Friday May 22, 2020

Three sleeps until Foxtel’s new low-cost movies/drama streaming launch

• What lessons will the new service learn from Kayo and Presto?

Foxtel will reveal details about its new movies and drama streaming app on Saturday. The service then opens for business on Monday May 25. Ahead of the launch let’s look at what we know for sure.

All that Foxtel has confirmed so far is the launch date and that the new Foxtel service will be the home of movies and drama.

Foxtel has revealed that the service will offer more than 10,000 hours of the best local and international drama and movies.

Foxtel has also revealed that the content will be powered with an extensive collection of drama and movies from Warner Bros, HBO, HBO Max, Sony, NBCU, FX and the BBC.

See also: Foxtel’s new drama & movies streaming product launching May 25

Foxtel is this weekend expected to highlight many of the new dramas and movies available on its new service, but it is unclear if Foxtel is ready to reveal any new Australian drama commissions.

With HBO Max launching in the US next week, Foxtel will highlight the exclusive content from that new US streaming service after recently renewing its WarnerMedia/HBO deal.

Although the much-anticipated HBO Max Friends reunion has been delayed, Chelsea Handler revealed today she will be returning to stand-up with an HBO Max special.

The US streamer has also revealed it will exclusively world premiere Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of the Warner Bros. Pictures/DC feature film Justice League in 2021.

It has been assumed the new service will be called Binge after a report in The Australian Financial Review back on April 20.

No pricing details have yet to be revealed, with speculation that the new service will have to be cheaper than the $25 Foxtel charges Kayo subscribers for its streaming live sport service.

Foxtel may decide to stick with a $25 price point, maybe offering a special price of $40 if customers take both the sports and drama packages together. That would allow Foxtel to advertise the new service as “pricing starts at $15 for existing streaming customers”.

Some think that to compete with the likes of Stan and Netflix, the new Foxtel service will need to be closer to $10 as a standalone offer.

The move by Foxtel to launch the new service will use insights it has from its Kayo service. It will also be careful not to repeat some of the mistakes it made with its former streaming service Presto, which closed down at the end of 2016.

That service ultimately offered movies and TV in a package that some found confusing.

Consumers could subscribe to Presto TV as a standalone service for $9.99 a month, or the Presto Entertainment TV and movies bundle for $14.99 a month.

Foxtel and Seven West Media each held a 50 per cent equity stake in Presto TV Pty Limited, a subscription video on demand streaming service.

Presto started as a Foxtel-owned movie platform in early 2014, but expanded to television shows as Seven West Media came on board as an investor in 2015.

Presto was in part a spoiler for the then Nine/Fairfax Media streaming service Stan which launched on Australia Day in 2015 at $10, a price that remains the base plan.

Visit here on Saturday for full details of the new Foxtel service.

More listeners, more often, more devices: SCA reports lockdown listening

SCA’s live radio streaming and audio on demand platforms continue to break listener and download records with more listeners, more often and on more devices, with daily live radio streams growing 21% since March 9, reports the broadcasting company.

In the 10 weeks since 9 March, when COVID-19 restrictions began to be put in place, listening on demand, including live radio streaming across mobile, tablet, desktop/laptop and smart speakers has exceeded all past records:

Daily weekday live radio streams consumed are up 21% and weekday listening hours have increased by 19%.^

Smart speaker live radio streaming is up 28.8% since 9 March hitting a peak of 2 million listening hours in April; and 21% of all SCA live radio streaming occurs on a smart speaker.^

Live radio streaming on mobiles and tablets is up 8.3% and on desktops and laptops up 28.2%.^

SCA PodcastOne Australia podcasting downloads are up 49% from February to April.**

Catch up radio podcasts have seen a 16% increase in downloads since 12 April.#

SoundCloud Australian listeners are up by 43% since February and total listening hours on desktop is up 30% month on month.*

Last month, SCA’s Triple M and Hit networks’ special Anzac Day live Commemorative Service broadcast across 98 stations recorded record live streaming audiences with 480,000 active streams and 270,000 listening hours.^

“As feelings of anxiety are starting to be replaced by optimism as restrictions ease, audiences are settling into their new routines, choosing SCA as their entertainment destination and companion. We expected this listening behaviour to continue and have again broken previous all-time listening records,” said SCA chief sales officer Brian Gallagher.

