Roundup: 10 and Nova earnings, Lego Masters, Olympics coverage


Facebook, Google & News Corp partner, ABC, Shane Warne, Ray Hadley, and Hemsworths planning a move

Business of Media

Network 10 suffers 2020 loss after restructuring costs and write-downs

Network 10 lost $3.4 million in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with the television production schedule and sparked a media revenue crash, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

According to filings with the Australian Securities Investments Commission, the ViacomCBS-owned network booked a bottom-line loss for calendar year 2020 of $3.4 million. However, if one-off items are excluded, the company reported an underlying profit after tax of $48.1 million.

Network 10’s annual report notes the COVID-19 pandemic “has negatively impacted, and is expected to continue to impact the macroeconomic environment, as well as ViacomCBS’ business, financial condition and results of operations in 2021”.

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Lachlan Murdoch’s Nova boosts earnings with $10.6m JobKeeper payment

Lachlan Murdoch’s privately owned radio group, Nova Entertainment, boosted its earnings last year while receiving $10.6 million worth of JobKeeper payments, reports SMH‘s Colin Kruger and Zoe Samios.

Nova reported a 28 per cent lift in net profit to $16.88 million despite revenue plunging to $161.4 million for the year ending December 31, 2020 compared to $210 million for the prior year as radio advertising revenue plunged as the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns led to an exodus of advertisers.

It is the last financial report to be released under long-standing chief executive Cathy O’Connor, who left the company at the end of 2020 to join ASX-listed billboard company oOh!Media.

The company confirmed that it did not pay Murdoch a dividend last year. In 2019 it paid him a dividend of $12 million. Nova has been one of Murdoch’s most successful business ventures and he has retained the operation despite returning to running the Murdoch family’s News Corp as co-chairman and Fox Corp as executive chairman and chief executive.

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Not newsy enough: Facebook spurns small publishers

Popular lifestyle websites Broadsheet Media, The Urban List and Concrete Playground, claim they could be forced to consolidate after Facebook shut down requests for funding to support their journalism, report SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

The trio came together to negotiate payment by Facebook for the use of their content but the social media company rejected the requests. They said Facebook did not give a reason for that decision but it was speculated the tech company did not consider the independent media companies news outlets.

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News Corp Australia and Google Australia to launch a new digital news academy

A world-leading digital news academy is being established to help journalists bolster their stories in an extremely competitive online market, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

News Corp Australia and Google Australia have partnered to create a new innovative education program, The Digital News Academy, focused on upskilling news producers’ digital journalism skills.

The academy will help arm journalists, editors and publishers with critical knowledge skill sets to ensure their content can be executed in a beneficial way in the ever-growing digital era and tertiary institution experts are also being engaged to help deliver the training. It will begin in 2022 and allow 250 journalists and news professionals annually to learn from a range of resources, from online tutorials to formal education curriculum.

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ABC defence in Porter case to stay secret

The ABC’s defence of Christian Porter’s defamation action will stay secret after the Federal Court decided to remove the documents from the public record, reports AFR‘s Michael Pelly.

Two media outlets, News Corp and Nine, sought access to 27 redacted pages of the response to the statement of claim filed by Porter in March after the ABC reported that an unnamed cabinet minister had been accused of historical rape.

They argued it would violate the principles of open justice and that keeping the redacted material off the court file would be “giving special treatment”.

However, Justice Jayne Jagot ruled on Friday that the parties had reached an agreement in good faith and that open justice was “fundamental but not absolute”.

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News Brands

Call to fix ‘broken’ ABC social media policy after Wendy Harmer Twitter spray

The ABC’s social media code has been labelled “not only woefully inadequate but broken” after one of its key radio broadcasters took to Twitter on the weekend to criticise the federal government, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Wendy Harmer, who co-hosts Sydney’s ABC breakfast radio show, is the latest staff member to be accused of breaching the public broadcaster’s social media guidelines after she responded to a five-page feature about Liberal senator and Attorney-General Michaelia Cash published in the Good Weekend liftout in Nine Entertainment’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

On the weekend she tweeted a quote by Senator Cash included in the article: “To achieve, you work hard. To achieve more, you simply have to work harder – Michaelia Cash.”

Harmer went on to write: “This is the mantra of our present government. It’s a lie and I utterly reject it.”

It attracted more than 1200 retweets, 7000 likes and 560 comments by Sunday evening.

