By James Manning
• Daily Telegraph editor Ben English on reader response
The editor of Sydney’s biggest-selling newspaper has been alternating days working from home and days visiting the office.
“We already have many production staff working from home, although some are still in the office,” English told Mediaweek.
Other staff are scarce on the ground. “One hundred percent of our reporters work out of the office. When it comes to leadership, we have split into A and B teams.”
When the A team is at work, the B team works remotely. And vice versa. “My deputy editor is not here when I am here. It is just being sensible. What I have stressed to staff is this is all precautionary. The idea is to keep the workplace as safe as possible and to keep them as safe as possible so they can continue to do an incredibly important job.”
English explained how people of NSW have responded to the news brand. “From the traffic we are getting and the subscription growth we can tell audiences are responding very well to our coverage so far.”
All the plans haven’t been without some hiccups. For instance, the all-import news conference planning sessions. “I have to admit there have been some technical glitches. There have been some funny videos circulating about staff having video hook-ups. At times it felt like we were in one of those comedy sketches. We are getting better at it. Now it is becoming business as usual.
“On any given day when I’m in the office I will go to conference, but there might only be two or three others physically there with me. There might then be six or seven logging in remotely.”
Even though it is early days with the workplace arrangements, English said: “The productivity has increased. I am very encouraged by the results. The reporters are stepping up as is the case when a massive story breaks. When we had the bushfires a lot of people became involved. It is the same with journalists all over the world when big news breaks.
“There are less distractions when working remotely. On the downside we have to be wary about missing out on the social benefits of being around each other. We regularly check in on team members to see how they are going and to give them someone to talk to.”
The Daily Telegraph staff are using Amazon Workspaces and they are able to integrate Methode, News Corp’s customised editorial and publishing platform. “A number of mastheads have already done a completely off-sight production of the paper. We will be going live with it for our Monday edition.”
English explained last week that The Daily Telegraph had its biggest week ever, by a long way, of subscription sales. “That also coincides with SuperCoach which is traditionally a big week of subs growth,” he admitted.
“Encouragingly the subs growth is also coming when we are unlocking a big portion of our coronavirus coverage. New readers seem to be coming to us for our coronavirus coverage, having a look around, and signing up.”
Like many titles, The Daily Telegraph is also offering a coronavirus newsletter.
The challenge for English and his team is keeping up with the many facets of the story. “Every day there is not just one amazing new twist, but most days at least 10. We often say to each other we have so many options daily for the lead story.
“We are anticipating that people will want to stay all over how it is developing and what is going on, but I anticipate they will also need alternative content as well.”
With The Daily Telegraph set to cover this story for a long time, English said the newspaper is going to be “significantly re-imaging things”, without wishing to give away too much detail.
“We have some of our best people working on re-imagining the print product to suit the new normal. This has all happened so quickly that we have had to be agile and we are now adapting the product accordingly.”
Home delivery becoming more important
English: “We are getting feedback there is a very strong appetite for home delivery from new customers.” He cautioned it was anecdotal and he had yet to see data. “At this stage our sales in supermarket channels have spiked significantly.”
The newspaper increased its print run for supermarkets a fortnight ago and then again in the past few days.
By James Manning
• Tim Worner: “Bradley had a superb instinct for great stories”
• Lyons and other TV execs from the West changed the face of TV
Seven West Media is mourning the passing of former Seven Network executive Brad Lyons.
Lyons had been battling cancer in recent years after departing Seven in 2017. In over 25 years at Seven his list of achievements is long and will be updated when we pay him a more fitting tribute in a longer article later.
In those years he worked as director of production, head of Seven Studios, Melbourne programming manager, head of development and head of infotainment. He also worked at Beyond Productions for six years as a producer on Beyond 2000 and then a development executive.
Lyons was one of a talented group of TV executives that came out of Perth and went on to develop the Australian TV business into what many have called the best in the world. Others who made that journey from Perth to the east coast included great mates and Seven colleagues Tim Worner and Simon Reeve, 10 and ITV’s David Mott and Nine’s Michael Healy.
