By James Manning
Foxtel has been downsizing for several years now resulting in many talented executives departing the business. Amongst the 2020 departures was director of content Ross Crowley who was at the subscription TV business for 25 years. He’s been busy packing up his Sydney residence this month preparing to return home to New Zealand.
Crowley was one of the Foxtel originals, joining the subscription TV platform in April 1995, before it launched later that year.
Helping get the platform underway were two experienced TV executives from the US cable market – Mark Booth and Rod Thole, joining Richard Freudenstein and Jim Blomfield on the original team. In addition, Foxtel secured some local TV executives who understood Australian content.
Among that group were Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh who had been working in subscription TV the UK after previously working at Ten in Sydney. He was recruited from BSkyB where he had been working with Sam Chisholm and some other key Australian media executives.
Crowley came to Foxtel from Nine which was a lucrative recruiting ground as Foxtel also eventually secured the services of other Nine executives Les Sampson (via Optus Vision) and Fleur Fahey who is still with Foxtel after 18 years as general manager – acquisitions.
Crowley and Walsh recently spent time recalling the Foxtel launch during a modest 25th anniversary celebration and they strolled around the first dedicated Foxtel HQ after their meal. (See photos)
During his time with Foxtel, Crowley moved to Hong Kong for three years on secondment to assist with the digital satellite rollout for Star in India.
Crowley and his Foxtel colleagues were originally working out of a Telstra building on George Street near Circular Quay.
Back in 1995 before the broadcast centre was built, tapes for the first series simply arrived at the temporary office and were stacked on the floor and in the kitchen as the space filled up.
The new Foxtel playout centre didn’t open until just over three weeks before Foxtel went to air.
Foxtel’s first dedicated office space was on a Pyrmont Wharf now devoted to exclusive apartments. The staff moved in shortly before launch in 1995.
Speaking to Mediaweek, Crowley recalled some of the significant events that helped shape the platform.
“We launched with 20 channels and then started to roll out new channels quite quickly after that.
“The first premiere series Foxtel ever had was Highlander which the FTA networks had considered was a little bit fringe for viewers here. We saw an opportunity with that, and some others like Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, to play in primetime. We were serving an audience which had never been catered in primetime television – younger people. We got a great reception for these shows.”
Crowley also mentioned the growth of the LifeStyle brand which was initially part of the XYZ Entertainment suite of channels before it was folded into Foxtel. “That was a great initiative and was led at different times by Patrick Delany and Bruce Mann. The recognition that Australians celebrated the home was a coup for the channel.
“There were a number of genres which had been pushed to the side by FTA channels, including history which has always done very well of Foxtel under Jim Buchan and The History Channel.
“History was one of the first channels we launched and some might think it the dryest of topics, but the audience loved it and have ever since.”
LifeStyle was one of XYZ’s channels in the early 2000s at a time when FTA channels had one major lifestyle program each and a handful of others. “It was a big initiative and we eventually spun off other LifeStyle channels too.”
Buchan is a former Network Ten executive who turned History into a 24/7 channel and commissioned original content for it.
Crowley called one of the more significant programming moves a “simple little thing”, but it had big ramifications for the platform.
“It was a clever little move for us in about 2011 when we simply told viewers we would play international shows we had first rights to day-and-date (aka Express from the US) or as close to as possible. Consumers on social media immediately got behind the initiative that allowed Australian to watch and talk about these these shows when the rest of the world saw them.”
Australia’s loss is New Zealand’s gain. Although Crowley has indicated whenever a travel bubble operates between the two countries he will be a regular visitor.
The current executive producer of 60 Minutes Kirsty Thomson paid tribute to the founder of the Australian edition of the show during a memorial service for Gerald Sone yesterday.
She noted it was the end of an era in more ways than one – the Covid-safe event with limited numbers was one of the final broadcasts ever from Nine’s Willoughby studio TCN 22.
Thomson also pointed out that as they spoke the famed cottage home of the long-running Sunday night ratings machine was being bulldozed as developers move in turning the TV channel home in apartments. Nine recently relocated to a new home in a North Sydney office tower.
