Wednesday November 4, 2020

Grant McArthur
Herald Sun’s Grant McArthur on Sir Keith Murdoch Award, covering Covid

By Trent Thomas

It has been a busy year for the Herald Sun’s health editor Grant McArthur who has manned the health beat in arguably the biggest health crisis in Victorian history.

He recently capped the year off by winning the Sir Keith Murdoch Award at the News Awards for Journalist of the Year. Mediaweek talked to McArthur about the award, covering a pandemic, and how long he thinks Covid-19 will be in the news cycle.

Winning the Sir Keith Murdoch Award

McArthur described the virtual awards night as a weird one and he admitted being caught off guard when he was named Journalist of the Year.

“It was very different going to an awards night with it not feeling so formal, so it was nice. I wasn’t expecting to win anything major and the category I was up for earlier in the night I lost so it meant I could relax and enjoy the night without any nerves. Towards the end, I got tapped on the shoulder and didn’t have a speech or anything prepared.”

McArthur also admitted that the achievement also felt like a double-edged sword after spending the last seven months balancing covering Covid-19 and caring for his wife who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

“Work has almost taken a backseat for me this year, and she has been my priority and it feels weird being the health editor and balancing that. I almost feel quite bad winning that award this year because I am hoping that means I haven’t been too focused on work and not given enough attention to my wife.”

Covering Covid-19

Asked what it was like to cover a pandemic after being on the health round for the most of the last 13 years McArthur admitted that there was not much of a plan and it has just evolved.

“To say we had a plan would be giving far too much credit to myself or anyone, it has just been one of those years where you just strap yourself in and roll with it.

“My approach throughout has been to try and tell the health story of it. It has been very tricky because you kind of see your round fade out across everything. All of a sudden, I see things like politics, the economy, and education is influenced by the main thing happening in my round. All of a sudden everything that you are used to being in charge of is everybody’s business because there are literally 100 stories a day and you can do four or five at best.

“It has been tricky fighting for space in the paper to run this as a health issue rather than a political one or an economical one. My fight has been trying to make this all about health.”

With such an unexpected pandemic there is no playbook on the appropriate way to cover a health crisis. MacArthur said that the criticism of the media industry represents what is happening on a larger scale.

“The criticism towards different sides of the media is just playing out what is happening everywhere else. You see people trying to turn wearing a mask into politics, you see people refusing to abide by public health messages because they think it is political, and you see people criticising different sides of the media because of what their own beliefs are. This isn’t about that, this virus is going to affect everybody, and the fact you have to follow the rules is going to affect everybody.

“We have got governments who by and large have done a great job, and they can do a hundred things right and save hundreds of lives. The problem with a pandemic is if you do one or two things wrong that is all it takes for a virus to come through, and you have to be held to account. That is hard on people and you get shot as the messenger for raising that.”

MacArthur said that the whole situation has been quite scary to watch play out and he has tried to focus on making it about health and unifying people.

“I have tried to write on the health issue and make it a human issue and that is where I think the focus and the media need to be. If you can keep people focused on the danger of the virus and what you need to do that kind of unifies people, whereas if you take a political view that splits people.”

MacArthur predicted that with stages such as future outbreaks, vaccines, and politics that Covid-19 may still dominate the health cycle for another two to three years, making up possibly as much as 50% of the health headlines.

Big Mob Brekky
NITV & SBS champion First Nations history, culture and achievements

• Details of broadcasters’ NAIDOC Week 2020 programming slate

NITV and SBS are the official National NAIDOC principal media partner and official education partner
• Special programming this year includes the Australian TV premiere of the first all-Indigenous breakfast television show, Big Mob Brekky
• NAIDOC will be celebrated across all SBS channels, and available to stream on SBS On Demand through an exclusive NAIDOC collection

National Indigenous Television (NITV) and SBS have detailed the programming slate for NAIDOC 2020 – a week-long dedicated schedule to mark the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

From Sunday 8 November to Sunday 15 November, the network will be celebrating the best in Indigenous content and embracing the 2020 NAIDOC theme Always Was, Always Will Be, which recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

Tanya Denning-Orman

Director of Indigenous Content at SBS, Tanya Denning-Orman, said: “SBS are incredibly proud to be Australia’s multicultural and Indigenous broadcaster and, namely, the home of NITV. We are lucky enough to hold a very unique place in the Australian media landscape as a platform to share stories of First Nations cultures, communities and conversations with all Australians.

