Friday March 13, 2020

Seven reveal Olympic broadcast will have 43 dedicated channels

• Commentating team for Tokyo 2020 features 14 Olympians

Bruce McAvaney will return for his 11th Olympic Games coverage, with Olympic broadcast rights holder Seven’s commentary team featuring 14 of Australian Olympians with a total of 14 Olympic gold medals between them and hundreds of Olympic Games of experience as competitors and broadcasters.  

For the first time in Australian free-to-air television history, there will be 43 dedicated Olympic channels across 7, 7TWO and 7plus free and in HD. 

After the Olympic Flame was lit in Olympia, Greece, overnight Seven announced its coverage would be anchored by Hamish McLachlanMel McLaughlinJohanna GriggsSonia KrugerLisa SthalekarTrent Copeland and Abbey Way.  

Australia’s most successful Olympian of all-time, five-time gold medallist Ian Thorpe joins the team along with cycling great Anna Meares, who won six medals including two gold across four Olympic Games.  

They will be joined by fellow gold medallists Steve HookerNick GreenGiaan RooneyScott McGrory, Russell Mark and Debbie Watson, while decorated Olympians Andrew GazeRachael SpornTamsyn Lewis-ManouDavid CulbertKate Bates and Ash Nelson are also part of Seven’s coverage.  

Basil Zempilas headlines Seven’s commentary team which includes cycling commentator Phil Liggett, hockey’s Dave Christison, basketball expert John Casey, and  Michael ZapponeMark BraybrookBrenton Speed and Matt HillPat Welsh will be trackside at the athletics, while Nathan Templeton will be poolside.

Edwina Bartholomew and Basil Zempilas will be commentating the cultural components of the Opening Ceremony and will be joined by Hamish McLachlanJohanna Griggs and Australian flagbearer at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 Andrew Gaze for the Parade of Nations.  

 Jason RichardsonEmma Vosti and James Tobin will be across Tokyo making sure audiences are kept up to date with all the colour of the Games.   

Sunrise will start the day’s coverage with the latest Olympic highlights, news and exclusive athlete interviews each day with David Koch and Sam Armytage crossing live to Mark Beretta and Edwina Bartholomew. After Sunrise wraps Johanna Griggs, returning for her seventh Olympic Games coverage will steer Seven’s morning broadcast. 

Sonia Kruger then takes the reins each afternoon in what will be her third Olympic Games with Seven.  

Both women will be joined by Olympic Games broadcast newcomers Lisa Sthalekar and Trent Copeland as they bring their perspective to the Olympic updates and help viewers navigate the 43 channels.  

Following 7NEWS at 6.00 every night of the Games Mel McLaughlin and Hamish McLachlan will guide, inform and entertain audiences through prime-time Olympic Games coverage. Keeping viewers up to date late into the evening will be Abbey Way

7NEWS, Australia’s official Olympic news service, is the only network with unrestricted access to the Games. 7NEWS Chief Correspondent Chris Reason and 7NEWSSports Editor Jim Wilson will lead a team of reporters on the ground in Tokyo – including Alex HartSharnelle VellaRob ScottMax FutcherLaurel IrvingMatthew Carmichael, Pat Welsh and Nathan Templeton – operating 24-hours a day from the International Broadcast Centre to report breaking news events as they happen. will be the #1 online destination for Olympic news and updates. The website will feature a dedicated hub for results and medal tallies, plus all the latest breaking news, exclusive content, in-depth features and the greatest stories from the Games. 

16 days after the Olympic Games the Paralympic Games being with Johanna GriggsJim Wilson and Paralympic gold medallist Annabelle Williams anchoring the coverage across 7, 7TWO and 7plus featuring up to 16 live streams. 

Seven released a series of comments on its Tokyo Olympics coverage:

Chief Revenue Officer and Director of Olympics Kurt Burnette commented:

“The Olympics are for all Australians, and with Tokyo 2020 we’re offering more to everyone than ever before. Most incredibly of all, it will be available for free, something never before offered in Australia.  We can’t wait for 24/7 to bring the biggest broadcast and digital event in Australian history to life.” 

 Bruce McAvaney commented:

“Just like our Australian athletes, our team is a mix of veterans and debut broadcasters. We have a breadth of experience, knowledge and the skills of a new generation to complement what promises to be an incredible Games in our own time zone. Tokyo is getting ever closer and we’re looking at milestone performances and practically unknown young athletes who’ll blow our socks off and become instant household names. One thing is for certain; our team and all Australians are going to experience the awe of the greatest event in sport.”  

Head of Network Sport Lewis Martin commented:

“Seven stands alone as Australia’s Home of the Olympics and, once again, we will bring unrivalled expertise to our coverage of Tokyo 2020. We will unashamedly get behind the Australian team with the rest of the nation, but we will never ignore the stories of the rest of the world – a compelling story is a compelling story regardless of nationality. Tokyo 2020 will be the greatest event you’ll ever see and you can trust Seven and our extraordinary team of experts to take you inside every single event, to where the best action is happening at all times.” 

Hamish McLachlan commented: 

“Australia has had some unbelievable Olympic Games teams in the past, but when you look at our team for Tokyo, sport by sport, it’s quite remarkable. We are so lucky to have world champions, world number ones and major winners, everywhere. It’s exciting, inspiring – and very humbling – to be part of a Seven commentary team that includes Olympic legends like Ian Thorpe, Anna Meares, Steve Hooker and the iconic Oarsome Foursome’s Nick Green. This year’s Olympic Games will see new sports, new faces, old faces, and the world’s best against each other. It’s the world’s biggest festival of sport, and I can’t wait for it to begin.”

