Friday June 5, 2020

Crocmedia rocks into Sydney with plans to acquire two radio stations

Sports broadcaster SEN’s parent company Pacific Star Network (trading as Crocmedia) has announced its expansion into Sydney with the acquisition of the 2CH 1170 AM radio licence and plans to acquire an additional licence 1539 AM Sydney.

2CH had been owned by EON Broadcasting and it will receive a total payment of $11.2m over a two-year period for the licence.

Crocmedia chief executive officer Craig Hutchison addressed 2CH staff this morning about the acquisition and short term plans. It is expected that the AM music station will eventually change format and become a Sydney sports station branded SEN, a sister radio station to SEN in Melbourne and Sydney.

In a statement Hutchison said he was excited to expand the company’s owned radio platform and audience reach into Sydney.

The opportunity to own and run a commercial licence in Sydney is rare – especially on a station and signal that has built such a loyal audience as 2CH. Combined with our plans to launch racing service SEN Track into Sydney, we are incredibly excited to expand our footprint into Australia’s biggest city,” Hutchison said.

To support the company’s growth, Simon Dennis has been appointed as group commercial director – NSW. Dennis formerly enjoyed a long career at SCA in Adelaide and Sydney as group sales director and has also worked for Groupon and ARN.

“I’m super excited to be working back in radio and helping grow the SEN brand locally,” Dennis said.

In the short term 2CH will continue with existing programming. The licence for 1539 AM will become the third SEN Track station in NSW and the seventh in Australia. It will feature a local breakfast show hosted by Sydney sports broadcasters Joel Caine and Jimmy Smith.

In NSW, Breakfast with Joel and Jimmy will provide a local lead into each day’s racing coverage – commencing 22nd June on SEN Track 1575 AM Wollongong and 801 AM Gosford. It will start soon after in Sydney when SEN Track launches on 1539 AM.

“With the NRL back with a bang, and fans craving sport, we can’t wait to give listeners their morning sports fix,” said footballer turned commentator Smith.

Joel Caine who played for the Balmain Tigers, the Wests Tigers and remains the highest ever points scorer for West Tigers, said he was thrilled to be joining SEN Track.

Racing will take centre stage each day after breakfast, with SEN Track offering racing fans previews, analysis, insights and reviews of key races across the country along with interviews with owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys.

“We are incredibly excited to launch SEN Track – Australia’s first independent racing, harness and greyhound radio racing service into Sydney and we are delighted that we can maintain our parochial approach to state-by-state content, with our new local breakfast show,” said Hutchison.

“The radio signals we have acquired all sit in great spots on the AM dial, and will be paired as always with an aggressive digital strategy.

“We can’t wait to get right behind NSW racing, harness and greyhounds and help attract and keep new fans to these great industries in the fun and social tone that SEN Track seeks to hit each day. And with two of the state’s most entertaining sports identities getting us off and racing each morning, we expect plenty of fun and insights along the way,” he said.

SEN Track also recently launched in Melbourne on 1377 AM, Perth on 657 AM, Ingham 96.9 FM, Atherton 99.1 FM, Wollongong 1575 AM, Gosford 801 AM and will commence broadcasting on 7th September in Brisbane on 1053AM and Gold Coast 1620AM. It can also be heard via the SEN app.

See also:
Hutchy’s Crocmedia update: How COVID-19 impacted broadcaster
Plus SEN Track launch, live sport revenue, Footy Record, podcast strategy

Anchor Michael Holmes on the night CNN was stormed

By James Manning

• Former Nine reporter on 40th anniversary of the news channel

CNN has been quietly marking its 40th anniversary this week at a time when it is covering two of the biggest news stories across those four decades.

For 25 of those 40 years former Nine News and A Current Affair reporter Michael Holmes has been covering the big stories that drive audiences to the news channel. The Australian reporter from Perth was on air last weekend when crowds gathered outside his Atlanta workplace.

Holmes told the story of how he had a surreal moment driving to work in Atlanta on Friday night a week ago when he pulled up behind three National Guard Humvees. “The last time I was behind a convoy of Humvees it wasn’t in this city,” he posted on Instagram.

On the phone from his home in Atlanta this week Holmes explained when he arrived at the CNN car park that night he found it was a staging area for the National Guard with a dozen military vehicles and a couple of troop moving trucks.

