Seven West Media has appointed Gereurd Roberts, currently chief executive officer of Pacific Magazines, as SWM chief digital officer.
Roberts will commence in the role following the completion of the proposed sale of Pacific Magazines to Bauer Media, anticipated to close by the end of this calendar year pending regulatory approvals.
In the role, Roberts will be responsible for broadcast operations, digital product & technology, and information technology. Roberts will report to SWM managing director and CEO James Warburton.
Commenting on the appointment, Warburton said: “I’m delighted to appoint Gereurd to this key role. Our online assets have never been more important, as digital platforms transform media and present us new opportunities. Through our BVOD service 7plus, which has grown 51% year on year, and 7NEWS.com.au, we’re well positioned for future. Gereurd will build on the digital growth he delivered at Pacific, where he grew their digital footprint by 70%, in his new role.
“We’re already delivering innovative new digital propositions to the market, including CODE 7 and contextual ad placement service, 7CAP. Plus, we’re gearing up to measure our combined broadcast and BVOD audience with VOZ from early next year, which will provide the first holistic view of the reach and power of TV across all screens. I look forward to the results I know Gereurd will deliver from our digital properties into the future, particularly as we approach Tokyo 2020.”
Roberts was appointed CEO of Pacific Magazines in October 2016, and prior to that served in numerous leadership roles in the business, including as general manager, commercial director, and publisher. His over two decades of experience spans management, commercial, and editorial roles, and beyond Pacific Magazines, he has held roles at Guardian News & Media and ACP (now Bauer Media).
Roberts said: “I’m thrilled to take on this vital role in the business. We are clear about the importance of our digital assets in driving our content led growth strategy and I look forward to leading that charge, capturing the attention of audiences across all Seven touchpoints by delivering engaging content through our online platforms.
“With 7plus and 7NEWS.com.au, which has established itself as one of Australia’s top five news website in just seven months, we are in an enviable position. I can’t wait to take our digital assets to the next level, and to work with the entire SWM team to build Australia’s most innovative, digitally-led media organisation.”
The appointment of Roberts follows the arrival of Charlotte Valente as SWM’s first chief marketing officer in October and will be followed by the appointment of a chief content officer.
All three roles are part of SWM’s streamlined new senior management team, joining Kurt Burnette (chief revenue officer), Bruce McWilliam (commercial director), Warwick Lynch (chief financial officer), Katie McGrath (chief people and culture officer) and Maryna Fewster (CEO – SWM WA).
Top Photo: James Warburton with Gereurd Roberts
Along with most commercial radio on air teams, 2CH breakfast with Trevor Sinclair and Indira Naidoo went on a summer break last week.
The show, which also features Sydney radio veterans Dave Gibson and Kayley Harris, has disappeared quickly from the 2CH website with a blank space beside Breakfast on the list of 2CH programs.
The move change breakfast comes 12 months after longtime Sydney radio and TV executive Cherie Romaro was appointed general manager by the station’s owner, EON Broadcasting.
The two-year-old 2CH breakfast show with Naidoo and Sinclair pre-dates Romaro’s arrival the station and this year she has been working with the team on its restructure.
Earlier this year Romaro explained some of the challenges the station faced at breakfast: “It has been a slow build and a lot of the older 2CH listeners found it really hard to accept the change.”
Some ratings growth earlier this year ended in the last two surveys with unsustainable breakfast shares of 2.4% and 2.1%, both well below the station average.
The station only revealed a rebrand to Classic Hits 2CH in October.
Sinclair is believed to be staying with the station in another on-air role.
There has been some speculation that departing 2GB weekend breakfast host George Moore could be heading for 2CH breakfast in 2020.
Romaro this morning confirmed that in 2020 the 2CH breakfast team will not be returning.
“Due to the current media economic climate a business restructure was required,” she told Mediaweek.
