Monday February 15, 2021

Stan Sport
From Tennis to Rugby to NRL: Nine director of sport Brent Williams on growing portfolio

By Trent Thomas

Plus Ray Warren returning in 2021 and the importance of digital

In November 2019, Nine named Brent Williams as its new director of sport and since then his portfolio has only expanded.

“We have got 12 months a year worth of sport,” Williams told Mediaweek. “With Rugby Union now in our offering along with the NRL, tennis, some golf, and netball there is a lot going on. It is a tricky balancing act, but I have a terrific production team behind me and terrific heads of each sport, and I am lucky enough to oversee the whole thing.”

Williams spoke with Mediaweek during the Australian Open which is usually one of his busiest times of the year and this hasn’t been made any easier by a global pandemic.

“It has been a really busy couple of months actually, we worked very closely with Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government with a lot of work going into the processes put into place and a hell of a lot of work went into that, and all credit to Tennis Australia.”

While it started a little later than planned, Nine acquired the Australian Open to use as a ratings platform to kick off the year, which Williams admits has been helped by the strong performance of the Aussie contingent.

“It certainly helps the narrative of the tournament and we saw that with Nick Kyrgios’ five-set comeback which peaked with over 1.3 million people nationally. When those stories unfold that certainly helps us.” Sadly, however, NIne won’t have Kyrgios for the second week of the tournament.

“The thing with Grand Slam tennis is it throws up different things every year, like with Thanasi Kokkinakis winning that first match and then losing in a close match a few days later.”

Viewers going digital

Williams said a part of utilising sports rights is making sure that the broadcaster appeals to the changing habits of viewers, with a focus on digital.

“It is incredibly important because everyone consumes their content differently. Our 9Now numbers are up significantly, and our social interactions are up significantly year on year.”

Rugby Union

One of the biggest sports rights deals of 2020 was Nine and Stan purchasing the broadcast rights for the Rugby Union which led to the launch of Stan Sport. The partnership will see one game a week on 9Gem while Stan will host all rugby content.

“The launch of Stan Sport is incredibly exciting and it will be the home of Rugby. It will have everything from grassroots all the way through to the Rugby Test Matches. The beauty of the Nine ecosystem is we can also have that free to air offering for that casual Rugby viewer that wants to reconnect with the sport.”

When asked how this partnership will work Williams said that Nine’s Wide World of Sport, led by head of rugby Murray Shaw, will handle the TV production side of the product.

“We work in partnership with Stan Sport and it’s going great. They bring their expertise from a streaming point of view and we hopefully bring our expertise from a TV production point of view.

“We have a dedicated Rugby team inside the Wide World of Sport now including a team of producers and commentators. Anything that is produced locally will be produced by this Wide World of Sports team for Stan Sport.

“For the Saturday night matches, we are producing various feeds from the same match so that Stan Sport can offer commercial break free content with extended pre and post-match coverage.”

Ray Warren returning to Nine for 2021

Another exciting announcement for Nine over the summer was the news that famed announcer Ray ‘Rabs’ Warren would be returning for another season following rumours of retirement. Williams said this news was incredibly important.

“Rabs is still the best. He has been the voice of Rugby League for so many years now and we are thrilled to have him back for 2021. While he wants to keep doing it we are very happy to keep him around.”

When asked about what the eventual plans are for a commentary team without Ray Warren, Williams said that the succession plan is probably internal, but it depends on who is available to join the team.

“You always need to have a succession plan and we do in Matt Thompson and Peter Psaltis. We have a suite of callers who are extremely capable and extremely good at what they do. When the time comes with Rabs we will assess it at the time and make the decision who is best to come in and join the team.”

NRL in 2021

Williams isn’t sure how much of the NRL’s 2021 season will be affected by Covid-19 but says the broadcaster is ready for any challenges thrown its way.

“That is something we got our heads around pretty quickly last year. Covid restrictions meant we had separate commentary and production teams in New South Wales and Queensland and if that is required again, we are ready to go. We are hoping that there aren’t any restrictions and everyone is safe so we can roll out our coverage again.”

Seven West Media release half year financial results for end of 2021

“This has been a very big year for Seven, with several major milestones achieved”

• Underlying Group EBIT of $152 million, up 29% year-on-year

• $170 million gross cost out on track with a further $30 million cash savings identified

• Operating expenses declined 18% to $480 million (excluding D&A)

• Net debt reduced 42% to $329 million, a decrease of $241 million vs 1H20; $150 million of debt retired post half year end

• The metropolitan free-to-air TV advertising market increased 0.6% during the half with a strong recovery in the December quarter (up 17%)

• Secured #1 position in broadcast and BVOD audience share with revenue share gains to follow

• Seven’s digital revenue grew 73% year-on-year, driven by BVOD market growth of 44% and eight percentage points in share gains during the half

Seven West Media has reported a statutory net profit after income tax of $116.4 million on group revenue of $644.2 million. Underlying net profit after tax (excluding significant items) was $86.6 million, an increase of 26.5 per cent on the previous year. Underlying EBITDA of $165.7 million and EBIT of $151.7 million increased 24.4 per cent and 29.4 per cent respectively versus the prior corresponding period.

Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, said: “This has been a very big year for Seven, with several major milestones achieved as we continue to re-position the business.

“Our new content strategy is firing, with a significantly improved ratings share and a more attractive demographic profile. We secured the leading share of audiences in broadcast and BVOD in the half. Our new tent poles are delivering on average 75 per cent more audience than the old content strategy. This will translate to higher revenue share in the coming 12 months.

“The market is showing positive signs of recovery with strong growth in the second quarter and forward bookings are looking positive for the third quarter.

“These strong operating performances have been delivered after a radical transformation of the cost base. The c$170 million gross cost out remains on track and we have identified another $30 million of cash savings.

“At WAN, the team has undertaken a significant transformation, accelerating digital growth, cutting operating costs and executing a strategy to stabilise earnings and generate cash.