James Warburton, Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, who worked with Lyons during Warburton’s first tour of duty at Seven, said: “On behalf of all of us at SWM, we were devastated to learn of Brad’s passing. Brad was an instrumental creative force at Seven for two decades. He saw the launch of over 25 titles in his time, including iconic shows such as Dancing with the Stars, My Kitchen Rules, Deal or No Deal, House Rules and The Chase Australia.
“We will all miss his energy and passion, which we were so lucky to experience. Brad was a second-to-none creative mind, and we were so fortunate to have a had chance to work with him and get to know him for the truly incredible person he was.
“Our thoughts are with Brad’s wife, Debbie, his three daughters, and all of his family and friends at this time.”
Long-time friend and colleague, and former Seven and Beyond workmate Tim Worner, told Mediaweek this morning:
“We met as teenagers in Perth and then worked together for a long time at 7NEWS Perth and then in Sydney at Beyond and Seven for a long time after that.
“Bradley had a superb instinct for great stories and an even better one for telling them and that was very clear from very early on. He took that gift and turned it into a brilliant career as a reporter, producer and executive. There was no better show maker and no way that a rough cut wasn’t coming out the other side of his screening so much better – often with feedback that was unfailingly frank, but always spot on. So many of his ideas still have life on networks all around the world. As a teammate, he was so spirited and proud and often loud. He loved to laugh and those around him did a lot of it as well, he made sure of that. But he reserved the most pride and love for Deb and his girls. They lit him up like nothing else.”
Another long-time Seven colleague was director of programming Angus Ross. The two had adjoining offices on Seven’s executive floor and were a crucial part of Seven’s many years as market leader this century. Ross told Mediaweek how Lyon played hard, and was proud of the formats the network created and screened.
“Brad was in a big customs line-up at Nice airport going to Cannes when he spotted Andrew Backwell [then working for Nine and now at Seven] and gave him a massive expletive laden serve about Hot Plate ripping off MKR. Little did Brad realise that the queue was so long they had to awkwardly pass each other about another 10 times before getting through!”
Other Seven colleagues remembering Lyons over the weekend included Sonia Kruger “Gone far too soon”, Tom Williams “gave me so many incredible opportunities”, Jim Wilson “So happy I got see Brad a few weeks ago…wonderful sense of humour”, Johanna Griggs “You were always so fair to deal with and had a wicked sense of humour”, while Simon Reeve said “Bradley lit the sky, took no prisoners and leaves an aching, empty space in our lives”.
Speaking to Mediaweek during many interviews we had, and even one podcast we managed to lure him to, Lyons was always passionate about Seven and its work:
“Local content is working best and subsequently we have increased the number of hours,” Seven’s head of production Brad Lyons told Mediaweek a decade ago.
When Seven had a hit show it is not afraid to ramp up the numbers of hours – that’s happened this year for My Kitchen Rules, Australia’s Got Talent and The X Factor. Lyons added: “Good ideas are hard to find and we work hard at refreshing those ideas and adding new elements, concentrating heavily on casting. We need to be able to create noise when a show returns. Gone are the days where you can wheel out another series without having a good look at it.”
The ratings seem to indicate that simple is best when it comes to reality formats. “The best ideas are simple ideas. If they are complicated to explain you are putting up a barrier you don’t need. However there is an expectation many of these shows will have to change again. We can’t keep cranking out similar reality shows and we will need to think about different ways to tell the story.”
Lyons said he didn’t have any favourites in the schedule. “When we push a ship down the slipway we are all on board. There is no finger pointing…although there might be in the bar later on!”
ARN’s iHeartRadio has announced a new partnership with Sky News Australia, which will enable listeners direct access to the television network’s full broadcast stream, live on the iHeartRadio Australia platform, anywhere, anytime. The partnership will allow listeners to directly access 24/7 breaking news coverage from Sky News.
