Tuesday November 20, 2018

Greg Hywood Q&A: ‘I want to get to know my grandchildren’

The outgoing chief executive of Fairfax Media Greg Hywood did look like a relieved man after shareholders voted in favour of the merger with Nine on Monday this week.

By James Manning

It was a result that surprised no one, yet it was another step in the process to complete the media deal.

At the AGM, which followed the shareholder vote, Hywood delivered a speech that highlighted the success of the various divisions and their key executives. He received a warm round of applause, which is about as sentimental as AGMs usually get.

At the end of the AGM, Hywood lingered on stage talking to people who wanted to shake his hand and engage in a few moments with the man who guided the media company for eight years, critically shaping its future.

Mediaweek’s James Manning with Greg Hywood

When Hywood finally exited the meeting room, he headed for the Domain café area and grabbed a couple of the chicken sandwiches on offer, again chatting to shareholders and interested observers.

It was here that Fairfax spoke for a few minutes with Mediaweek. He has been a key feature of our print and virtual pages over his journey. Hopefully this won’t be the final time.

What does the future hold for you? Do you have any appetite left for business?

I like business and this has been an incredible eight years. This would have to be one of the most fascinating business opportunities and challenges you could ever have.

There was a systemic threat to the [Fairfax] business and we as a group had to think our way through it.

That is probably what I am most proud of – the fact we did think our way through and we took some pretty unconventional decisions. We confronted the circulation myth. We were able to turn around the business by revealing how many people actually buy and read the paper, not focusing on how many we produce. We didn’t want to try to pretend we had a circulation number that we didn’t. That enabled us to get out of the big [printing] plants and save a lot of cost.

Our Google partnership is important, thinking how we can work with them instead of denying their existence.

We also had to think our way through the level of backend resource we needed in the business as distinct from focusing on our front end reporting.

Moving from print to digital is obviously really important.

Creating Domain, which was almost lost in the business and was not getting the love and attention it deserved, was also important.

It was not just about cutting costs. A lot of people have focused on Fairfax as big cost cutters. We didn’t get to where we are by cutting costs. That was an important part of giving us time and making the business more efficient.

It was the growth of businesses like Domain and Stan that really came through for us.

Nine sees a real opportunity in better monetising the Fairfax Media assets. Can it make the assets more attractive to advertisers?

There are several dimensions to this. Scale does matter. The ability to provide solutions right across the board is important. Using what Fairfax has done and extending that to Nine and the big FTA audience are really critical.

The radio business and the synergies with Nine in terms of talent and backend make sense and Stan will benefit from having a single shareholder. Put all those together and you will get a very robust media business.

We identified some years ago the best outcome for our business and our shareholders was to be part of a bigger merged group. We were early in lobbying and pushing really hard for media law reform to make it possible. We saw that as a strategic decision for our business to get that up. Other businesses saw it as perhaps a short-term benefit here or there.

Did you ever get close on any other mergers?

We always said we would talk to anybody at any time. Ultimately it is who puts the deal on the table.

We had serious discussions with a range of partners over the years. This was the one that came to fruition.

Is it right to report you look a little more relieved today?

There are always mixed emotions. In a sense it feels like a job well done, but you are leaving a team of people who have done a wonderful job. It’s also a business that has been part of my life since I was 21.

It is time to hand the baton to the new generation and when we got Chris Janz [MD Australian metro publishing] and James Chessell [group executive editor] into their current jobs we said, “This is your generation’s opportunity now. Grab it and run with it.”

I have been lucky enough to be part of it, but it is their turn. I am really pleased that these guys are taking Fairfax from here.

Some staff seem to have a love-hate relationship with the person who was a former colleague, now CEO, who made some pretty tough decisions.

We carefully always thought through decisions and looked at the options. The big issue was always maintaining the viability of the mastheads.

It is a public company and we created shareholder value, but we knew we had to maintain masthead viability and we have.

Not only that – if you look at them now they are a global phenomenon The Age, The SMH and The Australian Financial Review. They are getting revenue growth. We are past the point of getting earnings growth through cost out, the mastheads are now getting revenue growth and that is extraordinary. There are not many mastheads around the world, in markets this size, that are achieving that.

There is speculation Nine might sell some of the assets. Would you like to see the group remain intact?

There are options for the new business. I think it appropriate that Nine reviews the mix of the assets and then makes a call about what it should do.

What would you like to do next?

I am just going to have a break. There are lots of things I can do and I’ll make a call later. I have grandchildren I would like to see more of, family I would like to see more of and I would like to do a bit of travel – the sort of things people do after a long career.

I will engage with something, but I haven’t made any decisions yet.

Could we ever see a Greg Hywood byline again?

Anything is possible.

Free TV
Greg Hywood’s final report card: Publishing businesses are profitable, generating valuable cash flows

Fairfax Media chief executive officer’s address at the final ever Fairfax Media AGM:

Today is a momentous day for Fairfax Media. The company is entering an exciting new phase in its development. The support of shareholders recognises the great opportunity ahead and the work of everyone at Fairfax to put our company in this strong position.

The merger creates a powerful growth engine.

The combined group’s increased scale of audiences and marketing platforms will drive value creation and deliver long-term benefits to shareholders.

Our journalism is now on an even stronger and more sustainable footing for the future.

Fairfax has a long, proud history of independent journalism. Although it is the end of an era for the Fairfax corporate identity, independence is indelibly at the heart of our newsrooms and carries on into the future through our journalists. Our mastheads live and breathe the spirit of “Independent. Always.”

Our journalism packs a greater punch today than ever before in our company’s long history.

The resources we devote to investigative journalism yield significant returns – attracting audiences, winning awards, making a difference in civic society. Year after year Fairfax journalism has received the media industry’s highest honours and the past year has been no exception.

While we had to take hard decisions around the resources we needed, at all times we prioritised maintaining at-scale journalism at the standard that our readers expect.

