Thursday May 28, 2020

Podcast Week: Matt & Alex return, 7am celebrates, Alan Jones, Daniel Garb

By James Manning

• Plus Russel Howcroft explores COVID-19’s ‘insane marketing disruption’

Matt & Alex: All Day Breakfast

Finding a breakfast show that works nationally has always been the Holy Grail for radio broadcasters. The rewards are obvious, but the failure can be cataclysmic in that you face the task of finding a replacement for each market the show goes into.

Podcasting however allows broadcasters to experiment and take the plunge into something like a national breakfast show. That is exactly what PodcastOne has done, giving one of SCA’s most trusted producers, Sam Cavanagh, the OK to build a national commercial breakfast show. The pilots of the new program are former triple j breakfast hosts Matt Okine and Alex Dyson.

Earlier this week Mediaweek’s Trent Thomas spoke to Okine about his move from the public broadcaster into the commercial world. Thomas also asked about what the podcast allows them to do.

Okine replied that one of the best parts of doing the show is that they are able to be themselves: “One of the biggest traps that people fall into when making content is not being sincere.

“The only way that I can make content is to make something that I like and hope that other people like it too. We probably branch out a little wider than we did at triple j like we got Sylvia Jefferies on to talk about me predicting her pregnancy at the Logies and that’s an interview that we may not have been able to do at triple j due to the commercial relationship that Sylvia has opposed to the independent vibe of the j’s.

“We will talk to a few more reality TV stars, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk to activists and amazing musicians still as well.”

For the complete interview with the PodcastOne breakfast host see:
Matt Okine on return to breakfast with his triple j co-host Alex Dyson

Listen to Matt & Alex All Day Breakfast

Gruen’s Russel Howcroft on media and marketing

Another recent PodcastOne launch is Brand New World, an exploration of the current marketing landscape, insights into changing consumer behaviour and how to build long term success for brands and businesses.

The podcast will be hosted by PwC Australia partner and chief creative officer Russel Howcroft, one of the two advertising and marketing gurus who sit beside Wil Anderson on ABC TV’s Gruen.

Episodes currently available feature agency CEO Kimberlee Wells, marketing specialist Peter Field and creative agency boss Adam Ferrier.

Howcroft said: “Both myself and SCA have a passion for building brands and businesses, so throughout this series we will talk to experts in the industry about how they are adapting to this brand new world.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has created insane disruption across the world. And the marketing and advertising industry is no exception. We’re being forced to find new ways to build brands and communicate to our customers as their behaviour and priorities change. My job will be to tease out the insights, creativity and lessons, that will help us all get through this together.  To help find the opportunity in the chaos.”

SCA chief marketing and communications officer Nikki Clarkson said: “SCA is in the business of growing our clients’ brands and businesses and this podcast is our way of providing some insights from the experts, to help marketers navigate through this changing landscape. The podcast will explore why great marketing and advertising will deliver successful outcomes for organisations both now and in the future.”

Listen to Brand New World here.

7am celebrates first birthday as competitors multiply

The daily news podcast from Schwartz Media 7am this week celebrated its first birthday. It had considered hosting a special live recording to note the milestone, but COVID-19 put an end to that. The pandemic has also changed the way the podcast team works and has helped grow the audience too.

This month 7am is ranked as the third most-listened to Australian podcast. It sits in what is now a crowded field with new daily podcasts launching regularly.

When the program returned from its summer break the podcast featured a new host Ruby Jones. She is the face of what is a well-resourced team by podcast standards. Jones told Mediaweek that she reports to 7am editor Osman Faruqi while her colleagues include three producers and a field reporter.

As to the changes since she and Osman took over at the podcast, Jones told Mediaweek: “People are more comfortable with what we are producing every day. We are happy with the podcast and it feels sharper and better.” Jones then added: “That has made us more ambitious.”

The ambition includes taking on special multi-episode themes where field reporter Elle Marsh contributes. “Being able to do this has elevated our storytelling,” said Jones.

The podcast packages its content the day before it is published. Jones records news headlines late in the afternoon and the podcast goes live at 4am the next morning. The arrival of COVID-19 has made the 15-minute episode more topical. “We are running a lot closer to the news cycle than we have in the past,” Jones said.

