Thursday March 12, 2020

Paul Anderson quits…no really! Departing CEO explains decision

By James Manning

After 17 years at Network 10, departing CEO Paul Anderson has seen a number of his bosses and other media industry executives leave under various circumstances.

Those departures are sometimes accompanied by a release saying things like “time for a new challenge, spend time with the family” and “working out what to do with the rest of one’s life”.

The announcement from Network 10 and Paul Anderson announcing his departure on Wednesday morning touched on those areas too, and his phone soon started filling with messages from friends, colleagues, customers and competitors wondering what really happened.

There has been no shortage of searches for a “smoking gun” and the person who might have had a hand on the trigger. But talking to Mediaweek on Wednesday afternoon, Anderson said: “Most seem to understand that I have resigned of my own volition, but there are also a lot of sceptics who think I might have been pushed which is not true.

See also:
Paul Anderson resigns from Network 10 and ViacomCBS

Some have drawn a link between Anderson’s recent promotion as executive vice president, ViacomCBS Networks Australia and New Zealand and his departure. “There really is no link between the two. That change of title, or promotion, call it what you like, should have come when the merger happened in November. Because of other changes it didn’t happen until two months ago. It was really about integrating Viacom people into 10.”

See also:
Paul Anderson to run ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand operations

Anderson can understand the scepticism some may have about his decision to end his time at the television business.

“I have been thinking about this for some time,” he told Mediaweek. But he only actioned it recently.

10 released the announcement of his departure early in the day just as the management team found out and before he and the new chief content officer and EVP, ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand Beverley McGarvey addressed Network 10 staff on station in the building atrium space on the newsroom floor and via video link to all arms of the expanded ViacomCBS business around Australia.

Anderson later flew to Melbourne to do his bit as soon-to-depart boss at functions associated with duties as Australian rights holder for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

To further prodding about his decision Anderson added. “I am really happy to have done this and to be part of the transition period under what is a really good structure.”

He said some people seem to be having a hard time getting their head around his departure. “As to why would someone give up a job like this and resign? My kids are growing up, and I would like to have a little bit of time to do things with the family and to travel. But I do have a lot left in me in terms of my career.”

Anderson laughed when we asked if his family would think having him around the house more would be a good thing. “You’d have to ask them about that. I have one son who has just finished school and is going travelling to Europe and a daughter that is doing Year 12.”

Anderson and McGarvey were both in London together just three weeks ago, but the departing TV boss is adamant that had nothing to do with his departure. “That week in London was two-fold. We went to the showcases for the production companies and we also took meetings with the Viacom team. The London visit was completely unconnected with my departure.”

Anderson was also quick to scotch any idea that plans ViacomCBS have for Australia motivated his departure. “To be honest the last 10 years has seen an awful lot of change at our business which at the end of the day takes its toll. But I’ve had an awful lot of experience going through all that and I am extremely grateful for that opportunity.”

Several times during his interview he emphasised how hard it was for him to make the decision to quit. “I have had one of the best jobs in media. But 17 years is a long time as well.”

Anderson said during the dark days at 10 he had never seriously considered chucking it in. “I took the attitude that those were the times when you actually learn something.”

As to where Anderson might pop up, it won’t be another media company anytime soon given he has a non-compete period he has to serve out. “I have been asked by some today if I have another job in mind and that is an absolute ‘no’.

Anderson originally qualified as a chartered accountant and has crossed over to general management when the opportunity at 10 arose first as COO and then later CEO.

Anderson’s decision to was so recent that it wasn’t discussed when he was in London mid-February, nor when new president of VCNI’s operations in Australia and the UK, Maria Kyriacou, visited Australia a week later meeting the team and visiting the MasterChef Australia set in Melbourne.

Anderson has led Network 10 to a place where it has a strong 7.30 schedule with breakout hits later in the night across the week too. “At the moment we have had seven months of consecutive audience growth.” Competitors might say that was off a very low base. Anderson added the business has also had five consecutive months of revenue growth.

The investment we have had in our content for the past two years is really starting to pay off. All of the things we said at the Upfronts are coming true. We have arguably the best of our content still to come this year. Once we complete the integration between Viacom and CBS, which is not far away, we become part of the second biggest content producer in the world. There is no other media company in Australia that can replicate that.”