That Friday night saw protesters in Atlanta moved to the outside of the CNN building where some graffitied the broadcaster’s signage.

Holmes’ photo of the protestors in Atlanta outside CNN headquarters

“Because most of the roads were blocked I had to take a circuitous route to get in,” Holmes told Mediaweek. “CNN had been taking security precautions and that night there was only just four of us left in the newsroom for the night.

I went into an office overlooking the entrance and it was extraordinary to see things being lobbed at police, broken windows and the defacing of the CNN letters.

Holmes said he thought the demonstrators picked out CNN because it was a visible landmark downtown.

“I didn’t feel under any threat that night and I’ve seen a lot worse. It was a very sad weekend though. People rallied each night, but they were moved back a little further away from our building.”

Holmes noted that while the demonstrations across the US and now the rest of the world were dominating coverage this week, CNN was still covering COVID-19. One question he was asking medical experts last week was could the virus spread amongst mass gatherings.

“A lot of people are still worried because it can take two weeks for symptoms to manifest.”

At present Holmes hosts weekend overnights which puts him on air in Australia late afternoon on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. “The beauty of CNN is that it is primetime somewhere around the world. It is also a time that a lot of other things are happening around the world and it can be a very busy shift.”

Holmes is working in his 25th year at CNN. He has spent most of that time on location covering stories in all parts of the world. As to whether he is now focusing on being an anchor, he told Mediaweek: “I bloody hope not! Every time I communicate with my bosses it is about getting me back out. But COVID-19 has put a halt to much of the travel.”

Originally hired as an anchor, Holmes joined CNN in 1996.

“I had never anchored before and it was a whole new challenge for me. After 911 we had people dispatched all over the world and with my international experience I soon found myself in Pakistan and then Afghanistan where I did a couple of tours. Because I had covered the first Intifada I was going back and forward to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza many times covering the second. I knew Arafat which helped me get a couple of exclusives. When Iraq started in 2003 I became one of a core group that would go back and forth.”

Holmes ended up making 17 separate trips to cover the Iraq conflict and his most recent trip was in 2017 covering the Battle for Mosul.

“For me the ideal was spending about three months of the year on assignment. Last year I went to Gaza for the big demonstrations and then stayed for the election. They moved me to London to cover the climate change protest and then to Notre Dame for the fire. Next it was to Venezuela for a protest and then back and forth to Mexico for the immigration crisis. It was a busy year.”

In 1996 Holmes arrived in Atlanta to start at CNN. It was a milestone year for cable TV news with the launch of both Fox News and MSNBC. “Fox News did eventually shake up things on the conservative side. That didn’t really change the way we did things, we were resolute throughout.”

The past few days in particular have seen a number of reporters around the world, including Australians, facing the ire of people protesting and police. “Every story is different. Demonstrations always have their own challenges and we are pretty visible and some people have differing opinions of the media. They can be very dangerous things and the trouble can be the things you don’t see coming. In Baghdad in 2003, when we could still go on the streets, things turned on a dime and we had to flee for our lives. I got hit with a rubber bullet once in Belfast during a demonstration.”

As to the impact Trump might have had on the way people view the media, Holmes said it was probably only his supporters who had been impacted. “He is all about ‘fake news’ which usually boils down to something he doesn’t like or agree with. It becomes a bit more sinister when he calls media ‘the enemy of the people’. It is dangerous rhetoric and it is unbecoming.”

Holmes admits to being “a little daunted and massively terrified” when he arrived at CNN. “I had brief stint in Sydney at the first failed attempt at launching an ABC news channel where I was meant to be an anchor. We never got out of rehearsal of course. The ABC had a consultant from CNN who recommended me when he returned to Atlanta.

When I arrived I expected very little and hoped for the best. I was absolutely terrified and hoping I wouldn’t screw it up. I can’t believe it has been 25 years. It has given me opportunities to report on a global stage. My kids made me look it up once and I have been to 84 countries and CNN is responsible for a lot of that.”

Holmes was the first Australian to be hired at CNN. Plenty of other followed in his footsteps. “A little later Rosemary Church joined then others including Hugh Riminton, Anna Coren, John Vause.” The overnight shift features Holmes, Church and Vause across the week. Over the years other Australians at the news organisation have included Andrew Stephens and Stan Grant.