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ABC’s Four Corners sued for defamation over ‘Putin’s Patriots’

The national vice-president of Russian motorcycle club the Night Wolves is taking the ABC’s Four Corners to the Federal Court over an investigation he claims suggested that he betrayed Australia to promote the interests of Russia, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

In documents filed to the Federal Court last Wednesday, Alexander Duganov, who is also known as Sasha, said an investigation broadcast by Four Corners called Putin’s Patriots: Russian Money and Influence Operations in Australia on February 15 2021, and an accompanying article covering the episode published to the ABC website on the same date, was defamatory.

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Facebook and Google blitz on Covid untruths

Tech giants including Facebook and Google have removed hundreds of thousands of posts spreading misinformation about Covid-19, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

At a Senate committee hearing on Friday into foreign interference through social media, Facebook’s head of public policy Australia, Josh Machin, confirmed it has teams focused on removing both misinformation and disinformation relating to the pandemic and Covid-19 vaccines.

In Australia Facebook has removed 110,000 pieces of harmful Covid-19 misinformation alone.

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Lego Masters relocates to Sydney at host Hamish Blake’s request

Multimillion-dollar star Hamish Blake has flexed his muscle at Nine, prompting the production partners behind TV game show Lego Masters to move the program from Melbourne to Blake’s newly adopted hometown of Sydney, reports News Corp’s
Annette Sharp.

It’s a relocation that will generate jobs in Sydney but result in job losses for as many as 80 production crew in Melbourne, the program’s production base for three years.

According to industry sources, Blake this month told co-production partners Nine and Endemol Shine Australia he was unwilling to commit to a 12-week Melbourne lockdown – or repeated mandatory quarantines to ensure production of the fourth season of Lego Masters proceeds in the southern capital.

The production season of the forthcoming season of Lego Masters, which goes to air in 2022, has been earmarked for a 10-12 week shoot from October to December.

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Hemsworths tipped to sell $30m Byron Bay home

The Byron Bay rumour mill is running hot with talk the area’s most ­famous family is looking to put its sprawling $30m Los Angeles-style compound in the northern NSW hamlet on the market, reports News Corp’s Lisa Allen.

Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky never fail to ­create excitement around Byron Bay and for months local real estate agents and cashed-up locals have fielded rumours that the Hollywood family wants to cash up from Broken Head Rd and move elsewhere in the popular hamlet.

The couple also reportedly inspected a large landholding at nearby Lennox Head, about 18km south of Byron Bay, which ­subsequently sold for between $14m and $15m to a couple of Sydneysiders who plan to use it as a holiday home.

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Peter FitzSimons chat with Ray Hadley about former colleague Alan Jones

Following Alan Jones’ outrageous anti-vaxxer outburst, I thought I’d see what his long-time radio colleague Ray Hadley thought about it all. Ray kindly agreed to this chat, writes Peter FitzSimons in his Sun-Herald column.

Fitz: You started out as a huge supporter of Scott Morrison, then I recall you had a major on-air stink, then you made up. Can we agree he has completely stuffed up the vaccine roll-out?

Ray: Most assuredly. The responsibility for that debacle lies at the feet of the Morrison government.

Fitz: You will recall me telling you at that dinner in Parliament House in 2001 not to go to 2GB, and to not have anything to do with Jones.

Ray: Even though I am a right-wing-shock myself, I have been shocked by him for the last 18 months and his whole approach on Covid. He is just wrong. This is serious, and what he and the likes of Craig Kelly say is dangerous. And I was equally outraged that Jones this week called our Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a “village idiot”. They have to be called out, and I am glad I have done so, and that Jones has now lost his job as columnist with The Daily Telegraph. We are at a crucial time in our history. We have to be united, and Jones divides us.

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Commercial radio broadcasters fear ABC’s move to switch AM to FM a ‘dangerous precedent’

Commercial radio broadcasters fear if a bid by the ABC to convert their radio licences from AM to FM in the Perth market is successful it could set a “dangerous precedent” nationally that jeopardises their financial viability and provides an unfair advantage, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Industry sources say the move by the ABC, which could see it not have to pay to switch their stations, is “absolutely ridiculous” and be detrimental to commercial entities which have seen metropolitan revenues plummet by up 58 per cent within a month at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Men’s Health gets Shane and Jackson Warne for revealing interview

After years on the road dominating the cricket world, Shane Warne is making up for lost time, reports News Corp’s Adam Mobbs.

