Roundup: ABC complaints inquiry, Emma Alberici, A-League coverage + more

ABC david anderson and ita buttrose

• Plus: Val Morgan, Outbrain, Streaming platforms Black Friday sales, Lisa Wilkinson, and Neighbours

Business of Media

Senate shoots down Andrew Bragg’s ABC complaints inquiry

A federal government-backed ­inquiry into the complaints-­handling processes at the ABC and SBS has been rejected by the ­Senate, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

The probe, initiated by NSW Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, was suspended on Tuesday after a motion put forward by the Greens and Labor won crossbench support and was carried by one vote.

The inquiry will now not proceed until the next term of parliament, if at all.

Following Tuesday’s vote in the Senate, Senator Bragg said in a statement: “Restricting community access to the Senate committees is a backward step for our democracy.

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Val Morgan Outdoor adds Zap Fitness gym network

Val Morgan Outdoor (VMO) has added the Fitness and Lifestyle Group’s Zap Fitness gym network to the the VMO Active network.

Zap Fitness joins Fitness First, Goodlife, Anytime Fitness, Fernwood, Belgravia Leisure Centres, City Fitness, select Club Lime clubs, and Jetts Fitness across the VMO Active network which comprises over 4000 screens across more than 1100 locations nationwide. Zap Fitness is the final piece of Fitness and Lifestyle Group’s gym networks that VMO plans to secure and will see 162 high quality 100% digital screens added to the network across 54 Zap Fitness locations.

Over the last two years, VMO’s Active network has grown exponentially across the nation, capturing 1.35 million Australians every week.

Outbrain Acquires video intelligence AG and expands video offering

Outbrain Inc. has announced that it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire video intelligence AG (“vi”), a Swiss-based contextual video technology platform for digital and Connected TV media owners.

vi’s contextual and machine learning technology enables media owners to enhance user engagement and monetisation by adding relevant video content to articles. It also provides advertisers with video ad inventory that drives awareness and user engagement. Working with more than 1100 media owners around the world, ranging from IDG to Der Spiegel and Funke, vi’s solution is cookieless by design. In addition, vi recently entered the CTV space partnering with several premium providers including Samsung TV+ with a unique contextual offering. In 2021, vi was awarded Best Video Platform by Digiday.

“vi fits perfectly into Outbrain’s core strategy of providing media owners with technology to enhance user engagement and monetisation through relevant content and ads,” said David Kostman, Co-CEO of Outbrain.

News Brands

Ex-ABC presenter Emma Alberici goes headhunting for Derwent

Former ABC journalist Emma Alberici’s career has taken a surprising turn, reports AFR’s Myriam Robin.

Earlier this month, she began a role as the principal consultant in the Sydney practice of recruitment firm Derwent. An evolution which, believe it or not, does bear some continuities with her past life as one of the ABC’s most recognisable faces.

Derwent’s advisory board seats none other than ABC deputy chair Peter Tonagh. Though, mercifully for both him and Alberici, Tonagh only joined the ABC board earlier this year and so was nowhere near the contested and bitter events that led to Alberici’s exit from that organisation (though he did review the efficiency of both broadcasters for the government in 2018).

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Streaming platforms in the US use Black Friday deals to boost sluggish subscriber growth

Viewers of Good Morning America on Tuesday were offered a special sneak preview of what could be the biggest Black Friday offer in streaming video: 1 year of Hulu for $0.99 per month, a $6 discount per month, or a $72 discount for the year, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Weprin.

That Disney would use its signature ABC morning show to launch the offer underscores just how important returning growth to its streaming business matters to the company. In its last quarterly earnings report earlier this month, Disney reported slower than anticipated streaming subscriber growth, with Disney+ only adding 2 million subscribers, and Hulu adding a mere 700,000, bringing its total to 43.8 million.

But Disney isn’t alone in trying to use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kickstart streaming subscribers. A number of other streaming services, many of which have struggled to take off in the same way that Disney+ and Hulu have, are also using the strategy this year.

