Friday February 5, 2021

What’s next for The Chaser: TV, radio, podcasts or all of the above?

New-look Chaser team poised for new 2021 audio and TV projects?

Fans of The Chaser who are waiting for the return of their favourite comedians might have to wait a bit longer this year – unless you live in Adelaide (explained later on).

With no TV or radio show at present, the 2020 Nova podcast and the recent online series The War on 2020 are the only way to get a Chaser fix. (We are not counting Dom Knight’s book factory.)

Mediaweek tried to doorstop The Chaser this week with little success. We have been unable to confirm interest from broadcasters and/or platforms in a potential daily podcast and a return to TV screens.

The Chaser indicated to Mediaweek last year they were happy with their podcast deal at Nova Entertainment, so hopefully they will be back in the studio soon. If they went ahead with a daily podcast, it would be a program that fans could use in place of a Chaser breakfast show. (How good would that be?) The major podcast platforms are using daily series as ways to grow audiences and increase downloads numbers.

Unconfirmed reports had the Nova podcast getting into the mobile devices of lots of fans.

Meanwhile, The Chaser has not had a regular series (not linked to an election) on TV since 2015 with The Chaser’s Media Circus.

In the past couple of years, The Chaser has shed some old-timers, kept others, but more importantly recruited some funny and talented younger comedians and writers.

They have added writer and television presenter Zoe Norton Lodge and comedian Rebecca De Unamuno.

After the online success of Chaser’s The War on 2020 with over 10m views on all platforms, they have been discussing the potential of a new TV series with broadcasters.

Charles Firth, Chaser founder, did tell Mediaweek: “Last year working with the Nova team was one of our best working experiences we’ve ever had. They were real pros and we got plenty of respect and love.”

Any Chaser ventures in 2021 will feature the new look team, meaning no Julian MorrowChas Licciardello is working on other projects. Craig Reucassel still keeps his toes in the water on Chaser projects, and Chris Taylor has a super-secret project that can’t be revealed yet.

People in Adelaide will have the chance to experience Firth live when his show The Anti-Experts Guide to The Pandemic becomes part of the Fringe Festival from February 27.

Following a sold-out 2020 Adelaide Fringe, Charles Firth and James Schloeffel (The Shovel) return to Gluttony with a new show: a “biting and hilarious” look at COVID conspiracy theories, anti-vaxxers, scented candles, 5G towers, News Corp, Trump supporters and the Pete Evans BioCharger.

Tracks’ last corporate wave: Surfers purchase iconic brand

The German-owned publisher nextmedia divests another title.

In the wake of its successful 50th-anniversary issue, Tracks magazine has been purchased by a co-op of surfers with a long-standing passion for the title. Peter Strain, David Mulham, Greg Cooper, Damian Martin and Luke Kennedy have acquired Tracks from nextmedia. The move sees the German-owned publisher divest another brand.

Co-owner Peter Strain emphasised he was looking forward to re-invigorating the surfing bible. “I’ve been a keen surfer and dedicated Tracks reader for decades. Tracks is more than just a magazine it’s a part of our history, and it has played an important role in shaping our cultural identity, not only as surfers but as Australians. We’re excited about exploring a range of new opportunities with the brand.” 

Arek Widawski, managing director of nextmedia commented, “We are delighted that Tracks has found the right home for its next chapter, allowing nextmedia to focus on other key brands.”

First published by John WitzigAlbe Falzon, and David Elfick in 1970. Tracks was later owned by a string of large publishing houses including Mason Stewart Publishing and Emap Australia.

The acquisition of Tracks by a quintet of surfers represents a return of the iconic title to its salty roots. While eager to celebrate the Tracks legacy and history, the new ownership group is also intent on re-launching the brand in what is a renaissance era for surfing. “So many of us have significant memories associated with Tracks. We want to continue that tradition,” explained Strain. “And it’s an exciting time for surf culture. Everyone’s back in the water and there’s never been so much curiosity about surfboards and different surfing experiences.”

Luke Kennedy and Ben Bugden will continue at the helm of the editorial team, while Damian Martin retains his role as head of advertising. “I’m looking forward to providing Tracks devotees and the next generation of readers with a dynamic, high-quality magazine that offers an immersive experience,” indicated Kennedy.

The title will continue to look to its stable of respected writers and photographers to engage, entertain and inform a contemporary audience.

Tracks is set to publish its first issue under new ownership in April 2021.

Silverchair returns back to where it all began as Sony Music secures all albums

Sony Music Entertainment Australia has announced that it has entered into a new agreement with multi-platinum and award-winning band Silverchair.