“Improving Seven West Media’s balance sheet has been one of our company’s key objectives over the past 12 months.

“We have made significant progress in addressing this, with a 42 per cent reduction in net debt year on year – ahead of our plan at the beginning of the financial year. We have also retired $150 million of debt since the end of the half year.

“This significantly improved financial position has provided us greater optionality in our asset sale processes to ensure we maximise value for our shareholders,” he said.


The group reported revenue of $644.2 million (excluding share of associates), down 9.9 per cent on the prior corresponding period on a continuing operation basis, predominantly driven by lower revenue share in broadcast TV and a decline in third-party product productions and program sales.

Excluding significant items, total group costs (including depreciation and amortisation) for the six months to 26 December 2020 decreased 17.5 per cent to $493.7 million, driven by major transformation initiatives across the group and temporary net cost savings related to the impact of COVID-19.

Significant items of $41.5 million before tax primarily relate to the reversal of onerous contracts.

Outlook and priorities

• Television advertising markets remain buoyant after a solid Q2
• Targeting improved revenue share in FY22 on the back of stronger audience share in 1H21 and CY21
• Annual operating expenses in FY21 to be at the bottom end of analyst range of $1.03 billion to $1.05 billion (excluding net one-off temporary benefit of $17 million)
• Net debt to be sustainably under 2x by end of CY21, excluding one-off events
• One-off events costs in FY22 relating to Summer and Winter Olympics expected to be offset by associated revenue

Warburton said: “Seven is set up to benefit from the recovery underway in the advertising market. Our new content line-up is drawing larger audiences and, importantly, improving our demographic mix in prime time. We are determined to monetise those results in 2021 and are targeting a material increase in revenue share.

7plus was the #1 commercial free to air TV platform in 2020 and we’re targeting the #1 revenue share spot as well.

“The digital platforms enquiry is well underway, and we are pleased to see progress being made to ensure a fair return on our investment in news content.

“FY21 will see an incremental $30 million cash saving, further lowering our cash expenses and increasing leverage to the market recovery. We will continue to maintain a sharp focus on operating costs, including onerous sports contracts.

“We have addressed our content strategy and cost base to provide a path to debt reduction. While this continues, we believe that media consolidation and a focus on building a bigger and better business is still our major priority.

“We are positioning Seven West Media to win. This will ensure that we have the ability to lead market consolidation,” he said.

Senate presents its report into Media Bargaining Code laws

In 12 months, the code will be reviewed by the government.

The Australian Senate Economics Legislation Committee has officially presented its report into the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020, more commonly referred to as the Media Code laws.

The bill, which has seen strong arguments for and against it, aims to correct the imbalance of power between big tech companies and news organisations. It aims to do this by making tech companies that host news content on their sites pay the news outlets for their work among other concessions.

Google and Facebook have been vocal opponents of the drafted code, with Google going so far as to threaten to pull out of the Australian market. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been a supporter of the code.

Importantly, the report acknowledges that the media code laws are not the only way tech companies and news outlets can interact going forwards. 

“The framework contained in the bill recognises that agreements can be entered into outside of the code. Indeed, they are encouraged to be entered into outside of the code. Where a news media business reaches an agreement with a digital platform, it can agree to not bargain or pursue compulsory arbitration under the code,” the report states.

“If a news media business cannot reach an acceptable agreement with a digital platform outside of the code, it will have the option to trigger aspects of the code to address the bargaining power imbalance. This includes minimum standard obligations that digital platforms must meet for all news media businesses registered under the code, requirements for good faith bargaining over remuneration, and the application of final offer arbitration if bargaining between the parties does not succeed.”

In 12 months, the code will be reviewed by the government to “test the effectiveness of its operation.”

Overall, there are six main elements to the bill which the report says will address bargaining power imbalances between digital platform services and Australian news businesses. These are:

• Bargaining – which require the responsible digital platform corporations and registered news business corporations that have indicated an intention to bargain, to do so in good faith;

• Compulsory arbitration – where parties cannot come to a negotiated agreement about remuneration relating to the making available of covered news content on designated digital platform services, an arbitral panel will select between two final offers made by the bargaining parties;

• General requirements – which, among other things, require responsible digital platform corporations to provide registered news business corporations with advance notification of planned changes to an algorithm or internal practice that will have a significant effect on covered news content;

• Non-differentiation requirements – responsible digital platform corporations must not differentiate between the news businesses participating in the Code, or between participants and non-participants, because of matters that arise in relation to their participation or non-participation in the Code;

• Contracting out – the bill recognises that a digital platform corporation may reach a commercial bargain with a news business outside the Code about remuneration or other matters. It provides that parties who notify the ACCC of such agreements would not need to comply with the general requirements, bargaining and compulsory arbitration rules (as set out in the agreement); and

• Standard offers – digital platform corporations may make standard offers to news businesses, which are intended to reduce the time and cost associated with negotiations, particularly for smaller news businesses. If the parties notify the ACCC of an agreed standard offer, those parties do not need to comply with bargaining and compulsory arbitration (as set out in the agreement).

Nine, a vocal supporter of the code, is glad to see the report finalised.

“We welcome today’s Senate committee report which again highlights the need for action to level the playing field between Australian media and the global tech monopolies and ensure the ecosystem remains sustainable for those who create journalism,” said a Nine spokesperson.

“We want to thank the ACCC, the government, and the Parliament who have all now examined the issues at play exhaustively. Now is the time for action and for the media code to be legislated.”

Throughout the negotiations Google has been the biggest critic of the code, calling it unworkable. Lucinda Longcroft, Google’s Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for Australia & New Zealand has said that they will continue to push for amendments to the law.

