By James Manning
• Plus thoughts on Fox News, climate change, News Corp and ABC
The second part of Mediaweek’s interview with Sky News Australia daily talk show host, Paul Murray.
After 10 years, Murray and his producers have a reasonably settled list of regulars on the nightly Paul Murray Live program. How did they cast them?
“Shows like mine, and others, cast in part for conflict, in part for education, in part for red meat,” Murray replied. “Often the changes in guests have mirrored the need to pull a little more on the conflict lever or to push a bit harder on the insiders’ lever.”
Murray indicated he thought his talent line-up is underrated.
“I sincerely hope that media-literate lefties watch the show to understand what the other side is thinking, instead of just rolling their eyes at the silly little bearded fat man.”
Some of those regulars have graduated to their own programs over the years.
“There was a period of time when it was slightly frustrating that people who had barely done TV were doing a couple of spots a week and I was working as hard as possible to show them off in their best light. And then they’d get a show! For a while I was the factory producing the next round of TV hosts – which was great by the way.”
Murray justifiably thinks the show has been good at reading what many Australians are feeling. “Nobody could see Scott Morrison winning? I could see it an said it every night. Picking the right mood of the country or the audience is an amazing feeling when you get it right and the most depressing feeling when you are not quite nailing it. I admire my colleagues when they nail it, and it serves as a further kick up the arse to me.”
Murray: “The show has subsumed my life for the past 10 years, and I have lost more friends than I have gained. But I hope people will see my value as a broadcaster even if they disagree with me.
“If you told me 10 years ago this would go for 10 years and it would be my main gig, I just wouldn’t have believed you.”
Murray’s career crystal ball outlook a decade ago was more like maybe Triple M drive or still banging it out at 2UE. “Thankfully Angelos pulled me out of the disaster that was 2UE and just let me play.”
After starting at Sky News under CEO Frangopoulos, Murray continues to thrive under the leadership of Paul Whittaker.
“Angelos was the CEO who would do everything from the board meetings to correct the straps that were on the different shows. There were good things and bad things about one person being in charge of everything. It meant you got total support, but it also meant you had zero appeal to a decision,” recalled Murray.
“Paul came with an editorial view and he was able to build a team that was able to help with the production of that view.
“If we were talking two years ago, I would have said there is no way I could work any harder than I am working on the show. And then I met Mark Calvert [ex-Nine News boss, now Sky News head of programming] – I am probably working four times harder than I was because he worked out the most successful part of the show was the editorial. The longer we made it the better we went. That means more content. I laugh sometimes when I see someone getting an award for one piece of television they write in six months. Try ad-libbing 25 minutes every night.
“Sky News is now a place that is more structured and has been better resourced with full News Corp ownership. It feels like we couldn’t be a more loved member of the family.”
By way of example of the better funding and commercial relationships, Murray mentions the production line of documentaries Sky News Australia now produces and his regular regional shows taking Paul Murray Live all over Australia.
“Never, not once,” is what Murray said when asked about feedback from within the company about editorial content. When it comes to news staff and how they feel about their employers, Murray explained: “As somebody who has worked for ABC, Southern Cross Austereo, Nova, Fairfax and News Corp, in breaking news, like hires like. I would imagine not too many people get hired at Radio National who don’t listen to Radio National. The same goes for Sunrise, Today, The Project or Sky News.
“The worst critics of News Corp should have the courage to look at their own organisation and admit like hires like. If they don’t they are not being honest. We could argue about who’s ‘like’ is better, but that’s not for us to decide, it’s for the audiences to decide.
“I find the current conversation led by Kevin Rudd to be pretty juvenile about the concept of good guys and bad guys. One thing I have learnt being around politicians – good one, bad ones, lefties, righties – is that it is never their fault. It is always right to blame the media.”
Murray noted how 2020 was tough for many in commercial media. “But I could have thrown my phone through the window when I saw Paul Barry include the ABC amongst the long list of casualties when it comes to 2020. At Channel 7 they took a 20% pay cut, at 10 they sacked lots of people, at the ABC they voted themselves a pay rise.”
Murray: “You absolutely need public broadcasting to do what the rest of the market doesn’t do. My issue with the [ABC] is they are too obsessed with audience share and they are too obsessed with being the biggest media company they can possibly be. They should be showing things in primetime that commercial networks wouldn’t. Instead, they have become a media monolith and they have been able to do that by providing very focused content that is about growing the audience rather than servicing it. I certainly don’t think the ABC should be sold off or any of that bullshit.