Although he admits to missing the camaraderie of a team environment, the father of three tells the September issue of Men’s Health magazine of his regrets that couldn’t be around for family milestones, like watching his kids be born.

“I missed Jackson’s birth. I didn’t see him for four months because we were at the 1999 World Cup,” he tells the mag in the lead-up to Fathers Day.

“I missed the birth of my eldest daughter, Brooke, because I was playing on an Ashes tour.

“I went home in between Tests and saw her for one night, then flew all the way back to England.”

His focus now is his kids. Warne lives with his son, Jackson, who is still energised by his breakout appearance on SAS Australia.

He’s introduced Jackson to Tiger Woods, they go to Las Vegas together and bond over motorcycles, poker and sport — but that hasn’t included pushing his son into cricket.

“They’ve all got their own lives, and I’m there. My son lives with me fulltime, and when I travel, he lives with his mum. My eldest daughter [Brooke] has a boyfriend, so she goes from her mum’s house to her boyfriend’s house to my house, and my youngest daughter [Summer] mixes between her mum and me,” Warne tells Men’s Health.

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Sports Media

Network Ten intends to bid for sporting rights despite $3 million loss

Network 10 is planning to ramp up its investment in sporting rights as it prepares to launch its new subscription streaming service, despite posting a $3 million loss last year and broader concerns about a weak advertising market, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

ViacomCBS and 10 sales boss Rod Prosser said he is confident that a multimillion-dollar investment in football broadcast rights will deliver returns for the network and its streaming service, Paramount+, despite unpredictable market conditions caused by COVID-19 last year, and the ongoing lockdown in NSW.

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Buzz lists Top 10 Olympic commentators: No Baz, but Thorpie and Leisel make list

News Limited sportswriter Phil Rothfield has published a list of his 10 best Olympic TV commentators. The list comes as the halfway mark of Tokyo 2020 and published on the morning of the last day of the swimming competition.

The list features two of the current Seven swimming team – Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones – but omits the main called Basil Zempilas.

The list also features the three commentators who called Olympic sawimming before Zempilas secured the role – Bruce McAvaney, Ray Warren and Dennis Cometti.


Buzz’s Top 10 TV Commentators

Norman May
Bruce McAvaney
Dennis Cometti
Phil Liggett
Ray Warren
Raelene Boyle
Ian Thorpe
Dave Culbert
Matt Hill
Leisel Jones

Tokyo 2020: Ando rates Olympic broadcasters, finds next Bruce McAvaney?

He may be more “Whispering” Ted Lowe than Darrell Eastlake in terms of passionate delivery, but the technical quality of Ian Thorpe’s analysis has been a Channel 7 commentary highlight, writes News Corp’s Jon “Ando” Anderson.

Thorpe, 38, can add an expert comments gold medal to the five he won for Australia in the Olympic pool, although the overall excellence of Seven’s coverage (with so much live sport) has seen him in exalted company, with Basil Zempilas nailing the key swimming moments.

They set the bar high on opening night when Bruce McAvaney and Hamish McLachlan overcame a lack of crowds and the tyranny of Covid distance to bring interest to what could have been an exercise in sterility.

Alister Nicholson, best known for his radio work with the ABC, has been a beauty at the hockey, which will lead to his name being touted as a full-time Channel 7 commentator when Bruce McAvaney retires.

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Abbey Gelmi winning over Olympic gig critics at Seven

Abbey Gelmi’s appointment to the plum prime time hosting role on Seven’s Tokyo Olympics coverage has ruffled some feathers at broadcaster Seven, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

Gifted with an outstanding voice, the hardworking Gelmi is said to be fast winning over critics within Seven — although her co-host Hamish McLachlan is not necessarily one of them.

Some suggest McLachlan, Seven’s Mr AFL (though not the AFL’s Mr AFL — that would be his brother Gill McLachlan), may disapprove of Gelmi’s new relationship with Richmond premiership star Kane Lambert.

Another whose nose is said to be out of joint by Gelmi’s meteoric rise is Seven Sydney’s sports news reader Mel McLaughlin.

As this column has reported previously, McLaughlin, who is now on the ground in Tokyo, has had a battle winning over bosses within Seven’s sports department.

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