We did this by thinking through the problems we faced. We reduced back-end costs, created efficiencies, and reshaped the business model that had been in place for 100 years.

It has not been business as usual. Far from it.

The strategy we have implemented over the past seven years has created a stronger, digitally driven business. Digital and other non-print revenue has almost doubled to around 40% of total revenue.

Transformation cleared almost $1 billion of net debt and put Fairfax in a net cash position for wholly owned entities.

Growth initiatives saw Domain become a $1.4 billion company and Stan build an active subscriber base of around 1.2 million in less than four years. In excess of $1.3 billion of value has been created for Fairfax shareholders.

All this has put Fairfax shareholders in a position to benefit from the upside potential of owning close to half of the merged Fairfax and Nine businesses.

During the year, our Publishing, Domain and Investment businesses performed well. Each maintained a growth focus and delivered good cost outcomes that will underpin future performance.

Our three publishing businesses are emerging from a period of great change. Each is profitable, generating valuable cash flows and positioned with distinct markets, products and strategy to leverage growth.

Australian Metro Media delivered a second consecutive year of EBITDA growth. It is also achieving top-line revenue growth in publishing, which makes Fairfax a standout globally in mid-size markets. This is due to an innovative mix of a Google partnership, improved print performance, and subscription revenue growth. On the cost front it continues its strong discipline. The print sharing agreement with News Corp is expected to further extend the cash-generating life of print.

Congratulations to Chris Janz and his team for achieving this extraordinary outcome. Metro enters the merger with strong momentum.

Australian Community Media continued its cost discipline and remains a strong cash-generating business. The incredibly well qualified and experienced Allen Williams is leading this team which is dealing with all the challenges in an innovative and effective manner.

New Zealand continues to drive strong digital revenue growth across its Stuff and Neighbourly platforms. This business is led by Sinead Boucher and is well positioned for an interesting and profitable future.

The rise and rise of Domain underscores the success of the Fairfax strategy to use our publishing businesses – with large audiences and deep marketing inventory – to drive new businesses. With this support, plus the opex and capex that Fairfax has invested, we know Domain has a great future ahead of it led by Jason Pellegrino and his team.

The same can be said for Stan, our 50:50 JV with Nine, which benefited hugely from the support it received from our publishing business. This is one of the great modern achievements in the Australian entertainment sector and is a credit to Mike Sneesby and his team.

The merging of Fairfax Radio Network with Macquarie Media was clearly a great decision for our business. The strong performance since the merger in March 2015 validates the confidence we had that news/talk/sport radio was best placed to withstand the structural changes in that industry to prosper in the future. Adam Lang and his team have done a terrific job.

Finally – and I make these comments assuming the Federal Court will approve the merger – on a personal note, it has been an honour to hold my position for a few days short of eight years.

I began at Fairfax in 1976 and even though I left for some years in the early 2000s, I have spent most of my adult life working for this company. I often say that we deliver a public good within a commercial model. That public good is that we ask questions of the institutions and people in power that they cannot or will not ask of themselves. This is the higher calling of our business. But it cannot be achieved unless it is underpinned by a robust business model.

That has been the essence of the work that we have done over the past years. It is also why we are adamant believers in this merger with Nine, which we believe is the best option for our journalism, our business and our shareholders. We identified this opportunity some time ago, which is why we lobbied so hard for the changes to the media ownership laws so that we could be standing here today.

Thank you to everybody who made this possible. I’ve worked with an incredible team over the years and they should all be proud of their contribution.

Our businesses and our journalism are now set to move into a new era of prosperity and influence.

Fairfax Media days from disappearing: How shareholders voted for the end

• Hugh Marks witnesses the final public board meeting
• Directors and chairman re-elected for…16 days!
• Shareholders slam secrecy surrounding executive salaries
• Questions regarding lack of print and radio experience at Nine
• Falloon on Antony Catalano: “I hesitate to call it a proposal”
• Hywood: “A landmark day, all our teams should be very proud”

By James Manning

In a brief shareholder meeting this morning at the Sydney offices of Domain, the fate of Fairfax Media was sealed, with 81.49% of shareholders voting in favour of the merger with Nine Entertainment Co. Although branded a merger, the split of the company gives Nine 51% equity in the new business and control.

There was a sombre mood in the Domain café area as shareholders and a bigger-than-usual media pack waited to be let into the meeting room.

The last-minute attempt by former Fairfax-Domain executive Antony Calalano to prevent the merger came to nothing. Inside the meeting chairman Nick Falloon said the Fairfax Media board met early Monday morning and decided that it was not a proposal at all and the board would continue to advocate the merger with each of the board members directing their vote for their shareholdings to a yes.

The Fairfax Media board is an impressive beast with all the celebrity members sitting to the right of the stage – CEO Greg Hywood, investor Jack Cowan, US publisher Mickie Rosen (also president of Tribune Publishing) and ad agency exec-turned-TV host Todd Sampson.

The crowd was made of lone wolf shareholders, always ready to throw in a troublesome question, fund managers, media and, sitting quietly in the centre of the room, the next CEO to run the Fairfax business, Nine CEO Hugh Marks, with his communications manager Vic Buchan.

Falloon outlined how the morning would work. Once the vote on the merger had been completed and, if passed, the Federal Court would sign off on the merger on November 27. Fairfax Media shares would then be suspended from November 28 and then would start trading again as part of Nine Entertainment Co on December 10.

Questions from the floor included Aurora Funds Management asking about the declining share prices. Falloon explained how the NEC and FXJ stock had been tied together since the deal was announced. He also pointed out how many other media companies, in Australia and internationally, had seen their stock prices tumble in the past couple of months. He singled out in particular Seven West Media. Asked about any other proposals in addition to Catalano’s, Falloon said no, at the same time making plain it was not really a proposal.

