Wednesday June 17, 2020

Bauer Media confirms exit from Australia, will stay in mags, just not here

Bauer Media has announced it has agreed to sell its Australian publishing business to Mercury Capital.

Mercury Capital will acquire all of Bauer Media Australia’s print and digital assets which cover Women’s Entertainment & Lifestyle; Fashion, Beauty & Health; Homes; Food; Motoring & Trader lifestyle categories.

The agreement also includes those brands recently acquired by Bauer from Pacific Magazines and Bauer’s New Zealand mastheads. Mercury Capital is expected to resurrect some of the key New Zealand titles including Listener, North & South and Metro. Mercury is led by Kiwi-born Clark Perkins and features prominent NZ business figures on its board.

Veit Dengler (pictured), Bauer Media COO said: “Bauer Media remains committed to magazine publishing. This decision supports our strategy to invest in our market leading brands where we believe we are best placed to do so.

“We have been proud to be the custodian of these iconic brands in Australia. I would like to thank our talented teams for their commitment and the contribution they have made to Bauer Media. I wish them well for the future.”

The sale is subject to relevant regulatory approvals in Australia, with completion expected by the end of July.

Private equity’s bargain buy: Bauer Aust & NZ sold for reported $50m

Mercury Capital, a Sydney-based private equity firm that invests in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed a deal to buy Bauer’s Australian and New Zealand business, reports Street Talk in The AFR.

Neither party has yet to confirm the transaction. It is expected that current management under chief executive Brendon Hill will initially continue to run the business. Mercury could also explore options for some of the recently closed brands in New Zealand.

The AFR reports Mercury and Bauer’s representatives signed the deal on Tuesday night, after months of on-again, off-again talks. Law firm King & Wood Mallesons advised Mercury, while MinterEllison advised Bauer.

Bridget Carter reported on a sale of Bauer Media in The Australian on Tuesday, with a sale possibly happening this week.

The AFR said the new owner was attracted by Bauer’s digital expansion potential and the key magazine titles, which reach nearly half of the country’s population, and will use experiences from owning NZ’s largest printing company Blue Star Group to make the most of the print side of the operations.

Street Talk reports Bauer Media originally paid $525 million for what was the ACP Magazines business, which was generating about $80 million earnings at the time, and rebranded it Bauer.

Street Talk adds the sale includes the recently completed $40 million Pacific Magazines acquisition, with Mercury paying less than $50 million.

[Read more]

ARN and Sony Music launch The Living Room Concert Series

ARN’s KIIS, The Edge 96.ONE and iHeartRadio Australia have partnered with Sony Music to announce a series of exclusive and acoustic concerts featuring major Australian artists, which can be heard and watched across the iHeartRadio digital platform, the KIIS Network and The Edge 96.ONE, every Sunday from June 21.

The Living Room Concert Series will feature Sam Fischer, Samantha Jade, Amy Shark, Daryl Braithwaite, Guy Sebastian, Emalia, GRAACE and Kota Banks performing live from their living rooms.

Brett “Nozz” Nossiter, iHeartRadio content director, said, “Although COVID-19 restrictions are set to ease over the coming weeks and months, it’s still unlikely that we’ll have large scale music events for some time so we’ve created an opportunity for our audience to enjoy live music experiences from some of Australia’s biggest music stars – direct from their living room. We’re looking forward to sharing some surprises too, as many of the artists will be performing brand new music for their fans.”

Fans can listen live through iHeartRadio or via ARN’s KIIS Network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth according to the schedule below.

The live concerts will be available to watch on each station’s website, with catchup video available for 30 days following the performance.

Concert schedule

Sydney’s KIIS 1065, Melbourne’s KIIS 101.1, Brisbane’s 97.3FM and Adelaide’s MIX102.3 – 3 pm

June 21 – Sam Fischer 
June 28 – Samantha Jade
July 5 – Amy Shark
July 12 – Daryl Braithwaite
July 19 – Guy Sebastian  

The Edge Sydney – 3 pm
June 21 – Kota Banks/GRAACE/Emalia
June 28 – Samantha Jade
July 19 – Guy Sebastian

Perth’s 96FM – 6 pm
July 12 – Daryl Braithwaite

Vogue Australia announces Vogue Codes 2020 with a new virtual series

Vogue Australia editorial director Edwina McCann has announced a renewed partnership with Westpac and an expanded program of events for Vogue Codes 2020.

