Friday May 15, 2020

10 looking to Junior MasterChef return to stabilise H2 revenue

By James Manning

• Rod Prosser on MasterChef sceptics, The Living Room, VOZ, 10 Play

Running a TV sales network was a relative walk in the park compared to the challenges broadcasters have faced in the past couple of years…and that is before you factor in the impact of COVID-19.

Network 10 chief sales officer Rod Prosser told Mediaweek chasing the revenue is now being done without staples of the business. “The face-to-face meetings that salespeople have always enjoyed, and are a critical part of doing business, whether it be pitching or just meeting over a cup of coffee, are gone. Our sales team has really put it into fifth gear how they are communicating with clients. The biggest shift for us is around communications.

“It has been really lovely to see the whole market respond so well in terms of how we all communicate. Initially it was a big step for us in terms of the style of meeting and how we were communicating via video conference or phone.

“Luckily for us we had set up our sales and ad tech so it could be online and in homes. We have quite a robust tech system, which dates from pre-COVID, which allows salespeople to transact from home. The impact from the lockdown didn’t halt the process of any revenue flow.

“The biggest challenge is how we adapt to the current market which is under pressure in terms of revenue. We have benefitted from taking a really proactive approach in market.”

UpClose at Home

10’s Julia Morris and her network colleagues

Part of that proactive approach this week was the UpClose at Home virtual event. The video presentation started with Julia Morris hosting via Zoom and throwing to 10 colleagues including Osher Günsberg, Tom Gleisner, Jock Zonfrillo, Dr Chris Brown, Jonathan LaPaglia and I’m a Celebrity winner Miguel Maestre.

Chief content officer and EVP Beverley McGarvey and Rod Prosser then took over, steering the presentation through audience growth highlights, an update on the schedule and ending with a sneak peek at Bachelor in Paradise.

Impact of schedule changes on revenue

Beverley McGarvey and Rod Prosser

When asked about what the altered 2020 primary channel schedule means for revenue, Prosser echoed the thoughts of his boss Bev McGarvey reported here yesterday. “We have been pretty lucky without being overly optimistic. The biggest shift was the year’s second cycle of Survivor. That presented a challenge, but the upside of the changes is that we now have Junior MasterChef in the back half.” Prosser said there had already been interest from advertisers and brands off the back of bigger audience for MasterChef this season.

Survivor will be back next year for sure, giving us longer to sell it. As we still have The Bachelor and The Masked Singer franchises too, we don’t feel like we have been hugely impacted. Financially of course this quarter will be tough, but that is something every other business is going through.”

Prosser said that regarding the departure of George, Gary and Matt from MasterChef, some clients initially questioned the move. “Everyone questions change. Those judges were a big part of the show, but we had always said the MasterChef brand was bigger than any of the people in it. We were quite confident the product was going to be strong regardless of the judges because for viewers it is very much about the cooking and the contestants. Of course the judges are critical to the format, and we have nailed that.

“We have seen some clients that questioned the changes and downgraded their spend coming back and asking to be involved.”

Prosser maintains he and the 10 team never had any doubt that MasterChef 2020 would be a strong season. “We thought many would come for episode one – it was a great episode and people stayed. We are subsequently overdelivering for our sponsors as the numbers have exceeded the audience expectation we sold it off.

The Living Room dramas off camera would not have helped revenue in the Friday night timeslot, although Prosser said judging how big the impact was is difficult in the COVID-19 environment. “The program has a very strong place commercially for us because the format lends itself to integration and it is really important to the schedule. We will be pleased when it comes back.

The single biggest negative impact this year has been the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in March. “It was called off for the right reasons of course, but we had a lot of revenue tied into that weekend. Some of it stayed, but a lot of it didn’t. If the race had gone ahead we would have been up in Q1 in both dollars and revenue share.”

