Wednesday May 20, 2020

Troy Kinne delivering new episodes despite COVID-19 restrictions

By James Manning

10 is bringing back its local comedy series Kinne Tonight for a second season starting Monday May 25.

These days with audiences split over live, catch-up and encore screenings it is harder to identify what qualifies as a hit. The best yardstick is perhaps if a network recommissions a program. Using that criteria, Kinne Tonight certainly qualifies for hit status.

Although this is comedian Troy Kinne’s second outing with 10, it is his show’s fourth season if you factor in two series with 7mate.

Speaking to Mediaweek just a few days from the launch of the new season, Kinne explained he had packaged up episode one ready for broadcast and was still at work on episode two.

Kinne edits all his programs which must help make him an economical package for the broadcaster. “Putting the episodes together is my favourite part of the creative process. I’m good at it, but not terribly technically minded so I have to make a few calls asking about the different settings for the software.”

Kinne finished all the studio shoots recently, getting access to the 10 facility after initially believing there may not have been any slots on offer.

“We managed to get access for three days and shot the parts that we needed for two episodes each day. It was strange though going in without a studio audience. It did give us some freedom though with the structure, allowing us to film the different segments for the series in one block instead of saving some for each time we had an audience.”

The comedian was initially concerned how the studio shoot might come across without live reaction. “It didn’t take us long to get into the groove though and after watching it back it seems to work well. It was a bit weird at times, but we got there.”

Because the producers anticipated a COVID-19 production shutdown, they front-loaded what was to be a three-week location shoot and managed to get most it done in two weeks.

“We now have more than enough for six episodes, maybe seven if they wanted another one!”

The audience remains critical for testing material, said Kinne. “I like to think I have good radar for what is funny. But at times it can be hit and miss. I had a joke sitting in a draw for 12 months that I eventually tried and it became one of my best jokes. It was sitting in the draw for that long because I didn’t think it was very good.

“The opposite can also happen when I think I have a great joke, but then it is greeted with nothing but crickets!”

The pressure of a deadline can really help the comedian create too. “You sometimes find another gear in your brain you didn’t know you had. You think ‘Why did I not come up with that when I was writing it when I had all the time in the world’, but I can find it when I have just 20 seconds to come up with a line.”

Despite not having an audience, Kinne said he remains reluctant to use a laugh track. “People can smell it a mile away when you add laughs. We tried getting the crew to laugh, but after a few minutes we had to get them to tone it down because it was starting to sound too fake.

“If a joke doesn’t seem to work, I’d rather edit it out than try and trick people that it was funny.” He’s not critical of other people going that route, but is adamant it’s not a choice he’d make.

People who enjoyed season one of Kinne Tonight have much to look forward to in the new episodes.

“We have brought back the sarcastic guy, something we had in mind for so long. I was worried people might just think it was stupid, but it proved popular. So much so that I can’t post anything on social media without people replying, ‘Is it?’, ‘Did ya?’ [Laughs] If people are going to get sick of him it might be this time because we have filmed so many of them.”

Also returning is James Bondi and Kinne’s portray of God.

In a previous episode Andy Lee played Jesus giving Kinne the job of Santa. Lee is back this series handing out the comedian a new job.

Apart from this series, Kinne said his business plan for 2020 has taken a heavy hit from COVID-19. “I have a new accountant and I was asked what is planned after the series wraps. I had to say nothing. I did have shows planned in London and Canada with ambitions for some in the US too. They have had to be cancelled.

“In a weird way it has been good timing for me in that I have the show now and it is also keeping me busy editing every day. My life at present hasn’t changed terribly much.”

Magazine rack: One of Bauer’s best acquisitions – marie claire magazine

By James Manning

marie claire
Source: Newsagency
Price: $8.95
Book size: 180 pages

While Bauer Media has paused a number of its Pacific Magazines acquisitions, and its owns fashion monthlies Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, it has kept the tap turned on at marie claire magazine.

The licensed brand is one of the jewels in the crown at the former Seven West Media stable and is being kept on newsstands because of its strong circulation and advertiser support.

Back when publishers used to reveal magazine sales, marie claire was often around 100,000 copies a month while its closest competitors Harper’s Bazaar Australia and Vogue Australia were closer to 50,000.

The magazine has also long been one of the best performers in the sector when it comes to generating ad revenue. The page count in the recently released June edition is 30+ pages. It’s down from its glory days of course, but it’s still a good result.