Just like Disney used ABC’s GMA for its Hulu deal, NBCUniversal used the Today show to launch a Black Friday deal for its streaming service Peacock, offering 50 percent off Peacock Premium for 6 months (it’s normally $4.99 per month). Recent reports have pegged Peacock’s premium tier as only having paid subscribers in the single digit millions.

ViacomCBS’ flagship streaming service Paramount+, meanwhile, is offering 1 month of its premium plan for free (it’s normally $9.99), highlighting access to live NFL games and Star Trek: Discovery to entice potential subscribers. Paramount+ and sister service Showtime have a combined 47 million subscribers, though the company doesn’t break it out by service.

And elsewhere, ahead of a potential sale or spinoff, Starz is offering 6 months for $20 (normally $43.99), Discovery is offering Discovery+ for $0.99 per month for 3 months (it’s normally $4.99), AMC is offering AMC+ for $1.99 per month for a year (it’s normally $8.99).

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Lisa Wilkinson ‘missing’ from Channel 10 network promo

Channel 10’s “highest-paid” star Lisa Wilkinson raised eyebrows on Monday after she was noticeably absent from a 2022 network promo, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

The Project co-host had industry circles buzzing as fans were left wondering “where’s Lisa?” when she did not appear in the two-minute long clip.

Wilkinson’s colleagues Carrie Bickmore, Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar all appear in the video and entertainment commentator Peter Ford told Confidential that her absence is not a good sign.

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Neighbours wins UK fan awards

Neighbours has won Best Daytime Soap at UK magazine Inside Soap annual awards – for the ninth time, reports TV Tonight.

April Rose Pengilly, who plays Chloe Brennan, also won Best Daytime Star.

Jason Herbison, executive producer, said: “This is a tremendous way to cap off another year of navigating COVID and means a lot to everyone working on the show. I’m thrilled for April taking out Best Daytime Star, her character has had plenty of thrills and spills including her on-screen husband played by two different actors and she hasn’t missed a beat, a true professional. It’s a great launch pad for our 37th season.”

April Rose Pengilly, said: “I am so excited and grateful for this award. Neighbours has the best fans in the world. I appreciate them so much and send all my love everyone who voted.”

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Awkward X-rated Mel B joke cut from Adele special

Spice Girls star Mel B was reportedly cut from the UK’s celeb-filled An Audience with Adele special for making an “awkward as hell” joke about a vibrator, reports Page Six’s Leah Bitsky.

The Spice Girl had been “tasked with asking a question about the best gift Adele had ever received,” a source told The Sun on Monday, but she decided to ad lib in a way that didn’t work for the top brass at the UK network.

“When the cameras were on her, she said she felt silly asking it,” the source said. “Then she made a joke and said she could answer the question for Adele and said it was a vibrator.”

While Mel B’s joke didn’t make the final edit, Adele was apparently unfazed and brushed the whole thing off.

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Sports Media

Paramount+ sorry for poor A-League coverage

The richest broadcast deal in the A-League’s 16-year history has kicked off with an embarrassing own goal, with streaming service Paramount+ forced to issue an apology after its coverage of the season’s opening round was plagued by technical problems, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

ViacomCBS, which owns Network 10 and Paramount+, earlier this year signed a $200 million deal for the exclusive rights to broadcast the sport’s Australian competitions across its free-to-air network and its streaming platform until 2026.

But the media giant’s investment in the A-Leagues got off to a rocky start on Saturday night when the Paramount+ coverage of the Round 1 clash between Western United and Melbourne Victory was beset with glitches, including out-of-sync audio, out-of-focus cameras, and jumpy streaming.

A statement posted on the Twitter account of Paramount+ Australia on Saturday night read:

“We are experiencing extreme unforeseen technical difficulties during the Western United vs Melbourne Victory game tonight. We sincerely apologise and are working hard to get this fixed ASAP.”

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