Friday July 27, 2018

Nine's merger with Fairfax: A Mediaweek Q&A session on Australia’s biggest-ever media deal

Is this a takeover or a merger? What will happen to stan? Will there be staff cuts? Mediaweek takes a look.

Compiled by James Manning

• Sector consolidation explodes with Nine-Fairfax merger announcement
• Nine CEO Hugh Marks emails staff about Fairfax merger: ‘Not about cost reductions’
Video: Hugh Marks and Greg Hywood on the Nine / Fairfax merger

Is this a takeover or a merger?

It is a takeover in that Nine takes control of Fairfax and the Fairfax name is retired. There will be no creation of a new joint entity.

It is a merger in that it is the combination of two almost equal partners, and there is agreement from both parties they should combine.

How long have the partners been working on the deal?

Greg Hywood said on Thursday morning they were approached by Fairfax in early July with a proposal. However, you would think there would have been informal discussions over a longer period in the past. Nine and Fairfax have been partners in Stan since 2014. Within Nine Entertainment it was called Project Wolfgang.

Will Nine keep printing Fairfax newspapers seven days a week?

Nine Entertainment Co chief executive Hugh Marks said yes on Thursday. Regional papers’ future was less clear. “That is an area of detail I have yet to get to,” said Hugh Marks on Thursday. He added: “If together they help overall revenue they should be okay.”

What role will Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood have in the new company?

He will continue leading Fairfax until the deal completes, which will be close to the end of 2018. He confirmed to staff on Thursday he will then depart. Nine has not yet revealed which Fairfax representatives would join the Nine board.

Is this the biggest media deal ever in Australia?

No. Terry McCrann has reminded people Kerry Packer got $5.5b for Nine in 2006. Twelve years later Nine plus Fairfax Media is valued at $3.8b.

I have a few Fairfax shares. What will I get from Nine?

Fairfax shareholders will receive consideration comprising:

0.3627 Nine shares for each Fairfax share held (Scrip Consideration)

$0.025 cash consideration per Fairfax Share (Cash Consideration), together, Aggregate Consideration.

The Aggregate Consideration implies a:

21.9% premium to Fairfax’s closing price on July 25, 2018 of $0.770

22.6% premium to Fairfax’s one month VWAP to July 25, 2018 of $0.766.

Will cost savings include staff cuts?

Yes – there will be a reduction at management levels, and some of the “back office” functions will be combined. That will mean things like finance, HR. The merger statement said this morning: The merger is expected to deliver annualised pro-forma cost savings of at least $50m, which will be fully implemented over two years.

As to claims about journalism job cuts made by the MEAA (see more on that below), Hugh Marks said the MEAA is looking at it the wrong way. “We want an organisation that can support creation of content. We want as much money as we can get to invest in content.”

Will the new Nine-owned newspapers be full of promotions for Nine programming and digital properties?

Eventually, quite possibly. Nine has used its own assets including A Current Affair to help promote Stan. Fairfax has promoted Stan via sponsored content and newspaper wrap-arounds.

Will the Nine-News Corp Australia JV with the Sky News Business channel proceed?

Hugh Marks said yes when asked on Thursday morning. The channel is due to be rebranded Your Money under the leadership of Kylie Merritt with a launch date anticipated to be late September.

The only potential disruptor here is that Merritt is being mentioned as a potential replacement for departing Sky News Australia boss Angelos Frangopoulos, which could leave the new Your Money without a leader before it launches.

Kylie Merritt and David Ash

What does the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance think of the merger?

Not happy. This statement was issued by the journalists union shortly after the deal was announced:

Nine’s takeover of Fairfax will be bad for Australian democracy and diversity of voices in what is already one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, says the union for Australian media workers.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance calls on the ACCC to block the takeover.

MEAA is seeking commitments from Nine and Fairfax that the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence is upheld under any merger.

Marcus Strom, president of MEAA Media, said: “Today’s takeover announcement is the inevitable result of the Coalition Government’s short-sighted and ill-conceived changes to media ownership laws that were always going to result in less media diversity. With ongoing inquiries into the independence and long-term viability of quality journalism under way, the ACCC must block this takeover.

“This takeover reduces media diversity. It threatens the editorial independence of great newsrooms at Nine, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times, Illawarra Mercury, Newcastle Herald, Macquarie Media and more – right around the country. It harms the ability of an independent media to scrutinise and investigate the powerful, threatens the functioning of a healthy democracy, and undermines the quality journalism that our communities rely on for information,” Strom said.

“Nine and Fairfax must explain how they intend to defend the integrity of independent quality journalism in any combined entity.”

MEAA will demand that all existing employment conditions and entitlements are protected and retained for all workers at both companies, and that existing industrial agreements are respected.

Strom said: “Any further cuts to editorial journalism at Nine and Fairfax would bite into the muscle, bone and soul of the newsroom. The proposed savings of $50m in two years should come from trimmings to bloated executive salaries and from any back-office rationalisation.”

MEAA will be urgently convening meetings of its members at all Fairfax Media newsrooms to discuss the impact of today’s announcement.

What happens to Stan?

The streaming business will continue to grow with perhaps Nine Entertainment Co wanting to fast-track growth with increased investment now it owns 100% of the business. There could also be some content synergies with Nine and Stan sharing content acquisitions and commissions.

Will Nine get involved with 2GB and 3AW?

Nine already has strong links to the stations – in particular 2GB where hosts Ross Greenwood and Ben Fordham also have TV jobs at Nine. Ray Hadley is also a regular on Nine’s Today show and calls NRL on the TV for Nine.

3AW’s Tom Elliott asked Nine CEO Hugh Marks if he would leave the Melbourne station alone. “3AW is a brilliant station that has performed very well,” said Marks. “We hope you will continue what you are doing. I have no plan to get involved in 3AW, just as I don’t get involved in the Nine newsroom.”

Will this help the newly launched Macquarie Sports Radio?

It should. The stations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne should now have access to exclusive content from the sports desks of both Nine – Wide World of Sports – and The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. It may take some time to sort all this out though.

Seven’s Brian Taylor on getting nude in Sunday’s The Real Full Monty

Ahead of his appearance in Seven’s The Real Full Monty on Sunday night, Seven AFL football commentator Brian Taylor told Mediaweek, “I was a very reluctant starter.”

By James Manning

The special raises money for cancer awareness amongst men and it recreates the classic British movie, which climaxed with a striptease featuring the male stars.