“The new Infinite Dial Australia report, with research conducted prior to the pandemic, shows a clear trend with radio show live streaming, podcasting and smart speakers continuing to grow. Time spent listening to audio is also up to more than 12 and a half hours a week on a range of devices and would be more so during COVID-19. Audio has proven to be a key companion choice as people work from home to stay updated, informed and entertained.”


^ Adswizz Audiometrix March-May 2020
*SoundCloud O&O data February-April 2020
** Omny Studio February to April 2020
#Omny Studio March to May 2020

Photo credit: Ash Mar

News Corp pays tribute to retailers who kept newspapers on sale

News Corp Australia has launched a campaign to thank the chain of frontline retail workers who have helped keep the nation informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsagents, supermarket staff and petrol and convenience workers are being acknowledged for their dedication in ensuring newspaper customers maintained access to crucial coverage during the pandemic.

The commitment of thousands of retail workers during these challenging times has meant that newspaper readers across the nation have not missed a beat.

Damian Eales, chief operating officer – publishing at News Corp Australia, said: “Beyond the newsroom, there is a network of extraordinary people who work tirelessly through the night and into the dawn to ensure that our papers are printed, transported, sold or delivered to the 2.8 million Australians who turn to us for trusted news and information.

“Like our journalists and print centre employees, these distribution and retail workers – such as newsagents – are among the unrecognised people who stayed on the retail front-lines, determined to help keep Australia informed and connected.

“They’re the vital force we rely upon to ensure that news can continue to reach thousands of communities across our nation, and help to share the amazing stories that our journalists uncover.

“To them, we say thank you for your dedication and commitment.”

The Thank You press campaign launches today in print across News Corp’s metro and regional newspapers and will run for a week.

QMS supports #SendingLove: Global user generated outdoor campaign

User-generated messages of love and unity are being displayed on digital out-of-home (DOOH) screens worldwide with social media amplification ensuring the messages are seen by millions – at home.

The #SendingLove global initiative is promoting messages of love that unite communities all over the world during the fight against the effects of COVID-19. The socially-enabled DOOH campaign is facilitated by The World Out of Home Organisation (WOO) and many of its member organisations, and runs on advertising space donated by over 70 media owners across 153 cities; making it the biggest user generated campaign ever to run on DOOH.

Created by Grand Visual in the UK and facilitated by Talon Outdoor’s global OOH network, the campaign encourages participants to send love to those in places they cannot travel to, by getting creative with the heart-hand symbol and uploading their pictures and locations to Participants are then given the option to donate to the global COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund before receiving a photo of their picture playing on-screen in their chosen city to share with friends and family across social channels.

With support from outdoor operators across the globe, QMS Media are helping deliver the messages of love to people in Melbourne via Grand Visuals platform that geo targets messages to the chosen city and connects communities to messages of love from afar in a show of global strength and solidarity.

QMS chief marketing officer Sara Lappage said: “We are delighted to be on board and displaying messages of love and unity from around the world to the people of Melbourne. Despite the constraints of lockdown, it is great to see the out of home community coming together to fight the effects of COVID-19, and social distancing in particular, with a campaign that connects and reassures people that we are in this together.”

Dan Dawson, chief creative officer Grand Visual, said: “We set out with one thing in mind, to provide people with the opportunity to send love to their favourite places around the world. With an internationally understood heart shaped hand signal at the centre of the creative – we could share the love in cities the world over despite the constraints of lockdown, with shareable content further extending the message via social channels.”

Mercado on TV: Do we want to re-open with so much TV to watch?

By Andrew Mercado

• The Great, Belgravia, Little Fires Everywhere and Hightown

Are we sure we should be re-opening the country when there are still so many TV series beginning? How will we find time to watch them all if isolation is ending?

The Great (now on Stan) has a great Aussie connection thanks to creator Tony McNamara, who brought us Doctor Doctor (Nine). That’s also why Whyhope hospital receptionist Betty is in The Great playing a mad aunt, because the great actress Belinda Bromilow is married to McNamara in real life.

The Great is the second Catherine The Great series of recent months, after Helen Mirren played her last year. Now the role ages down for Elle Fanning, and stays loose with the truth, allowing lots of leeway to be fanciful and outrageous.


