Friday April 24, 2020

Michael Gudinski and Adrian Swift on Music from the Home Front

By James Manning

• Nine’s show not a fundraiser, a celebration of health workers and Oz music

Just 10 days ago Mushroom Group leader Michael Gudinski and his longtime music partner Jimmy Barnes hatched a plan to mount a special music event on Anzac Day.

Speaking to Mediaweek just two days before the event, Gudinski was full of excitement about what viewers will see on Saturday night as the idea turns into reality on the Nine Network.

This year Anzac Day is going to be so different to any other that we figured it would be great to celebrate it in everyone’s houses in Australia and New Zealand.

Called Music from the Home Front, the venture has the support of the Return Services League.

New artists added to the line-up include Amy & George Sheppard, Dean Lewis, DMA’s, Hayley Mary (The Jezabels), James Morrison, James Reyne, Jessica Hitchcock, Mahalia Barnes, Mark Seymour, Shane Howard, Tim Minchin and William Barton.

See also: Michael Gudinski and Jimmy Barnes reveal Anzac Day music event

Gudinski and Jimmy Barnes the solo artist go back a long way and the promoter said his friend was the first act confirmed for Saturday night.

Susan Hayman from Chugg Entertainment is the talent co-ordinator for the Saturday event. “She has been unbelievable,” said Gudinski. “Jimmy has helped me with the songs and their performers. This is not just about the artists, it is about the meaning of a lot of the songs. There are so many acts that want to be on it. There will be a few songs with a number of artists featured. Jimmy has been my sounding board about who I might not have thought of and who could best suit a particular song.”

Birds of Tokyo

We spoke with Gudinski on Thursday morning and he had already been on the phone to Barnes three times, one of the calls lasting over 30 minutes. “It is very good for me, not being a musician, to have someone looking over my shoulder.” Not all of their calls in the past have led to artistic outcomes. “Sometime when he’s pitched me something I’ve had to tell him he’s crazy. [Laughs] This is such a long relationship and my wife and I are very close to the whole family.”

Gudinski added: “We have worked on making the show full of iconic songs, different versions and some with different singers. The show is aimed to be warm and cuddly with intimate performances. There are only one or two things not being done inside someone’s house.

When asked about Kylie Minogue, Gudinski said she is in lockdown, but she will have a special message. He added that for some other artists it was just the wrong time and the wrong place and they weren’t able to participate.

Asked about technical challenges, Gudinski said there was a few that still needed to be conquered. “I have brought in a producer for the artists from my end who I have worked with and loved for a long time and he started MTV here – Saul Shtein.”

There is no money changing hands,” said Gudinski about the finances. “Nine has thrown everything at it technically. There will be no politicians in the show. We will also be doing a tribute to the COVID-19 frontline workers. This is not a telethon and we are not trying to raise money.

Paul Kelly

What viewers will see is an ad for music industry charity Support Act. Gudinski has been a long-time supporter of the good work Support Act does for the music industry.

Some of the artists will be performing live, but Gudinski revealed that to ensure quality there will be a lot of pre-recording done on Friday. “It will seem live and we will have some live content.” He thought Australian music was under-represented in last week’s One World Together at Home event. “We are a music industry that has supported so many causes and I feel we deserve a program just for us. To get it on Nine is just a blessing because it means everyone can watch it.”

The person tasked with bring it together for Nine is its head of content, production and development Adrian Swift.

Nine and Gudinski had been talking for some time and were initially involved in discussions for the bushfire benefit show that became Fire Fight Australia in February, along with all the co-operation of other channels.

Gudinski recently rang Nine CEO Hugh Marks about putting on this show. Marks said “yes” and then rang his head of production Swift.

We wanted to be involved and to salute all the people who have served us so well in both the military, because it is Anzac Day, and the fight against the terrible virus,” Swift told Mediaweek.

The technology called upon on Saturday will range from iPhones and Zoom to Nine’s remote cameras. “We will be using every news van we have,” said Swift.

Swift said it was a pleasure to again be working with Saul Shtein and the two are old friends. The rest of the Nine senior team involved includes EP Andrew Rogers (Hay Mate – December’s rural aid fundraiser shown on Nine) and the network EP is John Walsh who looks after a number of Nine programs including The Voice.