Making sure new channel is distinct

Did 10 drop a clue to its new multichannel during the presentation? The channel also showed an MTV slide

The 10 sales team has done some modelling around what the new third multichannel will mean to the business. “It is a viable and sensible thing for us to do. A new channel will lift our overall commercial audience share and therefore improve our revenue share.” Prosser said the H2 channel launch was important to get some audience traction before 10 talks to agency groups for the 2021 negotiations.

McGarvey and her chief sales officer are well aware that unless the new channel is different to anything else that is being played it could struggle. “We also have to be careful that putting extra product on the network doesn’t cannibalise the revenue from other channels. It has taken us to this point to feel really confident this is the right product and the right channel to go to market with.”

VOZ delay and 10 Play impact

While labelling the delay of the arrival of VOZ disappointing, Prosser explained: “What it has done is allow us to spend the right amount of time in making sure that it is market ready and the market understands exactly what it can deliver and the metrics and methodology.”

10 Play has delivered ViacomCBS significant revenue growth month-to-month and year-to-year. Prosser: “The platform has also weathered the COVID-19 storm to date. From a tech standpoint is a much better experience for viewers and advertisers. We will continue to invest in it because it is an important part of our AVOD strategy.”

Top Photo: Rod Prosser

Radio’s big week: AJ and Kyle under doctor’s orders, Ross & John reunite

By James Manning

It has been a dramatic week in radio with challenges facing the management of the biggest breakfast shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

While Alan Jones announced on Tuesday his doctor had ordered his departure, the co-host of Sydney’s biggest FM breakfast show, Kyle Sandilands from ARN’s Kyle and Jackie O Show, has been laid low also on medical grounds.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, 3AW’s Ross Stevenson has been reunited in person with his soon-to-depart co-host John Burns for the first time in close to two months.

Imagine taking control of a radio network and then not long after having to change the breakfast shows at three of the four stations, two of them the highest-rating shows in their market. That’s what Nine has faced up to this week as it let go of 2GB’s Alan Jones and confirmed it would launch a Brisbane-only breakfast program at 4BC.

Ross and John together again

Meanwhile at Nine’s 3AW, Ross Stevenson and John Burns were in the same studio for the first time in around two months. Stevenson has been broadcasting from him during the lockdown while Burns was going into 3AW’s Melbourne studio. When Stevenson told management his broadband connection had died early Thursday afternoon it raised a red flag at head office.

After checking with Telstra, they learned that Telstra and Foxtel cable subscribers could be without a service for two days, Stevenson was instructed to make the trip into 3AW on Friday morning where he also saw some of the rest of his team for the first time in ages, noting some things had not changed while some had more facial hair.

Kyle and Jackie O’s wild ride

K&J exec producer Sonia Jahshan (right), Intern Pete and colleagues on Sydney’s #1 FM breakfast show

It has been an interesting week for fans of Sydney’s Kyle and Jackie O Show, a show that ironically plays Bill O’Reilly’s infamous “We’ll do it live” blow-up in its opener.

Early in the week iso-fever was taking its toll, particularly on Kyle Sandilands He started yelling at most of the staff on air early one morning which is when co-host Jackie Henderson intervened, asking why he was so mean. Things soon spiralled out of control. “When was the last time I intervened when you had a problem with the staff,” asked a very agitated Sandilands. “Have you got your period?” replied Jackie.

It made for entertaining edge-of-the-seat listening and is why the show has so many fans.

After a few more tense minutes Jackie, who was doing the show from her Bondi apartment, threatened to pull the plug. “No loss as far as I am concerned,” fired back Sandilands. Insults continued to fly with Kyle calling young producer Adam “bitch-face”. Newsreader Brooklyn Ross was also caught in the crossfire with Kyle ordering him to only appear during the news bulletins.

True to her threat, Jackie then did pull the plug as her microphone went dead. When asked if he would be apologising to Jackie in an effort to get her back on the show, Kyle replied: “I’m not saying shit. I’m not going grovelling.” Producers told Kyle they couldn’t get through to Jackie on the phone. However about 30 minutes later she re-appeared on the show with both hosts professing their love for each other. “Let’s just move on,” said Jackie.