Taylor stars alongside former AFL footballer Campbell Brown, NRL great Matt Cooper, TV host and actor Shane Jacobson, WSFM’s Jonesy, Ironman Jett Kenny, Sunrise’s Sam Mac and model/TV presenter Kris Smith.

Seven took a couple of weeks to sell Taylor on the idea. “I thought I would give it a go and if I didn’t like it or don’t feel like I’m doing the right thing I’ll pull out halfway through.”

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

SBS reveals programming slate for second half of 2018

SBS revealed its programming slate for the second half of 2018 at a function in Sydney last night.

• SBS Mid Year Showcase: Lee Lin Chin’s exit, new programs and digital successes

The broadcaster’s director of TV and online content Marshall Heald said, “SBS is renowned for producing some of the most thought-provoking and diverse content in Australia and we’ve built a reputation over four decades as a trusted media source, growing loyal audiences who come to us for a different perspective to our commercial counterparts.

SBS director of television and online content Mashall Heald

“When it comes to changing the way people think, you need to engage them with stories that emotionally connect. If you can make people laugh or cry, you’re creating a pathway to empathy, understanding and respect. That’s why we tell stories and show people on screen that you don’t see anywhere else. If we tell these stories well, we can change people’s prejudices. And that’s important.

“The new slate of programs tackle a broad range of contemporary issues, including mental illness, the ongoing refugee crisis, cultural and gender diversity in sport and the modern migrant experience. We also have some of the best foreign language dramas from across the world, entertaining documentaries and food programs, and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content.”

Child Genius – SBS

Presided over by quizmaster, Dr Susan Carland, this brand new six-part series to find Australia’s brightest child in a unique competition documentary format follows the lives of some of Australia’s brightest children and their families. These gifted children all have very high IQs and showcase phenomenal cognitive abilities in maths, general knowledge, memory and language.

Presented in association with Australian Mensa, the series features participants and their families from all over Australia, and provides unique insight into the joys – and challenges – of parenting a gifted child.

How ‘Mad’ Are You? – SBS

A new two-part SBS documentary series How ‘Mad’ Are You? will break down stigma around mental illness in a way never seen before on Australian television.

Over a week, a diverse group of 10 Australians will spend the week together. Five have a history of mental illness and five do not.

Under the watchful eye of three medical experts, the group will take part in a series of specially designed tests and experiments, while the experts work out who’s been diagnosed with a mental illness and who has not.

The 10 participants are living proof that a history of mental illness doesn’t have to define you.

Go Back To Where You Came From Live – SBS

Go Back To Where You Came From Live is one of the most ambitious live television events in broadcasting history, featuring seven opinionated Aussies who will discover what life is like in the most dangerous places on earth. Over three consecutive nights, Go Back Live will present a snapshot of the global refugee crisis by following refugee stories as they unfold in real time.

This is the fourth instalment of the Go Back franchise.

On The Ropes – SBS

An award-winning cast leads a new four-part SBS commissioned drama On The Ropes, including Keisha CastleHughes (Game of Thrones, Whale Rider), Nicole Chamoun (Safe Harbour, Romper Stomper), Logies Hall Of Famer Jack Thompson and acclaimed Israeli actor Igal Naor (Homeland, Riviera).

On The Ropes follows aspiring Iraqi-Australian boxing trainer Amirah Al-Amir (Chamoun) who has idolised her world champion father Sami (Naor) her entire life. While working in the family gym in Sydney’s west alongside her two brothers, Amirah negotiates a professional debut match for her hardnosed fighter Jess O’Connor (Castle-Hughes) with Sami’s longtime promoter Strick (Thompson). Furious that she has done this behind his back, her father threatens to cut her off. Desperate to chase her dream of transforming women’s boxing, will Amirah choose her fighter or her family?

Going Places with Ernie Dingo – NITV

Going Places with Ernie Dingo is a 14-part travel series, which sees Dingo visit some of Australia’s most stunning locations while paying tribute to the traditional land owners and others who make these destinations such amazing places to see.

Along the way, Dingo meets locals who have found their connection to the place they now live.

Butterfly – SBS

Butterfly follows the story of an 11-year-old boy, Max, who makes the huge decision that he wants to live life as a girl. He has always dressed as one at home, but now he doesn’t want to hide who he is.

The Day – SBS On Demand Exclusive

Foreign language contemporary Dutch drama The Day tells the story of a day-long hostage situation in a quiet Flemish town.

While the police do their utmost to end the event without bloodshed, it soon becomes clear that something is not right.

Told across eight episodes, viewers get to see the story from alternating perspectives each episode.

Top photo: On The Ropes’ Shannon Murphy, Nicole Chamoun and Courtney Wise

SBS Mid Year Showcase: Lee Lin Chin’s exit, new programs and digital successes

SBS’s outgoing CEO Michael Ebeid opened the network’s 2018 Mid Year Showcase event last night in Sydney. This was his first public event since the announcement of his departure was made public this month.

By Kruti Joshi

“Football absolutely transcends race, class and borders and unites communities – except if you are at Optus,” Ebeid joked, after talking about the success of the 2018 World Cup for SBS. “We are absolutely thrilled that over nine million Australians tuned into the World Cup on TV. On our radio and digital services we had eight million streams.”

Ebeid also acknowledged the news of Lee Lin Chin’s exit from SBS, which broke just hours before the event. He said, “It is an end of an era.

“She will be reading her last bulletin on Sunday night after 30 years on SBS. Lee Lin is absolutely iconic, if not unique, on Australian television screens.

“In so many ways she epitomises what SBS stands for. We are sad to see her go.”

When Ebeid joined SBS as its chief executive, the network had a share of 4.8% and “absolutely had no digital services whatsoever across radio or news”, he said. Since then, the organisation has expanded rapidly in the digital space.

Michael Ebeid and Dr Susan Carland

Speaking about the successes of SBS’s digital properties, Ebeid highlighted the following:

• Digital language services: The websites have two million unique audiences every month.

• SBS On Demand: 76% of the dramas on the service are in a language other than English. It now has over five million registered users across its platforms.

• SBS News and current affairs: World News, Insight and Dateline have all seen growth across all the platforms they are on, including digital. Meanwhile, SBS’s online news service has seen “over 100% increase in the last 12 months”.

SBS director of television and online content Marshall Heald

Following Ebeid’s address, SBS director of television and online content Mashall Heald took to the stage to introduce new programs coming to the network in the second half of 2018. He was helped by World News presenter Janice Petersen, The Feed’s Marc Fennell and Jan Fran and Dr Susan Carland.