The Australian Shareholders Associations (ASA) asked about management experience at Nine, wondering how they might go without any direct experience of running wither print or radio assets. “How will this enable them to turnaround Fairfax?” Falloon didn’t correct the questioner that Fairfax was not really in need of a turnaround, but he did note that in the past Nine did have radio assets.

The ASA also asked about the chief executive’s salary, noting Fairfax was only one of two companies (Harvey Norman was the other) where they had been unable to find the exact details the annual salary either from the annual report or follow up discussions.

Lone wolf questions came from former film critic at The Age Jim Schembri who was making the most of the opportunity as he fired off a series of questions from the second row. He asked about the future autonomy of the newspaper brands and in particular The Age. Chairman Falloon noted again this was the best possible result for both shareholders and staff, and noted Nine has endorsed the charter of independence at Fairfax Media.

One agitated shareholder asked about errors in the newspaper, and another complained of left wing bias. He moved to The Daily Telegraph four years ago and had been very happy with that product.

When it came time to vote most of the work had ben done in advance with major shareholders handing in their intention before the public meeting. However those who chose to vote today did so by handheld electronic devices and there was a moment of theatre as people waited for the vote to appear on the screen. A majority of 81.49% said yes, well over the required 75%.

As the shareholder meeting regarding the Nine merger ended, Hugh Marks approached the stage and shook hands with some of the directors.

Marks then didn’t stay for the last-ever Fairfax Media AGM. On his way out he initially declined media interviews, but was persuaded to make a brief comment on the street outside.

To Mediaweek and others, Marks said: “As we have said all along there is strategic merit in putting the two businesses together and a lot of shareholders understand that. It is great to get the vote today and I am very appreciative of the support of shareholders. We still have a court meeting to go.

“We understand we have a lot to do should that proceed as we hope and we will be focussed as that on a team. It is exciting and another step in what we are trying to do which is to create a media company of the future and not one of the past and shareholders will benefit.”

The subsequent Fairfax AGM ran for just over 30 minutes and sped through the formalities.

They included voting for the re-election of the chairman and two board members. Why exactly? Because it was a corporations law requirement they had to go through until the board is officially no longer in control – just 16 days.

The Fairfax Media board is not often in the one place and they will therefore hold a special retirement dinner on Monday night in Sydney.

During his shareholders address, Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood called it a landmark day and noted that while it was the end of the corporate identity, it was not for the individual mastheads and brands.

“We have had to make hard decisions,” said Hywood. He then ran through each of the divisions noting their current strengths and the key executives that got them there. It almost sounded like a reference for each of the division chiefs, maybe in case they need it.

Hywood noted he had been with Fairfax almost constantly since 1976, and CEO for eight years. Clearly moved by the disappearance of the company he has worked for most of his adult life, Hywood added “we provide a public good on a commercial level. I have worked with an incredible team – and they should all be very proud.”

As Hywood resumed his seat there was a round of very warn applause.

Fox Cricket: Filmmaker Peter Dickson on Aust v India cricket rivalry

• ‘I set out to make a film that is not just for the sports fans who love cricket’

By James Manning

After making the ambitious three-part cricket documentary Forged In Fire last year, filmmaker Peter Dickson has backed up this year with 2 Nations 1 Obsession.

While his previous cricket doco looked at Ashes rivalry, the new film documents the rivalry between Australia and India.

Forged In Fire was shown on Nine last year, while his Indian cricket investigation is coming to Fox Cricket over two nights – Wednesday and Thursday November 21 and 22.

Filmmaker Peter Dickson with Ryan Harris

“I wasn’t going to make another cricket documentary, to be honest, after the last one,” he told Mediaweek. “The only reason I eventually decided to do it was because it was India. I really wanted to make it different from Forged In Fire, and I think India is the only place I could have achieved that because it is so culturally different.

“I’m glad I did even though it was exhausting. I was pretty shattered by the end of this because I was living it 24/7, but it was worthwhile and I am very happy with the finished product.

“I set out to make a film that is not just for the sports fans who love cricket. I try to make it broader and going to India allowed me to touch on the cultural aspects a whole lot more.”

In fact Dickson went so far to suggest that if people are only wanting to see cricket, they may not be happy with 2 Nations 1 Obsession. “I try to weave the narrative in and out of cricket.”

Dickson travelled with a small team to India for 15 days. “We based ourselves in Mumbai. It got pretty frustrating trying to set up anything. People would say yes, but then we might not hear from them for a few days. We were dealing with people who are treated like gods in India and access is very limited.

Adam Gilchrist in 2 Nations 1 Obsession

It’s amazing to think the footage shot in India came from a team of just three people – Dickson with his cameraperson and a production manager. For filming in Australia the team is a little bigger.

Cricket Australia commissioned Dickson to make both his cricket documentaries. Once he hands over the product to the sporting body it takes control of distribution. Last year it was Nine; this year it is Fox Sports via Fox Cricket.

Helping Dickson with the project locally this year were people like player-turned-commentator Adam Gilchrist and cricket writer Mike Coward.

People in India that gave great assistance included former player Sunil Gavaskar and commentator Hasha Bhogle.

“The current Indian players were not involved simply because the BCCI doesn’t allow players to do projects like this. Even if it did, we didn’t have $100,000 available!”

Dickson added, however, he thinks the storytelling works much better with past players because current players are not able to open up.

Other former Indian greats included Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev and Bishan Bedi. Dickson said he did very well, but there was a list that included a few he wasn’t able to connect with – one obvious big fish.

“I really wanted Sachin Tendulkar. He is beyond human over there and he had recently released his own documentary. To get to him proved to be impossible. Even some of his mates told me they weren’t able to reach him.”

Australian contributors included Alan Border, Ryan Harris, Greg Matthews, Stu Clark – “I really wanted some of the people you don’t hear a lot of. Greg Chappell was essential and fascinating because he coached India and he was brutally honest.”

