Tuesday March 17, 2020

Val Morgan's digital conversation starter TheLatch— is born

By Claudia Siron

Screen advertising giant, Val Morgan Cinema Network, is Australia and New Zealand’s leading national supplier of advertising for cinemas covering metro, regional and country areas. Recently a digital content platform called TheLatch— was born out of a desire to complement the network’s cinema and outdoor business.

We spoke to the executive editor Amanda Bardas (pictured) about their content pillars, introducing another (increasingly popular) medium to the site, and the expressiveness behind the name of the brand.

Bardas previously worked at Allure Media as executive editor of POPSUGAR and the Who What Wear Network. When the Allure business merged with Pedestrian, she met Val Morgan Digital’s MD, Brian Florido. “We kept in touch throughout 2019 after I left the business, and that’s how I landed here.”

Bardas has joined the business to guide the launch of TheLatch—, determine the brand’s mission, and guide the editorial and platform strategy. “My job is also to establish the look and feel of the website. I lead the editorial direction each day and work to ensure we’re telling stories that deliver on our purpose — to make people smarter, faster. Expanding conversations beyond clickbait and giving our audience the tools to have richer conversations.

Bardas told Mediaweek that with the launch of TheLatch— they have the opportunity to distribute content throughout Val Morgan’s screen network, capturing the attention of approximately 16 million Australians each month. “We identified a gap in Australian publishing for a gender-neutral audience (targeting 30-45 year olds) that reads entertainment/ lifestyle/ beauty/ grooming and wellness content,” said Bardas. “Content that you can’t really find anywhere else.

“We’re focused on giving readers a deeper understanding on the topics they care about. We’re in our early days, but the response so far has been overwhelming — we’ve hit a few passion points around sustainability, sex and relationships, travel and money that are really resonating with our audience.

Bardas said she interviewed a friend about her doomsday prepping (before coronavirus was at borderline pandemic status) and the response was huge. “She’s had an inbox full of questions from curious readers. My hope is that we give audiences an interesting, or fresh, or new or different perspective on a topic they might not have really thought too much about. We want to act as a conversation starter. 

Bardas said their entertainment vertical showcases the very best in film, TV, music, streaming and celebrity. “Think of it as your go-to for all things culturally relevant. We also have a lifestyle vertical where we share news, informative deep-dives, tips and advice across travel, fashion, sustainability, relationships, sex, career, interiors — the list goes on.” 

Their third and final pillar – for now – is beauty & wellness. “We tick off everything from workouts to first-person reviews from a range of different voices. We’re focused on offering realistic advice on wellbeing — not quick-fixes or miracle cures. Just helpful, realistic, honest advice.

Bardas said they are determined for their audience to ‘latch’ onto something new, whether that be an idea, an opinion, a way of thinking, or a helpful tip. “There were a few iterations of the name that were bounced around, but we kept coming back to TheLatch— with an em dash. 

The purpose of the em dash by definition is it builds off a word and adds emphasis or it can signal an amplification or an ‘expansion’ of an idea. We included the em dash in our logo as it came back to our purpose of wanting to expand our reader’s thinking.

Bardas revealed they have some exciting milestone planning –  one project highlight being an upcoming podcast. “One of our team members has a special gift and I’m excited to share that gift with our podcast guests and audience. Beyond that, I’m looking at product and tech and where we can innovate in the market, new site launches, and bigger editorial initiatives around our passion points.”

Gerard Healy: Busy season starts now for Fox Footy/3AW host

Fox Footy’s On The Couch returned last night on a day that offered much for the on-air team. The AFL program went to air just after the League shorted the 2020 season to 17 rounds and as AFL players were voting on whether they felt the season should start this week.

Host Gerard Healy is one of the game’s best analysts and can also be heard on the 3AW airwaves as well as hosting On The Couch in addition to Fox Footy special comments on weekend games.