As to how long Anderson might be staying on, he couldn’t put a timeframe on helping oversee the company’s transition to new management. He will be working fulltime, but unsure if it could be three months, maybe six. “I honestly don’t know. As long as it takes and we will know when the time is right. The main aim is to make sure the momentum we have at the moment continues.

Dan Ginnane: How busy NRL specialist added Fox Sports to radio

By James Manning

There was a time when you couldn’t turn on Triple M Sydney without hearing Dan Ginnane on air. Weekdays, weekends…he was everywhere.

He never actually left the broadcaster, but his workload is now shared between the FM broadcaster and Fox Sports.

My Triple M contract was up at the end of 2017 and they chose not to renew that contract,” Ginnane told Mediaweek. “That ended my program The Rush Hour, while my other weekly program Dead Set Legends ended the year before. To meet my contract they had me hosting another Saturday show The Weekenders which I hated.”

Triple M wanted to keep Ginnane’s expertise however and signed him on a casual basis. “They wanted me to do NRL commentary. It was quite scary – I used to have job security then all of a sudden I wasn’t sure just how many radio shifts I would be getting, even though they assured me NRL Finals and Origins. I went and got an Uber licence because this is a fickle industry. But I never had to use that licence because I got a job at Fox Sports News just after it moved in alongside Sky News.”

Fox Sports News took Ginnane on fulltime and Triple M continued using him calling two games every week. “It all worked out in the end.”

He found the time at Fox Sports News very instructive given he’d never worked in a TV newsroom before.

During his time at Fox Sports News Ginnane pitched an idea for a debate show The Serve, based loosely on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption, covering the major sports news topics.

After a time hosting The Serve, Fox Sports TV boss Steve Crawley asked about Ginnane’s interest in calling NRL Games for Fox League. “Soon I was working seven days a week, just a year after thinking I might have been an Uber driver. Seven days a week is a nice problem to have, but by the end of the season I was toast.

Ginnane has now left Fox Sports News and commentates games for Fox League and Triple M.

Gus Worland recently launched a refreshed Dead Set Legends on Triple M in the old Saturday timeslot. “I started on that show in 2002 as a producer and started hosting five years later and stayed until 2016. The team – Rabs [Ray Warren], Richard Freedman and I – all had more important jobs, but it was our favourite gig. We lived for Saturday mornings and it was a blow when it ended.”

Ginnane said Warren and Freedman had an offer to take to show elsewhere. “I couldn’t go because I was contracted to Triple M. We almost brought it back in podcast form.

“We now wish Gus, Jude [Bolton] and Del [Wendell Sailor] nothing but the best. Gus sent me a text hoping I was OK with the show starting again. I told him to make the show his, which he has been doing.”

See also:
Gus Worland on his return to Triple M with Dead Set Legends

Dan and Rabs

The friendship between Ginnane and Ray Warren was one of the highlights of the old Dead Set Legends. The two still speak often. “I had a long chat with him when there was a story that I had been made an offer to work at Nine. We are still good mates and I know he will never retire. Why wouldn’t he want to keep calling, he is still the benchmark. I would love to work with him again.

Best mate Paul Murray

“Whatever he does…he is incredibly charismatic. He’s my best mate and he’s the smartest person I have ever met in the business. His observational talent is incredible at spotting a story and seeing the angles. The number of people in both the TV and political world that ring him for advice is incredible. They ring to pick his brain. You should really ask him about this, but I think he would still love to do breakfast radio again one day.”

Ginnane said all people who start in radio remain radio people. “It is your first love, it is in your blood, it is what you grew up wanting to do.”

Podcast Week

By James Manning

• Dylan Alcott & Angus O’Loughlin, iHeartMedia, Andrew Rule

Dylan Alcott and Angus O’Loughlin are ListenABLE

Paralympian and radio host Dylan Alcott and broadcaster Angus O’Loughlin have launched a new podcast series ListenABLE, with PodcastOne Australia, to highlight and change stigmas around disabilities, whilst having some fun along the way.

The hosts want to speak to people living with disabilities and those directly affected by them to ask the questions often thought as off-limits. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll learn something.

Issues discussed include discrimination, getting into nightclubs, employment and whether people with disability can have sex and if so, how?

The podcast offers much for everyone – disabled or abled – and hopes to change perceptions and challenge what people think it’s like to live with disability.

