Friday December 4, 2020

Ludo Studio
Inside Ludo Studio, Brisbane home of global animated hit Bluey

By James Manning

• Daley Pearson on managing Bluey demand and investment interest

Ludo Studio has had a number of significant milestones in its eight-year history. The production house is best known for the all-ages animated hit Bluey, but on its short journey the company has produced seven series, is in development on another, and is soon to announce one more.

It has also started to fill the trophy cabinet with International Emmys, a Logie, SPA Awards and a couple of AACTA Awards.

Some of the Ludo Studio trophies

Co-founders of the Brisbane based business are Daley Pearson and Charlie Aspinwall. Pearson is a triple threat – writer, director and producer. Aspinwall is producing Bluey as well as working on expanding the Ludo slate.

Ludo Studio has had a busy week with another AACTA win and the screening of the second Bluey Christmas special, an episode on ABC Kids that managed to outrate most of the shows the day it screened on all FTA TV channels.

“It’s just an honour to be nominated,” Pearson told Mediaweek about their award wins. “We have been lucky.” Most of the Ludo productions seem to have won some sort of award.

“This is the second Bluey Christmas special after we did one in 2019,” added Pearson. “It did really well first time and we have decided to go again. They are also seven-minute episodes. There will be a Christmas Eve screening too this year on the main ABC channel.”

Bluey Christmas special

The best reward though is perhaps big audiences and that is what the second and now third seasons of Bluey have been attracting.

Pearson and his colleagues always thought Bluey was a pretty good concept, at the same time realising the audience would be the ultimate judge.

Joe Brumm, the creator of Bluey, had the initial idea and it was all about his family. The shows we have found that have done well are the ones the people making it are living it,” said Pearson.

“We made a five-minute episode initially and then things moved quickly with the ABC picking it up, and then BBC Studios coming on for distribution.”

Ludo went ahead with a pilot episode after people didn’t quite understand what they were being pitched. “People weren’t sure if it was Peppa Pig or The Simpsons. We were answering that it was kind of both of those!

“The idea from Joe, Charlie and I was that it was made for co-viewing – parents with their kids to watch together.

Pearson said part of the success was due to where the program screened. “Around the world there doesn’t seem to be anything else quite like ABC Kids, a channel that is trusted by much of the country and people are not worried about putting their kids in front of it. It was the perfect show for that channel.

“We really worked hard trying to get the word out with some marketing. The show started to look after itself pretty quickly, but we had to light a few fires before it really caught on.

Season 1 of Bluey was 52×7 episodes as was Season 2 which has just finished, with Season 3 now onscreen here.

It takes Ludo Studio four months to complete an episode with four teams working on different episodes at once.

The pilot episode had just a handful of people working on it, with Pearson noting that those originals are still part of a much bigger Ludo Studio team.

Pearson estimates that when they had a number of different series in production last year there were about 70 people coming to work. “It has changed a bit over the past five years.”

Ludo Studio staff dress up day

Ludo Studio is keeping a lid on the demand for Bluey content and associated products. When asked how much more Bluey and associated merch people have asked them to make, he replied, “A ridiculous amount! People would be using Bluey key chains, Bluey cars, Bluey everything…

“We like to think we have integrity about everything we make. We try to make the books and the toys as good as the show and it has almost driven us a bit mad. The scale of it lately is almost getting too hard to deal with. Luckily we have great partners in BBC Studios, Moose who do the toys and Penguin who do the books.

Ludo Studio has considered diversifying from offering only seven-minute episodes. Pearson: “We are just now trying to figure out what that could be. We have thought about both a feature and slightly longer eps, but we haven’t landed on anything yet.”

While they are mindful of keeping the core of what is special about Bluey, Pearson said they just haven’t had the time to fully consider the possibilities. “Just making 52 episodes takes up all our time, it is a ridiculous amount of episodes to have to make. Every episode is different with a new script, new score, new characters often and mostly new locations.”

Keeping all episodes special comes with continuous new challenges.

Artist at work on Bluey

Although Ludo Studio’s main focus is Bluey, that hasn’t stopped them from working on other projects. The year Bluey launched there were three other series released. The production house has also sold a new live action drama for an SVOD platform that should be announced soon. Pearson joked: “This will look like a ‘proper’ show, but will still qualify as quirky.