“Our breakfast team was a large team for an AM music format and we have made some changes. Trevor Sinclair will return in the new year in a different role as will Kayley Harris. Dave Gibson is going on stage with the wonderfully successful show Senior Moments, and Indira has many projects on the go. We will announce our new line-up in the new year.”
Photo: 2CH breakfast with Dave Gibson, Trevor Sinclair, Kayley Harris and Indira Naidoo
E! Australia – NBCUniversal International Networks’ (NBCUIN) channel brand dedicated to pop culture – has named former Miss Universe Australia Francesca Hung as its next local E! host and the face of E! across Australia.
Hung will join the E! family to interview some of the world’s biggest celebrities and bringing Australians all the latest from Hollywood.
“We are delighted to welcome Francesca to the E! Australia family. As the brand continues to grow, we are confident Francesca will bring our audience compelling celebrity interviews, work seamlessly with our valued partners and represent the heart of pop culture in Australia,” said Chris Taylor, Managing Director, NBCUniversal International Television, ANZ.
“I’m incredibly excited to join the E! Australia family and can’t wait to bring my passion for style, celebrities and entertainment to the screen,” added Hung. “I’ve always been a huge fan of E!, so to be the new E! host for Australia is an absolute dream for me.”
Current E! Australia host Ksenija Lukich will depart the role following five years at the helm.
“Over the last five years, Ksenija has become an important part of the E! family and a real success story for the network,” said Taylor. “Not only has she made a valued contribution to the business but has also become a real fixture in the world of entertainment, and we wish her every success for the future.”
Radio’s end of year shockwaves continue with a much loved member of the 3AW team the latest to depart his post, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.
In a surprise and unexpected move, Denis Walter is leaving 3AW’s afternoon show after 11 years, but he is not the only station host to be suddenly changing their posts.
Sydney-based John Stanley, who hosts the networked weeknight program Nights from 8pm on 3AW, will not be heard in that shift in Melbourne in 2020.
In a win for local programming 3AW’s Nights show will become a home-grown product and in a happy twist the program’s new host will be Walter.
Walter has signed a long term deal with AW to host Nights and said he was delighted with the new opportunity and the station’s commitment to local programming.
The new host of Afternoons is yet to be announced, although the strong tip is the highly prized shift will have a female host in 2020.
On the final show of the year for the 3AW breakfast team, co-host John Burns has revealed he will be stepping down. But not immediately…Burns will start work again on January 13 with co-host Ross Stevenson and then work until they visit Tokyo. He will leave the breakfast show in July, handing over to a new co-host which won’t be revealed until next year.
Burns’ departure after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will coincide with the broadcaster’s 75th birthday in July.
John Burns said: “I’ve had 20 of the most fun and fruitful years of my life here and am looking forward to my next chapter with 3AW.”
Stephen Beers, 3AW station manager, said: “The Ross and John breakfast program is a Melbourne institution. Next year the pair will celebrate an incredible 20th year as an on-air partnership. This is a stunning achievement in any field and even more remarkable in the world of broadcast radio.
“We’re thrilled that Burnso has agreed to jump in the studio chair for one more year and we look forward to giving him a fitting send-off when the Olympics wrap up.”
Top Photo: L-R John Burns and Ross Stevenson
Hit’s drive duo Carrie Bickmore and Tommy Little return in 2020 with their Carrie & Tommy show now broadcasting from 3.00pm-5.00pm across Australia, adding an extra 30 minutes to their daily show.
After filling in for Kate Langbroek in the second half of 2019 on the second of the network’s two drive shows, Ed Kavalee will join Hughesy permanently in 2020 with Hughesy & Ed broadcasting from 5.00pm-7.00pm weekdays.
Langbroek has extended her stay in Italy with her young family for another year and will continue to be a regular part of the show as she has been this year.
Hit’s combined drive shows collectively reach more than 2.4 million people a week and are number one for people aged 18-39, women aged 25-54 and 18-39*.