Belgravia (Sunday on BBC First) is the latest from Julian Fellowes and if you are expecting another Downton Abbey, maybe lower your expectations. Sure, the costumes are elegant and the dialects are crisp, but the story is convoluted. At least Harriet Walter is fabulous as the Countess of Brockenhurst, and is also slaying it as the chain-smoking Dasha on Killing Eve (Monday on iView) right now.

Reese Witherspoon has been on a roll producing first class shows for herself like Big Little Lies and Morning Wars. Now comes Little Fires Everywhere (now on Amazon Prime) in which she plays the exact same character she did in Big Little Lies. Hopefully there is another chick literature title out there with the world ‘little’ in it, so Reese can complete a trilogy of mouthy moms with troubled teens and harried husbands.


Now to a complicated lesbian story and not Ruby Rose “leaving” Batwoman after just one season. Hightown (now on Stan) is about a complicated lesbian cop and it’s my pick of the week so far. It’s got hard-partying, heroin and Jackie Quinones (Monica Raymond) is a hot mess seducing tourists and smashing cars. Then she finds a dead body in the sand and heads into rehab. Wonder what Ruby will be heading to … obscurity?

It’s good to see Troy Kinne (Monday on 10) back for another series because nothing beats a good Aussie comedy. Is Insiders (Sunday on ABC) having a laugh inviting back Greg Sheridan, even though he slammed the ABC just a few weeks ago? Let’s hope Miriam MargolyesAlmost Australian (Tuesday on ABC) doesn’t push Greg over the edge, but who will stop Insiders from throwing itself off a cliff?

TV Ratings Thursday May 21 Week 21 2020

By James Manning

• Seven News and Home and Away lock in all people wins
• MasterChef leads 10 to rank #1 Thursday in demos + under 50
• Jess wins immunity, wows judges, topples Poh in a photo finish

Seven News 1,190,000/1,108,000
Nine News 1,060,000/1,020,000
ABC News 771,000
A Current Affair 752,000
The Project 398,000/604,000
7.30 539,000
10 News 451,000/329,000
Sunrise 291,000
News Breakfast 258,000
The Drum 219,000
SBS World News 210,000
Today 201,000
The Latest 165,000

Seven: The channel has won its second successive night all people for the primary channel and network.
Home and Away finished its week with an average of 586,000 across three episodes.
The 2009 movie The Proposal then did 314,000.

 Nine: A Current Affair continues to record strong ratings this week with a Thursday on 752,000, up from 721,000 on Tuesday.
RBT then did 464,000.
The 2012 movie The Bourne Legacy followed on 279,000.

10: MasterChef was the only place to be for advertisers looking for a big audience all people and in all key demos. The immunity episode started with a four-way packet noodle challenge and then climaxed with Poh v Jess in what could have been a preview of the final with arguably the two best cooks at present. Both dishes were super impressive, but it was 21-year-old Jess who really wowed the judges, particularly Jock. The episode did 985,000 after 944,000 a week ago.

ABC: Grand Designs Australia was tracking the build of as Palm Springs themed home in Sydney’s Balgowlah. The episode did 349,000.
Preceding it was The Heights on just 214,000.

SBS: Another big night for Anglophiles with The World’s Most Beautiful Railway on 283,000 followed by How the Victorians Built Britain on 220,000.

Week 21 TV: Thursday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.3% 7 18.7% 9 17.8% 10  16.8% SBS One 5.8%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 3.5% GO! 2.5% 10 Bold 4.2% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 2.5% GEM 2.4% 10 Peach 2.4% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.6% 7flix 1.8% 9Life 2.2%     NITV 0.2%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 15.0%   26.5%   25.8%   23.4%   9.3%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 10.2% 7 19.6% 9 15.7% WIN 11.7% SBS One 5.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 5.3% GO! 2.9% WIN Bold 5.0% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 1.0% 7mate 4.0% GEM 2.9% WIN Peach 2.1% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.2% 9Life 2.4% Sky News  on WIN 2.5% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.0%
TOTAL 15.1%   31.1%   23.9%   21.3%   8.6%