“The thing I love, and most of us at Ludo love, is making the shows. But to be able to get to that privileged position you need to do a lot of boring work. In the six years since Charlie and I started Ludo we have worked long days.”

Pearson likes being a proud independent, but he revealed the business has had overtures regarding investment and partnerships. “We love to collaborate with people on our shows project by project, but the interest to be bought up by someone is not there at the moment. We really love what we are doing. We have had a lot of interest, but we are happy at the moment.”

“The other thing is don’t feel we really know what we are good at yet. For us it still feels like a new business and we are still finding out things about what we are good at and the best ways to operate.

So far we have found it hard to collaborate and work with someone if they are not in Brisbane. Despite all the technology available, it works best to be next to the person, at least in the start of the relationship.

Pearson said he and the Ludo team have been very lucky being in Brisbane during Covid. “Everything we have done we have made in Brisbane. Partly because we are perhaps too lazy to want to shoot in New York or elsewhere. The problem for us has been trying to find studio space for our new drama. All the facilities have been booked out by international productions.:

Bluey who’s who

The now globally loved animated Australian series was created by creator/showrunner Joe Brumm, Emmy awarding-winning executive producers Charlie Aspinwall and Daley Pearson, producer Sam Moor and supervising director Richard Jeffery. The series is executive produced by Libbie Doherty, ABC Head of Children’s Television, and Henrietta Hurford-Jones, Director of Children’s Content for BBC Studios.

Principal production investment from BBC Studios, in association with Screen Australia. Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects work undertaken in Queensland, Australia with funding from The Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and the Australian Government.

Ratings records

The ABC has calculated Bluey attracts over 1 million metro viewers and has VPM average audience of 2.2 million.

Bluey is the #1 timeshifted program in Australia. New episodes of Bluey continue to draw massive timeshifted ratings, cementing Bluey’s position as the #1 timeshifted program ever!

Top Photo: Ludo Studio co-founders Charlie Aspinwall (left) and Haley Pearson

ACM Restructure: New Managing Director amongst major changes

ACM has confirmed that following the announcement that CEO Allen Williams will be leaving the business on December 18, a number of changes to the executive team have been made.

Tony Kendall, the current chief revenue officer has been promoted to managing director of ACM with Sharon Fitter, the current enterprise sales director being promoted to chief revenue officer.

In addition, ACM’s chief financial officer Renee Duffy’s role has been expanded to include the chief operating officer’s functions including HR, HSE, Operations, printing & logistics.

Both Kendall and Duffy will report directly to ACM Executive Chairman Antony Catalano (pictured).

Catalano said: “I am delighted to announce the promotion of both Tony and Renee to these critical roles as we continue the evolution of the ACM business.

“Tony has had a successful career in senior leadership roles in a diverse range of media organisations and in his time at ACM has transformed our commercial offering with a focus on growing our customer’s business.

“Renee’s promotion recognises the integral role she has played in transitioning ACM from Nine/Fairfax ownership into the leading independent media company we are today.

“Under Tony & Renee’s leadership I believe we have the experience and talent to fast track the growth and evolution of our existing business as we seek to connect our large and valuable audiences with our compelling and trusted content.

“I’d also like to recognise the great work that Sharon Fitter has done in building a market leading Enterprise sales team that has helped the business transition out of COVID with momentum. It’s fantastic that we have this high calibre talent inside the business and I wish Sharon all the best as our new CRO.” 

Kendall said: “I’ve loved my time at ACM and the growth mindset that Antony brings to the business, which is rare in today’s media landscape. I couldn’t be happier to be taking on the role of managing director and I look forward to working with the ACM Executive and the broader team as we look to drive this business forward.”

Duffy said: “Having worked at ACM or the various iterations of itself for 17 years, I’ve seen many things change, but I’ve never been more excited to be with this company and I embrace the opportunity these new responsibilities present. Tony and I have worked closely over the last 18 months and achieved many things, but we know what’s on the horizon and we can’t wait to get into 2021 leading this company together.”