“As we’ve said since the draft was released in July last year, we remain committed to a workable Code – the concerns that we, and others, have been raising consistently are about specific aspects of the Code. We’ve proposed reasonable amendments, including fair arbitration and that the Code apply to News Showcase, which is already paying publishers and supporting journalism in Australia, the UK, and around the world. We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a Code that works for everyone – publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users,” she said.

The full report can be read here.

media code google
Google responds to the Senate report into Media Bargaining Code laws

“We remain committed to a workable Code”

On Friday, the Australian Senate Economics Legislation Committee officially presented its report into the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020, more commonly referred to as the Media Code laws. Google has arguably been the most vocal critic of the Media Code bill, saying that it would “break” the way that search currently works, and threatening to pull out of the Australian market if the bill passed in a way they deemed unworkable.

Lucinda Longcroft, Google’s Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for Australia & NZ has said:

“As we’ve said since the draft was released in July last year, we remain committed to a workable Code–-the concerns that we, and others, have been raising consistently are about specific aspects of the Code. We’ve proposed reasonable amendments, including fair arbitration and that the Code apply to News Showcase, which is already paying publishers and supporting journalism in Australia, the UK and around the world. We look forward to engaging with policymakers through the parliamentary process to address our concerns and achieve a Code that works for everyone – publishers, digital platforms, and Australian businesses and users.”  

Google argues that they are not opposed to paying journalists for their work, amongst other issues laid out on the Media Code, but that the proposed law was not the way to go about it. Offering up their own product, Google News Showcase as a solution, they say that it would operate under an amended code and make sure journalists were fairly compensated for their work.

Google News Showcase already has a number of Australian news outlets subscribed to it, including The Canberra TimesThe Illawarra MercuryThe Saturday PaperCrikeyThe New Daily,  InDaily, and The Conversation. Google says they are “looking forward to bringing more Australian media partners on board in the coming weeks and months.”

Kerry Stokes and James Warburton
Google Showcase gets first big deal in Seven West Media

“This is a great outcome for Seven West Media and for Google.”

Seven West Media has announced it has entered into a long-term partnership with Google to provide news content to the Google Showcase product which launched in Australia in early February.

Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes said: “This is a great outcome for Seven West Media and for Google. Our new partnership recognises the value, credibility and trust of our leading news brands and entertainment content across Seven and West Australian Newspapers.

“I’d like to thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, with particular recognition of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who has been instrumental in the outcome of this ground-breaking agreement.

“Their outstanding leadership on the implementation of the proposed News Media Bargaining Code has resulted in us being able to conclude negotiations that result in fair payment and ensure our digital future,” he said.

“The negotiations with Google recognise the value of quality and original journalism throughout the country and, in particular, in regional areas.

“Google is to be congratulated for taking a leadership position in Australia and we believe their team is committed to the spirit of the proposed code.”

Mel Silva, Managing Director for Google Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are proud to support original, trusted, and quality journalism and are excited to welcome Seven West Media today as a major Australian publishing partner to join Google News Showcase.

“Seven West Media is one of Australia’s leading integrated media companies across broadcast, print and digital news and joins with 21 publications across a variety of titles as diverse as The West Australian, 7NEWS, PerthNow, the Albany Advertiser, the Geraldton Guardian and the Broome Advertiser.

“Our partnership with Seven West Media sees us make a substantial investment in the future of journalism not just across the metropolitan areas, but importantly in regional areas too where titles like the Kalgoorlie Miner and the Harvey-Waroona Reporter are at the heart of the local community,” she said.

“Showcase has been very well received since its launch in Australia a little over a week ago with our publisher partners receiving one million views of their content in just eight days, demonstrating that Showcase offers a constructive path forward for publishers, readers, and Google.”

Seven West Media managing director and CEO, James Warburton said: “This is another significant step in Seven West Media’s transformation journey,” he said.

“Google recognises the strength of our audiences through our engaging content and leading platforms. We are excited to be partnering with them as we pursue the next stage of our strategy.”

Top Photo: Kerry Stokes and James Warburton

abc commissioning guidelines
ABC launches new diversity and inclusion commissioning guidelines

The principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ is key.

The ABC has released new commissioning guidelines to ensure more diverse faces, voices, cultures, and stories are reflected and represented on Australian screens.

The ABC’s Diversity and Inclusion Commissioning Guidelines – Screen Content will deliver require production companies to provide greater access and opportunity to under-represented people and perspectives – on and off screen – including gender diversity, Indigenous Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people living with a disability, and the LGBTQI+ community.

The guidelines build on the ABC’s commitment under its Charter to reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community, as exemplified by programs such as Total ControlLove on the Spectrum, and First Day. The guidelines, which cover content commissioned across genres such as drama, comedy, children’s, factual, and entertainment programs, will give a platform to different voices, subjects, and talent.  

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said: “Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do at the ABC. As a public broadcaster, we must reflect the audience we are serving and a broad range of perspectives, people and stories makes us stronger, more creative, and better able to engage with and reflect the Australian community.

“While we already prioritise diversity and inclusion at the ABC, this is the first time we have prescribed guidelines to track progress towards our goal of looking and sounding like contemporary Australia. We’ve already taken steps in this direction but we need to do more to better reflect the wonderful diversity of this nation in an authentic way.

“The ABC’s new guidelines, alongside industry-wide initiatives through screen agencies and the Screen Diversity Inclusion Network, will help bring new voices, cultures, and perspectives to audiences. We will work with our production partners to make the industry a more inclusive workspace, by opening the doors to diverse creative talent, on and off screen.”

The principle of ‘nothing about us without us’ is key, ensuring that all productions about a specific diverse community or subject must include at least one person who is representative of that community within the core creative team.

Sony Foundation Australia completes funding of bushfire devastated communities

Fundraising total reaches $770,000 to help young people across impacted communities.

On the eve of the one year anniversary of the historic Fire Fight Australia concert, Sony Foundation Australia has announced that $770,000 has been donated to beneficiaries to help young people in five bushfire devastated communities following the 2019/2020 summer bushfire season.