Gudinski on the outlook for live music

Although his touring business has been paused, Gudinski is a supporter of what state and federal governments have been doing regarding the lockdown.

Daniel Andrews has been outstanding and he helped inspire me when I needed someone to bounce ideas off. The other premiers have also been unbelievable, and government has really got into gear.”

Gudinski’s business is not expecting any quick bounce back anytime soon. “There will be no international acts or festivals in this country this year. I can’t guarantee that, but that’s what I feel.

“When the switch goes on it will go in a few phases and you will find there will be a window for Australian artists to really take centre stage because there will be no internationals touring here.”

Banijay enlists Cathy Payne to lead distribution as CEO Banijay Rights

Banijay Group has appointed Cathy Payne as CEO, Banijay Rights. Previously CEO, Endemol Shine International, Banijay said has been brought on board to lead the business’ growing global distribution strategy and activities and take the division through its impending next phase.

Banijay announced a deal to acquire Endemol Shine in 2019 and it is anticipated the merger could complete mid-year.

An industry veteran, Payne will be tasked with overseeing the positioning and exploitation of Banijay Rights’ expanding catalogue, building the business’ reputation and that of its brands across the world.

Payne’s move follows almost 10 years of service with Endemol, most recently under the guise of Endemol Shine International, where she directed all worldwide distribution efforts, steering its six-territory strong team and in-house and third-party content sales, as well as working closely with the commercial team on IP exploitation. During her tenure, she projected the business’ scripted capabilities through international co-productions and was behind the global roll-out and success of numerous hit brands including Peaky Blinders, Mr Bean, Grantchester, Tin Star and Younger, alongside the continued longevity of Home and Away, in addition to working alongside the production and creative businesses on expanding non-scripted franchises: MasterChef, Big Brother, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Ambulance and Lego Masters.

Prior to taking on the role of chief executive, Endemol Worldwide Distribution, in 2009, Payne was chief executive at Southern Star International. There, over the course of 20 years, she was responsible for building one of the largest distributors of English-language content outside of the US.

Payne will adopt her new role on Monday 27 April 2020, reporting to CEO, Marco Bassetti.

Bassetti commented: “Cathy is an exceptional leader and incredibly well-respected industry mogul. A creative entrepreneur with extraordinary market knowledge and commercial intelligence, she is behind some of the world’s biggest distribution successes. Having worked with her directly and admired her work from afar, we have long-followed her journey and could not be more excited to have her joining ours, as we continue to build the business and its footprint worldwide.”

Payne added: “It has never been a more exciting time for content creation and distribution, and I am energised to be joining the team as it embarks on this period of expansion.”

WHIMN and The Lifestyle Suite announce content partnership

With Her In Mind Network (Whimn) and content agency The Lifestyle Suite has announced a content partnership to deliver The Check In – a live series of webinars with expert, targeted, question-and-answer health and lifestyle advice.

Starting April 28, the series of Instagram Live sessions will be hosted on Whimn’s Instagram page each Tuesday and Thursday at 11.00 am over three weeks. The 10 minute expert led webinars will focus on issues related to coronavirus and physical isolation, from stretch sessions and mindfulness exercises to habit changing strategies and baking.

The audience will be able to chat live during each session and check in with The Lifestyle Suite’s leading health and lifestyle experts across a range of specialty areas.

“We’re incredibly excited to be launching this collaboration,” said owner and founder of The Lifestyle Suite, Simone Landes. “Our suite of experts and the reach of is a fabulous combination, bringing some seriously relevant advice to an engaged, targeted audience.”

 All of the content will be available on and The Lifestyle Suite’s resourcespage post event. 


• Tuesday April 28th: Q&A with Dr Preeya Alexander on pregnancy and COVID-19 
• Thursday April 30th: Baking with Jo McMillan – an easy banana bread or muffin live demonstration 
• Tuesday May 5th: A meditation for those who hate meditation with Dr Happy
• Thursday 7th May: A 10-minute stretch session with Kristy Curtis
• Tuesday 12th May:  Leanne Hall providing strategies for self-compassion and steps you can take for your mental health now.
• Thursday May 14th: Dr Gina Cleo on how to rewire and change habits 

Mercado on TV: Must see TV from Mrs America to Aerobics Oz Style!