Key to the brand’s success in Australia is the stability at the top – the title has only ever had two editors since it was launched by Matt Handbury’s Murdoch Magazines back in 1995. Jackie Frank was the powerhouse launch editor and stayed with the title for 20 years before handing over to the equally talented Nicky Briger.

Jackie Frank and Nicky Briger at the handover five years ago

Briger goes with the title to Bauer although it is believed she has shed some of the team on the journey.

The brand’s mix of topical news and fashion remains a hit with readers.

The current edition of marie claire is branded the “Unity” issue and is filled with stories of love, strength and bravery amid COVID-19.

Subscribers have received special covers illustrated by Michelle Pereira (@youngpapadum), Jessica Cruickshank (@jesscruicky) and Maxwell Burnstein (@bymaxwell).

All three covers can be seen at marieclaire.com.au, and animated versions appear on marie claire’s Instagram account (@marieclaireau).

Inside the magazine, the theme of unity continues with first-hand accounts from women winning the war on COVID-19, romantic tales of love in lockdown, and a deep-dive into the mums taking over TikTok in quarantine. Plus, photographer Simon Upton shares his portfolio of Australia and New Zealand’s top international models, shot exclusively via Zoom.

Nicky Briger said: “Even though we’re all in isolation, the world has never been so connected. With this in mind, we wanted to produce a keepsake cover for our loyal subscribers that reflected those feelings of unity, strength and resilience in these testing times.”

The feature we like best this edition is two pages of marie claire staff in isolation. (Not sure how Briger managed to avoid the spotlight though.) The two cleverest photos are selfies taken by junior fashion editor Monica Russell and art director Danielle Taylor. Both brandish glasses of wine. In the accompanying Q&A when asked about her greatest joy with WFH, Taylor comments: “That Dan Murphy’s is considered an essential service”.

However the single best interior shot belongs to photo editor Robyn Fay-Perkins that not only shows off her library, but the record collection and turntable set-up. Who’d want to move into Park Street?

ARN reports lockdown listening surge: Radio +10%, Podcasts +9%

ARN has released data that shows continued audience growth across its radio and digital platforms and consolidation of strong audience numbers across on-demand and podcast.

ARN’s data from during Australia’s lock down period[i] – when Government measures were first put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and Australians were at home in unprecedented numbers – shows audio entertainment audiences, across all platforms, grew.

Radio streaming up 10% and digital engagement up 48%

ARN’s radio streaming has seen a 10% growth[ii], while its websites have experienced a 48% increase in traffic[iii], and social engagement has grown by 43%[iv].

As audiences’ audio consumption behaviours shift, ARN’s content teams have responded rapidly. This has included Breakfast Shows staying on air until later to meet the needs of audiences who are starting their day later and increasing the variety and depth of music played as people listen for longer during the day.

ARN’s chief commercial officer Pete Whitehead said: “It’s evident ARN’s audiences continue look to our trusted radio brands and talent to provide connection and normalcy. With people spending more time at home, we’re finding people are listening to radio to create an office ambience and to lift their energy, as well as providing them with information and updates.”

Music streaming up 7%

The growth trend continued across ARN’s iHeartRadio platform which saw a 7% increase in music streaming[v] across both Artist and Favourites radio.

“This further reinforces what we already know about the power of music and how audiences use music as a mood regulator to adjust or enhance how they feel,” added Whitehead.

ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network listening up 9%

ARN’s iHeartPodcast Network experienced a 9% increase in overall listening[vi] and a 14% increase in listening between the workday hours 10am and 4pm[vii].

Across the lockdown period, listening to entertainment and lifestyle podcasts – including travel, health and beauty – increased, showing a shift in audience interest towards wellbeing information and aspirational content. While streaming of news and comedy genres also increased, interestingly consumption of true crime and sports content has decreased across lockdown.  This content trend was mirrored across ARN websites where a 91% increase in page views[viii] across lifestyle content was seen.

Whitehead summarised: “ARN remains a leader in audio, demonstrated by continued growth across our network offering. Retaining strong audience numbers across radio, digital, on-demand, music and podcast platforms is testament to ARN’s comprehensive audio content offering for audiences and gives advertisers the best audio platforms to showcase their brands. We are committed to continuing to provide our advertisers with insights about our audiences evolving appetite for audio content, ensuring we deliver campaigns that engage listeners at the optimum time with the most effective content.”

