Friday November 20, 2020

Nine
Hugh Marks leads Nine executive team at Investor Strategy Day

By James Manning

• What CEO candidates Mike Sneesby and Chris Janz told investors

Outgoing Nine Entertainment Co chief executive Hugh Marks led his executive team at an Investor Strategy Day for major shareholders and investment banks on Thursday. The event comes just one week after the 2020 Annual General Meeting followed by Marks’ decision to stand down from his role after a company newspaper revealed a relationship with a senior staff member.

Marks spoke at four separate times during the presentation, opening and closing the session in addition to presenting on television combined and marketplaces (Domain and Drive).

The event started with a summary of what Marks and his team have achieved over the past five years, with the key milestones the mergers with Fairfax Media and Macquarie Radio and the launch of BVOD on 9Now. The success makes it all the more puzzling why the board is searching for a replacement.

Hamish Turner on 9Now

One of Nine’s key players who helped steer the FTA channels to ratings victory again this year, Nine program director Hamish Turner, explained how the evolving future of TV sees Nine now offering free entertainment via video on demand and live TV via FTA and streams on 9Now.

Turner noted the average age of the Nine FTA viewer is 54, while the 9Now average age is 37. Regarding consumption of 9Now content, the average of catch-up content consumed has dropped from 82% to 44%, with Nine’s growing catalogue of digital exclusives up from 18% to 56% (March to September 2020). Nine now calls 9Now a destination VOD platform as it grows from being mainly a place to catch-up missed programming.

Michael Stephenson on VOZ

Nine

Michael Stephenson

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson reminded investors about Nine’s recent partnership with Adobe and how addressability will deliver higher TV ad return. He indicated Nine had a 40% share of the metro FTA market in FY2020 although revenue was down across the market $2.4b.

Nine has a 50% share of the BVOD market while that market was down $210m in FY2020.

Stephenson explained how Nine will benefit from the new Virtual Oz (VOZ) measurement of total TV audiences (FTA + BVOD) with test data indicating Nine’s audience is up 6.4% 18-39 when measuring both together.

Nine is expecting VOZ will grow the total TV market and that Nine will benefit from first party data which will increase share and CPM.

Mike Sneesby on Stan Originals

Stan CEO Mike Sneesby speaking on the Gold Coast

One of the two favoured internal candidates to take over as new Nine chief executive focused on the SVOD market at the Investor Day, telling guests the group expects the SVOD market could grow to more than 16m subscriptions by 2025, perhaps as many as 24m.

CEO Mike Sneesby presented chart of Stan’s growth from launch in 2015 to now that showed competitor activity at various points as Stan grew to it current size of 2.2m+ subscribers. It seems the more streaming players there are the faster Stan grows. In the two years post August 2018, Stan doubled its customer base, growing from 1.1m to 2.2m. It took three and a half years however for it to get to 1.1m. In addition to 2.2m+ active customers, Stan has a total of 6.1, active and inactive customers.

Sneesby reiterated a stronger focus on Stan Originals over the next five years.

Stan is planning to be busy growing its premium exclusive content. At present Stan has around 61 exclusive titles from 17 distributors targeted to grow to 150 exclusive titles in 2025.

People trialling the product remain happy with what is on offer with a 70% conversion rate from trial to paid.

Hugh Marks on total television earnings

Nine

Hugh Marks

Hugh Marks confirmed the trends he talked about for total television revenues at the AGM with a little more detail.

Nine is expecting 19% of TV earnings to come from Stan in 2024 and 38% from 9Now. That combined 57% will grow from 37% which is the stat as at June 2020. To get a handle on how quickly the TV business has transformed, Nine said FTA TV revenue as a percentage of total TV revenue will drop from 97% in 2017 to 43% in 2024.

Chris Janz on digital subscriptions focus at Metro Media

The other internal candidate for the role of CEO is chief digital and publishing officer Chris Janz who said the growth of reader revenue at the major metro news brands will jump from 53% in 2017 to 60% in 2021. In that period digital subscription revenue jumps from 12% to 25% of metro media revenue.

Janz said there remains a big potential for future growth with just 3% of the 12m Australians 14+ who visit the mastheads each month are subscribers.

The cost base at the metro brands has been reduced by 25% since 2017 with the money that is being spent on editorial aimed at driving subscriptions. Editorial costs as a percentage of overall costs is up from 25% to 33% in the past three years.

Other Nine executives presenting at the Investor Day were Nine Radio’s Tom Malone, MD of marketing Lizzie Young, Drive CEO Alex Parsons and CFO Maria Phillips.