The peak listening time used to be 8am during the morning commute. However WFH changed that and listening has been spread across the day since lockdown started.

Jones and her team keep an eye on new arrivals in the daily podcast space, noting there wasn’t much competition when they first launched 12 months ago. “We don’t mind the competition. As they say – a rising tide floats all boats!”

Jones doesn’t think the podcast leans either to the right or the left politically. “We leave it to the reporter just to tell the story.” Does Jones think they have many conservative listeners? “I hope so.”

Listen to 7am here.

Sports fans get new series from Dan Garb

Over 15 years, Daniel Garb established a reputation as one of the premier sports reporters in Australia – especially for people with a passion for European football. During eight years with Fox Sports, Garb was a football and sports news presenter in addition to time spent in the UK filing Premier League news and interviews for the Australian broadcaster.

Now Garb is taking his experience, interviewing skills and contact list to launch his own sporting podcast – Greats with Garby – specialising in insightful chats with sporting greats that cuts straight to the tales of their time at the top and what made them special.

Garb is promising a pure sports podcast for the pure sports lover that will provide then with insider access.

Garb said: “Along with interviews with a range of elite athletes across different sports, we’ll attack some of the major sporting sagas as they come to hand so that you’ll have an instant analysis of the issues that are of interest to you and there’ll be some fun sports culture features to go along with it.”

Two recent episodes worth your time are Garb’s interview with Australian basketball legend Shane Heal and his breakdown of The Last Dance with broadcasters Dan Ginnane and Seb Costello.

Listen to Greats with Garby here.

Full story: Guardian looks at Alan Jones

A new episode of Guardian Australia’s daily Full Story podcast is titled The rise and fall of Alan Jones. Exploring the legacy of what she calls Australia’s leading shock jock is long-time media reporter Amanda Meade who now works for the Guardian. The start of the 43-minute episode comes with a language warning as Jones’ commentary at times, off and on air, can be very divisive and explicit.

Guardian Australia says: “This week one of the country’s most successful radio presenters will broadcast his final show. For some, Alan Jones was a frank and fearless voice, for others, a divisive and polarising force in the media landscape.”

Listen to Full Story: Alan Jones here.

News Corp closes titles, changes metro strategy, sheds staff in shake-up day

The executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, has detailed significant changes to News Corp Australia’s publishing portfolio.

Miller said that over recent months News Corp had undertaken a comprehensive review of its regional and community newspapers. This review considered the ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online, and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing.  Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 per cent as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline,” Miller said.

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.”

Miller said News Corp’s portfolio review highlighted that many of our print mastheads were challenged, and the double impact of COVID-19 and the tech platforms not remunerating the local publisher whose content they profit from, had, unfortunately, made them unsustainable publications.

He said the portfolio changes being implemented would mean that from Monday June 29 the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles would move to purely digital publishing.

“More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information. They will continue to serve, and live in, their local communities with the majority in regional Queensland where we have most of our titles,” Miller said.

“Over the past 19 months News has launched 16 new digital only local mastheads. In total we will now publish 92 digital only regional and community mastheads, each offering readers rolling coverage, electronic alerts and newsletters, richer audio and video content and deeper local sport coverage and community debate.

“At the same time, News Corp’s major mastheads in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and The Advertiser – will now become more state focused with increased regional content and will partner with our regional and community local titles in their states to ensure we deliver compelling journalism to Australian consumers regardless of where they live. Subscribers wherever they live will now have access to the best of News Corp’s local, regional, state, national and international news, sport, features and columnists.”

Today’s announcements to News Corp’s publishing portfolio will mean some job roles will change and will lead to job losses. Miller said that for those employees impacted by the changes, he wanted to thank them personally for their professionalism, dedication and contribution.

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service. Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial,” he said.

News Corp Australia changes

The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser – will continue to publish both in print and digitally.

The following regional titles will become digital only: Queensland – Mackay Daily Mercury, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Bundaberg News Mail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald. Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does currently, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory – The Centralian Advocate.

The bulk of titles in the community groups – NewsLocal in NSW/ACT, Leader in Melbourne, Quest in Brisbane and Messenger in Adelaide – will become digital only. Community print editions were suspended early in April because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.