Go Back To Where You Came From will return to SBS for a fourth season, but this time as a live program. It will be hosted by Petersen. Carland will front a new series to find Australia’s brightest child in Child Genius. See SBS’s full programming slate for the second half of 2018 here.

Marc Fennell, Janice Petersen and Jan Fran

SBS’s director of sport Ken Shipp, director of news and current affairs Jim Carroll, Food Network and subscription TV GM Chris Keely and Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason also attended the function last night.

Lee Lin Chin to depart SBS this weekend after 30 years

Famed SBS World News presenter Lee Lin Chin is departing SBS after 30 years with the broadcaster.

Lee Lin will present her final news bulletin this Sunday July 29.

Meanwhile, SBS will welcome back journalist Anton Enus in September, who will present two bulletins a week. Enus was successful in his nearly two-year-long battle with bowel cancer.

SBS paid tribute to Lee Lin in a release, which reads in part:

Throughout her illustrious career with SBS, Lee Lin became one of Australia’s most recognisable and respected newsreaders. She began working for SBS as a translator for Chinese-language films in 1980 after migrating from Singapore and then joined the esteemed World News Australia team (now SBS World News) in 1988 to front the weekend bulletins.

For three decades, Lee Lin has been a welcome fixture of Australians’ Saturday and Sunday evenings and has gained a reputation for her iconic voice and unique fashion style. In recent years, the inimitable Lee Lin extended her talents into the comedy world through a series of sketches on SBS VICELAND’s The Feed, reaching a whole new generation of viewers and earning a 2016 TV Week Gold Logie nomination in the process.

Lee Lin Chin said: “Having spent the bulk of my professional life at SBS, this isn’t by any means an easy decision. I shall be leaving a happy and satisfying role as a newsreader. My friends and colleagues for whom I have fervent respect will be deeply missed.”

SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said: “SBS would like to pay tribute to Lee Lin and thank her for her significant contribution to SBS, but also to the wider Australian media industry. Lee Lin is truly one of a kind and we will miss her colourful personality gracing our screens on the weekend. Lee Lin embodies everything that SBS stands for and will always be part of the SBS family. We respect her decision to embrace new projects and wish her all the very best for the future.”

Ebeid added: “We are absolutely delighted that Anton Enus is back to full health. Anton is a journalist of the highest-regard and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back and having his expertise in the SBS newsroom and on our screens from September.”

Anton Enus said: “I was thrilled to receive the all-clear in March. I’ve been away from SBS for nearly two years and missed it immensely. I can’t wait to get back to into the studio alongside the best news team in the business.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Lee Lin, whom I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years at SBS. She has set such a great example for her colleagues here and across the television industry. She’s a class act.”

Lee Lin Chin will sign off from SBS World News on Sunday July 29, 6.30pm.

Top photo: Lee Lin Chin at the 2015 Logies (credit: Wikimedia/Whitney Duan)

MTV Unplugged gets classy: Amy Shark wows Melbourne fans

Just a day after the first-ever Australian episode of MTV Unplugged was recorded with Gang Of Youths, the youth media brand recorded its second performance with another Sony Music artist, this time Amy Shark.

By James Manning

Just a day after the first-ever Australian episode of MTV Unplugged was recorded with Gang Of Youths, the youth media brand recorded its second performance with another Sony Music artist, this time Amy Shark. It was part of a massive week for Shark, who heads to the US and Canada next week. She played Splendour In The Grass last weekend, she has the #1 ARIA album and she plays a Red Room show in Sydney tonight.

Hit Network and Unplugged host Ash London reminded the audience for a second successive night at the end of the performance, “Isn’t live music great.” And again she was correct.

The venue for the second show was the same, as were the partners Vodka O and Visit Victoria, who are on board long-term with MTV.

Visit Victoria hosted media in Melbourne on Thursday with a visit to Australian Music Vault to see some of Melbourne’s musical heritage.

Peter Bingeman, chief executive officer of Visit Victoria, told Mediaweek: “Music is a key brand attribute for Melbourne, one that no other city in Australia can own. We intend for Melbourne to be top of mind for travellers as one of the world’s greatest live music cities and the MTV Unplugged Melbourne event series helps us work towards that goal.”

Perhaps they should be talking to ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen about the ARIA Awards. Rosen was a guest at the Gang Of Youths show on Wednesday – he should have returned for Amy Shark too.

The two shows couldn’t have been more different. While Gang Of Youths dazzled via their front man David Le’aupepe and the at-times intense musical murals they delivered, Shark engaged her audience with lengthy detailed stories about most of the songs, and while she shared the stage with her three-piece band, it was all about her stories, simple delivery and her endearing personality.

Editing this show down could be a challenge for MTV with Shark delivering big time with 13 songs, including two covers, delivered from the stage decorated with candles and fairy lights. All of this should look somewhat magical on TV screens.

The evening started with Drive You Mad and then it was Don’t Turn Around, Leave Us Alone, Teenage Dirtbag (a Wheatus cover), Never Coming Back, Blood Brothers, Psycho, I’m A Liar, All Loved Up, Weekends, Riptide (a Vance Joy cover) her current hit I Said Hi and her final tune Adore.

The Amy Shark audience was 400+ and again filled the Meat Market’s Cobblestone Pavilion to capacity. It was a little younger then the previous night’s crowd.

Viacom and MTV’s Ben Richardson and Simon Bates were again looking after guests as were their Viacom colleagues Hayley Goodman, Marketing Director of MTV, James Duffield, Marketing Manager at MTV and Vanessa Winley – Group Advertising Sales for VIMN.

Zoe Shurgold and Cody Lynch attended again from Visit Victoria.

Mediaweek was lucky to chat with Triple M’s Jane Gazzo, who now hosts the syndicated My Generation show with Ugly Phil and she also hosts Sunday night’s Home Grown. Also from radio, and fresh from some Nova Red Room shows, was Nova Entertainment’s Jane Elliott.

Sadly, the evening marked the final day at MTV for the legendary Adam Cubito, who is leaving his role as PR and Communications Manager. Sydney’s loss is Melbourne’s gain.

MTV Unplugged Melbourne: Amy Shark will broadcast September 16 at 6pm  on MTV on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Fetch.

Mediaweek travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Viacom for the MTV Unplugged shows.