He’s been the host of 3AW’s Sportsday (formerly Sports Today) for a long time. Since Mediaweek last spoke to him and his then radio co-host Dwayne Russell (more from him later this week), the pair have separated with Healy continuing with the daily radio sports show. There have been a few other changes too: In addition to the departure of Russell, 3AW has changed ownership and the Sportsday program is packaged for the station by Crocmedia out of their Southbank studios. However Healy is still employed by Nine Radio’s 3AW.

Melbourne sports reporter and broadcaster Sam McClure has re-joined the show, taking on a bigger role than he had previously with the departure of Russell.

“We are still the same radio show where we talk about the issues of the day,” Healy told Mediaweek earlier this month. “Sam has a strong news bent and he’s broken some big stories already this year and when you are doing a one-hour show into Melbourne you need to make it pretty punchy.”

Healy hosts a second hour of Sportsday which can be heard into regional Victoria, southern NSW and all of Tasmania. The second hour is also available online for people in Melbourne and other markets.

Healy’s Monday night On The Couch program at Fox Footy has also had a major change this year – the program has lost Paul Roos as a contributor, and picked up Nick Riewoldt as a replacement. “We are disappointed to see Roosy go, but excited by the arrival of Nick. He’s also made his mark as a commentator for Fox Footy where he is doing a great job.”

Healy has held both his radio and TV roles for a long time. In radio he initially hosted the 3AW show with David Hookes. On TV he hosted Seven’s Talking Footy following in the footsteps of Bruce McAvaney and then Tim Lane. “The format moved to Fox Footy when it first started. It’s probably been going in total about 20 years,” said Healy.

On The Couch indicates there is an audience for a relatively serious analytical look at AFL. “It has had a great following over the years, there’s always something creating news and it is very much an Australia-wide program.”

When it comes to weekends Healy does two games in either special comments at the ground or studio analysis for Fox Footy. He’s also doing more with 3AW this year. “I am hosting the 3AW Thursday coverage. It’s a pretty busy week once is starts during the season.

Healy has been a Perth Sunday game specialist for many years for Fox Footy. But he doesn’t catch the red eye home. He’d prefer a sleep first. “I then catch the 6am flight, land in Melbourne late morning and go to the On The Couch production meeting.”

One change that Healy is unhappy about at 3AW is the loss of a Tuesday night radio regular. “Caroline Wilson has committed to two episodes of Footy Classified each week this season. After a long discussion she told me that she doesn’t want to work evenings three days in a row. I’m disappointed because Caro and I have worked together for 25 years. She will now be an irregular contributor – she is the best [sports] political journalist in the country and her opinion carries weight.”

The good news is that Leigh Matthews is moving to Sportsday Tuesday nights to fill the gap. “He’s the most powerful voice in football still.” The other good news is that Matthew Lloyd remains a must-listen on Monday nights for some of the best analysis of the game. “We also have Richo, a fantastic contributor on Wednesdays, with his famous Yes/No for Richo segment where he gets asked some very difficult questions. There is no grey area – he has to give us a yes or no answer.”

Top photo: Fox Footy’s Gerard Healy with colleagues Sarah Jones and Katherine Loughnan

Starcom creates new role: Mark Duffy appointed head of digital

Starcom has appointed Mark Duffy to the newly-created position of national head of digital, effective immediately.

Joining the agency’s national leadership team, Duffy is charged with connecting digital, performance and data insights with technology platforms and marketing intelligence solutions to drive business and human outcomes. 

Starcom Australia CEO, Nick Keenan said: “As the Human Experience Company, our focus is on understanding how data and technology are influencing consumer behaviour, and what this means for brands. 

“The addition of Mark as National Head of Digital will strengthen our thought leadership in this area, as we apply tomorrow’s human experience thinking to client business needs today.”

Most recently, Diffy was at Columbus in various roles including as national head of product and partnerships, and prior to that as national head of performance.

Duffy commented: “In accepting the role at Starcom, I was drawn to the team’s passion for people and commitment to driving business outcomes for clients. Starcom’s values strongly aligns with my own passion and career ambitions, and I look forward to working with the team to drive our clients’ digital maturity and integration, to deliver real business impact.” 