86.7% 13.3%
  1. Seven News Seven 1,190,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,108,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,060,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,020,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 985,000
  6. ABC News ABC 771,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 752,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 658,000
  9. The Project 7pm 10 604,000
  10. Home And Away Seven 586,000
  11. Hot Seat Nine 567,000
  12. 7.30 ABC 539,000
  13. RBT Nine 464,000
  14. 10 News First 10 451,000
  15. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 414,000
  16. The Project 6.30pm 10 398,000
  17. Grand Designs Australia ABC 349,000
  18. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 341,000
  19. 10 News First 6pm 10 329,000
  20. M- The Proposal Seven 314,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 283,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 149,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 143,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 138,000
  5. Nine News Nine 138,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 464,000
  2. The Project 7pm 10 275,000
  3. Seven News Seven 266,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 257,000
  5. Nine News Nine 247,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 508,000
  2. Seven News Seven 335,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 318,000
  4. Nine News Nine 315,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 313,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 167,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 165,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 163,000
  4. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 146,000
  5. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  6. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  7. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Ad ABCKIDS/COMEDY 143,000
  8. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 142,000
  9. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 142,000
  10. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 142,000
  11. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  12. Neighbours 10 Peach 136,000
  13. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 135,000
  14. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 134,000
  15. Rita And Crocodile PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  16. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  17. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  18. Father Brown PM 7TWO 129,000
  19. Rusty Rivets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  20. Play School Nursery Rhyme News Time- ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  1. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 104,000
  2. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 68,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 67,000
  4. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 67,000
  5. Credlin Sky News Live 66,000
  6. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 62,000
  7. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 56,000
  8. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 52,000
  9. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 49,000
  10. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 49,000
  11. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 48,000
  12. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 48,000
  13. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 48,000
  14. Beverly Hills: Real Housewives Of… ARENA 47,000
  15. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 46,000
  16. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 44,000
  17. Alvinnn!!! And The Chipmunks Nick Jr. 44,000
  18. Gold Rush: White Water Discovery Channel 44,000
  19. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 43,000
  20. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 42,000

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

SQ announces Completion Fund to help independent productions

Screen Queensland has announced the new SQ Completion Fund providing grants of up to $50,000 to help independent Queensland producers complete high-quality long-form productions that are at rough-cut stage, including feature films, documentaries or broadcast television series.

Kylie Munnich, Screen Queensland CEO, said the fund would support productions and teams that had not already received investment from the agency, and maximise the impact of the $3.3 million COVID-19 support package to ensure Queensland-made screen content entered the marketplace quickly.

“The SQ Completion Fund is designed to support compelling screen content that can move quickly through post-production, excite the marketplace, and meet audience demands for fresh, new content,” Munnich said.

“We are also proud to support those courageous independent creative teams who have backed themselves and shown initiative, tenacity and resilience to produce long-form screen content on their own. We want to help them capitalise on opportunities available right now, to be the first to market with exciting screen content,” Munnich added.

Applicants are encouraged to work with an experienced Queensland producer and outline a clear strategy to complete their production, gain marketplace interest and attract an audience.

Funding can be used on a range of flexible activities aligned to the strategic requirements of each project such as local post-production services, sound mix, music licensing, graphics, visual effects, animation and marketing.

Applications for the SQ Completion Fund close 5pm, Friday 12 June 2020
For more information and to apply visit

New Zealand’s Sky Network TV kicks off COVID-19 raising

Dual-listed New Zealand pay TV provider Sky Network Television has pressed go on a deeply discounted capital raising to see it through the coronavirus pandemic, reports The AFR’s Street Talk.

The company was out looking for $NZ157.2 million ($146 million) on Thursday morning through a 2.83-for-one non-renounceable pro-rata entitlement offer and an institutional placement, according to terms sent to funds.

The entitlement offer would raise $NZ148.1 million and the placement would net the balance. Funds were told that both parts of the deal were underwritten by joint lead managers Goldman Sachs New Zealand and Forsyth Barr.

[Read more]

Philanthropists offer multimillion-dollar lifeline to Carriageworks

Committed arts philanthropist Kerr Neilson and daughter Paris have pledged conditional financial support to Carriageworks in a gesture that could see it lifted out of voluntary administration, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Linda Morris.

“We have pledged a reasonable amount once the lease is renewed and the operation is reorganised,” Neilson told The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Neilsons are one of several philanthropists to have come forward to offer a potential lifeline to the Eveleigh-based arts organisation after the board called in administrators KPMG on May 4 due to a catastrophic collapse in revenue following coronavirus shutdowns.

The most generous donor is believed to be board director, major art collector and philanthropist Geoff Ainsworth and partner Johanna Featherstone. The Ainsworth family was a major contributor to the Art Gallery of NSW expansion Sydney Modern.