Holmes revealed he has had a couple of offers over the years to return to Australian TV. “But they weren’t offers that made me want to return. When I thought about it I had to consider, ‘What would any other news outfit offer me that CNN doesn’t?’ I get to anchor several hours a day and then when something huge happens I am often dispatched to cover it on the ground.”

Holmes carries three passports – Australia, US and British and he admitted he takes them to work each day…just in case!

Among former Aussie colleagues, Holmes stays in touch with Robert Penfold who recently retired from Nine where he was US bureau chief. “Rob and I were in the London bureau together in the late 80s and early 90s.” Holmes also mentioned a good mate of his from the early days in Perth is Geoff Hutchison who hosts mornings on 720 ABC Perth.

Seven and Kochie’s Business Builders launch Small Business campaign

David Koch’s Pinstripe Media is launching a campaign this week in partnership with Network Seven called Small Business First.

The six-month initiative will focus the spotlight on small businesses and their survival through the rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis and the economic recession.

Small Business First will feature an 8-part TV series to run on Seven’s primary channel starting this Sunday at 1pm. Also launched this week is the Small Business First digital hub built to help small businesses access new customers with community deals, find special offers from other businesses, and access a comprehensive content hub.

Google, MYOB, Canva, Salesforce, Yellow, Scottish Pacific Business Finance (ScotPac) and Officeworks are the collective of brands supporting the campaign.

“Small Business First is all about helping small businesses make money, save money, and find great, reliable content to help them survive this period. The show will bring the stories and the expert insights, while the hub will help business owners find new customers with special deals and get offers from the big end of town”, said David Koch, who will anchor the program from Pinstripe Media’s studio in Barangaroo.

Kochie also leads a team of “Business Champions” which also includes Small & Family Business Minister Michaelia Cash, founder of Buy From The Bush Grace Brennan, Helen McCabe founder of Future Women, and entrepreneurs Sam Wood and Michael Klim, who will act as ambassadors.

“We were after brands who are genuinely supportive of the small business community and wanted to be involved for the right reasons. Our partners have been extremely forthcoming with practical ideas and solutions to help the audience get through this challenging period”, said Pinstripe commercial director Ross Kidd.

The digital platform will give businesses a free listing in a directory where they can promote their offers to customers, sell vouchers, and encourage consumers to support them in other ways. A deals marketplace will bring together specials from “the big end of town” which are available to small businesses with free and discounted product, tools, resources, and advice.

An extensive learning hub will have ongoing content and resources for businesses to put into action, including a podcast series, a weekly live webcast, and digital video content.

Brands who wish to add to the deals marketplace can contact

Mercado on TV: Mainstream TV needs more Indigenous Australians

By Andrew Mercado

With the news cycle pivoting from coronavirus to #BlackLivesMatter and then #AboriginalLivesMatter, some Aussie networks were better prepared than others in one key area.

Which newsrooms have Indigenous Australians who can talk authentically about this subject?

10 has Narelda Jacobs on Studio 10, and The Project brought in Nakkiah Lui as a co-host last Tuesday. On the day social media had lit up about the Aboriginal teenager, who was face slammed into the ground by a Sydney cop, The Project devoted their entire show to indigenous issues and Lui spoke from the heart. Probably their finest hour yet, watch it back on 10Play.

Network 10’s Narelda Jacobs

Nine has entertainment reporter Brooke Boney and sports reporter Jake Duke. They had a timely chat, with Karl and Allison on Today, about some of the things their family have been been through, and it wasn’t pretty. “It shouldn’t take an American almost-Civil War for us to talk about this,” said Duke, and he wasn’t wrong there.

But where is the indigenous reporter who can speak from experience on Seven? It’s great that Sam and Kochie have been interviewing black guests all week by Skype, but it would be much more memorable if there was someone familiar that’s part of the Sunrise family.

The only thing whiter than Seven is Sky News and they spent the week on much more important stories like which ABC presenters tweet. Which reminds me, can someone tell Gerard Henderson that it’s Juanita Phillips, not Jacinta.

The good news is Big Brother (Monday on Seven) looks like it’s going to be fun with a good mix of ages and nationalities. Seven really need this to be a hit and the timing is perfect for a comeback. Fingers crossed.

Celebrity Gogglebox USA (Thursday on 10) features Aussies Kym Johnson and Curtis Stone, as well as Rob Lowe, Meghan Trainor, Sharon, Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne (and his ventriloquist doll) and the brilliant voice from the UK original, Craig Cash. The first episode is a cracker – it’s a good stand-in for the Aussie version.