A major grant of $450,000 from Fire Fight Australia has been donated to BackTrack Youth Works who are partnering with Sony Foundation Australia to build purpose-built youth sanctuaries from shipping containers in the communities of Tenterfield and Macksville, New South Wales. BackTrack will also deliver a youth resilience program that will include bushfire recovery work and training in these regional towns.

An additional $200,000 from Fire Fight Australia was donated to the Foundation for Regional & Rural Renewal for projects in Mallacoota, Victoria, and Ulladulla, New South Wales that provide a place for young people to contribute to their community, whilst having access to tailored models of support to recover from the trauma of the bushfire disaster.

PCYC South Coast have received $60,000 for the fit-out of a Wellbeing Youth Hub for youth-focused services and programs in Eden, New South Wales.

Musicians Making A Difference also received $60,000 for a bushfire resilience tour of their leading music therapy workshops in Mallacoota, Eden, Ulladulla, Tenterfield and Macksville.

“With a lack of social activities, employment opportunities and places to call their own, young people are often left behind in the recovery process,” said Sophie Ryan, CEO of Sony Foundation Australia. “Sony Foundation has a track record of creating safe and supportive spaces for youth facing some of the toughest adversity. These are places where youth can go, make positive social networks and build resilience. It is the basics for what every young Australian should have so they can have the best start in life.”

Bernie Shakeshaft, Founder and CEO of BackTrack, said: “Our youth development charity has been working with young people in regional areas who have faced tough times for 15 years, but we have never seen anything like this. We knew that following the Black Summer fires there would be many young people hurting. Bringing the BackTrack program to young people in these areas can give them a sense of purpose and hope, by enabling them to be a part of the recovery solution, both for themselves and the community.”

Busby Marou

$530,000 of the total funds came from sales of the Sony Music Entertainment Australia released Artists Unite for Fire Fight Australia: Concert for National Bushfire Relief charity album that debuted at #1 on the ARIA albums chart and featured iconic performances from local and global artists who performed at the concert in Sydney on 16 February 2020. Reuben Styles from Sony Music artist Peking Duk (who performed at Fire Fight Australia) said, “After the TV crews left, we wanted to make sure we were still supporting young people so terribly affected by the bushfires.” Adam Hyde from Peking Duk added: “It is incredible to think that music has the power to inspire such generosity to fund youth hubs that will last long after the ash is gone.”

Watch a message from Sony Foundation and Fire Fight Australia artists



See also: Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief album has now raised over $500,000

radio mobile phone
Number of Australians listening to radio on their mobile phones up 25%

Some 9% of listeners tuned in via a PC or tablet, and 7% used a smart speaker.

The commercial radio industry has reported a strong year on year increase in the number of Australians listening to radio on their mobile phones.

Nearly 2.5 million people, or 17% of the population in the five metro markets, listened to live and local radio via their phones at some point each week in the December quarter, industry body Commercial Radio Australia said.

The number of listeners tuning in via mobile was up 25% compared to the same period a year ago. There were also increases in listeners tuning in via PCs and tablets (up 27% to 1.2 million) and smart speakers (up 58% to 1.04 million).

“The data is good news for the industry as it means more Australians are discovering that they can enjoy radio at any time of the day wherever they are across a range of devices and platforms from traditional broadcast to radio apps on smart phones,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer of CRA.

“Broadcast radio remains the core and most important platform for the foreseeable future, but we are seeing some exciting growth in digital and streaming audiences as a result of investments and partnerships in these areas to make radio even more accessible across multiple devices,” Ms Warner said.

The data was derived from an average of the last three GfK radio audience measurement surveys conducted in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The research found that while broadcast radio continued to be the most common way to access radio, with 83% of people tuning in via AM/FM and 27% via DAB+ digital radio, mobile phones are the third most popular device used to listen to radio.  

Some 9% of listeners tuned in via a PC or tablet, and 7% used a smart speaker. The strong growth of 58% in the number of Australians listening via smart speakers was off a smaller base of 662,000 people in 2019.

laura boatman
Zenith appoints Laura Boatman as Head of Digital for Sydney office

Boatman will report to the agency’s National Head of Digital & Data, Joshua Lee.

Zenith Sydney today announced the appointment of Laura Boatman to the role of Head of Digital, charged with providing strategic leadership in product development and process; while contributing to the continued growth and success of the agency’s digital practice.

Boatman will commence in her new role later this month, and will report into the agency’s National Head of Digital & Data, Joshua Lee

On Boatman’s addition to the team, Lee said: “I’m excited about the wealth of experience and knowledge Laura will bring to our digital offering, as our clients embark on another transformational year. I will also be working hand-in-hand with Laura and our other market digital leads to ensure we continue to promote a culture of performance and innovation across the entire digital spectrum.”

Jonny Cordony, General Manager, Zenith Sydney added: “We are thrilled to welcome Laura who is a true leader and experienced professional. With Laura at the helm, our digital capabilities in Sydney are in great hands.” 

Boatman moves from her position as Group Digital & Technology Director at Vizeum. “I’m really excited to be joining such an inspiring and passionate team at Zenith. I’m looking forward to driving the digital agenda and leading the Sydney team to push boundaries to produce best-in-market work for our clients,” Boatman said.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Zenith was expanding its eight-year long relationship with SBS, being appointed by the station to handle its performance media account following a competitive pitch. Zenith will focus on leveraging the broadcaster’s first party data and provide martec support. 

Zenith currently holds SBS’ media strategy, planning and buying account, and will take on the new account as of April 1, 2021, with the scope of work encompassing the SBS On Demand platform, SBS News and SBS Audio Language Content, as well as supporting key campaigns. 

dancing with the stars all stars
Seven announces Ada Nicodemou as first Dancing With The Stars: All Stars contestant

The show is set to return to its original home this year, last airing on Channel Seven five years ago.