Ash London will return in 2020 with her national show, Ash London Live, hot on the heels of hosting this year’s epic RNB Fridays Live stadium tours, and has been extended for an extra hour from 7.00pm-9.00pm.
Danny Lakey hosts his irreverent Danny Lakey Late Show, and will be on-air between 9.00pm-12.00am.
Late night owls are well looked after from midnight through to 3.00am with charismatic duo, Tom & Olly, also part of the 2020 Hit Network line-up.
Finally, Those Two Girls will return to the early morning breakfast slot from 5.00am-6.00am. Lise Carlaw and Sarah Wills have attracted an audience who can handle their energy and sass between 5.00am-6.00am weekdays.
Head of the Hit Network Gemma Fordham said: “We are really proud of our national line up. We are unashamedly committed to talent who are connected to our tribes and communities. We feel fortunate that every team is so full of life and delivers radio entertainment that gives our listeners a boost across their day and makes them feel included and up to date with everything that is important to them and their families.
“I’m excited Ed Kavalee is a permanent addition to drive in 2020 as he and Hughesy have a history and chemistry that is a joy to listen to. We are all obsessed with Kate’s Italian adventure and are living vicariously through her! She will continue to keep us updated via the phone across the year. Our drive double act of Carrie and Tommy and Hughesy and Ed is a sensational offering.”
Hit Network National Weekday Line-up 2020
5.00am – 6.00am: Those Two Girls
6.00am – 9.00am: Local breakfast show
3.00pm – 5.00pm: Carrie & Tommy
5.00pm – 7.00pm: Hughesy & Ed
7.00pm – 9.00pm: Ash London Live
9.00pm – Midnight: Danny Lakey Late Show
Midnight – 3.00am: Tom & Olly
3.00am-5.00am: The best of Carrie & Tommy
*GfK Survey 7 2019 Survey Period: Sun Aug 18 to Sat Sept 21 & Sun Sept 29 to Sat Nov 2.
Seven West Media chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette said: “This will be the most-watched Olympics and the biggest digital event in Australian streaming history.”
With over 300 5G sites currently in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and other key locations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland and 1200 sites planned by March 2020, Optus recently launched 5G in the home and on the mobile.
Optus VP product development, TV and content Clive Dickens said: “A partnership with Seven will allow us to showcase the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 4K Ultra HD for the first time over a 5G network in Australia to Fetch Mighty customers.”
To access the 4K Ultra HD channel of Seven’s coverage of Tokyo 2020, Optus customers will be required to have a Fetch Mighty, with an active Fetch subscription, a 4K-ready television and Optus 5G home broadband plan.
Fetch CEO Scott Lorson added: “Australians love their sport, and many have invested heavily in-home theatre systems to ensure the biggest and best possible viewing experience. The Olympic games represents the pinnacle in sports viewing, and Seven is set to provide unprecedented access during the three weeks of the Olympic Games.”
For people in areas where 5G Optus broadband is available, a package with the internet connection, an Optus Sport subscription and a Fetch Mighty set-top box will cost $100 monthly.
Network 10 has today announced its first joint primetime content initiative with its sister broadcaster, Channel 5 in the UK, since the completion of the ViacomCBS merger that has brought the two free-to-air networks together under common ownership.
The two broadcasters are joining forces to fund a 4 x 60-minute mini-series, Breathless, which will be produced by Fremantle, starring former EastEnders star Charlie Brooks and renowned Australian actor Brett Tucker from US series The Americans, Station 19 and Mistresses, and best known locally for his lead roles in McLeod’s Daughters and Neighbours. It is the chilling tale centred on a British woman and her husband seeking a fresh start in Australia after infidelity rocks their marriage – that’s the plan until they hire a young local nanny who isn’t as innocent as she appears and there are deadly consequences. Further casting announcements will be made in the new year.