Behind Mamamia's podcasting success with Rachel Corbett (part 2)

It’s been more than three years since independent women’s publisher Mamamia got into podcasting. This year, it is on track to crack 50 million downloads. The brand has produced 24 podcast series over time with two ongoing ones: Mamamia Out Loud and No Filter.

By Kruti Joshi

Mamamia’s head of content Holly Wainwright recently told Mediaweek the company’s podcasting operations have become a key part of its business model. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the director of podcasts, Rachel Corbett, works closely with Wainwright and Mamamia founder Mia Freedman to nurture and further grow its podcast network.

“Everybody is coming on board with podcasting at the moment,” Corbett told Mediaweek. “I have been doing it for years, so it feels strange that there are people who are just realising what podcasts are.

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

Andrew Mercado on TV: More amazing TV – Patrick Melrose & Dead Lucky

One of the disadvantages of streaming is that we are no longer all watching the same shows together.

 By Andrew Mercardo

One of the disadvantages of streaming is that we are no longer all watching the same shows together. Most dramas aren’t watched weekly any more because of all the viewers bingeing them at their leisure. But the desire to discuss and dissect them, à la around the watercooler, remains. This leads to friends and colleagues saying, “you have to watch this” followed by a lengthy breakdown about why that show is required viewing.

Now the problem with this is that there are too many amazing shows and none of us, not even the most TV obsessed, can keep up. So let’s not be so demanding of each other and lighten the mood with suggestions rather than demands. And remember, the less you know about a show, the more reward a surprise can be.

Recently I watched the first episode of Patrick Melrose, which is now screening on BBC First. All I knew was that it starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugo Weaving, and that there was talk the Aussie actor might get his first Emmy nomination. That didn’t eventuate, but given this is a tour de force for Cumberbatch, I would put money on him taking home another statuette (having already won an Emmy for Sherlock in 2014).

Based on a series of bestselling British novels, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot except to suggest that if you liked Trainspotting or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then this could be a show for you. So far for me, this is the best international drama of 2018 and right up there with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

• Foxtel hosts intimate soiree for Assassination Of Gianni Versace star Darren Criss in Sydney

Closer to home, SBS’s newest Aussie series, Dead Lucky, got nearly twice the ratings of their last one, Safe Harbour. SBS’s local dramas are almost always critically acclaimed and based around topical political issues like illegal boat people (Safe Harbour), Sudanese immigrants (Sunshine) or gay hate crime (Deep Water).

Dead Lucky

Dead Lucky, however, is more a straight-up crime thriller without an obvious red button issue and, given its ratings, the audience seemed more willing to give it a go. That didn’t stop SBS, however, from fulfilling its charter and making sure the cast was as diverse as possible. Alongside Rachel Griffiths, Justine Clarke and Matt Nable, there are exciting new Aussie actors like Chinese born Yoson An (now the lead in Disney’s live action remake of Mulan) and Mojean Aria, the first ever multicultural actor to win the Heath Ledger scholarship.

Interestingly, Dead Lucky is set against a background of international students, and so too is the latest series of Jack Irish. As Rachel Griffiths told the Today show this week, it just takes a little more work to look past the usual faces and thanks to SBS and the ABC, this is happening more and more. So put Dead Lucky and Jack Irish onto the same “suggestion” list as Patrick Melrose, but don’t feel bad if you’re too busy to watch now. After all, the MasterChef grand final leads into Australian Survivor and The Bachelor, and The Block is just around the corner too. There’s room for every taste but everyone needs to do it at their own pace.

NZ Media News: Nine expanding across the ditch? Future of MediaWorks + Kiwis getting Gogglebox

Mediaweek’s John Drinnan rounds up the latest media news from the NZ market.

New-look Nine to expand in New Zealand?

The Nine-Fairfax merger has heightened speculation about a Nine-Fairfax takeover of MediaWorks. Rumours have been rife that Fairfax was interested in the TV channel Three, but this has been complicated by Fairfax’s ongoing attempts to overturn the ban by the Commerce Commission of its proposed merger with NZME. Australian analyst Roger Colman of CCZ Equities expected that Fairfax would continue with a planned exit of the New Zealand market. However, media commentator and former TVNZ news boss Bill Ralston speculated that locally a combined Fairfax and Nine would make a powerful combination running with NZ assets, creating a media company with radio, print, TV and digital assets. MediaWorks owns Three and half of the New Zealand commercial radio brands, and is wholly owned by Oaktree Capital, a former investor in Nine.

MediaWorks TV speculation

Radio assets remain strong especially its music stations but MediaWorks itself has raised questions about the future of its TV arm. Concerns were raised in MediaWorks’ submissions to a government proposal to fund a new TV station at Radio New Zealand, a development MediaWorks said could force it out of the TV business. Chief executive Michael Anderson (pictured above) said MediaWorks told a ministerial advisory group that, if the structure of the media market were not addressed, “there is a genuine risk that the Government, through its media channels, may become the only broadcaster in New Zealand”. The New Zealand government has pulled back from its TV plans for RNZ after this and other dire warnings from the private sector. But Labour commitment to the private media sector would be an issue if Three became a factor in the Fairfax-Nine merger. Anderson told the government that MediaWorks pulling out of television was not currently under active consideration, and he envisaged that would not change for at least the next two years.

Funding regional media

Taxpayer funding for regional media has been extended, with more to be offered in the South Island. Funding agency New Zealand On Air recently commissioned a review that identified new proposals for civic regional journalism. Elsewhere, the editorial director of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Rick Neville, recently signalled in Mediaweek a push for New Zealand to match Australia, and offer further funding for regional media.

Rick Neville

• NZ Media Profile: Reporter, editor and media executive Rick Neville

Media movements

Josh Borthwick has been appointed commercial director, agency and direct, at Stuff from August 6. Stuff chief revenue officer Robert Hutchinson said Borthwick is the seventh and final revenue executive appointed to the new Stuff team. He has been head of advertising at Trade Me digital advertising business.

FCB advertising chief executive Dan Martin has left after just one year. He is leaving the agency by mutual agreement and immediately. Martin joined the agency in August last year.

Gogglebox coming to New Zealand

Three has confirmed global phenomenon Gogglebox will be getting a local makeover. Gogglebox NZ will visit the living rooms of 10 Kiwi households and capture their reactions while they watch television from the previous week across different networks. Fresh from her Dancing With The Stars NZ hosting role, The Edge’s Sharyn Casey will narrate the NZ version, which offers insights into television viewing habits.