Space Force (Netflix) is a Steve Carrell comedy without any comedy. It’s so bad, the reviews are funnier. How’s this from TV Guide: “It’s a sleek, high-powered expensive rocket that tips over and explodes on a school bus of children before it can even launch.” Ouch.

Hopefully 60 Minutes (Sunday on Nine) will be funnier when they interview Pete Evans this weekend, unshackled and unhinged. It’s been a trifecta of trash from them over the past few weeks, what with Kyle Sandilands and Arabella Del Busso, so who’s on next week? The new poo jogger?

TV Ratings Thursday June 4 Week 23 2020

By James Manning

• Return of The Front Bar helps Seven to all people wins
• Top 10: MasterChef and Callum lead channel to demo #1

Seven News 1,104,000/1,040,000
Nine News 1,040,000/1,018,000
ABC News 818,000
A Current Affair 689,000
7.30 556,000
The Project 389,000/572,000
10 News 405,000/278,000
Sunrise 288,000
Today 230,000
The Drum 215,000
News Breakfast 196,000
SBS World News 170,000

Seven: Home and Away and finished its week on 637,000 after three other nights all above 600,000.
Britain’s Got Talent then did 485,000.
The Front Bar returned with a tribute to Dennis Cometti after his Hall of Fame induction, a message from Neale Daniher then a visit from his daughter ahead of The Big Freeze on Monday, a remote interview with Gil McLachlan and a visit from Daisy Thomas. As the show ended on Mick’s Multi, Sam Pang asked “How did this segment survive the coronavirus?” The episode was on 338,000 with 220,000 in Melbourne.

Nine: Karl Stefanovic has been hosting A Current Affair his week. The Thursday episode featured an interview with Prime Minister Scott Morrison with 689,000 watching. This comes after audiences of 859,000, 762,000 and 752,000 earlier this week.
The NRL match was a blowout with the Broncos failing to score as the Roosters put on 59 points. The Nine audience was 386,000 after 493,000 a week ago.

10: Marc Fennell was a guest on The Project as he continues his promo campaign for his new Audible podcast Nut Jobs. The episode was on 572,000 after Wednesday was just over 600,000.
The three-way contest for immunity featured Poh, Khanh and Callum cooking across three rounds – a toasty in 15 minutes, a dinner in 20 minutes and then a dessert in 30 minutes. The judges were scoring each dish out of 10 and the electronic scoreboard made an appearance too. Callum was four points behind after two rounds but a dessert dish pushed him to the top of the scoreboard and secured him the first spot in the top 10. One of the other 10 contestants will be eliminated on Sunday. The episode was on 970,000 after 960,000 a week ago.
The MasterChef crowd was enough to again make 10 the #1 network and channel under 50 and in key demos.

ABC: Grand Designs Australia featured a 70s retro home in Geelong with 285,000 watching.
The Heights then did 207,000.

SBS: The final of The World’s Most Beautiful Railway did 255,000 followed by a repeat of Britain’s Most Historic Towns on 166,000.

Week 23 TV: Thursday
ABC9.7%718.4%917.9%10 17.8%SBS One4.8%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.7%7TWO4.6%GO!1.5%10 Bold4.6%VICELAND1.2%
ABC ME0.3%7mate2.5%GEM2.4%10 Peach2.4%Food Net1.1%
ABC NEWS2.0%7flix1.8%9Life1.9%  NITV0.2%
    9Rush1.0%  SBS World Movies1.1%
TOTAL14.8% 27.3% 24.7% 24.8% 8.4%


ABCSeven AffiliatesNine Affiliates10 AffiliatesSBS
ABC9.3%719.3%917.7%WIN13.2%SBS One4.7%
ABC ME0.8%7mate3.9%GEM3.2%WIN Peach2.2%Food Net0.7%
ABC NEWS1.3%7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)1.8%9Life2.1%Sky News  on WIN2.3%NITV0.2%
        SBS Movies1.0%
TOTAL13.8% 31.7% 24.6% 22.8% 8.0%