“2020 has been an enormous year for many reasons, and NAIDOC Week is the perfect time for the network to present a broad slate of our programs that encourage a deeper understanding of Australia’s shared history and shared future, and to celebrate together the achievements of First Nations Peoples.”

On Saturday 14 November, the week-long celebration will culminate in Stand Up and Be Counted: A NAIDOC Concert Special simulcast on NITV and SBS. Hosted by Aaron Fa’aoso and Steph Tisdell, this two-hour special event championing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence will be an entertaining and poignant reflection on a history-making year. With appearances and performances from incredible Indigenous acts including Electric Fields and Troy Cassar-Daley, audiences will be in for a Deadly night of fun and celebration. Viewers can also tune in via NITV Facebook live, Twitter and YouTube, with the show starting at 8:30pm from the Brisbane Powerhouse.

On Monday 9 November, NITV will be serving up something never-before-seen on Australian television screens with the premiere of the first all-Indigenous breakfast show, Big Mob Brekky, that will air at 7:30am every weekday morning during NAIDOC Week. Hosts Shahni Wellington and Ryan Liddle will be joined by a stellar line up of special guests including live crosses to First Nations Media Australia partners across the country for laughs and all the latest in news and entertainment. The program will feature segments including wellness. comedy, cooking, sport, community call outs and live performances.

At 9:30pm each day throughout the week, NITV will present a curated collection of powerful dramas including Ten Canoes, The Fringe Dwellers, Jedda, Tudawali, Sweet Country and Dark Age.

The Point’s John Paul Janke will join SBS’ Insight as host, in an episode that will be simulcast across SBS and NITV on Thursday 12 November at 8:30pm. Janke will meet with Indigenous mentors and discuss the lives they’ve changed. SBS On Demand will host a NAIDOC themed collection of NITV’s The Point episodes.

SBS will also be bringing Indigenous affairs topics to audiences throughout the week, with episodes of Karla Grant Presents airing at 5pm Monday to Friday, the Living Black special Living Black: Aboriginal Lives Matter at 5pm on Saturday and NITV’s weekly news wrap up program Nula, which will air at 3pm on Friday 13 November.

The popular NITV documentary Looky Looky, Here Comes Cooky will be returning to the channel on Sunday 8 November at 8:30pm, complemented by a chat with the film’s lead performer on Living Black Conversations: Steven Oliver, Monday 9 November at 8:30pm.

Further themed programming on NITV includes First Australians, Jupurrurla – Man of Media, Occupation Native, Storm Boy, The Big Wet, Songkeepers, Gurrumul and the upcoming Canadian thriller series Trickster.

Audiences can look forward to exploring the home of NAIDOC, the Northern Territory, through episodes of Going Places with Ernie Dingo daily on NITV from Sunday to Thursday at 7:30pm.

NAIDOC will be celebrated across all SBS channels, with all programming available to stream on SBS On Demand through an exclusive NAIDOC collection.

SBS Viceland will host a Going Places with Ernie Dingo marathon from 12pm to 7:30pm on Sunday 8 November and Sunday 15 November, as well as airing NITV News from Monday to Friday at 7:30pm and encoring Robbie Hood on Thursday 12 November at 9:50pm.

SBS Food will host an On Country Kitchen marathon from 10am to 1:30pm on Saturday 14 November and Sunday 15 November. Viewers can enjoy celebrity chef Mark Olive and comedian Derek Nannup’s adventures around Australia as they fuse native bush ingredients with contemporary cooking.

SBS World Movies will host a two-week collection of Black Lives Matter themed films each night at 9:30pm starting Sunday 1 November, featuring screenings of Detroit, Sitting in Limbo, Farming, Rabbit-Proof Fence and a simulcast with NITV of the award-winning Warwick Thornton film Sweet Country on Monday 9 November.

To celebrate NAIDOC week, SBS Radio will be sharing the Uluru Statement from the Heart with Australia’s multicultural communities by translating it into over 60 languages. NITV Radio will host a range of special guests, including interviews with past NAIDOC award recipients, while the NITV Podcast will profile the late Lisa Bellear ahead of the naming of a Melbourne laneway in her legacy.

NITV’s Take It Blak podcast will release an exclusive episode where host Jack Latimore is joined by the legendary Archie Roach on the eve of the re-release of his iconic Charcoal Lane album to celebrate NAIDOC week.