News Corp campaign to support National Reconciliation Week

News Corp Australia has launched its campaign to support this year’s National Reconciliation Week with the theme “In this together” to help connect and unite the nation.

The campaign features digital advertising across News Corp Australia’s network and two weeks of half page and medium strip print ads across 16 metropolitan and regional publications.

In addition, Sky News Australia is producing National Reconciliation Week’s official community service announcement, which will be broadcast across Foxtel and all other television networks.

The CSA celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Walk for Reconciliation when hundreds of thousands of Australians walked together across the nation’s bridges in a call for unity and reconciliation, with the message ‘we were in it together then, we’re in this together now’.

Reconciliation Australia chief executive Karen Mundine said the bridge walks marked a shift in the national consciousness and, twenty years on, the majority of Australians were still in it together in support of reconciliation.

“As this year’s National Reconciliation Week theme says, we are In this together. That theme is resonating now in ways we could not have foreseen when it was developed last year, but it reminds us whether in a crisis or in reconciliation, we are all in this together,” Mundine said.

Mundine said Reconciliation Australia was determined to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19, especially given it was RA’s 20th anniversary.

This year’s NRW 2020 will be entirely online, a way of life we have all become very familiar with in the past couple of months,” she said. “We are launching on Wednesday 27 May by asking everyone to take to social media to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country so we can all be in this together, even when we’re apart physically.”

Mundine added people could also show their support via images, video, text or simply take a few minutes of silent reflection. Panel discussions, films screenings and online concerts will also be held throughout the week.

News Corp Australia’s Community Ambassador Penny Fowler said: “National Reconciliation Week is a chance to unite Australians even while isolated and to reflect on what reconciliation means to all of us. This year is a great opportunity to participate virtually and we encourage everyone to get involved.

“News Corp Australia’s vision is to make reconciliation everyone’s business. Reconciliation happens every week of the year and we’re committed to celebrating the successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to shine a light on the injustices and to lead and shape the debate around reconciliation.”

Supporting National Reconciliation Week is part of News Corp Australia’s commitment to reconciliation under an Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan. To find out more about National Reconciliation Week’s virtual events, please visit https://nrw.reconciliation.org.au/. For more information on News Corp Australia’s reconciliation activities, visit here.

TV Demand: Outlander #1 as MasterChef Australia joins the charts

By Trent Thomas

Disney+ continues to dominate the Digital Original charts with the Star Wars franchise as The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Clone Wars continue to occupy the top two spots in Australia and New Zealand for another week. 

The #1 for the Overall TV chart in Australia and New Zealand is Outlander which aired its fifth season’s finale on May 10, the season was based on the book The Fiery Cross. The series has been renewed for a 12-episode sixth season to be based on A Breath of Snow and Ashes. The show is created by US network Starz and can be seen on Foxtel in Australia.

The highest rating piece of Australian made content is Network 10’s MasterChef Australia which is #8 on the Overall TV chart in Australia. 

Over the last 30 days, TV demand for MasterChef Australia has increased by 377.6% while over the same time span the show rates in the 99.4th percentile for reality TV titles in Australia. The show has also been a success in regards to TV ratings with the show regularly getting around 1 million viewers an episode. This is the shows first season with new judges Jock Zonfrillo, Andy Allen and Melissa Leong.

This week has seen a fair few new additions to the charts this week with Solar Opposites and The Good Fight joining the Australian Digital Original charts, while Dead To Me joined the Digital Original charts in NZ.

Hulu’s Solar Opposites has made an impressive mark on the charts since its eight-episode first season was released on May 8. The animated series is created by Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and Mike McMahan and follows a family of aliens who must take refuge in middle America. The show was bought by Hulu after it was originally created for and shelved by Fox.

The Good Fight has also joined the Digital Original chart in Australia after its fourth season started airing on April 9. The season was originally scheduled for 10 episodes, but production was ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will instead conclude with its seventh episode on May 28, 2020. The show is a spin-off of The Good Wife, and was the first CBS All-Access original produced by the digital platform and has been renewed for a fifth season. 

Over in NZ the black comedy series Dead To Me has joined the Digital Original chart after the series second season was released on Netflix on May 8. The show stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as two grieving women who bond during therapy.