Stan's Bloom returns with season two ahead of Easter weekend

Stan has today announced that the second season of the Stan Original Series Bloom will return 9 April featuring Phoebe Tonkin and Bryan Brown. The six-part Stan original series, which was filmed in various locations across Victoria, welcomes back its stars from the first season, including two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver.

In season two, time has passed and news of the miracle has spread, but this time around the plant has transformed and the experience and its side effects are far more severe. With the town’s secret having leaked, Anne Carter (Jacqueline McKenzie) – the former CEO of a biotech company – arrives in Mullan with her young daughter and her friend’s teenage son, Luke (Ed Oxenbould), for a tree-change but it’s only her cover story. John Melvin (Toby Schmitz), the troubled new priest is trying hard to rally faith and is desperate for a miracle from God; while beloved former actress Gwen Reed (Jacki Weaver/Phoebe Tonkin), has cheated death once again. But at what cost? 

Stars joining the cast for season two are Jacqueline McKenzie (Stan Original Series Romper Stomper), Gary Sweet (House Husbands), Bella Heathcote (Strange Angel), Toby Schmitz (Black Sails), Jackson Heywood (Home and Away) and Ed Oxenbould (Puberty Blues) – plus season one favourites Genevieve Morris (Stan Original Series No Activity), John Stanton (The Doctor Blake Mysteries) and Anne Charleston (Neighbours).

All episodes of Season 2 of the Stan Original Series Bloom will be available on Stan from 9 April.

SCA's Redwave stations change to Hit and Triple M today

Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) eight Redwave Media Western Australian radio stations switch over to the Triple M and Hit brands today, 16 March 2020.

The regional radio stations have been operating under the Red FM and Spirit FM brands in eight regional areas and remote mine sites. Under the changes, Red FM stations have moved to Hit radio brands and Spirit FM stations have moved to Triple M brands.

• Hit 106.5 – Karratha (previously 106.5 Red FM)
• Hit 101.3 – Broome (previously 101.3 Red FM)
• Hit 91.7 – Port Hedland (previously 91.7 Red FM)
• Hit 96.5 – Geraldton (previously 96.5 Red FM)
• Hit WA – remote mine sites (previously Red FM)
• 98.1 Triple M – Geraldton (previously Spirit 98.1 FM)
• 102.9 Triple M – Broome (previously Spirit 102.9 FM)
• 94.1 Triple M – Port Hedland (previously Spirit 94.1 FM)
• 102.5 Triple M – Karratha (previously Spirit 102.5 FM)
• Triple M WA – mine sites (previously Spirit remote)

Southern Cross Austereo CEO, Grant Blackley, said: “It’s exciting to see the Hit and Triple M brands come to life in northern Western Australia. We’re sure listeners will enjoy the unique mix of music each brand brings to regional West Australians. Importantly, every station will continue to deliver strong local content and comprehensive coverage of news, information and events across Western Australia reflecting each community’s personality and values.

“The eight stations take our national radio footprint to 98 stations nationwide, joining Australia’s largest radio network and all the benefits that brings.”

The Hit network stations welcome Allan Aldworth and Michelle Anderson for the state- wide Breakfast show, Hit Breakfast with Allan & Michelle.

The Hit and Triple M show line-ups are:

Hit Network

Hit 96.5 Geraldton
6.00-9.00am – Allan & Michelle
9.00am-midday – Ben
Midday-3.00pm – Hits and Old School
3.00pm-5.00pm – Carrie & Tommy
5.00pm-7.00pm – Hughsey & Ed

Hit 101.3 Broome
6.00am-9.00am – Allan & Michelle
9.00am-midday – Hits and Old School
Midday-3.00pm – Hits and Old School
3.00pm-5.00pm – Carrie & Tommy
5.00pm-7.00pm – Hughsey & Ed

Hit 106.5 Karratha
6.00am-9.00am – Allan & Michelle
9.00am-midday – Nate Midday-
3.00pm – Hits and Old School
3.00pm-5.00pm – Carrie & Tommy
5.00pm-7.00pm – Hughsey & Ed