Mel McLaughlin commented:

“Having the privilege of working on an Olympic Games is the stuff of dreams in our line of work… I can’t believe I get to do it again. When you look at our team, and dare I say it, the extraordinary high level of female participants across so many sports, the expectation tends to rise rather quickly. Our team can’t wait to bring home all the stories, the highlights, the goosebumps… and I think we’re about to do it in a way never seen before.”  

Fox Sports & Triple M’s Tony Squires: The Fat to The Back Page

By James Manning

On his co-anchoring role on Fox Sports’ The Back Page, Tony Squires still exudes a youthful vigour and cheeky demeanour that makes it hard to think of him as a media veteran.

But his does qualify for that tag after a long career that started at The Newcastle Herald. The Novocastrian then graduated to The Sydney Morning Herald before leaping into broadcasting.

“I used to write about television at The Herald and then started talking about television on radio to suddenly being on television,” Squires told Mediaweek.

A carefully planned media career? – not exactly. “My early broadcasting ambitions were to just finish a sentence. [Laughs] I had a lot of mates in broadcasting – from John Doyle (aka Rampaging Roy Slaven) who put me on air. I didn’t push any doors down, I’d hover around doors until they opened and then sneak through.

Broadcasters working alongside Squires at The SMH who also went into broadcasting included Richard Glover and Philip Clark. “I started my cadetship with Mark Riley who is now Seven’s political reporter. Newcastle has always been a good breeding ground, not just for journalism, but also the entertainment industry.

Squires first foray into broadcasting was a show about television on Foxtel’s Arena channel. “I’d sit on a couch and talk about television which was my dream job.” The program was called Inside the Arena.

When Andrew Denton was hired to host breakfast at Triple M Sydney, Squires joined Denton’s team as a writer. He was also a judge on the ABC TV show Race Around the World.

Damian Davis and I then came up with idea for a show The Fat.” Squires’ former TV colleague is now with CJZ as head of comedy and entertainment. The Fat was a huge ABC hit, so much so that Seven poached the team, changing the name of the format to 110% Tony Squires. “That remains one of the worst TV series names in the history of the world,” said the host. “We wanted to call it just 110%, but Seven insisted on adding my name because they wanted it to be part tonight show. But quite frankly I only have about 75% to give.”

Photo: Tony Squires and Rebecca Wilson on The Fat

The audience gave it an even lower mark and it lasted 12 months at Seven. “The show had moved from being a half-hour show on Monday after a weekend of sport, to an hour show earlier on a Monday. Trying to get even more out of the format, which happens often in the media, it was changed to a variety show on a Friday night. It was still fun to do, but so different from the idea when it first began.

The core team on The Fat was Squires with Rebecca Wilson and Peter Wilkins. Other regulars included John Rothfield (Dr Turf) and Sam Kekovich. “Sam delivered a hideous right wing rant and he’d say at the end of it, ‘It’s like you are reading my mind’.” Other regulars included Dave Hughes, Merrick and Rosso and a cricketer now more famous for his broadcasting insights and antics, Kerry O’Keefe.

Squires then became a Seven personality for a time. “I was on a journey and I would go with whatever was happening,” he explained.

One of Squires’ biggest ratings hits at Seven was hosting a program delving into the Seven vault and playing highlights. It’s surely got Sunday night written all over it if Seven went there again. “The history of TV has always been fascinating to me and it resonated with the audience too.

Squires got to continue his long on-air partnership with the late Rebecca Wilson when the two were hired by then DMG Radio to host on Vega, one of the formats tried out in Sydney and Melbourne before new owners settled on smoothfm.

“We started with the drive show at Vega and were then moved to breakfast with Angela Catterns. After Ang left it was Rebecca and me with Mikey Robbins – that was a great show and great fun to do.

The loss of Rebecca is incredibly sad because she and I worked together from the moment we started The Fat. ‘She speaks before thinks’ is the name I gave her and she would really speak her mind. I am much more conservative and want to be loved. She just didn’t care and it was a great combination.

“Working with Kelli Underwood on The Back Page is amazing. It is so important to have a female presence in a sporting environment and Kelli is a strong woman who can give as good as she gets.”

The Back Page is an iconic brand and has been going in Australia for close to quarter of a century. The show was launched with Mike Gibson hosting. “Gibbo might have wanted to go for a year or two more.” Squires is now into his 10th year co-hosting the program.

“The fact that The Back Page does all sports is both a blessing and a challenge. The audiences in New South Wales and Victoria are so different.”

Squires has a long relationship with Robert “Crash: Craddock who used to contribute to his radio program. “Crash, who is 123 years old, is on all the time. He just loves doing The Back Page and he doesn’t mind having the piss taken out of him. You can turn to him on any subject and he will have something to contribute.”

Another regular is Nova’s Ryan Fitzgerald. “While most people know him as a comedian, he has played sport at the highest level so he brings that insight.”

Lawrence Mooney is also a regular. “He can be a huge loose cannon,” laughed Squires. “We also have Braith Anasta.”