Vogue Codes 2020 launches on June 18 with an all-new virtual series that features a line-up of local and international speakers, intended to inspire women to be creators of the digital future and encourage female innovation.

Edwina McCann said: “Vogue Codes is our crusade to see women empowered by technology. With the past few months showing us the importance of technology more than ever, embracing tech and the learning behind it is so important for girls and women, so that we can play a role in our shared digital future. Of course we want women to be decision-makers and influence the direction of our society; this means engaging with the technology that’s driving change.

“The response to Vogue Codes since we launched five years ago has been overwhelmingly positive. Westpac has been our presenting partner from the very beginning and we are thrilled to have them with us again for 2020. We’re excited by the opportunities of our expanded program of virtual events this year, which will allow us to take the campaign across geographic borders and audiences and play in the virtual world.”

The Vogue Codes free series of virtual webinars are designed to inspire more females to pursue a career in STEAM. Speakers participating in the online series of events will share insights into the impact caused by COVID-19 to their businesses, learnings from this period and thoughts on what the future holds.

The schedule includes:

18 June Priti Joshi, Vice President Strategy, Bumble
14 July Kate Morris, Founder, Adore Beauty
11 August Meggie Palmer, Founder, PepTalkHer
15 September Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Design for Barbie and Fashion Dolls, Mattel Inc

Porchlight Films to cease operations as partners pursue new opportunities

The award-winning Australian production company Porchlight Films has announced it will cease operations as its three founding partners Vincent Sheehan, Liz Watts and Anita Sheehan move on to pursue new opportunities individually.

Founded in 1997, the prolific and proudly independent production company leaves behind an immense legacy of bold, cinematic screen content that has advanced the careers of numerous Australian directors, writers and actors, including 15 feature films, five television series, two documentaries and three short films.

Vincent Sheehan

Vincent Sheehan and Liz Watts will continue to work on individual projects currently in development, with Anita Sheehan, who has been managing director of Porchlight since 2015, leaving to pursue other opportunities after a short break. Productions currently being financed will continue to be produced under the Porchlight banner into 2021 including Kitty Flanagan’s comedy series Entitled and Nakkiah Lui and Gabe Dowrick’s Preppers.

Liz Watts

The three founding partners said: “We are indebted to our many brilliant and talented colleagues for their incredible contributions to Porchlight Films’ productions. We thank our very committed staff for their dedication and hard work, and we thank our many partners locally and internationally for their faith in the Porchlight brand. You have all contributed to Porchlight’s success and longevity. We have loved working together for the past 23 years and remain enormously proud of our catalogue of work. As we all move into a new phase in our careers, individually, we hope to continue to work with you all long into the future.”

Anita Sheehan

Porchlight Films’ award-winning film & TV legacy includes:

Rake creator Peter Duncan’s new political satire, Operation Buffalo (2020), currently airing on the ABC starring Ewen Leslie, Jessica de Gouw and James Cromwell.

Justin Kurzel’s interpretation True History of the Kelly Gang (2020) starring George MacKay, Essie Davis, Charlie Hunnam, Nicholas Hoult, Charlie Hunnam and Russell Crowe which was distributed on Stan.

The King (2019), David Michôd’s epic feature for Netflix starring Timothée Chalamet, Sean Harris, Joel Edgerton, written by David Michôd and Joel Edgerton, which premiered at Venice Film Festival 2019.

Garth DavisMary Magdalene (2018) starring Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara for Universal/Focus Pictures.

The psychological thriller The Kettering Incident (2016) created by Vicki Madden and Vincent Sheehan and starring Elizabeth Debicki and Matthew Le Nevez which won the AACTA Award for Best Telefeature or Mini Series, the Silver Logie for Best Mini Series and the Special Jury Prize at Series Mania Festival.

Michôd’s outback dystopian drama The Rover (2014), which screened in Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival in 2013, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

The feature film Jasper Jones (2017) directed by Rachel Perkins and based on the award-winning best seller by Craig Silvey, starring Toni Collette, Levi Miller, Angourie Rice and Hugo Weaving.

Indigenous playwright Nakkiah Lui’s web comedy Kiki and Kitty (2017), and her upcoming TV series Preppers (2021) co-written with Gabe Dowrick.

Michôd’s directorial debut, AFI-winning, Oscar-nominated Animal Kingdom (2010), which won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and spawned five seasons of the nihilistic family drama of the same name for US cable station TNT.