Hit 91.7 Port Hedland
6.00am-9.00am – Allan & Michelle
9.00am-midday – Hits and Old School
Midday-3.00pm – Hits and Old School
3.00pm-5.00pm – Carrie & Tommy
5.00pm-7.00pm – Hughsey & Ed

Triple M

102.9 Triple M – Broome
6.00am-midday – Tom Jordinson – TJ for Breakfast
1.00pm-4.00pm – Dan
4.00pm-6.00pm – Kennedy Molloy

94.1 Triple M – Port Hedland
6.00am-2.00pm – David Eckhart
2.00pm-4.00pm – Dan
4.00pm-6.00pm – Kennedy Molloy

102.5 Triple M – Karratha
6.00am-11.00am – Pablo Miller
11.00am-1.00pm – Suze
1.00pm-3.00pm – Dan
4.00pm-6.00pm – Kennedy Molloy

98.1 Triple M – Geraldton
6.00am-9.00am – Todd Gray
9.00am-11.am – Rural Focus
11.00am-4.00pm – Leigh Jones
4.00pm-6.00pm – Kennedy Molloy 

Box Office: Vin Diesel's new action flick shoots to the top of the box office

By Trent Thomas

The new Vin diesel action film Bloodshot has topped a quiet weekend at the Australian box office which declined 22% on last weekend’s revenue after making a total of $6.14m.

This decline is despite three new releases joining the top five of the Australian box office this week with the aforementioned Bloodshot joined by Military Wives and Chal Mera Putt 2. Popular anime franchise My Hero Academia’s film My Hero Academia: Hero’s Rising just missed out after making $358,967.

The two films to drop out of the top five where The Call of the Wild which made $2.47m over four weeks of release to date, and the highest grossing Australian film of the year Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears which has made $2.88m over three weeks.

#1 Bloodshot $1.41m

The film based on the Valiant Comics series of the same name may be the best bet that Australian audiences have to get a dose of Vin Diesel action this year with Fast and Furious 9 delayed till next year due to the coronavirus. The film was the most screened movie in the country with 346 screens as it averaged $4,081.



#2 The Invisible Man $1.08m

Directed by Australian Leigh Whannell the remake of the classic horror film continues to be visible to Australian audiences as they continue to walk into theatres. The film averaged $3,958 on 273 screens with its total now sitting at $7.25m.



#3 Sonic the Hedgehog $668,376 

After five weeks of release, the major motion picture adaption of the famed video game character now has a total of $11.87m. This follows a weekend where the film averaged $2,250 on 297 screens.



#4 Military Wives $404,099

The film that was inspired by the true story of the Military Wives Choirs which is a network of 75 choirs in British military bases across the UK and overseas opened its run in Australia with an average of $1,579 on 256 screens.



#5 Chal Mera Putt 2 $391,757 

The Punjabi-language comedy-drama directed by Janjot Singh had an average of $6,319 in its first week of release on 62 screens.


TV Ratings: Monday Week 12 2020

By James Manning

• COVID-19 updates: Strong audiences for news and current affairs
• All news bulletins lift + ACA, 7.30, The Project and Q&A up

It was a big news day around the world and Australian coverage of COVID-19 saw strong ratings across the board for news and current affairs programs.

The 6pm bulletins on Seven and Nine led the way with audiences over 1m metro for the whole hour. Nine had its biggest weekday news audience of the year.

The 90-minute 10 5pm bulletin had a big night with the 5pm hour over half a million and the 6pm 30 minutes just under 400,000.

ABC’s 7.30 then had the next biggest audience with 888,000 watching how coronavirus is changing the way Australians live. Guests included Dr Norman Swan.

Both ABC News and A Current Affair had audiences close to 850,000 at 7pm. It was the biggest ACA crowd on 2020 so far. The Project also drew a larger than average audience after 7pm with 582,000 watching.

Nine News broadcast a COVID-19 news special after Married At First Sight with 632,000 a big number for that time of night. Seven’s Monday one-hour edition of The Latest did 340,000.

The ABC’s Q&A then tackled the subject and it too had much higher than usual numbers with 517,000.