“The ABC should commit to the hardest diversity of all…the diversity of ideas.”
When you mention the word Trump, Murray remembered the “shit-canning” he got for his brief meeting with the US President.
Ask Murray about Trump being robbed of an election victory, and he replies: “Everything about Trump is a Rorschach test. For some reason Trump is a test whether you are a good or decent person. Trump is a symbol of whether you are a rebel or a conformer.
“Let’s play CNN by their own standards. Any unsourced story about Donald Trump became a lead story for days and days. I genuinely believe the American news eco-system broke, perhaps forever in 2020. They didn’t cover both sides, they chose a side and denied the other side.
“That doesn’t mean you have to give Donald Trump endless pecks on the cheek, but you can’t pretend he’s not talking when he is. Every rumour about Trump was a front page story, every reality about Joe Biden was completely hidden from view. That makes me think there is something to talk about. His son has two laptops being investigated by the FBI. That’s not a conspiracy theory, it is actually happening.”
“Tucker Carlson is amazing. Tucker is showing where the future is. You can pick the moments where some Trump scepticism came into the Fox News daytime coverage, but in fairness that was born out by the results of the election. Tucker is fearless and the new gold standard that many of us will measure ourselves against. We have moved through the era of the table-thumping Bill O’Reilly. Sean Hannity will always represent 70m people who voted for Trump, but Tucker is in a special place. That doesn’t mean I agree with every word he has ever said.”
Murray: “Oh fuck no. My issue with Covid has been we have done the hard work and been lucky enough to work out how to keep it away. To see how we have gone back 30 years to state first, country second, pisses me off. What has also annoyed me is a media culture that is exploiting Covid. It was despicable that Nine Brisbane ran a promo on a coronavirus bunker in order to keep their audience scared. Then surprise, surprise, [the audience] vote for the politician who says, ‘I saved your life’.
“In terms of climate change, it is impossible to say it doesn’t exist. I am always going to fail a purity test if the purity test is to turn everything off and de-industrialise Australia. Does that lead to tension with other presenters? No, because like any good family you don’t talk about the things you disagree about over dinner.”
Sony Music Entertainment Australia and Christian Lo Russo, executive director and founder of The Artist Studio in Sydney, have announced a new joint venture record label called Arcadia Records.
Arcadia Records will be the home for a range of new Australian artists that Lo Russo and Sony Music will sign, A&R, market, promote and release together.
“It’s been a wild ride since I kicked off my music career and I love that it has come full circle and I’m back with the Sony Music family. I’m stoked to join forces with Denis Handlin and the team who really get the vision, artistry and ethos of Arcadia Records, and the incredible artists that make The Artist Studio so special,” said Christian Lo Russo. “I’m excited to help launch artist careers, but also play a part in building the network and community to drive the future of Australian music. I can’t wait to see what magic we create together.”
“Christian and Sony Music have a long history together and I am thrilled that he has decided to partner with our company for the Arcadia Records label,” added Denis Handlin, chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand. “Christian’s creative vision and dedication is exceptional, and we look forward to working with him and the incredibly talented artists in their long-term career development.”
Lo Russo’s career in music began in 2004 as the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and front man of Sydney pop-rock five-piece, Amy Meredith, who then signed to Sony Music Entertainment Australia in 2008. Lo Russo’s focus and passion then pivoted to artist management and artist development, where he worked on the early development of 5 Seconds of Summer, including co-writing songs for their debut EP and album. Lo Russo opened The Artist Studio in 2015, which became a home for aspiring artists to connect with a network of artists, songwriters and producers, all within a nurturing recording studio environment. The Artist Studio became home to up-and-coming Sydney artist MAY-A, who is managed by Lo Russo and signed to Sony Music for Australia and Zealand earlier this year.
Top Photo: Sony Music’s Denis Handlin and Christian Lo Russo
ARN has announced the launch of Mix 102.3’s new show Erin Phillips & Soda for Breakfast.
From January 2021, Mark ‘Soda’ Soderstrom will team up with Adelaide sporting legend Erin Phillips for a brand-new kind of breakfast show bringing good-hearted fun to listeners every morning.
Of today’s announcement Mark ‘Soda’ Soderstrom said, “I am super excited to welcome Erin to our Mix breakfast team. There is much more to this down to earth mum of three than just snapping goals and sinking three pointers and I know our fantastic friends of the show will welcome Erin’s enthusiasm and cheekiness.”