For Triple M, Squires hosts the weekend pre-game coverage The Saturday Scrum from 12pm until 3pm. The show alternates between Triple M studio and other weeks at an NRL ground. Saturday regulars include Ryan Girdler and Emma Lawrence and a rotating chair for current and former players.

The show’s not always strictly NRL. “My favourite thing is when we get off-topic. What the run sheet and what actually happens are two very different things. Radio is wonderful because we have freedom to talk and it can go on a path where you weren’t expecting it to go. Television offers that opportunity too, but it also operates within tight constructions.”

Squires would like to do more writing into the future. “When I get a bit older I image myself sitting down with a whisky and a typewriter, asking myself why wasn’t I Hemingway. Either that or letters to the editor!”

Paul Jackson: Fitzy & Wippa’s best start ever for year at Nova 969

By James Manning
Network highlights:

• Nova is Australia’s #1 network in share (9.5%) and cume (3,735,800)
• Nova’s Kate, Tim & Marty is the #1 National Drive show (4-6pm) in share (12.2%) and cume (1,590,600) – #1 in all 5 markets and have held the #1 FM spot for 25 consecutive surveys
• Nova’s Smallzy’s Surgery celebrates 52 consecutive wins as the #1 National Nights show in share (11.1%) and cume (845,000)

The start of the radio ratings year hasn’t always been kind to the Nova FM network, said Nova Entertainment chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson.

“Over the years Nova has hit a few bumps in the road in Survey 1, but this is the best Survey 1 I have seen across the Nova network,” Jackson told Mediaweek.

Fitzy and Wippa in Sydney was the standout result in the biggest radio market. Jackson: “We only cracked an 8% share once last year [and once in the last four years] so to start the year that strongly has been fantastic. The standard of the content from Fitzy and Wippa and the team over the past year has been terrific. This is exactly where we feel we should be ratings-wise – both cume and share. The Nova station cume in Sydney of 1.12m is an all-time high. The radio station is riding high and dominant across drive, nights and weekends and is much improved across workday too.”

A big focus for the Nova brand was Adelaide as it is the only market where announcers have chopped and changed several times across the past few years. Could this be the show to bed in for the new decade?

Even though Ben and Liam are Adelaide boys we did have a number of best and worst-case scenarios. Our best-case scenario was exactly what they did this survey. They have the #1 cume and we have the #1 station cume. Their breakfast show has started brilliantly and to be able to maintain what was a strong finish to the year from the station is outstanding. They are clearly stars.”

As to any challenges the new hosts had adapting to the Nova model after triple j – “definitely not” said Jackson. “They have been chomping at the bit to do things with clients and they have so many ideas. The marketplace and the station suits them perfectly.

Nova Perth #1 as market explodes

All radio industry execs are fascinated with the battle that is unfolding in Perth this year. Jackson: “Mix is off the pace because of the strength of 96FM and Hit is off the pace because of the strength of Nova. Two have two stations breaking out of the pack is not all that common these days. For Nathan, Nat and Shaun to be over 15% is an all-time high and cume in breakfast and at the station is fantastic.

“The result is an absolute credit to Garry and Dan (both ex-Nova) for the 96FM result and to the current Nova team for keeping our good times going as well.”

Jackson is very happy for Mix and 96FM to beat each other up while Nova looks on from above. “We have two very different audiences.”

Duncan Campbell: ARN’s Melbourne ambitions, Perth ratings surge

By James Manning
Network highlights Survey 1, 2020

• ARN – #1 National Network for five consecutive surveys
• Sydney – #1FM & #2FM Station & Breakfast
• Melbourne – #1FM Station, Breakfast, Mornings, Afternoons & the Weekend
• Adelaide – #1 Station, #1FM Breakfast, Mornings, Afternoons & Evenings
• Perth – #2 Overall Station & Breakfast

ARN’s national content director Duncan Campbell talks to Mediaweek about the ratings results this week. He started talking about the talent investment, although he wouldn’t reveal the exact spend!

“The important thing for us now is that the talent is all locked away. All our planning has paid dividends with strong talent right around the network. We have a consistent approach strategically to what we do, and don’t make any knee-jerk decisions.

“This is our fourth survey as the #1 network around the country so we are very happy.”

The Pure Gold network has had a wonderful book off the back of more growth at Melbourne’s Gold 104.

Christian O’Connell is keeping that station strong and he deserves to be the #1 FM breakfast show in Melbourne – he has the drive and determination, the passion and the hunger. For a guy who has come all the way from the UK and embraced the market, he shows what you can do when the content is strong and you have the desire to win.

“I expect to now see The Christian O’Connell Show as a #1 FM show in Melbourne and the station as well into the future.

It was also good to see WSFM increase after a softer year in 2019. The cume is climbing back up and it is a strong station with a heritage breakfast show with Jonesy and Amanda. As with Gold, we have some high calibre presenters across the day – Mike Hammond and Steve Fitton aren’t kids on the air – these are adults talking to adults and it makes a difference. In Melbourne we have Huggie, Toni Tenaglia and Gavin Miller – again announcers that position the station effectively to the audience.”

Campbell said the winning formula comes with strong music across the day, strong adult presenters as well as heritage breakfast shows.

ARN has had its faith in Mix Melbourne’s Jase and PJ repaid by the duo this survey. “We are in a new era of shows and how long it takes the audience to get to know them. Lifestyles are so busy today and people spend less and less time focused on their entertainment including radio – launching a new show takes longer.