Carriageworks owes more than $2 million to 225 creditors, including arts companies and suppliers, according to documents filed with ASIC.

Creditors were told that the organisation had generated revenue of $11 million in 2019 with 75 per cent of its income from external events and programs.

[Read more]

Liberty Global chief content officer Bruce Mann lists Vaucluse home

Amsterdam-based veteran pay TV executive Bruce Mann – who previously worked with a firm bought by Foxtel – is selling his Vaucluse home to capitalise on investment opportunities overseas, reports News Corp’s Stephen Nicholls.

Ray White TRG principal Gavin Rubinstein and colleague Oliver Lavers have won the plumb listing of the five-bedroom, four-bathroom home with sweeping harbour views and large pool at 66 Cambridge Ave, which has a price guide of $6.75 million.

Rubinstein has sold several other homes in the street for strong prices, including that of radio host Jackie O for $6.675 million on March 27, just days after the coronavirus lockdown took effect.

Mann left his post as CEO of XYZ Networks when it was fully absorbed by Foxtel in 2012 to join Liberty Global, which is the world’s largest TV and broadband company. He’s currently the firm’s chief content officer.

[Read more]

News Brands

UK national newspaper print sales plunge amid coronavirus lockdown

Print sales for the UK’s biggest national newspapers slumped by as much as 39% last month, as the coronavirus lockdown shut high streets and kept the nation at home, reports The Guardian.

The Financial Times and the i newspaper reported the biggest decline in circulation, down 39% and 38%, respectively. The decline of circulation of the i was exacerbated by the cessation of the distribution of bulks, free copies, to locations including airports, gyms and railway stations.

Many paid-for national titles proved remarkably resilient, with declines not as steep as many in the industry had feared, as publishers launched initiatives such as home delivery to keep getting print copies into readers’ hands.

The Sunday tabloid and mid-market titles proved to be the best performers, with the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Star Sunday, Sunday Express, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People holding declines to between 12% and 14%.

Earlier on Thursday, the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which publishes the figures, said it was to stop issuing the monthly public report of print newspaper circulation after 33 years.

[Read more]

UK newspapers to keep circulation data private as Covid-19 crisis hits

UK national newspapers no longer have to make their print circulations public through auditors ABC from today, which means we may never get the full picture of the impact of coronavirus on newspaper sales.

News UK, publisher of the Sun and Times titles, has opted to make its circulation figures private – only agencies who have signed a confidentiality agreement can see them.

It is the only major news publisher to have chosen this approach so far.

The Telegraph pulled out of ABC reporting at the start of this year saying it was no longer a “key metric”. Publishers are increasingly looking to subscriptions and other metrics to measure success in the digital age.

News UK has said it is focusing on the total brand reach figure provided by audience measurement company PamCo, which replaced the National Readership Survey in 2018.

[Read more]


Final rebuke for Alan Jones a fitting end to tumultuous career

After a tumultuous 35-year career on Sydney’s airwaves, Alan Jones‘ retirement announcement last week was welcomed by his critics, lamented by his ardent listeners and greeted with relief by those who have felt his wrath, comments a Sydney Moring Herald editorial.

The broadcast regulator was asked to rule on Jones’ misogynistic on-air attack of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In the tirade, he urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “shove a sock down her throat”, “get tough with a few backhanders” and “go for her throat”.

To his credit, Mr Morrison expressed disappointment at Jones’ comments about Ms Ardern.

But he and many of his cabinet colleagues continued to go on his radio show, as did their state counterparts, presumably believing it was impossible to succeed unless they kowtowed to Mr Jones.

Even last week many politicians praised Mr Jones without mentioning his very mixed record.

It is a sad condemnation of our political system that for so long those in power tried to curry his favour and for the most part, declined to call out his missteps.

[Read more]

Kyle Sandilands breaks down in tears as he reveals secret health battle

Kyle Sandilands is set to break down in tears as he appears to reveal to his longtime co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson that he has been secretly battling a “serious” health issue, reports’s Bronte Coy.

The duo, who are Australia’s top radio earners as The Kyle and Jackie O Show, sat down with Kyle’s close friend Karl Stefanovic for an in-depth 60 Minutes interview, which will air this Sunday.