The series will commence production early 2020, with the series’ creator, Jason Herbison, executive producing for Fremantle and Greg Barnett acting as Commissioning Editor for Channel 5. Breathless will be filmed in Melbourne, Australia, with funding assistance from Film Victoria, and directed by ADG Award recipient Scott Major (Neighbours, Playing For Keeps).
The commission builds on existing links between Network 10 and Channel 5 with Australia’s longest running and successful drama Neighbours, and follows the networks’ recent collaboration on the critically acclaimed Neighbours spin-off series, Neighbours: Erinsborough High, which premiered on their respective digital streaming services, 10 Play and My5.
Network 10’s Chief Content Officer, Beverley McGarvey, said: “Having worked with Channel 5 on a number of projects previously, we’re really excited to be working with them once again to bring this captivating new drama to Australian audiences, this time as a sister company. It’s a great example of the opportunities the ViacomCBS merger can bring to markets around the world.”
Ben Frow, Director of Programmes for ViacomCBS’s UK networks, including Channel 5, commented: “First and foremost, Breathless promises to be a really compelling addition to our expanding line-up of quality drama that is proving popular with British audiences across both our TV networks and streaming services. At the same time, it’s a great way of extending our partnership with Network 10 – with a shared language and such strong cultural connections between the UK and Australia, there is obvious potential to explore further opportunities for content sharing now Channel 5 and Network 10 are part of the same family.”
Chris Oliver-Taylor, Fremantle CEO, Asia Pacific, said: “Fremantle Australia is thrilled to be producing Breathless for Channel 5 and Network 10. Jason Herbison has created a fantastic world of deceit, thrills, twists and turns that will keep the audiences in both the UK and Australia guessing. Jason, Jo Porter and I are delighted to be cementing the incredible long-standing relationship that Fremantle has had with ViacomCBS over many years by bringing this new exciting series to a truly global audience.”
Sydney’s Subha (Sunny) Nasir Ahmad has been crowned Australia’s best amateur baker after winning The Great Australian Bake Off after being chosen by judges Maggie Beer and Matt Moran.
The 26 year old self-taught baker and PhD science student from Blacktown pulled out all stops in the final Showstopper challenge of a three-tiered, geometric cake.
With her stairway geometric cake of vanilla and cacoa nib sponge with white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam, Nasir Ahmad beat Brisbane’s Dan Pasquali, 35, with his apple and cinnamon flavoured white chocolate mud cake with edible rose gold dust, and Melbourne’s David Hills, 41, with his mud cakes of white chocolate and raspberry, and salted caramel, decorated with fondant in an abstract grid design.
Nasir Ahmad said: “I can’t believe I won The Great Australian Bake Off! A dream just came true.
“I’m going to celebrate with my family. It was so nice to have them here; this win is for them as well,” she added, acknowledging her single mother and younger siblings with whom she moved to Australia in 2011 from Pakistan.
For judges Beer and Moran, choosing this year’s winner from such top-notch bakers proved a difficult task with Moran explaining that “this year has been such a close competition.”
Beer said: “I’m so proud that we have crowned Sunny. She has such instinct, she has flavour, she has finesse, she has creativity, and she has science – she really is an amazing baker.”
By James Manning
• Robbie’s Christmas Present #1 + Mariah, Wham! & Buble chart
The record-breaking run at #1 continues for Tones and I with Dance Monkey sitting at #1 for 19 of its 29 weeks on the chart. Meanwhile her track Never Seen the Rain reaches a new peak of #8 after 20 weeks on the chart.
Just two chart debuts in the top 50 – one of them the only change to the top 10:
#10 The Weeknd with Heartless
#16 The Weeknd with Blinding Lights
Both tracks from the Canadian singer’s forthcoming fourth album Heartland. The title track is his seventh time in the top 10.
Three artists crashed back into the top 50 with Christmas standards that always come out of the woodwork in December.
Highest of the re-entries was Mariah Carey with All I Want For Christmas Is You at #20. The former #1 (only topping the chart last year after first charting in 1994) is six times platinum.
