By James Manning
When the director general of the BBC Tony Hall recently announced he would be departing the organisation this year, it meant there would be an opportunity to refresh the public broadcaster at the top.
The announcement also triggered a wave of speculation about who would replace the BBC boss. Many thought it was the right time for a woman to be appointed to the broadcaster. This week that speculation gained extra momentum with a report Elisabeth Murdoch was a contender.
Lord Hall was at his final BBC Showcase this week in Liverpool. Mediaweek spoke briefly with the soon-to-depart media chief as he prepared to leave the city where has he spoken at Showcase for the past seven years.
He indicated he had enjoyed the Showcase events, but the time was right for him to be moving on. His comments echoed what he said last month and that the decision had been hard: “If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave.”
The National Gallery in London subsequently announced Hall had been appointed chair of its board of trustees.
One media outlet commented at the time: “BBC crisis: Tony Hall quits as director-general after year of chaos.”
The speculation about Elisabeth Murdoch being in the running to replace Lord Hall came first in the i newspaper:
“Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch who became a successful television entrepreneur in her own right, has emerged as a surprise candidate to run the BBC.”
The i added: “Current [other] favourites include Charlotte Moore, BBC director of content, the best-placed internal candidate, Jay Hunt, former head of BBC1 and Channel 4 who now leads Apple’s European TV commissioning, Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4 and ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.”
However, The Guardian has since reported that Elisabeth “has no interest in becoming director general of the BBC”.
The paper added:
“Sources close to Murdoch told The Guardian she had no interest at all in the job and was focusing on the launch of a production company, Sister, in addition to her Freelands Foundation charity and a role with Arts Council England. She previously founded and built up the successful independent production company Shine.”
Lord Hall this morning was part of an exodus of TV executives after what some thought might be the last BBC Showcase to be held in Liverpool.
Many of the TV buyers from around the world caught early trains to London this morning to attend screenings around the capital from the large production houses. Some have indicated they would prefer if Showcase was closer to those other events in London.
The first London screenings to be held this week included showcases from Banijay, the owner of Screentime and Endemol Shine, plus ITV Studios. Guests at the latter today included ITV Studios Australia CEO David Mott and visiting CBSViacom Australia executives Paul Anderson and Beverley McGarvey.
Top Photo: BBC’s Tony Hall with Mediaweek editor James Manning in Liverpool this morning
By Claudia Siron
Popular lifestyle brand Sitchu has offered a quality selection of local stories, suburb profiles, and insider guides on everything “eat, drink, play and stay” for affluent young women (75% of whom are millennials), since 2017.
Editor-in-chief/co-founder Holly Perks, and publisher Georgia Tomaszewski spoke to Mediaweek about what gives Sitchu that unique value as a lifestyle brand, Sitchu’s partnership with Belle Property, and their business and editorial plans for 2020.
Perks told Mediaweek Sitchu was founded on a vision to create an inspirational online platform and resource for people interested in Australian lifestyle. “Through a hyper-local lens, we wanted Sitchu to celebrate the Australian lifestyle and connect people and communities,” said Perks. “Since we launched the brand, Sitchu’s content offering has evolved rapidly, and we’ve hit some incredible milestones.”
Perks said that last year alone they launched a number of new initiatives and innovations including a new interactive website. “We also launched a Living vertical made up of inspirational home design content, property advice and entertaining ideas; an industry first suburb search tool; and a partnership with premium real estate company Belle Property, which allowed us to launch a new print magazine end of last month, Sitchu Living.”
Tomaszewski told Mediaweek Sitchu’s partnership with Belle Property is unique and has truly allowed them to solidify their point of difference in the market. “For us, the partnership allows our brand and content to sit in the hands of people who are regularly making major home purchasing decisions, opening new and exciting avenues for audience growth, plus providing exclusive advertising pathways for our commercial partners,” said Tomaszewski.
“It shows our audience that the homes and property content we produce is backed by industry experts, so they can be confident when considering our opinions and advice.”
Tomaszewski mentioned they’ve worked with some amazing commercial partners via articles, videos, bespoke sections, display, and sponsorships since Sitchu’s relaunch in 2019. “Some of these partners include AMEX, Grey Goose, Rockpool Dining Group, west elm and Bannisters (just to name a few) – to create cross-platform, content-led campaigns.
“In addition to these collaborations, we’ve successfully worked with affiliate and referral partners that have driven additional streams of commercial revenue.”