By Andrew Mercado

New Australian movie I Am Woman, the Helen Reddy biopic, may or may not be in cinemas on May 21. Until then, at least we have another women’s libber drama, Mrs America (Foxtel) on TV and it comes with even more Aussies, Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne.

Cate Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative who fought against equal rights for women because it would lead to unisex toilets. That was 50 years ago, so good to see we have moved on from such ridiculous fear mongering.

Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem

The first episode was all about Schlafly and her fellow house makers played by Sarah Paulson and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Episode two (Tuesday on Fox Showcase) gets wilder with Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem and her feminist sisters played by Tracey Ullman, Uzo Aduba and Elizabeth Banks. It’s a must-see.

How can Gogglebox be finishing next week, already? Surely Foxtel and 10 should keep this on air indefinitely right now, particularly when so many other shows have been stopped. Well done to Fremantle and 10 though for devising a world-first pathway to bringing back Neighbours.

With new content beginning to dry up, Aussie classics are popping back in the strangest places. Kath & Kim (Tuesday on Nine) must now be at least on its seventh prime time rerun and with its newfound popularity on Netflix, surely it’s time for a(nother) comeback?

10Play’s decision to bring back Aerobics Oz Style is genius – exercise for those in isolation but with 80’s lycra and leg warmers! 10Play and 7Plus are on fire right now, but 9Now is seriously lagging behind. Come on Nine, dig back further into your vaults and unearth some gems.

It’s odd that no local network is yet to copy UK and US networks, who offer you a free version of their catch-up sites, or the chance to watch, sans ads, for a monthly fee. Aussie catch-up sites are awful in this regard, with the same ads playing incessantly, sometimes twice in a row, and each one at a different ear-splitting volume.

Only 10 All Access (which bizarrely advertises itself on 7Plus) offers an ad-free alternative but their main push is more about original shows, none of which are much chop, and they don’t appear to stream all the shows seen for free on 10Play.

The only thing more confusing is which midday movie to watch next week: Teen Exorcism (Thursday on Seven) or Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer (Friday on Seven).

Top Photos: Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly

TV Ratings Thursday April 23 Week 17 2020

By James Manning

• 10 secures first place with MasterChef, Masterclass, Gogglebox
• Best of the rest: Home and Away, RBT, Grand Designs, The Tower

Thursday news highlights
Seven News 1,283,000/1,202,000
Nine News 1,170,000/1,147,000
ABC News 914,000
A Current Affair 798,000
7.30 655,000
The Project 459,000/636,000
10 News 513,000/459,000
Sunrise 319,000
The Drum 261,000
ABC News Breakfast 258,000
Today 231,000
SBS World News 215,000
The Latest 205,000
Morning Show 182,000

10: The channel has worked hard this week to keep momentum from the Easter break and it managed to win Thursday with its line-up of two hours of MasterChef/Masterclass and then Gogglebox.
The hosts of The Project wore tributes to police last night and one of their guests was Victorian Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. Kate Langbroek was also on the line from Italy. The show had a strong audience of 459,000 at 6.30pm (biggest in close to three years) and then pushed to 636,000 after 7pm.
MasterChef featured a five-way competition to get immunity on Sunday night. The good cooking featured during the week continued with Sarah last night who wowed the judges and it safe on Sunday. The episode did 1.028m with a second consecutive Thursday episode over 1m. The first Masterclass of the year saw the contestants getting to work on some dishes. The Masterclass was on 802,000.
Gogglebox subsequently started a little later which saw the audience drop week-on-week from 874,000 to 601,000. That was still enough to have the penultimate episode of the first season for 2020 win its timeslot.

Nine: A Current Affair was just under 800,000 with an update on $100,000 of goods for the Great Australian Giveaway.
A show about police keeping the roads safe took on extra meaning last night as RBT had an audience of 534,000.
The James Bond film Spectre then did 309,000.

Seven: Home and Away was well above 600,000 all week with 661,000 last night.
The first episode of a repeat screening of Billy Connolly: Great American Trail did 270,000.
A timely screening of 2011 movie Contagion about a deadly virus then did 310,000.