Acting Head of NITV, Kyas Hepworth, added: “2020 has proven that NITV is invaluable in providing a trusted platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, experiences and stories.

“NITV’s NAIDOC offering celebrates incredible contributions from Indigenous Australians, from film to television and current affairs. Stand Up and Be Counted will honour our community and explore how we tackled this difficult and momentous year.

“We can’t wait to share Australia’s first Indigenous breakfast show, Big Mob Brekky, with our audience, as well as bringing comprehensive news and current affairs to all Australians each day that will provide further context, discussion and perspectives on the theme Always Was, Always Will Be.”

Sarah Keith
Sarah Keith returns: MD at indie agency now part of global network

Independent media agency Paykel Media has appointed Sarah Keith as managing director, effective immediately.

In her new role, Keith will be responsible for Paykel Media’s operations in Sydney and Melbourne, including Paykel Plus and Paykel Transact.

Keith will report to Active International group managing director, Cameron Swan, and work closely with Paykel Media chief operating officer, Caroline Doran.

Following Tony Paykel stepping down from managing director to head the agency’s partnerships earlier in the year, the search was on for a new managing director to take the reins and accelerate Paykel Media into the future.

Keith was previously Managing Director of Publicis Media Exchange. Her 25-year career in media and marketing includes senior roles at Network 10, Fairfax Media, Fox Sports, SBS, Austereo and UK’s Channel 4.

Cameron said: “I’m so excited to see Sarah joining Paykel Media. Sarah is a strong and respected media leader, with diverse and invaluable experience, a mindset of innovation and growth, and ultimately the perfect fit for the agency.

“With Sarah in the lead, I feel confident and excited for what’s to come. Sarah’s leadership and strategic direction will advance the agency’s transformation as they seek to grow their offering to clients while harnessing the talent within the team. Paykel’s next chapter is in good hands.”

Keith said: “I’m delighted to be joining Caroline and the Paykel team at such significant time for the agency. I was seeking a new challenge and the timing just could not be better.

“I see an enormous opportunity for growth for Paykel Media and its clients. The combination of close, long-standing relationships with Australia’s biggest media owners and publishers with an upfront, results-focused media approach is very powerful and the right fundamentals for the agency to succeed.

“The potential is real. My aim is to go beyond what’s expected from an indie in Australia,” she said.

Top Photo: Sarah Keith (L), Managing Director, Paykel Media, and Caroline Doran (R), Chief Operating Officer, Paykel Media

Matt James
Matt James returning from London to re-join Nine Entertainment Co

Senior global media agency executive Matt James is returning to Nine as managing director – Nine Melbourne.

James has recently returned from London where he was global CEO of leading media agency network Zenith Media. Before that he held senior media roles as Australian CEO of Publicis Media and CEO of Zenith Australia.

He will oversee Nine’s second largest market, which includes Channel 9 in Melbourne, 3AW, The Age and the Melbourne bureau of The Australian Financial Review. Melbourne is also the home of many of Nine’s key TV productions, including The Block, LEGO Masters and Millionaire Hot Seat.

James will report to Lizzie Young, Nine’s managing director – local markets & group marketing.

“Melbourne is one of our key opportunities and Matt’s experience in driving growth for brands will be incredibly important as we consolidate the Nine Melbourne proposition locally and build on our offering for consumers and clients with the greatest brands in the market,” Young said.

“Having someone of Matt’s calibre – with his broad experience on both the media owner and agency side – is a strong addition to our state-based leadership team.”

The Melbourne appointment is a return to Nine for James, who left the group in 2015 to move agency-side to Publicis after holding senior roles including group director of Nine’s client solutions division, Powered, and managing director of its digital media division.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to the Nine family and privileged to be joining what I know is a very passionate, dedicated and dynamic team in Victoria,” he said. “Nine continues to be the most progressive, expansive and transformative media company in Australia and I’m excited at the opportunity to be part of its continuing success for 2021 and beyond.”

Matt James will commence in his new role on November 18.

The Mandalorian
TV Demand: The Mandalorian builds on its dominance with second season

By Trent Thomas

Normally when a show is released there is a correlating surge on the TV Demand charts before it quietly fades away before roaring back with a new season – this did not happen with The Mandalorian.

In the Disney+ Original’s case the show went up but it never came down finding itself frequently on top of the TV Demand charts since last November.