Of joining Mix 102.3 Erin Phillips said, “I’m incredibly excited to join Soda and the Mix102.3 team. I really enjoy working in radio and to be on-air in the city I love is something I’m extremely grateful for. I can’t wait to have a lot of fun with Soda and plenty of laughs with our listeners.”
Of the new show, ARN’s chief content officer Duncan Campbell said, “This is a contemporary new direction for the breakfast show in Adelaide and we know audiences are going to embrace this exciting change. When we needed to find a new co-host for the show, it made sense to consider people who have been part of the show over the years. Erin and Soda have great energy and we saw really positive engagement from the Mix audience when she was on air. Erin is a great addition to the breakfast show – she is one of Adelaide’s most loved sports people, she loves footy, knows all about the juggle of work and family, and she is passionate about supporting the community. Erin and Soda are going to take the Mix breakfast show into the future and we are all looking forward to hearing them on air in January 2021.”
Phillips is a two-time Premiership captain for the AFLW Adelaide Crows and Australian sporting superstar with a remarkable professional career in both basketball and football. She is currently co-captain of the Adelaide Crows AFLW team and has taken the side to premierships in 2017 and 2019. Phillips is an Olympic Silver Medallist in basketball from the 2008 Beijing Games and in 2006 won Australia’s only ever gold Medal at the basketball world championships. She has also won twin WNBA titles. Phillips is married to Tracy and they have three children – four-year-old twins Brooklyn and Blake, and 16-month-old Drew.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found the ABC breached impartiality rules for a broadcast of Four Corners in July 2019.
The program reported on the contentious issue of whether water infrastructure schemes funded under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were providing value for taxpayer money and saving water. The episode was named Cash Splash.
An ACMA investigation found that, while it was acceptable for Four Corners to present critical commentary, the program did not present sufficient information from other relevant perspectives to enable viewers to make up their own minds about the schemes.
The ACMA assessed impartiality by considering whether the program met obligations in the ABC Code of Practice 2019. There was no breach finding for accuracy.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the ABC failed to meet the standards in the Code on this occasion.
“The ABC’s Code of Practice requires producers of ABC programs to present and report on issues in an impartial manner, and this Four Corners report fell short of that,” O’Loughlin said.
“Although the producers of the program explored legitimate criticisms, Four Corners had a responsibility to acknowledge other perspectives on the matter of contention in a meaningful way.”
The investigation found the program omitted key information about the operation of the schemes which prevented viewers from coming to an informed understanding of the criticisms aired.
“Australian audiences expect the ABC to give proper treatment to differing perspectives when exploring controversial issues. Unfortunately, on this occasion, this did not occur.”
In a detailed response to the finding, an ABC spokesperson commented in part:
“We respectfully disagree with the ACMA’s finding that the program lacked impartiality and that it should have referenced information already on the public record, or sought alternative viewpoints, when the relevant government representatives – who could have provided evidence and not just an opinion – declined to participate.
“The ABC believes this decision risks suppressing investigative or ‘accountability’ journalism through a distorted application of the standards under the Code. The Code does not require that a balance of perspectives on matters of contention be presented in a single program, nor does it oblige journalism of this nature to take steps to moderate the impact of a deliberate decision not to participate.
“Many stakeholders – including some who had refused to speak to Four Corners – were subsequently featured in the extensive follow-up news coverage across ABC platforms. Indeed, it was the broadcast of the Cash Splash episode which prompted these stakeholders to respond, enabling the ABC to present the diversity of perspectives it wanted to bring to audiences, consistent with impartiality standards.”
Independent, full-service media agency Kaimera has launched a free online course to help smaller businesses and marketing professionals better understand media and take advantage of the agency’s ability to help businesses recover and grow.
The Kaimera Media Academy is designed to educate companies about the different media channels available, and how each can be used to drive commercial value and growth.
“Media will play a big part in Australia’s post-pandemic recovery,” Kaimera CEO, Nick Behr, said. “Many businesses don’t have the budget to spend their way to recovery. We want to give them the opportunity to not only upskill their media knowledge but gain a competitive advantage in market.”
The program has been developed by the senior leadership team at Kaimera and covers a variety of key topics including Data & Measurement, Search, Social and Content marketing best practice. Each week during February, Kaimera will host an hour-long webinar followed by a Q&A session. The sessions are open to everyone, regardless of marketing background or experience, and have been designed to help businesses think about how they can get the most from their media expenditure.