Adelaide Radio Ratings
Jodie Oddy walks out on Mix 102.3 after 13 years over contract dispute

ARN revealed on Thursday that Jodie Oddy has resigned from her on-air role at Adelaide’s Mix102.3.

Oddy has been on air at Mix102.3 for 13 years as part of the breakfast teams which collectively claimed the #1FM breakfast show position 81 times in radio survey results.

ARN’s chief content officer Duncan Campbell said, “Jodie is an exceptional broadcaster who has played a key role in the success of the Mix 102.3 Breakfast show over the past 13 years. She is leaving on a high and can be proud of the difference she has made to the lives of so many Adelaide families and we wish Jodie all the best for her next chapter.”

Mark ‘Soda’ Soderstrom will be part of a new direction for the Mix 102.3 Breakfast Show. ARN will make a further announcement about the 2021 breakfast show soon.

Hosting the Mix 102.3 breakfast show today with Soda was Mix Adelaide newsreader Maria “Maz” Gaban.

News Corp’s Antimo Iannella and Matt Gilbertson reported today Oddy’s departure from the station relates to a dispute over contract negotiations, but that Mix 102.3 have been looking to shake up the breakfast show for several months after it slipped in the ratings this year:

“Rumours have been circulating in recent weeks about potential changes to Mix’s early morning show, with former Seven newsreader Jess Adamson and Crows AFLW star Erin Phillips among the names tipped to be joining Soderstrom.

“Adamson and Phillips have both filled in for Oddy while she’s been on maternity leave in the past 12 months and Mix sources say that Phillips was spotted at the station again last week.”

[Read more]

ARN can be a tough negotiator when it feels it needs to be. Although it has re-signed a number of stars to long-term deals ahead of existing contract expirations – including Kyle and Jackie O, Jonesy and Amanda, Christian O’Connell, Jase & PJ and Will & Woody – that’s not always the case.

In 2016, ARN famously dropped Robin Bailey from the 97.3 breakfast team in 2016 before she was sensationally re-hired this year.

See also: 97.3 breakfast: Robin Bailey taken off-air, colleagues on-air rebellion
See also: Business backflip worthy of an Olympic medal: Robin Bailey back

“A little bit mad, a little bit grubby”: Kate Stevenson exits radio’s #1 show

“A little bit mad and a little bit grubby” is the grab we couldn’t resist this morning as the executive producer of Australia’s #1 breakfast show made her exit.

Kate Stevenson joined what was then Ross and John at 3AW 14 years ago. Today as executive producer put to air her final show as she leaves for a media role at Victoria’s Department of Transport.

Stephenson goes out on a high with the program recording its biggest ever ratings despite Nine Radio switching co-presenters as John Burns made way for Russel Howcroft earlier this year.

Kate Stevenson food reviewer

Stevenson’s “A little bit mad and a little bit grubby” came as Ross Stevenson (no relation) asked her to name her favourite outside broadcasts. She put the mad and grubby Brazil at the top of the list, but also made mention of Copenhagen and Malaysia. The team found themselves in Kuala Lumpur after their visas to enter India were cancelled shortly before departure so they stopped and broadcast from Malaysia until entry was sorted out.

This morning Ross revealed that assistant producer Scorcher (Mark Davidson) has been appointed the new executive producer of the breakfast show.

3AW breakfast team dined out this week [L-R]: Damian Tardio, Kate, Mikkayla, Ross and Scorcher

Taking over Stevenson’s duties as the Friday food reviewer will be Mikkayla Mossop. He then forecast her first food review next week could be a guide to Melbourne’s best potato cakes.

Kate is promising to continue visiting Melbourne’s best restaurants at her Instagram page – @ela_carte.

Top Photo: Kate and Ross

WSFM Mornings
One radio legend replaces another at WSFM: Phil O’Neil hosting mornings

ARN has appointed Phil O’Neil (aka Ugly Phil) will join WSFM as the host of mornings.

Phil O’Neil will be heard on WSFM every weekday from 9am – 1pm from Monday, November 23. He will join Jonesy & Amanda, Jason Staveley, and Steve Fitton in WSFM’s all-star line-up for 2021.

O’Neil replaces former morning host Mike Hammond who left the station earlier this year.

Of the appointment, WSFM content director Mike Byrne said, “When Phil ‘Philled in’ on WSFM recently, the feedback from listeners was incredibly positive. I knew he would make an excellent addition to WSFM’s stellar line up and I am so pleased that he decided to join us.”