Alcott said: “It’s a dream come true to create a podcast like this about disability – especially doing it with one of my best mates. I wish there was something like this around when I was growing up to help me feel comfortable with who I was and educate the people around me. We can’t wait to shake up the common misconceptions people might have on what it’s really like to live with a disability and have some fun with it too!”

O’Loughlin added: “We decided to create this podcast when Dylan introduced me to people within his community who faced challenges many of us aren’t aware of. This is totally different to anything else out there – just two mates having a fun conversation about some real issues to break down barriers and create a fully inclusive society.”

Listen to ListenABLE here.

iHeartRadio CEO on Podcast opportunities

US radio and audio entertainment powerhouse iHeartMedia hasn’t seen any negative coronavirus impact and may actually see listeners feeling a closer connection with the company’s services due to the virus, chairman and CEO Bob Pittman said this week, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

When the iHeartMedia executive was asked about the company’s push into podcasting he said: “We think about it as an extension of radio. It is another form of companionship,” Pittman explained. “The consumers run out of time for their eyes; [it is] hard to add more video,” but podcasts and other audio can be consumed while cooking, driving, working around the house and the like. He added that the company sees podcasting as another audio platform like AM radio, FM radio and digital.

Pittman argued that iHeartMedia’s “distinct advantage” amid the podcasting boom, which has led to the creation of around 1 million podcasts in the US, is that it can promote its podcasts via unsold advertising inventory on its radio stations. And he highlighted that ad rates for podcasts are more like online video than radio. Bressler added that unlike for other companies, “podcasting is profitable for us.”

[Read more]

See also:
ARN extends iHeartRadio licence for broadcast & on-demand audio

Australia’s top 10: Original podcast chart

With an influx of US podcasts hitting the Podcast Ranker chart this month, and the usual popularity of radio show podcasts, compiling a list of Australia’s most popular podcasts is a little more difficult.

This is what the February top 10 looks like:

1. From the Newsroom (News Corp/Nova/Acast)
2. 7am (Schwartz Media)
3. Hamish & Andy (PodcastOne)
4. The Howie Games (PodcastOne)
5. Life & Crimes with Andrew Rule (News Corp/Nova/Acast)
6. Wilosophy with Wil Anderson (Whooshkaa)
7. Life Uncut with Britney Hockley and Laura Byrne (ARN/iHeartRadio)
8. Bedtime Explorers (The Parent Brand)
9. The Lighthouse (News Corp/Nova/Acast)
10. Who the Hell is Hamish (News Corp/Nova/Acast)

Andrew Rule a podcast hit for Herald Sun

Life and Crimes with Andrew Rule is a massive hit with audience, Melbourne’s Herald Sun old readers this week. The podcast, published in partnership with Acast, was recently ranked as the fourth most-popular podcast in Australia.

The Herald Sun reported the must-listen podcast “has been downloaded millions of times”.

Andrew Rule is one of Australia’s most prolific multi award-winning journalists and author and has worked at both News Corp Australia and for The Age. It was at the latter where he started the Underbelly brand, co-authoring a series of books with fellow journalist John Silvester which were subsequently turned into a Screentime hit series for Nine.

In the Life and Crimes podcasts, the Herald Sun columnist shines a light on the dark corners of Australian life – from the story behind the biggest mysteries, to the characters of yesterday and the crims of today.

Listen to Life & Crimes here

TV Ratings March 11

By James Manning

• Dinner party shocks and delights Married at First Sight crowd
• Nine runs away again ahead of return of NRL to Thursday/Friday
• Big day of Tribal Councils at 10: In the boardroom and on Survivor

A former Labor MP involved in a nasty battle with his neighbours featured on A Current Affair with 744,000 watching.

Lots to talk about for Married at First Sight fans with the pre-dinner party, cocktail party and eventually the dinner party. After 1,100,00 last week the Wednesday episode did 1,047,000.

Doctor Doctor season four continued after MAFS and did 516,000 after 477,000 a week ago.

Home and Away again hovered above half a million with 552,000.

My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals saw a finals decider with cooking on a BBQ. After just touching 500,000 last week, the Wednesday episode dropped to 412,000.