Later in the week though the show has been running pre-records and highlights of previous programs. The best production team in the business at disguising a show of replays (they have to be after Kyle’s near world-record number of sickies toward the end of 2019) did some of their best work over the past couple of days.

The absence of Kyle has possibly been a safety valve for all working on the show. He admitted during the week that it wouldn’t take much to push him over the edge. He targeted most of the staff except, for a change, Pete Deppler. “Who would have thought Intern Pete would be the last man standing,” said Kyle at one stage after another vile spray.

Kyle often saves the best for his competitors though and he was clearly agitated too when news broke that Ben Fordham would be taking over 2GB breakfast. The man who was once counted as a friend of the show is now a competitor. “He’s a little bit of a phoney,” said Kyle, who added Fordham was a cost-effective option for Nine Radio.

A spokesperson for ARN this morning told Mediaweek that Kyle had been off sick for a couple of days and that his absence was not related to anything else this week.

Mercado on TV: If you still in lockdown, plenty of great viewing

By Andrew Mercado

At Home Alone Together (Wednesday on ABC) was the TV show I have been waiting to see ever since this pandemic began. Nobody takes the piss better than a bunch of Aussie comedians and they delivered, deservedly winning their timeslot too.

Ray Martin’s deadpan delivery was perfect, and the skits and fake ads were great. But could we make it less difficult to see who was behind it? “For a full list of credits, please head to our website” should never be seen on the ABC. Leave that disrespect to the commercial networks and run a full credit roll, especially to highlight all the writers.

Ryan Shelton in At Home Alone Together

Not surprisingly, the social media reaction was “mixed” but when isn’t it when it comes to Australian comedy? For a first effort, under extenuating circumstances, this show should ignore all the haters and just keep on working to provide more laughs.

If At Home Alone Together is the perfect show for lockdown, then HBO’s I Know This Much Is True (Monday on FoxShowcase) is probably the most ill-timed. Mark Ruffalo plays twins, one of whom is a self-harming schizophrenic and he’s superb. But throw in a dying mother, distant stepfather and manic translator (Juliette Lewis) and it’s all pretty bleak.

HBO also brings us Bad Education (Sunday on FoxShowcase), a one-off movie starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney as school administrators involved in the biggest embezzlement in American school history. It’s good but not great, but given these dark days of closures, it’s a timely reminder that good journalism is always needed to expose evil corruption, even if it comes from a student newspaper.

Get into full Eurovision party mode (even though there is no Eurovision this year) with Eurovision 2020: Big Night In (Saturday on SBS, with Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey) and Eurovision 2020: Europe Shine A Light (Sunday on SBS, and again, there is no Eurovision but when has that ever stopped Eurovision fans).

Animal lovers will love The Dog House (Saturday on 10), a UK love-fest which pairs rescue dogs with perfect parents. It is pure joy to watch, as opposed to the endless hours of Ambulance and 999: What’s Your Emergency that follow. Why not watch new Aussie band series Mint Condition (Vimeo) instead, starring Sibylla Budd and Gary Sweet, or Love In Lockdown (YouTube) with Lucy Durack and Eddie Perfect.

Finally, gritty drama lovers will be addicted to Zero Zero Zero (Thursday on SBS and SBS On Demand), a stunning Italian cinematic crime drama from Sky, Amazon and Canal. It’s about one shipment of cocaine, but from different perspectives of those involved, from Mexican mansions to Calabrian goat farms. Must-see.