Two seasons of AFI Best Comedy series for the ABC, Laid (2011-2) with creators Marieke Hardy and Kirsty Fisher starring Alison Bell and Celia Pacquola.

Tony Krawitz’ first two feature films Jewboy (2005), which premiered in Un Certain Regard at Cannes Film Festival in 2005, and Dead Europe (2012) starring Ewen Leslie, Marton Csokas and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Black Widow director Cate Shortland’s second feature film, Lore (2012), a German-British-Australian historical drama based on Rachel Seiffert‘s lauded novel The Dark Room, which screened at Toronto Film Festival.

Willem Dafoe starrer The Hunter (2011), which screened at Toronto Film Festival and SXSW, from first-time feature director Daniel Nettheim, who went on to direct episodes of critically acclaimed and beloved British TV shows Line of Duty, Broadchurch and Doctor Who.

The Home Song Stories (2007), Tony Ayres’ biographical feature film starring Joan Chen and his debut feature film, Walking on Water (2002) both of which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Rowan WoodsLittle Fish (2005), starring Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving, which was nominated for 13 AFI Awards including five wins.

Long-time collaborator David Michôd said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have been taken into the Porchlight family. Liz, Vincent and Anita are brave and smart and tasteful, but most of all they are good eggs. Animal Kingdom would not have happened without them and so, of course, I will be forever grateful to them for everything that has happened for me since.”

The three partners will retain ownership of Jetty Distribution, which will continue to manage the ongoing rights in Porchlight’s catalogue.

Amazon reveals details of AFL doco from Eddie McGuire’s Jam TV

Amazon Prime Video has announced it has commenced production with the Australian Football League (AFL) and JAM TV Australia, on a brand new docu-series that follows six key individuals from six teams for their 2020 season of the AFL, the iconic game treasured by many Aussies across the country.

The untitled docu-series will launch exclusively in over 200 countries and territories in 2021.

The brand new series will give Prime members an exclusive behind the scenes look into the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, which has been impacted amidst the global COVID-19 crisis. Following four legendary players, a coach and an administrator across six different teams, the docu-series will provide a unique insight into the daily challenges and struggles on and off the field of professional football as they navigate their way through the season and these unprecedented times. As the new AFL season recommences for 2020, the six participants will offer viewers an insider view to one of Australia’s historic sporting traditions and go on to bring to life their road to glory, as the docu-series is set to culminate with the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final.

AFL players, coaches and administrators the series will follow include:

Peggy O’Neal, Richmond Football Club President
Nic Naitanui, West Coast Eagles player
Stuart Dew, Gold Coast Suns Head Coach
Stephen Coniglio, Greater Western Sydney Giants Captain
Eddie Betts, Carlton Football Club player
Rory Sloane, Adelaide Football Club Captain

Eddie Betts

“We are thrilled to be adding another Australian Amazon Original to our growing lineup for Prime members in Australia and around the world”, said James Farrell, Vice President of International Originals at Amazon Studios. “We’ve been investing in Australian content for several years, and are excited to add to that momentum with this exciting project. Prime Video has commissioned four Amazon Original series in Australia since 2019, including The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team, a series of 10 stand-up comedy specials by some of Australia’s best comedians, LOL: Last One Laughing Australia with Rebel Wilson and the upcoming Back to The Rafters. We are looking forward to continuing our work with talented Australian producers and crew teams across the country to bring the AFL docu-series to our Prime members globally.”

“Amazon Prime Video’s ability to tell stories and take fans behind the curtain is unprecedented in global sport and the AFL is proud to partner with Prime Video to showcase our game to the world” said Darren Birch, AFL General Manager, Growth, Digital and Audience. “We are facing unprecedented times in the history of our league, and to be able to document how it unfolds through the lens of some of our competition’s most influential and important figures will be something we look forward to bringing to life.”

“This collaboration with Amazon Prime Video is realising our vision of attracting new audiences whilst engaging our most loyal fans, through relevant, accessible on-demand entertainment content, supporting our leagues purpose to grow the game for all Australians”, said Head of AFL Media Sarah Wyse.

The untitled Australian Original docu-series in conjunction with Australian Football League will be produced by JAM TV Australia, with executive producer and director Gil Marsden (Den of Martians). Former Nine executive Cos Cardone is the CEO of Jam TV and Eddie McGuire is the chairman. Jam TV productions also include Millionaire Hot Seat, Sunday Footy Show and Footy Classified.