The community titles to be digital-only news services are:

Melbourne Leader titles – Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham;

NewsLocal in NSW and ACT – Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News;

Quest in Queensland – Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News;

Messenger in SA – Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf.

Three Sydney community titles, Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, which are distributed in the city’s most affluent suburbs, will resume print editions.

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but the local journalism coverage of their area will continue, feeding into the digital masthead for their regional community. The regional titles to cease publication are: Queensland – Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph; NSW – Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner; Tasmania – Tasmanian Country; Specialist – Big Rigs, Rural Weekly, Seniors

Additionally, community titles will publish local stories under their regional or city-based masthead. The community titles which will cease publication are: Leader titles in Victoria – Manningham, Preston, Diamond Valley, Heidelberg, Sunbury Macedon, Progress and Northcote; NewsLocal in NSW – Rouse Hill Times; Quest in Queensland – Northside Chronicle/Bayside Star, North-West News, South-East Advertiser, Southern Star, Bribie Weekly; and South Australia – Messenger Coast Plus.

NRL returns for 2020 season on Foxtel with new sponsors

Foxtel Media have announced new brands who have signed up as partners on Fox League for the return of the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership on Foxtel, Foxtel NOW and Kayo Sports.

Ladbrokes, TAB, and RedRooster have joined existing NRL advertisers that includes Sportsbet, McDonald’s, KFC, Harvey Norman, Ford, Chemist Warehouse, Bundaberg Rum, Bailey Ladders and KingGee Workwear.

The season return will kick off with Brisbane Broncos hosting the Parramatta Eels on Thursday, May 28 to start round three. The round continues with two clashes on Friday, May 29, including the clash of South Sydney with arch-rivals Sydney Roosters.

Martin Medcraf, Foxtel sales and brand partnerships director said: “The return of NRL to our lives represents more than just the long-awaited sports fix we are craving, it’s a turning point in the history of the pandemic. For many, this is also about the start of a return to normality. With crowds not yet possible in stadiums, Australia’s sports mad public will be tuning into Fox League, on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo to watch NRL this weekend, and in the weeks and months to come.”

“We are delighted to welcome a fantastic line up of brand partners for the NRL – their support is essential in bringing every game of every round of the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership to be broadcast live on Foxtel and available to stream on Foxtel GO, Foxtel Now and Kayo. It’s good to be back in the game of live sport.”

Brydie York, director of media and sponsorship, McDonald’s said “Now is the time for brands to align with Australian sports and sport broadcasting. The return of the NRL is a milestone on the road to normality, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Foxtel Media to support the return of live sport back on Australian screens.”

Andy Oughton, marketing director, bundaberg rum said “Sport holds a very special place in Australian’s hearts – so we could not be more excited to see NRL players back on the field. We’re proud to be supporting the League and helping Foxtel bring magic live-sports moments from every match to the screen. And we’re excited for people to be able to enjoy a Bundy at home while watching the lives games again.”

The first Australian sport to air since the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented in March, the NRL is expected to draw large audiences, both in Australia and abroad.

Grant Broadcasters promotes Ryan Rathbone to group content director

Ryan Rathbone (pictured) has recently been promoted to the position of group content director at regional radio owner Grant Broadcasters.

Rathbone is now ultimately responsible for all on-air talent and content teams across the 50+ stations in the group. He will be instrumental in driving the company’s music strategies as well working closely with the digital team to build local community connections.

Grant Broadcasters’ CEO Alison Cameron, said “Ryan has had a hugely positive impact on our creative and content product in Queensland since he joined the company earlier this year. He will now be working closely with our existing regional content directors in the other markets to roll out these strategies. I am confident that that we can continue to provide exceptional local programming and maximize our local community partnerships with both clients and listeners.”

“I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to work across all the Grant Broadcasters stations. We have great talent across the group and our content teams are some of the best in the business. I love the live and local philosophy across the entire company!” said Rathbone.

Rathbone will join Grant Broadcasters’ senior leadership team reporting directly to both Rick Lenarcic and Alison Cameron. The appointment is effective immediately, he will be managing his existing role until a suitable replaced is found.