Gogglebox Australia’s Jad, Sarah Marie and Matty

Meanwhile, Comedy Pilot Week is launching on Three later this year. The channel will no doubt learn from the challenges Ten faced in Australia this past week over its all-male lineup. Five sitcom pilots created by budding creatives and comedians will be aired during primetime to give new comedy talent a platform to showcase their concepts.

Satire not so popular

A MediaWorks Friday late-night “satire” show has crashed in the ratings. The liberal hipster-oriented show Spinoff TV is link to the Spinoff website. It struggled to perform and slipped in its first three weeks for the 9.40 slot. It was moved from 9.45pm to 10.45pm last Friday and the audience dropped from 37,000 to 4,000. The collapse is embarrassing for the funding agency NZ On Air, which provided $700,000 taxpayer funding for the show out of its current affairs budget. Spinoff TV was produced by Great Southern Television, which recently received a substantial investment from Seven Network.

Sports appointment

Veteran broadcaster and sports journalist Peter Williams is joining the Bay of Plenty Times as a sports writer and columnist. Williams is ending his 45-year broadcast career at the end of the year He will initially combine his weekend role presenting OneNews with his new role at the BoP Times.

NZ Media Profile: Jock Anderson on Fairfax New Zealand

A veteran journalist and media identity has questioned the value of Fairfax-owned Stuff strategy using hubs to share content among their papers.

By John Drinnan

Jock Anderson recently completed a three-month stint as editor of the Timaru Herald, in the South Island. He speaks highly of New Zealand management and its attempts to make sense of the Australia management rationale.

However, he told Mediaweek the Australian approach is flawed.

It’s a personal view from a high-profile journalist who learned his craft in provincial journalism more than 50 years ago.

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

TV Ratings Analysis: Tuesday July 26

• Nine wins the night after announcing media deal of the century
• Paul Barry talks Nine-Fairfax on The Project, Hugh Marks & Paul Keating on 7.30

By James Manning

Seven

Home And Away’s week ended on 611,000.

The Single Wives then did 329,000 after its week 29 average of 367,000.

The Front Bar was a hit again in Melbourne with 218,000 and a three-market audience of 317,000.

Nine

A Current Affair was on 739,000 after a Wednesday audience of 757,000.

The NRL did 452,000 across five markets on Nine and 9Gem with 215,000 in Sydney and 204,000 in Brisbane.

The Footy Shows had a combined metro audience of 367,000 with 89,000 in Sydney and 147,000 in Melbourne.

TEN

The first week of Pointless continues to see the numbers drift after a strong debut:

Monday 493,000
Tuesday 378,000
Wednesday 362,000
Thursday 295,000

The Project then started on 284,000 with 7pm lifting to 501,000. Media Watch host Paul Barry was a guest talking about the Nine-Fairfax merger.

No MasterChef last night with the Thursday elimination episode now on Sunday ahead of the final on Tuesday. Instead, viewers got David Attenborough And The Giant Elephant, which did 437,000.

ABC

Former Nine reporter Ellen Fanning has been hosting 7.30 this week and she interviewed Nine CEO Hugh Marks last night about the merger. Paul Keating was also a guest hammering Nine. The episode did 535,000.

Grand Designs then did 501,000.

SBS

Great British Railway Journeys did 234,000 while the next best audience was after 9.30pm for Stage 18 of the Tour de France with 184,000.

Week 30 TV: Thursday
THURSDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine Ten SBS
ABC 11.0% 7 16.0% 9 20.6% TEN 10.8% SBS One 6.9%
ABC 2 2.9% 7TWO 4.6% GO! 4.6% ONE 2.2% VICELAND 1.3%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 5.3% GEM 1.8% ELEVEN 2.4% Food Net 1.1%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.9% 9Life 3.2% NITV 0.1%
TOTAL 16.1% 28.9% 30.2% 15.3% 9.4%

 

THURSDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates Ten Affiliates SBS
ABC 10.8% 7 14.2% 9 19.0% WIN 11.0% SBS One 4.7%
ABC 2 3.2% 7TWO 7.4% GO! 5.1% ONE 2.4% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 1.2% 7mate 6.3% GEM 2.9% ELEVEN 2.0% Food Net 1.6%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.4% 9Life 2.9% NITV 0.2%
TOTAL 16.7% 30.3% 29.9% 15.4% 7.6%

 

THURSDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
82.9% 17.1%

 

Thursday fta
  1. Nine News Nine 932,000
  2. Seven News Seven 923,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 904,000
  4. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 873,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 739,000
  6. ABC News ABC 674,000
  7. Home And Away Seven 611,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 539,000
  9. 7.30 ABC 535,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 521,000
  11. Grand Designs Australia ABC 501,000
  12. The Project 7pm Ten 501,000
  13. David Attenborough And The Giant Elephant Ten 437,000
  14. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 419,000
  15. Ten Eyewitness News First At Five Ten 389,000
  16. The Footy Show Nine 367,000
  17. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 343,000
  18. The Single Wives Seven 329,000
  19. The Front Bar Seven 317,000
  20. Sammy J ABC 313,000
Demo Top Fives

16-39 Top 5

  1. The Project 7pm Ten 121,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 120,000
  3. Home And Away Seven 114,000
  4. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 114,000
  5. Nine News Nine 105,000

 

18-49 Top 5

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 236,000
  2. Nine News Nine 220,000
  3. The Project 7pm Ten 211,000
  4. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 191,000
  5. Home And Away Seven 176,000

 

25-54 Top 5 

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 279,000
  2. Nine News Nine 273,000
  3. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 244,000
  4. The Project 7pm Ten 239,000
  5. Seven News Seven 228,000
Thursday multichannel
  1. Father Brown-PM 7TWO 227,000
  2. The Big Bang Theory TX2 (R) 9GO! 224,000
  3. Pingu In The City-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 189,000
  4. Hey Duggee-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 189,000
  5. Peppa Pig-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 187,000
  6. Dot.-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 185,000
  7. M- National Treasure: Book Of Secrets- P7Mmate 183,000
  8. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 183,000
  9. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 177,000
  10. Peppa Pig-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 175,000
  11. The Big Bang Theory TX1 (R) 9GO! 174,000
  12. Shaun The Sheep ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  13. Noddy Toyland Detective-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 172,000
  14. Kazoops!-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 170,000
  15. Octonauts ABCKIDS/COMEDY 169,000
  16. Pj Masks-AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 163,000
  17. Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 160,000
  18. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 160,000
  19. Fireman Sam-PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 156,000
  20. Murdoch Mysteries-PM 7TWO 155,000
Thursday subscription tv
  1. Live: NRL Round 20 Broncos v Sharks FOX LEAGUE 250,000
  2. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 134,000
  3. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 75,000
  4. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 72,000
  5. Live: NRL Thursday Night League FOX LEAGUE 67,000
  6. The Bolt Report SKY NEWS LIVE 51,000
  7. America’s Got Talent FOX8 50,000
  8. Highway Patrol FOX8 48,000
  9. Credlin SKY NEWS LIVE 46,000
  10. Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond The Lobby LifeStyle Channel 44,000
  11. American Dad! FOX8 44,000
  12. Family Guy FOX8 36,000
  13. NCIS TVH!TS 35,000
  14. Homicide Hunter crime + investigation 35,000
  15. American Dad! FOX8 33,000
  16. As Time Goes By FOX Classics 33,000
  17. Criminal Minds TVH!TS 32,000
  18. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 32,000
  19. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 30,000
  20. Heathrow LifeStyle Channel 30,000

