Roundup: ABC news boss frontrunner, Lachlan Murdoch IPA speech, MAFS bride loses job

Lachlan Murdoch Fox Corp

• Plus Netflix and Disney+, ABC staffing numbers, Clemenger BBDO, Optimising, Magic, Ben Fordham on Will Smith, Amazon’s Luxe Listings, Screen Forever 2022, SAS bullying claims

Business of Media

Netflix and Disney+ could ‘wipe out’ local producers in two years

Australian screen production companies warn the local industry could be “wiped out” within two years if streaming giants such as Netflix and Disney+ are not forced by regulators to incorporate local content, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

Tracey Vieira, the chief content officer of Hoodlum Entertainment, said Australia’s production industry was made up of small businesses desperate for a resolution about how streaming services would be regulated.

“I work for Hoodlum Entertainment which was founded 25 years ago,” she said. “They struggled at times and have fought for every part of that company and that could be wiped out within two years.”

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Lachlan Murdoch backs Australia’s true blue spirit in IPA speech

Australians must embrace and preserve the nation’s inherent rugged optimism, its sense of innate fairness and its commitment to freedom of expression, in order to counter the poisonous counter-narrative being pushed by some politicians and media outlets, News Corporation co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch says, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

In a keynote speech delivered at the Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday night, Murdoch said Australia’s culture and identity “are not, and cannot be frozen in time”.

“We are not who we were 100 years ago, or who we might become 100 years from now,” he said. “Understanding first what characteristics make us unique and what shared values unite us, is essential before we can celebrate the good, reject the bad, and yes, embrace the new.”

Among those attending the launch of the IPA’s Centre for the Australian Way of Life – which aims to provide cultural and intellectual leadership for the nation – were former prime minister and IPA fellow Tony Abbott, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, Chairman of Foxtel, Fox Sports, Sky News and News Corp’s group broadcast director Siobhan McKenna, News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller, Sky News Australia CEO Paul Whittaker, Herald and Weekly Times chairman Penny Fowler, CLP Senate candidate Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and IPA executive director John Roskam.

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News Brands

Justin Stevens expected to be named incoming ABC news boss

With a federal election campaign looming, the ABC is set to announce its new director of news this week, as 7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens emerges as a late favourite for the role, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

Sources close to the recruitment process for the high-profile job have told The Australian that Stevens may have risen above the pack as the top pick to take the public broadcaster’s news hot seat, ahead of a strong internal field including the ABC’s head of newsgathering Gavin Fang, distribution boss Stuart Watt and current affairs chief John Lyons.

If Stevens wins the role, the appointment will have the domino effect of leaving 7.30 looking for a new host and executive producer simultaneously. Just last month, Leigh Sales made the shock announcement – after 12 years in the host’s chair – that she would be departing from 7.30 following the election.

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Budget 2022: ABC to keep the lid on staffing numbers despite funding boost

Staffing levels at the ABC are expected to remain steady in 2022-23 despite the national broadcaster receiving a promised budget funding boost, reports News Corp’s Rachel Baxendale.

The Morrison government has delivered on its February pledge to increase funding for the ABC and SBS, committing $4.3bn for the public broadcasters over the next three years. But while SBS is expected to use its windfall to create an extra 29 jobs, bringing average staffing levels there to 1267 in 2022-23, the budget shows average staffing levels at the ABC are forecast to remain steady at 4130 full time equivalent positions.

Total government funding for the ABC will increase by $7.6m to $1.077bn in 2022-23, with the national broadcaster expected to be $19.6m better off overall next financial year, courtesy of the increase in government funding, and an increase of almost $12m from other sources such as interest and sale of goods and services.

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Clemenger BBDO Melbourne named Victoria Transport’s creative agency

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne has been appointed as the creative lead agency of record for the Victorian Department of Transport.

The appointment will see the agency develop communications that will encourage commuters to use public transport, manage messaging for road congestion and disruptions.

Clemenger BBDO Melbourne will also develop communications to promote safety for all travelling by road or public transport.

Clemenger’s appointment also encompasses brands such as Public Transport Victoria, VicRoads and Regional Roads Victoria.

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Optimising co-founder Daniel Zuccon appointed to AWIA board of directors

Optimising co-founder Daniel Zuccon has been appointed to the Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) Board and will chair this year’s judging committee for its Australian Web Awards.

Zuccon, who is also the operations director for the independent SEO agency, has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and co-founded Optimising with business partner James Richardson in 2008

He credits his time as a judge for the Australian Web Awards, and his role this year as judging chair, as one of his primary motivating factors behind joining the Board.