O’Neil said, “After Joe Biden’s recent success, this could be the second greatest comeback I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t believe how lucky I am and now I can stop hassling Duncan [Campbell] and Mike for a gig!”

O’Neil is a radio legend, perhaps best known for his hugely popular nationally syndicated Hot30 Countdown show but he has also hosted drive, The Rubber Room night show at Triple M, talk shows on 2UE in Sydney and LBC in London, as well as working in the UK on Kerrang Radio in Birmingham and Kiss 100, XFM and Planet Rock in London.

He was recently worked at a UK radio start-up called Fix Radio, a UK DAB+ station aimed at tradies in London and Manchester.

See also: UK radio: Aussies behind the biggest, and smallest, breakfast shows

Nova’s rising stars Ben and Liam to host national summer breakfast

After a successful first year hosting Adelaide breakfast, Nova’s Ben & Liam will be heard nationally across the country for two weeks as hosts of the Nova Network’s Summer Breakfast show from Monday 30 November.

Ben & Liam burst into the Adelaide metro breakfast market in January this year, with the duo joining the Nova Network to host Nova 919’s breakfast show. After only eight months on air, Ben & Liam managed to take out the top spot as the # 1 FM breakfast show (11% share) for the first time in survey 6, 2020.

Ben & Liam started their broadcasting careers at Fresh 92.7 Adelaide community radio station. The stand up comedians scored their first big break in 2017, moving to Sydney to host Triple J’s national breakfast show.

In January 2020 Ben & Liam started their career with the Nova Network as hosts of Nova 919’s new breakfast show.

Ben & Liam said, “Why did we choose to work our holidays? It’s a great question, it sounded a lot better when our bosses pitched it to us. They’re quite persuasive!”

Paul Jackson, Nova Entertainment chief programming & marketing officer said, “Ben & Liam have had a brilliant start to their first year on air in Adelaide with Nova, making them the obvious choice for our national summer breakfast show. We are confident that their genuine friendship and sense of humour will resonate with our national Nova audience. The boys can’t wait to take control of the network to deliver a fun, fresh, feel-good summer show from 30 November!”

Nova’s Summer Breakfast with Ben & Liam can be heard across the country from 6am to 9am weekdays, from Monday 30 November to Friday 11 December.

Buzzfeed buys Huff Post
BuzzFeed acquires HuffPost in digital publishing deal with Verizon Media

Verizon Media and BuzzFeed have announced a new strategic partnership across content and advertising, the acquisition of HuffPost by BuzzFeed, and an investment that will make Verizon Media a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed.

Both HuffPost and BuzzFeed continue to operate in Australia, but on a much-reduced scale after their initial launches.

HuffPost and Fairfax abandoned their JV in Australia last year and cut staff numbers, while BuzzFeed Australia closed its offices here in 2020 six years after launch and also axed staff.

“Verizon Media’s strategy has evolved over the past two years to focus on our core strengths-ads, commerce, content and subscriptions,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media in a statement. “We’ve created a powerhouse ecosystem, built on a trusted network, that delivers an end-to-end experience for consumers and advertisers. The partnership with BuzzFeed complements our roadmap while also accelerating our transformation and growth.”

“We’re excited about our partnership with Verizon Media, and mutual benefits that will come from syndicating content across each other’s properties, collaborating on innovative ad products and the future of commerce, and tapping into the strength and creativity of Verizon Media Immersive,” said Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO, BuzzFeed.

“I have vivid memories of growing HuffPost into a major news outlet in its early years, but BuzzFeed is making this acquisition because we believe in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come,” Peretti continued. “With the addition of HuffPost, our media network will have more users, spending significantly more time with our content than any of our peers.”

As part of the agreement, Verizon Media and BuzzFeed agree to syndicate content across each other’s platforms, create an innovation group to explore monetization opportunities, and leverage emerging ad formats, including extended reality (XR) and AR applications. BuzzFeed will also have the opportunity to leverage Verizon Media Immersive, the largest online XR platform for advertising and content. Additionally, BuzzFeed will also be able to tap into Verizon Media’s ad platform, which provides access to powerful, qualified data sets while reaching consumers across all channels, including mobile, desktop, video, native, addressable TV, Connected TV (CTV), Digital Out of Home (DOOH), and audio.

BuzzFeed News and HuffPost will operate as separate, distinct news organizations.