This will also be the first time in Australia that targeted advertising will be directly integrated into an audio stream of a live television feed, providing targeted advertising opportunities that combine listener data matched with client content.
Geraint Davies, COO of iHeartRadio Australia said: “ARN’s iHeartRadio’s breadth of incredible content continues to grow, now with this new addition of Sky News Australia’s streaming to listeners live. The use of Adswizz to dynamically insert radio ads into the audio from a live television channel is a first for Australia. This new partnership reflects iHeartRadio Australia’s commitment to maintaining dominance in the market with the most compelling and best range of content.”
ARN Chief Commercial Officer Pete Whitehead said: “ARN’s partnership with Sky News Australia through our successful iHeartRadio Australia service is another example of the advantage radio has for delivering immediate targeted client content across our successful suite of radio and digital assets. ARN offers clients the ability to share content on multiple number #1 ranked platforms using the best in digital marketing technology, in addition to the ability to seamlessly integrate campaigns.”
Tim Love, Sky News Australia Head of Digital said: “iHeartRadio was the natural choice of audio partner to extend the reach of our award-winning news and national affairs coverage on the big issues facing Australia. This new partnership opens our content up to a wide new audience and provides our advertising partners with yet another way to reach high-value consumers no matter which platform they use to catch up on news.”
The launch of Sky News Australia live on iHeartRadio will be supported by extensive marketing across Sky News, ARN’s nine stations nationally across the KIIS and Pure Gold networks, iHeartRadio, and an outdoor campaign.
By Trent Thomas
Cartoon Network is preparing to launch the new Cartoon Network Original series Monster Beach which is produced, written and directed in Australia.
The adventure series includes the voice of Rove McManus and features writing by Scott Edgar (member of Tripod) and Lorin Clarke (co-writer of Bluey).
The show follows the adventures of surf-siblings Jan and Dean as they enjoy an endless summer vacation on the island of Iki-Iki hanging out with their laidback uncle and a bunch of mischievous, thrill-seeking monsters.
Ahead of the series premiere on April 11 Mediaweek spoke with series writer Lorin Clarke and Leslie Lee, APAC head of kids content Cartoon Network and Boomerang, about how the show came about, the importance of Australian content and what was the process of creating an international production at a company like Cartoon Network.
Monster Beach actually began as a telemovie in 2014 and Lee said that this is a great way to test the waters of a show before committing.
“Shorts and movies are great ways of testing an idea with audiences – as well as a studio-network relationship – without committing initially to a full series.
“Monster Beach, the telemovie, was very well received by audiences across the Asia Pacific when it was launched in 2014. We felt that there were many more stories we could tell with these characters and that it could easily extend into a series format.”
Clarke describes the show as a bonkers idea which took influences from books such as Where the Wild Things Are and said that it was quite an achievement that a crazy show like this got made.
“These kids have to navigate the world together without much parental supervision and this comes from books where kids are in charge of imagining so much of what’s not there, and Monster Beach invites you to imagine what’s in this world as these characters go on this journey. All bets are off and its kids trying to make sense of the world.”
Clarke said that one element that she has seen in the stories of Monster Beach is the idea of kids being left to experience adventures without too much parental supervision.
“I heard an early childhood expert say you should let your kids play by themselves and these days we don’t do that. The expert said to think of the most intense memory from your childhood and put up your hand if a parent was involved and then like two people put up their hand.”
Monster Beach is truly an international production with teams in the Cartoon Network offices in Hong Kong and Singapore driving the production, a Malaysian team working on the animation, and a crew in LA all working alongside the teams in Australia. This was the first time that Clarke worked on a project with Cartoon Network and said that the lovely thing about doing something like that is there was a system set up for doing it.
“You would be talking to someone on the phone and halfway through the conversation, you would realise that you have no idea where anyone was. And you worry that it might rob you of some creativity, but with this concept, you can be creative in such a broad framework.”