TV Ratings Wednesday May 27 Week 22 2020

By James Manning

• Family ties inspire MasterChef cooks to raise the bar
• 10 #1 primary with recipe of MasterChef and Aussie drama
• Best of rest: Game shows at 5.30pm, ACA, Home and Away

Seven News 1,193,000/1,132,000
Nine News 1,093,000/1,063,000
A Current Affair 781,000
ABC News 753,000
The Project 378,000/578,000
7.30 556,000
10 News 388,000/289,000
Sunrise 301,000
The Drum 213,000
Today 204,000
News Breakfast 200,000
SBS World News 183,000

Seven: Home and Away has recorded a third consecutive night over 650,000 with a 653,000 Wednesday audience.
Britain’s Got Talent was on 526,000 after 570,000 a week ago.
The British drama Bodyguard then dropped two more episodes with audiences of 292,000 and then 259,000. The episodes screened last week added 100,000 more viewers in 7-day catchup.
Seven’s combined multichannels share of 7.9% helped it rank #1 network.

Nine: After two nights over 850,000 A Current Affair has slipped below 800,000 – but not by much with 781,000.
Taronga: Who’s Who in the Zoo on 463,000, up from 413,000 last week.
Paramedics then did 478,000 followed by New Amsterdam on 218,000.
Footy Classified screened in AFL markets to 65,000 with 44,000 in Melbourne.

10: Jess, Poh, Brendan, Reynold and Khanh were the five MasterChef contestants who qualified for the Thursday immunity cook. The Wednesday Mystery Box challenge delivered 11 of the top 12 photos from their childhood. They were then tasked with cooking a dish linked to family ties and it lifted the already high MasterChef bar to new heights. The episode audience lifted above 1m for the second successive Wednesday. The episode was key in 10 wining the night all people and key demos. 10 also ranked #1 network in key demos.
Earlier in the night The Project 7pm ended with a plug for a Lisa Wilkinson interview with Lady Gaga coming Sunday night. The Wednesday episode was on 578,000.
And get this – an Aussie drama thriller was a key part of a ratings victory with the final episode of The Secrets She Keeps on 550,000.

ABC: Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery was on the Gold Coast with Celeste Barber. The episode did 504,000 after 620,000 watched the host with Dr Karl a week ago.
The Weekly with Charlie Pickering featured Judith Lucy and Tom Gleeson with 486,000 after 544,000 last week.
The best episode yet of At Home Alone Together then followed with 372,000 despite a government warning a week ago!
Planet America was then on 285,000 followed by Adam Hills hosting The Last Leg: Locked Down Under from his Melbourne garage on 199,000.

SBS: A repeat episode of Tony Robinson: Egyptian Tomb Hunting did 194,000 followed by an Aussie doco An Australian Hero: Keith Payne VC on 123,000.

Week 22 TV: Wednesday

WEDNESDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.0% 7 18.6% 9 17.6% 10  19.2% SBS One 3.9%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 3.3% GO! 1.7% 10 Bold 4.0% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 0.4% 7mate 3.0% GEM 2.4% 10 Peach 2.4% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix 1.6% 9Life 1.9%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 0.9%
TOTAL 16.0%   26.5%   24.4%   25.6%   7.5%

 

WEDNESDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 10.9% 7 19.7% 9 15.1% WIN 14.5% SBS One 4.3%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 3.8% GO! 2.4% WIN Bold 4.9% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 4.1% GEM 3.8% WIN Peach 2.3% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.3% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.9% 9Life 2.3% Sky News  on WIN 2.6% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 15.4%   29.6%   23.7%   24.4%   7.6%

 

WEDNESDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
87.7% 12.3%
WEDNESDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,193,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,132,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,093,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,063,000
  5. MasterChef Australia 10 1,044,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 781,000
  7. ABC News ABC 753,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 709,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 653,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 595,000
  11. The Project 7pm 10 578,000
  12. 7.30 ABC 556,000
  13. The Secrets She Keeps 10 550,000
  14. Britain’s Got Talent Seven 526,000
  15. Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery ABC 504,000
  16. The Weekly With Charlie Pickering ABC 486,000
  17. Paramedics Nine 478,000
  18. Taronga: Who’s Who In The Zoo Nine 463,000
  19. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 438,000
  20. 10 News First 10 388,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 303,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 143,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 139,000
  4. The Secrets She Keeps 10 124,000
  5. Nine News Nine 111,000