TV Ratings Tuesday May 19 Week 21 2020

By James Manning

• ABBA still have the power: Tuesday double wins for Nine
• Ob doc favourites help keep Seven in second place
• Black Box pressure test sends Sarah Clare home
• ABC’s elusive Tuesday hit: Miriam Margolyes in Oz

Seven News 1,187,000/1,135,000
Nine News 1,166,000/1,099,000
ABC News 874,000
A Current Affair 762,000
The Project 393,000/637,000
7.30 628,000
10 News 407,000,000/285,000
Sunrise 299,000
The Drum 245,000
News Breakfast 221,000
Today 199,000
SBS World News 185,000
The Latest 182,000

Nine: A clever piece of programming last night as Nine segues from Lego Masters to The Voice. The primary channel ranked #1 all people for the night with ABBA: Secrets of Their Greatest Hits at 7.30pm (476,000) and then the 2018 movie Mama Mia! Here We Go Again! (338,000). You don’t need a ratings bulldozer at 7.30pm to win the night as Seven has repeatedly shown (although it certainly helps). Also assisting the station’s firepower was A Current Affair on 762,000 after 864,000 on Monday.

Seven: Retro programming almost from Seven with an ob-doc led Tuesday. Home and Away followed the news with 653,000 after 667,000 on Monday.
Then it was into Border Security: Australia’s Front Line with 475,000 followed by The Force: Behind the Line on 392,000.
A double episode premiere of the US drama Absentia took over from 8.30pm with 337,000 for the first episode and then 293,000 stayed on for the second.
Seven ranked #1 in combined channel share with its three multichannels adding 7.8.

10: Ross Noble and Keith Urban were both guests on The Project with 637,000 after 669,000 on Monday.
It was a very tough night for the MasterChef contestants who had to participate in the Pressure Test labelled Black Box. It looked almost impossible but most rose to the challenge and acquitted themselves reasonably well. The look on the judges’ faces when Sarah Tiong plated up in front of them was classic and will surely become a meme. However Sarah T survived and it was Sarah C who was sent home to her own restaurant on the island paradise of Tasmania. The episode easily won the timeslot and all key demos with 994,000. It also helped 10 to rank #1 primary and network for the night under 50 and 25-54.
How to Stay Married followed with 413,000 after 449,000 last week. The previous ep number has been revised to 806,000 though after 10 added timeshift, BVOD and encore screenings.

 ABC: After News and 7.30, the channel’s best was its new Tuesday hit, Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian with 573,000. Who would have thought putting her in a car on local roads would be a timeslot winner. Full credits to the publicity team that have blitzed the media with one of TV’s quirkiest talents. And also TV Tonight which helped stoke a minor controversy with the hosts thoughts about Aussies. The channel’s previous Tuesday hit was last year’s Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds.

SBS: The launch of a new season of Who Do You Think You Are? pushed its way into the top 20 with 417,000 following Lisa Wilkinson’s search for clues about her ancestors.
SBS then turned the channel over again to Marc Fennell and challenged viewers to stay awake – in a good way. His Insight episode was fascinating for those interested in sleep and insomnia sufferers with 210,000 watching.
After a break for Dateline (141,000), Fennell was then back to host The Feed (53,000) at 10pm.

Week 21 TV: Tuesday
TUESDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.6% 7 16.5% 9 17.7% 10  15.5% SBS One 6.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 3.7% GO! 2.1% 10 Bold 4.1% VICELAND 1.5%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 3.6% GEM 2.1% 10 Peach 2.5% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.5% 9Life 2.1%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 17.6%   26.2%   25.0%   22.1%   9.1%

 

TUESDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.5% 7 17.7% 9 14.7% WIN 12.4% SBS One 5.8%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.9% 7TWO 5.6% GO! 2.8% WIN Bold 4.4% VICELAND 1.8%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 6.0% GEM 2.4% WIN Peach 2.2% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 0.9% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.2% 9Life 2.3% Sky News  on WIN 2.6% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.0%
TOTAL 16.2%   31.4%   22.2%   21.7%   9.4%

 

TUESDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
88.2% 11.8%
TUESDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,187,000
  2. Nine News Nine 1,166,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,135,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,099,000
  5. MasterChef Australia  10 992,000
  6. ABC News ABC 874,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 762,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 673,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 653,000
  10. The Project 7pm 10 637,000
  11. 7.30 ABC 628,000
  12. Hot Seat Nine 614,000
  13. Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian ABC 573,000
  14. Foreign Correspondent ABC 483,000
  15. Abba: Secrets Of Their Greatest Hits Nine 476,000
  16. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line Seven 475,000
  17. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 434,000
  18. How To Stay Married 10 428,000
  19. Who Do You Think You Are? SBS 417,000
  20. 10 News First 10 407,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 296,000
  2. Nine News Nine 163,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 161,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 136,000
  5. How To Stay Married 10 127,000

