Wednesday March 18, 2020

Garry Lyon: “I don’t try and be provocative for the sake of it”

By James Manning

Former champion footballer Garry Lyon is a key member of SEN 1116 and Fox Footy teams. He and his colleagues commit big time across the football season. This year that commitment will vary on how the League deals with the coronavirus challenge.

Lyon started the year strongly last month on his SEN 1116 breakfast radio show with Tim Watson.

“We are fresh,” Lyon told Mediaweek. “We started the year on radio after six weeks off. I like working with Tim, he’s a good fella and we have a good chemistry. We take the piss…that’s basically what we do and it tends to work for us.”

Lyon has recently started his fourth year on breakfast at SEN 1116. The first year Lyon worked with Seven’s Hamish McLachlan and Watson, before McLachlan stepped back to focus on TV.

When asked what it is was like working at SEN owner Crocmedia, Lyon mentioned CEO Craig Hutchison – “my big boss”. He added: “That is a bit of a strange situation as I’ve known him forever and we have worked with him as one of the team. Hutchy is doing a phenomenal job with the organisation. He’s a good boss, he’s passionate, progressive and he has a very aggressive take on the whole media landscape. He pushes the boundaries. You need to get on board and go for the ride or he might leave you behind.”

Although SEN 1116 breakfast trails other AM and FM breakfast shows in Melbourne, Crocmedia does a pretty good job reminding people how the show is competitive in its core demo. Something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Lyon.

“I have been doing media for about 35 years, I’ve never had a ratings survey where the bosses can’t spin it. Ever.

“The interesting one for us is the podcast numbers. We have been #5 most popular podcast in the country several times. We are a sports station – we are not playing music, we are not giving away big cash prizes or trips to New York. Our audience might get a pair of socks if they listen. Our demographic is very specifically for sports fans. We try to broaden it a little in breakfast with a bit more entertainment.”

After 24 years working for Nine, Lyon moved to Fox Footy three years ago. “Working at Fox Footy is the closest experience to what it’s like being at a footy club that you could have. People get on really well, but at the same time are competitive and push each other. There is a great feeling of comradery amongst the girls and guys.”

In addition to being a member of Fox Footy’s On The Couch team, Lyon also has weekend commentary duties. He appears on SEN match coverage on Friday nights when the game is in Melbourne. He can be in the studio for Fox on Thursday or Friday nights and is also rostered on for special comments on either Saturday or Sunday.

Lyon explained that after doing the pre-game on Fox Footy on either Thursday or Friday nights, the channel takes the Seven call of the game from only the bounce of the ball. “We then head upstairs and sit on couches to watch the game on the TV. There’s lollies and chips and some of us might take notes. Someone might also wander off to watch it on their own in another room if they want to focus on something specifically. The producers are there with us too.”

Lyon is also a note taker. “I don’t think you can be unprepared for this job as a rule. You will get found out if you don’t do your homework.” Lyon tries to watch all the games every week, noting, “It’s not great for my partner who doesn’t enjoy that part of it. We need to watch as much as we can as on Monday nights we cover all the matches.”

As well as enjoying the intense footy season, Lyon admitted to being as just a bigger fan of the off-season. “I didn’t shave for six months after the 2019 Grand Final which was good.”

As part of trying to make sure it doesn’t get too intense during various controversies that crop up over a football year, Lyon explained: “I am not on social media which is important for me. I give my opinions and try to be as honest as I can. I get some instantaneous feedback on radio, but otherwise I don’t need to know what is happening around me on the rest of social media.

“I give my frank opinions, and as long as I am not being sensationalist, and believe in what I am saying, if I ruffle some feathers then so be it. I certainly don’t try to be provocative for the sake of it.

360 degree digital giant Mamamia continues to evolve as its audience does 

By Claudia Siron

Multi digital platform Mamamia has always been purpose-driven – that purpose being to make a difference for women and girls by delivering candid conversations that count. Editor Clare Stephens spoke to Mediaweek about how the brand continues to thrive and survive, what type of content feeds their female audience’s insatiable appetite for news and stories, and readership figures for their biggest month yet.