Wham!’s Last Christmas is new at #38 with the three times platinum tune peaking at #3 in all the years it has snuck back onto the chart.
Michael Bublé’s It’s Beginning to Look at Lot like Christmas re-enters at #42 after first appearing as an album track in 2011 and then as a single in its own right in 2012.
The Christmas Present is UK superstar Robbie Williams’ fourth solo #1 and his first since 2009 and Reality Killed the Video Star. It moves from #2 to top spot in its second week on the chart.
There were plenty of movers near the top of the chart, but none were new entries:
#24 to #2: Frozen 2 Soundtrack
#10 to #3: Human Nature with Still Telling Everybody: 30 Years of Hits
#19 to #6: Michael Bublé with Christmas
The three chart debuts to crack the top 50 were all in the lower reaches of the chart:
#45 Pink Floyd with The Later Years 1987-2019
#47 Trippie Redd with A Love Letter To You 4
#48 Jimmy Barnes with My Criminal Record/Modus Operandi
Lots of other Christmas releases also doing well this week include albums from Mariah Carey (#19 Merry Christmas), Human Nature (#20 The Christmas Album), John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John (#27 Friends for Christmas), The Seekers (#33 We Wish You a Merry Christmas) and Bing Crosby (#42 Bing at Christmas).
• Christmas feel good romcom starts Seven at #1 in new week
After winning the first week of summer survey, Seven has started the second in first place thanks in part to the ultimate feelgood Christmas movie – Love Actually.
The film had an average audience of just over 400,000 last night. The movie managed to outrate its lead-in, a repackaged repeat of Sunday Night.
Also performing well last night was Midsomer Murders on ABC where the six-episode season 20 returned with the third episode doing 498,000.
60 Minutes was Nine’s best on 490,000.
Another crowded couch on The Graham Norton Show was 10’s best with 380,000 watching The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jodie Whittaker and Michael Palin.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.4%||7TWO||3.6%||GO!||4.9%||10 Bold||3.7%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||2.1%||GEM||3.6%||10 Peach||3.1%||Food Net||1.3%|
|7Food||0.6%||SBS World Movies||1.8%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.2%||7TWO||2.8%||GO!||6.9%||10 Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.0%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||1.7%||GEM||3.7%||10 Peach||2.2%||Food Net||1.3%|
|7Food||0.6%||SBS World Movies||1.2%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.8%||7TWO||2.2%||GO!||6.2%||10 Bold||3.4%||VICELAND||1.1%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||2.9%||GEM||3.6%||10 Peach||1.7%||Food Net||1.2%|
|7Food||0.6%||SBS World Movies||1.1%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.3%||7TWO||4.0%||GO!||5.7%||WIN Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.0%|
|ABC ME||1.2%||7mate||4.1%||GEM||5.7%||WIN Peach||1.5%||Food Net||1.0%|
|ABC NEWS||1.6%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.7%||9Life||3.2%||Sky News on WIN||1.1%||NITV||0.6%|
|7food (QLD only)||0.3%|
|SUNDAY METRO ALL TV|
Friday Top 10
Saturday Top 10
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
The country’s biggest television, radio, outdoor and news rivals have joined forces to convince executives to spend more of their budgets on marketing with traditional media, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.
The Advertise Or Die campaign is a joint effort between News Corp Australia, Nine Entertainment Co, Seven West Media, Network Ten, Southern Cross Austereo, JCDecaux, oOh!Media, Foxtel, Nova Entertainment, Australian Radio Network, Grant Broadcasting and ACE Radio that will directly tell executives to spend more on advertising when times are tough for their business. Nine is the owner of this masthead and radio network Macquarie Media.
The campaign, which is the largest of its kind in the media industry, launched on Sunday evening and advertisements across digital, print, television, radio and outdoor will be rolled out in the coming weeks that implore executives to spend on traditional advertising in mass media.