The Flight Attendant
Mercado on TV: Filler time – FTA closes down after Covid-impacted 2020

By Andrew Mercado

Free to air TV has pretty much shut up shop for summer. It is now unimaginative filler shows, endless movie repeats and non-stop promos about 2021.

Hang in there, they say, we promise to have something good to watch … but not for at least 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, streaming services, which live in the real world and don’t operate on antiquated ratings and non-ratings periods, continue to provide new programming every week.

Kelly Cuoco is The Flight Attendant (Thursday on Binge/Foxtel) and she is a hot mess as she drinks to excess, gets messed up in a murder and then starts hallucinating. It’s the best air hostie drama since Margot Robbie broke into the US on short-lived drama Pan Am (2011) and Gaynor Martin went up, up and away in Aussie series Skyways (1979).

If you are a fan of Mindhunter (Netflix), and devastated that David Fincher doesn’t have time to make another series, check out Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (Monday on Binge/Foxtel). Season two of Mindhunter covered this but a new HBO documentary suggests there is more to this terrible story.

Saved By The Bell (Monday on Stan) is one of those TV properties that never seems to go away. Now, after several spin-offs and reunion telemovies, it is back for a “re-imagining”. Most of the main cast return, including Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley and John Michael Higgins, although one is conspicuously absent. 

That’s because Dustin Diamond (who played Screech) released a sex tape (then said it wasn’t him but a “stunt double”) and then a sleazy tell-all book (which he later washed his hands off because it was written by a “ghost writer”).

Dustin Diamond’s claims of innocence are as dodgy as Pete Evans claiming he didn’t know what a Neo-Nazi was. The former MKR judge has blamed “mainstream media” for his career implosion, despite the fault lying entirely with his own offensive and dangerous social media posts.

Mainstream media has actually been propping up Pete Evans for years, despite all the warning signs. Seven only dumped him after MKR tanked in the ratings, Nine featured him on 60 Minutes when it looked like he was having a breakdown, and 10 was about to put him in I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!

Network 10 should particularly hang their head in shame including him in a family format, and they need to be 100% transparent about rumours that Pete Evans will still be paid $100,000 as a cancellation fee. He doesn’t deserve one cent and hopefully this is the last we see of him. And yes, he is even too toxic for Reputation Rehab.

Lewis Hamilton
TV ratings: Thursday Week 47 2020

By James Manning 

• Seven narrowly wins with new content on night with many repeats
• The Project scores Lewis Hamilton, New Michael Portillo on SBS

Primetime News
Seven News 950,000/909,000
Nine News 861,000/844,000
ABC News 680,000
10 News First 279,000/177,000
SBS World News 149,000

Daily current affairs
7.30 509,000
The Project 244,000/401,000
The Drum 186,000

Breakfast TV
Sunrise 276,000
Today 224,000
News Breakfast 208,000

Late Night News
Nine News Late 111,000
The Latest 105,000
ABC Late News 71,000

Thursday TV 

Seven: A Home and Away triple play was watched by 517,000 after three nights where the soap was in the mid-500,000s.

Britain’s Got Talent attracted a few die hard fans with the numbers up to 224,000 after 185,000 on Wednesday. 

Nine: A Current Affair started with a look at the alleged war crimes commited by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. The episode was on 567,000.

The primary channel’s medical themed Thursday returned from 7.30pm with Paramedics on 400,000, Kings Cross ER down to 345,000 and then Chicago Med down to 174,000.

10: The Project featured a long Peter Helliar interview with F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and then Jimmy Barnes got a short spot right at the end of the episode.

Two more episodes of Jamie’s Quick & Easy Food did 271,000 and 234,000 after 267,000 and 212,000 on Wednesday night against Origin.

Two episodes of Law & Order: SVU started with an audience of 164,000.

ABC: Scottish Vets Down Under was on 328,000 after 358,000 a week ago.

Griff Rhys Jones started his New Zealand road trip at the top of the North Island with 285,000 watching episode one of a repeat of Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip.

Death in Paradise followed on 188,000.

SBS: Episode three of a repeat of The Great Fire of London saw Dan Jones walking the streets of London after his journey on Roman Roads recently on the channel. The episode did 201,000.

Michael Portillo was back in India, but not riding the railways, instead hosting the first episode of Empire, looking at the places the British Empire left behind. The show did 215,000 after he had an audience of 227,000 watching him ride the trains on Tuesday night.