Fitter said: “To be given the opportunity to be chief revenue officer at ACM is a real honour. Having worked for many years in the Enterprise sales area, I can’t wait to get stuck into the other commercial parts of the business including national sales and partnerships. We have a team that is in my view the best in market and I’m looking forward to bringing my many years of sales experience to ACM more broadly.”

isubscribe Australia
isubscribe Australia, UK & NZ success proves consumers still love print

On December 4 2020, isubscribe celebrates its 20th anniversary and a reputation as the go-to marketplace for magazine subscriptions and subscription products in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

After launching during the dot com crash in 2000, the business has navigated the digital transformation of retail and commerce worldwide and the disruption of traditional media businesses.

Andrew Burge, founder and chief executive, isubscribe said, “It’s only when you look back you realise how far we’ve come. From that very first subscription in December 2000, we’ve now sold over 5 million across three markets and have 1 million active subscribers who value subscription products.

“As we hit our 20th birthday, I am thrilled with isubscribe’s performance with 2020 being our strongest year in sales volumes, revenue and profitability. It is a testament to the amazing team under the leadership of managing director, Hunter Drinan.”

Andrew Burge

Brett Willis, general manager retails sales and circulation, NewsLifeMedia, was one of the first to sign up his portfolio in 2000 as circulation manager of the newly launched company, News Magazines. Commenting on the isubscribe anniversary, Willis said, “isubscribe ensures our mastheads are consistently front and centre across the entire magazine marketplace and reaching new subscribers every day.

“isubscribe has been a great business partner, working together using their unique audience to grow our business. Our sales and brands across the portfolio have benefited greatly from this partnership. I commend the isubscribe team for performing consistently for so long in a challenging market.”

Magazines like many industries have experienced a tumultuous period in 2020, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. The resilience of many leading magazine titles at home and around the world in 2020, with uplifts in subscriptions and sales, demonstrates a particular trust readers have in the established brands and their years of experience. The results together with shifting attitudes suggest a bright future for magazine publishing.

Subscription sales surge

Better Homes and Gardens magazine subscription sales are up 35% year-on-year (YOY) on, and overall it’s still the #1 selling magazine subscription on the site since 2000. Gardening Australia magazine is up over 100% YOY. Delicious. magazine is up 62% YOY and National Geographic subscription sales are up 50% YOY. These titles have topped the past 20 years magazine subscription sales on isubscribe together with Men’s Health (set to return to print in 2021) and other household brands such as Australian Home Beautiful, Vogue Australia, Country Style, marie claire and Time.

In New Zealand, the trend is consistent with Australia. Topselling brands, NZ House and Garden, NZ Gardener, Dish, NZ Fishing News, Cuisine and NZ Listener, to name a few, are still the leading magazines after 17 years on

We don’t see the demand for magazines and subscriptions dissipating dramatically anytime soon, if anything we’re seeing great faith in the medium with sales this year expected to be the highest in all of our 20 years,” said Hunter Drinan, managing director, isubscribe.

New launches boost the sector

“There are still great opportunities, particularly for niche magazines with a highly engaged community around a particular interest. We’re seeing new titles launch and also strong growth in other subscription products. For example, beauty subscriptions, craft and kids box subscriptions and many others.”

Newly formed School Road Publishing in New Zealand has launched four brand new magazine titles into the market in 2020: WOMAN, Haven, Thrive and Scout led by award-winning editor Sido Kitchin. In Australia, Australian Geographic has just launched a new kids magazine, Australian Geographic Explorers, and The New York Times Magazine announced it will produce an Australian edition.

isubscribe lists over 100 subscription ‘box’ products. Around half of these were newly listed in 2020 and sales for the category are up 95% YOY.

Drinan added, “The future is bright for isubscribe. The business is well positioned to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the growing subscription economy and a return to magazine reading and trusted media brands.”

isubscribe #1 sellers over 20 years

2000: Vogue Entertaining and Travel
2001: donna hay magazine
2002: donna hay magazine
2003: donna hay magazine
2004: donna hay magazine
2005: delicious
2006: donna hay magazine
2007: donna hay magazine
2008: Better Homes & Gardens
2009: Better Homes & Gardens
2010: Better Homes & Gardens
2011: Better Homes & Gardens
2012: Better Homes & Gardens
2013: Better Homes & Gardens
2014: Better Homes & Gardens
2015: Better Homes & Gardens
2016: Better Homes & Gardens
2017: Better Homes & Gardens
2018: National Geographic Kids
2019: National Geographic Kids

South China Morning Post
WeThinkMedia appointed exclusive ad rep for South China Morning Post

WeThinkMedia has been appointed exclusive advertising representative in Australia for the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Known for its authoritative and independent journalism, the Post has been reporting on China and Asia for more than a century and its international relevance continues to grow with expansive coverage on local issues with global relevance. The Post has been part of the Alibaba Group since 2015.