When it comes to that unique value that makes their brand stand out amongst all other thriving, like-minded businesses in the lifestyle space, Perks said it’s that they’re concise, confident and know the areas they cover inside and out, so therefore they’re trusted.
“It’s our reliable and friendly voice which keeps our loyal readers coming back again and again. We’re not interested in clickbait methods; we want to attract an audience with integrity and authentic content.
“With the launch of our new Sitchu Living magazine we can now consistently touch our readers on more channels than before. Launching a magazine is definitely going against the grain, however it was the right move for us and allows us to broaden our reach and expand our audience set.”
Perks said the brand has a highly engaged community across all channels. “Instagram is an important social platform for our brand, and while we have less followers than some of our competitors, we have a much higher engagement rate, and our follower growth rate is consistently above the average.”
Tomaszewski said on Instagram, their most saved and shared posts are of homes/interiors, design and travel, and their most liked and commented on are food and drink venues. “On Facebook you will typically see our ‘things to do’ city guide content yield the best engagement, or profiles of new places to go.
“The Food & Drink pillar on the site is certainly our most popular, however this is very closely followed by our Destinations (local travel) and our Living section which has seen audience sessions increase by more than +480% since the pillar’s launch.”
Perks revealed that onsite their average page depth sits close to 7 pages per session, which has increased over 116% year-on-year. “I believe our intuitive suburb search tool has contributed to our overall engagement, allowing our audience to search and find suburbs to live, based on what’s important to them.”
When Perks was asked what her personal favourite highlight for the brand is, she revealed how they’ve recently compiled an article to highlight local Australian getaways that need support. “Now that towns and communities are starting to re-open and welcome visitors after the devastating bushfires, it’s our turn to do our bit by driving tourism dollars their way.”
Perks and Tomaszewski shared with Mediaweek their editorial and business plans for this year, starting the new decade on a strong note. Perks said: “Based on the results of our recent reader’s survey and with the launch of our fortnightly magazine, we will be creating more content that focuses on home design, styling trends, product and shopping guides plus property tips and advice that reflect the life stage of our millennial audience.”
Perks said they will continue producing highly personalised local content and grow their popular pillars. “‘Destinations’ is also a huge growth pillar for us, so based on our local expertise, we are planning on curating even more beautiful city and area guides, to uncover all our go-to hidden gems in every corner of the country.
“Although our brand is well established in Sydney and Melbourne, this year we are expanding our presence in other states to ensure that we can offer a truly national content offering.”
Tomaszewski, without giving away too many secrets, said one of their core business focuses will be driving the commercial success of Sitchu and continuing to partner with like-minded brands. “Another is content personalisation – growing our database of subscribers and working with new tech suppliers to offer our most engaged audience a more personalised and tailored email experience.
“Content growth into new cities (Brisbane and Adelaide) is also important to ensure our brand provides our audience with a deep content offering across all cities. We’ll also continue to evolve our real estate partnership with Belle Property.”
Top photo: Sitchu editor-in-chief Holly Perks, speaking at the Sitchu Living launch event.
Commercial Radio Australia hosted an event at Parliament House last night to focus political attention on the industry’s agenda for 2020 and the vital role of local radio in the community.
Triple M Sydney breakfast presenter Lawrence Mooney and Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher addressed the event, which was attended by industry leaders, MPs and senators. The event took place ahead of UNESCO’s World Radio Day on February 13.
CRA chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Cross Austereo Grant Blackley said radio was still the world’s most widely consumed media.
“There are 261 commercial radio stations across Australia, including 220 in regional and remote communities, making radio the most live and local of all media,” he said.
“Well over 90% of Australians listen to radio every week, which means we have a critical role to play in entertaining audiences and disseminating information in an accurate and timely manner, particularly in times of crisis.
“Radio makes a substantial contribution to every region of Australia – through the support of hundreds of local community organisations and businesses. Radio connects and binds community like no other media.”
Blackley said the industry was looking forward to working with political leaders on a number of strategic priorities, including increasing digital capability to deliver localised emergency information in response to threats posed by climate change.
The industry’s agenda for 2020 includes ongoing investment in the development of smart digital audio experiences including integration with voice technology, the rollout of DAB+ digital radio to regional centres and actively contributing to the Government’s overhaul of media regulation in the wake of the digital platforms report.
“Radio is one of the most overregulated industries. Removing red tape and outdated and unnecessary restrictions must be a priority for the industry and Government,” Blackley said.
Top Photo: CRA in Canberra [L-R]: Moonman, Minister Fletcher and CRA/SCA’s Grant Blackley
Foxtel has announced two of its senior executives, Les Wigan and Lesley Portwain, would move into newly created roles reporting to CEO Patrick Delany.