ABC: 7.30 featured an interview with departing Rugby CEO Raelene Castle with host Leigh Sales alluding to reasons why some people wanted Castle out. Shock jock Campbell Parkes also made an appearance with thoughts about Coronavirus and Malcolm Turnbull’s book. The episode did 655,000.
The Heights followed with 269,000 and then Grand Designs Australia on 406,000.

SBS: The penultimate episode of Secrets of the Tower of London was on 309,000. A replay of The Handmaid’s Tale was on 72,000.

Week 17 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.5% 7 16.0% 9 17.7% 10  20.9% SBS One 4.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 3.5% GO! 2.3% 10 Bold 4.0% VICELAND 1.3%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 2.3% GEM 2.8% 10 Peach 2.1% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 2.3%     NITV 0.4%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 1.0%
TOTAL 15.2%   23.8%   26.0%   27.1%   7.9%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 9.3% 7 18.2% 9 16.9% WIN 14.5% SBS One 3.8%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.2% 7TWO 5.0% GO! 2.4% WIN Bold 4.9% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 0.9% 7mate 3.3% GEM 4.3% WIN Peach 2.3% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 1.6% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.9% 9Life 2.3% Sky News  on WIN 2.4% NITV 0.3%
                SBS Movies 1.0%
TOTAL 15.0%   28.5%   25.9%   24.2%   7.4%


88.1% 11.9%
  1. Seven News Seven 1,283,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,202,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,170,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,047,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 1,028,000
  6. ABC News ABC 914,000
  7. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 802,000
  8. A Current Affair Nine 798,000
  9. The Chase Australia Seven 690,000
  10. Home And Away Seven 661,000
  11. 7.30 ABC 655,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 636,000
  13. Gogglebox 10 601,000
  14. Hot Seat Nine 599,000
  15. RBT Nine 534,000
  16. 10 News First 10 513,000
  17. The Project 6.30pm 10 459,000
  18. Sammy J ABC 429,000
  19. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 419,000
  20. Grand Designs Australia ABC 406,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 314,000
  2. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 230,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 165,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 164,000
  5. Gogglebox 10 163,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 500,000
  2. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 383,000
  3. Nine News Nine 318,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 299,000
  5. Gogglebox 10 294,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 526,000
  2. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 404,000
  3. Nine News Nine 387,000
  4. Seven News Seven 356,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 343,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 218,000
  2. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 182,000
  3. Death In Paradise 9Gem 171,000
  4. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 154,000
  5. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 151,000
  6. Father Brown PM 7TWO 145,000
  7. Neighbours 10 Peach 145,000
  8. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 141,000
  9. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  10. Spicks And Specks Ep 2 ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  11. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 127,000
  12. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  13. Catie’s Amazing Machines ABCKIDS/COMEDY 125,000
  14. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  15. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  16. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  17. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 121,000
  18. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  19. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  20. Bargain Hunt PM 7TWO 117,000
  1. Outback Opal Hunters Discovery Channel 95,000
  2. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 80,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 77,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 71,000
  5. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 68,000
  6. Love It Or List It Australia Lifestyle Channel 52,000
  7. PML Later Sky News Live 49,000
  8. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 46,000
  9. Gold Rush: White Water Discovery Channel 46,000
  10. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 45,000
  11. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 44,000
  12. Top Wing Nick Jr. 43,000
  13. The Alliance Sky News Live 39,000
  14. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 36,000
  15. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 36,000
  16. Play Along With Sam Nick Jr. 34,000
  17. First Edition Sky News Live 34,000
  18. Hogan’s Heroes FOX Classics 33,000
  19. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 33,000
  20. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 33,000

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

Business of Media

Seven West Media puts hand out for JobKeeper to save media jobs

Seven West Media has applied for the federal government’s JobSeeker wage subsidy scheme designed to minimise the hit to employment from the coronavirus pandemic, reports WAtoday’s Nathan Hondros.

The company wrote to staff on Wednesday asking them to provide a declaration confirming their employment status by Friday.

To be eligible for JobKeeper, businesses with aggregate turnover of more than $1 billion must demonstrate a fall of 50 per cent or more. Businesses turning over less must show a 30 per cent drop in revenue.

