115. Season four came to and end with 582,000 watching.
The Monday regulars followed – Four Corners on 544,000, Media Watch with 541,000 and Q&A with 365,000.
The channel’s best was a repeat of part two of Spying On The Royals, which did 171,000.
Michael Mosley: Placebo Experiment did 149,000 at 8.30pm.
|ABC 2||2.2%||7TWO||3.7%||GO!||3.5%||10 Bold||3.9%||VICELAND||0.9%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||2.1%||GEM||1.4%||10 Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.7%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC 2||2.2%||7TWO||5.3%||GO!||4.1%||WIN Bold||3.4%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||3.0%||GEM||3.4%||WIN Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.8%|
|ABC NEWS||1.2%||7flix||2.0%||9Life||1.3%||Sky News on WIN||0.9%||NITV||0.1%|
|MONDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top 5
18-49 Top 5
25-54 Top 5
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
Private Media has announced the launch of an “inquiry journalism” initiative that will create a new team of around a dozen full-time reporters and editors.
The team, whose positions are now being advertised, will work inside Crikey, Private Media’s 18-year-old subscription digital newsletter and website.
The initiative, which aims to launch by April, is the culmination of a long-running collaborative project between the team at Crikey and two of Private Media’s largest investors, John B Fairfax and Cameron O’Reilly, who together have a long association with the media and who share a commitment to quality journalism.
See also: The Crikey expansion comes just three months after Australian philanthropist Judith Neilson has announced a commitment of at least $100 million to create a world-leading journalism institute based in Sydney, the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism & Ideas.
Eric Beecher, Private Media chairman and editor-in-chief, detailed the initiative in a release:
“The world is complex. Politics is mainly superficial. A lot of issues are confusing. There’s a backstory to most important stories.
“Who really knows what’s going on below the surface, behind the veil, under the rocks? Who’s pulling the strings? Who wins? Who dances to what tune?
“Most often, we don’t know – and that’s why Australia needs more inquiry journalism, particularly in an environment where newsrooms are increasingly under-invested.
“Now, Crikey is about to invest in a whole lot more of it. We’re putting together a team of around a dozen journalists who will dig, probe, uncover, explain, expose, deconstruct, connect the dots, lift the veils.
“This will be part of a journalism business model built for and funded by subscribers, in no way philanthropic or self-indulgent, that aims to contribute to public discussion in a robust, probing, professional way.
“Australia is about to get more inquiry journalism. We think it matters.”
“Quality journalism has never been more important in our society than it is today. I believe that the best way to ensure it continues to play its valuable role in society is to find a financially viable business model around its delivery.
“Eric Beecher and the team at Private Media have had success in building successful digital news businesses and I feel confident backing them to develop a growing enterprise around investigative journalism.”
Private Media investor Cameron O’Reilly, whose family controlled global media company Independent News and Media for more than 35 years, said:
“Independent journalism is a critical ingredient of a proper functioning democracy, but it is being undermined commercially and politically on a global level. We are delighted to support Eric Beecher and his Private Media team in reinvigorating investigative journalism in Australia.”
Nine has hired Paul Brooks to lead its Sydney television team, appointing him to the role of director of sales – Sydney.
“Paul is one of the most experienced and respected senior leaders in our industry and I could not be more excited that he is joining our team,” said Richard Hunwick, Nine’s director of sales – television.
“He has an intimate understanding of the needs of today’s marketers and he’ll have all of Nine’s assets at his fingertips to develop campaigns for our advertisers.”
Brooks replaces Liana Dubois who last week was promoted to the role of director of Powered, Nine’s client solutions team.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Nine at such an exciting time,” said Brooks. “Nine has a fantastic content slate, a unique data proposition, and is leading the market in terms of advertising technology.
“In moving over to the media side, I wanted to find a business that was really making a difference to the market and it was difficult to go past Nine. They have all the market-leading ingredients and cross-platform capability required to deliver for Australian advertisers and agencies. It’s the pivot I was looking for.”
Prior to joining Amplifi, Brooks held senior chief investment director roles at Carat and Mediacom.
Brooks will report to Richard Hunwick with his start date to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Google cannot be too transparent about its search algorithms because low-quality websites might game the system and spam consumers, says its vice-president of search Pandu Nayak, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Nayak is in Australia partly to talk with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about the watchdog’s draft recommendations in its digital platforms inquiry, largely focused on Google and Facebook.
The ACCC inquiry listed several issues relating to Google content searches, including a lack of transparency about ranking of news, attribution of original content, and paywalls – an increasingly important part of media business models – being treated unfairly in results.