As part of this distribution agreement, the triple-platinum Young Modern and Diorama albums, as well as audio-visual album Live From Faraway Stables, unite with the rest of Silverchair’s catalogue at Sony Music Entertainment Australia.

Signed to Sony Music Entertainment Australia in 1994, the band released the successful and #1 ARIA Albums FrogstompFreak Show and Neon Ballroom with the company between 1995 and 1999.

Diorama and Young Modern are Silverchair’s fourth and fifth studio albums which include the singles Straight LinesReflections of a SoundThe Greatest ViewAcross The Night and Without You. The two albums were released on John Watson’s Eleven label, then distributed via Universal Music.

Young Modern won six ARIA Awards including Best Group, Single of The Year and Album of The Year. Diorama won five ARIA Awards including Best Group and Best Rock Album.

Daniel Johns said, “It’s great to have the catalogue all under one roof at Sony Music, back where it all began for Silverchair.”

Ben Gillies said, “We’re so proud of these albums and know that Denis and the team at Sony Music, as they always have, will treat our catalogue with love and respect. It just feels right.”

Chris Joannou said, “We’re pumped to have all the Silverchair albums with Sony Music Australia where everything started for us 25+ years ago. What a wild ride it’s been!”

“26 years ago, three young boys from Newcastle burst on the scene with amazing music that captured the world. I am so delighted to have the band’s complete catalogue with Sony Music.  We are really looking forward to some exciting opportunities in the years ahead.” said Denis Handlin, chairman & CEO, Australia & New Zealand, Sony Music Entertainment. “Daniel, Ben and Chris will always be a part of the Sony Music family and their songs will live forever.

Formed in 1992 in the Newcastle surf-side side suburb of Merewether, Silverchair’s rise was meteoric. The band, consisting of singer/songwriter/guitarist Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou, became a global phenomenon, propelling them on to some of the world’s biggest stages and achieving album sales in excess of six million worldwide. The band signed with the Sony Music Entertainment Australia subsidiary label Murmur in 1994 after winning a national demo competition conducted by SBS TV and national youth broadcaster Triple J.

Their debut single Tomorrow was a breakthrough success, reaching #1 on the ARIA Singles Chart and remaining there for six weeks. The band’s first album Frogstomp also debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart and achieved sales of 4 x platinum. It reached the Billboard Top 10 in the US, making Silverchair the first Australian band to achieve that since INXS.

All of Silverchair’s subsequent studio albums, Freakshow (double-Platinum), Neon Ballroom (triple-Platinum), Diorama (triple-Platinum) and Young Modern (triple-Platinum) debuted at #1 in Australia.

Silverchair also holds the record for the greatest number of ARIA Award wins with a total of 21. Total album sales across the Silverchair catalogue have now exceeded six million globally making them one of Australia’s most successful musical exports.

Photo: Silverchair with Sony Music’s Denis Handlin in 1994

the end
Mercado on TV: Aussie greatness – Bump, The End and Aftertaste

February starts with schoolboy humour and fighting scrags.

February TV got off to an unusual start with Holey Moley Australia (Seven) versus Married at First Sight: Grand Reunion (Nine). Holey Moley relied on schoolboy humour about balls going into “holes” and “uranus”, while the other had a schoolyard fight that ended with one scrag throwing their drink over the other.

Holey Moley may have overstayed its welcome as it dragged on for three consecutive nights, but if putt putt golf can become a hit, and tiggy is next with Tag (soon on Seven), surely a marbles revival and a yo-yo competition is next.

Commercial TV may be sinking to dumber lows but at least streaming services, cable TV and public broadcasters are still making shows that require a brain. 2021 has already given us three spectacularly good Aussie dramas, namely Bump (Stan), The End (Foxtel) and Aftertaste (ABC). Very differing offerings to entertainment like Holey Moley.

All of these series are right on the zeitgeist as they bravely and bawdily tackle uncomfortable subjects. Bump is about teenage pregnancyThe End digs deep into euthanasia and Aftertaste tackles toxic masculinity.

Erik Thomson in Aftertaste

With more and more women now at the helm, female sexuality is also getting a new focus. Producer Sondra Rhimes (Bridgerton), creators Claudia Karvan and Kelsey Munro (Bump) and creator/writer Samantha Strauss (The End) all head up female creative teams who are not shy about getting their points across.

Bridgerton (Netflix), which has shocked some lovers of period dramas with its frank bedroom scenes, cleverly dropped all its episodes to binge from Christmas Day. It is now their most successful drama ever and the audience doesn’t seem to mind its colour-blind casting.