Greg Matthews with Peter Dickson

Included in the movie is some nice drone footage. “I probably pushed it a little too much,” said Dickson, sounding concerned. Never – it is hard to overdo drone footage.

Dickson has worked a lot with Cricket Australia, and he sounded as surprised as anyone about the extent of turmoil this year. One of his key contacts was the recently sacked Ben Amarfio.

In addition to his cricket work, Dickson has also worked with the AFL on many annual specials. That includes a dozen documentaries on grand finals. Peter’s filmmaker brother Robert Dickson, who passed away in a car accident, started the AFL connection in 2001.

Peter has a handful of projects under consideration connected to other sports. He continues to do AFL projects to continue his brother’s legacy, but he admitted during our interview what perhaps it was time to consider something else.


All the winners from 2018 Screen Music Awards

• TV winners include Harrow, Mystery Road and Picnic At Hanging Rock

The Australian screen music and film sector last night gathered for the annual Screen Music Awards to celebrate the composers that made an impact in the previous year. The event, staged jointly by APRA AMCOS and the AGSC (Australian Guild of Screen Composers), was held at the City Recital Hall in Sydney and paid tribute to screen composers across 12 categories who impressed an independent panel of judges with their work across TV, online, film and advertising.

Through the magic of television, Denise Scott was hosting the awards show while also appearing in the final episode of Have You Been Paying Attention? on Network 10.

Screen composer Caitlin Yeo has taken out the Feature Film Score of the Year for her original score for The Butterfly Tree.

Caitlin Yeo

The film’s soundtrack has earned Yeo a second Screen Music Award in the category of Best Soundtrack Album. She has previously won Feature Film Score of the Year for The Rocket in 2013. It was a special evening for Yeo, who also attended in her capacity as President of the AGSC.

Matteo Zingales also received two Screen Music Awards – the first for Harrow, in the category of Best Television Theme. The second was for his collaboration with fellow screen composer Antony Partos. Together they have scored the award for Best Music for a Mini-Series or Telemovie for the acclaimed ABC television series Mystery Road.

Celebrated film and television screen composer Nerida Tyson-Chew won a gong in the category of Best Music for Children’s Television for her work on children’s animated television series The Deep (for the episode The Missing).

Father and son composers Cezary and Jan Skubiszewski, who teamed up to create the music for the Picnic at Hanging Rock reboot, have taken out the award for Best Music for a Television Series or Serial. This is the second time the duo has won an award in this category, winning in 2014 for Serangoon Road.

Cezary and Jan Skubiszewski

Producer and director Robert Connolly, this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Services to Australian Screen Award, was presented with his honour by composer Nigel Westlake, who composed the original score for Paper Planes. “You would be hard pressed to find another individual who has given voice to the artistry of so many Australian composers, a man who has nurtured our community and provided the resources for our local talent to shine and realise their craft so thoroughly and with absolute integrity. The opportunity to work with Rob on Paper Planes was a highlight of my career. He is a filmmaker of the utmost integrity, a storyteller of immense facility, and has always believed in the power of cinema as a force for good,” said Westlake.

Nigel Westlake and Robert Connolly

2018 Screen Music Award winners

Distinguished Services to the Australian Screen Award
Robert Connolly

Feature Film Score of the Year
The Butterfly Tree Composed by Caitlin Yeo

Best Television Theme
Harrow Composed by Matteo Zingales, Published by Sonar Music

Best Music for a Television Series or Serial
Picnic at Hanging Rock Composed by Cezary Skubiszewski and Jan Skubiszewski

Best Music for a Mini-Series or Telemovie
Mystery Road Composed by Antony Partos and Matteo Zingales, Published by Sonar Music

Best Music for a Documentary
A Stargazer’s Guide to the Cosmos Composed by Sean Tinnion

Best Music for a Short Film
Lost and Found Composed by Adrian Sergovich

Best Soundtrack Album
The Butterfly Tree Composed by Caitlin Yeo

Best Original Song Composed for the Screen
Now I Know from Pulse Composed by Oscar Joe Gross, Published by ABC Music Publishing

Best Music for Children’s Television
The Deep: The Missing Composed by Nerida Tyson-Chew

Best Music for an Advertisement
Forty Winks Composed by Jackson Milas. Published by Sonar Music

Most Performed Screen Composer – Australia
Composers Dinesh Wicks and Adam Gock

Most Performed Screen Composer – Overseas
Composer Neil Sutherland

Top Photo: Neil Sutherland

ABC promising unrivalled commitment to diverse Australian stories in 2019

At what amounts to its 2019 Upfront event in Melbourne today, ABC announced it will celebrate Australian stories in 2019 with new dramas, documentaries and comedies that showcase the country’s creative talent.

Highlights include the return of favourites Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery and Anh’s Brush with Fame.

David Anderson, ABC acting managing director, said: “The ABC tells the story of Australia and in 2019 we have many great stories to tell. We are Australia’s leading broadcaster in backing homegrown creative talent and content.

“In the year to come, as in years past, Australian audiences will come home to the ABC to share in the stories, conversations and events that shape our nation.”

Major highlights revealed today include new drama series Black B*tch (working title, Blackfella Films), starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths and directed by Rachel Perkins.

Just in time for the federal election is the documentary Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? (Joined Up Films), examining the barriers to having an indigenous national leader. The ABC’s commitment to distinctive indigenous voices will also see the return of drama Mystery Road (Bunya Productions), currently in development, building on the record-breaking success of season one.

The ABC is the home of Australian comedy in 2019, with a bumper six series slated for broadcast. Utopia (Working Dog Productions) has been confirmed for a fourth season and joins new series Frayed (Merman Television), starring Sarah Kendall, and returning seasons of Squinters (Jungle Entertainment), Rosehaven (What Horse? and Guesswork Television), Get Krack!n (Katering and Guesswork Television) and The Letdown (Giant Dwarf).