When asked what was the secret to creating a great kids show for Australian audiences after her time working on Bluey, Clarke said that the show had a playfulness but at the same time they take it really seriously.
“When I ask my kids, what was that about they give you a one-sentence answer, and you want kids to be able to do that when it comes to a show. It can be quite complicated when it’s a room of adults trying to figure out how to do that.
“You need to be able to have fun with it but be honest with the character and honest with yourself about the elements that are working or not working.”
The launch of Monster Beach comes at a time where commercial networks have stated a desire to move away from Australian content quotas including producing local TV content for children. Clarke said that it is a dangerous direction for Australian TV and she hopes that it is not going down the path that it looks like it is going down.
“The success of a show like Bluey and local Australian content show how much kids love seeing their own culture reflected back at them.
“You have got to think that you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. And if you want to have wall to wall streaming cartoons from different parts of the world played on a loop to your children I just don’t think that’s what Australian’s want.”
Monster Beach joins a list of recent Cartoon Network animation produced in Australia which includes Bill & Tony, The Sketchy Show, Lasso and Comet, and Exchange Student Zero. With these productions receiving support from government bodies like Screen Australia, and MDEC and FINAS in Malaysia or IMDA in Singapore.
Asked about Cartoon Network’s stance on producing content in Australia and the broader APAC region Lee said that the company casts a wide net when it comes to developing content that resonates with kids around the region.
“We want to partner with storytellers and creators from anywhere in the Asia Pacific that fit Cartoon Network’s tone of voice and brand values, regardless of geography.
“Great content can come from anywhere, it just happened that Monster Beach is launching at a time in Australia when local broadcasters are pulling back.”
By James Manning
No one is going to forget March 2020 in a hurry in particular the week just past which saw more lives lost around the world as the coronavirus story shook ways of life globally as never before.
Week 12 FTA primetime shares: All channels and combined
ABC 13.4% Kids/Comedy 2.4% ME 0.6% News 2.8% (19.2%)
Seven 18.7% 7TWO 3.1% 7mate 3.2% 7flix 1.7% (26.6%)
Nine 21.5% GO! 2.5% Gem 3.4% 9Life 1.8% (29.2%)
10 11.2% Bold 3.5% Peach 2.4% (17.1%)
SBS 4.6% Viceland 1.2% Food 0.9% NITV 0.1% World Movies 1.0% (7.8%)
Viewers turned to news and current affairs shows across the week which all reported increased numbers as Australians started taking notice in bigger numbers via broadcast media.
The network rankings regarding biggest programs and share of audience didn’t change too much though.
Nine ranked #1 with Married at First Sight continuing to perform well with all episodes over 1m. What did change is that it had to share the biggest audience numbers with episodes of 6pm news bulletins from Nine and Seven.
National late news bulletins hosted by Peter Overton added to Nine’s schedule with the COVID-19 updates rating well, particularly Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Live sport was behind an uptick in ratings for Seven. But it is going to be at least 10 weeks before it will get a footy boost again. The AFL made Seven more competitive and it won Thursday, Friday and Saturday off the back of the AFL.
Week 13 promises to be a critical week for Seven with My Kitchen Rules coming to an end on Tuesday with a Grand Final showdown with a restaurant on Sydney Harbour.
Sunrise continued to dominate the breakfast TV ratings, although Today managed to post some recent highs, and was more competitive with some east coast wins.
Australian Survivor: All Stars was 10’s best with all three episodes over 700,000 and the three best results for the channel. Gogglebox and Dancing with the Stars were next best while The Project was able to average over 500,000 for its Monday to Friday episodes which hasn’t happened for a long time.
Australian Survivor: All Stars continues to record its biggest seven day broadcast video on-demand (BVOD) audience across the series. The episode on Wednesday 11 March achieved a BVOD audience of 96,000. Including seven day TV and digital audiences, the overnight ep lifted 42% to 853,000. The Monday episode lifted 30% to 913,000 while its Tuesday episode lifted 36% to 837,000. Gogglebox’s 12 March episode achieved a total audience of 867,000, lifting 42% with 7 day BVOD and consolidated TV audiences and the 12 March ep of Ambulance Australia soared 63% to 789,000 viewers.