18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 478,000
  2. Nine News Nine 291,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 287,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 273,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 246,000

25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 513,000
  2. Nine News Nine 353,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 342,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 316,000
  5. Seven News Seven 316,000
Thursday Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 209,000
  2. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 205,000
  3. Outback Truckers PM 7mate 203,000
  4. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 177,000
  5. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 172,000
  6. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 172,000
  7. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 166,000
  8. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 163,000
  9. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Ad VAEBNCTKUIDRESS/C!-POMEDY 160,000
  10. CSI: Miami 10 Bold 159,000
  11. Neighbours 10 Peach 158,000
  12. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 156,000
  13. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 153,000
  14. Rita And Crocodile PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  15. Luo Bao Bei ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  16. Highway Patrol-Ep.2 Pm 7mate 140,000
  17. Rusty Rivets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  18. Highway Patrol PM 7mate 126,000
  19. CSI: Miami Ep 2 10 Bold 125,000
  20. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
THURSDAY STV
  1. Jones & Credlin Sky News Live 77,000
  2. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 73,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 71,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 66,000
  5. PML Later Sky News Live 53,000
  6. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 49,000
  7. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 45,000
  8. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 45,000
  9. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 45,000
  10. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 44,000
  11. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 43,000
  12. Top Wing Nick Jr. 43,000
  13. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 43,000
  14. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 42,000
  15. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 42,000
  16. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 41,000
  17. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 41,000
  18. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 41,000
  19. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 41,000
  20. Abby Hatcher Nick Jr. 41,000

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

Watchdog seeks input on tech titan payments to publishers for news

Australia’s competition tsar Rod Sims says future payments by digital giants to media companies will be focused predominantly on the indirect value Google and Facebook gain from news content rather than the ad revenue generated by news items, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released an options paper on Tuesday outlining the different ways a mandatory code between Google, Facebook and local media companies could work, and is seeking industry feedback on how to define news, control advertising spend associated with content and remunerate publishers.

The competition regulator was instructed by the Morrison government last month to impose the code on the digital giants as meaningful progress was not being made through a voluntary process. Media outlets, including Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this masthead) and News Corp Australia, have since argued publicly for annual payments of between $600 million and $1 billion from the tech platforms.

Sims refused to comment directly on how much Google or Facebook should pay but said payments to publishers would be measured predominantly on the value that journalism brings to Facebook and Google rather than how much advertising revenue it generates.

[Read more]

Watchdog calls out Google & Facebook on ‘rubbish’ news claims

Rod Sims has called out Google and Facebook over claims they don’t make any money from news media for what they are: rubbish, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

The big techs have done a good job so far of conflating issues of payments for advertising on news story searches and Google News while ignoring the broader issue of the overall benefit they derive from the presence of original journalism on their platforms.

On Tuesday, Rod Sims made the point explicitly, highlighting the fact tech giants make money from news’s very existence on their platforms, but also pointed to the difficulties in quantifying costs.

“Clearly the biggest benefit is not the direct benefit, which is the ads shown against news items. That’s the really, really small benefit. The bigger benefit is the indirect value that Google and Facebook gain from having news on their platform,” Sims said on Tuesday.

[Read more]

See also: News key for tech titans: ‘so pay up’, says Rod Sims

Digital revenue for UK news publishers declining before Covid-19 crisis

Digital publishing revenues were down in the final quarter of 2019, before the coronavirus broke out in Europe and the US, suggesting the pandemic has accelerated an existing downturn, reports Press Gazette.

Publishing revenues for members of UK trade body the Association of Online Publishers fell by 6.2% year-on-year to £131.1m for the three months to the end of December last year, according to its Digital Publishers Revenue Index.

Boosts in revenue from digital subscriptions (up 24% year-on-year) and sponsorship (up 10%) were unable to offset declines in display advertising (down 22%) and job adverts (down 20%) for the quarter.

Who has been the best UK late evening (10pm) TV news presenter during the pandemic?