The guest list included reporters, news executives and producers: Alan Hogan, Stan Grant, Peter Meakin, John Westacott, Michael Munro, Geoff McMullen, Gareth Harvey, Tara Brown, Liz Hayes, Tom Steinfort, the two wives of the late Richard Carlton, Mike Carlton, Jennifer Byrne, Carla Zampatti and Rachel Launders.
For guests who were unable to attend Nine broadcast the gathering on a private feed via 9Now.
Top Photo: 60 Minutes reporters Ian Leslie, Jana Wendt and Ray Martin at Nine this week (Photo: Nine Entertainment)
A Queensland grazier who lost her son in an on-farm accident and has bravely shared his life story to inspire others is the overall winner of the 2020 Shine Awards, a joint initiative of The Weekly Times and Harvey Norman.
Carmel Beresford from Eulo, in southwest Queensland, was overwhelmed by grief after her youngest son, Sam, was killed in a freak gyrocopter accident on the family’s cattle station in 2011.
To help deal with the anguish, Carmel wrote the story of Sam’s life and death, publishing a book last year. She hoped book sales would bring in a small income for the family while they struggled through drought.
The story has touched the hearts of readers across the nation, raised awareness about the crucial role of farm safety on rural and remote properties, and given people a greater understanding of the hardships farming families go through to get food on Australian tables.
Carmel wants people to know that since Sam’s death, “this southwest region of Queensland has experienced the deaths of other fine, hard-working young men, doing what they loved best – living and working in the bush.”
In its fourth year, the Shine Awards is a collaboration between News Corp Australia and Harvey Norman that was founded to celebrate and recognise the achievements of women across rural and regional Australia.
The judges said all 18 finalists from Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia showed extraordinary courage, resilience and ingenuity, but Carmel’s story was especially moving.
Their stories all feature online and in print today in a 32-page Shine magazine inserted today in The Weekly Times, which will also feature in The Australian on Friday, November 20.
For the past 12 weeks Shine nominees’ stories have featured in The Weekly Times, with a dedicated print, digital and social media marketing campaign, highlighting rural and regional women who make a real difference to their communities and industries.
Herald & Weekly Times chairman and News Corp Australia Community Ambassador, Penny Fowler, said judging this year’s Shine Awards was inspiring and humbling.
“Reading the incredible stories of rural and regional women who have done so much to improve the lives of others is an honour,” Fowler said. “This year, the number of women nominated doubled. We heard from hundreds of women from every state and territory, whose courage, generosity and ingenuity holds their communities together.
“Congratulations to all involved in the Shine Awards which really do shine a light on extraordinary women, and thank you to Katie Page and Harvey Norman for their enduring commitment to the awards.”
Harvey Norman CEO, Katie Page said: “Against the devastating backdrop of drought and bushfires then travel restrictions and lockdowns, the women of the 2020 Shine Awards set the example in how to prevail.
“Each of the finalists and winners demonstrate what can be achieved through invention, courage and hard work.
“We have a responsibility to understand the depth of contribution made by those living and working in rural and regional Australia. If you want to know our country is in the very best hands, take some time to read these women’s stories.
“Congratulations to each of the nominees, finalists and winners of the 2020 Shine Awards.”
The awards recognise six category winners who are beacons of light in terms of their Passion, Belief, Grace, Spirit, Dedication and Courage. Each category winner has been awarded a $2500 voucher from Harvey Norman and the overall Shine Awards winner will be awarded $5000.
2020 Overall and Category Winners
OVERALL and COURAGE
Carmel Beresford, grazier and author
Simone Dudley, occupational therapist and co-founder of Therapy Connect
Lauwana Blackley, dialysis nurse
Palm Island, QLD
Georgia Foster Eyles, bushfire recovery volunteer
Meg Clothier, farm caretaker
Kate Davis, local food event organiser
Renowned for his prowess on the footy field and his distinctive gravelly voice on breakfast radio in Melbourne, AFL legend and Nova 100’s Chrissie, Sam & Browny announcer Jonathan ‘Browny’ Brown will now share his scent with the launch of a limited-edition fragrance – Juggernaut 16 by Jonathan from 18 November.
With an uncanny ability to succeed at whatever he turns his attention to and notorious for crowbarring his endorsement deals into any conversation, the team felt it was the right time for Browny to dip his toe into the world of fragrances by launching his own scent.