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

Media News Roundup

Special edition: The Merger of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media

Fairfax’s James Chessell: merger will not compromise quality journalism

The announcement of any corporate transaction inevitably comes with its share of uncertainty but readers of The Sydney Morning Herald can be very confident that Nine Entertainment’s proposed merger with Fairfax Media will not compromise our long history of quality, independent journalism.

As Australia’s oldest continuously published masthead, the Herald remains firmly committed to covering the stories that matter to the people of Sydney and beyond without fear or favour.

[James Chessell is the Group Executive Editor – Herald Editor Lisa Davies is on leave.]

[Read the original]

How Nine’s Peter Costello pitched Project “Wolfgang” to Fairfax’s Nick Falloon

What started as a chairman-to-chairman approach little more than a fortnight ago ended with a signed $2.2 billion takeover for Fairfax Media on Wednesday night.

It is understood Nine Entertainment Co chairman Peter Costello got the ball rolling on July 9 when he called Fairfax counterpart Nick Falloon with a scrip-heavy proposal that would see Nine take charge of the 177-year-old publisher.

Project “Wolfgang” was pitched as everything that Fairfax’s two private equity bids early last year were not: funded, subject to only a quick due diligence program, and at a big enough premium to see Fairfax quickly set up Project “Galactic” and open its books to its longtime mooted suitor.

While it is easy to get caught up in Fairfax’s traditional newspaper business, Domain is easily the company’s most valuable asset.

[Read the original]

Nine has already talked about offloading non-growth, non-core assets

It is understood the Nine camp has already talked about offloading a handful of non-growth and non-core assets including Fairfax’s regional media and New Zealand business units.

Nine is expected to reach out to News Corp, to test its interest in the regional publishing unit which analysts expect it worth about $220 million. News snapped up a smaller portfolio of regional papers from HT&E (then APN News & Media) two years ago, and there is strategic rationale to do it again.

[Read the original]

After years of redundancies: Greg Hywood announces his departure

The end of Fairfax Media as an independent company with control of its own destiny does not have to mean the end of the critical role its mastheads play as sources of independent, quality journalism.

But nurturing Fairfax’s unique journalistic culture will be one of the key challenges for the chief executive of the combined Nine and Fairfax operations, Hugh Marks.

The savings are to be targeted at head office corporate costs. Greg Hywood admitted it was first time in five years when a round of redundancies at Fairfax included himself.

Hywood spent about 40 minutes answering questions from staff including one about the historical context of the transaction and the apparent gap between Nine’s approach to journalism and the Fairfax approach.

It is only the fourth time in its history that Fairfax Media has been the subject of a takeover offer. The first was young Warwick Fairfax who had too much debt. That was followed by Black and then TPG last year.

On each occasion Fairfax’s core journalism properties have come through with the independent and questioning stance intact.

[Read the original]

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s history as a Fairfax deal maker

There was a moment on Thursday as Malcolm Turnbull was asked about the Nine-Fairfax Media merger that was pure déjà vu – at least for those watching.

“To be frank, I welcome the announcement,” he said, looking to the future. But there must have been a part of his brain that was all 1991.

The Prime Minister knows something about the mixed joys of frantically seeking Fairfax, a corporate sport that for three decades has obsessed and broken generations of media executives.

Packer reportedly had designs on Fairfax early in the 1980s, before the Costigan Royal Commission and the unproven Goanna allegations about Packer, after which Packer had a new set of reasons to take over the old rival, and a much talked about list of Fairfax journalists he looked forward to firing.

[Read the original]

Fairfax timeline

18 April, 1831 First edition of four-page weekly Sydney Herald.

Sept 26, 1838 John Fairfax arrives in Sydney.

8 Feb 1841 John Fairfax and Charles Kemp buy Sydney Herald, now published daily, from Frederick Stokes.

1 Aug 1842 Sydney Herald changes to Sydney Morning Herald.

[Read the original]

 

Robert Gottliebsen: Mergers between struggling companies rarely succeed

In theory the Nine Network takeover of Fairfax could work brilliantly but in practice, around the world, mergers between struggling companies rarely succeed. What happens is that the bean counters see all sorts of opportunities to slash costs and make the merger “work” in that way.

In the process revenue falls and even more costs cuts are required and what is left is a skeleton of a business that will be snapped up at a low price by a predator that can pick the bones. For the merger to work, the first step will be for Fairfax to promote Nine Network programs and personalities via its print products. Conversely, Nine Network promotes The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. It would have worked much more effectively years ago when both companies had stronger mast heads.

[Robert Gottliebsen worked for Fairfax more than 30 years, was the founding editor of BRW, a director at 3AW and The Australian Financial Review’s first Chanticleer columnist.]

[Read the original]

The AFR’s Angus Grigg:

After five rounds of redundancies over the last six years, Greg Hywood announced his own departure on Thursday.

“The shoe is on the other foot,” the Fairfax Media chief executive told staff on the newsroom floor. “I’m here announcing my own redundancy for once.”

But he won’t be leaving empty-handed. Following the separation of the Domain real estate business last year Hywood holds 3.14 million performance rights.

All up [his share and termination pay] comes to around $8.2 million if the deal to merge with Nine goes ahead in the next five to six months.

For the 63-year-old this will surely be his final departure from Fairfax, after beginning as a cadet on The Australian Financial Review in the mid-1970s.

“Yes it’s a long time,” he said in a separate conversation about his 35 years at Fairfax.