Top Photo: Hugh Jackman and Allison Janey in Bad Education Photo: HBO

TV Ratings Thursday May 14 Week 20 2020

By James Manning

• “You’re hot then you’re cold, you’re up then you’re down”
• Katy Perry doesn’t sing about ratings, but she performs for 10
• MasterChef makes 10 #1 but Seven, Nine also have piece of #1

Seven News 1,189,000/1,097,000
Nine News 1,076,000/1,033,000
ABC News 834,000
A Current Affair 713,000
The Project 367,000/614,000
7.30 576,000
10 News 446,000/297,000
Sunrise 308,000
The Drum 221,000
News Breakfast 213,000
SBS World News 212,000
Today 209,000
The Latest 163,000
Nine News Late 145,000

Nine: Nine managed to win the night in network share. It’s primary share climbed from 16.8% to 25.8% with its collection of multichannels adding 9.0% to its share.
A Current Affair was on the right side of 700,000 again.
RBT then did 454,000.
The 2007 movie The Bourne Ultimatum then did 297,000.

Seven: The news and Home and Away combo has secured another all people Thursday win. The soapie was on 562,000 across three episodes.
Seven’s movie The Other Woman then did 348,000.

10: The words to the Katy Perry tune Hot N Cold quoted above could easily be about TV ratings. The US singer who visited Australia earlier this year has been helping 10 for a long time via her theme song used on MasterChef for 12 years. She took her involvement to a new level last night, becoming the best guest judge ever on the show. She boogied her way around the MasterChef kitchen during the cook then even had more fun during the five taste tests. She ultimately helped decide that Poh should get immunity on Sunday night. That’s a wild ride for Poh this week from bottom three on Tuesday to #1 on Thursday. The Thursday episode did 942,000 and again pushed 10 the be #1 channel and #1 network under 50 and in key demos. 10 has also programmed an encore screening of the episode tonight which is worth catching up with.
A MasterChef Masterclass followed, sadly without Katy Perry, with 537,000 watching.

Week 20 TV: Thursday

THURSDAY METRO
ABCSevenNine10SBS
ABC10.0%718.2%916.8%10 17.7%SBS One6.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.1%7TWO3.4%GO!2.2%10 Bold4.5%VICELAND1.5%
ABC ME0.7%7mate2.3%GEM3.1%10 Peach2.3%Food Net1.0%
ABC NEWS1.7%7flix1.5%9Life2.4%  NITV0.1%
    9Rush1.3%  SBS World Movies0.9%
TOTAL14.5% 25.5% 25.8% 24.6% 9.7%

 

THURSDAY REGIONAL
ABCSeven AffiliatesNine Affiliates10 AffiliatesSBS
ABC8.8%719.9%915.0%WIN13.3%SBS One5.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY2.6%7TWO4.4%GO!1.6%WIN Bold4.8%VICELAND1.9%
ABC ME0.9%7mate3.2%GEM5.1%WIN Peach2.4%Food Net1.0%
ABC NEWS1.4%7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)1.8%9Life3.0%Sky News  on WIN2.7%NITV0.3%
        SBS Movies0.8%
TOTAL13.7% 29.4% 24.7% 23.2% 9.8%

 

THURSDAY METRO ALL TV
FTASTV
88.0%12.0%
THURSDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,189,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,097,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,076,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,033,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 942,000
  6. ABC News ABC 834,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 713,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 676,000
  9. The Project 7pm 10 614,000
  10. 7.30 ABC 576,000
  11. Home And Away Seven 562,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 556,000
  13. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 537,000
  14. RBT Nine 454,000
  15. 10 News First 10 446,000
  16. Sammy J ABC 407,000
  17. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 401,000
  18. The Project 6.30pm 10 367,000
  19. M- The Other Woman Seven 348,000
  20. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 318,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 281,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 169,000
  3. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 142,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 132,000
  5. Nine News Nine 126,000

18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 447,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 298,000
  3. Nine News Nine 262,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 255,000
  5. MasterChef Australia – Masterclass 10 246,000