Delany said: “I’m pleased to be in a position to promote two talented executives from within the Foxtel group to newly created roles with responsibility across the Foxtel broadcast and streaming business:
• Les Wigan to Executive Director – Operations & Technology, Foxtel Group.
• Lesley Portwain now Chief Customer Service Officer, Foxtel
In addition to these changes, Alice Mascia, chief product and strategy officer will take on responsibility for Foxtel’s transformation office.
The appointments follow the decision of current chief operations officer Euan Smith to become CEO of Malaysian TV business Astro.
Patrick Delany said: “Since joining us two years ago, Euan has led a transformation in technology, operations and customer service at Foxtel playing a vital role in our turnaround and helping lay the foundations for our future.
“I understand his desire to take a CEO role and given he commutes once a month to London to be with his family, to be a little closer to home. I want to thank him for his outstanding support and all of us at Foxtel congratulate him on his appointment and wish him well in the role.”
Wigan is currently chief operating officer at Kayo Sports having led the establishment of the world leading sports streaming product. In his new role, Wigan will be responsible for all technology platforms, services and operations across the group’s broadcast, streaming, enterprise and studios. His role will include unifying the underlying technology and platforms across the group.
Portwain is currently director, customer service having played a key role in improving Foxtel’s customer satisfaction. In her new role, she will have responsibility for all customer journeys from post-sale to point of retention for the Foxtel product.
Top Photo: Les Wigan
• Australian SVOD platform returns to the outback in new series
Stan and BBC One have announced the new original series The Tourist. The six-part drama is to be produced by Two Brothers Pictures in association with Highview Productions and the South Australian Film Corporation.
The Tourist is written by Harry and Jack Williams, and is produced by award-winning production company Two Brothers Pictures (Baptiste, The Missing, Fleabag).
The Tourist is a character-driven mystery packed thriller, full of shocking, surprising, funny and brutal turns. Set in a world populated by quirky, enigmatic characters, off-beat black comedy punctuates high-stakes action. The six-episode series twists and turns through the dusty outback of South Australia, to the frantic noise and lights of Singapore, and to the calm, luxury white-sand beaches of Bali.
Harry and Jack William, writers and managing directors of Two Brothers Pictures said: “The Tourist is a departure from anything we’ve written before. It isn’t an easy show to categorise – so we won’t. We are, however, hugely excited to have Chris Sweeney on board as director, and to be making this for the BBC. We’re thankful for their support of this ambitious project.”
Nick Forward, Stan’s chief content officer said: “The Tourist is such a unique story and we’re delighted to be partnering with BBC1, Two Brothers Pictures and the SAFC on this project. We’re looking forward to getting into production, showcasing South Australia’s iconic outback and talented crews, and can’t wait to bring this thrilling six-part original series to Stan.”
Filming will begin later this year and casting will be announced in due course.
The party is a weekly tradition in MAFS that is notorious for its drama and couples stirring the pot in their own relationships as well as others.
Before dinner, mum-of-two Poppy went straight to the point and started a guessing game with the women of who’s consummated their marriages over the honeymoon period.
The heat turned up when Hayely and David entered the event solo. “Where’s your ring and where’s your wife?” someone asked David as he walked in with all eyes on him.
As everyone made themselves comfortable at the dinner table, the relationship experts played ‘peeping tom’ and watched the couples via live video footage in another room.
They pointed out the couples that seem to be swimming smoothly into the first stages of their relationships. They appeared to be Cathy and Josh, Connie and Jonethen, and Vanesssa and Chris.
Cathy and Josh told producers they think Michael and Stacey are in love. “They’re like an ice cream and an ice cream scoop – they just go together,” said Josh, while Cathy reacted to his “intelligent analogy” with a short snicker.
Hayley sat next to hubby David and playfully flirted with him saying she missed his s*** head. “Hayley wanted to play happy families,” David told producers. She made excuses for why David wasn’t wearing his ring by telling people the ring was three sizes too big.
Already deeply uncomfortable with the clear lies and strange behaviour from Hayley, things escalated further when she attempted – a number of times – to smother him with unwanted smooches while she forcefully giggled. As he pushed away from the non-consensual affection, he walked back to the dinner party scene with a scratch on his face.
Meanwhile, there was no interaction between same-sex couple Tash and Amanda. Tash walked the room speaking intimately and intensely with every other female besides her new wife.