The as-yet untitled production will add to the growing line-up of Australian Amazon Original series, including the docu-series with Cricket Australia released in March 2020, The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team.

Top Photo: Adelaide captain Rory Sloane and GWS counterpart Stephen Coniglio are two of the stars who will feature in the new docu-series (Source: AFL)

TV Demand: 13 Reasons Why's last season rockets it to #1

Due to technical issues, we were unable to supply the TV Demand charts last week, and the two-week gap has provided some movement on the charts with the most noticeable change being 13 Reasons Why taking the #1 spot on all four charts.

The fourth and final season of the teen drama was released on Netflix on June 5 with the controversial series wrapping up with its final 10 episodes. The series centres on the lives of teenagers at the fictional Liberty High School with the first season detailing the 13 reasons why one of the characters killed herself.

Since the series premiere in 2017, 13 Reasons Why has been the centre of discussions due to the graphic nature of the show’s depiction of issues such as suicide and rape. After the response from mental health professionals and feedback from viewers, Netflix added a warning card before each season in 2018. Netflix also edited the suicide scene in season one in July of last year due to backlash.

A major new entry on the Digital Original charts is Space Force which features Steve Carrell‘s return to TV. Carrell co-created the show alongside Greg Daniels who was in charge of adapting the US version of The Office.
The workplace comedy focuses on the group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Carrell plays the general in charge of Space Force and his attempts to achieve the President’s demands for “boots on the moon” by 2024. The show also features John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers and Tawny Newsome.

What We Do in the Shadows has made its way on the Overall TV charts in NZ after the series began airings its second season on April 15. The HBO series is created by Jemaine Clement and is based on the New Zeland film of the same name written and directed by Clement and Taika Waititi.  The show is set in Staten Island, and follows vampires adapting to the modern world.

One interesting note is Paw Patrol has increased its position on the Overall TV charts after becoming the topic of debate recently centring on calls for the show to be cancelled amidst the black lives matter protests and the show portraying police in a positive manner.

The highest rating and only piece of Australian content on the digital original charts is The Voice which is in the midst of a successful season on Channel Nine regularly getting over 900,000 viewers. 

TV Ratings Tuesday June 16 Week 25 2020

By James Manning

• Seven regains top spot: Can it hold there for rest of week?
• MasterChef #3 overall, #1 key demos: Reece now big threat

Seven News 1,144,000/1,092,000
Nine News 1,069,000/979,000
ABC News 766,000
A Current Affair 669,000
The Project 325,000/575,000
7.30 570,000
10 News 386,000/270,000
Sunrise 278,000
News Breakfast 225,000
The Drum 215,000
Today 198,000
SBS World News 178,000

Seven: Home and Away climbed above 700,000 which hasn’t happened a lot lately.
Big Brother then grew nicely with 777,000 and then 807,000 for the eviction after Monday audiences of close to 665,000 for both parts of the episode. It was down week-on-week though after audience of 817,000 and 841,000 last Tuesday. Angela got the most votes for the eviction, but she was only evicted to the Big Brother bunker.
Again the demos and combo of Seven News, Home and Away and Big Brother pushed Seven to win the night all people and in key demos. Seven’s timeslot commercial share 16-39 last night was 47% (it ran later than MasterChef).
Later in the night Criminal Minds was on 281,000.

Nine: The channel again dipped dramatically on Tuesday. The highlight was a win for Nine News along the east coast.
Kath and Kim disappeared quickly from the Tuesday 7.30pm timeslot after last week. Paramedics got the call into service with 447,000 a better return for Nine.
RBT followed with 350,000.

10: Reece must be a real chance to win MasterChef Australia as he has secured a place in the final seven with another immunity win last night. He was first out the blocks on the four-way cook last night and he looks full of confidence and went about creating his dish methodically. The episode was again over 900,000, ranking #3 show for the night behind only Seven and Nine 6pm News. The episode won its timeslot in all demos, even narrowly ahead of Big Brother 16-39.
How To Stay Married then did 425,000 after 414,000 a week ago.

 ABC: Foreign Correspondent was on 412,000 after News and 7.30.
The second episode of Australia’s Ocean Odyssey did 375,000 after launching with 402,000.

SBS: Who Do You Think You Are? featured Denise Scott with 349,000 turning in.
Insight then did 257,000.