Like many news and lifestyle sites, Mamamia has no shortage of updates and advice for its readers how to best cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stephens revealed that what’s changed the most for the brand is the audience. The way the brand evolves is always dictated by how their audience evolves. “The women in our audience want to feel seen, heard and understood,” said Stephens. “One thing that we’ve really noticed in the last 12 months is the speed of media changing. We try to meet women where they’re at and not make them feel silly or behind for not being across a news story whether it’s bushfires, Megxit, or now coronavirus. We give them the whole story.” 

In the last few months there’s been so much tragedy in the news. Stephens mentioned how the media’s quite bleak at the moment and their female audience are most likely hungry for humour. “It’s okay to take a really light approach to something. With Megxit we did some really funny content and broke down the walls of it being professional royal speak.

Reality TV content continues to be a strong pillar for Mamamia, and the way they approach it with complete humour and a tongue in cheek perspective really resonates with women. “We’ve really amplified our entertainment content in the last 12 months, but even more so in the last six months since The Spill podcast launched. We have original interviews, verbal discussions that then lead themselves to exciting opinions and perspectives. What we’re really trying to do to evolve is to meet our readers, listeners and viewers where and how she needs us.”

Stephens said they know the audience loves their Married at First Sight recaps, so they dip into a few different mediums to reach as many women as possible. The brand introduced a recaps podcast as well as utilise video in a satirical way where Stephens and her twin sister Jessie – associate editor at Mamamia – are the ‘experts’. “We try to have commentary on it without being cruel or inciting any bad comments or shaming. That tongue in cheek humour works with the show, so we try to meet women at all different touchpoints as much as possible.

As the new decade ticked over, so did their readership. January was Mamamia’s biggest audience ever across the site with well over five million women turning in. “We are up 15% on January last year and our monthly audience remains firmly in excess of five million Australian women. When we got that result we were so excited.

“December was really big as well, but January was incredible. I haven’t seen numbers like that since I started four to five years ago. There’s also been a lot of growth across verticals like lifestyle and parenting. We’re very much 360 degrees of content across 360 degrees of women’s lives.”

A recent highlight for the brand was their January 26 content. They chose to approach the day as January 26 rather than Australia Day and really focused on highlighting the voice of First Nations women and let the day be an opportunity for them to speak, which really resonated with their audience. “We did that across video, podcast and editorial. It really seemed to strike a chord.”

Stephens said she’s also really proud of their stance on climate change and that they have never and will never provide a platform for climate deniers. Throughout the bushfires and other tragedies, they’re focused on calling it a climate emergency and providing really objective information that gets across what the consensus is among scientists. “We had a story around the bushfires with a headline of how to have a conversation with someone who thinks the greens are to blame for the bushfires. It was a really good chance to be able to debunk some of the myths. Again, that was across multiple verticals.

Another highlight was the Kobe Bryant tragedy they reported on. “We took a moment to tell Vanessa Bryant’s story and we had quite a divisive opinion on the story of Kobe Bryant’s alleged assault victim. That was something we were really proud of. We knew we would get criticism, we knew we’d get all sorts of comments, but we decided as a team it was the right thing to do.”

Stephens revealed they have a few live shows planned, meaning more You Beauty live shows and more Mamamia Out Loud shows. “We’ve got a couple of new podcasts coming, like Extraordinary Stories and The Hustle. We have lots of other things in the pipeline too including bespoke branded podcasts and some really exciting partnerships. But that’s all I can say for now!

Publicis Group’s Michael Rebelo appoints chief product officer

Publicis Groupe ANZ CEO Michael Rebelo has announced the appointment of Jason Tonelli (pictured) to the new role of chief product officer.

Tonelli has been charged with expanding strategic partnerships and products across data science, analytics, commerce, content and performance marketing, to ensure the Groupe identifies and develops new products for clients to help them in their marketing transformation journey.

As part of Tonelli’s broadened remit, he will retain his current role as CEO of performance marketing agency, Performics.

Rebelo said: “As the chief product officer, Jason will ensure that we take a collaborative approach to ongoing product development; enhancing our product solutions for our clients across the Groupe. Jason will advance solutions and product roadmaps across the key areas of data science, analytics, commerce, content and performance marketing.”

In other roles, Tonelli was previously Publicis Media ANZ’s chief digital and technology officer, and executive director of technology, digital & content at Starcom Australia. He has been CEO of Performics for the past two years, and he serves on the board of directors for the Audited Media Association of Australia.