ABC Factual programs will include Australian premieres Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds (Endemol Shine Australia) and Love on the Spectrum (Northern Pictures), as well as the return of You Can’t Ask That and Employable Me (Northern Pictures).

Barry Humphries will narrate Magical Land of Oz (Northern Pictures) with the ABC getting back into the natural history genre. In a sweeping journey across Australia, this high-quality documentary plays out across the land, with a cast of unique creatures and landscapes.

Upcoming Arts programs include documentaries China Love (Media Stockade), a look at the phenomenon of Chinese wedding photography, Mystify (Ghost Pictures), the story of INXS’s Michael Hutchence, and Backburning: Midnight Oil (Beyond Entertainment & Blink TV), the story of the iconic Australian band Midnight Oil.

Following on from children’s programming announcements this year, the ABC also announced new series The Unlisted (Aquarius Films) and new episodes of smash hit animation Bluey (Ludo)!

TV star: Endemol Shine Australia promotes Peter Newman

Endemol Shine Australia CEOs Mark and Carl Fennessy have promoted Peter Newman to chief content officer, Endemol Shine Australia (ESA).

Newman has worked in the Australian, UK and US broadcast industries for both independent production companies and for television networks. He has extensive experience across content development, production, strategy and commissioning.

In his current role, Newman has been responsible for all aspects of Endemol Shine’s unscripted slate. Since joining in 2012 he has overseen more than 60 series including major formats such as MasterChef, Married At First Sight, Australian Survivor, Australian Ninja Warrior, Gogglebox, Ambulance, and new programs currently in production Lego Masters, Changing Rooms and Old People’s Home For Four Year Olds.

In his new role as chief content officer, Newman will hold the reins across all of ESA’s productions, overseeing some of Australia’s most successful television formats and brands. In addition to running extremely busy production and development teams, he will also take on core business responsibilities and contribute to the strategic direction of the company.

Peter Newman said: “I’m absolutely delighted to take on this expanded role at ESA. For me, it always has and always will be about the amazing people I work with every day across our business. As a team, we set really high standards for ourselves and I look forward to continuing to deliver the very best content to our broadcast partners now and into the future.”

Endemol Shine Australia CEO Carl Fennessy said: “This is a richly deserved promotion for an exceptionally talented executive. Peter is a world class creative leader who sets the highest standards of excellence across our programming slate. His impressive track record, hard work ethic and passion for his programming team will see him shine in his new role.”

Newman’s appointment will commence today and he will report directly to Mark and Carl Fennessy.

ASIC commences Federal Court action against former directors of Tennis Australia

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has issued civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against former Tennis Australia Limited directors, Harold Mitchell, of Melbourne, and Stephen Healy, of Northbridge, New South Wales.

ASIC’s case relates to a decision made in 2013 by the Tennis Australia board to award the domestic television broadcast rights for the Australian Open tournament to the Seven Network for a 5-year period without a competitive tender process.

See also:
• Nine gets another big summer sport: Paying $300m for Australian Open tennis
• Nine gets tennis, still wants cricket – Seven says tennis deal didn’t add up

ASIC alleges that both Mitchell and Healy:

• withheld material information from the Tennis Australia board when it made its decision to award the domestic broadcast rights
• failed to ensure that the board was fully informed about the value of the rights, the interest of parties other than the Seven Network in acquiring those rights and the best method of marketing them
• failed to advise the board that Tennis Australia was likely to obtain better terms by putting the rights out to competitive tender
• failed to ensure that a sub-committee, that had been appointed by the board to advise it about the granting of the rights, carried out its functions.

In relation to Harold Mitchell alone, ASIC also alleges that he:

• passed on to the Seven Network confidential information about the interest of its competitors in acquiring the rights
• passed on to Seven Network confidential information about the views and negotiating position of Tennis Australia’s management and board about the granting of the rights
• downplayed to the Tennis Australia board the interests of parties other than the Seven Network in acquiring the rights
• failed to inform the Tennis Australia board about the concerns that the Seven Network had over the interest of Network Ten in acquiring the rights, and
• encouraged the Tennis Australia board to conclude an agreement with the Seven Network instead of putting the rights out to competitive tender.

ASIC is seeking declarations that Mitchell contravened sections 180(1), 182(1) and 183(1) of the Act and that Healy contravened section 180(1) of the Act. ASIC also seeks that pecuniary penalties be ordered against Mitchell and Healy and that both be disqualified from managing corporations.

Top Photo: Harold Mitchell

Box Office: Fantastic Beasts Finds Top Spot

A big weekend thanks to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, along with the staying power of mega hits Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born, has helped the box office to a robust $17.19m, a 30% increase on last weekend.

By Trent Thomas

The other new entry to the top five this week was Burn The Stage: The Movie, which debuted at #4. The two films to drop out of the top five were Halloween (4 weeks and $6.52m) and Thugs of Hindostan (2 weeks and $648,644), which both gave way in a top-heavy weekend.

#1 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald $8.57m

The continuation of the Harry Potter universe continued the success of the franchise as it debuted in top spot off the back of an average of $12,266 per screen.



#2 Bohemian Rhapsody $4.34m

Slipping from #1 in its third weekend, the Queen biopic still had the highest average per screen this weekend – $12,951 across 328 screens.



#3 A Star is Born $1.81m

After five weeks in theatres the remake of the 1976 classic was still bringing in big numbers as it generated an average of $5,572 across 326 screens and lifted its total to $26.80m.



#4 Burn The Stage: The Movie $549,993

The film reporting behind the scenes of South Korean boy band BTS’s 2017 The Wings Tour cracked the top five in its first week making $5,000 per screen.