On breakfast TV the programs had reporters scattered far and wide updating viewers on developments with Sunrise lifting to 315,000. Although still trailing, Today had a better result too with 236,000. ABC News Breakfast was behind on 228,000.

SBS News was the channel’s most-watched Monday show with 144,000.

Best of the rest

Nine’s Married At First Sight continued to set the pace after seven weeks, 26 episodes with five remaining couples – Mishel and Steve, Lizzie and Sebastian, KC and Drew, Connie and Jonethen and Stacey and Michael. The Monday episode was on 1,046,000.

Footy Classified kicked off its season with 178,000 in AFL markets.

On Seven Home and Away did 579,000 followed by My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals with 476,000.

10’s Australian Survivor continued to be a magnet for fans of the format with 700,000 watching as Jacqui exited the season. The world “epic” gets thrown around a lot, but last night’s episode really was. David won both the challenges, reward and immunity, and then there was an “epic” Tribal Council with Jacqui and Moana both close to exiting the game as voters had to choose one or the other.

Elsewhere on the ABC Australian Story featured Shane Jenek– the man behind drag queen superstar Courtney Act– and did 713,000. Four Corners exposed killings and cover ups by Australian special forces in Afghanistan and was on 537,000 and Media Watch did 579,000.

Week 11 TV: Monday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 16.8% 7 16.0% 9 22.4% 10  13.6% SBS One 3.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.1% 7TWO 3.2% GO! 2.3% 10 Bold 3.4% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 2.6% GEM 2.5% 10 Peach 2.4% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 2.6% 7flix 1.4% 9Life 2.0%     NITV 0.1%
                SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 22.1%   23.2%   29.2%   19.4%   6.0%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 14.6% 7 18.8% 9 17.0% WIN 10.6% SBS One 3.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 4.1% GO! 3.4% WIN Bold 3.8% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 4.5% GEM 3.8% WIN Peach 2.9% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 2.7% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.4% 9Life 2.0% Sky News  on WIN 2.0% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 20.3%   28.9%   26.3%   19.3%   5.9%


Monday FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,098,000
  2. Nine News Nine 1,066,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,047,000
  4. Married At First Sight Nine 1,046,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,017,000
  6. 7.30 ABC 888,000
  7. ABC News ABC 856,000
  8. A Current Affair Nine 848,000
  9. Australian Story ABC 713,000
  10. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 700,000
  11. Nine News Special: COVID 19 Nine 632,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 582,000
  13. Media Watch ABC 579,000
  14. Home And Away Seven 579,000
  15. The Chase Australia Seven 554,000
  16. Four Corners ABC 537,000
  17. 10 News First 10 519,000
  18. Q+A ABC 517,000
  19. Hot Seat Nine 478,000
  20. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 476,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 288,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 248,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 164,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 163,000
  5. Nine News Special: COVID 19 Nine 163,000


18 – 49

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 485,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 383,000
  3. Nine News Nine 297,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 295,000
  5. Nine News Special: COVID 19 Nine 280,000


25 – 54

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 545,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 410,000
  3. Nine News Nine 346,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 344,000
  5. Nine News Special: COVID 19 Nine 332,000
Monday Multichannel
  1. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 180,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 165,000
  3. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 159,000
  4. Neighbours 10 Peach 154,000
  5. Dot. PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 154,000
  6. Doc Martin PM 7TWO 151,000
  7. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  8. Bob The Builder PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  9. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  10. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 149,000
  11. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  12. Neighbours: End Game 10 Peach 142,000
  13. Law & Order: SVU Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 136,000
  14. Play School Story Time PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  15. Olobob Top PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  16. Dinosaur Train PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  17. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  18. Pawn Stars PM 7mate 122,000
  19. Rusty Rivets ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  20. Fireman Sam PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
Monday STV
  1. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 70,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 62,000
  3. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 54,000
  4. Outlander FOX One 54,000
  5. Credlin Sky News Live 52,000
  6. Live: On The Couch FOX FOOTY 48,000
  7. PML Later Sky News Live 42,000
  8. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 36,000
  9. NCIS FOX Crime 35,000
  10. Kenny On Media Sky News Live 35,000
  11. Westworld FOX SHOWCASE 35,000
  12. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 33,000
  13. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver COMEDY CHANNEL 32,000
  14. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 32,000
  15. Coronation Street UKTV 31,000
  16. Newsday Sky News Live 31,000
  17. Westworld FOX SHOWCASE 30,000
  18. The Walking Dead FOX SHOWCASE 30,000
  19. Escape To The Country Lifestyle Channel 29,000
  20. Highway Patrol FOX8 27,000