10 News First had its biggest weekly audience since July 2017 and 10 News First 6pm had its biggest weekly audience since it started in December 2019, lifting its timeslot 59% compared with the same week in 2019.
ABC News 7pm and 7.30 all had big weeks with every episode of each averaging over 800,000. Doc Martin also set a recent high with over 800,000 spending their Saturday night at home tuning in.
There seems to be a little confusion about the name of the #1 show on SBS. It comes up in the OzTAM data as Great American Railroad Journeys, but the TV guides and most refer to it as Great Alaskan Railroad Journeys. The series of five episodes started with an average audience of 272,000.
By James Manning
• Singles: The Weeknd still #1 as new Tones and I enters chart
Chart déjà vu (again) this week with Blinding Lights from The Weeknd still #1, a spot it has held now for nine weeks. When Australians like a particular track they really like it. There has only been one other artist at #1 since August 5, 2019 other than the Canadian performer and Tones and I. That was Mariah Carey who occupied #1 on the last singles chart of 2019 with All I Want For Christmas Is You.
And get this – the second highest new entry this week is from Tones and I – Bad Child enters the top 50 at #18 as the artist’s first new single for 2020. The busker-turned-global pop superstar is also still on the charts with Dance Monkey at #8 (41 weeks) and Never Seen The Rain at #21 (35 weeks).
The highest new entry is for an older track – Tame Impala with The Less I Know the Better at #17. The tune is from its third album released in 2015, but has grabbed attention recently for its appearance on the triple j Hottest 100 of the 2010s where it ranked #1.
Just two other tracks were new to the top 50 this week:
#45 Flume with The Difference featuring Toto y Moi
#49 Noah Cyrus with July
While it remains harder to get off the singles chart than it is to get on, there was no lack of fresh material flooding the album chart. Five new entries in the top 10 this week and two more newcomers lower down the chart.
Taking top spot was the live album from the recent benefit concert, Artists Unite for Fire Fight, going straight to #1. While understandably the double album doesn’t feature every track performed at the event (some 10 hours worth!) it does feature a contribution from all 23 artists – and yes – that includes Queen + Adam Lambert with Hammer to Fall. Sony Music and Cotton On have also produced a special package of the double CD and a concert T-shirt which is available to purchase here.
The remainder of this week’s charting new releases:
#2 Niall Horan with Heartbreak Weather. Second solo album from the former 1D member. The first, Flicker, debuted and peaked at #2 in 2017.
#6 Adam Brand with Speed of Life. Fifteenth studio album, first since 2017 and sixth to go top 10.
#8 Ocean Grove with Flip Phone Fantasy. Melbourne nu-metal act’s second album after their first also went top 10 in 2017.
#10 Fanny Lumsden with Fallow. Third album from western NSW country artist who recently won her second Golden Guitar award in two years.
#14 Kingswood with Juveniles. Third album from the Melbourne rockers after their first two both went top 10.
#20 Don Toliver with Heaven Or Hell. The first studio album from the US rapper/singer/songwriter who has been releasing singles and mixtapes since 2017.
By James Manning
• Public need for Coronavirus latest pushes audiences higher
• New records for Sunday news and current affairs shows
Audiences for news bulletins, early and late, surged and current affairs programs too set new records as viewers flocked to mainstream media last night for the latest developments against the fight against the encroachment of coronavirus.
The preliminary OzTAM numbers we refer today haven’t been adjusted for the broadcasting of the Prime Minister’s press conference which all networks interrupted programming for at 9pm.
Nine was the go-to destination for most with its mix of news and reality. It’s 6pm news hit a high of 1.267m followed by Married at First Sight on 1.154m. The news audience was the channel’s biggest in over two years – since December 2017. 60 Minutes was interrupted by the PM’s press conference, but it had an audience of 1.136m according to the data released so far. That is the show’s best in almost five years.