On his expanded role, Tonelli said: “Publicis Groupe is a company known for supporting the growth of its talent and solving complex problems for its clients in disruptive and creative ways. After almost eight years with the business, being able to further connect our products and empower the people in our brands to bring together creativity, media and technology for our customers is an exciting opportunity.”

TV Demand: The Mandalorian is dethroned + Castlevania

By Trent Thomas

The Mandalorian wasn’t able to make it 17 weeks on top of the Australian Overall TV chart after losing its spot to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. However, it’s not all doom and gloom with the Disney + original still topping the Overall TV chart in NZ and the Digital Originals chart in Australia.

The Mandalorian still has a chance to beat the 22 consecutive weeks achieved last year by Stranger Things on the Digital Originals chart in Australia, but it is also facing stiff competition there from Star Trek: Picard.

The most noteworthy new entry to the Digital Originals charts in Australia and New Zealand is the Netflix original Castlevania. The show is an anime series based on the Japanese video game of the same name with the first two seasons of the show was based on the third entry of the video game series Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse which was released in 1989. The plot follows the characters Trevor Belmont, Alucard and Sypha Belnades in the nation of Wallachia as they face Dracula and his minions. The third season of the show was released on Netflix on March 5.

TV Ratings March 17

By James Manning

• COVID-19 updates: Former 60 Minutes colleagues face off
• Survivor’s biggest All Stars audience as Shonee double-crossed
• Hard to watch: Sarah Ferguson’s Revelation debuts with 450k

News audience: major FTA news in massive news week

Seven News
Monday 1,098,000/1,017,000
Tuesday 1,145,000/1,057,000

Nine News
Monday 1,066,000/1,047,000
Tuesday 983,000/997,000

ABC News
Monday 856,000
Tuesday 880,000

10 News
Monday 519,000/330,000 (6pm)
Tuesday 511,000/302,000

SBS World News
Monday 144,000
Tuesday 156,000

A Current Affair
Monday 848,000
Tuesday 850,000

Monday 888,000
Tuesday 823,000

The Project
Monday 387,000/582,000 (7pm)
Tuesday 338,000/512,000

Nine News Special: COVID-19
Monday 632,000
Tuesday 637,000

Seven News: The Latest
Monday 340,000
Tuesday 369,000

Monday 315,000
Tuesday 287,000

Monday 236,000
Tuesday 246,000
(Nine’s breakfast show had its best figures for two years – won east coast, Sydney and Brisbane, drew with Sunrise in Melbourne)

ABC News Breakfast
Monday 228,000
Tuesday 238,000

TV news anchors Peter Overton and Michael Usher were colleagues for many years at the Nine Network when they worked on 60 Minutes. However the two are now facing off in a late night arm wrestle for viewers as the hosts of special news bulletins on their respective networks. Both news shows are pulling good audiences for their time of night, but could arguably be doing better if they had definite start times, not “about” 9pm.

Usher has been the host of Seven’s late night news bulletin The Latest for some time. The program has been going to air after 10pm most nights and recently tested an hour bulletin on a Monday night. Seven has now decided to roll out a 60-minute bulletin on other nights of the week and has moved the bulletin earlier.

Nine tested a COVID-19 news specific bulletin presented by Overton on Monday night and did exceptional business with over 600,000 and then backed it up again on Tuesday. Helping the Nine numbers is the lead in – MAFS has well over double the audience in the main markets of Seven’s MKR.

Best of the rest

Home visits continued on Nine’s Married at First Sight which delivered another timeslot dominating audience of 1,070,000.

Seven’s My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals did 468,000. Seven screened the much-anticipated (by some) final episode of the excellent UK drama Gold Digger last night after The Latest. The program did 161,000. The show is a hit on catch-up with last week’s audience growing over 50% in Consolidated 7 data.

Another good episode of 10’s Australian Survivor last night – except for the result at Tribal Council. David managed to dodge another bullet, this time looking on as Shonee was voted out. In a show where double crossing is part of the game, Sharn took it to new levels as she worked both of the alliances. It was called a blindside, but everyone knew it was on the cards as Sharn held the balance of power. There was a missed opportunity for a real blindside when the two alliances should have worked together to get rid of the barrister. The audience was again strong with 728,000, the biggest crowd this season.