 

18-49 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 494,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 274,000
  3. Nine News Nine 263,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 257,000
  5. Seven News Seven 232,000

 

25-54 Top Five

  1. MasterChef Australia 10 538,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 360,000
  3. Nine News Nine 345,000
  4. Seven News Seven 311,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 305,000
WEDNESDAY Multichannel
  1. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 243,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 204,000
  3. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 186,000
  4. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 157,000
  5. Neighbours 10 Peach 149,000
  6. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  7. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 134,000
  8. NCIS: Los Angeles (R) 10 Bold 134,000
  9. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  10. Rusty Rivets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  11. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  12. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  13. Bargain Hunt PM 7TWO 128,000
  14. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  15. Rita And Crocodile PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  16. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Ad ABCKIDS/COMEDY 125,000
  17. Play School Nursery Rhyme News Time- ABCKIDS/COMEDY 118,000
  18. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  19. Mighty Trains PM 7TWO 113,000
  20. The Simpsons-Ep.4 Pm 7mate 113,000
WEDNESDAY STV
  1. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 110,000
  2. Paul Murray Live: Our Town Sky News Live 77,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 74,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 67,000
  5. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 50,000
  6. Blue’s Clues & You Nick Jr. 47,000
  7. Richo & Jones Sky News Live 46,000
  8. Mrs. Brown’s Boys UKTV 40,000
  9. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 38,000
  10. Paul Murray Live: Our Town Sky News Live 37,000
  11. Ready Set Dance Nick Jr. 37,000
  12. Live: Supercars All Stars E-Series FOX SPORTS 506 36,000
  13. Alvinnn!!! And The Chipmunks Nick Jr. 36,000
  14. Aussie Salvage Squad Discovery Channel 36,000
  15. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 36,000
  16. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 34,000
  17. American Dad! FOX8 33,000
  18. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 33,000
  19. Agatha Christie’s Poirot FOX Sleuth 33,000
  20. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 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

Business of Media

News Corp Australia to cut hundreds of jobs in restructure

News Corp is on the verge of announcing large-scale job cuts as it restructures across its Australian publishing business, as well as moving many of its regional and community newspapers into a digital-only model, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Sources told The Australian Financial Review that News Corp could announce hundreds of job cuts as part of a major strategic review of its community and regional newspaper portfolio and restructure of its local publishing business, including metropolitan newspapers. The cuts could be announced as early as Thursday. News Corp declined to comment.

News Corp has hired Deloitte to help it cut costs at the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media company. Sources said the cuts could be between 650 and 1000 jobs.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller confirmed the company would follow through with a restructure of the community and regional portfolio in a staff email earlier in May, but did not provide any details.

“In recent weeks we have been undertaking a review of our Australian portfolio and structures and have had discussions with the most logical acquirer of our regional and community titles,” Miller told staff.

[Read more]

News Brands

AFP won’t charge News Corp’s Annika Smethurst following raid

News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst will not face criminal charges, nor will any potential sources, after her reporting revealed an intelligence agency wanted to spy on everyday Australian citizens and sparked a police raid on her home, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan and Richard Ferguson.

However two ABC journalists could still face criminal charges for broadcasting stories relating to potential war crimes by Australian soldiers, after the AFP confirmed it was still conducting an “active investigation”.

AFP deputy commissioner for investigations Ian McCarthy said on Wednesday the evidence was not strong enough ultimately to charge either the News Corp journalist or any possible sources.

Smethurst said the case of the two ABC journalists also needed to be resolved quickly.

“I will continue to stand up for them as they have done for me. Journalists should never face the threat of jail for doing their jobs and keeping watch over our government,” she said.

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said that “common sense has prevailed, but at a price” given almost a year has past since the raid.

“In that time Annika has shown great courage, forced to live with the threat of jail for simply doing her job of informing the Australian public on a matter of serious public interest.”

[Read more]

Security doubt delays Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation suit

The Federal Court defamation trial brought by Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith against The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers suffered another delay after the commonwealth sought more time to examine new evidence it said could prejudice national security, reports The Australian’s Paul Maley.

In a brief hearing on Wednesday, Peter Melican, a lawyer for the Australian Government Solicitor, said the commonwealth had only just that morning received notification potentially sensitive evidence was to be aired.

