Roundup: 10 and Seven’s war of words, Nielsen on streaming, Richard Wilkins + more

• Plus Roberts-Smith and Christian Porter’s court cases

Business of Media

ViacomCBS pushes integrity as Seven labels it ‘desperate’

Network 10 has sought to differentiate itself from its traditional free-to-air television network rivals Seven and Nine by branding itself the network with integrity, arguing it boasts a more progressive audience than its competitors, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

The ViacomCBS-owned metropolitan network pushed a message of cultural responsibility at its virtual UpClose 2021 event aimed at advertising partners.

Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton shot back at the integrity claims, telling The Australian Financial Review that 10 is “absolutely clutching at straws”.

“Three odd million people watch the Seven and Nine news brands every single night. That absolutely dwarfs everything they do. They program for 90 minutes a day, they’re irrelevant in the back end of the week. Their biggest franchise [MasterChef] just halved. That just sounds desperate.”

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Also see: 10 previews the rest of 2021 at Up Close event

Seven shares jump on ad, digital growth

Shares in Seven West Media, owner of the Seven Network and a stable of newspapers in West Australia, have leapt more than 20 per cent after it announced it is on track to exceed earnings consensus following strong advertising growth in the fourth quarter, reports News Corp’s Lachlan Moffet Gray.

In a statement to the ASX the Kerry Stokes-backed group said its underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the 2021 financial year would be between $250m and $255m, including temporary benefits.

The news sent Seven shares soaring 23.75 per cent to close at 49.5c, an improvement of more than 300 per cent year to date.

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Seven West Media exits ‘near death experience’

Seven West Media is pushing a message of renewed confidence as it sends strong signals that it is exiting its “near-death experience” and shareholder Spheria Asset Management suggests the company could be a target for acquisition should its share price not improve, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Matthew Booker, portfolio manager with Seven shareholder Spheria Asset Management, welcomed the company’s trading update announcing a strong rebound in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter of FY21, which is estimated to grow more than 45 per cent.

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Killed man showed ‘hostile intent’, Roberts-Smith says

Ben Roberts-Smith says an Afghan man whose murder he is alleged to have been involved in was showing “hostile intent” and was a spotter for Taliban forces, reports AFR’s Max Mason.

In the first day of Nine’s cross-examination, the former Special Air Services soldier was methodically taken through his own version of some key events he is using in his defamation action by the media company’s barrister Nicholas Owens, SC.

This included Roberts-Smith’s version of events for a 2012 mission where he is alleged to have been involved in the murder of the man, named Ali Jan, after kicking him off a cliff in September 2012.

Roberts-Smith was not questioned about the alleged murder, but asked to spell out his own recollection of what happened that day.

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Barrister who tried to represent Christian Porter against ABC could face disciplinary complaint

The barrister who was ordered to stop acting for Christian Porter in his defamation action against the ABC could face a possible disciplinary complaint over her involvement in the case, reports News Corp’s Nicola Berkovic.

Lawyers for Jo Dyer — who was friends with the woman who accused the former Attorney-General of historical rape — foreshadowed a possible complaint to legal regulators in the Federal Court on Thursday.

Dyer launched successful legal action against defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC last month to stop her acting for Porter in his case against the ABC.

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Nielsen now knows when you are streaming

Nielsen on Thursday announced that it had moved a step closer toward cracking one of the great questions of the modern entertainment world: How big, exactly, is streaming? Reports The New York TimesJohn Koblin.

In recent years, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+ and Apple TV have revolutionized the viewing habits of millions of Americans, but the streaming companies have been fiercely protective of their numbers, sharing data on how many people are watching very selectively, if at all.

Now Nielsen, the 98-year-old research firm that for decades has had an effective monopoly on measuring TV ratings in the United States, has a new metric that it says allows it to make an apples-to-apples comparison, on a percentage basis, of how many people are streaming shows and films on their TVs versus how many are watching traditional cable and broadcast channels.

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Screen Queensland appoints Wildbear Entertainment executive new head of content

Screen Queensland has appointed Mags Scholes as head of content, to lead the agency’s local production support and talent development initiatives.

Scholes started her career as a researcher at the BBC, then moved into sound where she worked for 15 years alongside various Oscar and BAFTA-winning cast and crew before transitioning into production.

In 2017, Scholes relocated to Singapore as Head of Production for UK factual outfit MAKE Waves, headed by BAFTA-winning director Sarah Macdonald and previous CEO of BBC World News Sian Kevill.

She has also worked in production management at ABC, NITV and SBS, and joins Screen Queensland from her role as senior production manager at Brisbane’s Wildbear Entertainment, overseeing Screen Queensland-supported productions Demolition Down Under for Network 10 and feature documentaries Brock Over the Top directed by Kriv Stenders and Hating Peter Tatchell with executive producer Elton John.

Throughout her career, Scholes has delivered content for Netflix, Universal, HBO, Discovery, BBC, NHK, Disney, Channel NewsAsia, Channel 5 UK, ITV and MTV among others.

Scholes has lectured at a variety of tertiary institutions, and is also on the management committee of Dame Changer — a screen industry collective providing training and networking opportunities for women. 

Screen Queensland chief creative officer Jo Dillon thanked former head of content Diya Eid and welcomed Scholes into the leadership role at the state screen agency.

“Mags’ experience as a crew member, production executive, educator and programmer of professional development events and initiatives has given her a truly 360-degree view of the industry.

“Her broad skills, knowledge and contacts developed over decades working in the sector, both in Australia and internationally, will be deeply valuable to our local industry, and we are fortunate to have Mags take the reins as leader of our Content team,” Dillon said.

Richard Wilkins looks back on his 1970’s rock ’n’ roll music career

Richard Wilkins is leading Stellar on Friday on a guided tour of his Sydney house. He’s headed to the gym, where two posters from his days as rock singer Richard Wilde sit above the treadmill, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

“They don’t make flares like that anymore,” Wilkins says of his wardrobe choices in 1977, fresh from leaving teacher’s college in his native New Zealand to try to crack the music industry here.

“We’d do 14 gigs in a busy week,” he recalls of his days touring with his band Wilde And Reckless.

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