By James Manning
New Outback Opal Hunters: Meet The Bishop, see $1m+ record opal haul.
The last time Mediaweek spoke to Discovery’s Darren Chau it was during the middle of Covid-19 lockdowns in May 2020. At the time Discovery’s Australia and New Zealand head of content, production and channels was juggling the growing portfolio of programming and wondering how many episodes of the various shows he would be able to deliver.
In a new Mediaweek podcast, Chau updated us: “We went into last year hoping to have our biggest year of local production and despite the pandemic, we kept every single hour of filming. Hats off to all our production partners in setting up safe workplaces inside safe production bubbles.”
Chau oversees the Discovery pay TV brands across Australia and New Zealand, plus the FTA channel in Australia, 9Rush, a JV with Nine that was launched in April 2020. “We are very happy with how that channel is tracking. It delivers to men and very quickly hit its targets.”
Discovery channels are available in Australia on Foxtel and in 2020 Discovery expanded its presence on Fetch with additional channels – Animal Planet, the new Investigation Discovery [ID] and Turbo.
“In New Zealand, we have expanded significantly after initially acquiring Top TV just over a year ago who run HGTV and Choice TV. Just before Christmas we completed the acquisition of MediaWorks.
“We now reach many more people across all screens. We were initially just a pay TV business, but in the last year have expanded and diversified.”
Driving many hours on the suite of channels is content produced in Australia, programming that has expanded 10-fold in the past five years.
The programs need to not just work in Australia and New Zealand, but to also attract an audience globally. The two most-successful properties to come out of Australia are Aussie Gold Hunters and Outback Opal Hunters which have aired in more than 100 countries.
“In the past year both series have screened on Discovery in the US on the #1 cable channel for men. They screen both shows on their #1 night of the week.”
The global premiere of Outback Opal Hunters on February 4 is the sixth season of the Prospero Productions series. The lead-in is the final episode of the latest series of Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail, a Canadian production which filmed the season in Australia.
“The new season of Outback Opal Hunters will be the best season yet,” said Chau. “We have some amazing new characters joining the series. Prospero is second-to-none at being to discover amazing, engaging and unique characters. In the new series, we have The Bishop, who is actually a bishop, an opal miner and someone who has been training in martial arts for about two decades and volunteers his services as the bouncer in the local pub.
“This series also features the most valuable piece of opal found to-date. It is worth over $120,000. Then, even bigger than that, is the single-biggest haul ever. I won’t tell you which team and the exact value, but I can tell you the haul totalled over $1m. It’s a very dangerous job they do, but every now and then you can be made a millionaire overnight.”
Chau emphasised the $1m find was the biggest haul ever across all of Discovery’s strike-it-rich shows. “We have reached $1m twice before, but that was an accumulated total across an entire season for teams. This is a single find.”
Season 5 of Outback Opal Hunters launched just last October with eight episodes, and season six is made up of 12 episodes. When it wraps around the end of April it will be time for more of Aussie Gold Hunters.
Joining the portfolio of Discovery’s Australian programming is Sydney Harbour Force which is from WTFN. The series has been in production for some time, following Harbour Police around the iconic Sydney waterway. This new series ensures that Discovery remains easily the biggest international commissioner of Australian programming. The program is a joint commission with Discovery UK.
“I have been looking for a policing series for a few years. We have come close, and we nearly commissioned one last year and we had one in development for some time but it didn’t quite work out. We have been filming across Christmas and up to Australia Day and we look forward to sharing some of those stories later in the year.”
Also in the podcast, Chau discusses worldwide interest in Australia programming and reveals how the head of content works with his production partners across the various programs.
He also previews the mammoth new season of Aussie Gold Hunters, a series of 20 episodes. Chau also updates the ratings success of the program.
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A surge in late Digital bookings delivered a 2% increase in year-on-year ad spend.
Standard Media Index (SMI) has found that Australia’s media agency market has continued its solid recovery from the COVID-induced ad recession in December, with a surge in late Digital bookings delivering a 2% increase in year-on-year ad spend.
Digital’s 15.9% increase in ad spend also resulted in a significant first with the size of Digital’s monthly national marketer revenues overtaking that achieved by television for the first time in a month, as Digital’s bookings soared to a record $223 million.