Now with the show’s second season beginning to be released on Disney+, the party does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. The show has built on its already sizeable lead on the TV Demand charts (especially in Australia) as the show is beginning to look like a viable threat to stay #1 for the rest of the calendar year.

Disney+ has not produced originals at the volume of its competitors like Netflix, but the platform has had a major success with the flagship show that it launched with last year. Both new age metrics and more traditional measurement systems would deem the show a success which explains why work on a third season is already underway, as Disney continues to see a return on investment of the $4 billion that it spent on acquiring the franchise.

One new show to make the charts this week is Roadkill which has joined the Digital Original chart in New Zealand. The four-part series stars Hugh Laurie as a British Conservative Party politician whose public and private life begins to unravel.

Mediaweek‘s own Andrew Mercado wrote about Roadkill last week: 

“it doesn’t get much more horrific these days than stories about corrupt politicians.

“There is a lot to set up in Roadkill’s first episode, with a large cast of characters including a Prime Minister deliciously played by Helen McCrory. With just four episodes, this one positively screams out for a second season.”

Read Andrew Mercado’s full column here.

The Melbourne Cup
TV ratings: Tuesday Week 45 2020

By James Manning

• Melbourne Cup crowd down at the track and on TV
• The Block builds a solid lead all people and in key demos
• Other highlights: Farewell Jenny Brockie, Peter Brock doco

Primetime News
Seven News 954,000/958,000
Nine News 896,000/879,000
ABC News 751,000
10 News First 391,000
SBS World News 172,000

Daily current affairs
A Current Affair 682,000
7.30 577,000
The Project 351,000/553,000

Breakfast TV
Sunrise 262,000
Today 209,000
News Breakfast 204,000

Late night news
Nine News Late 139,000
World News Late 55,000
ABC Late News 54,000

Tuesday TV

Seven: Home and Away started the week with 549,000 and followed it up with a Tuesday audience of 535,000.

SAS Australia saw recruit Ali Oetjen quit ahead of the first task – complete a competitive time trial task which involved jumping eight metres from a helicopter into icy water, a 500-metre swim to shore and a 3km uphill trek to a rendezvous point, all while carrying a heavy backpack. The Tuesday audience was 654,000 which is the smallest audience yet for the series.

The 2017 Hugh Jackman movie Logan then did 223,000.

Nine: A Current Affair was on 682,000 last night after a Monday episode drew 757,000. For the first time in living memory Martin King wasn’t covering crowds at The Cup. He did manage to find them spread across the city though.

The Block studio and garage week did 816,000 after 819,000 a week ago and 830,000 on Monday. The size of the audience was enough to keep Nine #1 all people and in key demos.

The final episode of The Trump Show was nicely timed to screen just moments just hours before the polls opened for Trump’s re-election. The episode was on 355,000 after 387,000 last week.

After the success of The Trump Show Nine then went with a 2015 documentary Who Is Donald Trump? which did 220,000.

10: Coverage of Cup Day started at 10am and ran until 5.30pm. The audience peaked at 1.410m for the race. This was down from 1.438m in 2019. In Seven’s last year of Cup coverage in 2018 the race audience was 1.888m.

The Project ended with the trainer of the Cup winner from his home in Ireland. The episode was on 553,000 after 535,000 on Monday.

There was some spectacular work in the MasterChef kitchen last night as the remaining Junior MasterChef contestants jostled for a place in the semi-final. Tiffany and Vienna were eliminated leaving five to battle for the title in a semi-final on Sunday. The episode was on 485,000 after 472,000 last Tuesday.

Trump v Biden – the 60 Minutes US interviews – was then on 261,000. 

ABC: Outback Ringer found 357,000 viewers after 8pm.

Brock: Over the Top followed with 369,000 watching just over a week after the Bathurst 1000. The well-reviewed doco was directed by the very busy Kriv Stenders for WildBear Entertainment.

SBS: Two episodes of a new Great British Railway Journeys screened in their best-performing timeslot with 224,000 watching. It is an additional night this week for trainspotters as the Saturday double of Trains That Changed the World and Portillo’s Greatest Railway Journeys continues.

Jenny Brockie then made her last appearance in an episode of Insight, albeit in a repeat, but with an added farewell to her viewers. The audience was on 186,000.