Home and Away star Ada Nicodemou is returning to the ballroom with her original dance partner Aric Yegudkin when Seven premieres Dancing With The Stars: All Stars.

Ada and Aric were Season 3 champions in 2005, defeating Chris Bath and Dicko. They also went on to claim the “Champion of Champions” title that year in a friendly face off against Season 2 champions Tom Williams and Kym Johnson

The show is set to return to its original home this year, last airing on Channel Seven five years ago. Seven hosted the popular show from 2004 through to 2016, before 10 announced they would run a revived version of the show in 2019 hosted by Grant Denyer and Amanda Keller.

10 ran two seasons of the show but in October 2020 they announced the revived series would not return in 2021.

In December 2020, Seven announced that they had re-gained the rights to the Dancing With The Stars format and that they would be bringing the show back with an All-Stars edition this year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this series of the show won’t be filmed live.

“Dancing With The Stars is one of the most successful television formats in the world,” said Seven’s programming director, Angus Ross.

“It was a massive hit for us across 15 seasons and we are delighted to welcome it home.”

Ada is one of five former Dancing With The Stars champions rumoured to be taking part in the new season which sees fan favourites quick-stepping back onto the dancefloor for a second shot at the coveted mirrorball trophy. 

The other rumoured contestants for the All Stars series are Chris HemsworthNikki WebsterKerri-Anne Kennerley, and Pauline Hanson. Whilst not confirmed, it is expected that more cast announcements will be made over the coming weeks in the lead up to the show.

ARIA Chart February 15, 2021: Foo Fighters land 8th #1 album

The Weeknd’s Super Bowl chart bump, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Kate Ceberano debut top 10.

ARIA Chart Singles

Most years the ARIA Singles Chart starts with a chart domination and this year it is Olivia Rodrigo with Drivers License. The American singer-songwriter from California tops the chart for a fifth consecutive week. Disney Channel star Rodrigo stormed the Australian and US charts in early January, debuting at #1 on both, and hasn’t moved from top spot since in both countries and many others now too.

New to the top 10 this week is Save Your Tears from The Weeknd after five weeks on the chart. A climb of 11 places from #18 comes after his memorable halftime show at the Super Bowl last week. The Weeknd has now had three singles from his album After Hours land in the top 10, including Blinding Lights which was dominating the chart this time last year. Incredibly the song still remains at #13 on the chart after 63 weeks. That song was also ARIA’s #1 single on its 2020 chart.

Former #1 songs seem to have a long life on the ARIA Chart, there are currently nine former #1s still in the top 50. The longest chart run from that exclusive club is Tones and I’s Dance Monkey, currently #40 after 88 weeks.

The highest and only new entry on the chart belongs to Up from Cardi B at #20. The follow-up to her #1 single WAP (August 2020) is the second single from her forthcoming second album. WAP spent six weeks at #1 in 2020 and is still charting at #28.

ARIA Chart Albums

Dave Grohl’s recent virtual media tour has helped secure a top spot for the new album from Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight. Securing a debut #1 is nothing unusual though for the rock band – the 10th album from the band is their eighth to lead the chart, the last seven being consecutive #1s. Just last month the band played during the celebration event following the inauguration of new US President Joe Biden with another blistering performance of Times Like These. The Foo Fighters this week equal an album chart record also held by U2Taylor Swift and Australia’s own The 12th Man. The only artist to secure more consecutive #1 albums is Eminem with nine.

In a battle of the superstars on the chart this week, the new album from The Weeknd had to settle for second spot. The compilation album features tracks from The Weeknd’s four #1 albums in addition to additional material. The album is forecast to land at #1 in the US this week too.

Also new to the top 10 this week is the first appearance in the ARIA top 10 from the wonderfully named Perth rockers Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. The chart success comes for their fourth album Shyga! The Sunlight Mound.

The fourth new album to debut in the top 10 this week is from Kate Ceberano with her 28th album. Sweet Inspiration debuts at #5 and is the Aussie superstar’s first time in the top five since Nine Lime Avenue in 2007 which peaked at #4. The new album is her first solo album since Kensal Road in 2013 which peaked at #23. Ceberano was last in the top 10 in May 2008 with So Much Beauty which peaked at #9. The media tour included revealing interviews on both Sunrise and 2GB amongst others last week. Buyers of the album online at Sanity and JB Hi-Fi had the chance of winning a virtual Kate Ceberano concert.

2021 ARIA Chart Toppers

January 4 24Goldn Mood
January 11 24Goldn Mood
January 18 Olivia Rodrigo Drivers Licence
January 25 Olivia Rodrigo Drivers Licence
February 1 Olivia Rodrigo Drivers Licence
February 8 Olivia Rodrigo Drivers Licence
February 15 Olivia Rodrigo Drivers Licence

January 4 Taylor Swift Evermore
January 11 Taylor Swift Evermore
January 18 Barry Gibb Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook
January 25 Illy The Space Between
February 1 Bluey Bluey The Album
February 8 The Kid Laroi Fuck Love (Savage)
February 15 Foo Fighters Medicine at Midnight

See also: ARIA and PPCA appoint Network 10’s Annabelle Herd as new Chief Executive

amazing race
TV Ratings Survey: Sunday Week 8

By Trent Thomas

• Nine wins the night as Djoker guts out win in Aus Open
• Amazing Race top metro non-news show with new season high
• Quoll Farm on ABC features little creature but big ratings

Primetime News
Seven News 988,000
Nine News 916,000
ABC News 702,000
10 News First 343,000 (5pm) /262,000 (6pm)
SBS World News 169,000

Daily current affairs
Insiders 421,000
The Project 272,000 (6:30 pm)/ 475,000 (7pm)

Breakfast TV
Sunrise 230,000
Today 207,000
Weekend Breakfast 205,000

Nine won the night off the back of the Australian open with a primary share of 21.0% and a network share of 28.9%. The top matches last night saw Simona Halep defeating Iga Swiatek in front of an average audience of 468,000, and Novak Djokovic defeating Milos Raonic in front of 319,000 average viewers.