And that was despite another strong month for Television which reported an 11% increase in Agency ad spend to now be reporting revenue growth of 15.3% for the December quarter and a decline of only 1.2% for the December half.
SMI AU/NZ Managing Director Jane Ractliffe said this was now the third consecutive month of year-on-year growth for the Australian market, which in turn builds confidence that this advertising recovery is here to stay.
“There’s now no doubt that the market has moved strongly beyond the COVID ad recession and is quickly rebuilding,” she said.
“The evidence is clear as total ad spend for the December quarter is now up 5.4% and we can see that well more than half of all the SMI product categories grew their media investment in this period. And our Forward Pacings data – which tracks confirmed future ad bookings – shows ongoing growth across numerous categories.’’
The large jump in Digital ad spend in December was mostly due to the market’s ongoing attraction to Social Media sites with the sector now the Digital media’s second largest after Search.
“In the past six months we’ve seen increasing demand for Social Media sites as Facebook continues to grow and new entrants such as TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat also benefit from the wave of revenues flowing to this sector,” Ractliffe said.
“In the December quarter most of these groups are averaging growth of more than 25%, and the sheer weight of revenue moving to Social Media in the second half has meant its emerged as one of the very few media sectors to now be reporting growth over this tough calendar year.”
The stronger December and December quarter results have seen the Australian ad market’s decline over the second half period fall to 7.2% and over the full CY2020 year to 15% from CY2019.
However, that decline still translates into a $1.1 billion fall in the amount of advertising inventory sold in Australia in the year, with the largest contributors to the decline being the Auto Brand (- $226.6 million) and Travel (-$241 million) product categories.
On the positive side, the product categories reporting higher CY2020 ad spend include Food/Produce/Dairy (+6%), Domestic Banks (+2.9%) and Government (+3.1%).
“There’s no denying the fact the COVID pandemic coming so soon after Australia’s devastating bushfires created a perfect storm for our advertising market and an advertising recession that was completely unexpected,’’ she said.
“But we can see in SMI’s global data that the same trend was seen in all sophisticated media agency markets, with an average 32% second quarter advertising decline across Australia, NZ, the US, UK, and Canada. And it’s great to see most markets are now also reporting December quarter growth with the US ad spend +6%, NZ +5%, and the UK +3% with only Canada still reporting declines (- 6%).
“So the recovery is not just happening in Australia but is increasingly widespread as marketers adjust to a new ‘COVID-normal’ consumer environment.”
Independent media agency Pivotus has announced four new senior appointments as the agency continues to grow its national footprint.
Audrey Fitte-Umark (pictured), who joined Pivotus in 2019, has been promoted from Account Director to Strategy Director working across the entire agency’s key clients. Her promotion follows multiple national and international campaigns for clients JLL, University of Tasmania, and RACT Insurance. Fitte-Umark was previously Digital Account Director at Havas and has also worked with Admatic and BBC Worldwide.
Anjan Ramesh has been appointed Head of Trading. He was previously Programmatic Lead at InMobi and has also worked with eBay, Foxtel, and AOL. Ramesh will lead a team of nine trading and ad ops staff across all clients. His experience bringing programmatic buying in-house at Foxtel helps Pivotus’ clients as they navigate models ranging from outsourced buying to blended and in-housing, as well as the management of first party data and audiences.
Ruther Chan joins Pivotus as Account Director in Melbourne, replacing Fitte-Umark, after spending 4.5 years with the Dentsu Aegis Network where he was Senior Investment Manager for DentsuX. Chan has also worked with Xaxis and Mediacom in Singapore. He has 12 years’ experience in media planning and buying and digital investment, with his ASEAN market experience suiting his client portfolio including commercial property services in South East Asia and the domestic and international search for university students.
Further strengthening its digital media buying and international expertise, Pivotus has also appointed Divya Singh from Reprise Adelaide to become Performance Manager, leading search and paid social for Pivotus’ largest client portfolio and the agency is currently recruiting for a Performance Executive to support Singh. Singh has also worked with Consider iProspect in Malaysia, Performics Convonix and Group M in India.