The content is strong that Jase and PJ deliver – they also have passion and they work very hard. If we are measuring that show just on the content there is no question about re-signing them.”

The show is a little quirky? “You could argue it is an acquired taste.” Something that certainly hasn’t hurt Kate Tim and Marty.

“It’s key for the audience to get to know the hosts. Particularly in a market up against other strong breakfast shows like Nova and Fox who both have strong breakfast shows. It is not like Jase and PJ are competing in a market with poor competition. They are in arguably the most competitive market in the country without a weak station like 2Day FM is in Sydney.”

Campbell repeated a past prediction that ARN is investing with the aim of having the #1 and #2 station in Melbourne.

Perth audience switch to 96FM

Campbell: “There was a bit of a lag with the results for the 96FM breakfast show last year. It did have some good numbers, but not like the numbers it has generated today. That format we put in place was the format we always wanted. It has really driven a wedge into 95.4.

“Only one person could have got Fred Botica back from retirement and that is Gary Roberts [ARN Perth MD]. Having Fred and Lisa back on the air has been fantastic.

“Gary is a key part of today’s results. He remains as passionate about radio as when he first started. His attention to detail is extraordinary and Wayne McLean does a great job with the music and Dan Underhill is a very good content director. Roberts is able to galvanise people to drive toward the common goal.

See Mediaweek analysis of all the GfK Survey 1, 2020 results here for every commercial station in every metro market.

Belle: Using concrete examples of commercial success for planning 2020

By Claudia Siron

• Belle’s editor Gavin Kirk and Bauer’s digital director Amber Manto spoke to Mediaweek

Popular interior design magazine Belle has really marked itself as a multiplatform destination for home lovers with strong social media campaigns, great use of video and securing premium covers for their print offering. Belle’s editor Gavin Kirk and Bauer’s digital director Amber Manto spoke to Mediaweek about a recent brand highlight with an acclaimed Australian celebrity, key dates in their upcoming event calendar, and the unapologetic success in the risk they took with their latest cover. 

There’s two big events that fall in the Belle calendar: The ArtStart programme and the Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards. “Those are our two event series that gain the biggest partnerships,” said Kirk. “For the Design Awards, we do a call out on all platforms for Australian interior designers, decorators and interior architects, with entries closing March 16. We invite a panel of top tier designers and architects in addition to a sweep of Belle people to run through all the projects – it’s a huge process.”

Belle’s editor Gavin Kirk

Kirk said they always try to include international guest judges too, with the panel being revealed in time. The event is held on May 20 at Coco Republic, which also marks the 10th year of the awards as well as a 10-year partnership with Coco Republic. “I imagine this one will be very big,” he said. “We’ll also have guests including former editor Neale Whitaker to present hall of fame and Tanya Buchanan who is now at House and Garden, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary and present some awards.” 

The other major event for Belle is the Art Start programme for emerging painters, which commences tomorrow – Friday 13th March. “This year we actually changed the age group to 16 and above,” said Manto. “It gained significant traction on Instagram this year, and it was perhaps too successful as we ended up with a ridiculous amount of entries. Maybe we should’ve scaled back the hashtags!” she laughed.

Belle’s print offering is well-known for their beautiful imagery and stunning photoshoots. Kirk told Mediaweek the importance of investing in these shoots to obtain a market-leading position. “Some of the big shoots are obviously expensive, because we’re dealing with incredibly expensive pieces of furniture and accessories, so just the moving of those items is costly. 

Bauer’s digital director Amber Manto

“There’s always going to be big expenses around shoots for us, but I suppose it all comes down to us needing to retain a market-leading position in the big world of home, interior and design. We do invest in our style shoots and home shoots. We want to give the readers what they love, and support the industry, and play in the right area of where we need to be.”

Kirk said planning and shooting the covers is a very organic process and that sometimes they stumble across something else that looks so much better than what was originally planned. “It comes down to what looks best and what our readers will love, and the current issue (April) is a great example of that. We reveal our style director at large Steve Cordony’s kitchen, which is on the cover. We haven’t done a kitchen on the cover before, so it was a risk, but everyone in the office said ‘that’s it, that’s the one!’. That cover is really up – the forecast for that looked brilliant and it’s been really well received in the marketplace.

Kirk revealed one of his favourite moments during his time at Belle – so far – was their Guy Sebastian home shoot last year. “It was the holy trinity of editorial, because it was great to score Guy and the designer of his home (Joe Snell), and we actually shot those two together along with Guy’s partner Jules.”

Manto said the cross-platform execution with Sebastian was by far a brand highlight. “It was fantastic as there was quite some significant buzz online around Guy’s home – he was building a house in Sydney’s south but it was really only limited to pap shots of the outside so Belle had the exclusive of the interior and the home owner himself.

Kirk said that from the beginning, he always thought it would be a great idea to have the video team in to bring the homeshoot to life. “There was such an appetite for Guy’s home as it had been in the media before, and it synced perfectly with The Voice finale, so we brought the digital reveal forward ahead of the print on-sale date. 

“It was a really nice case study of how you can harness the power of celebrity, secure good content for the readers and bring it to life digitally. It was a really nice cross-platform activity that saw great results across the board,” he said. Manto also commented on how the video basically went viral online. “We had a very strong reception. It was the first time Belle really executed a cross-platform piece of that scale and it was extremely successful,” she said. Belle online had 40.5K unique views of the home tour gallery, and 3200 video plays. To put that into context, it was the most successful feature for Belle online since the brand launched its digital arm in mid-2015.