Later, feathers were ruffled when real estate boy Ivan stepped in to have a chat with Hayley in regards to her behaviour. “You’re speaking words at me, not to me. You’re a c***. F*** off!” Hayley said at – not to – Ivan.
Both equally guilty of attempting to get a rise out of the other, Ivan returned to his less than impressed wife, Aleks. “I’m in trouble, eh?”
Married at First Sight continues on Sunday 16th February at 7:30pm on Nine and 9Now.
SBS has announced its Tuesday night news and current affairs line-up will launch on Tuesday 25 February from 8.30pm with Insight, Dateline and The Feed returning with brand new episodes.
SBS Director of News and Current Affairs, Jim Carroll, said: “SBS is justifiably proud of our current affairs content delivered across linear and digital platforms.
“As our programs return for the 2020 television season, with The Feed joining the Tuesday evening schedule, we will showcase Australia’s most compelling storytelling. As always we will be probing and uncovering the issues that matter most to our audiences.”
“With many major events, globally and nationally, already on the agenda and with our TV programs complemented by the highest quality digital output, this promises to be the most exciting year for SBS current affairs.”
Insight will air at 8:30 pm with host Jenny Brockie who will guide a lively debate on a single topic such as matchmakers, burnout, footy concussions, to being wrongfully convicted.
Dateline will air at 9:30pm the documentary series with a current affairs backbone scours the globe to uncover special characters and a world of daring stories.
The Feed will re-join SBS from SBS VICELAND and air at 10 pm in a new studio format focused on issues-based reporting and presented by Marc Fennell, Alice Matthews and Alex Lee.
SBS’s news and current affairs line-up airs from 8.30pm Tuesdays on SBS
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Paul Murray Live Our Town tour which raised $400,000 for Australian regional communities, Sky News and its partners Harvey Norman, Sony Music and CBA, today announced the return of Paul Murray Live Our Town in 2020.
Paul Murray Live Our Town will see the program and its host Paul Murray visit ten regional locations in ten months, celebrating the uniqueness of each location while hearing from the residents about the issues and challenges they are facing. During each show some of the country’s biggest music stars from Sony Music will bring joy to the communities, performing live in front of the local audience.
The first stop will be Batemans Bay on Wednesday 19 February at 9:00 pm from the bushfire-ravaged region.
Principal partner Harvey Norman has joined forces with the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) bushfire recovery initiative, BizRebuild for the Batemans Bay episode hosting an in-store silent auction at the local store with all proceeds raised going to rebuilding local businesses.
Katie Page, Harvey Norman CEO said: “Our franchisees, staff and customers all witnessed firsthand the remarkable impact Paul Murray Live Our Town had in their respective local towns and regions in 2019. For Harvey Norman, we are committed to extending this extraordinary support, recognition and celebration of community in a further ten Australian rural and regional towns in 2020.”
Joining the Our Town show in Batemans Bay, Sony Music artist Stan Walker, who together with Paul Murray and the team will provide a night of entertainment for the live audience and also spend time in the local community volunteering to support its regeneration.
Denis Handlin AO, Chairman & CEO, Australia & New Zealand, Sony Music Entertainment said: “We are thrilled to have this special partnership continue with Our Town after what was a very successful first year supporting Australia’s regional communities. This is a wonderful way to make such a difference to the lives of so many people, and after the devastating and unprecedented bushfires, it is appropriate to start in Batemans Bay where Stan Walker will perform. Sony Music artists have really enjoyed providing so much joy and entertainment to the towns that Paul Murray and the team have visited in what has been a truly outstanding initiative by Sky News that continues in 2020”.
Paul Whittaker, Sky News Chief Executive said: “We are proud that together with our partners we are able to bring audiences a second season of the Paul Murray Live Our Town regional tour in 2020.
“Last year’s Our Town tour was a tremendous success, raising valuable funds for regions in need and bringing much greater awareness to their plight. We’re pleased to be taking Paul’s popular program out on the road again this year to connect with local communities across Australia and share their stories with our viewers at home.”
Paul Murray said: ” Following the bushfires that have ravaged our country, now more than ever, it is so important that we support and showcase the towns that are the backbone of this great country. I am so proud of the impact the tour had on local communities last year and this year we are even more ambitious to raise funds and ensure we provide a positive lasting impact. I can’t wait to get on the road.”