Pivotus CEO, Michael Petersen said “With new clients the University of Tasmania and RACT Insurance, and more wins to be announced shortly, we wanted to expand our team and our broader media and strategy credentials. 2020 was a year when many businesses needed to pivot online to follow consumer behaviour, and that continues unabated. The promotion of Audrey, along with the experience and quality credentials that Anjan, Ruther and Divya bring to the agency, are skill sets clients have already found very valuable.”
Meshel Laurie will be returning to radio after three years off the air, with the comedian, columnist, and author making her radio return on Monday.
Meshel Laurie will be filling in on Wave FM 96.5 – owned by Grant Broadcasters – with Jade Tonta of Wave FM’s breakfast team Jade, Straney, and Damien Leith going on maternity leave.
Previously, Meshel Laurie hosted KIIS FM’s national Drive alongside Matt Tilley. Before that, Laurie played a key role in #1 radio shows including Nova breakfast in Brisbane and Melbourne, and Nova’s national Drive show, Meshel, Tim and Marty.
More recently, Laurie has been working on her podcast Welcome To Hell. Released at the height of 2020’s COVID-19 lockdowns, Laurie and Nelly Thomas explore the pressures and the stress of homeschooling, as well as offering mental health advice to cope with isolation.
As well as her work in radio, Laurie has worked extensively in television. She has hosted The Project and appeared on Spicks & Specks, Good News Week, and Hughesy, We Have A Problem!
Speaking about the new Wave FM gig, Meshel Laurie said: “Jade’s about to have a baby and I am not. I couldn’t be happier for both of us. I’m also thrilled to be keeping her seat warm for the next couple of months. Talk about shaking off the 2020 blues.”
Wave FM content director, Dean Kesby, is confident Meshel will fill the void perfectly, saying: “There’s only one woman in Australian radio who could keep Damien and Straney’s mischief under control.”
Excited about her fill-in, Jade Tonta said: “I’m so excited to see Meshel Laurie make her radio comeback and couldn’t think of a better sub to pull off the bench and entertain the Illawarra each morning.”
Catch Meshel filling in on Jade, Straney, and Damien Leith when it airs from 5am weekdays on Wave FM 96.5.
Digital Originals is a joint initiative of Screen Australia and SBS, aimed at developing drama projects to premiere on SBS On Demand and NITV, from screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector.
The initiative aims to support creatives and projects that reflect gender equity and/or the diversity of people and experiences from around Australia. This includes those who identify as First Nations Australians; are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; those who are living with a disability; are female or trans/gender diverse; identify as LGBTQIA+; and those who are located in regional and remote areas.
Screen Australia Senior Online Investment Manager, Lee Naimo said, “We have been incredibly impressed with the online original projects we have funded over the years including critically acclaimed Homecoming Queens and Robbie Hood for SBS On Demand, and most recently The Tailings and Iggy & Ace. The web series format is a terrific way for emerging practitioners to explore and develop their creative voices, and this year we are expanding our initiative by supporting up to three projects to fruition with production funding. We hope the Digital Originals initiative will continue to find unique stories that add to the cultural landscape of Australian content and showcase our upcoming and underrepresented creatives to a national audience. We’re thrilled to once again partner with SBS on Digital Originals and unearth more distinctive and emerging voices.”
SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said: “We’re thrilled to be continuing this important partnership with Screen Australia which provides tangible opportunities and support for emerging creatives under-represented in our sector, to develop and share their unique stories. As we’ve seen from the success so far, stories which reflect and explore the diversity of Australia today in innovative, entertaining, and compelling ways can really connect with audiences, and that’s something we’re deeply committed to and passionate about across the SBS network.
“It’s also a brilliant screen creative pathway as we’ve seen with Corrie Chen, who directed the short-form series Homecoming Queens, went onto direct numerous TV shows and is currently directing SBS’s upcoming drama series, New Gold Mountain.”
This year, SBS will premiere two new Digital Originals projects. Iggy & Ace, written by AB Morrison and produced by Hannah Ngo (pictured) is a comedy exploring friendship, addiction, and recovery through a queer lens, filming in Western Australia in early 2021. The Tailings, written by Caitlin Richardson and directed by Stevie Cruz-Martin, is a murder mystery set against one of the most fragile, beautiful landscapes in Australia, the west coast of Tasmania, and celebrates the tenacity and pride of regional communities rarely seen on screen.