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

Government offers media a line to chief medical officer

The Morrison government is proposing to give Australia’s media companies a direct line into the office of the Commonwealth chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, to provide up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic and assist with fact-checking for news coverage, reports AFR’s Max Mason.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher held a roundtable with local media companies on Monday afternoon to go through the impacts of COVID-19 on their businesses, what contingency measures they have in place, ask how they are providing information to the public and whether a phone and email line into the office of the chief medical officer would be helpful.

“We recognise the decisions we’ve made have significant business impacts,” Fletcher told people on the call.

The proposal, from Fletcher, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was welcomed by media companies. It would provide them with scientific advice directly from Professor Murphy’s office and would help coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read more

'No plans' for Nine CEO to leave at end of 2020

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks is not planning to leave the media company at the end of 2020, reports AFR’s Max Mason.

“There are no plans for Hugh to leave at the end of this year,” a Nine spokeswoman said, denying News Corp reports.

Sources said Nine and Marks have done the normal succession planning that any other company should be doing, has communicated that to investors and analysts, and he will, at some point leave the company, but not at the end of 2020.

They said Marks was focused on bedding down the 2018 merger with Fairfax Media, getting all staff into a new building and getting the company “fighting fit” in an unprecedented time of change of media.

Read more

oOh!media pulls guidance amid COVID-19 outbreak

Outdoor advertising business oOh!media has pulled its full-year guidance amid growing uncertainty in the ad market due to the continued spread of the coronavirus, reports AFR’s Max Mason.

The company said revenue for 2020 has been consistent with the same period in 2019, but the deteriorating macroeconomic environment and uncertainty surrounding the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic has made forecasting the rest of the year through to December difficult.

“In accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations, oOh! therefore advises that it has withdrawn FY20 earnings guidance for the time being,” the company said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Read more

NBCUniversal breaks theatrical window, movies available on demand

NBCUniversal on Monday announced its current movies from the Universal Pictures stable – including the upcoming event family movie Trolls World Tour – will be made available on-demand at the same time they hit those theatres that remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The new policy collapses the traditional theatrical window as the film industry grapples with unprecedented circumstances. Cinemas are entirely closed in 32 or more markets overseas and partially closed in another 15 territories, while more countries expected to follow suit. Most, if not all, cinemas are likely to go dark this week in the US, were theatres have already been ordered to go dark in New York City and Los Angeles. Other locales are also seeing closures, while circuits staying open are starting to limit capacity to 50 people per auditorium per new CDC guidelines.

Movies will be made available on a wide variety of on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the US and the price equivalent in international markets. The announcement was made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Insiders say it isn’t a blanket policy for the studio’s entire 2020 calendar and that decisions regarding other titles and the duration of the policy haven’t been made yet.

Read more


Coronavirus: Big Brother Australia cast updated on pandemic

Contestants taking part in the latest season of Big Brother Australia have had to be updated about the coronavirus and how much it has ramped up in recent weeks, reports News.com.au.

The new season is currently being filmed in Sydney’s North Head and it is understood the cast have been inside the Big Brother house for about three weeks.

Earlier today The Australian’s Media Diary reported that the housemates have limited access to mobile phones and information about the outside world and therefore are unaware how much the coronavirus outbreak has escalated.

However, a spokesperson for Endemol Shine Australia told news.com.au that the contestants have been brought up to date with what is going on.

“Endemol Shine Australia takes the health and safety of our crew and contestants extremely seriously,” the spokesperson said.

“We are working in line with current guidelines and production on Big Brother is continuing.