SCMP’s coverage on Asia’s most important stories has driven its global reach to 51 million monthly active users, where Australia has been one of its fastest growing markets.

While SCMP’s digital transformation has driven its readership growth, it has also established innovative ways to provide advertisers with the necessary tools offering brand-safe marketing solutions and targeting audiences with greater precision, such as its proprietary first-party data platform for insights and activation, ‘SCMP LIGHTHOUSE’.

Peter Wiltshire, executive director, WeThinkMedia, said: “South China Morning Post leads the global conversation on China and Asia with trustworthy and comprehensive reporting that reflects deep understanding and connection with their significant, premium audience. We are working closely with SCMP’s branded content arm, Morning Studio, to tap that engagement, creating highly targeted, brand safe campaigns so Australian businesses can reach a substantial local and global readership. SCMP enhances WeThinkMedia’s international partner portfolio and we look forward to a prosperous partnership.”

Romanus Ng, senior vice president of advertising & marketing solutions, SCMP, said: “We are pleased to work with WeThinkMedia and their experience with leading international publishers makes them an ideal partner in Australia. SCMP offers a plurality of Asian perspectives that is globally relevant and locally accessible, and we look forward to establishing ourselves as one of the leading news brands in this growing market with our partnership with WeThinkMedia.”

This year has been noteworthy for SCMP as the first news publishers in Asia to win the Online Journalism Awards ‘General Excellence in Online Journalism (Large Newsrooms)’ and being recognised as “a digitally focused news organisation that successfully fulfils its editorial mission, effectively serves its audience, maximises the use of digital tools and platforms and represents the highest journalistic standards.” It also became part of The Trust Project, a worldwide initiative that provides standards of news production to help readers identify credible journalism.

WeThinkMedia continues to broaden its service offering across all media formats: TV, video-on-demand, digital out-of-home, digital publishing, print, magazines and events. Its partners include CNBC, The New York Times, INK Publishing, NZ’s newest digital OOH company LUMO, and foundation long term partner MediaWorks New Zealand (TV, VOD, radio).

The Undoing
The Undoing delivers record-breaking audiences in Australia

The Undoing, starring Academy-Award winner Nicole Kidman and BAFTA winner Hugh Grant, has achieved record-breaking viewership through its six-episode run on Binge and Foxtel.

The Undoing is now the most-watched show on Binge, drawing the largest daily audience for any series since the streaming service launched in May, with audience figures snowballing week on week.

On Foxtel, The Undoing has already surpassed audience figures for Big Little Lies in 2017, achieving +34% above the record-breaking season one. The series has also surpassed audience numbers for other hugely popular HBO titles on Foxtel including The OutsiderTrue DetectiveWatchmen and Westworld.

The Undoing currently ranks as the number one drama to date on Foxtel for 2020, with a weekly cumulative audience to date of 497,000 viewers across Linear and On-Demand platforms.

The psychological drama, written and produced by David E. Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier, follows Grace Fraser (Kidman), a successful New York City therapist, and her husband Jonathan (Grant). Overnight, a chasm opens in their lives: a violent death, a missing spouse and a suspicious affair.

The series has also attracted outstanding audience numbers worldwide, with the finale drawing three million viewers in the US across all HBO platforms. The Undoing is also the first HBO series in the network’s history to grow week-to-week over the course of six episodes.

On Sky Atlantic in the UK, The Undoing launched with an audience of almost three million, surpassing the launch of Game of Thrones in 2011. The series is on track to becoming the biggest US series to ever launch on Sky Atlantic.

All six episodes of The Undoing are available to stream on Binge and watch on-demand on Foxtel.