#5 The Girl in the Spider’s Web $319,689

The American sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has lasted a second week in the top five despite a 59% decrease on last weekend’s total (the largest drop-off for films in the top five). It managed an average of $1,202 on 266 screens.


TV Ratings Analysis: November 20

• Have You Been Paying Attention? ends year guns blazing
• Seven’s Bride & Prejudice getting close to a wedding

By James Manning


On a handful of Mondays this year a network has got away with a lower winning primary share and that is what Seven managed last night. It ranked #1 primary on 18.8%, but then really pushed home in first place with a combined channel share of 29.1%, 4.8 ahead of Nine.

Home And Away did 616,000 after an average audience of 555,000 last week.

Key to Seven’s win was Bride & Prejudice at 7.30pm where it ranked #1, albeit with fewer than 700,000 watching. The episode featured the couples letting their hair down at their bucks and hens parties before the wedding of Hank and Lily. The Monday episode a week ago was on 668,000.

Seven’s US drama God Friended Me then did 460,000 after 464,000 last week.


A Current Affair was bang on 800,000 after an average of 660,000 last week. Stories included a look at James Packer’s troubled life.

Family Food Fight only has a handful of episodes to go and it was on 433,000 in the 7.30pm slot after 384,000 on Monday a week ago.

Nine then went 007 with a screening of 2006’s Casino Royale with 260,000 watching.


The star of the night was Have You Been Paying Attention? with the final episode of the year pulling one of its biggest audiences of the year – 810,000. 10 has calculated this has been the biggest year ever for the series with the show up 11% YOY all people in 2018. The final guests joining Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee last night were crowned the “Golden Girls” by Pang – Urzila Carlson, Kitty Flanagan and Denise Scott. The final episode for the year started somewhat awkwardly with host Tom Gleisner doing what seemed like a “live” read about commercial partners raising money for charity.

The second episode of The Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds did 519,000 earlier in the night after launching with 560,000 last week.

The Project 7pm was on 469,000 after a week 46 average of 427,000.


No Four Corners last night, but the average did manage to hover close to 16%.

Australian Story was on 632,000.

Taking the 8.30pm slot was part one of Princess Margaret: The Rebel Royal, which featured some hilarious archive footage and great interviews, breaking away from the usual suspects who turn up in British royal family docos. The show did 585,000.

Media Watch was on 556,000 followed by Q&A on 409,000.


The second week of Child Genius started with 171,000 after an average of 212,000 for last week’s episodes.

Week 47 TV: Monday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 15.7% 7 18.8% 9 16.6% 10  13.3% SBS One 4.5%
ABC 2 2.3% 7TWO 4.4% GO! 3.7% 10 Peach 4.4% VICELAND 1.0%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 3.5% GEM 2.3% 10 Boss 1.9% Food Net 1.4%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix 2.4% 9Life 1.8%     NITV 0.2%
TOTAL 19.9%   29.1%   24.3%   19.6%   7.1%
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 15.3% 7 19.2% 9 12.8% WIN 10.8% SBS One 3.2%
ABC 2 2.5% 7TWO 5.4% GO! 4.9% ONE 4.4% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 1.0% 7mate 5.3% GEM 4.4% ELEVEN 1.9% Food Net 1.2%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 1.9% 9Life 1.7% Sky News  on WIN 1.0% NITV 0.5%
TOTAL 20.3%   31.8%   23.8%   18.1%   5.5%


86.5% 13.5%


  1. Seven News Seven 985,000
  2. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 958,000
  3. Nine News Nine 914,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 901,000
  5. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 810,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 800,000
  7. ABC News ABC 703,000
  8. Bride & Prejudice – The Forbidden Weddings Seven 687,000
  9. 7.30 ABC 675,000
  10. Australian Story ABC 632,000
  11. Home And Away Seven 616,000
  12. Princess Margaret: The Rebel Royal ABC 585,000
  13. The Chase Australia Seven 580,000
  14. Media Watch ABC 556,000
  15. The Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds 10 519,000
  16. Hot Seat Nine 469,000
  17. The Project 7pm 10 469,000
  18. God Friended Me Seven 460,000
  19. Family Food Fight Nine 433,000
  20. Q&A-Le ABC 409,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 276,000
  2. Bride & Prejudice – The Forbidden Weddings Seven 172,000
  3. The Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds 10 155,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 120,000
  5. Nine News Nine 116,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 430,000
  2. Bride & Prejudice – The Forbidden Weddings Seven 279,000
  3. The Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds 10 253,000
  4. Nine News Nine 218,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 210,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 468,000
  2. Bride & Prejudice – The Forbidden Weddings Seven 315,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 275,000
  4. Nine News Nine 274,000
  5. The Secret Life Of 4 Year Olds 10 271,000
MONDAY Multichannel
  1. The Big Bang Theory Tx2 9GO! 201,000
  2. The Big Bang Theory 9GO! 198,000
  3. Doc Martin PM 7TWO 186,000
  4. The Big Bang Theory Tx1 9GO! 175,000
  5. NCIS Ep 2 (R) 10 Boss 159,000
  6. Foyle’s War PM 7TWO 145,000
  7. NCIS Late (R) 10 Boss 143,000
  8. NCIS (R) 10 Boss 142,000
  9. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 140,000
  10. Kiddets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  11. Luo Bao Bei ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  12. Neighbours 10 Peach 135,000
  13. Dot. PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  14. New Tricks 9Gem 133,000
  15. Waffle The Wonder Dog PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  16. Octonauts ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  17. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  18. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  19. Dino Dana ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  20. Shaun The Sheep ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
MONDAY Subscription TV
  1. Outlander FOX SHOWCASE 59,000
  2. The Walking Dead FOX SHOWCASE 57,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 54,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 49,000
  5. The War Wagon FOX Classics 43,000
  6. Father Brown UKTV 42,000
  7. 24 Hours In Emergency LifeStyle Channel 41,000
  8. The Brokenwood Mysteries 13TH STREET 41,000
  9. Credlin Sky News Live 41,000
  10. NCIS TVH!TS 39,000
  11. Criminal Minds TVH!TS 39,000
  12. Seinfeld 111 37,000
  13. Sharri Sky News Live 37,000
  14. The Simpsons FOX8 37,000
  15. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 36,000
  16. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 35,000
  17. Top Wing Nick Jr. 35,000
  18. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 34,000
  19. PML Overtime Sky News Live 33,000
  20. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 33,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

After poorly timed delaying tactic, Catalano now threatening legal suit

Has Antony Catalano fully lost the plot? asks The AFR’s Myriam Robin.