Simona Halep

On Seven Holey Moley had 510,000 which was down on last Sunday’s 629,000 viewers. In the episode, heavy machine operator and labourer Tom Kunkel put his beloved Yeppoon on the map after snatching victory in a tense 6-foot putt off. 

Tom Kunkel

Holey Moley was followed by the film Shooter with 310,000.

10’s Amazing Race Australia was the top metro non-news show for the night with 564,000 tuning in for another season high for the show beating the 558,000 from last Monday night and was up on the 541,000 from last Sunday.

The Stowaways

In the seventh leg of The Amazing Race Australia, the teams ventured into the heart of the country, the Northern Territory. And welcomed a new team in the Stowaways, MJ and Chelsea and bid farewell to The Besties, Sefa and Jess.

10 Bold was the #1 multichannel with its top shows being repeats of NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.

On the ABC Quoll Farm had 530,000 viewers tune in for the true story of a family of quolls living on an abandoned farm in Tasmania and one man’s devotion to save them. Quoll Farm was followed by Harrow with 490,000 viewers.

WeeK 7-8: Friday-Sunday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 11.9% 7 14.5% 9 32.7% 10  7.1% SBS One 4.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 2.2% 7TWO 2.5% GO! 2.7% 10 Bold 3.6% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.3% 7mate 2.7% GEM 1.6% 10 Peach 2.2% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 2.9% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 1.6% 10 Shake 0.6% NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 1.3%
TOTAL 17.3%   21.6%   39.6%   13.5%   8.0%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 15.0% 7 17.1% 9 26.5% 10  4.7% SBS One 3.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 2.2% 7TWO 3.1% GO! 3.1% 10 Bold 3.9% VICELAND 0.8%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 2.7% GEM 2.8% 10 Peach 2.4% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix 2.9% 9Life 1.9% 10 Shake 0.8% NITV 0.3%
        9Rush 1.5%     SBS World Movies 1.6%
TOTAL 19.5%   25.8%   35.8%   11.9%   6.9%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 13.3% 7 18.3% 9 21.0% 10  12.8% SBS One 5.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 1.8% 7TWO 1.9% GO! 2.3% 10 Bold 4.1% VICELAND 0.8%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 4.0% GEM 2.3% 10 Peach 2.2% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix 2.5% 9Life 2.0% 10 Shake 0.4% NITV 0.2%
        9Rush 1.3%     SBS World Movies 0.6%
TOTAL 17.5%   26.7%   28.9%   19.6%   7.4%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 14.2% 7 21.4% 9 15.3% WIN 10.8% SBS One 4.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 1.9% 7TWO 3.1% GO! 3.0% WIN Bold 5.4% VICELAND 0.8%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 3.5% GEM 2.7% WIN Peach 3.1% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 2.2% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.7% 9Life 2.6% Sky News  on WIN 1.4% NITV 0.5%
                SBS Movies 0.5%
TOTAL 19.0%   29.7%   23.6%   20.8%   7.4%


88.2% 11.8.%
Sunday FTA
  1. Seven News   Seven   988,000
  2. Nine News Sunday  Nine  916,000
  3. ABC News Sunday  ABC TV  702,000
  4. The Amazing Race Australia Sun   10  564,000
  5. Quoll Farm  ABC TV  530,000
  6. 2021 Australian Open D7 -Night Session 2  Nine  518,000
  7. Holey Moley Australia   Seven   510,000
  8. Harrow  ABC TV  490,000
  9. The Sunday Project 7pm   10  475,000
  10. 2021 Australian Open D7 -Night  Nine  466,000
  11. 2021 Australian Open D7 -Night Pre Match  Nine  346,000
  12. 10 News First Sun   10  343,000
  13. 2021 Australian Open D7 -Day  Nine  333,000
  14. 2021 Australian Open D7 -Late  Nine  319,000
  15. M- Shooter  Seven   310,000
  16. Silent Witness ABC TV  291,000
  17. Insiders  ABC TV  282,000
  18. The Sunday Project 6.30pm   10  272,000
  19. 10 News First Sun 6pm   10  262,000
  20. FBI: Most Wanted   10  245,000
All People Rating

Friday Top Ten

  1. 2021 Australian Open D5 -Night Session 2  Nine  1,098,000
  2. 2021 Australian Open D5 -Night  Nine  868,000
  3. Seven News  Seven   865,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30  Seven   826,000
  5. Nine News  Nine  772,000
  6. Nine News 6:30  Nine  749,000
  7. ABC News  ABC TV  572,000
  8. 2021 Australian Open D5 -Late  Nine  518,000
  9. Vera (R)  ABC TV  461,000
  10. Gardening Australia  ABC TV  424,000