Week 45: Tuesday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 11.5% 7 18.5% 9 20.7% 10  12.1% SBS One 5.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.8% 7TWO 4.1% GO! 1.8% 10 Bold 3.1% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 2.9% GEM 3.2% 10 Peach 2.7% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 2.2% 7flix 2.1% 9Life 2.4% 10 Shake 0.5% NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 0.5%
TOTAL 17.0%   27.6%   29.0%   18.5%   8.0%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 12.1% 7 19.0% 9 15.9% WIN 9.1% SBS One 4.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.4% 7TWO 5.8% GO! 2.4% WIN Bold 3.6% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 6.1% GEM 4.7% WIN Peach 3.0% Food Net 0.5%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.6% 9Life 2.4% Sky News  on WIN 2.9% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.4%
TOTAL 17.1%   32.5%   25.5%   18.7%   7.7%


88.3% 11.7%
  1. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Race 10 1,410,000
  2. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Presentation 10 971,000
  3. Seven News Seven 954,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 948,000
  5. Nine News Nine 896,000
  6. Nine News 6:30 Nine 879,000
  7. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Mounting Yard 10 829,000
  8. The Block Nine 816,000
  9. ABC News ABC 751,000
  10. A Current Affair Nine 682,000
  11. SAS Australia Seven 654,000
  12. 7.30 ABC 577,000
  13. The Project 7pm 10 553,000
  14. Home And Away Seven 535,000
  15. The Chase Australia Seven 499,000
  16. Junior MasterChef Australia 10 485,000
  17. Hot Seat Nine 450,000
  18. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Late 10 432,000
  19. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 396,000
  20. 10 News First 10 391,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Race 10 250,000
  2. The Block Nine 214,000
  3. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Presentation 10 181,000
  4. SAS Australia Seven 146,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 136,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Race 10 442,000
  2. The Block Nine 375,000
  3. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Presentation 10 304,000
  4. SAS Australia Seven 280,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 258,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Race 10 483,000
  2. The Block Nine 413,000
  3. Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-Presentation 10 324,000
  4. SAS Australia Seven 321,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 286,000
Tuesday Multichannel
  1. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 396,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 205,000
  3. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 200,000
  4. Love Monster AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 156,000
  5. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 146,000
  6. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 140,000
  7. Inspector Morse PM 7TWO 139,000
  8. Go Jetters PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  9. Highway Patrol PM 7mate 130,000
  10. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  11. Peter Rabbit AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  12. Adam Hills: The Last Leg ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  13. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  14. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  15. Goldfinger 9Gem 119,000
  16. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  17. PJ Masks PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 113,000
  18. Neighbours 10 Peach 113,000
  19. Andy’s Aquatic Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 111,000
  20. The Big Bang Theory Ep 3 10 Peach 109,000
Tuesday STV
  1. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 76,000
  2. Alan Jones Sky News Live 70,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 66,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 57,000
  5. Live: Sky Racing 1 Raceday Sky Racing 55,000
  6. PML Later Sky News Live 48,000
  7. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 38,000
  8. The Simpsons FOX8 31,000
  9. Border Security: Australia’s Front Line FOX8 31,000
  10. Live: The Back Page FOX SPORTS 503 31,000
  11. Long Lost Family Lifestyle Channel 31,000
  12. Highway Patrol FOX8 29,000
  13. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 29,000
  14. Big Jake FOX Classics 29,000
  15. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 29,000
  16. Below Deck FOX Arena 28,000
  17. The Simpsons FOX8 28,000
  18. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 27,000
  19. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 26,000
  20. Location, Location, Location Lifestyle Channel 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

"We love competition," Lachlan Murdoch on potential Trump news network

Fox. Corp., led by CEO and executive chairman Lachlan Murdoch and chairman Rupert Murdoch, posted improved quarterly financials that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but provided several upside surprises, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

While total advertising revenue in the fiscal first quarter fell 7 percent, the company posted an 18 percent advertising revenue increase at its cable networks unit on the strength of Fox News, which has done well in the ratings during this election and pandemic year. So it was fitting Fox Corp. chose election day in the U.S. to tout audience and advertising growth for Fox News to investors and that Murdoch was called on to field an analyst question about how he would react to President Donald Trump possibly starting a news network to counter CNN and other cable news network rivals.

“We love competition. We have always thrived with competition. And we have strong competition now,” Murdoch said. And Trump supporters that underpin Fox News’ audience may land post-election viewing popular Fox Entertainment fare, he predicted.