Big blow-up on Australian Survivor with what turned out to be the first Tribal Council elimination vote after the Exile Island votes. Jacqui was the master manipulator and she orchestrated the vote to send David’s ally Zach to the jury. The last episode of this week did 599,000 after 548,000 a week ago.

The Project 7pm was on 471,000 with the episode co-hosted by Marc Fennell and featured guests Jean Kitson and Harry Styles.

The mid-week comedy line-up started at 8pm with Hard Quiz on 573,000 after 598,000 a week ago.

Mad As Hell then did 565,000.

The final episode of Black Comedy was then followed by The Last Leg.

Week 11 TV: Wednesday
WEDNESDAY METRO
ABCSevenNine10SBS
ABC11.7%717.3%924.7%10 12.5%SBS One4.0%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.5%7TWO3.6%GO!2.5%10 Bold4.1%VICELAND1.3%
ABC ME0.8%7mate2.5%GEM2.7%10 Peach2.7%Food Net1.0%
ABC NEWS2.1%7flix1.5%9Life2.0%  NITV0.1%
        SBS World Movies0.6%
TOTAL17.0% 24.8% 31.9% 19.4% 6.9%

 

WEDNESDAY REGIONAL
ABCSeven AffiliatesNine Affiliates10 AffiliatesSBS
ABC10.1%718.2%920.5%WIN9.5%SBS One4.3%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.7%7TWO4.6%GO!3.3%WIN Bold5.5%VICELAND1.6%
ABC ME1.2%7mate2.9%GEM3.8%WIN Peach2.7%Food Net0.9%
ABC NEWS2.0%7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)1.5%9Life2.2%Sky News  on WIN2.1%NITV0.1%
        SBS Movies0.5%
TOTAL16.0% 27.1% 29.7% 19.8% 7.4%

 

WEDNESDAY METRO ALL TV
FTASTV
88.1%11.9%
Wednesday FTA
  1. Married At First Sight Nine 1,047,000
  2. Seven News Seven 927,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 919,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 866,000
  5. Nine News Nine 865,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 744,000
  7. ABC News ABC 688,000
  8. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 599,000
  9. 7.30 ABC 574,000
  10. Hard Quiz S5 ABC 573,000
  11. Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell S11 ABC 565,000
  12. Home And Away Seven 552,000
  13. Doctor Doctor Nine 516,000
  14. The Chase Australia Seven 481,000
  15. The Project 7pm 10 471,000
  16. Hot Seat Nine 450,000
  17. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 412,000
  18. 10 News First 10 356,000
  19. First Dates Australia Seven 351,000
  20. The Chase Australia 5pm Seven 316,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 284,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 207,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 132,000
  4. A Current Affair Nine 115,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 111,000

 

18 – 49

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 475,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 314,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 236,000
  4. Nine News Nine 213,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 211,000

 

25 – 54

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 538,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 348,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 278,000
  4. Nine News Nine 259,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 254,000
WEDNESDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 190,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 152,000
  3. Dot. PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  4. Bob The Builder PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  5. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  6. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  7. Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways PM 7TWO 136,000
  8. Play School Story Time PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 134,000
  9. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 134,000
  10. Olobob Top PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  11. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  12. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  13. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  14. Border Security Australia’s Front Line 7TWO 128,000
  15. Neighbours 10 Peach 125,000
  16. NCIS: Los Angeles (R) 10 Bold 123,000
  17. Keeping Up Appearances Tx1 9Gem 113,000
  18. Dinosaur Train PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  19. Border Security Australia’s Front Line 7TWO 111,000
  20. Fireman Sam PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 110,000
Wednesday STV
  1. Gogglebox Australia Lifestyle Channel 139,000
  2. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 58,000
  3. Credlin Sky News Live 57,000
  4. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 49,000
  5. Richo & Jones Sky News Live 43,000
  6. Road To Recovery With Scott Pape Lifestyle Channel 42,000
  7. Family Guy FOX8 37,000
  8. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 36,000
  9. Live: NRL 360 FOX LEAGUE 34,000
  10. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 33,000
  11. Family Guy FOX8 31,000
  12. PML Later Sky News Live 30,000
  13. Grand Designs Lifestyle Channel 28,000
  14. The Simpsons FOX8 28,000
  15. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 27,000
  16. Skyfall Movies Action 27,000
  17. Mrs. Brown’s Boys UKTV 27,000
  18. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation FOX Crime 27,000
  19. The Flash FOX8 25,000
  20. Criminal Minds FOX Crime 25,000

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

Nine in talks with Discovery over new digital channel Rush

Nine Entertainment Co is planning to launch a new digital television channel featuring programs owned by US real-life entertainment giant Discovery Inc, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Multiple television sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Nine is in advanced discussions with the Maryland-based company about a new channel that is expected to be branded Rush. Discovery’s brands include Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Discovery Turbo.