Kirk revealed that Sebastian is basically a mutual friend with the Belle brand. “It’s funny because he comments on Belle’s social media, which I think is quite sweet,” he laughed. “He actually has a connection with the brand and it’s just a really nice collaboration. He obviously loves design which is in perfect synergy with us, but it’s also lovely that he actually has a connection with us separate to the commercial success of the homeshoot.

In regards to planning for 2020, Manto said the brand plans on using more video strategy after the raging success of the Sebastian home shoot. “We are looking to secure more home tours of well-known Australians, as we obviously know that now works. Belle has also had huge growth online – we now have an extra 22,000 people following us on Instagram in the past 12 months. People on social media are resonating with the Belle brand who perhaps haven’t before. In 2020, our big goal is to continue to grow the brand’s online footprint through a mix of content and social media strategy.”

Sporting legends Roy & HG return to ABC in another career twist

When too much sport is barely enough, the ABC has announced that Rampaging Roy Slaven (John Doyle) and H.G. Nelson (Greig Pickhaver) will be on the radio just in time for the footy season, to present Bludging on the Blindside.

It is another career twist for the sporting media legends who have rarely been off air since their career as a duo on triple j over 30 years ago. Their media journey has taken them to most TV and radio networks.

Kicking off this Saturday, Roy & H.G. return to the place where it all began, albeit four floors below triple j, to their spiritual home on ABC Radio.

Bludging on the Blindside with Roy & H.G. will dissect the sporting world, blow the cover off the big issues and give you all the knowledge you need to sound like a sporting aficionado at your weekend BBQ.

“With the world spinning out of control, blighted by climate change, economic train wrecks, incompetent governance, pestilence, species extinctions and intolerance, it’s a great opportunity for H.G. and myself to steady the ship by applying the slide rule of common sense to the simple passion that unites the world – our respect and love for the healing balm that is Rugby League”, said Roy Slaven.

“Roy and I are humbled by this opportunity to put our shoulders to the Rugby League ambition of bringing world peace and harmony through violence and chaos. I had tears in my eyes when the light turned green for two bludgers with bugger all to offer to be part of something we can all be part of!”, said H.G. Nelson

Nick Morris, manager, ABC Sport, said, “Having spent my formative years as an avid listener, I am really delighted Roy & H.G. are once again back on ABC Radio so audiences, new and old, can enjoy their unique take on the sporting issues of the day.”

Bludging on the Blindside will air at midday (AEDT) on Saturdays on ABC Radio & ABC Grandstand in NSW, QLD & the ACT, and the ABC listen app (via the Grandstand button) from March 14 until October 3.

Australian Survivor contestants take it from Tribal Council to the ring

• Facing off under the names Matty Wahlberg and Dirty Harry

While they were allies on the fourth season of Network 10’s Australian Survivor, contestants Matt Farrelly and Harry Hills faced off in a professional wrestling match at IWA: War of Attrition on Thursday night.

Facing off under the names Matty Wahlberg (Farrelly) and Dirty Harry (Hills) the match followed a war of words on social media between the two following Hills appearance on Australian Survivor: All Stars.

Farrelly is currently a popular performer on the Australian wrestling circuit which was referenced during his time on Australian Survivor, what was less mentioned was that Hills was a retired professional wrestler himself. Hills has recently come out of retirement.

The crowd that filled Souths Juniors seemed to favour Hills despite Farrelly being a Sydney local. Before Hills made his entrance the big screen showed Farrelly’s elimination due to Hills playing his immunity idol.

After Hills entered ice cream in hand he and Farrelly had a back and forth 10 minute match which included Farrelly sampling some of Hills famous ice cream after it was mashed in his face, which was made even worse after Farrelly’s exclamation that he hates vanilla!

Eventually, Farrelly defeated Hills but their night wasn’t over as the two men entered a 20 man rumble match and crossed paths again this time working as allies throughout the match until Farrelly betrayed and eliminated Hills.

Just like Survivor, after Hills was eliminated he found an immunity idol under the ring and was able to get back in the match, only to get eliminated by Farrelly again who shortly after was eliminated himself ending the night for both men.

Mercado on TV: Neighbours never been better, long may it continue

By Andrew Mercado

Neighbours (Monday on 10Peach) celebrates its 35th anniversary with 3 deaths, 5 weddings and double episodes all next week. So that’s weddings at 6.30pm, and deaths on Neighbours: End Game at 7pm.

The best soaps are always those that balance death and drama with comedy and fun. East Enders (UKTV), which also started in 1985, just “celebrated” its 35th by drowning Sharon’s (Letitia Dean) teenage son Denny (Harry Hickles) in the Thames. Really? Even The Apprentice’s Lord Alan Sugar, an “Easties superfan”, described it as “boring” and the loss of a “great little actor”.

Neighbours is less bleak, but still gets no love from 10. What a shame they won’t do Neighbours Late like the UK do, screening the darker eps at 10pm. Peach could have done that at 9pm, when reality franchises are ending and people start channel surfing, but tired old Two and a Half Men repeats must be more important.

It’s such a shame, because lapsed viewers could be tempted back given there are 11 former characters returning. Every single one of them is back for a good reason because Neighbours always find ways to remember the past, but use it to propel current storylines forward.