Murdoch told analysts Fox Corp. was recovering from a deeper advertising revenue decline earlier this year brought on by the pandemic. “We are sustaining our momentum and building on our strengths. With increased visibility to the market, and a resumption of sports and entertainment production, we are optimistic about and excited for the remainder of the fiscal year,” he said.

[Read more]

ABC chief people officer Rebekah Donaldson leaving for role at Qantas

ABC chief people officer Rebekah Donaldson has announced she will leave the national broadcaster in January 2021 to take up the role of executive manager, people at Qantas Group.

Donaldson has been an ABC director since 2018, leading the ABC people & culture division through often challenging times. Since joining the ABC in 2013, she has filled several roles including chief of staff to the managing director.

ABC managing director David Anderson paid tribute to Donaldson’s career at the ABC and her contribution across the organisation.

“Rebekah has been an outstanding executive and colleague to many at the ABC and is held in very high regard across the organisation.

“On behalf of the leadership team and the ABC, I would like to thank Rebekah for her leadership and expertise.  We wish Rebekah well in this next chapter of an already impressive career.”

Donaldson will leave the ABC in mid-January 2021. A recruitment process for the role will begin in the coming weeks.

The market that never appeared: Why $2.5b Quibi was such a disaster

Last week, the Quibi short-form video start-up announced it was shutting down a little over six months after it had launched to the public, reports The London Telegraph (republished in The SMH).

Its founder, the Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, said Quibi had “exhausted every option available” and was “no longer viable”. A service built to capitalise on the short attention spans and busy lives of today’s smartphone generation had itself crashed in fast forward.

Katzenberg, formerly one of Disney’s top executives and the co-founder of DreamWorks, had founded Quibi on a simple idea. Inspired by the success of Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code, in which readers were hooked by rapid-fire chapters often just a couple of pages, Quibi would deliver its shows in “quick bites” of between five and 10 minutes.

Without a major title to drive interest, subscription growth petered out. According to research group Kantar Worldpanel, just 700,000 households were subscribed to Quibi in the third quarter of the year, and one in three of those planned to cancel. In its final weeks, the company tried to adapt. It launched a free version in Australia that it hoped might generate enough interest to gradually encourage users to pay, but results were disappointing. It added support for televisions, allowing people to beam the service from their phones in a reversal of the original pitch.

It did not work. The founders began to quietly look for buyers, reportedly approaching Apple, WarnerMedia and Facebook, but no white knight emerged. Eventually there was nowhere left to go. Last week, the company said it would wind down operations, returning the cash it had left to shareholders, and seeking to offload the rights to its shows to interested buyers.

[Read more]

News Brands

Australian newspapers divided on US presidential race

The Australian Financial Review, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are all backing former US Vice-President Joe Biden in the US election race, while News Corp’s The Australian is undecided, reports The AFR’s Miranda Ward.

Melbourne’s The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald said Biden would be a “welcome change” after four years of President Donald Trump.

News Corp’s national paper The Australian is sitting firmly on the fence, instead arguing the choice between Trump and Biden “cannot offer an easy way out of the challenges facing America”.

“What might a second Trump term look like? Probably more of the same, which means unpredictable,” reads the editorial.

The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Chris Dore told the Financial Review they “don’t make a habit of advocating a vote for candidates in elections in other countries”.

While News Corp’s metro newspapers are yet to publish their official take on who they back for the 2020 election, its columnists have been vocal.

The Daily Telegraph‘s Miranda Devine asks, “Has there been a worse candidate in history than Joe Biden?”

“If Biden loses the election, as increasingly seems likely, Democrat voters ought to understand where their anger should be directed,” Devine concludes.

The Herald Sun‘s Rita Panahi has labelled the 2020 presidential election “the most consequential of our time”, firmly backing President Trump.

“Trump deserves to win and if he pulls it off it’ll be the greatest victory in modern political history.”

The West Australian, owned by Seven West Media, is backing Biden, with editor-in-chief Anthony De Ceglie saying: “The four years of the Trump presidency has sadly been characterised by lies and at times the trashing of democracy, including by stoking social divisions.”

[Read more]

US Election coverage: Printing history, as it happens

History-making news is a frequent sight on the front page of The New York Times, but few front pages carry the significance of a presidential election, reports the Times Insider column.

Putting the newspaper out on election night is an all-hands-on-deck operation with reporters, editors and designers working under the tightest of deadlines, knowing that the latest results will require quick adjustments and, sometimes, extensive changes in the page presentation.