The Rush brand was filed in the trademarks register earlier this week under categories including broadcasting, podcasting and television program recording. Sources close to Discovery and Nine stressed that no formal deal has been signed.

Discovery, which runs factual, lifestyle and entertainment content, has a number of existing arrangements in the Australian market.

[Read more]

Kyle and Karl make The Daily Telegraph’s Power 100 list

Kyle Sandiland’s multimillion-dollar radio deal and business ventures combined with John Ibrahim’s business dealings make them a genuine Sydney power couple, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran in a brief preview of The Sydney Power 100.

Back on the box co-hosting breakfast show, Today, Karl Stefanovic is back in the fold in 2020. The polarising TV host makes his debut in The Sydney Power 100 with new wife, Jasmine, who is a successful businesswoman in her own right thanks to her shoe label, Mara & Mine.

The full Sydney Power 100 list will be revealed on Friday. March 13.

[Read more]

News Brands

Guardian journalist Russell Jackson ‘unpaid for five weeks’

A journalist working for The Guardian has accused the media group of not paying him for more than five weeks, reports The Australian’s David Ross.

Russell Jackson, who was previously the deputy sports editor at The Guardian’s Australian operation, said on Wednesday it was “depressing” that he was forced to speak out publicly in a bid to be paid.

Jackson said he had not been paid for five articles he wrote as a freelancer in January.

“Very sorry to say I won’t be writing for The Guardian in the future,’’ he wrote on Twitter. “I made a lot of good friends there, and many people there do great work, but I’ve spent five weeks chasing them to be paid for my work & got nothing.”

The Guardian’s Australian editor, Lenore Taylor, said she had been unaware of this problem but would address it immediately.

“It is unacceptable and I will make sure our processes are fixed,” she said in a tweet. “I do hope you will work for us again some day because you are a fine writer.” Taylor said she would “find out what has gone wrong with our normal payment processes”.

[Read more]

Two charges dropped against Craig McLachlan as hearing resumes

Prosecutors have withdrawn two charges against actor Craig McLachlan as a contested hearing on alleged indecent assault and assault charges continues in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, reports ABC News’ Karen Percy.

McLachlan, 54, still faces 14 charges of indecent assault and assault.

The contested hearing began in November last year, when four women gave evidence behind closed doors about alleged inappropriate behaviour during the time when McLachlan was performing in The Rocky Horror Show in 2014.

The hearing resumed on Tuesday to discuss the admissibility of arguments and evidence.

Prosecutor Lachlan Cameron pointed to the “brazenness of the defendant” in taking part in “unscripted” acts during the performance.

Magistrate Wallington is set to rule on whether he is guilty or not next month.

Defence lawyers will continue to outline their evidence when the hearing resumes in April.

[Read more]

Television

There are worrying signs for Seven in its bid for renewal

Late last year, Seven’s recently installed CEO, James Warburton, conceded that, under the previous administration, the network had been “weak, inward focused, tired and stagnant”. He promised rapid renewal, declaring, “From here on in, we will be fierce”. Seven had stalled and was no longer a robust player in the free-to-air commercial arena. In 2019, for the first time in 12 years, its long-time rival, Nine, claimed victory in the ratings, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.

In addition to novelty shows, Warburton’s campaign to regain supremacy is built on reviving a group of reality TV productions – The Farmer Wants a Wife, Australia’s Got Talent, Big Brother, SAS: Who Dares Wins– revamping House Rules and recycling presenters including Sonia Kruger and Kyle Sandilands. Only the signing of Olympia Valance for Holey Moley and AGT suggests some more imaginative talent-spotting.

While the idea that discarded reality shows might spearhead a recovery is in itself worthy of scrutiny, there are additional worrying signs. There have been reports that the number of episodes commissioned for Plate of Origin (the wonderfully abbreviated POO, which Rebel Wilson might remark is an ideal companion to Pooch Perfect) has been reduced. Confidence in a new food show, set to star former MasterChef judges Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan, might’ve been shaken following the tepid response to MKR.