Submissions are open now and will close 5pm AEDT Thursday 11 March 2021. Please ensure you read the guidelines here before contacting the Program Operations here with any remaining enquiries.
The digital platform will publish digital-only content.
T: The New York Times Style Magazine Australia has launched its digital channel today, bringing a new addition to Australia’s media landscape. Based on the flagship edition of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, T Australia will be released as a quarterly print magazine supported by an online publication – taustralia.com.au.
T Australia aims to meet audiences where they are, whether that be across digital channels, print, or live events. It is currently harnessing interest from advertisers and readers, with a digital pre-launch prior to the first print issue that will launch on March 15 2021.
The digital platform will publish digital-only content, including recurring columns by specialist contributors, deeper dives into magazine features including behind-the-scenes footage and photoshoot galleries, inspiring video content inside the T: TV channel, and VIP access to live events and invitations.
“We are in such a unique position with T Australia, in both its print and digital format,” said Katarina Kroslakova (pictured), Publisher and Editor-in-Chief.
“In a time when we are unable to explore the world as fully as we’d like to, T Australia is able to bring the world to us. We have access to truly some of the world’s best writers and photographers, who bring our readers the most captivating stories from around the globe”.
As the former Editor of the Australian Financial Review’s Life & Leisure and Luxury magazines, now Managing Director of content creation agency KK Ink Pty Ltd and custom publishing house KK Press Pty Ltd, Editor of Maserati’s Il Tridente magazine, and former Harper’s Bazaar columnist, Katarina lives and breathes magazines and knows the market well.
Katarina Kroslakova said, “At T Australia, we are passionate about integrating global content with our best local story-tellers to showcase Australia as it is, right now. Having such an immediate medium such as taustralia.com.au allows us to respond quickly to events, news, changes, and trends.”
T Australia showcases culture, fashion, food, wine, architecture, interiors, travel, craftsmanship, and society within each issue, capturing the definitive collections and trends that respond to today’s global narrative, from emerging artists to iconic creators.
To visit the newly launched T Australia, go to www.taustralia.com.au
The move is boosting oOh!’s national presence in the Gold Coast, regional Victoria and Adelaide.
oOh!media has digitised three strategic large format assets across the country, boosting its national presence in the Gold Coast, regional Victoria and Adelaide as part of its ongoing capital investment program.
Targeting affluent Gold Coast locals and visitors, oOh!’s premium large format site in the suburb of Bundall has received a digital upgrade, enabling brands to reach audiences visiting local businesses and the shopping centre at Pacific Fair, as well as people travelling to Surfers Paradise and commuters from Brisbane.
The conversion is in addition to oOh!’s existing Gold Coast coverage – its high-profile retail assets at Pacific Fair, plus signage on the Pacific Motorway, Gold Coast Highway and Bundall Rd, as well as in Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.
The second upgrade in Wodonga, regional Victoria, and cements oOh!’s position as Australia’s leading regional Out of Home provider with 47 digital billboards now in regional areas. At a time of increased focus on domestic travel and opportunities for people and businesses outside the major cities, this is an important position to hold.
It will be the only digital Out of Home billboard in Wodonga, giving brands a unique opportunity to engage with local audiences and travellers via a prominent site with long viewing times from the Hume Freeway, heading towards Wodonga’s CBD and other oOh! assets in the city.
The third site is above the Britannia Hotel in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood, and is one of the city’s most sought-after locations. It is popular with advertisers due to its high levels of reach with affluent CBD and eastern suburbs audiences, and is part of oOh!’s Signature Series of landmark assets.
Noel Cook, oOh!’s Chief Commercial and Operations Officer, said the three upgrades showed oOh!’s commitment to continuing investment in its assets, and the company’s ability to reach audiences at scale.
“These digital conversions allow us to offer more opportunities to advertisers at prime locations in key markets, from metro to regional areas,” he said.
“We have an extensive regional presence and will continue to develop our offering across the country. In addition to our capital investment, our participation as the only Out of Home partner in the Boomtown initiative, which promotes opportunities for brands to reach the 8.8 million Australians living in regional areas, underscores the value we see in regional markets well into the future.
“When combined, our metro and regional assets can deliver unrivalled national scale, backed by data insights that enable us to offer advertisers a detailed understanding of audiences wherever they are in the country.”
Endemol Shine Australia will be working with Seven on Big Brother again.