Week 25 TV: Tuesday
ABC11.1%719.9%915.9%10 14.6%SBS One6.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.7%7TWO3.4%GO!3.4%10 Bold3.7%VICELAND2.2%
ABC ME0.4%7mate3.1%GEM2.3%10 Peach2.6%Food Net1.2%
ABC NEWS1.6%7flix1.7%9Life2.2%  NITV0.1%
    9Rush1.1%  SBS World Movies0.5%
TOTAL15.8% 28.1% 24.8% 20.9% 10.4%


ABCSeven AffiliatesNine Affiliates10 AffiliatesSBS
ABC10.4%718.6%914.5%WIN11.5%SBS One5.6%
ABC ME0.7%7mate7.1%GEM3.5%WIN Peach1.7%Food Net0.9%
ABC NEWS1.2%7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)1.5%9Life2.8%Sky News  on WIN2.6%NITV0.1%
        SBS Movies0.7%
TOTAL15.7% 31.7% 23.9% 20.0% 9.0%


  1. Seven News Seven 1,144,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,092,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,069,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 979,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 952,000
  6. Big Brother – Eviction Seven 807,000
  7. Big Brother Seven 777,000
  8. ABC News ABC 766,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 704,000
  10. A Current Affair Nine 669,000
  11. The Chase Australia Seven 663,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 641,000
  13. The Project 7pm 10 575,000
  14. 7.30 ABC 570,000
  15. Paramedics Nine 447,000
  16. How To Stay Married 10 425,000
  17. Foreign Correspondent ABC 412,000
  18. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 401,000
  19. 10 News First 10 386,000
  20. Australia’s Ocean Odyssey ABC 375,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 279,000
  2. Big Brother – Eviction Seven 259,000
  3. Big Brother Seven 246,000
  4. Nine News Nine 148,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 147,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 440,000
  2. Big Brother – Eviction Seven 416,000
  3. Big Brother Seven 396,000
  4. Nine News Nine 265,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 254,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 482,000
  2. Big Brother – Eviction Seven 437,000
  3. Big Brother Seven 419,000
  4. Nine News Nine 319,000
  5. Seven News Seven 313,000
TUESDAY Multichannel
  1. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 192,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 174,000
  3. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 174,000
  4. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  5. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  6. Neighbours 10 Peach 163,000
  7. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 161,000
  8. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 158,000
  9. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 157,000
  10. Outback Truckers PM 7mate 155,000
  11. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  12. The Peacemaker 9GO! 137,000
  13. Luo Bao Bei ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  14. CSI: Miami (R) 10 Bold 134,000
  15. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  16. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Adventure ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  17. Highway Patrol-Ep.2 Pm 7mate 120,000
  18. Would I Lie To You? ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  19. Inspector Morse 7TWO 115,000
  20. Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 115,000
  1. The Death Of The Aussie Larrikin? Sky News Live 122,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 93,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 82,000
  4. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 66,000
  5. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 65,000
  6. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 63,000
  7. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 60,000
  8. Credlin Sky News Live 57,000
  9. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 57,000
  10. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 57,000
  11. PML Later Sky News Live 54,000
  12. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 53,000
  13. Blue’s Clues & You Nick Jr. 45,000
  14. Play Along With Sam Nick Jr. 45,000
  15. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 44,000
  16. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 43,000
  17. Alvinnn!!! And The Chipmunks Nick Jr. 42,000
  18. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 39,000
  19. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 39,000
  20. Ryan’s Mystery Playdate Nick Jr. 37,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

Private equity’s bargain buy: Bauer Aust & NZ sold for reported $50m

Mercury Capital, a Sydney-based private equity firm that invests in Australia and New Zealand, has agreed a deal to buy Bauer’s Australian and New Zealand business, reports Street Talk in The AFR.

Neither party has yet to confirm the transaction. It is expected that current management under chief executive Brendon Hill will initially continue to run the business. Mercury could also explore options for some of the recently closed brands in New Zealand.

The AFR reports Mercury and Bauer’s representatives signed the deal on Tuesday night, after months of on-again, off-again talks. Law firm King & Wood Mallesons advised Mercury, while MinterEllison advised Bauer.

Bridget Carter reported on a sale of Bauer Media in The Australian on Tuesday, with a sale possibly happening this week.

The AFR said the new owner was attracted by Bauer’s digital expansion potential and the key magazine titles, which reach nearly half of the country’s population, and will use experiences from owning NZ’s largest printing company Blue Star Group to make the most of the print side of the operations.