By James Manning
• MAFS sets new season high at wild first dinner party
• Midweek numbers for Doctor Doctor, Survivor & Hard Quiz
Nine’s midweek primary share crept above 25% last night and was 8.0 ahead of its nearest competitor. Driving the audience to the channel was the first dinner party for Married At First Sight 2020. And what a wild and wicked gathering it was too with indications there could be plenty of unravelling of some couples still to come. The audience of 1,178,000 was the biggest so far this season, overtaking the launch night audience of 1,154,000.
Also performing well for Nine was A Current Affair on 755,000 and Doctor Doctor on 559,000.
Seven was kept in the game early in the night with Seven News close to 950,000 across the hour before Home and Away took over with the numbers down to 600,000.
My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals was on 422,000 some way back in fourth place after 7.30pm.
First Dates Australia then did 373,000.
Australian Survivor: All Stars took second place in the key demos behind MAFS with 572,000 last night.
The Project 7pm did 440,000 with Georgie Tunney on the desk and comedians Iliza Shlesinger and Jan Fran guesting.
Later in the night Bull did 208,000.
Comedy night on the ABC with Hard Quiz on 597,000, this week narrowly ahead of Mad As Hell on 570,000.
Black Comedy then did 211,000 with The Last Leg on 155,000.
Tony Robinson and drones then had an encore screening audience with 199,000 on SBS.
The doco Inside Cadbury then did a sweeter 238,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.1%||7TWO||3.2%||GO!||1.6%||10 Bold||4.5%||VICELAND||1.2%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.0%||GEM||2.8%||10 Peach||2.3%||Food Net||1.3%|
|SBS World Movies||1.0%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||3.2%||GO!||3.0%||WIN Bold||3.7%||VICELAND||0.7%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.0%||GEM||3.8%||WIN Peach||1.5%||Food Net||0.4%|
|ABC NEWS||1.1%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.5%||9Life||2.3%||Sky News on WIN||1.0%||NITV||0.1%|
|WEDNESDAY METRO ALL TV|
16 – 39
18 – 49
25 – 54
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
Less than a week out from the release of his first-half results, still relatively new Seven West Media boss James Warburton has gone out and hired himself a spin doctor, reports The Australian’s Christine Lacy.
While billionaire media proprietor Kerry Stokes has spent the Aussie summer skiing the slopes of Beaver Creek, Warburton has been hunting down a new communications boss to run things following the exit of Stephen Browning last October in favour of a more explosive gig at Orica.
Margin Call hears that former NSW government spinner Julia Lefort has just been persuaded to sign on the dotted line at Seven to take on a role that was made notorious by the long-serving and inimitable Simon Francis.
After leaving an iconic magazine career behind in 2015, Deborah Thomas hasn’t been one for smooth trajectories, reports The AFR’s Myriam Robin.
She first tried running theme park operator Ardent Leisure.
After two nightmarish years at Ardent, which included fronting the fallout of the Dreamworld tragedy, she left and became a partner at recruitment firm Blenheim Partners – whose self-aggrandising website features photos of successful previous placements like Sir Winston Churchill, Henry Ford and Aung San Suu Kyi.
And now, another pivot. Last month, Thomas was appointed CEO of children’s cancer charity Camp Quality.
The first pictures of the 2020 Big Brother house have been leaked online, reports 7News.com.au.
The images, which appear on the Behind Big Brother website, show the house being built in Manly, North Head in Sydney.
The set of amateur photos show a warehouse-like complex with a big backyard area, a new state-of-the-art control rooms and a transmission tower.
Filming is slated to begin in March.
However, it’s not yet confirmed if the show will go to air before or after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which run from July 24 to August 9.
A Seven Network spokesperson told 7News.com.au, “Big Brother has spoken and Sonia Kruger will helm the new game. Channel Seven is very excited to have Sonia on board for a thrilling new era of Big Brother.”
The captivating comedy-drama Sex Education landed on Netflix in January 2019 with relatively little fanfare, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.
Shot in Wales and set in the fictional town of Moordale, the series focuses on the adventures of Otis (Asa Butterfield). The teenage son of divorced sex therapist Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), he discovers that, despite his lack of sexual experience he has the knowledge and the temperament to counsel a classmate who’s having erection issues.
The speed of its success might suggest a production that had “hit” written all over it. But, according to creator Laurie Nunn, the road to the screen wasn’t a smooth one.
“We tried to find a home for it in the UK but we couldn’t find the right fit. I’d written the pilot script but I thought that it had died. Then it got into the hands of someone at Netflix and it came back to life.”
Born in England and moving to Melbourne when she was 14, Nunn had long had a passion for teen stories, from YA fiction, the films of John Hughes and Mean Girls to TV series such as Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geek sand The O.C.