[Read the original]

The Australian’s Christine Lacy:

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood yesterday announced his own redundancy, with the former journalist expected to walk out the door of the 177-year-old media group with a payout conservatively valued at more than $6.3 million.

The AFR’s Max Mason and Jemima Whyte:

The $4.2 billion mega-merger of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment has been endorsed by major advertisers, backing the companies’ argument the deal will allow them to compete more effectively for advertising with global giants such as Facebook, Google and Netflix.

WPP AUNZ chief executive Mike Connaghan told The Australian Financial Review the merger makes sense and brings together different parts of the media mix.

“It’s going to create a real force because it has a really big digital audience between the two of them,” Connaghan said.

Dentsu Aegis Network Australia and New Zealand chief executive Simon Ryan said the deal is a positive move for the Australia media landscape and for advertising clients.

“This move represents a huge step forward for media in Australia, and reinforces the importance of local media companies growing in the face of increased global competition,” Ryan said.

[Read the original]

ACCC likely to pass deal with a review expected to take 12 weeks

Competition lawyers said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will look favourably on the proposed merger between Nine and Fairfax, reports The AFR’s Andrew Tillett.

The regulator recognised the challenges facing traditional media companies as audiences and advertising migrates online and rival outlets spring up.

The competition watchdog confirmed it would review the deal to assess whether it is likely to substantially lessen competition, as the journalists’ union urged the ACCC to block the deal.

An ACCC spokeswoman said its review would take about 12 weeks and involve consultation with industry stakeholders, in the first major media merger made possible since the Turnbull government relaxed media ownership laws last year.

[Read the original]

Pamela Williams: How Costello sprang media surprise of the century

Life has seemed sweeter and smoother for Peter Costello in the 11 years since November 25, 2007, when he clocked off as Australia’s longest serving treasurer after bringing down 12 federal budgets and crossing swords with the media for most of the way.

But yesterday Costello, chairman of Nine Entertainment Co, revealed he still has the fox in him.

Together with chief executive Hugh Marks, Costello sprang the media surprise of the century when Nine announced it had cut a deal to merge with Fairfax Media, the nation’s oldest media company and one where Costello as treasurer was on first-name terms with dozens of journalists and all the editors, not always happily.

[Pamela Williams is the author of Killing Fairfax.]

[Read the original]

Historic Fairfax publishing name is to disappear from Australia

The historic Fairfax publishing name is to disappear from Australia after the company’s board agreed to a $2.1 billion cash-and-stock takeover by Nine to create a $4.2bn newspaper and television company chaired by former federal treasurer Peter Costello.

The deal marks a dramatic turn for the 177-year-old company, sparking anger among staff and prompting the journalists’ union to call for the deal to be blocked.

Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the merger of the companies which will trade under the Nine name, while the Labor opposition warned of regional job losses and disappearing local content arising from the deal.

Fairfax Media’s share price rose 8.4 per cent to 83.5c in the wake of the announcement, while Nine’s dived 10.3 per cent to $2.26.

Sources said the Nine proposal was highly unlikely to prompt a rival offer from TPG, which has long since ended its interest in Fairfax.

[Read the original]

The Australian’s Damon Kitney:

It took one of Kerry Packer’s former lieutenants to finally deliver Fairfax Media into the hands of his old boss’s beloved Nine Network.

For decades, Packer competed with, coveted and at times even wanted to destroy Fairfax.

For many years, the newspaper publisher’s current chairman, Nick Falloon, was by the big fella’s side in the Packer family’s Park Street bunker until he was fired in 2001.

Yesterday, Falloon was able to engineer the deal Packer long craved, but for vastly different reasons to those long contemplated by his former boss.

James Packer admitted yesterday that his father, regarded as the savviest TV operator of his generation, would have been stunned at the pace of change in media since his death on Boxing Day 2005.

“The speed at which that has occurred over the past decade would have been a surprise to my father,” Packer told The Australian yesterday.

[Damon Kitney is the author of The Price of Fortune: The Untold Story of James Packer which will be published by Harper Collins later this year.]

[Read the original]

Mark Day: Fairfax birthright was trashed nearly 30 years ago

The disappearance of the hallowed Fairfax name after 177 years of publishing in Australia is a gripping story of mismanagement, lack of awareness, hubris and a fatal reluctance to adapt to tectonic shifts in technology and ­social values.

But for the Fairfax family, yesterday’s merger with Nine Entertainment Co is merely a whimpering footnote to history. Their birthright was trashed nearly 30 years ago.

The family business adage of rags to riches to rags in three generations did not apply to the Fairfaxes. It took five generations.

[Read the original]

Elizabeth Knight: The jilted girlfriend in this is billionaire Kerry Stokes

Australia’s highest-profile media marriage is a union engineered by two old colleagues, Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks and Fairfax Media chairman Nick Falloon.

The jilted girlfriend in this romance is billionaire Kerry Stokes, whose Seven West Media was also courting Fairfax for a deal.

Seven was having discussions with Fairfax, but apparently Kerry Stokes – or more to the point, his son Ryan Stokes – was a seller of media assets rather than a buyer.

So Seven is unlikely to be a gatecrasher in this Fairfax/Nine tie-up. Instead, the smart money thinks the Fairfax deal will place pressure now on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (majority owner of Domain rival REA) and Stokes to do some kind of rival get-together.

[Read the original]

Terry McCrann: Packer got $5.5b for Nine, now Nine + Fairfax worth $3.8b

Thirty years ago, Kerry Packer got his one Alan Bond. Now one of Packer’s long-time lieutenants, Nick Falloon, has got his one Peter Costello.

Back in the crazy days of the 1980s, Bond made Packer an offer he simply couldn’t refuse – $1 billion in cash for the Nine Network.

That was when a billion really was worth a billion. It was also when Nine was top of the free-to-air TV heap and the networks, especially Nine, were licences to print money.

From the day he became chairman of Fairfax in 2015, Falloon has been looking for “his Alan Bond” – someone else in media to merge Fairfax with. Or, more realistically (and better), to take it over.

He got it on Thursday. He didn’t get a big cash offer. Nobody would be that insane. Only $57 million of what Nine is paying to buy Fairfax is cash, the rest is Nine shares.

In 2006, Packer got $5.5 billion for Nine on its own. Now Nine and Fairfax are together worth just $3.8 billion.

[Read the original]

Business of Media

Val Morgan Cinema and VMO get new managing directors

Val Morgan Group has made three internal promotions across its Val Morgan Cinema and VMO businesses.