25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 487,000
  2. Nine News Nine 331,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 326,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 324,000
  5. Seven News Seven 311,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. Death In Paradise 9Gem 171,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 170,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 163,000
  4. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 162,000
  5. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 155,000
  6. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 151,000
  7. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  8. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 145,000
  9. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  10. Neighbours 10 Peach 133,000
  11. Father Brown PM 7TWO 130,000
  12. Dot. AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  13. Bargain Hunt PM 7TWO 126,000
  14. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  15. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  16. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  17. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
  18. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  19. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 109,000
  20. Bananas In Pyjamas AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 107,000
THURSDAY STV
  1. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 105,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 79,000
  3. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 74,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 69,000
  5. Credlin Sky News Live 61,000
  6. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 54,000
  7. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 48,000
  8. PML Later Sky News Live 43,000
  9. NCIS FOX Crime 41,000
  10. Beverly Hills: Real Housewives Of… ARENA 39,000
  11. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 39,000
  12. Gold Rush: White Water Discovery Channel 39,000
  13. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 38,000
  14. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 38,000
  15. The Simpsons FOX8 37,000
  16. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 36,000
  17. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 35,000
  18. NCIS: New Orleans FOX Crime 34,000
  19. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 33,000
  20. The Simpsons FOX8 33,000

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

Sports Media

Coronavirus: Cut price AFL for 2020 as TV chiefs muscle up

The AFL has become embroiled in a dispute with the sport’s key broadcasters, who are jockeying for a cut to the costs of the existing television deal due to the fewer number of matches to be played this season, report The Australian’s John Stensholt and Courtney Walsh.

Broadcasters Seven West Media and Foxtel will lobby for a reduction of at least $125m from the AFL’s television deal, as the fight over control of the first block of games for the return of the 2020 season also intensifies.

The AFL is days away from releasing the playing schedule for the restart, but the impasse with broadcasters could disrupt negotiations regarding the structure of the season and the finals series.

But minds are increasingly turning to the AFL’s fixture list and broadcast rights, with Seven and Foxtel, along with Telstra, expecting a reduction of at least 30 per cent to the $400m rights the trio usually pays annually.

[Read more]

Broncos to lead way as NRL TV deal edges closer

NRL clubs are poised to receive some certainty around the draw on Friday but the wait for clarity around broadcasting talks is set to stretch into next week as negotiations with the Nine Network and Foxtel over a deal approaching $2 billion edge toward their climax, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.

The season’s resumption will begin with the Brisbane Broncos on Thursday, May 28, before Latrell Mitchell and South Sydney face off against their bitter rivals Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

The commission will meet again on Friday to discuss the broadcasting negotiations, but it appears the clubs will need to wait until next week to receive confirmation of the details, although there remains a hope that commission chairman Peter V’landys can meet the deadline he had placed on talks.

[Read more]

David Penberthy: Can someone remind Victoria that AFL is national game

Sections of the Victorian sports media and AFL love nothing more than taking potshots at Adelaide’s clubs. If only they realised there are other states just as dedicated (and less infected), writes News Corp’s David Penberthy.

The attacks on Port Adelaide’s [chairman] David Koch from over the border have been but one example this week of how sections of the Victorian sports media and people within the AFL itself love nothing more than taking potshots at Adelaide’s two clubs, sounding at times like they are willing them to fail.

Koch deserves credit as a lateral thinker and risk-taker who took over his club when it was at its lowest ebb and turned around its standing with new ideas. In partnership with his chief executive Keith Thomas, Koch changed the perception of the club from unwatchable basket case to a much more attractive proposition for both fans and sponsors.

This week the usual suspects were lining up to slot the Crows over the Barossa business.

As things unfolded, after SA Police investigated at the club’s urging, it became clear that this was less a concerted or brazen act of disregard for state laws regarding social distancing, than an accidental stuff-up that briefly breached an AFL rule.

The continuing fury out of Melbourne even after that fact became apparent was hysterical. I won’t name the bloke because he’s suffered enough on social media, but that Channel 7 reporter deserves a Walkley for tweeting that his mail was that the Crows would lose draft picks and be fined $100,000 for this egregious breach. Better get a new mailman, son.

[Read more]

Comedian Andy Lee has taken up a new commentary role during isolation

Andy Lee has taken up a new commentary role to fill the void left by football, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The comedian has been calling in a new league that he’s created named the Australian Dice Football League.