Saturday Top Ten

  1. Nine News Saturday  Nine  866,000
  2. Seven News   Seven   836,000
  3. 2021 Australian Open D6 -Night  Nine  764,000
  4. ABC News-Sa  ABC TV  620,000
  5. 2021 Australian Open D6 -Night Session 2  Nine  592,000
  6. Death In Paradise  ABC TV  572,000
  7. Call The Midwife  ABC TV  435,000
  8. 2021 Australian Open D6 -Night Pre Match  Nine  430,000
  9. M- Thor  Seven   348,000
  10. 2021 Australian Open D6 -Late  Nine  285,000
Sunday Multichannel 
  1. Bluey  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 182,000
  2. NCIS Ep 2 (R)  10 Bold  161,000
  3. NCIS (R)  10 Bold  158,000
  4. Close Of Business-Pm  ABC NEWS  148,000
  5. Insiders  ABC NEWS  139,000
  6. ABC News  ABC NEWS  133,000
  7. M- Thor: The Dark World (R)  7mate  121,000
  8. Kangaroo Beach  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 119,000
  9. Noddy Toyland Detective  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 118,000
  10. Weekend Breakfast: 10am  ABC NEWS  115,000
  11. Offsiders  ABC NEWS  112,000
  12. NCIS: Los Angeles (R)  10 Bold  110,000
  13. Floogals  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 109,000
  14. Peppa Pig  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 108,000
  15. Play School  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 102,000
  16. Bananas In Pyjamas  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 98,000
  17. M- Captain America: The Winter Soldier  7mate 97,000
  18. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R)  10 Bold  97,000
  19. Bluey  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 95,000
  20. ABC News  ABC NEWS  87,000
Sunday STV
  1. Outsiders  Sky News Live  85,000
  2. Outsiders  Sky News Live  84,000
  3. Paul Murray Live  Sky News Live  63,000
  4. Live: AFLW: Richmond V Collingwood  FOX FOOTY  43,000
  5. Live: Ind V Eng 2nd Test Day 2  FOX CRICKET  43,000
  6. Chris Smith Tonight  Sky News Live  39,000
  7. Business Weekend  Sky News Live  39,000
  8. Live: Ind V Eng 2nd Test Day 2  FOX CRICKET  38,000
  9. Golf: Golfbarons  FOX SPORTS 503  38,000
  10. In My View  Sky News Live  35,000
  11. Live: Sailing: America’s Cup  FOX SPORTS 503  34,000
  12. Live: AFLW: Adelaide V Fremantle  FOX FOOTY  32,000
  13. Paw Patrol  Nick Jr.  31,000
  14. Sunday Agenda  Sky News Live  30,000
  15. Selling Houses Australia  Lifestyle Channel 29,000
  16. NCIS  FOX Crime  29,000
  17. Weekend Live  Sky News Live  29,000
  18. Border Security: America’s Front Line  FOX8  28,000
  19. Cricket Legends: Brad Haddin  FOX CRICKET  27,000
  20. Weekend Live  Sky News Live  27,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2021. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Media Code

Senate committee finds media code should become law

The Morrison government will present its landmark news media bargaining code to parliament on Monday, following a three-year campaign to rein in the unregulated market practices of the big tech companies, reports News Corp’s James Madden and Geoff Chambers.

A Senate committee that ­reviewed the government’s mandatory media code has recommended the bill be passed, with Labor offering in-principle support. The bill in its current form would require the big tech companies, namely Google and Facebook, to compensate news media publishers for their content when it is displayed on their platforms.

The Weekend Australian ­understands the Morrison government will seek to push its legislation through the lower house on Monday. Debate on the bill could begin in the Senate as early as Tuesday, with the government hoping to have the code finally enshrined in law within a fortnight.

[Read More]

Federal government concession sends tech giants scrambling

The two big US technology giants may not be required to pay media companies for articles that appear in their two most popular services – Google search and Facebook newsfeed – if they convince them to sign up to their news products, under a concession to the proposed laws being considered by the federal government, reports SMH’Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged the tech giants to strike deals with news publishers outside of the media bargaining code in a series of high-level talks with Google and Facebook over the last two weeks. The government also said it was prepared to allow the tech giants not to pay media companies for news stories people read after searching on Google or scrolling through Facebook’s main newsfeed.

Searching on Google and scrolling through a personal Facebook newsfeed are two main ways people find news stories online. Potentially allowing the two technology giants to exempt these services from the bargaining code would represent a major concession from the government. Large media companies such as Guardian Australia, News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) have lobbied to include Google search and Facebook’s newsfeed in any negotiations over how the tech companies should pay for the news that appears on their sites.

[Read More]

Google’s Silva still in charge

Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Melanie Silva says she is working while on maternity leave to ensure the news media bargaining code works for the search behemoth, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Silva gave birth to a son last month, the day after she gave evidence in the Senate hearing into the code during which she laid down the threat that Google would withdraw search if the code moved forward in its current format.

“While I’m currently on maternity leave, getting to a workable code is our number-one priority, so I’m still working on this,” she said in a statement.

“There’s also an incredible team who has been supporting this along the journey and Caroline Rainsford, our Google New Zealand country head, has stepped in as well until I return and Rhys Williams is running our ads business.”

Singapore-based Kate Beddoe, Google head of news, web & publishing product partnerships, APAC, is leading negotiations with news publishers.

[Read More]

Business of Media

AAP flying into fresh financial turbulence

Regional media owner Antony Catalano says the embattled national newswire AAP is “doomed” and is reconsidering his contract, just weeks after the end of a non-compete period that prevented News Corp Australia from poaching AAP’s clients, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

The AAP newswire, which nearly collapsed last February because it was losing large amounts of money and lost the support of its shareholders, is trying to sign new deals with media companies and is asking the government for an annual payment to shore-up funding.

“It’s doomed because it was struggling financially when it was owned and backed by the major media players and it has no hope of survival without them,” Catalano said. “Consequently, we have to look at other options including News Corp, which is now out of its non-compete, and any other suitable alternative.”

News Corp launched its own newswire, which provides shared news articles for News Corp mastheads such as The AustralianThe Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun. Some of AAP’s clients approached News Corp when the launch was announced but they were prevented from having discussions for six months because of a non-compete undertaking made during the sale of the newswire. News Corp has not pursued prospective clients such as Daily Mail AustraliaSolstice MediaSeven or ACM since the non-compete was lifted.

A loss of any large contract to News Corp would be damaging for AAP, which is trying to secure long-term funding from the federal government. Industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions were confidential, also indicated AAP was trying to offer Nine some content, a sign that it is doing everything it can to survive.