Street Talk reports Bauer Media originally paid $525 million for what was the ACP Magazines business, which was generating about $80 million earnings at the time, and rebranded it Bauer.

Street Talk adds the sale includes the recently completed $40 million Pacific Magazines acquisition, with Mercury paying less than $50 million.

[Read more]

Catalano the mystery party who held talks with Seven on The West

Antony Catalano and Seven West Media engaged about a potential deal on West Australian Newspapers, as the Australian Community Media executive chairman was looking to acquire News Corp Australia’s regional and community publishing portfolio, reports The AFR’s Max Mason and Sarah Thompson.

Seven provided Catalano with detailed financial information on WAN in late March-to-early April. However, talks did not progress.

Sources said Catalano and the Kerry Stokes-controlled business had discussions with a view to scale up ACM, which is a largely NSW and Victoria focused regional publishing business.

Seven dominates the media in Western Australia with the number-one TV network on the west coast, The West Australian and Sunday Times newspapers, and 19 regional newspapers and 13 community newspapers throughout the state. A sale of WAN would have dramatically changed the landscape of media in WA, which is dominated by the Stokes-controlled business.

[Read more]

Breakfast radio star re-appointed as chair of Film, TV & Radio School

AFTRS council chair Russel Howcroft has been re-appointed for a second three-year term, commencing July 1.

Howcroft has extensive experience in the screen industry and just this week was revealed as the new co-host of 3AW’s #1 Melbourne breakfast show, Ross and Russ. He is the former executive general manager of Network 10 and has served on a number of boards and foundations which focus on arts and film, including the Australian Film Institute and the Screen Forever Advisory Board.

In 2016, Howcroft was the founding chair of Think TV, a collaborative initiative between Australian free-to-air and subscription television broadcasters to promote television’s scale and effectiveness for advertisers across all screens.

Howcroft was also the inaugural chief creative officer at PwC Australia. He has also served as the chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia and chief executive officer of advertising agency George Patterson Y&R and been a regular panellist on ABC TV’s Gruen.

Joining the AFTRS council from July 1 is Chris Oliver-Taylor, Fremantle CEO Asia-Pacific.

“We are delighted to have the brilliant Chris Oliver-Taylor join the council. He brings incredible energy and enthusiasm – and he’s going to make a really significant contribution to council and the school,” Howcroft said.

Oliver-Taylor was previously managing director of Matchbox Pictures from 2011-2018. During his tenure at Matchbox Pictures, the company commissioned The Real Housewives franchise for Foxtel, 7 Types of Ambiguity and Barracuda for the ABC, and Safe Harbour and Date My Race for SBS. Matchbox won 20 AACTA Awards, an International Emmy, nine Logies and nine Screen Producers of Australia Awards with Oliver-Taylor at the helm. Prior to joining Matchbox, he was the ABC’s head of production, with overall responsibility for the production and delivery of the entire ABC TV slate as well as the financial management, business affairs, scheduling and broadcast operations of ABC TV.

Oliver-Taylor currently sits on the boards of Film Victoria, MediaRing and the Fremantle global board.

News Brands

MPs want media watchdog neutered after Alan Jones rulings

Backbench government MPs want to strip away the powers of the Australian Communications and Media Authority to investigate and punish journalists, following its recent rulings against former radio star Alan Jones, reports The Australian’s Richard Ferguson.

ACMA last month found Jones in breach of broadcasting rules for making – what the watchdog deemed – inaccurate claims about biomass being a fossil fuel, and incorrect comparisons of Australia and New Zealand’s use of solar and wind.

The authority has long been targeted by free-speech advocates over rulings based on what it considers to be inaccurate, even if the matters considered are politically contested.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly, Nationals MP George Christensen and former resources minister Matthew Canavan raised their concerns about ACMA’s broad powers and its ruling against Jones directly with Scott Morrison at a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday.

[Read more]


Daryl Somers facing potential showdown with ex-business manager

A messy court showdown looms for TV legend Daryl Somers, who was on Tuesday threatened with action by his former business manager, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The Hey Hey It’s Saturday host is alleged to have treated Alex Mathey “appallingly” and “cruelly”.

Until recently Mathey was chief executive and group legal counsel for Somers and his wife Julie and their production company.

The statement read: “Regrettably, my relationship with the Somers has devolved into a protracted and rather nasty dispute. I consider that the Somers have treated me appallingly and, in fact, cruelly – in contravention of particular laws as well as in violation of generally accepted standards and norms of acceptable and appropriate behaviour and conduct.”