News Corp managing director of national sales Louise Barrett said the advertising market was “extremely tough” for media companies at the moment.
“I’ve not seen a July and August like that ever and I’ve been in this business 35 years,” she said, adding that November had seen a surge in recovery but it had been “extremely tough”.
Photo: Seven Chief Revenue Officer Kurt Burnett, Foxtel Media CEO Mark Frain, Nine’s Director Powered Liana Dubois, Nine Chief Sales Officer Michael Stephenson, News Corp Australia Managing Director National Sales Lou Barrett and Ooh Media Chief Customer Officer David Scribner. Source: SMH
Ryan Stokes dismisses suggestions that Seven West Media will always remain a drag on Seven Group’s earnings, reports The Australian’s Damon Kitney.
“We don’t think so,” he says. “We are confident in the plan and the outlook. The industry has confidence on the advertising revenue side. I don’t think they are challenges that can’t be addressed.
“The business has firm plans to grow performance and the share price. There are still good opportunities. Free-to-air television is heavily scrutinised but it is still the best place to build brands. There is more we can do in how we articulate the audience that we have got.”
Seven West Media and Prime Media are believed to be preparing to sweeten the $64 million merger offer to Prime shareholders on Monday ahead of a vote on the deal in less than a fortnight, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Speculation from investors is centred on a fully franked special dividend, bringing cash into the equation. A cash dividend coming from Prime may be offered as further incentive for the deal and a partial use of the regional television broadcaster’s balance of more than $65 million worth of franking credits would further add to the transaction’s value for shareholders.
oOh!media and Southern Cross Austereo held exploratory talks about merging the outdoor advertising business with the radio network and regional television company, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Sources with an understanding of the conversations said Southern Cross had brokered the idea of a nil-premium merger with oOh!media, to put together a business which would include the likes of The Hit Network and Triple M with a robust out-of-home advertising portfolio, including large billboards and street furniture.
Last week, The Australian revealed the ABC was making mass redundancy plans for 2020, helped by the toe cutters at management consulting giant LEK. The number we mentioned was 120 redundancies, reports Nick Tabakoff.
That figure now appears conservative. The latest word is that the ABC is now working towards a minimum of 200 staff cuts, as it grapples with its $84 million budget shortfall.
The rubber will hit the road on Aunty’s cuts at its final 2019 board meeting in Sydney over the next two days, which LEK has helped ABC boss David Anderson to prepare for.
Mediaweek last saw The Australian’s Margin Call columnist Will Glasgow on Melbourne Cup Day. It was just after the last race and he was sitting outside the News Corp Australia compound in The Birdcage, laptop balancing on his knee, filing copy for his next column.
In The Weekend Australian Glasgow filed his last Margin Call column before handing over his role to the busy property guru Jonathan Chancellor:
So now it’s off to Beijing to work as The Australian’s correspondent in the People’s Republic of China.
The formidable Ben Butler – now terrorising corporate Australia at the Guardian Australia – handed over his spot on the column back on May 2, 2016, the day before Scott Morrison delivered his first budget as treasurer in the Turnbull government.
Margin Call will now move into a new era as the illustrious Jonathan Chancellor replaces me as Chris Lacy’s co-pilot.
Readers will be happy to learn the column’s secret weapon, cartoonist Rod Clement, is not going anywhere.
I’ll keep my thank yous to sources and contributors private for obvious reasons, but there’s no need to be shy about praising the column’s behind-the-scenes heroes: John Lehmann, Eric Johnston, Peter Nicholson, Amber Plum, Michelle Gunn, Helen Trinca, Philippa Ellis, Jennifer McNamee, Alex Pereyra, Georgina Windsor, Michael Dorfling, Peter O’Donnell, Paul Pennay, Chris Jenkins, Stuart Parker, Elise Shaw, and of course Paul Whittaker (for trusting me to join the column) and Chris Dore (for trusting me to leave it). Most importantly, thanks to all of you wonderful readers. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Paul Barry will return next year for his seventh straight year as host of Media Watch after tonight‘s final episode of 2019, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.