In the last set of financial statements reported to the market before the onset of the pandemic, Seven West Media posted half-yearly revenue of $772 million.

“If you earn more than $1500 before tax per fortnight you will continue to receive your current salary with the scheme helping to subsidise this payment,” the company wrote in the email to staff.

“If we succeed in our application, the scheme will make a significant contribution to the company’s wages and salaries expense in this challenging environment.”

A spokesman for Seven West Media confirmed the company was applying for JobKeeper, but declined to comment further.

[Read more]

COVID 19 coronavirus: NZ unveils $50m support package for media

The New Zealand Government has unveiled a $50 million package to help the media industry which has seen advertising revenues plummet due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports The New Zealand Herald.

The package includes $21.1m to completely cut the cost of transmission fees for the next six months as well as $16.5m to cut the contribution to NZ on Air screen content by 80 per cent and a $1.3m allocation for government departments to purchase news subscriptions.

Broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi said the package was about freeing up cash in the short term to help the industry get through the immediate crisis.

At a press conference, Faafoi said without Government intervention, there was a risk of losing the plurality of voices in the media that were so important at times like these.

He said the package was for immediate relief, and that was why it appeared weighted towards broadcast media rather than the print and digital media industry.

He said any perception that the Government was happy to support TVNZ and RNZ but not other media companies was “wrong”.

There was an urgency to help all media platforms, he said, and part of a $11.1m targeted assistance package could go towards print and digital media.

He would not comment on a potential NZME-Stuff merger.

Asked if the Government seemed prepared to let media companies fail, Faafoi said he would not be drawn into hypotheticals, but the short-term aim was about cash injections to ensure the plurality of voices in order to buy time to prepare for a second tranche.

[Read more]

Watchdog given green light to pursue Facebook over data breach

The Information Commissioner has been given the green light to pursue Facebook in the Federal Court, claiming a breach of over 300,000 Australians’ personal data as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Last month the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner accused Facebook of exposing for sale and “political profiling” the personal data of up to 311,127 Australians after a Facebook app was used by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy to steal personal data from potential voters for campaigning purposes.

Under privacy laws, Facebook faces fines of over $1 billion for the potential breaches. Last year the US regulator the FTA last year fined Facebook a record $US5bn after it found the company was responsible for helping expose the personal data of up to 87 million Americans through Cambridge Analytica.

On Wednesday, the Federal Court of Australia granted leave to the Information Commissioner to serve legal documents on US-based Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland.

[Read more]

Facebook releases Messenger Kids in Australia to let children chat

Facebook is releasing a children’s version of its Messenger chat and video application in Australia, citing kids aged 6 to 12 as the likely take-up, reports The Australian’s Chris Griffith.

Facebook stipulates 13 as the age for using its platform, so children don’t officially use Facebook or adult Messenger now, although it’s suspected that over the years, millions of children have falsified their age and signed up to Facebook.

The children’s version of Messenger was rolled out in the US in 2017, and Facebook subsequently launched it in Canada, Mexico, Peru and Thailand in 2018. Australia is among 70 countries that will get Messenger Kids.

Facebook says it does not collect details of personal conversations of children on the platform for advertising or targeted advertising, nor would it collate children’s conversations for profiling or make them available to third parties.

[Read more]


MasterChef mystery over Ben Ungermann’s ‘police matter’

The mystery surrounding MasterChef contestant Ben Ungermann’s arrest continues to build public momentum as the deafening silence intended to help the situation blow over has had the opposite effect, reports News Corp’s Sally Coates and Jonathon Moran.

Production company Endemol Shine has confirmed the Ipswich man was involved in a police matter of a “personal nature” but refused to comment further than a brief statement. Broadcaster Channel 10 also would not be drawn on the mystery.

Ungermann is still featuring on air but is set to depart in coming weeks.

“We can confirm Ben Ungermann has left the MasterChef Australia competition,” said a representative for production company Endemol Shine, which is also responsible for Married At First Sight, Lego Masters and Big Brother.