BridgertonBumpThe End and Aftertaste all explore issues like body shaming, losing your virginity and what happens without proper sex education. Men are on now on notice and it’s about time, like in Bump when Oly (Nathalie Morris) challenges her Chilean boyfriend and father to drop their cultural machismo and help out in the kitchen.

The End and Aftertaste both have lead characters that come across as angry and selfish, but the joy of both shows is watching them slowly transform as family problems swarm all around them. They are fearless about their subject matters, and both get better the more they go along.


Bump: Nathalie Morris (Oly) and Santi (Carlos Sanson Jnr) on set

BumpThe End and Aftertaste are all must-see TV events. And although every production showcases amazing new and fresh talent, it is also worth studying the smaller supporting roles being played by former showbiz giants like Val Lehman and Hazel Phillips. I wonder who might be lurking around in the background when Harrow (Sunday on ABC) returns for its third season?

See also: Mercado on TV: 2020 – A bad year delivered some great television

back roads
TV Ratings: Summer survey, Thursday Week 6

By James Manning

• After week of mini golf marathons, BBL cricket Seven’s latest winner
• Back Roads moves its ABC audience to Thursday, but Q+A not so much

In the final days of the fading summer survey, Seven has won its fourth consecutive night of Week 6 with the penultimate cricket match of the season.

The Big Bash League play-off was played in Canberra as the Perth Scorchers were unable to use a home ground advantage because of this week’s Perth lockdown. Rain near the end of the first session shorted the match marginally, but faced with the task of scoring 200 in less than 20 overs, the Brisbane Heat stumbled early in their run chase. The combined cricket audience on Seven and 7mate was 490,000 for the first session and then 461,000 for the second.

Helping Seven to first place were Seven News on 917,000 and 870,000 and the final episode of Home and Away in its first week back with 443,000.

ABC had the biggest non-new audience of the night as Back Roads starred in a new Thursday line-up. The episode was on 511,000 at 8pm.

Also part of the new-look Thursday was Q+A on a new night with 290,000 watching. The time of year and the new timeslot delivered one of the show’s smallest audiences ever.

After Nine News on 853,000 and 813,000, and A Current Affair on 592,000, Nine’s best was Getaway at 7.30pm with 334,000.

10’s best was The Project on 371,000 followed by an Ambulance Australia repeat on 331,000.

Week 6: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.1% 7 21.0% 9 15.3% 10  10.2% SBS One 6.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 2.6% 7TWO 4.0% GO! 1.4% 10 Bold 3.7% VICELAND 2.9%
ABC ME 0.3% 7mate 5.1% GEM 1.6% 10 Peach 3.0% Food Net 1.1%
ABC NEWS 2.7% 7flix 1.7% 9Life 2.7% 10 Shake 0.7% NITV 0.2%
        9Rush 0.8%     SBS World Movies 0.9%
TOTAL 17.7%   31.7%   21.9%   17.6%   11.1%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.4% 7 22.9% 9 11.2% WIN 9.8% SBS One 5.3%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS 2.6% 7TWO 6.7% GO! 2.6% WIN Bold 4.3% VICELAND 2.9%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 6.2% GEM 1.4% WIN Peach 3.2% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 1.3% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.3% 9Life 3.0% Sky News  on WIN 1.1% NITV 0.3%
                SBS Movies 1.1%
TOTAL 16.1%   38.0%   18.3%   18.5%   10.2%


84.8% 15.2.%
Thursday FTA
  1. Seven News  Seven  917,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30  Seven  870,000
  3. Nine News  Nine  853,000
  4. Nine News 6:30  Nine  813,000
  5. ABC News  ABC TV  654,000
  6. A Current Affair  Nine  592,000
  7. Back Roads  ABC TV  511,000
  8. 7.30  ABC TV  509,000
  9. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger S1  Seven  490,000
  10. The Chase Australia  Seven  470,000
  11. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger S2  Seven  461,000
  12. Home And Away  Seven  443,000
  13. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger Inn Brk Seven  419,000
  14. Hot Seat  Nine  408,000
  15. The Project 7pm   10  371,000
  16. Getaway  Nine  334,000
  17. Ambulance Australia (R)   10  331,000
  18. 10 News First   10  322,000
  19. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger Pre Game Seven  304,000
  20. Sunrise  Seven  292,000
Demo Top Five

16 – 39 Top Five

  1. Seven News  Seven  106,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30  Seven  106,000
  3. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger S2  Seven  103,000
  4. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger Inn Brk Seven  103,000
  5. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger S1  Seven  94,000


18 – 49 Top Five

  1. Seven News  Seven  193,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30  Seven  182,000
  3. Nine News  Nine  163,000
  4. Nine News 6:30  Nine  162,000
  5. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger Inn Brk Seven  162,000