Tristan Wyse and Paul Butler have been promoted as managing director of VMO and Val Morgan Cinema respectively. Meanwhile, Jane King has been announced as the director of marketing for Val Morgan Group.

Val Morgan Group CEO Dan Hill said, “These key appointments will continue Val Morgan’s commitment to attracting and developing exceptional talent within the business. Tristan, Paul and Jane have extensive experience in the media industry, which will help shape the future of Val Morgan Group and evolve our offering to meet the evolving expectations of our clients.”

Wyse was previously the national sales director for Val Morgan Cinema and Butler was GM of sales and marketing at VMO. In 2014, he drove the launch of DART (Digital outdoor Audience in Real Time), an industry first for digital Outdoor measurement, which has recently evolved to become DART360.

King joined Val Morgan from APN Outdoor five months ago as head of marketing for VMO.

CBS executives meet agencies ahead of decision on future with MCN

CBS honchos have conducted something of an informal roadshow with senior media agency executives, reports The AFR’s Rear Window columnist Myriam Robin.

This is intriguing because CBS has no reason to meet with media buyers at all: its ad sales are all handled by Multi Channel Network (MCN), which is majority owned by News Corp through various subsidiaries.

What kind of feedback CBS got through these meetings remains to be seen. It can, contractually, split with MCN and set up its operations next month if it wants to, but the growing dominance of competitor Nine’s operation as it merges with Fairfax will surely provide food for thought.

[Read the original]

As Facebook warns growth is slowing, its stock price plummets

Facebook warned that its growth is slowing, sending its stock price plummeting as investors feared the social-media titan’s fortunes may not be immune to the multiple controversies it has faced this year, reports Dow Jones.

After touching record highs earlier, Facebook shares dropped as much as 23% in after-hours trading, a plunge that would wipe roughly $US130 billion from the company’s value if it holds when the markets open tonight. That would be more than the entire market value of McDonald’s although after-hours declines don’t always correspond to market prices the next day.

[Read the original]

Hoyts promotes Stephanie Mills & Tyrone Dodds to leadership positions

Hoyts has promoted Stephanie Mills as the director of sales, marketing and content. She was previously the head of studio relations in Australia and New Zealand, and was the first woman in the company to hold that position.

In her new role, Mills will look after Hoyts’s marketing, programming and corporate solutions departments. Brad Eaton and Ellisa Woodham will assist Mills. Eaton has returned to Hoyts as general manager of corporate solutions and loyalty after heading up the now-sold Kiosk business.

Tyrone Dodds has been promoted to the role of director of property and business development. Dodds spearheaded the rollout of the Hoyts Recliner experience. By the end of 2018, over 80% of Hoyts cinemas will have powered recliners. In his new role, Dodds’s remit will include driving long-term growth, as well as leading innovation through design and technology.

Hoyts Group CEO and president Damian Keogh said: “Tyrone’s ability to challenge the status quo and re-imagine the cinema experience has raised the benchmark for us and the entire industry. His portfolio now expands to include business development and new concepts to ensure we continue to evolve.”

News Brands

Sky News announces coverage of Australia’s biggest by-election battle

The biggest by-election battle in Aussie history will go down this Saturday, and Sky News Australia will provide rolling coverage throughout the day led by political editor David Speers.

Sky News political reporters will broadcast live from Braddon in Tasmania, Longman in Queensland, Mayo in South Australia, and Perth and Fremantle in Western Australia.

 

From 6pm, Speers will be joined by the Government’s Leader of the House of Representatives Christopher Pyne, Labor frontbencher Richard Marles, former Liberal MP Fiona Scott and Labor strategist Bruce Hawker for unrivalled analysis as the vote count gets under way.

Speers will then host Speers On Sunday at 8am Sunday to discuss the by-election results and what they mean for policymakers and Australians.

Viewers can visit SkyNews.com.au/supersaturday to stream live and on-demand video from the Super Saturday coverage. Breaking news and video updates are also available on Sky News’s Twitter and Facebook page.

Australians abroad can view the coverage on australiachannel.com.au available on any internet-connected device, both live and on-demand.

Television

Final two MasterChef contestants will cook for Heston Blumenthal

The top four contestants are battling it out for a place in the MasterChef Australia Grand Finale, which broadcasts next Tuesday July 31 on TEN and WIN Network.

Before that happens Sashi, Jess and Ben must survive Sunday night’s elimination challenge to join Khanh in moving one step closer to the Grand Finale.

The three cooking contestants can cook anything they want – sweet or savoury and will have 90 minutes to bring the judging panel one dish each – a total of seven plates. The two most impressive dishes will send their makers into Monday’s semifinal, with the losing contestant bowing out of the competition.

On Monday night’s semifinal, the top three contestants will be cooking for some very special guests – 60 past contestants from MasterChef Australia. They will have four hours to make a main and dessert for 20 alumni each. The least impressive cook will be farewelled, leaving the final two contestants to battle it out in the Grand Finale.

There will be one last surprise awaiting finalists during Tuesday night’s Grand Finale. The top two will have to recreate one of culinary legend Heston Blumenthal’s amazing dishes, seen at his renowned British restaurant The Fat Duck. After two rounds, one contestant will be crowned the winner of MasterChef Australia for 2018.

HBO confirms final 6 episodes of Game of Thrones for first half of 2019

HBO has confirmed the final six episodes of Game of Thrones will air in the first half of 2019, reports Fairfax Media’s Michael Idato.

The conclusion to the epic fantasy series was expected next year, but this is the first time HBO has confirmed a window for its global broadcast.

Very little information about the final season of Game of Thrones is in circulation; the series even bowed out of this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego in order to preserve the mystery surrounding its conclusion.

HBO president Casey Bloys confirmed the airdate to US media at a television press event in Los Angeles today but declined to elaborate on the show’s final season.

He did, however, offer this tiny sound bite: “It’s pretty great.”

[Read the original]

Shahs Of Sunset returns for seventh season on hayu this August

NBCU’s reality TV streaming service hayu has announced the seventh season of Shahs Of Sunset will premiere on the service this August, on the same day as the US.

Shahs Of Sunset follows a group of Persian-Americans living in Beverly Hills, who juggle their social lives and up-and-coming careers, all while balancing the demands of their families and traditions.

Among the drama going down this season is MJ’s self-doubt around her upcoming marriage, Reza and Adam’s surrogacy plans and Destiney Rose’s confrontation of her trust issues.

Shahs Of Sunset season seven will premiere in Australia on Friday August 3.

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