Seven’s 6pm news had the biggest audience of the night with 1.384m. A special edition of The Latest on the coronavirus followed immediately at 7pm with 1.023m. On an MKR-free night an episode of Border Security on 767,000 was followed by The Good Doctor on 539,000 with the press conference somewhere in the middle.
10’s Dancing with the Stars ran late with press conference coverage toward the end. The episode did just under 500,000. Earlier in the night The Sunday Project 7pm was on 457,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||3.4%||GO!||3.9%||10 Bold||3.2%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.3%||GEM||2.8%||10 Peach||2.3%||Food Net||1.0%|
|SBS World Movies||1.6%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.4%||7TWO||3.4%||GO!||3.3%||10 Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.0%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||4.8%||GEM||5.3%||10 Peach||2.4%||Food Net||0.9%|
|SBS World Movies||1.4%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||2.0%||GO!||2.5%||10 Bold||2.6%||VICELAND||0.5%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||3.4%||GEM||2.9%||10 Peach||1.3%||Food Net||0.6%|
|SBS World Movies||0.5%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||2.4%||GO!||3.0%||WIN Bold||3.7%||VICELAND||0.8%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||4.0%||GEM||3.8%||WIN Peach||1.0%||Food Net||0.6%|
|ABC NEWS||5.4%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||0.4%||9Life||1.7%||Sky News on WIN||2.3%||NITV||0.1%|
|SUNDAY METRO ALL TV|
Friday Top 10
Saturday Top 10
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
Billboards company oOh!media will rip off the Band-Aid with a heavily discounted equity raising that would more than double its shares on issue, reports Street Talk in The AFR.
oOh! and its bankers at Macquarie Capital spent the weekend shoring up support for a $167 million equity raising at 53¢ a share, which was a 37 per cent discount to the last close and a 20 per cent discount to the theoretical ex-rights price.
The deal put to institutions was split into a $39 million placement and $128 million entitlement offer, according to terms in front of potential investors, and underwritten by Macquarie.
It would see oOh! issue 315 million new shares and increase its total share count by 130 per cent. The rights issue is expected to be one-for-one and accelerated for institutional investors.
oOh! will use funds to bulk up its balance sheet – which CEO Brendon Cook described as “strong” on Friday – and ensure it can survive a sharp fall in earnings.
Melbourne media entrepreneur Craig Hutchison has told staff at his SEN radio network and Crocmedia business to “please not be alarmed by this” after parent company Pacific Star Network voluntarily suspended trading in its shares on Friday, reports The Australian’s Craig Hutchison.
Hutchison, the chief executive of Pacific Star, told staff the business was “unable to properly inform the market” how it would deal with the impact of COVID-19 on its business.
He also told staff that they should operate on a business-as-usual basis and that “many other Australian companies have been doing the same thing,” in regards to the share suspension.
Pacific Star owns the SEN radio network, which has been broadcasting matches from the NRL and AFL in the past two weeks as both competitions kicked off, and also provides syndicated media content for other competitions.
SEN has also broadcast overseas sports, many of which have been at least temporarily suspended for the foreseeable future.
The business also owns 25 per cent of National Basketball League club Melbourne United and publishes the famous AFL Record publication which is sold at AFL venues at each match. With crowds unable to attend closed venues, the Record has been offered to fans for free via digital download.
Pollster and media researcher Gary Morgan has revealed himself as a potential buyer of Australian Associated Press in an attempted rescue of the 85-year-old media business, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.
Following news last week that “unidentified parties” had approached AAP management about buying the company, the executive chairman of Roy Morgan Research told The Australian he would be interested in buying the business.
“Absolutely I’m interested. Roy Morgan is in the information business,” Morgan said.
While potential buyers have expressed interest in AAP’s profitable arms – press release service Medianet and subediting business Pagemasters – Morgan claims he is interested in buying the entirety of the business if it is viable.