World Surf League
WSL Championship Tour to air on Foxtel and Kayo this Weekend

The World Surf League’s 2021 Championship Tour will commence in Maui Hawaii and for a 12th consecutive year, all the action will be available on Fox Sports, where viewers can watch on Foxtel and stream on Kayo

“After a year without Championship Tour competition the WSL is excited to finally be on the eve of the 2021 season and we welcome our continued support of the Foxtel Group,” said WSL Asia Pacific general manager Andrew Stark. “It’s been a long and successful partnership between WSL and Fox Sports, and we can’t wait to continue it in 2021. This year is set to be one of the most exciting in the sports history and it will be seen by more Australian’s than ever through our broadcast partners.”

All stops of the elite Championship Tour (including recap shows) along with the Challenger Series, WSL owned Qualifying Series events and the World Junior Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports in 2021.

“We have been showcasing Live surfing on Fox Sports since 2009 and highlights packages for even longer, so we’re excited to be continuing what has been a long and successful relationship as we follow the journeys of Australia’s best surfers on the world stage,” said Fox Sports director of acquisitions and sports partnerships, Rebecca McCloy.

“Showcasing the WSL only strengthens our sports offering for Foxtel and Kayo subscribers where Surfing sits alongside the best sporting codes in both Australia and from around the globe.” 

The 2021 WSL Championship Tour will commence this Saturday, December 5 with the opening day of the Maui Pro presented by Roxy and continue next week with the opening event of the men’s Championship Tour, The Billabong Pipe Masters presented by Hydro Flask with both events being broadcast live on Foxtel and Kayo.

The Front Bar
TV ratings: Summer survey, Thursday Week 49 2020

By James Manning

• Clean sweep for Seven: #1 primary, network and multichannel
• The Front Bar eases ahead, Travel shows a modest draw at Nine

Seven claimed top spot off the back of Highway Patrol on 428,000 and Border Security on 368,000. The second of two cricket special editions of The Front Bar were on 299,000 after 274,000 for the first.

Race Across the World started on Nine with 222,000 while a travel themed evening also offered Great Getaways on 327,000.

Week 49: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.6% 7 17.3% 9 16.0% 10  9.7% SBS One 5.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.3% 7TWO 4.7% GO! 2.4% 10 Bold 4.6% VICELAND 2.1%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.1% GEM 2.9% 10 Peach 3.2% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 2.1% 7flix 1.8% 9Life 3.0% 10 Shake 0.5% NITV 0.9%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 2.0%
TOTAL 18.6%   26.9%   25.3%   18.1%   11.1%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.9% 7 17.1% 9 12.8% WIN 9.7% SBS One 3.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.0% 7TWO 6.6% GO! 2.9% WIN Bold 5.9% VICELAND 2.0%
ABC ME 0.9% 7mate 4.9% GEM 4.7% WIN Peach 3.4% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.9% 9Life 2.5% Sky News  on WIN 2.8% NITV 1.4%
                SBS Movies 1.9%
TOTAL 17.2%   30.6%   22.9%   21.7%   9.4%