Seven debuted their rebooted Big Brother format last year, after a six-year hiatus for the show which had previously aired on Nine. Seven’s updated version was a success, the iconic reality series had an average total video audience of 1.39 million Australians, making it Seven’s biggest series TV launch in two years.
Speaking about the original launch last year, Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross said that “Within the space of a week it has changed our demographic profile completely. We are clean-sweeping everything – 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39. It has given us the best 16-39 result in 10 years.
“To put that in context it is a bigger show than I’m a Celebrity, Survivor, Amazing Race, or The Bachelor. And it is beating The Voice too in some key demos.”
This year, Big Brother is seriously stepping things up with more rooms, more secrets, more twists, and more thrills to keep Australia guessing.
In 2021, a new group of Housemates will find themselves living together, cut-off from the outside world with cameras and microphones recording their every move – 24 hours a day.
They will soon find out there’s more to Big Brother’s house – and game – than meets the eye.
After watching all the chaos of the house from the outside, Australia will once again decide the winner of Big Brother in a live finale. Who wins? You decide.
Production company Endemol Shine Australia will be working with Seven on Big Brother once again.
Endemol Shine Australia’s chief content officer Peter Newman said: “We’re extremely proud that Seven has commissioned us to deliver another series of the reality show that started it all, Big Brother. We’re also very grateful to the fans of the show who have embraced the evolution of this incredible format. In 2021 Big Brother will be back more mischievous and devious than ever before. You won’t believe what he’s got planned for the Big Brother house.”
Big Brother, coming soon on Channel 7 and 7plus
Seven’s take on the original format was scheduled to air in 2019.
After a two year delay, Wife Swap Australia is set to premiere Thursday 8.30pm, February 11 on Seven. Seven’s take on the original format – which aired in 2012 on Foxtel – was scheduled to air in 2019. The first delay pushed the series back to 2020 and a second delay pushed it further back to 2021, but now Wife Swap Australia is finally making its debut.
The explosive new series sees two wives, from families who live worlds apart from each other, swap lives and families for a week, putting their opposing parenting styles to the test in front of the nation.
In each episode’s swap, the two wives will write a household manual describing their rules and how to run their home before leaving to live with the other family. They must first live by each other’s rules – no matter how difficult, uncomfortable, or how strongly opposed to them they are.
After experiencing life with their host families, the wives then take back control, laying down their own set of rules which their new husband and children must obey, no matter how different it is from the way they normally live. No matter how willing or unwilling the family is, the rules are changing and their lives are being turned upside down.
At the end of the swap, the reunited couples come face to face in an emotionally charged meeting. Discussing their experiences in the swap, the couples will go over what they learned, and what they never want to do again.
Some of the swaps include match ups such as control vs chaos, education vs unschooling, tech-obsessed vs off the grid, penny-pinching vs frivolous spending. Who’s the better parent? You be the judge.
Wife Swap Australia premieres 8.30pm Thursday, 11 February on Channel 7, and streaming on 7plus.
By Trent Thomas
The Dry has returned to the top spot of the Australian box office after overtaking fellow Aussie film Penguin Bloom which briefly held the #1 spot for one week.
The Dry continues to plough along as it sits at the door of the $15m threshold as it continues to establish itself as one of the most successful Australian films in a while.
The Dry still needs to make over $5m though if it wants to pass Strictly Ballroom to enter the top 10 domestic films of all time at the Australian box office.
The only new entry this week is High Ground with the meat pie western (Australian made western film) entering the Australian box office at #5.
High Ground takes the place of Wonder Woman 1984 which has slipped out of the top five after six weeks. Although it is not all doom and gloom for the DC film with it being the #1 grossing film in Australia since cinemas re-opened from lockdown with a total of $23.93m.
Overall, the Australian box office had a decline of 9% compared to the previous weekend, making a total of $7.08m.
After five weeks the Erica Bana led mystery continues to perform strongly after averaging $4,171 on 343 screens.
The drama starring Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln has passed the $1m mark for two weekends in a row and now has a total of $4.04m. The film averaged $3,882 on 327 screens over the weekend.
After six weeks the animated family romp has made a total of $19.80m as it comfortably sits as the #2 film in Australia since lockdown ended. Over the weekend the film made an average of $2,955 on 288 screens.