It is particularly satisfying to see Sky (Stephanie McIntosh) and Lana (Bridget Neval) back. They kissed in 2004, during Neighbours’ first lesbian flirtation, but Sky insisted she was straight so Lana left. Now they are back, but this time they will be married alongside a tram.

This will be Neighbours’ second same sex wedding and ironically, at the same time, Home and Away’s lesbian couple will breaking up and Alex (Zoe Ventoura) will leave. Will Seven allow them to kiss goodbye, and will this be their last gay in the storyline for oh, another decade or so?

Apparently Home and Away underplayed their 30th anniversary for fear of looking “old”, but Neighbours is fresher than ever at 35. They now have a vast and evolving backlot to film on and wisely, the show also makes more of being a Melbourne suburb, with characters sometimes heading out to laneway bars in the CBD.

Many years ago, I said that Home and Away would go longer because its core concept was stronger. Summer Bay used to be a place where delinquent foster kids (and then their troubled families) came to be rehabilitated. But today, the show ignores all that, because ever since the River Boys arrived, it’s nothing but bad boys, drugs and guns.

But Neighbours, which I once thought was doomed because it was set in a dead-end street, now reflects modern Australia, with multiple ethnicities, characters with disabilities and LGBT folk galore, while still being cheesy and silly. Neighbours has never been better, long may it continue.

TV Ratings March 12

By James Manning

• NRL helps Nine extend its lead to five successive week 11 wins
• 10 records its best share since mid-January with Gogglebox 600k+
• Seven’s smallest Thursday share in six weeks as Pooch dips again

The return of the NRL has helped Nine extend its wining streak this week to five consecutive nights which will most likely become six with Friday NRL ahead before the start of the AFL season. The NRL had a metro audience of 391,000 to start the season.

Prior to the footy, Karl Stefanovic hosted A Current Affair. Before he gets a bettering about the ratings, we note it didn’t screen in all metro markets and regional areas. Hence the Thursday audience of 525,000.

Rebel Wilson’s Pooch Perfect was always going to take a hit against the NRL and last week’s audience of 441,000 turned into 388,000 last night.

Seven’s Thursdays look brighter from here though with either AFL football or The Front Bar, now with added Andy Lee, on Thursdays.

10 enjoyed its best share on any night since mid-January thanks in part to Gogglebox keeping most its audience against the football. The episode did 611,000 after 634,000 a week ago.

Elsewhere on 10 Ambulance Australia did 480,000, not far below its 509,000 the previous week, and The Project 7pm was on 431,000.

On the ABC both News and 7.30 made the top 10, while the only other program in the top 20 was The PM’s Address to the Nation on 258,000.

Week 11 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.7% 7 16.4% 9 19.3% 10  15.4% SBS One 4.9%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.1% 7TWO 3.6% GO! 2.2% 10 Bold 3.4% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.8% GEM 2.7% 10 Peach 2.9% Food Net 1.2%
ABC NEWS 3.3% 7flix 1.7% 9Life 2.4%     NITV 0.2%
                SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 17.7%   25.5%   26.7%   21.7%   8.5%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 9.5% 7 15.2% 9 19.2% WIN 13.4% SBS One 4.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 5.5% GO! 2.7% WIN Bold 3.6% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 1.1% 7mate 4.7% GEM 3.5% WIN Peach 2.3% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 2.6% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.5% 9Life 3.3% Sky News  on WIN 2.1% NITV 0.3%
                SBS Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 15.4%   27.0%   28.8%   21.5%   7.3%


85.7% 14.3%
  1. Seven News Seven 909,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 879,000
  3. Nine News Nine 791,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 784,000
  5. ABC News ABC 712,000
  6. Gogglebox 10 611,000
  7. Home And Away Seven 561,000
  8. 7.30 ABC 550,000
  9. A Current Affair Nine 525,000
  10. Ambulance Australia 10 480,000
  11. The Chase Australia Seven 460,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 431,000
  13. 10 News First 10 415,000
  14. Hot Seat Nine 414,000
  15. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 391,000
  16. Rebel Wilson’s Pooch Perfect Seven 388,000
  17. The Project 6.30pm 10 304,000
  18. The Chase Australia 5pm Seven 295,000
  19. 10 News First 6pm 10 280,000
  20. Hot Seat 5pm Nine 276,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Gogglebox 10 155,000
  2. Ambulance Australia 10 107,000
  3. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 98,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 98,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 91,000


18 – 49

  1. Gogglebox 10 276,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 205,000
  3. Nine News Nine 189,000
  4. Ambulance Australia 10 185,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 176,000