ABC’s Foreign Correspondent did 597,00 with Emma Alberici reporting on Nigerian organised crime as the new Italian mafia. It was followed by Sarah Ferguson’s documentary series Revelation on 456,000. The series was too hard to watch for some with its confronting and harrowing stories about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia.

Great Alaskan Railroad Journeys kept the Michael Portillo fan club on SBS happy with the first of five episodes on 272,000.

Week 11 TV: Tuesday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 13.7% 7 16.6% 9 23.6% 10  12.1% SBS One 5.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 2.7% GO! 1.7% 10 Bold 3.0% VICELAND 1.5%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 3.2% GEM 3.4% 10 Peach 2.5% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 2.8% 7flix 1.5% 9Life 1.8%     NITV 0.1%
                SBS World Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 19.8%   23.9%   30.5%   17.5%   8.4%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 12.4% 7 18.0% 9 19.3% WIN 10.4% SBS One 5.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 3.3% GO! 2.2% WIN Bold 3.3% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.4% 7mate 5.3% GEM 4.3% WIN Peach 2.7% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 2.5% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.3% 9Life 2.1% Sky News  on WIN 2.1% NITV 0.0%
                SBS Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 18.0%   28.0%   27.9%   18.5%   8.2%


89.3% 10.7%
  1. Seven News Seven 1,145,000
  2. Married At First Sight Nine 1,070,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,057,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 997,000
  5. Nine News Nine 983,000
  6. ABC News ABC 880,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 850,000
  8. 7.30 ABC 823,000
  9. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 728,000
  10. Nine News Special: COVID–19 Nine 637,000
  11. Home And Away Seven 606,000
  12. Foreign Correspondent ABC 597,000
  13. The Chase Australia Seven 587,000
  14. The Project 7pm 10 512,000
  15. 10 News First 10 511,000
  16. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 468,000
  17. Hot Seat Nine 464,000
  18. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 458,000
  19. Revelation ABC 456,000
  20. The Chase Australia 5pm Seven 372,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 282,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 280,000
  3. Nine News Special: COVID–19 Nine 165,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 152,000
  5. Seven News Seven 152,000


18 – 49

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 496,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 413,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 302,000
  4. Nine News Special: COVID–19 Nine 289,000
  5. Nine News Nine 287,000


25 – 54

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 560,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 429,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 356,000
  4. Nine News Nine 342,000
  5. Nine News Special: COVID–19 Nine 332,000
Tuesday Multichannel
  1. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 458,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 276,000
  3. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 231,000
  4. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 184,000
  5. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 176,000
  6. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  7. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 170,000
  8. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 169,000
  9. Olobob Top PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 165,000
  10. Dot. PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 160,000
  11. Goldfinger 9Gem 154,000
  12. Neighbours 10 Peach 152,000
  13. Bob The Builder PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 151,000
  14. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 148,000
  15. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  16. Play School Story Time PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  17. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  18. Adam Hills: The Last Leg ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  19. Dinosaur Train PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  20. Floogals AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
Tuesday STV
  1. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 70,000
  2. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 58,000
  3. Jones & Credlin Sky News Live 57,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 51,000
  5. Live: AFL 360 FOX FOOTY 44,000
  6. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 42,000
  7. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 38,000
  8. The Simpsons FOX8 37,000
  9. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 37,000
  10. PML Later Sky News Live 36,000
  11. The Great British Bake Off Lifestyle FOOD 36,000
  12. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 36,000
  13. Live: The Back Page FOX SPORTS 503 35,000
  14. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 33,000
  15. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 33,000
  16. Newsday Sky News Live 32,000
  17. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 30,000
  18. Live: NRL 360 FOX LEAGUE 30,000
  19. NCIS FOX Crime 30,000
  20. 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown UKTV 29,000

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

The Australian concert industry needs $850 million to survive

Musicians from Keith Urban to Chris Martin are live streaming concerts to entertain self-isolated fans around the world as the Australian live music industry urges the Federal and State Governments to assist the shattered sector with a $850 million package, reports News Corp’s Kathy McCabe.