“We are looking at the whole thing, but that depends on what that business might look like,” Morgan said.
The Australian understands the owner of Private Media and chair of Solstice Media, Eric Beecher, is also running the ruler over the AAP business.
Currently, 60 per cent of AAP’s revenue comes from Nine and News Corp, meaning about $20m would be added to the cost base of the business without the two major players.
Some of Australia’s most prominent investors believe there will soon be opportunities to buy media companies, following a collapse in share prices across the sector amid global market sell-offs sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Wilson Asset Management chairman and founder Geoff Wilson said the Australian media sector provides leveraged exposure to economic activity.
“The recent share price falls are the realisation that the coronavirus will lead to a recession. The significant uncertainty relates to the length of this pandemic,” Wilson told The Australian Financial Review.
“Once we navigate through this difficult economic environment you would expect a strong rebound in revenue, profitability and the share prices of the sector. Our focus is on companies that will weather this storm.”
The federal government is considering temporary relief from broadcasting spectrum licence fees and local content obligations after a nightmare week on the stock exchange which saw shares in media companies fall to historic lows, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.
Australia’s media industry is facing the prospect of further cost cuts and consolidation as further reductions in advertising spending add pressure to already challenged businesses.
Industry sources told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the government will launch a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign across traditional media in addition to the spectrum fee relief.
Media companies are in crisis meetings about how they can adapt as revenue continues to be comprised by advertising cancellations. Regional broadcasters are the most vulnerable as local and national advertisers withdraw spending.
Kurt Burnette, Seven West Media’s chief revenue officer, said that the conditions were “unprecedented”. Some sectors like travel are pulling advertising spending, but retailers and government are rapidly changing their demands as the situation changes.
“Every single category and every single client inside the category is acting very differently depending where their needs are,” Burnette said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Every day is a new day of how we are trying to deal with it. There is no playbook, we are creating the playbook. It’s been an interesting exercise in the idea of agility…how we move and service the customer.”
As Australia’s most trusted newspaper title, The Australian Financial Review has dedicated the nation’s biggest business, finance and political newsroom to providing the most comprehensive and well-informed coverage of this evolving crisis, write AFReditor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury and editor Paul Bailey to their readers.
Like many other businesses, the health risks have forced the Financial Review’s newsroom to work from home.
Modern technology allows us to continue to publish our round-the-clock website, afr.com, our Financial Review app edition and our newspaper six days a week.
Digital subscribers can stay connected with the latest news through our round-the-clock Coronavirus blog, data blog, Markets Live blog and three daily newsletters and via our new early evening Coronavirus email newsletter.
At the Financial Review, we know this emergency will last months and leave a lasting impact. While we can’t rule out the odd technical glitch, we remain committed to helping business and the nation get through this incredible crisis.
Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor says that every day last week the publisher reported record traffic, with the site’s coronavirus live blog being the most read story every day, report The AFR’s Max Mason and Natasha Gillezeau.
“Each day is more extraordinary than the last. The most important thing is to give factual, up to date information to readers, and more of them are coming every day. The demand for information is unquenchable,” she says.
News bulletins are also the place where the government is buying ads to get messages out to the public in a constantly moving situation.
“It’s often about information to Australians, very important matters of health and safety,” Seven chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette says. “The first point of call in times of need is Sunday night news across all the broadcasters.
“They want to get to places of trust and invest in high reach very quickly. Trusted sources definitely are the news services of the traditional media.”
They may work for the same employer, but that hasn’t stopped from SMH columnist Peter FitzSimons calling for one of his colleagues in another part of the business to be stood down.
Under the headline ‘Alan Jones puts lives at risk with his take on coronavirus’, FitzSimons wrote:
When it comes to Alan Jones I have been gobsmacked many times, but I think never has my gob been more smacked than Monday last.
Broadcasting in personal safety from the splendid isolation of his place at Fitzroy Falls, what does Jones tell his mostly elderly listeners? “We now seem to be facing the health version of global warming,” Jones said. “Exaggeration in almost everything.”