On Tuesday, for the Times department known as the Print Hub, which designs the newspaper and composes the headlines and other display type, that challenge will be even greater because the team will be working remotely and a clear winner may not be evident.

In anticipation of the printed newspaper’s nearly doubling in size over the week, the team has brought on about a dozen extra people during that time, rather than preparing just for Election Day and the day after. Each person will be assigned specific articles to edit or pages to design, as news breaks or is updated throughout the evening.

No matter the hour when news rolls in, there are deadlines to be met. Once composed, the first National edition of the paper must be sent to the presses by 8 p.m. The first New York edition must be sent by 10 p.m. The second editions are sent by 11:30 p.m., and between each edition, and until 12:30 a.m., the team will be able to send postscripts, which are updates to a specific page within an edition that is already rolling off the press. By 12:30 a.m., all of the day’s news deemed fit to print must be transmitted to the printing plants in College Point, Queens, and around the country, which will then produce and deliver the paper to newsstands and readers’ doors.

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In a hot election, the cool-headed Associated Press takes centre stage

The Associated Press will not predict a winner of the presidential election. It will not even name an apparent or likely winner. The A.P. will make the call only when it is certain — just as it has in every U.S. election since 1848, when Zachary Taylor won the White House, reports The New York Times.

“If there’s no way for the trailing candidate to catch up, no legal way, no mathematical way, then the race is decided, essentially,” Sally Buzbee, The A.P.’s executive editor, said in an interview. “And if there is any uncertainty, or if there are enough votes out to change the result, then we don’t call the race.”

The A.P. bases its determinations on the work of more than 4,000 freelance local reporters who collect vote counts from clerks in every county of the 50 states. Those local reporters phone the results to The A.P.’s vote entry centres, which are virtual this year because of the pandemic. More than 800 vote entry clerks assess the data, checking with the reporters about any anomalies, before entering it into the A.P. system.

With 250 bureaus in 99 nations, The A.P. provides roughly 730,000 articles, 70,000 videos and one million photographs each year to the more than 15,000 outlets and businesses that subscribe to its content.

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Big Mob Brekky coming to NITV: “How has it taken this long?”

On Monday NITV makes TV history with the first all-Indigenous breakfast show, Big Mob Brekky, reports TV Tonight.

Screening 7:30am – 8:30am Monday to Friday as part of NAIDOC Week, the show is hosted by NITV reporters Shahni Wellington and Ryan Liddle and encompass news, entertainment, wellness, comedy, cooking, sport, community call outs and live performances.

Ryan Liddle tells TV Tonight, “You’ll still be able to get your weather and everything else that you get at those other places, but with an Indigenous perspective.

“We never see this sort of representation on morning telly, and between Shahni and we’ll hope to get everyone up on their seat, ready to attack the day. And we just really want to bring a black sense of humour as well.”

Indeed, while Indigenous on-camera staff on other morning TV shows is improving, it is still limited: Brooke Boney (Today), Narelda Jacobs (Studio 10), Michael Rennie (News Breakfast). Recent diversity report Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories found more than 75% of TV news and current affairs presenters, commentators and reporters have an Anglo-Celtic background, while only 6 percent have an Indigenous or non-European background.

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With a show about celebrity reputations, ABC risks compromising its own

It’s a promising premise, timely, topical and loaded with avenues to explore. But, as with a number of the ABC’s non-fiction programs in recent years, Reputation Rehab (Wednesdays, ABC, 9.05pm and iview) suffers from trite treatment and miscalculations of tone. Once again, Auntie’s determination to confect something upbeat, rather than simply playing it straight, has trivialised a promising project, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.

Presented by Kirsten Drysdale and Zoe Norton Lodge, former contributors to The Checkout, the six-part series intends to examine how and why people become the focus of ugly headlines, the target of trolls and even the recipients of death threats. According to its publicity, Reputation Rehab aims to “tackle public-shaming head-on and break through the outrage cycle with comedy and empathy”. The show invites us to “meet real people behind the headlines and find out what really happens after the outrage storm passes”.

Here, the humour misfires and the development of the topic is flimsy.

Episodes are padded out with fluffy nonsense. An assortment of “real people” – ostensibly ordinary folk identified by their first names – offers opinions. The attempt to manufacture a tennis bad boy from one of these real people and have him perform at a press conference is dull, as is the protracted staging of an awkward reality-show date. These clumsy segments add nothing to the subject, nor do they offer the fizz of light relief.

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