Breaking coverage on Sunday night described The Cat’s attempt to halt Fairfax Media’s takeover by Nine Entertainment Co as an “11th-hour bid”. More like 13th.

By the time Domain’s former chief got around to lobbing his letter to the Fairfax board, the whole dance was over. Overwhelmingly and utterly so.

Of the total shares on issue (as opposed to those voted), 69.5% had been cast in favour of the deal by the close of proxies on Saturday night. The race was run, and won, a full 24 hours before Catalano’s letter landed.

Catalano now says he’ll file suit to injunct the merger next week. We wish him the best of luck (and hope his barrister demands payment in advance). Convincing a court to uphold the rights of a potential future shareholder would be a profound development in more than 400 years of common law.

[Read the original]

Antony Catalano waited too long to block Nine’s Fairfax takeover

From the day Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon engineered Antony Catalano’s departure from the Domain-listed subsidiary of Fairfax in January, “The Cat” has been plotting his return, reports The Australian’s Robert Gottliebsen.

But he waited too long. Had he moved a week or so ago, Fairfax shareholders would have achieved a much better outcome.

Now Catalano’s only alternative is to carry out his threat to appeal to the courts – never an easy course of action.

There is no one in the country who better understands the value of each of the Fairfax assets, who the potential buyers are and how the buyers can remain linked to Domain.

My guess is that if Antony Catalano could muster a bid he would call on his friend, outgoing Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood, to help him. The Cat has long forgiven Hywood for not putting his job on the line when Nick Falloon was plotting against the Domain founder.

[Read the original]

See also: Terry McCrann: Last-minute pitch for Fairfax by ex Domain boss was inept

Veteran newsman Greg Hywood big Fairfax winner after takeover

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood is set to walk away from his seven years running the venerable newspaper group with a total of $8.5 million, mostly in cash, but also with enough shares to have an interest in how the merger performs, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.

The veteran newspaperman is the biggest individual winner inside Fairfax thanks to a combination of his 2.09 million shares and a big share of the $16m that Fairfax will pay executives in compensation for cancelling performance rights and options that were yet to be exercised, and for their part of the 2018 and 2019 incentive schemes. All up, Hywood should walk away with $7.5m in cash and 760,499 shares in the merged company, worth $1.26m at yesterday’s closing price of $1.66 a share for Nine.

The cash comes largely from $5.8m he was due to receive in compensation for cancellation of performance rights and options.

[Read the original]

Mark Zuckerberg should – at least – step down as Facebook chairman

Some Facebook investors are calling – again, and more vehemently – for a change at the top. If Mark Zuckerberg is to stay at the helm, they at least want him to give up his dual role as CEO and chairman.

Step down as chairman and appoint an independent director to oversee the board, reports Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post.

Zuckerberg controls 60% of the company and can do pretty much whatever he wants. And he doesn’t like that idea.

But it’s the right one. At the very least, it’s a move in a sensible direction. If there was ever a company that needed vigorous checks and balances, it’s this one.

Facebook is a $US40 billion global giant with almost unimaginable power. It now has 2 billion users worldwide.

[Read the original]

News Brands

Accuser of hero Ben Roberts-Smith at risk if identified, court told

Lawyers for a woman at the centre of a high-stakes legal battle between Fairfax Media and the country’s most decorated war veteran, Ben Roberts-Smith, claim she could be killed if her identity is revealed in court, reports The Australian’s Deborah Cornwall.

The woman – referred to in Federal Court documents as Person 17 – is a key witness in defamation proceedings launched by Victoria Cross winner Roberts-Smith against Fairfax over a series of articles he says cast him as a war criminal, a murderer, and a domestic violence offender.

Barrister Clarissa Amato told the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday that media reports Person 17 had complained to police about being assaulted by Roberts-Smith in March had made her a target of extreme abuse and threats of violence on social media.

[Read the original]

Osman Faruqi’s defamation case against Mark Latham set for trial

Mark Latham will file no evidence in his defence as part of a defamation case brought against him by former Greens candidate and political journalist Osman Faruqi, which will go to trial next year, reports The Australian’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

In the Federal Court on Monday morning, Justice Michael Wigney set the case down for trial over two days on April 11 and 12, 2019.

Osman Faruqi, the son of Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi, is suing Latham over a video shared in August, 2017, in which he was accused of “white racism” in his social media posts. The video was viewed more than 30,000 times, according to Faruqi.

[Read the original]

Facebook pledges £4.5m to fund 80 new UK community journalists

Facebook is donating £4.5m to fund 80 new community journalists in the UK who will be trained up by the National Council for the Training of Journalists and sent into local and regional newsrooms, reports Press Gazette.

The Community News Project is a global first for the social media giant. It will recruit trainee journalists, paying them a wage and covering their expenses and training over a two-year period.

The scheme has a particular focus on recruiting reporters from diverse backgrounds – although no quotas will be set – and beefing up coverage of areas affected by local newspaper cuts and closures.

There is no guarantee of a job at the end for recruits, but publishers said they will not look to “close the door” on someone they have invested in.