  1. Seven News Seven 1,104,000
  2. Nine News Nine 1,040,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,040,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,018,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 970,000
  6. ABC News ABC 818,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 689,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 641,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 637,000
  10. The Project 7pm 10 572,000
  11. 7.30 ABC 556,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 552,000
  13. Britain’s Got Talent Seven 485,000
  14. 10 News First 10 405,000
  15. The Project 6.30pm 10 389,000
  16. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 373,000
  17. Sammy J ABC 353,000
  18. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 342,000
  19. The Front Bar Seven 338,000
  20. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 337,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 285,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 145,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 139,000
  4. Nine News Nine 131,000
  5. Seven News Seven 111,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 467,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 270,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 260,000
  4. Nine News Nine 251,000
  5. Seven News Seven 220,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 499,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 325,000
  3. Nine News Nine 318,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 300,000
  5. Seven News Seven 291,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 202,000
  2. Miss Scarlet And The Duke PM 7TWO 183,000
  3. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 164,000
  4. Miss Scarlet And The Duke-Ep.2 Pm 7TWO 159,000
  5. Neighbours 10 Peach 155,000
  6. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 154,000
  7. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 151,000
  8. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 151,000
  9. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 145,000
  10. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 145,000
  11. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  12. Father Brown PM 7TWO 143,000
  13. Rita And Crocodile PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  14. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 141,000
  15. Rusty Rivets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  16. Luo Bao Bei ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  17. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  18. Play School Nursery Rhyme News Time PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 134,000
  19. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  20. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  1. Live: NRL: Broncos V Roosters FOX LEAGUE 216,000
  2. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 84,000
  3. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 72,000
  4. Live: NRL Pre Game Thursday FOX LEAGUE 67,000
  5. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 66,000
  6. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 61,000
  7. Credlin Sky News Live 56,000
  8. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 48,000
  9. Gold Rush: White Water Discovery Channel 43,000
  10. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 42,000
  11. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 40,000
  12. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 40,000
  13. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 38,000
  14. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 38,000
  15. NCIS FOX Crime 36,000
  16. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 36,000
  17. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 36,000
  18. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 35,000
  19. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 34,000
  20. The Simpsons FOX8 33,000

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

Final AAP bids land, no takers for the entire business

The long wait for Australian Associated Press journalists is nearing an end with a decision on the newswires’ future expected in coming days, reports The AFR’s Sarah Thompson, Anthony Macdonald and Tim Boyd.

Final offers for the AAP business went in on Wednesday night and it’s believed there’s different bidders for different parts of the business.

A consortium led by former Foxtel and News Corp Australia chief executive Peter Tonagh lobbed a bid for the newswire part of the business, including the fact-checking and photo divisions.

There weren’t any bids for the entire AAP business, making the process of reaching agreement, if one is brokered at all, more difficult.

[Read more]

Advertisers push back 85pc of oOh!media bookings to second half

oOh!media saw around 85 per cent of its April and May bookings for outdoor advertising pushed into the second half of 2020 as COVID-19 lockdowns pushed the ad market off a cliff, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

oOh!media, which completed an emergency $167 million capital raising to deal with bookings drying up, has been slashing costs to get through the pandemic.

“As you would expect, out-of-home has been impacted more proportionately than other forms of media, given the audience decline as a direct result of the movement restrictions in relation to COVID-19,” chief executive Brendon Cook told oOh!media’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

[Read more]

KordaMentha called in to recheck the pulse of regional media

The federal communications department spent more than $99,000 seeking a second opinion on the state of Australia’s struggling regional broadcasting sector after an initial report proposed regulatory reform, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Advisory firm KordaMentha was hired by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication last November to conduct ‘independent research or assessment’ on regional broadcasters, including WIN Corp, Prime Media Group and Southern Cross Austereo, three months after a report was completed by retired PwC partner and media and telecommunications industry leader Megan Brownlow.

In her report, Brownlow agreed with the view of regional broadcasting executives, laying out the dire state of the sector and a need for regulatory change to prevent closures in the near-term, which can be defined as the next 12-18 months.

Sources familiar with the report’s findings said Brownlow, who was paid $11,200 for the research, set out a list of recommendations including the removal of media laws, which would allow for mergers and acquisitions in television, print and radio to salvage regional newsrooms.

[Read more]

News Brands

Channel Seven News Brisbane breaches privacy and impartiality rules

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Channel Seven News Brisbane breached privacy and impartiality rules during two news programs which related to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), broadcast on 30 and 31 July 2019.

An ACMA investigation found there was a breach of the privacy of two QBCC staff members. The news story on 30 July contained images of their names, job titles and signatures which was unnecessary and not in the public interest.