Week 47: Thursday
THURSDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 11.9% 7 18.2% 9 17.7% 10  8.6% SBS One 5.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.7% 7TWO 3.9% GO! 3.1% 10 Bold 4.3% VICELAND 1.5%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.4% GEM 3.2% 10 Peach 3.3% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 2.5% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 2.6% 10 Shake 0.5% NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 1.3%
TOTAL 18.6%   27.6%   27.6%   16.8%   9.3%

 

THURSDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 10.4% 7 19.4% 9 16.9% WIN 6.9% SBS One 4.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.8% 7TWO 6.2% GO! 2.6% WIN Bold 5.9% VICELAND 1.7%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 5.2% GEM 3.7% WIN Peach 3.5% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.7% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.2% 9Life 2.3% Sky News  on WIN 2.5% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.8%
TOTAL 15.7%   33.0%   25.5%   18.8%   8.8%

 

THURSDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
86.9% 13.1%
THURSDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 950,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 909,000
  3. Nine News Nine 861,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 844,000
  5. ABC News ABC 680,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 567,000
  7. Home And Away Seven 517,000
  8. 7.30 ABC 509,000
  9. Hot Seat Nine 438,000
  10. The Chase Australia Seven 418,000
  11. The Project 7pm 10 401,000
  12. Paramedics -Encore Nine 400,000
  13. Kings Cross ER Nine 345,000
  14. Scottish Vets Down Under ABC 328,000
  15. Kings Cross ER -Ep1 Nine 298,000
  16. Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip (R) ABC 285,000
  17. 10 News First 10 279,000
  18. Sunrise Seven 276,000
  19. Jamie’s Quick & Easy Food 10 271,000
  20. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 268,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 113,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 107,000
  3. Nine News Nine 106,000
  4. Seven News Seven 104,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 86,000

 

18-49 Top Five

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 205,000
  2. Nine News Nine 200,000
  3. Seven News Seven 189,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 185,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 161,000

 

25-54 Top Five

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 249,000
  2. Nine News Nine 240,000
  3. Seven News Seven 225,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 220,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 190,000
Thursday Multichannel
  1. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 219,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 183,000
  3. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 176,000
  4. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 170,000
  5. Love Monster AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 169,000
  6. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 151,000
  7. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  8. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 144,000
  9. Peter Rabbit AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  10. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  11. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  12. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  13. Hard Quiz S5 ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  14. Go Jetters PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  15. Neighbours 10 Peach 123,000
  16. The Hive AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  17. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 116,000
  18. The Big Bang Theory Ep 3 10 Peach 113,000
  19. The Big Bang Theory Ep 2 10 Peach 109,000
  20. M- 2 Guns PM (R) 7mate 107,000
Thursday STV
  1. Outback Opal Hunters Discovery Channel 73,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 70,000
  3. Alan Jones Sky News Live 63,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 56,000
  5. Love It Or List It Australia Lifestyle Channel 56,000
  6. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 52,000
  7. Credlin Sky News Live 51,000
  8. PML Later Sky News Live 44,000
  9. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 36,000
  10. NCIS FOX Crime 36,000
  11. Judge Judy FOX Arena 31,000
  12. OC: Real Housewives Of Orange County FOX Arena 31,000
  13. Highway Patrol FOX8 30,000
  14. The Simpsons FOX8 30,000
  15. Inside The Factory Lifestyle Channel 29,000
  16. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 29,000
  17. Border Security: International FOX8 28,000
  18. As Time Goes By FOX Classics 27,000
  19. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 27,000
  20. Police Ten 7 FOX8 26,000

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 chairman Rupert Murdoch ‘cautiously optimistic’ on tech giants

News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch is “cautiously optimistic” that technology giants such as Google and Facebook will be made to pay for the news content carried on their platforms in the wake of sharpened scrutiny into their operations, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

“Our battle against the big tech platforms, for years a solitary struggle, has helped lead to scrutiny of their monopolistic and algorithmic abuses,” Murdoch said during the group’s first virtual annual shareholder meeting.

“With some finally providing some payment to publishers, the fate of a free press hangs in the balance, and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll see even more material benefit from this effort in the years ahead.”

[Read more]

'We're not deniers': Rupert Murdoch tells shareholders

Rupert Murdoch has told News Corp’s shareholders that the company does not deny climate change during a 26-minute virtual annual general meeting on Thursday morning, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

When asked why the board could not accommodate his younger son James’ views, the executive chairman said: “We do not deny climate change. We’re not deniers.

“Our board is open to any discussions…James …claimed that our papers …covered the bushfires in Australia….without discussing climate change,” Murdoch said in his appearance which appeared to have technical difficulties while he was answering.