86.1% 13.9%
  1. Seven News Seven 863,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 827,000
  3. Nine News Nine 767,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 754,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 622,000
  6. ABC News ABC 619,000
  7. 7.30 ABC 559,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 440,000
  9. Highway Patrol Special Seven 428,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 401,000
  11. The Project 7pm 10 381,000
  12. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line Seven 368,000
  13. Scottish Vets Down Under ABC 362,000
  14. Great Getaways Nine 327,000
  15. Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip ABC 325,000
  16. The Front Bar Seven 299,000
  17. Jamie’s Easy Meals For Every Day 10 280,000
  18. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 271,000
  19. Sunrise Seven 266,000
  20. 10 News First 10 266,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. Seven News Seven 99,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 97,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 95,000
  4. Nine News Nine 89,000
  5. Highway Patrol Special Seven 81,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. Nine News Nine 165,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 157,000
  3. Seven News Seven 156,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 155,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 142,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 198,000
  2. Nine News Nine 197,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 192,000
  4. Seven News Seven 192,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 179,000
Thursday Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 177,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 166,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 153,000
  4. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 146,000
  5. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 141,000
  6. Go Jetters PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  7. Father Brown PM 7TWO 130,000
  8. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 125,000
  9. Love Monster AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  10. Dinosaur Train PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  11. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
  12. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 118,000
  13. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  14. Fixer Upper 9Life 116,000
  15. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 116,000
  16. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 115,000
  17. Murdoch Mysteries PM 7TWO 112,000
  18. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 111,000
  19. Spicks And Specks Ep 2 ABCKIDS/COMEDY 109,000
  20. PJ Masks PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 107,000
Thursday STV
  1. Alan Jones Sky News Live 68,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 65,000
  3. Credlin Sky News Live 63,000
  4. Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail Discovery Channel 62,000
  5. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 60,000
  6. Inside The Factory Christmas Special Lifestyle Channel 41,000
  7. NCIS FOX Crime 38,000
  8. PML Later Sky News Live 36,000
  9. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 34,000
  10. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 34,000
  11. OC: Real Housewives Of Orange County FOX Arena 34,000
  12. Border Security: Australia’s Front Line FOX8 34,000
  13. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 32,000
  14. The Flight Attendant FOX One 31,000
  15. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 30,000
  16. Love It Or List It Australia Lifestyle Channel 30,000
  17. Border Security: International FOX8 29,000
  18. The Simpsons FOX8 29,000
  19. Demolition Down Under Discovery Channel 28,000
  20. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 28,000

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

US cable TV veteran Leo Hindery behind $US2b Foxtel bid

US cable television industry veteran Leo Hindery approached Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp and telecoms giant Telstra with a $US2 billion offer for Foxtel in an unsuccessful attempt to take control of the pay TV operator, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The American businessman, who runs New-York media private equity fund InterMedia Partners, is behind the “blank cheque” company that bid to buy a portion of Foxtel and wipe its debt earlier this year.

Industry sources briefed on the talks who could not speak publicly for confidentiality reasons said the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Trine Acquisition Corp, was on the hunt for an Australian media investment. It also briefly considered approaches for Kerry Stokes‘ Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment Co. However, Foxtel was the only one to receive an offer.

[Read more]

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz backs Australia’s media laws

Renowned Nobel prize laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has delivered a ringing endorsement of Australia’s planned media bargaining code, describing the tech giants’ impact on news revenue, and society more broadly, as “absolutely devastating” and urging Australia’s parliament to pass the landmark legislation, reports The Australian’s David Swan.

The American professor and former chief economist of the World Bank told a webinar hosted by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology that neither Facebook or Google cared about news, and that their threats to block news sharing and leave the Australian market were proof the regulation was urgently needed.

“They don’t care. They just want traffic and traffic of hate speech, excitement, are things that get people more engaged,” Professor Stiglitz said. “The impact on our society of having all this ad revenue go to social media is absolutely devastating. That’s one of the reasons why this is so important.”

[Read more]

News Brands

Anger ‘truth’ defence won’t be tested in AFR case

Former Blue Sky director Elaine Stead said she was “very angry” when Fairfax dropped its truth defence in her defamation case against columnist Joe Aston, because it denied her the chance to prove his claims about her were incorrect, the Federal Court has heard, reports The Australian’s Cameron England.

Dr Stead is suing The Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston and his employer Fairfax, now Nine Entertainment Co, over a series of articles which she says made her look “reckless” and “stupid”.

Fairfax’s original defence was going to rely on truth as well as “honest opinion”, however the truth defence was dropped in October.

Dr Stead said she felt relief when the truth defence was dropped, but she believed that Fairfax’s explanation, that it didn’t want to inconvenience the court and to limit costs in the matter, was “disingenuous”.

[Read more]

News Corp editors claim Rudd and Turnbull 'exploited' Murdoch papers

Newsroom leaders at Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp have accused former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd of being opportunistic and hypocritical and have defended “back channel” relationships between editors and politicians, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

During a private all-staff meeting on Thursday, The Australian editor Michelle Gunn, The Daily Telegraph editor Ben English and Sky News boss Paul Whittaker appeared on a panel to discuss Rudd’s campaign against News Corp, a heated debate between senior political writer Paul Kelly and Turnbull on ABC’s Q+A and “the dominance of voices on the left of Australian media”.