The matter is adjourned until June 2.

[Read more]

Journalist Tom Krause remembered as 'force of nature' by industry peers

Media industry figures from around the country have heaped praise on veteran journalist Tom Krause, who passed away on Tuesday, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Matt Bungard.

He enjoyed a respected career spanning five decades in journalism, including time with the United Press International in New York, News Corp’s The Australian, the Seven Network, Sky News Australia, Ten’s Meet the Press, SBS’s The Observer Effect and Nine’s Sunday program where he was supervising producer and managing editor.

Nine National director of news and current affairs Darren Wick said Krause was one of the network’s true legends.

“Tom will forever be admired as one of the great journalists and truly wonderful characters in the history of Channel Nine,” he said.

“He was extremely intelligent and possessed an incredible ability and instinct to consistently produce the most compelling current affairs programming.

“But above all else, he was an outstanding teacher and mentor to so many of us at Nine and everywhere else he worked. He inspired us with his relentless work ethic, love of a great story and wicked sense of humour.”

[Read more]

Television

Exec departure lounge: Children’s producer quits Seven for Screentime

Niki Hamilton, Seven’s executive producer of children’s TV, has left the broadcaster and joined Screentime, reports TV Tonight.

Hamilton was with Seven for six years producing such titles as Drop Dead Weird, Kitty is Not a Cat, Flushed and The Deep.

Seven, which has signalled its desire to cease children’s production, no longer has an executive in charge of Kids’ TV, but network programming director Angus Ross is responsible for all content commissioning.

Also amongst recent departures are network casting director Georgina Harrop and development executive Vanessa Oxlad.

[Read more]

ABC News Breakfast breaks ratings record overtaking Today

ABC’s News Breakfast has scored its biggest-ever audience during the coronavirus pandemic, overtaking Nine’s Today and narrowing the gap between Seven’s Sunrise, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo.

Ratings for Australia’s three early morning shows, along with those of most prime time news programs, have risen during the global crisis. But News Breakfast has added the most viewers, leaving its commercial rivals in the unusual position of growing their audiences while losing market share.

In the eight weeks since March 23 – a period in which most Australians stayed home to help limit the spread of COVID-19 – News Breakfast achieved a record national average of 367,000 (up 118,000 from its 2019 average). Sunrise maintained a clear lead of 553,000 viewers (up 96,000) while Today averaged 350,000 (up 60,000).

Emily Butselaar, executive producer of News Breakfast, said, “Amid the fear and anxiety of the last two months record audiences are tuning in because they want the key facts and figures, delivered without hyperbole, along with intelligent conversation and a measure of comfort and joy.”

Michael Pell, executive producer of Sunrise, said he and his team have never worked harder.

“The focus for us has been delivering important information to our viewers at such a critical time,” Pell said. “The fact we can have a laugh along the way is a bonus; I think we all need that right now.”

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Will there be another 'golden generation' of Australian TV?

After Clare Rigden’s detailed oral history of Love My Way, Foxtel’s breakthrough Australian drama, was published in The Age’s Green Guide, the response from readers was overwhelmingly positive. “I loved this show”, “My all-time favourite Australian series” and “Iconic and an amazing cast” were just a few of the many laudatory online comments. A chord was well and truly struck, reports The AgeCraig Mathieson.

Created by John Edwards, Claudia Karvan, and Jacquelin Perkse, Love My Way ran for three seasons – each on a different Foxtel channel – at a time when television’s creative DNA was just beginning to change in the wake of The Sopranos audacious rise and HBO’s associated influence. In chronological terms, given how quickly the medium moves nowadays, the Sydney-set series is ancient, but a great deal of its success, including its belated second coming, remains instructive (it’s now streaming on 7Plus and 10Play).

Reading about how Love My Way rolled out across those three seasons, beginning in November 2004 and adapting to the concerns brought to the writers room, you’re reminded that there’s an inordinate focus now in Australian drama on limited series. Whether out of budgetary necessity at the national broadcasters or a small target mentality at the commercial networks, much of what we see is capped at a self-contained six or eight episodes. That works for a Stateless or The Kettering Incident, but it needn’t be the status quo.