These latest figures suggest that the writing was already on the wall for news publishers before the Covid-19 crisis hit and caused ad revenues to plummet, forcing companies to take action to mitigate the impact.

Last week Buzzfeed closed its UK and Australian news operations, while Vice, Quartz and the Economist all cut staff. This is despite record traffic for most news websites as they match high demand for Covid-19 updates.

[Read more]

Television

MasterChef contestant Ben Ungermann on sex assault charges

A former MasterChef contestant has been charged over allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, just days after audiences were told the chef withdrew due to a “personal matter”, reports The Australian’s Remy Vaga.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday that Ben Ungermann (pictured) had been charged with two counts of sexual assault over an alleged incident in the inner west Melbourne suburb of Docklands in February.

“Melbourne Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team detectives have charged a man following an incident in the Docklands earlier this year,” she said.

“The arrest follows an investigation into an alleged sexual assault in Docklands on 23 February.”

[Read more]

The Great creator Tony McNamara working on gothic western adaption

Tony McNamara, the Australian Oscar-nominated co-writer of the period drama The Favourite, is in negotiations to reteam with the film’s director, Yorgos Lanthimos, to adapt the Gothic Western novel The Hawkline Monster, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The book, written by Richard Brautigan and first published in 1974, tells of two unlikely hero gunslingers hired by a 15-year-old girl named Magic Child to kill the monster that lives in ice caves under the basement of a house inhabited by a young woman named Miss Hawkline. What follows is a unique adventure where there is more to Magic Child, Miss Hawkline and the house than meets the eye.

The project has a decades-in-the-making history that saw Hal Ashby try to mount an adaptation for Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman, and later Jeff and Beau Bridges, to star. Tim Burton also tried his hand at an adaptation.

McNamara is in the limelight these days as he is the creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the period comedic drama The Great, which debuted last week on Stan in Australia. The 10-episode series stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.

The Favourite, which McNamara wrote with Deborah Davis, earned the scribe not only an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay but also nabbed him a best screenplay win at the British Independent Film Awards, a BAFTA Film Award for best original screenplay and screenwriter of the year honors at the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards.

[Read more]

Sports Media

NRL broadcast deal rubber-stamped by ARLC; Fox Sports, Nine

The ARL Commission on Tuesday approved the code’s revised broadcast deal as the Project Apollo committee moves a step closer to relaunching the NRL premiership on May 28, reports News Corp’s Peter Badel.

News Corp can reveal the ARLC has rubber-stamped the terms of the TV rights contract, the completion of which remains the final impediment to the NRL kicking-off on Thursday week.

The Commission met on Tuesday with the panel members, including chairman Peter V’landys, discussing the relevant components of the broadcast deal before giving the green light for the contract to be sent to TV partners Channel 9 and Fox Sports.

It is understood Channel 9 will maintain their commitment to the NRL until the end of 2022, scuppering fears they would walk away from the code.

Channel 9 have baulked at a long-term extension, although that scenario is palatable to Fox, who are prepared to ink a four or five-year extension to remain loyal to rugby league until 2026-27.

[Read more]

How Seven will use Bruce & BT from different cities when AFL returns

Channel 7 commentators Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor are likely to be 730km apart when they call the AFL’s return game together, reports News Corp’s Scott Gullan.

The extraordinary situation has come about because of South Australia’s strict quarantine rules which means Adelaide-based McAvaney won’t be able to fly in and out of Victoria.

So when the ball is bounced on June 11 – most likely at the MCG for Collingwood v Richmond – Taylor will be in Channel 7’s Melbourne studio with McAvaney in a special hub built for him in the City of Churches.

Seven has already declared they will be calling all games remotely when the season resumes with a boundary rider likely to be the only member of the commentary team at the venue.

McAvaney hinted at the potential issue this week, describing his situation as “tricky”.

“I’m in a tricky situation because I probably need to be in South Australia and I’m not sure if I can go to Victoria and come home, at the moment I can’t so that’s all is to be worked out,” McAvaney told SEN.

“There will be different things that will have to be tried and worked out before the first ball is bounced and then we’ll see what happens after that.

“Not easy, not easy for sure. The quarantine has made life, albeit necessary from a health point of view, its made life much more complicated.”

The Queensland hub games will be called from Melbourne where leading callers Hamish McLachlan, James Brayshaw and Taylor are based along with experts Wayne Carey, Matthew Richardson and Cameron Ling.

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