Urban, with his wife Nicole Kidman on roadie and percussion duties, broadcast a half-hour set from their Nashville warehouse.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin launched the first Together At Home virtual concert series on Tuesday, chatting to tens of thousands of fans in between playing some of the band’s biggest hits and a cover of David Bowie’s Life On Mars.

Artists and their teams faced more bad news on Tuesday with Splendour in the Grass moved to October, Groovin’ The Moo cancelled and many other tours shifted to later in the year.

Meanwhile, Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson and other concert industry representatives met via teleconference with Federal arts minister Paul Fletcher to push for a $850 million support and stimulus package for the arts community.

Richardson believes gigs are gone for up to six months.

“Australia’s $4 billion live performance industry is on the brink of collapse without immediate government support,” she said.

“Realistically, we’re looking at a 3-6 month closure period at least before any recovery phase. In this scenario we will have not just thousands of people out of work but major companies going under along with a decimated small to medium sector.”

[Read more]

Coronavirus: ABC changes aim to protect staff, guests

The ABC is reorganising its television, radio and online operations to protect “vital services”, staff and guests, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

The public broadcaster announced on Tuesday that it is suspending all audiences for any live broadcast or in-studio recording, a day after News Breakfast and Q&A implemented the same changes.

Instead, the ABC will rely on technology such as Skype to interview guests.

Non-essential meetings and events at ABC offices have also been put on hold, plus non-essential visitors, including public tours of ABC buildings. Live Playschool and Giggle & Hoot children’s concerts are also off.

“At this challenging time the priority for the ABC is to ensure we continue to provide the trusted service all Australians expect and can always turn to,” the ABC said on its website.

[Read more]

News Brands

Digital audiences climb as consumers search for virus information

On Tuesday Mediaweek reported the surge in viewing audiences for news and current affair TV shows on Monday night. The response has moved some broadcasters to increase their coverage of the spread of COVID-19. Both Nine and Seven are now programming a one-hour late night news bulletin to focus on the latest developments.


Meanwhile over the past seven days has had a daily average audience of 1.9 million, according to Nielsen DCR data. Thursday 12 March and Friday 13 March were the most active days with a unique audience of more than 2.1 million on both days.

To-date,’s coronavirus coverage has generated over double the number of page views the site’s bushfire coverage generated over summer from just over 1,200 articles published since the virus came to light around 70 days ago. editor-in-chief Kate de Brito editor-in-chief Kate de Brito told Mediaweek: “We’ve seen a huge surge in readership around the coronavirus starting last month and leading to record audience numbers over the past week. We are running at least two live blogs every day which are being updated throughout the day and evening plus multiple stories about the virus and its impact on Australia and the world. The massive increase in audience numbers comes from search, social, app and direct traffic to our homepage and shows how important this issue is to Australians and how urgently they are seeking credible and up-to-date information on health issues and around closures, shutdowns and shortages.”

$212m settlement a victory for the community and for journalism

The federal government will pay out $212.5 million to settle three class actions launched by victims of toxic firefighting contamination across Australia, comments an editorial in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The landmark legal settlement – believed to be the first of its kind in the world – can be revealed after the Department of Defence polluted thousands of properties with firefighting foam containing potentially carcinogenic per- and poly- fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals.

These sorts of wins are all the sweeter because they are so rare. This victory has only come after five years of complaints to local authorities, political lobbying and legal arguments, which cost residents and their supporters both time and money. They could easily have given up but they fought on. It is difficult to talk about without sounding self-serving but this is also, in a small way, a win for the Herald and Newcastle Herald, both formerly part of Fairfax Media. Both mastheads helped the people of Williamtown raise the alarm at crucial times.

The Newcastle Herald, led by Carrie Fellner– currently an investigative reporter for The SMH– started following the issue from 2015 when the Department of Defence issued a brief press release admitting the site might be contaminated. This was more than a decade after 3M – the manufacturer of PFAS chemicals – indicated there were issues with its products.

[Read more]

Nine Entertainment publishing’s James Chessell writes to subscribers

• Won’t sensationalise COVID-19 coverage, measured analysis

The executive editor of The SMH and The Age, James Chessell, has written to subscribers of the two Nine Entertainment news brands, updating them about the company’s continuing coverage of coronavirus and its trail of destruction around the world:

Our newsrooms are used to fast-developing stories but the coronavirus pandemic is without precedent. Since we first reported on the outbreak of a new virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January, the coronavirus has spread across the world infecting more than 180,000 people, paralysing countries, and upending global financial markets.