25 – 54 Top Five

  1. Seven News  Seven  231,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30  Seven  220,000
  3. Nine News 6:30  Nine  219,000
  4. Nine News  Nine  219,000
  5. The Project 7pm   10  185,000
Thursday Multichannel 
  1. Bluey  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  209,000
  2. NCIS (R)  10 Bold  177,000
  3. Peppa Pig  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  153,000
  4. Kangaroo Beach  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  149,000
  5. Father Brown  7TWO  143,000
  6. Bluey  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  140,000
  7. The Adventures Of Paddington  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  136,000
  8. Noddy Toyland Detective  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  132,000
  9. Kiri And Lou  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  126,000
  10. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  122,000
  11. Neighbours  10 Peach  120,000
  12. Brave Bunnies  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  119,000
  13. Bananas In Pyjamas  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  115,000
  14. Play School  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  115,000
  15. Peppa Pig  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  115,000
  16. Seven’s Cricket: Big Bash League – The Challenger S2  7mate  110,000
  17. M- Red  7mate  107,000
  18. Dog Loves Books  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  103,000
  19. Play School Nursery Rhyme News Time  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  103,000
  20. Peter Rabbit  ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus  103,000
Thursday STV
  1. Live: BBL: Challenger Scorchers V Heat  Fox Cricket  279,000
  2. Live: Between The Innings  Fox Cricket  227,000
  3. Live: BBL: Challenger Scorchers V Heat  Fox Cricket  224,000
  4. Live: BBL Post Game  Fox Cricket  101,000
  5. Live: B4 The Bash!  Fox Cricket  94,000
  6. Outback Opal Hunters  Discovery Channel  75,000
  7. The Bolt Report  Sky News Live  75,000
  8. Credlin  Sky News Live  68,000
  9. Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail  Discovery Channel  61,000
  10. Catching The Claremont Killer  Sky News Live  53,000
  11. Paul Murray Live  Sky News Live  51,000
  12. PML Later  Sky News Live  41,000
  13. The Kenny Report  Sky News Live  34,000
  14. Top Wing  Nick Jr.  30,000
  15. Highway Patrol  Fox8  29,000
  16. The Simpsons  Fox8  28,000
  17. First Edition  Sky News Live  28,000
  18. Blaze And The Monster Machines  Nick Jr.  28,000
  19. Top Wing  Nick Jr.  28,000
  20. Bargain Hunt  Lifestyle Channel  28,000

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

Business of Media

Google retracts its threat to leave after Scott Morrison meeting

Google has backed down from its threats to leave the country if it has to pay news organisations for content, with Scott Morrison saying the tech giant is in a “more positive space” about its Australian future after a meeting with the search engine’s global chief, reports The Australian’s Richard Ferguson and David Swan.

The Prime Minister met Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, the leader of Google’s parent firm, to discuss the proposed media bargaining code, which has led the search engine to threaten a boycott of Australia in the past month.

The code, which followed a competition regulator inquiry and is backed by the country’s largest news organisations including News Corp and Nine Entertainment, would force Google and Facebook to negotiate over payment for content.

[Read more]

Google poised to launch News Showcase as early as today

In a further sign Google’s position may be softening, industry sources familiar with the search giant’s plans said it would launch its ‘News Showcase’ product as early as Friday, report Nine’s Lisa Visentin and Zoe Samios.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed last week that Google had reversed plans to halt the launch of the news product in response to its grilling at a Senate Hearing two weeks ago.

The News Showcase project has been central in Google’s push for revisions to the media code, a mechanism it says would allow it to pay publishers for news content and avoid being forced to pay to display links to stories.

Google first announced plans to launch News Showcase in Australia last June and signed deals with small local outlets such as Crikey, The Saturday Paper, The Conversation and regional newspaper business Australian Community Media.

[Read more]

Tim Biggs: Breaking up with Google is hard to do

To get a sense for what it might be like in a hypothetical worst-case scenario of Google withdrawing everything, I spent a few days on total Google detox trying out alternative services and solutions, reports Nine newspapers’ tech editor Tim Biggs.

So far Google’s only threatened to remove Search – therefore avoiding the issue of having to pay publishers if it serves links to their stories – but to make things interesting I set out to cut myself off from everything connected to my personal Google account. I did continue to use my work G-Suite account, which facilitates everything from emails and video calls to accessing critical files.

I was honestly glad to ditch Google News and its extreme algorithm that only wants to tell me about things I’ve already recently been reading about, but I didn’t immediately find a great alternative and stuck to RSS feeds of my favourite sites.