“Housemates have been brought across the current situation and we are in constant contact with the families to keep all involved up to date.”

Read more

Coronavirus: Karl Stefanovic rips into minister as schools remain open

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken the Today’s Karl Stefanovic to task over coronavirus telling the host: “You’re not a doctor”, reports News Corp’s Benedict Brook.

In a series of interviews this morning, Stefanovic and co-host Allison Langdon quizzed government ministers on why social distancing measures were being put in place while parents were told kids should stay in crowded classrooms. Yesterday, the Prime Minister advised people to stay 1.5 metres apart.

Stefanovic laid into the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan and said the official advice to keep schools running was “all over the shop”.

Read more

ABC's News Breakfast bans guests in the studio

ABC’s News Breakfast is the latest television program to ban guests in the studio, in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, reports News Corp’s Lilly Vitorovich.

In a video posted on social media platform Twitter on Monday morning, co-host Michael Rowland said “life in Australia has changed dramatically over the weekend, and that means life is changing for all of us here at News Breakfast“.

Co-host Lisa Millar said the public broadcaster has had to make “some pretty tough decisions” to try and ensure the News Breakfast team, plus guests “stay healthy” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more

Netflix show Clickbait in 'production pause', The Voice delayed

Netflix’s big-budget, eight-part drama Clickbait, currently in production in Melbourne, has gone into an immediate two-week shutdown for coronavirus-related “health/safety precautions”, reports the SMH’s Karl Quinn.

Though the streamer has not issued an official statement it is understood the “production pause” is pre-emptive, with no one related to the show having yet returned a positive test to COVID-19.

The show was nearing the end of its third block (pairs of episodes), and has approximately six more weeks of shooting ahead.

Meanwhile, Nine’s singing contest The Voice will also suffer a production disruption.

The playoffs were due to begin filming on March 26 but have now been postponed as a result of the requirements for all travellers to Australia from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

Read more

Survivor Australia 2020: Survivor finale to go ahead without host LaPaglia

Australian Survivor’s finale will go ahead without host Jonathan LaPaglia in the studio. Based in Los Angeles, the Australian actor and TV presenter will however name the series winner via video link from the US when the grand final episode is recorded in Sydney later this week, reports News Corp’s Mibenge Nsenduluka and Jonathan Moran.

LaPaglia intended to be there in person but with the COVID-19 situation continuing to rapidly change, he has decided to remain at home.

New government procedures would also mean that if he did come to Australia, he would have to spend two weeks in self isolation, which would push production back.

Survivor “superfan” Osher Gunsberg will step in as guest MC for the question and answer component of the All Stars Finale.

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Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa to be tested for coronavirus after contact with Richard Wilkins

Radio hosts Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald and Michael “Wippa” Wipfli missed their Nova 96.9 breakfast show in Sydney on Monday morning, with the pair set to be tested for the coronavirus following Richard “Dickie” Wilkins’ positive diagnosis, reports News Corp’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The pair and their team will be tested after coming in direct contact with Wilkins, who hosts a weekend morning show at Nova’s sister radio station, smoothfm.

NOVA Entertainment chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson said all staff “who may have come into direct contact” with Wilkins, including Fitzgerald and Wipfli and their team, will be tested and self-isolate for 14 days as instructed by the Department of Health.

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Sports Media

At this stage Seven & Fox Footy could have AFL on Thursday night

AFL players want to play this weekend, report News Corp’s Lauren Wood and Sam Landsberger.

A majority of players at last night’s landmark meeting, convened by the AFL Players Association via teleconference with more than 800 of the cohort from around the country, supported a plan to kick off Round 1 on Thursday night.

The players were presented with a range of options that could have been available but have united to play from this weekend if the landscape remains as it is.

A lot can change by Thursday night but, at this stage, the season will kick off at the MCG between Richmond and Carlton.

It appears inevitable that the 17-round season will be shutdown at some stage, either because the coronavirus outbreak takes over society or an AFL player becomes infected.

Players have been told that the league has proposed a 20 per cent pay cut as a result of the crisis, which the Herald Sun understands a number of players are unhappy with.

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