“We actually are very much in favour of transparency because we want to support our webmasters in every way possible, because the web as a whole, the incentives for the web and our incentives are aligned – we can do only well based on the content that’s available on the web,” he said.
“There are limits to the amount of transparency that makes sense and there are simple reasons for that. Pretty much since the beginning of Google, when it became clear ranking on Google was a valuable thing, people have been trying to spam the index and spam search,” he said.
Award-winning, hit drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale, will return for season three in the US on Wednesday, June 5 with three new episodes, and subsequent episodes released every Wednesday, reported streaming service Hulu which screens the show in the US. SBS screens the series soon after their US debut in Australia.
Hulu said the 13-episode third season of The Handmaid’s Tale is driven by June’s resistance to the dystopian regime of Gilead and her struggle to strike back against overwhelming odds. Startling reunions, betrayals, and a journey to the terrifying heart of Gilead force all characters to take a stand, guided by one defiant prayer: “Blessed be the fight.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is made by MGM Television and is created, executive produced and written by Bruce Miller. Executive produced by Warren Littlefield, Elisabeth Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Eric Tuchman and Mike Barker.
MGM serves as the international distributor for the series. SBS screens the episodes first in Australia and they are later available on Stan.
The Handmaid’s Tale stars Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley and Bradley Whitford.
The highly anticipated limited series Catch-22 will debut in the US on Hulu with all six episodes on Friday May 17.
Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal novel of the same name, Catch-22 is the story of the incomparable, artful dodger, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. However, his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of real and immediate dangers is the process of a rational mind. A man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty.
The cast includes Abbott (Yossarian), Kyle Chandler (Colonel Cathcart), George Clooney (Scheisskopf), Hugh Laurie (Major de Coverley), Giancarlo Giannini (Marcello), Daniel David Stewart (Milo), Rafi Gavron (Aarfy), Austin Stowell (Nately), Graham Patrick Martin (Orr), Gerran Howell (Kid Sampson), Jon Rudnitsky (McWatt), Kevin J. O’Connor (Korn), Pico Alexander (Clevinger), Tessa Ferrer (Nurse Duckett), Lewis Pullman (Major Major), Josh Bolt (Dunbar), Jay Paulson (Chaplain), Julie Ann Emery (Marion) and Grant Heslov (Doc Daneeka).
Catch-22 is executive produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov on behalf of Smokehouse Pictures, along with Richard Brown and Steve Golin on behalf of Anonymous Content. Luke Davies and David Michôd are co-writers and executive producers for the series.
The six-part limited series from Paramount Television and Anonymous Content is directed by Clooney, Heslov and Ellen Kuras, who also serves as producer. Each directed two episodes.
Something incredible happened on television on Saturday night, reports Cameron Adams.
It wasn’t just the fact that 10 Australian musicians performed 10 original songs live on TV and hundreds of thousands of people were watching (Saturday night is a TV ratings wasteland) and engaging positively on social media.
Although, that was pretty damn good, especially considering commercial TV think Australians only want to see karaoke covers in primetime.
No it was the fact that Eurovision: Australia Decides was a live TV program with a live phone voting component and the winner was decided and announced ON THE SAME NIGHT.
Remarkable. Not a week later. Not a day later. On the same bloody night as the show started.
Imagine how much more exciting live TV shows like I’m a Celebrity or the rebooted Dancing With the Stars will be with a live public vote – text in now and you’ll see the result shortly (once you sit through these tedious Clive Palmer ads) not tomorrow or next week.
Channel 9 has gone into damage control as viewers called for Married At First Sight expert Mel Schilling to be sacked after a controversial first commitment ceremony, reports news.com.au.
Annoyed viewers took to social media to complain about Schilling reprimanding Bronson Norrish for calling Ines Basic a “c**t” during Sunday’s episode.
“When you use language like that in relation to a woman, how do you expect her to respond to you? A tip from me to you: Don’t use language like that if you want any chance of a relationship,” Schilling told Bronson.
While Bronson found himself in hot water over his comments Ines did not, despite berating her “husband” throughout their wedding and honeymoon.
In response to the backlash, Schilling told 9 Honey she was “gender blind” when she gave advice to MAFS contestants.
“Abusive or harmful behaviour is something I’m going to call out whether it’s men or women doing it,” she said.
Schilling also said as an expert she was “not privy” to everything that happened between the couples.
According to Married At First Sight executive producer Tara McWilliams the experts are only present for the initial matchmaking, dinner parties and commitment ceremonies and do not see what else happens on the show.