In a new promo released ahead of the chat, the shock jock becomes visibly emotional as he appears to deliver a bombshell about his health.

“I love you and it’s been wonderful,” he begins, looking at Jackie O. “(But) there’s a condition I’ve been diagnosed with that I haven’t spoken to anyone about.”

Jackie O can then be seen wiping away tears as she braces herself for his confession.

The preview ends there, so it’s unclear what Kyle is referring to – or if he’s being serious.

[Read more]


MasterChef’s new rules because of COVID-19 start Monday

MasterChef judge Melissa Leong had her fingers, toes, eyes and everything crossed that they would be able to finish the season of the popular 10 cooking show, reports News Corp’s Lisa Woolford.

Leong and fellow new judges Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo were barely halfway through filming the Back to Win series as COVID-19 started to really make its presence felt in Australia.

Fortunately adopting strict new conditions, including judges not eating from the same plate, more space between the contestant’s benches and dedicated hand washing stations, separate from any food preparation, meant the show could continue.

Viewers will see the new-look MasterChef episodes from Monday.

Leong said strict hygiene had always been top of mind on the food show.

“That bit was easy,” she says. “The hardest things are with the social distancing. MasterChef as you know and love is a deeply emotional show. Moments happen where you want to hug or high five someone. Even just giving a reassuring pat on the back becomes difficult when you can’t be within 1.5m of people.”

[Read more]

Producer respond to calls for ABC COVID comedy to be pulled off air

Liberal Senator and former TV presenter Sarah Henderson isn’t seeing the funny side of new lockdown comedy At Home Alone Together, taking to social media to insist ABC Chair Ita Buttrose “get this #&@* off air”, reports TV Tonight.

It’s a strong reaction to the new sketch comedy, which is trying to find the lighter side of the current pandemic.

Henderson is a former presenter for 10 News, The 7:30 Report, The Investigators and Australia’s Most Wanted. Her view is arguably at odds with the government’s own position of supporting local content during this crisis (although it has also been criticised for lack of supporting the arts).

Producer Dan Ilic has responded to a question about just how many staff are employed on the show at a time when many artists are out of work.

“People who wouldn’t be employed if not for this show is about 35+. Approx. 40 contributors who mostly normally work in live entertainment. We beat most commercial networks on our debut. I’d say we’re doing pretty well.”

[Read more]

“Little did we know Neighbours has pretty much paved the way”

Neighbours star Stefan Dennis has detailed how the 10 Peach drama is succeeding with its model of filming under COVID-19 restrictions, reports TV Tonight.

Since the Fremantle drama signalled a return it has won praise from around the world.

“It’s really weird. On the one hand it’s fantastic, because we’ve got the opportunity to go back to work. And little did we know the production of Neighbours has pretty much paved the way with this blueprinted model that we’re doing now,” he told UK show This Morning.

“I have to say it’s working, it’s actually working,” he added, comparing it to “walking into a surgery” with crew members wearing rubber gloves, masks and gowns.

“Obviously we have to keep the one-and-a-half metre distance rule, that is extremely strict,” Stefan continued. “What we have done is we’ve actually broken the studios up into four groups, four teams, which are all colour-coded.

“If you’re in team A as opposed to team B, we cannot cross over. That’s really weird, because when my son was working a few weeks ago, he was at work and I was at work, and I couldn’t even see him. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working with him, I couldn’t see him as he was on one side of the building and I was on the other.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart slams Channel 9 following Raiders snub

Ricky Stuart says he won’t be backing away from his explosive attack on Channel 9 over the lack of free-to-air games given to Canberra in the revised NRL draw, reports News Corp’s Paul Crawley.

A furious Stuart went to war with Nine on Thursday when he told The Daily Telegraph that “Channel 9 doesn’t like the Canberra Raiders” – and he even questioned if the game’s host broadcaster “like rugby league”.

But in a small win for the Raiders, the NRL has now agreed to fly them on a chartered flight direct to Bankstown Airport for so-called “home” games at Campbelltown.

It will still mean the Raiders have the longest travel time to home games of any team, but at least this does cut back on the six-hour round road trip it would have taken by bus.

The Raiders have been told the reason they can’t play in Canberra is due to biosecurity measures, although there is a conspiracy theory that it is also a lot cheaper not to have to send the TV trucks and the circus that goes with it to Canberra.

[Read more]

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