The biggest issue in cobbling together replacements for my Google-dominated digital life was that getting everything to work together in a useful way was much more difficult. Each and every Google product has at least one excellent competitor I could switch to (except for YouTube), but there’s no rival company that has an entire comparable ecosystem.

[Read more]

News Brands

New media code will level playing field with Google and Facebook

Over the past six months, Google’s campaign to drive opposition to the news media bargaining code has been gradually turned up to 11. What started with private lobbying of MPs and YouTube videos with comedians has escalated to a public threat to shut down search in Australia, as well as dire warnings displayed at the top of every search page, writes Dan Stinton, managing director of Guardian Australia, in a column published in The Sydney Morning Herald.

There are good reasons why the government is right to introduce the bargaining code to govern the relationship between publishers and platforms specifically, not least because journalism is a public good. Imagine trying to navigate the challenges of last year without news publishers informing the public about the bushfires or pandemic, relying instead on the misinformation that is so prevalent on fringe websites, YouTube and social media.

[Read more]

Rumour: Craig McLachlan to talk to Seven?

“We’re not going to speak in any detail today…. we will certainly do so in the immediate new year,” said Craig McLachlan in December, reports TV Tonight.

“As you can imagine we have a lot to say.”

Those were the words of Craig McLachlan following his acquittal of assault charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

But with a separate defamation case pending against ABC and Nine (publisher of former Fairfax), many of the likely media outlets are effectively no-go zones: Australian Story, Four Corners, 60 Minutes, A Current Affair.

TV Tonight hears whispers Seven’s Spotlight unit, which recently drew a big crowd with a Ben Cousins special, as the likely candidate.

Helmed by seasoned producer Mark Llewellyn, Spotlight would give McLachlan access to the living rooms of the nation, to tell his story in his own words.

[Read more]


The potential traffic goldmine most publishers seem to be ignoring

Data scientists at Echobox have studied 1.85 million Facebook shares to understand how resharing impacts Facebook performance. Echobox found that publishers who reshare on Facebook achieve 67% additional clicks, yet they only reshare a mere 8% of their total content on average.

Echobox is a research-focused company offering online publishers the advanced technologies to help them excel in their digital strategies.

The company is offering a step-by-step guide to see examples from leading publishers, and the chance to learn how to design a Facebook resharing strategy that drives results.

[Read more and download the guide]


Former Seven star Andrew O’Keefe has assault matter mentioned in court

An assault allegation against former Channel Seven star Andrew O’Keefe has been mentioned in court for the first time, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Mitchell.

O’Keefe, 49, the former host of Weekend Sunrise and The Chase Australia, is accused of assaulting his partner Orly Lavee at a Randwick apartment between 11pm and 11.30pm on January 30.

The case was mentioned at Waverley Local Court for the first time on Thursday, with Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman noting O’Keefe was excused from attending because he has a medical certificate.

O’Keefe’s lawyer Claudette Chua successfully asked for the case to be adjourned for two weeks to get further information from her client.

“I appeared this morning in Mr O’Keefe’s matter,” Chua said outside court.

“We’ve sought a short adjournment in circumstances where Mr O’Keefe has been unable to give full instructions on such short notice.”

Chua said she has had an opportunity to review the facts in the matter and indicated her client will be disputing that he was the aggressor in the situation.

[Read more]

Luke Darcy, Jo Stanley, Luke Hines reunite for House of Wellness

Luke Darcy is enjoying a change of pace after stepping down from 11 years of breakfast radio at the end of last year, reports News Corp’s Claire Burke.

The former Triple M Hot Breakfast co-host returns to TV screens on Friday with the new season of The House of Wellness TV.

Darcy said the Channel 7 show would continue to encourage conversation around mental health this year.

Darcy and fellow co-host Jo Stanley said they were feeling refreshed and excited to be back exploring innovative and inspiring wellbeing content.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Craig Tiley says Australian Open will go ahead as planned next week

Australian Open officials are adamant the tournament will start as scheduled on Monday but are clinging to advice that the testing of more than 500 players has a “low probability” of any positive COVID-19 cases, reports The Age’s Scott Spits.

Tennis Australia is also prepared to tinker with the formats of the various lead-in events running at Melbourne Park over the next three days to get them finished in time.

Tournament boss Craig Tiley says organisers are going “full steam ahead” with the grand slam, after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he expected the tournament wouldn’t be cancelled despite a new local positive case of COVID-19 connected to one of the hotel quarantine sites.

Tennis officials will sweat overnight on test results from the large group of players who completed quarantine at the Grand Hyatt between January 16 and 29.

[Read more]

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