The Marksman has spent two straight weeks in the top five with the Liam Neeson film averaging $2,509 on 265 screens.
The Australian drama has made it into the top five in its first week of release after averaging $2,628 on 234 screens.
By Trent Thomas
• Shots fired with Holey Moley, MAFS Grand Reunion and The Amazing Race all going head to head
• Seven’s Holey Moley hits a hole-in-one after finishing top non-news show
• Seven narrowly beats out Nine for top primary channel and network
Seven’s programming schedule swung into gear with the release of its first major 7:30 pm show of 2021- Holey Moley Australia which had 983,000 viewers tune in for the show’s launch. This made the new format the #1 non-news show for the evening as well as #1 in all key demos leading Seven to win the night with a 22.9% primary share and a 29.7% network share.
In the first episode 23-year-old pro golfer Montana Strauss sunk a stunning hole in one on the final obstacle, edging out former pro golfer, James Carr, and interior designer, Danielle Murray, on the night’s final hole. In one of the biggest upsets, Australia’s #1 women’s mini-golf champion, Collette Norton, bowed out of the competition after falling short on The Distractor.
Angus Ross, Seven’s Network director of programming, said: “Australia is clearly gripped by mini-golf mania. It’s a real thrill to see a new format for the network hit a hole-in-one with audiences. The right mix of exceptional presenter talent, high production value and just a little bit of weirdness has provided Australians with a welcome addition to their evening viewing. We’re very happy with last night’s performance and are looking forward to the show’s continued success.”
Seven was also helped to a win by the return of Home and Away on 597,000 and new 9-1-1 on 415,000.
Nine was a close second with the second night of the Married at First Sight Grand Reunion which had 781,000 viewers, a decline on the 866,000 from Sunday night.
The MAFS reunion was followed by the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? primetime special which had 377,000.
10 launched its second tentpole show of 2021 with the release of The Amazing Race Australia which returned with an all Australia format after not airing in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The show had a launch audience of 501,000 which was down on the 634,000 the show had for its season one launch in 2019. The first episode saw The Kimberley Cousins Dwes and Katherine, eliminated first from The Amazing Race Australia.
The ABC had a primary share of 12.7% off the back of a news heavy night featuring 7:30, Four Corners, Media Watch, and Stan Grant’s One Plus One.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||2.1%||7TWO||3.9%||GO!||1.6%||10 Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||0.3%||7mate||1.9%||GEM||1.6%||10 Peach||2.3%||Food Net||1.0%|
|ABC NEWS||1.6%||7flix||1.0%||9Life||1.8%||10 Shake||0.7%||NITV||0.1%|
|9Rush||1.2%||SBS World Movies||0.7%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||2.4%||7TWO||5.2%||GO!||2.0%||WIN Bold||4.7%||VICELAND||1.2%|
|ABC ME||1.1%||7mate||3.2%||GEM||2.2%||WIN Peach||3.0%||Food Net||0.7%|
|ABC NEWS||1.5%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.2%||9Life||1.7%||Sky News on WIN||1.5%||NITV||0.1%|
|MONDAY METRO ALL TV|
16 – 39 Top Five
18 – 49 Top Five
25 – 54 Top Five
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2021. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
Scott Morrison will seek to build support from world leaders for Australia’s news media bargaining code when he meets his overseas counterparts and attends international forums this year, declaring a sustainable media landscape is vital to a functioning democracy, reports News Corp’s James Madden and Rosie Lewis.
“I would like to see more alignment between the world’s economies on these sorts of things (the media bargaining code),” the Prime Minister said on Monday. “We want to work (with) the companies on these sorts of things; we want a practical outcome. But the world has changed.
“Digital technology has affected that, and we’re trying to ensure that our regulatory system keeps pace with that change to ensure that journalists can do their jobs, not just in taxpayer-funded organisations but commercial ones too.”
In June, Morrison is due to travel to Britain for the annual G7 summit. The member countries — the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada — are also wrestling with the issue of reining in the market power of the Big Tech companies, and they are closely monitoring the Australian government’s push to create a fairer commercial landscape for media organisations.
Small publishers have warned that Google and Facebook withdrawing products from the Australian marketplace could be “fatal” for outlets reliant on audiences coming from the digital giants, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.