It pits players from opposing sides against each other from their homes, as they roll the dice to gather the highest score.

“I try to get a bit of Bruce (McAvaney) but obviously he’s very special,’’ Lee said of his commentary style.

“I got a bit chilly so I put on the long brown felt jacket that Luke Darcy wears.

“I’ve also had the pink tie on which was more flamboyant like Hamish McLachlan. He tends to go a bit more high fashion.

“I mean I’ll be surprised if they bring the AFL back at all, I imagine Gill McLachlan is thinking maybe we can keep running ADFL.

“One round a week so it’s not that strenuous on the body rolling a dice but the mental pressure is exhausting for the players and they need the six day turnaround.”

ADFL matches, from Friday-Sunday, are available at afl.com.au/dicefooty, through the AFL app and Telstra social channels.

[Read more]

Business of Media

Google's Australian revenue hits $4.8b, pre-tax profit $134m

Google has sidestepped the shrinking advertising market to post record Australian revenue of $4.8 billion, sparking immediate calls for the search giant to share a slice of its local income with publishers, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Financial accounts lodged this week with the corporate regulator for the 2019 calendar year show that a weakening economy and reduced spending from advertisers did not affect Google’s Australian operations.

Google grew its advertising revenue by 16 per cent to $4.3 billion in the full year to December 31. Total revenue, which includes sales of hardware products and other services, grew from $4.2 billion to $4.8 billion. Net revenue, which excludes certain costs of sales, was $1.2 billion, up from $1.07 billion year before.

The company made a pre-tax profit of $134 million, which resulted in $59 million in income tax. But the tech giant was forced to pay a total of $99.8 million in income tax due to an adjustment from 2018.

[Read more]

Content bill for Facebook, Google might top $1bn, says News Corp Australia

News Corp Australasia boss Michael Miller has welcomed Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello’s demand that Google and Facebook pay $600m to media companies for news content – but has said real estimates could be as high as $1bn, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Following comments from the Nine chairman on Thursday, Miller also said the new code of conduct needed to be about more than just money, needing to address crucial issues such as algorithms and data sharing.

Costello told Nine newspapers that by his estimates, Facebook and Google should pay Australian media companies 10 per cent of the $6bn a year the tech platforms make in online ad revenue, based on what the platforms gain from news content and searches.

“Our modelling suggests the figure is much higher than $600m and former senator Nick Xenophon, whose advocacy sparked the ACCC inquiry into the platforms, has nominated $1bn,” Miller said.

[Read more]

News Brands

Open court ‘essential to war crimes rebuttal’, says Ben Roberts-Smith

Lawyers for Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith say it is “fundamental to his vindication’’ that allegations the former SAS operator committed war crimes in Afghanistan be rebutted in open court, reports The Australian’s Paul Maley.

Roberts-Smith’s lawyer, Bruce McClintock SC, told the Federal Court on Thursday it was essential his client be allowed to testify in open court, despite the Attorney-General invoking a rarely used national security gag order to suppress sensitive parts of the proceedings.

Roberts-Smith is suing The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers over a series of article that he claims portrayed him as a war criminal, a bully and an abuser of women.

[Read more]

Book leak: Turnbull’s sleuths unravel the links of Canberra cabals

Malcolm Turnbull and his publisher Sandy Grant are continuing to investigate the mystery of who exactly received a leaked version of the former prime minister’s biography A Bigger Picture. They seem to be having considerable success, report Nine columnists Kylar Loussikian and Samantha Hutchinson.

To assist this effort, Hardie Grant has engaged HWL Ebsworth. Most scrutiny, when news first broke of the clandestine book distribution operation in April, was on Scott Morrison’s adviser Nico Louw. He had distributed a copy of the book to 59 people. And HWL Ebsworth lawyers have been writing to each recipient.

Sources told this column that one copy was forwarded to News Corp commentators Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin, and ex-PM Tony Abbott by another party.

[Read more]

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