Barry, 67, jokes that the Media Watch role has been career-limiting: “After six years on Media Watch, I doubt anyone else would give me a job. (But) I enjoy it, and I think it’s an important job.”
Barry is in his second stint as host, after previously anchoring Media Watch for a year in 2000.
Today will unveil its new line-up five weeks before the official 2020 ratings year kicks off in a bid to lure and secure viewers while their holidaying rivals are off air, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.
Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon will be on air from January 6, a week earlier than the ill-fated Today panel of Georgie Gardner and Deborah Knight debuted this year.
The hosts will be joined by Deborah Knight, who will read the news. It is yet to be confirmed if Brooke Boney will remain as entertainment reporter.
The sports position is also yet to be filled, with a number of journalists including Alex Cullen being trialled over the summer break.
After 40 years on Australian TV, Kay McGrath has decided her time as a newsreader is up, reports News Corp’s Laura Chalmers.
The icon of Queensland television will read her final weekend news bulletin next month, after deciding that the time is right to step away from the desk to pursue other passions.
“It’s something I have thought about for a long time, it’s not a decision I’ve made lightly – it’s the end of a decade and it’s more than 40 years,’’ McGrath, 63, told The Sunday Mail.
“There is a lot of change going on in the industry, there has been change in my life, I have had other opportunities come in since stepping off the Monday-to-Friday newsdesk and it just seems like the right time to transition into another challenge.
McGrath’s replacement will be Katrina Blowers, 43, a senior reporter and presenter who has been with the network for eight years.
Former Rugby Australia boss John O’Neill has been approached to take over as chairman of the struggling code but is understood to be asking to pick his own CEO and board to get the game back on track and negotiate a new broadcast deal, report The Australian’s Leo Shanahan and John Stensholt.
The movements come as Optus focuses on landing European football rights and Socceroos World Cup qualifiers ahead of rugby union rights under new CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin.
The Australian reports Optus is on the verge of securing rights for three more European football competitions, believed to be the German, Spanish and Italian leagues, currently showing on BeIn sports.
Channel 9 is set to resurrect 2GB broadcaster Ray Hadley as a TV commentator next season, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.
The move follows the network’s failed attempt to sign Fox Sports’ Dan Ginnane for its rugby league coverage, as we reported last week.
Hadley is contracted to call NRL on Nine until the end of 2020 yet he didn’t do a game last season, allegedly because of “other” commitments.
He is getting married in June next year to his long-time personal assistant, Sophie Baird.
Hadley has repeatedly said he has no interest in being the lead caller should Ray Warren retire.
It has left Nine with only Matt Thompson as a potential head caller if 76-year-old Warren quits.
Cricket’s free-to-air broadcaster says it is open to having three day-night Tests per summer, as viewers get ready for another first in this week’s series opener between Australia and New Zealand, reports The Age’s Jon Pierik.
Lewis Martin, the new head of sport for Channel Seven, said three pink-ball Tests a summer – most likely in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide – would help the sport sell itself in prime time in an increasingly crowded broadcasting and streaming market.
“We would be open to that. Cricket Australia are working through things. Another day-night Test – it’s important to make great sport available to when people are available to watch it,” he said.
“Cricket Australia have to work with all the international bodies, of course, and we respect that but they are certainly recognising the appetite audiences have for live sport into prime time.”
Cricket Australia is keen for two day-night Tests against India next summer, while chief executive Kevin Roberts said last week that in his “heart” he would like all four Tests to be under lights.
“I think there’s room for a mix,” said Fox Sports head of television Steve Crawley when Mediaweek asked about how much night cricket he wanted. “It is certainly good watching and being at the cricket in the evening when it cools down a little. You wouldn’t want to change the Boxing Day test for example. It is important it is on in the morning.