Browny said, “I don’t think there have been enough celebrity fragrances hit the market of late. I saw a gap, so I jumped at the opportunity!”
After some deliberation with listeners, a suitable name was selected. Chrissie explained, “Juggernaut 16 by Jonathan was chosen because Browny referred to himself as a juggernaut and I think that deserves its own fragrance.” ‘Juggernaut’ was chosen as the hero and 16 pays homage to the number he wore on his guernsey for the majority of his 15 year football career.
Chrissie, Sam & Browny approached MetaScent luxury perfume studio, who turn stories into fragrances. Tasked with the challenge of creating a scent, Janelle Donnelly centred the scent on Jonathan Brown’s footy career, emulating the football oval with grassy, green notes with some earthy notes. Janelle said, “Whilst very funny, Browny is actually a sensitive man, kind and respectful to women so there are some florals in the middle note. The woody notes could be a reference to the goal posts so I am thinking cedar, spruce, olibanum, benzoin resin with citrus notes for a vibrant football career.”
Juggernaut 16 by Jonathan is only available for a limited time from 18 November by listening to Chrissie, Sam & Browny on Nova 100.
By Trent Thomas
The Mandalorian continues to dominate the TV demand charts amidst the release of the show’s second season.
The Disney+ series has never left the top 3 of the TV Demand chart in the last 12 months and the weekly release of new episodes has seen it surge ahead with a huge lead in both the Digital Originals and Overall TV charts in Australia and New Zealand. The show has a 44.7 difference from market average in Australia and 28.8 in New Zealand with no other show coming relatively close.
One series that has begun to move up the charts again is The Crown, which the show’s fourth season released on November 15 one day after the TV demand data was collected. The Netflix drama has already begun to show forward momentum on the charts and this trend can be expected to continue in the coming weeks.
The fourth season stars:
Olivia Colman plays The Queen
Tobias Menzies plays Prince Phillip
Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret
Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles
Erin Doherty plays Princess Anne
Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher
Emma Corrin plays Princess Diana
Emerald Fennell plays Camilla Parker – Bowles
Charles Dance plays Lord Mountbatten
Marion Bailey plays Queen Mother
Georgie Glen plays Lady Fermoy
Tom Byrne plays Prince Andrew
Angus Imrie plays Prince Edward
The season covers Margaret Thatcher‘s time as prime minister and features Prince Charles‘s marriage to Lady Diana along with the births of Princes William and Harry. Other events depicted include Charles and Diana’s 1983 tour of Australia and New Zealand, the Falklands War, Michael Fagan’s break-in at Buckingham Palace, Lord Mountbatten’s funeral, and the Princess of Wales’s appearance at the Barnardo’s Champion Children Awards.
By James Manning
• Seven collects another win in penultimate TV ratings week
• ‘Free at last’ Firass and Candice liberated from SAS Australia
• ABC-produced doco Steve Waugh in India wins its timeslot
Seven News 969,000/949,000
Nine News 914,000/908,000
ABC News 718,000
10 News First 325,000/210,000
SBS World News 160,000
Daily current affairs
A Current Affair 719,000
The Project 293,000/438,000
The Drum 176,000
News Breakfast 203,000
Late Night News
ABC Late News 47,000
Nine News Late 140,000
Seven: The first two episodes of Home and Away this week have recorded audiences of 566,000 on Monday and 580,000 last night.
Another gruelling night of SAS Australia with the elimination of two recruits at the end of an episode that featured immersion into icy water and pulling a packed sled through the snow. The Australian contestants are proving hard to break so it was time for the trainers for hand pick people they thought were the weakest performers. They chose Firass Dirani and Candice Warner. Despite all the angst Dirani caused, he had an emotional farewell with Ant Middleton, with all the emotion coming from the SAS hard man. There are now just two episodes remaining with the remaining recruits to be pushed to new limits to see who can complete the course. The Tuesday episode did 668,000 after 582,000 last week.
The 1996 movie The Rock featuring Sean Connery followed with 317,000 watching.
Nine: A Current Affair found a tree lopper who felled a tree onto his customers house and smashed a hole in their roof. After 666,000 on Monday the Tuesday episode climbed to 719,000.
An hour of RBT was no match for SAS Australia with 440,000 watching police officers keeping the roads safe.