Google threatened to withdraw its search product from Australia if the proposed news media bargaining code, designed to level the playing field between digital platforms and news publishers, moves forward in its current format. Facebook said it would not allow news content to be shared on the platform.
oOh!Media-owned Junkee Media, which targets the youth market, said it supported the principles of the code, however CEO Neil Ackland said it was taking the digital giants’ threats very seriously.
“We have been considering the repercussions of those threats very seriously as well. I don’t think we should underestimate that,” he told a Senate committee hearing.
“Were either one or both of the platforms to exit Australia, it would have a significant impact on our ability to connect our content to our audience.”
He said it would “undoubtedly” place pressure on jobs and “potentially be fatal for businesses like ours and other small publishers in the space”.
Paul Koppelman, the former chief financial officer of Nine, has been appointed as CFO for ad agency holding group dentsu for both Australia and New Zealand, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.
Koppelman left Nine, publisher of The Australian Financial Review, last July after 10 months in the role to be with his family in Melbourne’s lockdown after the death of a relative.
He joins dentsu, which operates advertising agency brands Carat, dentsu X, Isobar and BWM dentsu Group, as the network looks to simplify its business. It rebranded from Dentsu Aegis Network to dentsu Australia last September after a tumultuous 2019 in which the CEO Henry Tajer unexpectedly left after less than a year in the role, with the company immediately replacing him with Angela Tangas.
Koppelman, who joined dentsu on Monday, succeeds Jerome Whelan, who has shifted into a regional finance role to support dentsu’s APAC business and operations team.
Fifteen journalists and editors will have charges of contempt of court dismissed as part of a deal under which Australian media companies will plead guilty to breaching a suppression order related to Cardinal George Pell’s now-quashed child sexual abuse conviction, reports AFR‘s Max Mason.
The deal with the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions involves the dismissal of charges against individuals including The Australian Financial Review’s editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury and Melbourne bureau chief Patrick Durkin.
Instead the news outlets themselves, as corporate clients, will plead guilty to breaching a suppression order. Outlets include the Financial Review, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Weekly Times, the Geelong Advertiser, Adelaide’s The Advertiser, Business Insider, Mamamia, Radio 2GB and Nine News.
Charges of sub judice contempt were also withdrawn. However, the media companies are expected to face heavy fines for breaching the suppression order. They will face a plea hearing next week.
The charges related to media coverage of Cardinal Pell’s conviction in December 2018.
Sky News commentator Peta Credlin has apologised on air to Kevin Rudd for saying his petition calling for a royal commission into the Murdoch media was a “data harvesting exercise”, reports Guardian Australia’s Amanda Meade.
The apology on Monday night was part of a confidential defamation settlement.
After Rudd’s petition reached a historic high of half a million signatures in November, Credlin accused Rudd of gathering email addresses to “bombard people with hard-left propaganda and urge them to boycott the Murdoch media”.
The former Labor prime minister immediately called for Credlin, a former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, to apologise “for her lies” but she did not withdraw them.
“On 11 November last year, while commenting on former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s petition to the House of Representatives for a royal commission to ensure a strong, diverse Australian news media, I said the petition was a data harvesting exercise and that Mr Rudd now had more than half a million email addresses to use for his own political purposes,” Credlin told viewers of her eponymous program on the News Corp-owned Sky News Australia on Monday.
“That was false. Mr Rudd did not have access to the email addresses in the petition because they were the property of the parliament. Nor did he seek them. The misuse of the email addresses as claimed would have been a serious invasion of people’s privacy. I apologise to Mr Rudd for any damage caused to him by my false statement.”
Channel 7 has dumped troubled game show host Andrew O’Keefe, the network has confirmed, reports News.com.au.
O’Keefe, 49, was arrested and charged on the weekend over an alleged domestic assault on his partner in Sydney’s east.
A Channel 7 spokesperson told news.com.au: “Seven is obviously very concerned to read the reports regarding Andrew O’Keefe. Seven has had a 17-year relationship with Andrew across a number of programs, although he is no longer with the network.
“As this is a police matter before the courts, we cannot comment further.
“The program hosted by Andrew, The Chase Australia, is not currently in production. The program is produced for Seven by ITV Studios Australia. Production will resume soon and a decision about who will host future series is still to be made.”