“We developed the Kaimera Media Academy with smaller businesses in mind, we don’t want to confuse and bamboozle marketers, this program is about going back to basics and giving tangible, actionable advice,” Behr said.
“Given the year that has been we want to give something back, and what better time to announce this but at Christmas to help businesses kick start into the New Year and enable them to make the most of 2021.”
The Kaimera Media Academy will start at the beginning of February and run for four weeks.
Roald Dahl has sprinkled some magic on the Australian box office with the 2020 film adaptation of his famous novel The Witches opening at #1.
The film stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci, and is narrated by Chris Rock. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name and is the second film adaptation of the novel, following the 1990 film.
The other new entry to the top five this week is Words on Bathrooms Walls which has opened at #5 after its first week of release.
The films to give way were Let Him Go which has made $833,720 over three weeks, and the Australian comedy-drama Rams which has dropped out of the top five after seven weeks making a total of $4.2m.
Overall the Australia box office had a solid weekend increasing its revenue by 7% after making a total of $3.99m.
As the holiday season heats up, the family-friendly film penned by Roald Dahl has had a wicked first week in theatres averaging $2,846 on 396 screens.
After a big opening weekend, The War with Grandpa has gone on to best that total in its second week of release by 14% and broken the $1m threshold in the process. The film averaged $3,359 (the highest average over the weekend) on 320 screens and its total now sits at $2.47m after two weeks.
After a big drop off in totals after the top two this week, Happiest Season has stayed in the #3 spot. Over the last three weeks, the film has amassed a total of $1.65m and had an average of $1,113 on 270 screens over the weekend.
After the film’s recent surge in the last few weeks it is starting to come back down, finding itself at #4 over the weekend. Although Chris Nolan and co can’t be too offside due to the fact the film has made $15.27m (over 16 weeks!) in Australia to-date and is easily the most successful film since cinemas reopened. This weekend it averaged $2,118 on 127 screens.
The romantic drama film directed by Thor Freudenthal based on the novel of the same name by Julia Walton averaged $717 on 241 screens.
By James Manning
• Nine has the edge again despite Thunder clap from Daniel Sams
• Nine’s winning early evening with News, A Current Affair & GCC
Nine has again ranked #1 primary and network share despite a cracking Big Bash League contest between the Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat.
Just why audiences chose old Gold Coast Cops over the cricket could be confusing sports rights negotiators. Would bigger audiences turn out if the teams included the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner? (Not that Test players have ever regularly appeared in the competition.)
The second innings of the cricket had the biggest FTA audiences, but a Sydney Thunder climb out of the grave and the amazing innings of Daniel Sams (four sixes to win the game in the penultimate over thank you very much) deserved much better than 400,000 metro.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.6%||7TWO||4.6%||GO!||1.3%||10 Bold||5.1%||VICELAND||1.9%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||2.3%||GEM||3.0%||10 Peach||3.9%||Food Net||0.8%|
|ABC NEWS||2.0%||7flix||1.7%||9Life||2.6%||10 Shake||0.6%||NITV||0.1%|
|9Rush||1.7%||SBS World Movies||0.8%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||6.6%||GO!||2.0%||WIN Bold||6.6%||VICELAND||1.8%|
|ABC ME||0.8%||7mate||2.6%||GEM||4.8%||WIN Peach||3.5%||Food Net||0.6%|
|ABC NEWS||1.3%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.8%||9Life||2.3%||Sky News on WIN||1.3%||NITV||0.2%|
|MONDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
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 ABC will rebrand its lifestyle website just two years after it was established amid criticism from within the broadcaster and commercial competitors who claimed it was an unjustifiable use of taxpayer money, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.
ABC Life staff were told on Monday morning that the website, which was established in 2018, will from Wednesday be called ABC Everyday. The shift comes after some ABC staff and media outlets attacked ABC Life for producing digital lifestyle content at a time when commercial rivals and the public broadcaster were under pressure to find cost savings.
Judith Whelan, the director of the ABC’s regional and local division, said the rebrand was not a concession to ABC Life’s critics.
“We have not killed Life,” she said. “The same content will be there. Its archive will be there. This brings it to a permanent home. It’s very closely aligned with my strategy for regional and local – which is we are every day for everyone, we connect communities through the content we create and we strengthen and celebrate those communities.”
Pop singer Jessica Mauboy has ended her 16-year relationship with Sony Music Australia, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.
The top Australian artist signed a new recording deal with rival label Warner Music after months of negotiations on Friday.