Mathey went on to state that the Somers had been “unwilling and unable to even listen to and acknowledge my concerns let alone entertain any sensible, reasonable or fair resolution to address them”.

He will give them a final opportunity to resolve their issues before taking Somers to court.

“It is unfortunate that all the various issues are likely to be ventilated, argued and fought out in the public domain because all along it has been entirely avoidable and, I think, are likely to cause significant distress and embarrassment and lasting collateral damage to all concerned,” Mathey wrote.

Somers did not respond to inquiries from the Herald Sun.

According to entertainment reporter Peter Ford, who settled his own legal fight with Somers in February, if the matter goes to court Mathey will be backed up by some Hey Hey It’s Saturday stars.

[Read more]

The star of TV’s new dream team: MasterChef judge Melissa Leong

Melissa Leong is now in her second food competition series, having moved from The Chef’s Line on SBS to MasterChef Australia where she is quickly emerging as a new fan favourite, reports TV Tonight.

The 10 series is also her second in which cooks are under the griller of a ticking clock, frenzied drama and noisy intensity. Cooking competitions are successful around the world and Leong insists it makes for great TV.

“Aside from that, there is no push for them to be dramatic. They are themselves in that moment,” she tells TV Tonight.

“The kitchen gives them every single thing that they need to succeed. We are there to cheer them on. In the same way that professional kitchens run, it thrives off a huge amount of energy and action. Whatever kind of pressure is going on in the kitchen, it’s the heat of service. It’s having dockets on the path, having hungry people in the dining room waiting for their food.”

Leong was invited to join the series when she was travelling down the Mekong River in Cambodia with Aussie chef David Thompson. But the seasoned food writer was firm with producers that she would not be modifying her style. That suited them to a tee.

“It’s just been a very fluid conversation where they’ve always let me be me. That was something that I wanted to make a point of right from the beginning,” she insists.

“Endemol are wonderfully supportive and they’re masters in this business. So they of course, knew what I would be like and they said ‘That’s exactly why you’re here. We want you to be yourself.’”

The reception to the new team, with fellow judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, has been a dream. The newbies were cleverly introduced by Gordon Ramsay and the familiarity of returning contestants. At 12 seasons, MasterChef shows no signs of slowing down.

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Sports Media

Seven, Foxtel expected to pay full fees to Cricket Australia: Eddings

Cricket Australia will follow through with a major internal restructure despite chairman Earl Eddings insisting there is no reason why Seven West Media and Foxtel should not pay their full broadcast rights fees this summer, reports The Age’s Jon Pierik.

Seven and Foxtel are due to make their next major payment on September 16, the third year of their record $1.18 billion agreement, which underpins the sport. Foxtel pays about $110 million, including cash and contra, annually while Seven pays about $82 million annually in cash and contra over three instalments.

The manner in which CA has handled the COVID-19 crisis has led to the demise of chief executive Kevin Roberts, who had predicted a write-down of about $200 million in revenue this summer.

That will culminate in mass redundancies of CA staff on Wednesday, but the frustration of those who have been stood down or had to accept 80 per cent pay cuts in recent months has only been exacerbated by CA’s declaration that it doesn’t expect Seven and Fox Sports to seek a reduction in fees.

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AFL stars to spearhead new Prime Video docu-series from Jam TV

AFL captains Rory Sloane and Stephen Coniglio, and stars Nic Naitanui and Eddie Betts, will be key faces in Amazon’s new docu-series to launch in 2021, reports’s Mitch Cleary.

As well as Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew and Richmond president Peggy O’Neal, cameras will track the six individuals through their every move in 2020 to bring fans unprecedented behind-the-scenes insight.

Filming started ahead of the 2020 season and continued during the COVID-19 shutdown, while filmmakers have been granted special access for the restricted season restart.

Such is the access, cameramen were spotted in the GWS rooms tracking Coniglio in round one, and at the Crows’ quarter-time address during the Showdown capitulation against Port Adelaide on Saturday.

The series on the six AFL figures follows the success of Amazon’s project on the Australian cricket team, The Test.

“We are thrilled to be adding another Australian Amazon Original to our growing lineup for Prime members in Australia and around the world,” vice president of International Originals at Amazon Studios James Farrell said.

The AFL series will be produced by JAM TV Australia in conjunction with the AFL and Den of Martians and be available for members on Prime Video across more than 200 countries from next year.

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