Australian Crime Stories continued on its new night with its Queen of Con episode which tracked con artist Jody Harris. After busting past 400,000 a week ago the episode was on 359,000.
The US legal drama For Life then launched with 174,000.
10: The Project featured Dylan Alcott and his new venture Able Foods. Also on the show was Tim Minchin spruiking his new album. The 7pm half of the program was on 438,000.
A repeat of Ambulance Australia did 194,000 followed by NCIS: Los Angeles on 121,000.
ABC: 7.30 started with a lengthy feature from reporter Michael Vincent about a proposed senate inquiry into media diversity and interviewed former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd about calls to hold a royal commission. Also interviewed was former News Corp Australia chief executive Kim Williams who said one more media enquiry is unlikely to achieve anything. The episode was on 609,000.
Outback Ringer followed with a much smaller 364,000.
One of the highlights of the night was the documentary Capturing Cricket: Steve Waugh in India with the former Australian cricket captain on a road trip across the sub-continent meeting people playing the game. The ABC-produced doco was on 383,000.
SBS: Great British Railway Journeys saw host Michael Portillo end his journey into Scotland and then start another into the West Country. It ranked #1 for the channel last night with 227,000.
Part two of Addicted Australia was on 180,000 after its audience of 239,000 last week was the most-watched SBS program for the week.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.2%||7TWO||3.5%||GO!||2.0%||10 Bold||3.6%||VICELAND||1.6%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||2.5%||GEM||2.1%||10 Peach||3.2%||Food Net||1.1%|
|ABC NEWS||2.1%||7flix||2.4%||9Life||2.6%||10 Shake||0.4%||NITV||0.1%|
|9Rush||1.2%||SBS World Movies||1.3%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.1%||7TWO||5.1%||GO!||2.8%||WIN Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||1.0%||7mate||4.8%||GEM||4.2%||WIN Peach||3.6%||Food Net||0.8%|
|ABC NEWS||1.5%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||2.0%||9Life||3.0%||Sky News on WIN||2.8%||NITV||0.1%|
|TUESDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
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
Nine shareholders said the media company’s board needs to insure it doesn’t lose key executives from important pillars of its strategy following the exit of Hugh Marks, and asked directors for more clarity around the chief executive’s departure.
While the Nine board has said it will conduct an extensive external and internal search for a replacement for Marks, bringing in an outsider could risk Nine losing three key executives through the transition; Hugh Marks, Mike Sneesby and Chris Janz.
Wilson Asset Management lead portfolio manager Oscar Oberg, said there is always a risk of executives who have ambitions of being the CEO leaving if they do not get the job.
Multiple sources told the Financial Review there have been ructions on the board for some time, with concerns about wide consultation of the board, transparency and decision making.
It was a fitting tribute for television giant and 60 Minutes executive producer Gerald Stone‘s memorial service to be a polished production at TCN Studio 22 in Willoughby, where it all started, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Tim Barlass.
There were lights, cameras and an all-star cast to remember the man who steered the groundbreaking current affairs show from a “flop” to essential viewing every Sunday night at 7.30pm.
The original journalist line-up was reunited (now with a few grey hairs) in the form of Ian Leslie as MC for the service, Ray Martin, Jana Wendt and, albeit beamed in by video, George Negus.
Chris Kenny has been a vigorous critic of the ABC while previously “resisting calls for its privatisation or abolition”, but after last week’s Four Corners, Media Watch and QandA he has asserted that it now “is beyond redemption” writes Joseph Gersh in The Australian.
This follows similar calls from the Institute of Public Affairs and other respected organisations.
I cannot agree. I declare my centre-right bias; a long-time reader of The Australian, I was appointed to the ABC board by Turnbull government communications minister Mitch Fifield.
It may irritate the critics, but the ABC remains Australia’s most trusted source of news and current affairs. Who but the ABC can we rely on for emergency broadcasting, which attracted universal appreciation yet again in the most recent bushfires? Likewise with coronavirus.
Joseph Gersh is executive chairman of Gersh Investment Partners, an ABC board member and a former deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts.
Last Monday, former Liberal staffer Rachelle Miller featured in Four Corners, speaking to host Louise Milligan about her affair with Liberal Minister Alan Tudge, writes Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian.