“As this is a police matter, we will not be making further comment.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Peter V’landys to broker deal on season length for Foxtel and Nine

The Nine Network and Foxtel are more than a month apart on the proposed length of the 2020 season, but the NRL is expected to meet them somewhere in the middle on Friday morning as the parties involved attempt to finalise the schedule for the remainder of this year, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

Foxtel powerbrokers are pushing for a 22-round season, which would push the grand final back into early November. The Nine Network is believed to be in favour of a 17-round regular season that would mean the grand final being played on the day it was scheduled before rugby league went into hibernation – October 4.

[Read more]

Nine believes NRL return on May 28th to be premature

Nine has attempted to sabotage the NRL’s bold plans to reboot the 2020 season on May 28, declaring the game’s actions as “premature”, reports News Corp’s Michael Carayannis.

It comes as The Daily Telegraph has learnt that Fox Sports have put a strong proposal forward to have 20 more matches – taking the regular season to 22 played this year.

That would leave the game just three rounds short of the original 25-game season, ensuring the integrity and financial stability of the competition.

“Although we agree constructive discussions have been held between the NRL, Nine and Foxtel, we feel it’s premature to be confirming a start date at this stage,” a Nine spokesperson said. “There is a great will to work together to an outcome, but a lot of work still to do. A deal needs to be completed and the structure of the competition locked, which importantly must include how it will operate within the health-and-safety standards currently affecting the community.”

[Read more]

Ben Cousins arrested again in Perth after TV interview ‘Coming clean’

Brownlow medallist Ben Cousins made yet another court appearance on drugs and stalking charges on Thursday, three weeks after participating in a paid television interview called Coming Clean, reports The Australian’s Paige Taylor.

In police documents, Cousins was described as a 41-year-old man “of no fixed address”, a euphemism for homeless. Police reportedly found him sleeping next to a car.

The Australian has been told Seven paid money for the interview that aired on March 29, but it was to cover expenses, the money was administered by a lawyer and money did not go directly to Cousins.

That interview aired 10 years after Cousins co-produced a two-part documentary about his football career and the drug habit that began at 17. In it, he said he was an addict. It was called Such is Life and Seven paid an undisclosed sum to broadcast it.

[Read more]

Sydney autumn racing carnival TV ratings soar during coronavirus crisis

Stay-at-home punters and sports-starved fans have tuned into Sky Racing’s Sydney autumn carnival coverage in record numbers, reports News Corp’s Ray Thomas.

The coronavirus pandemic forced most sports to shut down around the world but Australian horse racing has managed to continue, albeit in front of empty grandstands.

Sydney’s showpiece autumn carnival has virtually been the centre of the sporting universe in recent weeks and Sky Racing’s television ratings have soared for the eight Saturdays since the first Group 1 races were run at Royal Randwick on February 29.

The highlights include:

• Sky Racing’s average audiences rose by 38 per cent over this eight-week period year on year reaching almost 300,000 viewers on each of the two days of The Championships — Sydney’s premier autumn racing days.

• This growth came on top of strong ratings for the previous year as a result of Winx having her final Sydney campaign.

• Sky Raceday on Channel 526, hosted by Andrew Martin, Tony Brassel and David Gately, has been the most popular program on the entire Foxtel platform for the past four Saturdays out-rating hit shows such as Midsomer Murders and Selling Houses Australia by approximately 30 per cent.

“We are pleased more viewers are watching Sky Racing’s unrivalled racing coverage in the ways that suit them best – whether that is digitally via TAB or Sky Racing Active, or through Foxtel,” Tabcorp’s Darren Pearce said.

[Read more]

Raelene Castle resigns as Rugby Australia chief executive

Beleaguered Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle has resigned, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson.

On Thursday evening she telephoned interim chairman Paul McLean to hand in her resignation. It brought to an end her almost two-and-a-half year stint as RA’s chief executive.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Castle’s fellow directors excluded her from a board conference call on Wednesday night. She was unaware the meeting had taken place.

Castle’s withdrawal from Thursday’s balance sheet meeting was unexpected and unexplained to those present on the call, with chief financial officer Simon Rabbitt and new director Peter Wiggs left to steer the talks, which were the first opportunity for the Super Rugby chairs to size up RA’s full financial picture.

[Read more]

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