This rant from him was not a one-off, but part of a consistent Jones theme he has sounded for days that the whole coronavirus thing is overblown. The inevitable result? Many of his elderly listeners will not take the precautions they need to and that will have the most devastating consequences imaginable. He has placed the very lives of his listeners, and other Australians, at risk. If that is not irresponsible broadcasting, I don’t know what is. If that is not enough to see him taken off air, I don’t know what is.
Not even fan favourite soapie Home and Away or reality TV program Big Brother are immune to the threat of COVID-19, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.
Production on the Channel 7 reality series has come to a halt after a crew member came into contact with someone who tested positive to the illness.
“Production has been made aware that a BB Art Department crew members has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19,” an internal email from production company Endemol Shine Australia obtained by The Daily Telegraph read.
“The crew member is currently feeling well and showing no symptoms of the virus however is being tested and now self-isolating. As a precaution the site is currently in lockdown pending testing and further advice.”
The long running Channel 7 television drama is shot at Seven’s Eveleigh studios and on location at Sydney’s Palm Beach.
“Seven Studios advised today that it would halt filming of Home and Away immediately,” a Seven spokeswoman said.
“It confirmed that no cast or crew had tested positive for COVID-19, but that the decision was made due to the increasing logistical hurdles related to the COVID-19 situation.”
Seven’s reigning breakfast queen Samantha Armytage has taken unscheduled leave from Sunrise, report News Corp’s Annette Sharp and Briana Domjen.
The presenter went on leave last Monday after talks with Seven news director Craig McPherson and Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell.
In a social media post last week, Armytage said she had been laid low in recent months with a “respiratory infection” and was frightened by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Hi all, I’m taking a few weeks off work as I’ve had a respiratory infection – for three months – since the bushfires and it just won’t heal,” she posted in an Instagram story with an accompanying photograph showing the presenter, in woollen winter wear, with her dog.
“I DON’T have coronavirus but I’m worried I’ll get it if I don’t get better. Thought it was a good time to lie low,” Armytage added.
The 2020 AFL season has been postponed after just one round due to the coronavirus outbreak, CEO Gil McLachlan announced at a press conference held at half-time during the Hawthorn v Brisbane game at the MCG being shown on Seven and Fox Footy.
The 2020 NAB AFL Women’s season has been cancelled, with no premiership to be awarded.
Clubs were on Sunday afternoon informed of the decision reached by the AFL Commission. The scheduled Hawthorn-Brisbane and West Coast-Melbourne games were completed to finish round one.
Until the football resumes, Port Adelaide sit on top of the AFL ladder and their Saturday opponent Gold Coast is on the bottom.
McLachlan said the AFL industry was facing its biggest financial crisis in its history, but the key priority was to do everything possible to keep players, staff, and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic.
“Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people but our key focus at the moment – like every organisation in the country – is to do everything that needs to be done to help slow the spread of this virus and to keep people as healthy as possible,” Mr McLachlan said.
“To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact. It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community, and as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together.”
There has been unilateral support from players and the media of the move to stop playing. The decision however will leave both Seven and Fox Footy with big holes in their schedules.
Fox Footy showed an “emergency” edition of AFL 360 after Sunday’s late game at 9pm which was then followed by the first, and hopefully not the last, edition of Bounce for 2020.
The NRL has reaffirmed its commitment on Sunday to continue playing the Telstra Premiership season for the time being, reports NRL.com’s Brad Walter.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said it was the ARL Commission’s intention to proceed with the competition until there is advice from government to shut down matches.
Greenberg said they had “given careful consideration to today’s federal and state government decisions to shut down non-essential services, locations and travel”.
“We have, and always will, stringently follow all government health advice and medical protocols to protect the health and safety of the community, and our players,” he added.
ARL chairman Peter V’landys said on Channel Nine on Sunday night that rugby league would remain focused on keeping its season afloat unless told otherwise by the government or health authorities.