Beleaguered game show host Andrew O’Keefe has vowed to defend an assault charge and a provisional apprehended violence order taken out by police at the weekend, reports News Corp’s Liam Mendes, Jonathon Moran and Danielle Gusmaroli.
It comes as The Daily Telegraph can reveal police will allege O’Keefe punched partner Orly Lavee in the face, punctured her lower lip, pulled her hair, kicked the back of her legs and spat on her.
The 49-year-old television personality has told friends he will fight the allegations in court.
“Andrew is receiving medical treatment in the wake of the incident,” a source close to O’Keefe said.
“He will be defending the charge.”
O’Keefe will face Waverley Local Court on Thursday charged with common assault relating to the alleged incident on Sunday morning at the Randwick home he shares with haematologist Dr Lavee.
“It has been difficult,” a tearful Dr Lavee said outside her home on Monday.
“It has been a horrible few days. I don’t want to go into it, I’m not feeling good about what’s happened.”
The makers of TV series often worry about airing a ‘jump the shark’ moment, that unexpected turning point where a rash decision exposes a program’s failing and momentum suddenly becomes mockery. Ignominy is definitely an issue for Seven’s new reality competition, Holey Moley, but at least it’s facing up to the prospect. Just 40 minutes into the first episode a competitor valiantly tried to jump onto – not over – a large plastic shark circling a water tank. Talk about trying to make a big splash, reports SMH‘s Craig Mathieson.
The leaper failed, face-planting into the side of the prop shark before sliding into the water, but Holey Moley may yet prove buoyant. The latest salvo in the reality TV trend of oversized and ostentatiously produced games – as opposed to the governing genre where poorly matched singles argue and fling wine at rivals – is not so much over the top as simply careening through the air because the arms of a (padded) windmill slammed into you. On this taxonomy of getting taken out, tumbling sideways with limbs flailing is the default setting.
The debut episode gave you much of the information you’ll need to make a decision about Holey Moley. It’s brash, self-aware, and determined to batter its flaws into submission. It was labelled “extreme mini-golf”, which is straight-forward but somewhat lacking – I favour “Jeff Koons reboots The Price is Right”. Hitting a golf ball around a rink has never been so ludicrously contrived.
The mini-golf part is straightforward, even if the direction of those sequences is sometimes banal. The contestants – eight per episode, reduced in knockout pairings down to a winner headed for the finals – could be playing at their local putt-putt course, but what’s tacked on are obstacle course stunts the preening hopefuls need to do before or after teeing off. They might run across a rotating bridge, climb a slippery slope, or sprint across a narrow ledge where the doors of Portaloos are flung open by extras in cartoon character costumes. It’s as if you visited Disneyland on the day the staff rebelled.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has accused Fox Sports of doing a “half-assed job” with their coverage of women’s sports after another comical error in which viewers were confronted with pictures of a broadcast crew worker in his bedroom during a W-League match, reports SMH‘s Vince Rugari.
In the third such issue to have impacted the competition this season, Friday night’s clash between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory was interrupted in the first half when the game feed suddenly crashed and was replaced with live images of a man working in what appeared to be his bedroom.
The awkward gaffe lasted for around 30 seconds before Fox Sports cut to a commercial break and then highlights of men’s AFC Champions League matches before the game was finally returned to screens.
Social media erupted with a mixture of anger and laughter, with the presence of a brass instrument in the man’s bedroom a particular source of mirth for W-League fans. Sources with knowledge of what occurred said the man worked for an external video streaming company which was assisting with technical aspects of the broadcast and is said to be mortified with what happened, but it’s unknown how his face came to be beamed across the country.
The incident came just days after Foxtel, the parent company of Fox Sports, apologised for what it said were two separate “one-off” incidents that marred other W-League matches in January.
Foxtel was last year granted $10 million by the federal government to support the coverage of “women’s, niche and other under-represented sports”, having been previously handed a further $30 million for women’s sport by the Turnbull government in 2017.
Hanson-Young last month described the arrangement as a “rort” after it emerged the ABC was paying Foxtel up to $35,000 for each Matildas match aired by the public broadcaster – meaning taxpayers were essentially paying twice for the content – and doubled down on that criticism in the wake of the recent W-League issues.