“I have had an incredible journey with Sony, for which I will forever be grateful,” Mauboy said. “It is now time for the next chapter of my career and I’m very excited to be joining the team at Warner Music. I have been spending my time in studio lately and looking forward to releasing new music in the new year.”
Mauboy, 31, is understood to have been off contract with Sony for nearly a year with the singer and her management in ongoing discussions with the label.
On Friday, she made the decision to sign with Warner Music, which will see a changing of the guard in 2021 with outgoing ARIA chief Dan Rosen taking over from Niko Nordstrom.
Ita Buttrose has delivered a rebuke to the federal government over perceived “political interference” in the ABC’s editorial process in relation to last month’s controversial Four Corners program, further fracturing the relationship between the public broadcaster and the Coalition, reports The Australian’s James Madden.
The strongly worded letter, sent by the ABC chairwoman to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Monday, says the government’s bid to kill the story in the hours before it was due to air was inappropriate, and the minister’s list of questions about the program after it screened went “beyond normal inquiry”.
It’s understood that in her reply Buttrose rejected all 15 of the complaints made by Fletcher and directly challenged some of the assertions in his letter as being factually incorrect.
A spokesman for Fletcher said: “The minister has received the chair’s correspondence. Any inquiries about the content of the letter, which the chair has marked as confidential, should be directed to the ABC.”
More than one in two Australians has high levels of concern about fake news and disinformation being spread on social media, with 58 per cent worried that their personal information could be hacked or misused on digital platforms, reports The Australian’s Geoff Chambers.
A JWS Research poll testing consumers’ attitudes to digital media and advertising revealed 74 per cent of Australians want Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube to ask for permission before sharing their private information.
With the Morrison government moving to legislate powers forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news content and share data collection methods, the survey showed 67 per cent of Australians wanted online search engines to seek approval when disseminating their consumer behaviour to third parties.
Are Media’s marie claire is the number one fashion and beauty website in Australia, achieving a record unique audience of 700,320 in November, according to Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR), reports the publisher.
For the second consecutive month marieclaire.com.au has topped the category and has led in audience numbers for three of the past four months. The unique audience for marie claire increased 31 percent month-on-month (MoM) in November, hitting a record 700,320 and is up 59 per cent year-on-year (YoY). Page views rose to a record 1.2 million, up 18 per cent MoM and 62 per cent YoY.
Nicky Briger, editor of marie claire, said: “We’re thrilled to announce that as we approach the end of 2020 we’ve achieved record audiences and maximum engagement, all driven by our dedicated digital strategy. It’s exciting to see more women than ever visiting marieclaire.com.au to be informed, inspired and entertained by our unique content.”
Better Homes and Gardens, Australia’s biggest selling consumer monthly magazine brand, continues to lead the homes and gardens category with a unique digital audience of 795,678 in November, up 14 percent YoY.
Following its record month in October, Homes to Love’s audience is up 40 percent YoY in November at 627,020. Page views have risen 8 percent YoY at 4.2 million.
Andrew Cook, director of sales at Are Media added: “Both marie claire and Better Homes and Gardens are premium content destinations that are attracting category leading audience numbers. For our commercial partners, Are Media digital content sites offer brand safe environments where our partners can connect with these deeply engaged audiences.
“Are Media has the biggest suite of women’s websites in the country and in the coming 12 months we are investing to further enhance the audience experience and provide brands with new engagement metrics such as attentionTRACE, which is a new planning tool for media agencies to make more informed buying decisions based on real human attention and engagement.”
Source: Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, monthly tagged, ap 2+
The A-League season begins in less than two weeks. Chances are that’s probably news to you, unless you happened to wander past Darling Harbour on Monday, where Fox Sports rolled out a hastily arranged launch event by getting a handful of players to take shots from the edge of the water at Mark Bosnich, who protected a set of goals on a floating pontoon, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.
Season launches don’t really matter. They’re a uniquely Australian gimmick, designed purely for media outlets to fill their boots with content before the real deal begins on the field. But they do give an insight into how smoothly things are running behind the scenes – and on that front, this was an eye-opener.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has choked back tears while making the shock announcement he will stand down from the top job at the Magpies at the end of 2021, reports News Corp’s Reece Homfray.
McGuire made the bombshell announcement at the club’s annual members’ forum online, declaring only his wife and sons knew of his decision to step down from the role he has held since 1998.
He plans to be involved in helping choose his successor but says there “has not been a Melbourne Cup field” of candidates in previous talks to find his replacement.