The investigation also found Channel Seven News Brisbane was not fair and impartial in its presentation of allegations on 31July of QBCC’s handling of a customer complaint.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said broadcasters need to adhere to the regulations set out in their relevant codes of practice.

“The Commercial Television Code of Practice has clear definitions of what is acceptable to broadcast. Channel Seven News Brisbane failed to meet its obligations under the Code,” O’Loughlin said.

“By failing to give the QBCC the opportunity to respond to the allegations aired in the 31 July news story, it failed to present the news fairly and impartially.”

Channel Seven News Brisbane will circulate a copy of the ACMA’s finding to news editorial staff within Seven Brisbane and include the decision and its reasoning in its staff Code training. Given Seven’s record of code compliance, the ACMA considers those actions are sufficient remedial actions in the circumstances.

Ad revenue key to regional press restart, says Antony Catalano

Australian Community Media owner Antony Catalano is hoping to resume the publication of its suspended regional newspapers, subject to the advertising recovery, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Catalano, who together with billionaire fund manager Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investment bought ACM from Nine Entertainment for $125m last June, said there were early signs of improvement in advertising revenue as the government lifts coronavirus restrictions following a “challenging” few months.

“Everyone within the company has pulled together to meet the challenges. Advertising revenue was impacted dramatically but we’re seeing early signs of improvement as restrictions are lifted,” Catalano told The Australian.

Catalano said ACM is currently reviewing all its suspended titles and the current environment to decide when they will resume publishing. He said there was no point in bringing them back if local traders were not open and areas remained in lockdown.

Catalano said there were no plans to follow News Corp Australia’s recent decision to stop publishing the bulk of its regional and local newspapers and make them digital-only.

[Read more]


Michael Rowland, 10 years underneath the radar at News Breakfast

“Touch wood I have not had a ‘viral moment’ which I think it’s an amazing achievement in 10 years of live national TV 15 hours of every week,” Michael Rowland tells TV Tonight.

“I haven’t done or said anything that has got me publicity for all the wrong reasons.”

Today marks 10 years with News Breakfast today, having joined the show in June 2010, yet while the likes of Karl, Kochie, Sam and even Virginia have all had their moments of clickbait coverage, ABC’s affable morning host has managed to avoid them all. The worst he can recall in his decade is walking in front of the camera or doing something else when the cameras switch to him.

“On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of highlights. I’ve had the privilege of covering some really big stories both here and oversea. I guess getting over to States for the last two Presidential elections has been a highlight, particularly the last one in 2016.

“It turned into a 10-hour broadcasting marathon when it became very clear that Hillary Clinton wasn’t according to the polls going to be President Donald Trump was going to win. That was a really long night.”

Rowland had been a US correspondent prior to joining News Breakfast, covering stories such as the Obama election and the global financial crisis. But his career very nearly took a different turn out of school.

“My first job out of school was as a management trainee for Westpac. I did that for a couple of months before I got into a journalism course. I have pondered where I could have gone if I stayed on the Westpac tram!” he recalls.

[Read more]

Aussie TV hosts public showdown: ‘You’re a racist’

Faustina ‘Fuzzy’ Agolley has called out her former Video Hits co-host Axle Whitehead for being “a racist”, which he denies, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The pair, who appeared together on the music show back in 2006, came to blows after Whitehead posted a picture of a yellow tile with the caption #asianlivesmatter.

Agolley initially called Whitehead out in the comments on the picture, which has since been deleted.

“Axle Whitehead is a racist,” she wrote in a subsequent post on her own social media, sharing the private exchange.

“Posted a yellow tile with the hashtag Asian Lives Matter thinking it’s a joke. he then blocked me when I didn’t take my public post down after I called him in four times. His final post in defence of his ‘joke’ was a screen grab of a false stat from Twitter about white men being killed by US police more than any other race. That’s it. That’s all he had. No mention of stats (if real research was had) but was much research done on Video Hits?”

[Read more]

Sports Media

AFL close to TV deal with Seven as Foxtel holds out for discount

The AFL is on the brink of securing a two-year extension of its television rights deal with Seven West Media at a reduced price but pay TV operator Foxtel is holding out for an even bigger discount, report Nine publishing’s Zoe Samios and Jake Niall.