Misinformation during this time can spread as quickly as the virus itself. Our newsrooms are committed to reporting the facts about COVID-19 calmly and explaining what the outbreak means for our economy, businesses, schools, sports, culture, households and daily lives. We will do so without straying into sensationalism. It is imperative that our community is prepared and informed as we face this challenge together. Our reporters on the ground in Australia and overseas take this responsibility seriously and are working hard to fulfil it.

We have made our daily live coverage of the pandemic free to all readers given its critical health and community information. It’s thanks to our subscribers that we’re able to provide this service to the wider community. Subscribers power our newsrooms and access to a trusted source of news is more important now than it has ever been.

Our wider coverage includes:

• Federal and state political bureaus led by David Crowe, Rob Harris and Peter Hartcher pursuing and examining the government’s response to the serious health and economic challenges ahead

• Foreign correspondents filing from Europe, the United States and Asia to provide a global insight, including Bevan Shields’ excellent piece about the ‘herd immunity’ debate in the UK

• Expert business reporters and columnists analysing the impact on jobs, the economy and business including Stephen Bartholomeusz’s must-read on the myriad forces ending the longest bull market in history

• Opinion writers including Jacqueline Maley, Chris Uhlmann, Ross Gittins, Sean Kelly, Shaun Carney and Julia Baird, who wrote eloquently about the importance of hope recently, providing the best range of measured analysis of events for readers who don’t like to be told what to think

• Science and health reporters giving regular updates on the nature of the virus, vaccine developments, and personal health advice. Our journalists abide by a set of reporting guidelines when writing about medical research, which you can read here.

Most importantly, we will tell you what it all means for you and your family.

Each morning we publish a Morning Edition newsletter that provides a summary of the day’s most important stories.

We first published our comprehensive explainer on the virus on January 21. It has had more than 2500 updates since and continues to be constantly revised. It serves as an excellent primer on the basic questions we all want to know including how worried we should be. Our award-winning explainer team has also written about what coronavirus does to the body, the rules of self-isolation and the origins of COVID-19.

The safety of our staff is paramount and we are taking as many measures as we can to do our bit to minimise the spread of the virus throughout the community. But we are also very conscious of our duty to report the news no matter what the circumstances.

I want to thank you, as a subscriber, for supporting journalism which in the coming days will be vital. We hope your family stays healthy and safe.

China to revoke credentials of journalists as media war escalates

China says it will revoke the credentials of Americans at three US newspapers in response to new US restrictions on Chinese media, reports Associated Press.

In a news release posted online, the foreign ministry said early on Wednesday that China demands American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post whose credentials are due to expire before the end of 2020 to hand back their press cards within 10 days.

The move comes after the Trump administration designated five Chinese media outlets as foreign missions and restricted the number of Chinese who could work for them.

China said that its steps were necessary and reciprocal countermeasures in response to what it called unreasonable oppression of Chinese media in the US.

[Read more]

Sports Media

TV/radio cliff-hanger: AFL delays decision on R1 until Wednesday

The AFL will delay until Wednesday a final decision on whether to play its opening round of the 2020 season, reports’s Damian Barrett.

[The delay means TV and radio broadcasters still don’t know if they will have four days of football to cover starting Thursday.]

After another full day of meetings and phone hook-ups with government officials, clubs, players and medical experts, the AFL Commission on Tuesday evening again deferred its decision.

The AFL is now committed to making a decision on Wednesday about the full set of round one matches – and, in the event of a cancellation, effectively a minimum of five rounds beyond round one – and not wait until the actual day of the season-opening game.

The League has analysed every possible scenario in the days leading into the scheduled season start, knowing that there are no guarantees on a resumption of play after the ultimately inevitable decision not to play is made, whenever that decision falls, be it before or sometime after round one.

[Read more]

Sam McClure: Seven to hold fire over broadcast refund discussion

Host broadcaster Channel Seven will wait until later in the year before discussing a potential refund from the AFL, reports The Age’s Sam McClure.