[Read more]

BGH Capital to lift Village Roadshow takeover offer

Melbourne-based private equity firm BGH Capital has lifted its bid for cinema, film and theme parks operator Village Roadshow after two major independent shareholders rejected its earlier offer, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Market sources told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that BGH will offer two scheme arrangements that value the theme park and cinema operator’s shares at about $3, a significant improvement on the current proposals worth $2.32 and $2.22 respectively.

[Read more]

Race to replace Nine's Hugh Marks about factions as much as ability

The shock resignation of Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks has exposed the divisions on the television, publishing and digital company’s board along historic fault lines. The members of the old Fairfax board on one side and Nine’s legacy directors on the other, comments The Sydney Morning Herald’s Elizabeth Knight.

Which of the two internal Nine candidates replaces Marks, who spectacularly announced his resignation over the weekend following revelations of romantic involvement with a staff member, may largely be a function of which of the board factions prevails.

While there will be an external process conducted, it is considered far more likely that either Nine’s chief of digital and publishing Chris Janz or the head of Nine’s video streaming business Stan, Mike Sneesby will be elevated to the top job.

If the Fairfax board faction has its way, Janz will have the front running. Yet Peter Costello, who retained the chair at Nine after the Fairfax merger and is a Marks supporter, is considered to look more favourably on Sneesby – such is the tribalism that remains at board level.

[Read more]

News Brands

Ben Roberts-Smith puts Victoria Cross up as collateral for $1m legal fees

Former SAS corporal Ben Roberts-Smith offered up his prized Victoria Cross, and other wartime medals, as collateral for a $1m loan from billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes, which helped fund his defamation action against Nine Entertainment, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media, has been a long-time backer of Roberts-Smith, and told The Australian in a statement on Thursday that the decorated former soldier retained his full support in the wake of the allegations arising from the Brereton report.

Stokes said the funding of the former soldier’s legal action was “a private matter”. “However he has put his medals up as collateral on a loan and will relinquish them if required,” he said.

[Read more]

Television

Patti Newton reports husband Bert is receiving tests in hospital

TV legend Bert Newton is in hospital receiving tests but is on the mend, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Newton was taken to hospital in recent days in Melbourne with his family and friends sending their love.

Newton’s wife, Patti took to social media to reassure fans that the Australian TV icon was in good hands and on the road to recovery.

“Bert’s been in hospital, all good. He’s got a lot of living to do,” Patti posted.

Patti’s Instagram account was flooded with comments from friends and show business identities who quickly rallied behind Newton to wish him a speedy recovery.

[Read more]

Where are they now? What your favourite Blockheads are up to

There can be no doubt that the juggernaut that is The Block can have a life-changing impact for contestants, reports Domain’s Jessica Dale.

Not only is there the opportunity to bag $100,000 in winners’ prize money as well as any profits from auction day, but the renovating show is often a launchpad for many former Blockheads.

While some embrace their 15 minutes of fame then return to their former jobs, others have embarked on successful new careers in interior design, construction and fashion.

Elyse Knowles was one of the most high-profile personalities to appear on The Block. The model and her carpenter partner Josh appeared on the show in 2017 and pocketed a cool $547,000 after selling the home to comedian Dave Hughes.

Since their winning stint on the program, the pair sold their renovated home in Melbourne’s Coburg before moving to Byron Bay in 2019.

They’re probably most well-known for the artistic flair they showed in The Block Sky High season, after judge Neale Whitaker dubbed their Jackson Pollock-inspired bedroom a “crime scene”. The renovated apartment in South Melbourne nabbed the pair a $250,000 profit and recently hit the market for the second time, selling for $1.9 million in July.

The Perth-based couple have since toned down their garish style, launching a highly successful concrete business Nood Co., specialising in bathroom basins and furniture.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Hopes for a call in days on Adelaide hosting first Test against India

Cricket will be forced to make a call on the Adelaide Test sooner rather than later with broadcasters hoping for an answer by Monday, reports News Corp’s Peter Lalor.

A call on the future of Will Pucovski and Cam Green is also fast approaching.

Any optimism felt when South Australia reported no new coronavirus cases on Thursday was tempered by news that Victoria had joined all the other states except NSW in imposing restrictions on travellers from Adelaide.

The 48-hour ban will stay in place until a permit process is introduced on Saturday night.

If travel between Melbourne and Adelaide was blocked though December it would create problems for production crews and others involved with the tour, with only four days between the Adelaide Test and the Boxing Day Test.

[Read more]

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