His time on the Australian Web Awards judging panel provided Zuccon with the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the talent within the Australian web scene, which he felt was incredibly rewarding.

His board appointment will allow him to take that one step further, to make a difference and give back to the industry.

The Australian Web Awards will be held on 14 May in Sydney.

Zuccon’s board appointment was effective from 9 March, 2022.

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Magic is appointed digital agency of record by Powershop

Magic has been appointed as the digital agency of record for Powershop, boosting the agency’s client roster.

The agency’s remit will for the climate-conscious energy retailer includes digital strategy, development of adtech, martech, mathematical modelling, media-buying, social amplification and performance media.

Work begins immediately with the first campaign to market expected in April.

Magic is a digital lab that combines the powers of complex mathematics with a cutting edge digital marketing approach.

The company, according to their website, use their own proprietary media-science methodology to address and solve profound marketing challenges. They enable brands to find the root-cause of user behaviour, not just the outcome.

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‘Double standards’: Ben Fordham lashes out over Will Smith’s Oscars slap

The way the Academy Awards handled Will Smith’s controversial Oscar slap has come under fire, as Ben Fordham labelled their response “an embarrassment”, reports News Corp’s Emily Cosenza.

Shockwaves were sent through the prestigious event held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Monday as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star stormed on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

The world watched the incident in disbelief, with the Academy later tweeting it “does not condone violence of any form”.

Speaking on 2GB, Fordham questioned why there were no repercussions for Smith after he “belted him in the face”.

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Amazon’s Luxe Listings becomes hot property as streaming giant plans global versions

Amazon Prime Video is considering launching international versions of its local reality series Luxe Listings after the first season outperformed expectations in countries outside of Australia, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

The streaming giant announced plans to air a third season of Luxe Listings Sydney, which showcases some of the most expensive properties in the city, before the end of the year. But James Farrell, Amazon Studio’s vice president of local original film and TV said teams across the world were already trying to find a way to make their versions.

“What surprised me was how well it travelled outside Australia,” Farrell said. “We’re thinking should we remake it in Canada? Should we make it in Europe?

“This was the first one, and it’s gone so well that all the teams around the world that have seen this one are saying ‘hey, we’re going do that here.’ It’s really cool to kind of have an idea originate and do so well that we want to do it in more places.”

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MAFS villain Olivia Frazer reveals she lost her job as a ‘direct result’ of the show

Married At First Sight bride Olivia Frazer has opened up about the fallout of her controversial appearance on the Channel 9 social experiment, revealing she’s lost her job as a “direct result” of the show, reports News Corp’s Bella Fowler.

Speaking on 2Day’s Hughesy, Ed & Erin, Olivia also said she feels “more hated than Vladimir Putin in Australia” because of how many people have demanded she face criminal charges over circulating a naked photo of another contestant.

It comes after the 27-year-old was lambasted by the MAFS experts and viewers for admitting she had “no empathy” towards rival bride Domenica Calarco, who she distributed naked photos of from a secret OnlyFans account in what many saw as an act of revenge triggered by Dom smashing a wine glass.

Opening up about the intense backlash from the saga, the reality star said she was “a shell of a person”, thanking husband Jackson Lonie for his support.

“I’ve already lost my job as a direct result of this show,” she told the hosts.

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Screen Forever 2022: 10 boss says Neighbours loss is “devastating”

Network 10 boss Beverly McGarvey has described the loss of Neighbours as “devastating” but reiterated the show would sadly wind up, reports TV Tonight.

The executive vice president and chief content officer of Paramount Australia and New Zealand, unable to attend the Screen Forever conference in person due to Covid isolation, told delegates she was hopeful the show might return in the future if another broadcaster could be found.

“I think it’s devastating,” she said.

“Obviously, that show had 2 commissioners and unfortunately, the UK for their own good reasons, wanted to invest their money into UK content, and unfortunately, Fremantle were unable to find another UK partner.”

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Bullying claims from SAS: Australia star Locky Gilbert

Locky Gilbert says he is filled with self doubt and has lost all confidence after his stint on SAS: Australia, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The former Survivor and Bachelor star feels he copped a poor edit on the show.

“Watching it back was a little bit rough,’’ he said.

“I am cocky and an alpha male but I’m not like that all the time.

“If they say you’re being a cocky a—hole then you are. It kind of messed with my head and I don’t have the confidence to take on anything else.”

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