Miller claimed she was mistreated at work because of that affair. Soon after, Nine Entertainment’s David Crowe published Miller’s formal bullying complaints made to the Department of Finance. Then Miller thanked Milligan and Crowe on Twitter “for helping me find my voice”. Then a chorus line of obliging journalists sided with Miller, revealing their unfortunate lack of curiosity about possible contested versions of her story.
Though excitable journalists have tried to depict the end of Miller’s career in federal politics as a Shakespearean tragedy, the real tragedy is one that Miller, a former media adviser, may understand more than most people.
When you throw an issue into the media, you cannot control where the story goes. That is what is happening with Miller’s claims that she was bullied while working for Tudge and bullied again when she worked as media adviser to Liberal minister Michaelia Cash.
Nine’s Chief Classification Officer & Director of Program Standards Richard Lyle has seen it all at TCN9, reports TV Tonight.
He is the longest serving employee at Willoughby, but this weekend will join with staff to farewell the historic television site.
First opened in 1956 with Bruce Gyngell’s famous words “Good evening and welcome to Television” (broadcast from a church hall), it has been home to such shows as Bandstand, Tonight with Don Lane, The Mike Walsh Show, Midday, The Paul Hogan Show, Australia’s Funniest Home Videos, Today, 60 Minutes, A Current Affair, Sunday, Kerri-Anne, The NRL Footy Show, and more.
It has famously been under the watch of the Packers (Sir Frank, Kerry – twice), Bruce Gyngell, Alan Bond, David Gyngell (twice), David Leckie, and Hugh Marks – and Lyle remembers them all.
Local residents are pushing for heritage protection of a house in Melbourne’s Hampton set to be featured on next year’s season of reality renovation TV show The Block, reports Domain’s Elizabeth Redman.
The house at 8 Bronte Court was designed by renowned Melbourne architect Neil Clerehan as part of the Small Homes Service – a program that allowed members of the public to buy affordable off-the-shelf plans for architecturally designed homes and have them built.
It was a copy of one celebrated house known as the Dream Home in Surrey Hills, since demolished, that was offered as a prize for entrants in a weekly radio quiz connected to The Age.
Buyer’s agent Nicole Jacobs bought the house in 2017 and embarked on a renovation by The Block’s architect Julian Brenchley. She has recently sold the property to producers behind Channel Nine’s reality renovation show.
Silverchair’s Tomorrow, John Williamson’s True Blue, and the Master’s Apprentices’ Because I Love You have joined the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry.
Ten sound recordings are added to the registry each year to mark their defining impact on Australian culture.
Also selected this year are the souvenir recording of the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, the It’s Time jingle from Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election campaign, and every episode of the Martin/Molloy radio show from the 1990s.
Ray Warren, the voice of rugby league, has been sensationally boned by Queensland health authorities and will be forced to call the Origin blockbuster – his 96th straight interstate game – from 900km away, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Christian Nicolussi.
In what will be a career first, Warren will be heard by a predicted three million TV viewers from inside Nine’s Willoughby studios rather than high in the stands at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
While some TV networks and radio stations have called games remotely, Warren has never called a game off the TV screen. He told Nine executives when Covid first shut down the NRL at the start of the year he wanted to only call NRL action if he could be at the actual venues.
“Nine know I’m here to do whatever I can for them and I’m prepared to call the game from a studio if I have to,” Warren told the Herald on Tuesday. “I’ve never missed an Origin. This match would have been my 96th.
“Never in my life have I called a game off the TV. And when COVID hit, I told them I’d never called the game off the tube, and I don’t want to.”
Cameron Smith has suspended his media tour designed to promote his highly anticipated new book, leaving his publisher to embarrassingly apologise, reports News Corp’s David Riccio.
An unexpected family appointment has been explained as the reason why the polarising Test legend cancelled almost 30 interviews with the press on Tuesday, which had been arranged to promote his autobiography, The Storm Within.
Some of the Tuesday interview requests had been organised two weeks ago, with breakfast radio stations from both Brisbane and Sydney learning of Smith’s decision to pull the pin late on Monday night via email from book publishing company, Allen and Unwin.
“Really really sorry to do this to you so late but unfortunately Cameron is now unavailable tomorrow for any media,’’ an Allen and Unwin publicist wrote.