Crime procedurals are a low flat circle. Everything we ever saw we’re going to see over and over: the bodies of young female victims, the true detective with the fractured psyche, and the guilty with their inexplicable need to take a life, writes The Age’s Craig Mathieson.
An eight-part series, Dublin Murders is based on two books by acclaimed American-Irish crime writer Tana French, and it retains much of the intimate tension and psychological acuity that her novels have been praised for thanks to the adaptation by British screenwriter Sarah Phelps, who has previously brought Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling’s works to the screen.
Set in 2006, the first two episodes don’t just set up the storytelling strands; they suggest a world out of kilter, where no-one has a safe distance from their failings.
The storytelling is crisp and connective, but it’s always accentuated by a disconcerting mood that feels connected to the sense that everyone is being drawn into something they can’t control.
From the opening frames of the new drama anthology Little America, there is unexpectedly powerful connective tissue which binds characters and audience: their names, in large letters, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.
Putting a name to a face, within the framework of a political issue, fundamentally empowers it, producer Lee Eisenberg says.
“We want you to kind of feel a connection to these people that you wouldn’t otherwise connect, [or] you might not initially think that you would connect to,” Eisenberg says. “I think that if the show works, and hopefully it does, it’s that the audience is connecting with someone who doesn’t look like them but is going through an experience [that is relatable].”
Little America is an American anthology television series commissioned by Apple TV+ from Eisenberg, Alan Yang and Kumail Nanjiani. The “little” America of which the title speaks are the ordinary lives of American immigrants, taken from real life but adapted into fiction.
In December 2019, landscaping expert Jason Hodges’ shock axing after 16 years on Better Homes and Gardens took everyone – none more so than the beloved star himself – by complete surprise, reports Yahoo Lifestyle’s Gillian Wolski.
At the time, the shellshocked Sydney-born father-of-two made little public comment except to say he was “absolutely gutted” to be dropped from the Channel Seven mainstay before going to ground over Christmas and the new year.
Now, the man known affectionally as Hodgie to his adoring co-stars and audience, has told Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive chat that his unceremonial ousting from one of the country’s most iconic programs came entirely out of the blue.
“I just didn’t see it coming,” he says.
“I think that television networks don’t do the market research that they should and especially in this decision… [the Channel Seven execs are] trying to attract a younger audience that doesn’t exist [because] your average 25-year-old doesn’t watch Better Homes and Gardens,” he says.
“[Seven execs] invested 20 years in me and then got rid of me. I think they live in a television bubble where they think that ‘shiny’ replaces ‘authentic’,” he adds.
When the Rugby Australia broadcast negotiations finally are settled there could be some casualties within the hierarchy of the sport and incumbent broadcaster Fox Sports, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Roy Masters.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle has a posse of death riders willing her to fail and she won’t survive unless she receives the significant uplift in TV monies she has promised Australia’s four Super Rugby franchises, as well as the other SANZAAR nations who have already committed to the next five-year deal.
RA is unyielding on having one Super Rugby match a week in prime time on free-to-air television to “grow the game”.
The match would be on Saturday nights, probably on Network 10, and involve one of the Australian franchises – the Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies and Rebels. Each Super Rugby franchise has seven home games a year. That’s 28 matches per season, but with crossovers there could be only one game played in Australia some weekends. The Rebels versus the Stormers on FTA on a Saturday night is scarcely the saviour the sport seeks.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castles ays she is confident Fox Sports will “step into the process” of broadcast rights negotiations while hitting back at suggestions from John O’Neill that outgoing board members should be sidelined from the talks, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tom Decent.
O’Neill, the former Australian Rugby Union boss, told the Herald this week he believed board members who are moving on at the annual general meeting next month should have no involvement in upcoming broadcast negotiations.
Despite reports Fox Sports had walked away from negotiations for good, Castle sounded optimistic they would come to the table.
“We went through a negotiating process with them [Fox Sports] through their exclusive negotiating period,” Castle said.
A new national club rugby competition with two divisions, running after the Shute Shield and Queensland Premier Rugby, could be introduced as early as next year under Rugby Australia’s new broadcast proposal, reports News Corp’sJamie Pandaram.
Shute Shield would remain as is for 2020, to be shown on Channel 7, however the new merged club championship idea would be shown by the broadcaster who wins the rights from 2021.
The two-division club tournament would have a promotion-relegation system and could open the door for the return of the Penrith Emus to the rugby scene.
The tournament would replace the National Rugby Championship, which is set to be scrapped after this year.