25 – 54

  1. Gogglebox 10 319,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 256,000
  3. Nine News Nine 243,000
  4. Seven News Seven 226,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 224,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 157,000
  2. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  3. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  4. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  5. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 136,000
  6. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  7. Dot. PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  8. Friends Ep 3 (R) 10 Peach 131,000
  9. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  10. Rusty Rivets ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  11. Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  12. Father Brown PM 7TWO 127,000
  13. Neighbours 10 Peach 122,000
  14. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  15. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  16. Dino Dana ABCKIDS/COMEDY 109,000
  17. X Men: Apocalypse PM 7mate 108,000
  18. PJ Masks AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 106,000
  19. Floogals AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 104,000
  20. The World ABC NEWS 103,000
  1. Live: NRL: Eels V Bulldogs FOX LEAGUE 242,000
  2. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 93,000
  3. Live: NRL Pre Game Thursday FOX LEAGUE 68,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 56,000
  5. Live: Supercars Melbourne Qual 3 & 4 FOX SPORTS 506 54,000
  6. Credlin Sky News Live 53,000
  7. Outback Opal Hunters Discovery Channel 52,000
  8. Gold Rush Discovery Channel 48,000
  9. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 45,000
  10. Live: Supercars Trackside FOX SPORTS 506 39,000
  11. Family Guy FOX8 35,000
  12. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 33,000
  13. Live: Supercars Melbourne Practice 2 FOX SPORTS 506 33,000
  14. Live: Supercars Live FOX SPORTS 506 32,000
  15. NCIS FOX Crime 31,000
  16. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 29,000
  17. Chicago Fire FOX One 29,000
  18. PML Later Sky News Live 29,000
  19. Criminal Minds FOX Crime 28,000
  20. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 28,000

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

Hollywood on the Gold Coast: Stars test positive to coronavirus

After rubbing shoulders just weeks ago with fellow A-listers including Renee Zellweger and Tom Ford, the movements of coronavirus-stricken actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson in Australia are the latest twist in the battle to contain the spread of the virus, report The Australian’s Charlie Peel and Leo Shanahan.

As Hanks and Wilson began two weeks in isolation in the Gold Coast University Hospital on Thursday, health authorities began the painstaking task of tracing people from the Gold Coast to Sydney, including fans, who Hanks and Wilson may have come into contact with while infected with COVID-19.

The star couple have been back and forth between Australia and their home in the US in recent months, and health authorities believe they contracted the virus before returning to the country last week.

The diagnosis has sent the Nine Network into a spin after Wilson, who has performed sold-out shows as a singer in the past week in Brisbane and Sydney, appeared live in the station’s studio on Today Extra on Monday.

Karl Stefanovic filled in as the host of A Current Affair on Thursday night as a precaution for regular host Tracy Grimshaw, who has recently had surgery.

Nine’s entertainment editor Richard Wilkins will also take time off from work as a precaution after he spent time with Wilson during the week.

The Village Roadshow studio in the Gold Coast suburb of Oxenford was shut down on Thursday morning following the diagnosis.

[Read more]

Adelaide establishment, Joe Hockey back David Koch's new venture

The new business channel ausbiz is the brainchild of Sunrise host David Koch and former Sky News executive and ex-Your Money CEO Kylie Merritt, who must figure there’s a way to succeed where Your Money failed, reports The AFR Myriam Robin.

Those financially backing their vision (according to ASIC) include ex-St George CEO Jim Hazel, Adelaide Football Club chairman Robert Chapman (who clearly doesn’t mind investing in something started by the chairman of local rival Port Adelaide), Canberra family-run property developer BISA Property and Pocketbook founders Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh. And with a tiny 1 per cent stake: the still Washington-based Joe Hockey and wife Melissa Babbage, who put in $10,000.

[Read more]


Broadcast industry ramps up coronavirus contingency plans

Radio giant Southern Cross Austereo, is working on plans to allow high profile presenters such as Carrie Bickmore and Dave Hughes to broadcast from their homes, report Clancy Yeates and Zoe Samios.

Broadcaster Southern Cross Austereo, which runs stations Triple M and Hit, used specialised technology to ensure staff across its 65 offices, including radio talent, can work from home should they be required.

Chief executive Grant Blackley and chief technology officer Stephen Haddad are working together to ensure all staff at the company, which runs Hit and Triple M radio networks are aware they can do their jobs – be it advertising slots or running radio shows – from outside of the office.

“We are planning for an event that could potentially lock the doors on every single building we have around the country, and for us to operate continuously from a remote location, with 2500 people within our company. We are planning for that as a necessary next step that could occur,” Blackley said.

[Read more]


COVID-19: Australian TV and the impact on COVID-19

Australian television is coming to terms with the impact of COVID-19 on current and upcoming productions, reports TV Tonight.

The Amazing Race Australia has already confirmed it will not be filming overseas this June, playing it safer with a domestic race. But it’s far from being alone.

Multiple Australian productions are faced with big decisions to keep cast & crew safe, whether due to international travel, studio audiences or fan events. Almost all Australian shows entail a degree of domestic travel for crew/guests.

Q&A tells TV Tonight: “It’s an evolving situation that we’re keeping under continuous review. Currently we’re advising people that if they have any symptoms of illness they should not participate in the studio audience.”

Fox Footy show Bounce has put its studio audience on hold “until further notice.”

Australian Survivor is due to film from April in Fiji and is yet to advise of any changes, following CBS suspending the US Survivor.

It’s also not clear how dating shows, which film intimate body to body contact will fare, including The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

Many productions have completed filming, including Travel Guides, Lego Masters, Between Two Worlds, Bachelor in Paradise, Rosehaven, Hungry Ghosts, Celebrity Name Game, Farmer Wants a Wife, Hard Quiz etc.

[Read more]

Sonia Kruger: ‘Coming back to Channel 7 has been so easy’

Turns out sometimes the grass actually is greener on the other side, and Sonia Kruger’s defection from Channel 9 to major rival Channel 7 is proof, report News Corp’s Angira Bharadwaj and Sally Coates.

The newly announced host of Big Brother 2020, judge on Australia’s Got Talent and member of the Tokyo Olympics news team said it did not take long to feel back at home at the station she left almost a decade ago.