[Read more]

US daytime TV shows stop audiences from visiting studios

“It feels like we’re auditioning,” a dazed Ryan Seacrest said on US live television Wednesday morning, before a sea of empty seats, reports The New York Times.

Two hours later, in another bare studio, Whoopi Goldberg sat at a table with her four co-hosts on The View and put it plainly: “For the first time ever, as you can see, if you looked around, we made the decision not to have a studio audience. This is unprecedented.”

As the coronavirus severely disrupts daily life in the United States and limits the number of in-person gatherings being held around the country, it is also affecting an American institution that provides a virtual gathering spot for millions of people: the daytime talk show.

Warner Bros., the producer behind The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Voice, announced on Tuesday that it would begin screening prospective audience guests to make sure they had not visited the most affected countries – like Italy, South Korea or China – in the last three weeks before it invited them to its studios.

[Read more]

Neighbours postpones cast and crew trip to film in UK, Ireland

Neighbours cast & crew due to visit UK and Ireland for filming and a 35th anniversary fan event later this month have now been postponed, reports TV Tonight.

Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne were set to travel to Dublin to film scenes for the 10 Peach drama.

“Due to the current coronavirus situation and cautions around international travel, cast who were flying in from Australia will no longer be visiting the UK for the Neighbours 35th anniversary celebrations,” a statement said.

“Whilst this is obviously very disappointing, the wellbeing of all our cast and crew is our utmost priority.

“Filming in Dublin with Alan and Jackie has therefore been cancelled for now. However, we love our UK and Irish audience and will definitely be back in the future.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Australian Grand Prix rocked by pit lane coronavirus fear

Three F1 team members have been placed in isolation and tested for the coronavirus after exhibiting symptoms, casting doubt over the Melbourne Grand Prix, which starts on Thursday and is expected to attract more than 300,000 fans over four days, reports The Australian’s John Stensholt, Damon Johnston and Stephen Lunn.

The team members, two from the Haas team and one from McLaren, were tested on Wednesday, with the results expected to be known on Thursday morning. The team members were returned to their hotels and isolated pending the outcome of the tests.

The virus twist means the grand prix is now in danger of joining other sporting and cultural events around the world that have been cancelled or held behind closed doors.

Hobart’s midwinter arts festival Dark Mofo was cancelled on Wednesday, and there is a risk that within a month NRL and AFL games will be closed to fans.

Fears over exposure to the coronavirus at the grand prix also prompted Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo and his Renault teammate Esteban Ocon to pull out of a media conference at the last minute on Wednesday.

[Read more]

AFL world goes into coronavirus lockdown

Four AFL clubs took dramatic steps to separate their players from fans at their season launches on Wednesday night as the AFL world went into lockdown over coronavirus fears, report The Australian’s Sam Landsberger, Courtney Walsh and Jay Cark.

Western Bulldog players were banned from mingling with fans at Crown Palladium and the club shut down planned TV interviews. Players were told to arrive 90 minutes after the function began and were whisked out after being presented with their jumper on stage.

Collingwood and St Kilda also overhauled their functions as supporters who had travelled overseas recently or been feeling unwell were offered full refunds and told to not attend.

[Read more]

Senior AFL figures consider modified season due to coronavirus

The AFL has given serious consideration to modifying the entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus outbreak, just eight days out from the round one MCG opener between Carlton and Richmond, reports WA Today’s David Prestipino.

The drastic move has been investigated during high-level talks and was revealed on Nine News Perth on Wednesday evening by ex-Fremantle Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich, who still has close links to the league.

“I’ve spoken to a number of people across the league today and they say that, while the AFL season will go ahead, if there is an escalation in this coronavirus, if there’s a ban on mass gatherings, then there is the distinct possibility that AFL games may be cancelled,” Pavlich reported.

“If players became ill, then there may be the possibility where a number of games may be compressed into a shorter period of time, say over two or three weeks, which would be extraordinary.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Tuesday that fans could be banned from attending matches if governments or health bodies banned mass public gatherings because of the outbreak.

“If mass gatherings are suspended then we will play games in stadiums with no crowds,” he said.

[Read more]

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