[Read More]

Angela Condous leaves a legacy of $20m at Advertiser Sunday Mail Foundation

In 1993, Rupert Murdoch and Peter Wylie began a search for a suitable candidate to act as patron of what was to become one of South Australia’s biggest charity fundraising bodies, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

The search didn’t last long. The first phone call made by Wylie – who was managing director of the state’s Advertiser Newspapers at the time – was to Angela Condous, who had just completed a six-year term as the lady mayoress of Adelaide.

More than a quarter of a century – and $20m – later, Condous has stepped down from her role as full-time patron of the Advertiser Sunday Mail Foundation, having presided over hundreds of charity events.

[Read More]

News Brands

Senator David Van calls for independent review of ABC complaints

An independent complaints organisation should be set-up to handle complaints against the ABC amid growing concerns about the public broadcaster’s political bias, according to a Liberal senator, reports News Corp’s Lilly Vitorovich.

David Van, who sparred with ABC managing director David Anderson during Senate Estimates in November over ABC journalist Virginia Trioli’s incorrect claim that the Morrison government had cut the public broadcaster’s $1 billion-plus annual budget, wants ABC journalists to be held more accountable.

“I believe an independent complaints body — separate to the ABC — would give a better perception of fairness than the ABC handling complaints themselves,” he told The Australian. The ­Liberal senator from Victoria says ABC journalists are always questioning how the police, Australian Defence Force or any public organisation can investigate themselves, and the same applies to them.

“I think there just needs to be a bit more examination of both editorial and journalistic standards,” Senator Van said, adding that he raised the issue with Anderson during a meeting in Melbourne on Friday. “There needs to be a better way to do complaint handling, that is both independent and perceived to be independent.”

[Read More]

Laura Tingle’s tweet trolling Scott Morrison and an ABC crackdown

The reverberations of last October’s headline-making late-night foray by Laura Tingle on to Twitter, in which she personally trolled Scott Morrison for “government ideological bastardry”, are still being felt, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

On Friday afternoon, ABC managing director David Anderson sent out an all-staff email, and his point couldn’t be clearer: from now on, he will be enforcing social media rules against staff who bring the public broadcaster into “disrepute” with rogue Twitter posts.

Anderson’s email to all ABC staff on Friday pointedly noted: “Any breach of ABC policies, guidelines and procedures, including the ABC Code of Conduct and the Guidelines for Personal Use of Social Media … may lead to disciplinary action, including possible termination of employment.”

He also noted that one of the ABC’s existing rules about ­social media was: “Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute.”

[Read More]

Peter FitzSimons pulls Stan Grant’s invitation

There’s good news for anyone who has ever wanted to go to the Australia Day/Invasion Day/Independence Day bash hosted by Peter FitzSimons and Lisa Wilkinson. A couple of spots on the guest list are up for grabs reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

Stan Grant’s satire of the bash in his chapter of The Australian’s serialised summer novel — Oh Matilda: Who Bloody Killed Her? — has put Grant and his partner, fellow ABC presenter Tracey Holmes, without a golden ticket.

The Bandanna Man himself has publicly confirmed this on Sunday, revealing the tight guest list for their annual Sydney harbourside party will be revised next year.

“As to those people who have contacted me asking why they weren’t invited to the annual party, fear not. A couple of vacancies have recently opened up,” he wrote in column on Sunday.

[Read More]

Political trio to lead nation’s best coverage

Simon Benson, has been ­appointed political editor of The Australian reports the outlet.

Political analyst, Dennis Shanahan, will take on a broader role as national editor, writing across federal and state politics and public policy. The Australian has also appointed former Canberra bureau chief Geoff Chambers as its chief political correspondent.

Editor-in-Chief Christopher Dore said the trio would lead the most insightful political coverage in the nation when access to trusted information was critical to readers’ lives.

[Read More]


Today show stands down producer Tom Nicol after rape charge

Today show staffer Tom Nicol has been benched “indefinitely”, as the baby-faced TV exec stands accused of sexually assaulting a young woman, believed to have been known to him, a fortnight ago, reports News Corp’s Amy Harris.

The former Today chief-of-staff faced court on Wednesday in the wake of sordid accusations, which he strongly denied, also involving a late-night drinking session and illicit drugs, according to police.

A Nine spokeswoman on Friday confirmed the 32-year-old, who is still listed on his LinkedIn page as Today’s supervising producer, has been stood down following his arrest.

[Read More]

Logie Awards: TVs night of nights making a big comeback

The Logies, Australian television’s most enduring and celebrated awards, are on track to return this year after the COVID-19 crisis saw them cancelled in 2020, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Not only was the famous gala ceremony scuttled last year, the actual awards themselves were shelved meaning that 2019 Gold Logie winner Tom Gleeson is still Australia’s current gold statuette holder.

After the void of 2020, the institution that is the Logies is quietly getting back up to speed with planning underway on exactly what form the event will take this year.

In recent weeks TV networks have been busily submitting stars and show bios to be considered for inclusion in the voting shortlist for each of the Logie categories.

While no date for the awards has yet been confirmed, and it is still to be determined if there will be a gala celebrity studded event for the announcement of the winners, what is clear is that unlike last year the gongs will be handed out and the stars of the small screen will be celebrated.

[Read More]


NRL eyes new TV partner

The NRL is about to enter talks with free-to-air networks to chase a new TV deal that may not involve Channel 9 but could deliver the game a $750 million windfall from the end of next season, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

Nine negotiated a cut-price broadcast deal midway through last season at the height of the COVID pandemic when there was concern about the viability of media companies and the future of all sporting rights around the world.

Nine’s deal is up at the end of next season and the NRL can’t just sit back and wait. They have locked in a seven-year agreement with Fox Sports but need certainty around a free-to-air arrangement for three weekly games, the grand final and the showpiece State of Origin series.

Nine is in a senior management transition stage with chief executive Hugh Marks standing down and the board still interviewing several candidates to replace him.

The network had a rich history in cricket broadcasting but pulled the pin two years ago. There are fears they could so the same with rugby league to save money.

[Read More]

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