Does Foxtel have the wherewithal to produce the contemporary equivalent of Love My Way now? The cable service is under extraordinary market pressures at every level, but the up and down nature of its Australian drama commissions, which apart from Wentworth are mostly limited series, have been apparent for several years now. The ticks for Lambs of God and Upright have to accommodate the crosses beside Fighting Season and the Picnic at Hanging Rock remake.

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HBO Max has launched to take on Netflix. Is it too late?

AT&T’s streaming platform went live in the US on Wednesday. At $15 a month, it’s more expensive than its rivals and comes at a time when household income is dropping, reports The New York Times.

HBO has been an innovator for much of its nearly 50-year run. Now, with the unveiling of HBO Max, it’s playing catch-up.

In the 1970s, when people still referred to it as Home Box Office, HBO was a pioneer in bringing recent movies to the American living room in all their uncut glory. Another innovation came in the late 1990s, when HBO ushered in the era of prestige TV with original programs built around protagonists like Larry Sanders, Tony Soprano and Carrie Bradshaw who could not exist comfortably within the limits of the broadcast networks.

But with the launch of the ambitious HBO Max streaming platform on Wednesday, the cable channel is a late entrant to the streaming wars.

AT&T, the parent company of HBO since 2018, plans to spend more than $4.5 billion on the project over the next few years. The company hopes to have 50 million HBO Max subscribers by 2025 and envisions that the service will eventually generate billions in annual profits as it takes on Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV Plus and Peacock, among others, in the increasingly crowded field of online entertainment.

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Radio

Job list: Top contenders to replace Ben Fordham on 2GB Drive

As Sydney radio powerhouse 2GB prepares for its biggest line-up upheaval in almost two decades with Ben Fordham taking over from Alan Jones in breakfast from Monday, the race to replace him in drive is in full swing, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The Nine-owned station held interviews with several contenders last week and is leaning towards an outside hire for the competitive timeslot.

Ray Hadley’s protege Mark Levy has been named as interim host and it has been widely claimed that the show is “his to lose”.

Making the decision will be Nine head of radio Tom Malone, himself a former radio reporter, with the assistance of head of content Greg Byrnes, who previously worked as executive producer at Sky News.

Seasoned broadcaster Jason Morrison is one of the stronger contenders for the role and would see a return to the frontline of radio after several years behind the scenes as Sydney news director at Channel 7.

Jason Morrison

Peta Credlin, the former Chief of Staff for Tony Abbott made the career change to media in 2016 after Abbott was removed as Prime Minister. She currently anchors her own show on Sky and had appeared weekly in a segment with Graham Richardson on Fordham’s drive show.

Today host Karl Stefanovic is understood to have been gunning for the prime radio gig, although with a new bub at home and his hands already full with TV commitments, Nine want him focused on breakfast television over radio.

Rising through the ranks of the 2GB newsroom has been Mark Levy, where he was the lead sports reporter and editor for a number of years, Levy now anchors the Continues Call Team and was given his own show, Wide World Of Sports, earlier this year.

Paul Murray is no stranger to radio having spent years at former AM talk station 2UE as a news reporter and then morning presenter. Murray now hosts a nightly Sky program but has connections with 2GB program director Greg Byrnes and is said to be a strong contender for the role.

[Other contenders listed include Erin Molan and Natalie Peters, Chris Smith, Michael McLaren and Luke Grant.]

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Sports Media

NRL: 300 million tuning in to 2020 relaunch around the world

Footy’s finally back and so are the fans – all 300 million of them watching in loungerooms around the world, reports News Corp’s Dean Ritchie.

In what will be a watershed moment for rugby league, the NRL’s stunning eight-game return over the next four days is set to be watched by a record global television audience of 300 million sport-starved people in what is expected to be the largest TV ratings for a single round in the sport’s 112-year history.

Industry insiders predict around 30 to 40 million people around the world would tune in to each match over the next four days as rugby league becomes the first football code in the English-speaking world to return to the playing fields and television.

NRL matches will be shown in more than 70 countries including the US, France, Britain, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.

At 7.50pm on Thursday when Brisbane and Parramatta kick off at Suncorp Stadium, rugby league will become just the third major sporting league in the world, along with football’s K League in South Korea and Germany’s Bundesliga, to resume post COVID-19.

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