[Read the original]


P!nk hits record earnings with Australia/New Zealand tour haul

If further proof of Australia’s enduring love affair with P!nk was necessary, the pop star’s bank account should suffice, reports Fairfax Media’s Robert Moran.

The singer, 39, grossed $109.8 million ($US80.4 million) from 559,361 tickets sold during the Australia/New Zealand leg of her Beautiful Trauma World Tour, according to figures published by Billboard.

It’s P!nk’s biggest haul yet from her tours of Australia and New Zealand, up on the $US73 million she grossed on 2013’s The Truth About Love Tour.

The latest earnings result in a career gross of $311.7 million ($US228 million) for the pop star in the region, making Pink the second-highest-grossing artist of all time in Australia and New Zealand, behind only The Rolling Stones on $US429.8 million ($587.5 million), Billboard reports.

[Read the original]

The Veronicas’ Jessica Origliasso accuses ex Ruby Rose of ‘harassment’

The drama between The Veronicas singer Jessica Origliasso and her ex-girlfriend Ruby Rose shows no signs of abating, seven months after they split, reports Fairfax Media’s Amy Coffrey.

On Saturday, Origliasso took to her Instagram account to post a picture of her and her new partner, Kai Carlton, kissing at her sister Lisa Origliasso’s wedding to Logan Huffman earlier this month. Alongside the photo, Origliasso described herself as the “luckiest”.

Orange Is the New Black and upcoming Batwoman star Rose then commented under the loved-up shot, “Congratulations, so happy for you both.”

But Origliasso wasn’t pleased to see Rose’s well-wishes and swiftly accused her of “harassment”.

After two years together, Rose announced the couple’s breakup in April in a Twitter post that has since been deleted.

“We still love each other very much and I will always support her and be her biggest advocate,” Rose wrote at the time.

[Read the original]

After legal action ends, Rebel Wilson scores big movie role

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed the still much sought-after actress Rebel Wilson is joining Universal and Working Title’s movie adaptation of the stage classic Cats.

It notes the Aussie actress will play Jennyanydots in the feature that will also star Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and Ian McKellen. Tom Hooper will direct.

McKellen revealed his role in the new movie during his appearance on The Graham Norton Show last week, which was broadcast on Network 10 on Sunday night.

Production on Cats is set to take place later this year in the UK, with more of the cast to be announced.

Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) has adapted the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which itself was based on the T.S. Eliot novel Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

The movie is slated for a Christmas 2019 release.

Wilson will appear next in the romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic and then the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake The Hustle.


Accident reveals final piece of jigsaw puzzle for 1629 SEN SA team

The Adelaide Advertiser is reporting that the co-host for Kane Cornes’ new 1629 SEN SA breakfast will be Andrew Haynes, a four-time premiership player with Central Districts in the SANFL.

The report comes from Adelaide Confidential’s Antimo Iannella.

Haynes had been anticipated as the new co-host, but the paper reports his photo was accidentally posted on the station’s new podcast page along with Kane’s. It has since been removed.

Since leaving football, Haynes has worked as a reporter for Seven and a broadcaster for Hit 107 Adelaide.

Pacific Star Network announced four weeks ago the launch of an Adelaide SEN offshoot that would have its own breakfast and drive shows.

At the time of the announcement, Kane Cornes was revealed as one of the breakfast hosts.

Earlier this month Pacific Star revealed with the local drive show would be hosted by Nine Adelaide sports reporter Kym Dillon and The Advertiser’s chief football writer Michelangelo Rucci. The drive show will be branded Kymbo and The Rooch and will be on air weekdays 4pm-6pm

The new station is set to start broadcasting in South Australia on December 6, which coincides with the first Test against India.

Sports Media

Umpire lays bare Oz tennis: John Stensholt on ASIC allegations

It is the sweetheart broadcast rights deal that could ruin the reputation of one of Australia’s most high-profile and wealthiest business identities, while embroiling billionaires, legal bosses, executives and an entire sport in the controversy, reports The Australian’s John Stensholt.

An alleged plan hatched to ensure the country’s highest rating television company maintained the lucrative rights to the Australian Open tennis tournament each January, with an aggressive display that reveals the bitter battles that can unfold for sports rights.

One that ultimately provided Seven West Media with the ideal platform to launch into the ratings season at a price less than that offered by its competitors.

Former Tennis Australia vice president Harold Mitchell was yesterday hit with legal action by the corporate regulator ASIC, along with former Tennis Australia president and Sydney lawyer Stephen Healy, regarding a controversial decision in 2013 to not put its broadcast rights – the biggest source of income for the sport – to the open market.

Healy says he intends “to vigorously defend the claim”, while Mitchell told The Australian yesterday he had “nothing” to say about the charges.

A Seven spokesman says: “In Seven’s experience Harold Mitchell and Stephen Healy always acted in a highly professional and proper manner, and are of the highest character and reputation.”

A case management hearing in the Federal Court is set down for November 30.

[Read the original]

Who can save AFL indigenous radio service 2019 broadcasts?

Footy’s prized indigenous radio service is on the brink of collapse because of a lack of league funding, reports News Corp’s Michael Warner.

AFL Indigenous Broadcasting, which beams matches into Australia’s most remote communities via the National Indigenous Radio Service, has been seeking urgent financial assistance from league headquarters for more than two years.

It is likely to fold after 20 seasons if funds are not secured before Round 1 next year.

It has emerged the AFL arranged talks with Craig Hutchison’s company, Crocmedia, about entering into partnership with AFL Indigenous Broadcasting early last year.

The proposed arrangement, which was rejected, involved AFL Indigenous Broadcasting agreeing to take on some of Crocmedia’s calls of AFL matches.

Crocmedia controls the bulk of the AFL’s lucrative radio rights landscape and recently purchased the AFL Record, AFLW publications and the annual AFL season guide. The deal includes the licensing of AFL trademarks.

[Read the original]

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