“Coming back has been so easy,” she told Confidential.

“I thought ‘Is it going to be weird because I’ve been away for eight years?’ but literally after two weeks it was like I never left.”

It was announced yesterday that the 54-year-old would join Channel 7 talent Bruce McAvaney, Abbey Way, Mel McLaughlin, Johanna Griggs and Hamish McLachlan covering the Tokyo Olympics over July and August.

Unlike the veterans, Kruger said she saw her job to represent the regular Aussie viewer.

“I’ll just bring the entertainment, I’ll be every person out there who watches the Olympics and barracks for Australia.”

[Read more]

Claims MAFS star fed instructions from producers via earpiece

A Married At First Sight contestant has claimed Elizabeth Sobinoff was being fed lines by producers via an earpiece during her first dinner party, reports’s Andrew Bucklow.

Mishel Karen made the claim on’s Not Here To Make Friends podcast last night.

“Michael and I had a go at her (Lizzie) because she was wearing an earpiece for the first week,” Mishel said.

She claimed that Lizzie was also being fed lines during her first commitment ceremony.

“We were just so suss because of the way she wore her hair,” Mishel explained. “She never wears her hair over that ear. Then when you see her on the commitment ceremony, again it’s like that.”

Mishel said on the podcast that she and Michael actually confronted Lizzie about the earpiece at last night’s dinner party, but unsurprisingly the scene didn’t make it into the final edit.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Australian Grand Prix to be called off after coronavirus tests: reports

The Australian Grand Prix has been called off, two senior Formula 1 sources have told BBC Sport, reports chief F1 writer Andrew Benson.

There has been no official confirmation from F1 or governing body the FIA but the news follows a McLaren team member testing positive for coronavirus.

The situation rapidly developed throughout Thursday night in Melbourne and an announcement that the race will not take place is now expected.

The decision throws into doubt the rest of the Formula 1 season.

An initial meeting of team bosses with F1 and FIA officials on Thursday night, after a tense day in the paddock at Albert Park, broke up with an agreement to carry on with Friday practice as normal and review the situation later that day.

But the plans changed later in the evening as several insiders – including leading drivers – expressed their concerns about the idea of racing amid the risk of further cases of coronavirus in the tight-knit F1 paddock.

[Read more]

McLaren pulls out of GP after Lewis Hamilton slams organisers

[Earlier report]

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation was in urgent talks late Thursday night with Victorian Health authorities and Formula 1’s governing bodies about the future of the Melbourne Grand Prix in the wake of a McLaren team member testing positive for the coronavirus, report The Australian’s Stephen Lunn, Damon Johnston and Tessa Akerman.

The McLaren team pulled out of the Melbourne Grand Prix on Thursday night after a team member tested positive for COVID-19, throwing this weekend’s Formula One race into disarray.

Earlier, the best Formula One driver in the world, Lewis Hamilton, launched a scathing attack on race organisers for going ahead with the race as the coronavirus threat escalates worldwide.

The Mercedes driver said his sport was falling behind in its response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, and suggested organisers were putting money before safety. “I am really very, very surprised we are here. I think motorsport is great but … it is really shocking that we are sitting in this room,” the six-time F1 world champion said at a drivers’ press conference on the opening day of the four-day event.

[Read more]

How coronavirus will restrict how you watch 2020 AFL season

The Herald Sun has revealed the AFL had taken steps to maintain media access to players and coaches this season to ensure fans remain connected to their clubs, report Sam Landsberger, Jay Clark and Glenn McFarlane.

The potential that games will be played in front of empty stands has forced the league to act on a new set of guidelines to ensure fans continue to see and hear from the game’s stars in the media.

The press conference will be held in a controlled manner where the players and coaches will be sat behind a desk to maintain space between them and reporters.

Only the host broadcast staff will be allowed into the clubs’ change rooms.

Newspaper and radio interviews will be conducted either over the phone, or in a clean studio.

AFL Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said he would continue discussions with league bosses in the coming days.

“Right at the moment, we are looking at every single scenario,” Marsh said.

[Read more]

Kevin Bartlett returns to 3AW as part of 2020 AFL commentary team

3AW announced this week that Kevin Bartlett is coming back to the 3AW Football commentary team for the 2020 AFL season.

Bartlett will call for 3AW every Sunday, as well as doing occasional Saturday twilight fixtures.

Affectionately known as “Hungry”, Bartlett donned the yellow and black for Richmond 403 times between 1965 and 1983, ranking him third on the game’s all-time playing list.

After 18 years with the Tigers, in which he kicked 778 goals, he went on to coach the club for four years from 1988.

He also parlayed his playing and coaching days into a highly successful career as one of the AFL’s foremost analysts. 

Bartlett’s first match in the 3AW commentary box will be the Hawthorn v Brisbane clash this Sunday, March 22, at the MCG.

It will mark a homecoming to the station – Bartlett previously called for 3AW in the 1990s.

In recent years Bartlett hosted the top-rating morning program on SEN 1116 before moving to a short-lived drive show where he co-hosted with Dr Turf.

Kevin Bartlett said: “I’m thrilled to be back on 3AW as I have great memories of calling the footy, hosting the Saturday sports show and working on the breakfast program. 2020 is going to be a massive year of football, and for me 3AW Football is the place to be.”

Calling alongside Bartlett will be Matt Granland, Matthew Richardson, Tony Shaw and Mick Warner.

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