Gillon McLachlan’s decision to shorten the season to 17 games – the first interrupted season since World War 2 – means the contract of the six-year, $2.5 billion broadcast deal has been breached.

The contract, which involves Seven, Fox and Telstra, sees the three broadcasters pay the AFL just under $420 million per season.

Television sources have confirmed to The Age that there is a ‘force majeure’ clause in the contract, which talks about ‘unforeseeable circumstances or events.’

Of that, Fox pays approximately $250 million for all 198 home and away games, while Seven pays $150 million annually.

[Read more]

Caro and Hutchy talk AFL sports rights on Footy Classified

Sam McClure’s report about Seven and an AFL refund comes just a day after his colleague at Nine Entertainment, Caroline Wilson, claimed on the first of two episodes of Nine’s Footy Classified to screen this week that the AFL was close to revealing an extension of the existing broadcast rights deal with Seven, Foxtel and Telstra. An extra two years would take the existing rights holders through until the end of the 2024 season.


Broadcaster and media executive Craig Hutchison said if the AFL could pull off such a deal in the current financial climate it would be like “Christmas Day” for the League.

A second episode this week of Nine’s Footy Classified will screen tonight with Eddie McGuire hosting with his long-time adversary Caroline Wilson sitting alongside him.

During the Monday episode, Hutchison was asked as the CEO of radio rights holder Crocmedia how much a cancellation of the AFL would impact his business. “We will survive,” said Hutchison.

New long-term TV deal could save NRL: ex-News Corp boss

Former News Corp chairman and chief executive John Hartigan believes the NRL and broadcasters should look to immediately re-negotiate long-term television deals in an effort to shore up their uncertain futures amid the coronavirus crisis, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Barrett.

With sport forced into COVID-19 lockdown around the globe, competitions such as the NRL and AFL stand to be cruelled financially if they lose significant portions of their seasons to the virus and they are left stranded without the millions in broadcast rights revenue that prop up the games.

The NRL’s $1.8 billion agreement with Foxtel, Nine and Telstra runs until 2022, as does the AFL’s $2.5bn deal with Seven West Media, Foxtel and Telstra, and while the code would have to accept a reduction in rights fees in the circumstances, with player payments going backwards, it could help secure its future.

“That’s something they would have to be contemplating, just because of that cash flow and the certainty of it. It’s an opportune time,” Hartigan said on Tuesday.

[Read more]

No deal: Rugby Australia suspends broadcast talks

Raelene Castle insists Rugby Australia will come out the other side of the coronavirus crisis intact despite being forced to suspend its broadcast rights process for the foreseeable future and flagging the possibility it may discuss its financial predicament with the government.

These are uncharted waters for rugby in Australia as the code prepares to be “impacted in ways that we could never have imagined” due to self-isolation protocols that have already resulted in Super Rugby being cancelled for the time being.

RA had hoped to field offers this week for the next five-year broadcast rights cycle but that deadline has been ditched due to the ongoing uncertainty facing potential bidders Optus and current rights holder Fox Sports.

[Read more]

Triple M Brisbane welcomes Kev Walters home for Rush Hour

Queensland State of Origin coach and former Brisbane Broncos captain Kev Walters has rejoined the Triple M Brisbane scrum and will be heard on The Rush Hour every Wednesday night, co-hosting with Ben ‘Dobbo’  Dobbin (pictured), as well as giving his regular Monday recovery session on The Big Breakfast with Marto, Margaux and Nick Cody.

Triple M Brisbane content director Scott Menz said the station couldn’t be more stoked to welcome Walters back.

“He first joined the Triple M team back in 2014 for Dead Set Legends and we all discovered that his on-air chemistry with Dobbo combined with his expert coaching brain generated a swag of thumbs ups from our listeners. He’s always given us an inside look into the world of Rugby League in Brisbane and of course, he’s the best bloke to give ‘Dobbo’ an absolute ribbing on the air – we love that.”

Walters said: “I’m over the moon to re-join the Triple M family and get behind the mic again in Brisbane. I’ve always loved coming into these studios and having fun, so I can’t wait to kick off.”

Kevin Walters co-hosts The Rush Hour with Ben Dobbin every Wednesday night 6-7pm and joins The Big Breakfast every Monday morning to review the weekend’s games.

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