Former editor of The Australian Paul Whittaker said both politicians were happy to use News Corp when it suited them.

“People have to remember that Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull very assiduously used the media and in particular used News Corp,” he said. “Kevin Rudd twice cut down his own leader. In 2006 he was quite happy to use News Corp to try to undermine Kim Beazley and it worked, he became the opposition leader. Later he cut down Julia Gillard.

“In the same way Malcolm Turnbull used the media to undermine and cut down Brendan Nelson and then of course later prime minister Tony Abbott. They’ve been quite happy to use News Corp and other members when it suited their purposes, but they are quick to turn around and blame them.”

[Read more]

SBS files its defence in case of Alan Jones suing The Feed

Former breakfast announcer Alan Jones sued SBS over comments made after he retired from 2GB in May on its youth-focused current affairs program The Feed, which he says portrayed him as a racist, a misogynist and a liar, reports The AFR’s Neil Chenoweth in the Rear Window column.

SBS has just filed its defence, denying the meanings claimed by Jones’ lawyers and pleading honest opinion; a truth defence; that other meanings in the broadcast which were more damaging to Jones are true; and finally that Jones’ reputation is so bad he couldn’t be damaged by SBS’ broadcast.

SBS details the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s 2000 finding that he breached the Broadcasting Act five times and the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice 90 times; and then five more adverse reports by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

[Read more]


Bluey wins again – this time Asian Academy Creative Award

The Asian Academy Creative Awards are being announced across two nights in Singapore this week.

The Awards are being held at the AAA Theatre, the newly built 3D virtual theatre which had its first public showing. Using virtual tracking technology, the AAA’s were able to put performers and winners on the same stage despite being in different locations across the region. Host Bobby Tonelli declared it “Our industry’s Theatre of Dreams”.

In the awards announced last night, Australia won in four of the 20 categories.

Method Studio’s claimed an historic Best Visual FX “three-peat” for their work on Jumanji: The Next Level.

Emmy winner Bluey became a winner of The Double (an Emmy and a Goddess) with their victory in the Preschool category. The win for Ludo Studio comes just days after they picked up a second AACTA for Bluey.

Australia then added both documentary categories to their tally thanks to ABC’s Revelation from Sarah Ferguson and The Australian Dream, an Australian-UK co-production between GoodThing Productions and Passion Pictures, written by Stan Grant.

The Gala Awards Final takes place at the AAA Theatre on Friday evening (6pm Singapore time) when the bulk of the scripted and acting awards are decided.

The Block 2021: Producers pay $11.5m for five houses in Hampton

The producers behind Channel Nine reality television show The Block have paid more than $11.5 million to buy five homes in one Melbourne street, reports Domain’s Elizabeth Redman.

Next year’s season of the show will be set in a cul-de-sac in suburban Hampton, a neighbouring suburb to Brighton, where filming took place this year.

The Block’s co-EP and format co-creator Julian Cress

Buyers’ advocate Nicole Jacobs sold her house in Bronte Court to corporate entity MicJoy Pty Ltd for $3,025,000, Domain previously reported.

Her next-door neighbours also sold, fetching $2 million.

But the three remaining homes have now settled, with public records revealing the total outlay.

Two houses on the same side of the street as Ms Jacob’s former home traded for $2,072,500 and $1,815,000, title records show.

One on the opposite side of the street fetched $2.66 million.

The total outlay for the five homes comes to $11,572,500.

Photo: The Block’s co-EP and format co-creator Julian Cress

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Sports Media

Everything up for grabs as football enters fast-moving broadcast market

A few months ago, there were fears football in Australia could be left without a television partner, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari.

Now there could be a bidding war on multiple fronts as almost the entirety of the sport’s broadcast inventory goes up for grabs next year – and insiders are bullish about how an increasingly fragmented market could play in football’s favour.

Much has changed since Fox Sports tore up the remainder of its three-year contract to televise the A-League in the middle of the pandemic, replacing it with a cut-price, one-season deal worth $28 million, which expires in July.

The decision to shorten the length of the deal, according to multiple sources, was taken not by Fox but by Football Federation Australia and the clubs, which read the industry’s tea leaves and prioritised flexibility over security.

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