Multiple media industry sources who requested anonymity because the negotiations are confidential told The Age that Seven is seeking a cost reduction on its current deal in exchange for a two year extension that would give the AFL more financial certainty in a weakening economy.

Seven was expected to pay about $150 million to the AFL this year under its existing deal.

[Read more]

AFL faces cash crunch as big TV rights deal in limbo

The AFL is in danger of restarting its season without a TV rights deal in a deepening drama for league boss Gillon McLachlan, reports News Corp’s Michael Warner.

Failure to strike a revised agreement with broadcasters Channel 7 and Foxtel before next Thursday night’s Collingwood-Richmond MCG clash will leave the game’s finances in a precarious position.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” an insider told the Herald Sun on Thursday night.

The networks are pushing for a reduction of about $150 million on their 2020 payments because the season has been compromised by the COVID-19 crisis.

Reports on Monday that Seven and Foxtel had withheld payments to the AFL were incorrect.

The league received a full payment last December and again in mid-March, meaning broadcasters have forked out two instalments for a single round of football.

The next payment is due in July. An AFL commission subcommittee, including McLachlan, former News Corp boss Kim Williams, Paul Bassat and Robyn Bishop, is leading the league’s negotiations.

Before the coronavirus, the AFL pocketed an average of $417 million a year in TV rights as part of a six-year, $2.5 billion deal with Seven, Foxtel and Telstra that expires at the end of 2022.

FOXTEL $217m
CHANNEL 7 $140m (plus $10m contra)

TOTAL $417m

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Hall of Fame makes 'centimetre perfect' call on Dennis Cometti

Dennis Cometti has on Thursday night been presented with “centimetre perfect” public acknowledgment as one of the AFL’s greatest callers, with induction into the Australian Football Hall of Fame, reports AFL’s Damian Barrett.

The Western Australian with the smooth voice said he was overwhelmed to be afforded the honour.

“I didn’t think I was eligible when told of it, but I suppose retirement is a loose term in life and the footy business, and I’m happy to admit I’m still having a lot of fun being involved in a small way with the game,” Cometti said.

Cometti was a more than handy footballer – kicking 63 goals in the 1968 WAFL season for West Perth under the coaching of Polly Farmer – before focusing on a career in broadcast media, initially as a DJ with a liking for a couple of up-and-coming bands, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

Cometti was mainly a cricket commentator when at the ABC between 1972 and 1985, but after he joined Channel Seven from 1986 his profile, already sizeable in WA, became a national, and much-loved one.

For the next 35 years, Cometti dominated the airwaves with a unique, accurate, highly entertaining style which has reaped dozens of high-end individual awards and an almost impossible, across-the-board, deep love from the viewing and listening public.

Cometti’s love of radio has never diminished and, while he is now “retired”, he still calls Perth matches for Triple M, where he gets a “great buzz” in working with his son Mark.

Cometti has coined some of football’s most iconic broadcasting phrases, including “centimetre perfect” and “like a cork in the ocean”.

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Dennis Cometti inducted into the Australian football Hall of Fame

Dennis Cometti delivered many famous lines that brilliantly captured the moment on the football field and will remain timeless. The popular caller explains how he perfected his craft to News Corp’s Jay Clark.

He’d think of the line, store it away, and then when the opportunity arrived, out it came with that deep, smooth-as-silk voice.

And it was that constant drip-feed of clever and humorous one-liners that has made him one of the most popular callers of the AFL era.

“There is always a tempo in games of football, it’s like a dance,” he said.

“There are gaps, there are breaks, boundary throw-ins and balls-ups, so there are a million places to put something which you think is mildly amusing.

“Not every game is a one-point thriller or a cliffhanger.

The legendary broadcaster has won the AFL Media Association caller of the year 11 times and was last night inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame for his stellar and lifelong contribution to Australian Rules football.

It follows his induction into the Order of Australia last year, as well as the MCG and Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

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Centimetre perfect Dennis Cometti called into Hall of Fame

Nothing you say about Dennis Cometti upon his induction to the Australian Football Hall of Fame could better what the man might say about himself, not that he ever would. To modify a line he once used about Rory Sloane, it would be like trying to outdo Miss Venezuela, reports The Age’s Greg Baum.

If footy is the lyrics and the crowd is the tune, a good caller is the beat. As we already have discovered this year, and soon will be reminded, you need all three. There has been no better caller in this country than Cometti. His voice scores all our own instant footy flashbacks.

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