Roundup: AFL TV rights deal, Judith Neilson Institute, Eddie McGuire

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• Female brain drain, legal threat to Crikey, Washington Post, Roe v. Wade, NBCUniversal, The Block, The Voice: Generations, anti-siphoning laws

Business of Media

Ousted boss of Judith Neilson Institute seeks legal advice over dismissal

The ousted boss of Judith Neilson’s embattled journalism institute has obtained legal advice about suing the organisation over his dismissal as executive director, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios.

Mark Ryan, a former adviser to Paul Keating and long-time adviser to the Lowy family, led the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas since its inception, and was working with lawyers to negotiate his exit after Neilson requested his removal.

In an email sent to JNI’s international advisory council early last week, seen by the Sydney Morning Herald, Ryan says he still has not been provided with reasons for his removal.

“It’s been a very disappointing episode to say the least, made more so by the fact that no coherent rationale has been provided for what was a totally unnecessary disruption to the Institute and its hard-working staff,” Ryan said in an email last Tuesday.

“I’m advised by Australia’s pre-eminent employment law firm Clayton Utz that I have strong grounds to pursue an adverse action claim and am reserving my rights in that regard.”

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Eddie McGuire tipped to lead Olivia Newton-John memorial

After creating a stirring and stunning farewell to Shane Warne at the MCG in March, Eddie McGuire’s JAMTV production company looks set to get the nod to helm the State Memorial to honour Australia’s sweetheart Olivia Newton-John, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

It is understood preliminary discussions will be held this week to start formulating the public tribute to Newton-John – most likely a tribute concert – who died at her home in the US on Tuesday, aged 73.

It is likely the State Government and Newton-John’s family will turn to JAMTV and Mushroom to create a fitting celebration to the Grease star; one that encompasses her worldwide success in music and film and gives weight to her significant and important contributions to cancer research and charities.

The two companies worked together to produce Warne’s beautiful State Memorial at the MCG in March.

No companies have been officially appointed to work on the memorial at this stage.

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Veteran TV producer’s warning over ‘female brain drain’ in media

Heavy workloads, unclear pathways and a gender pay gap that is larger than the national average are hindering women’s career progress in media organisations and could result in a “female brain drain” from the industry, new research shows, reports Nine Publishing’s Hannah Wootton.

Data collected by advocacy group Women in Media revealed more than half of women working in the industry rated its commitment to gender equality as “weak”, warning this created a barrier to career advancement.

They also cited poor pay, a lack of promotion and issues with their workplaces’ leadership as drivers prompting them to quit their jobs, leading industry experts to call for better pay transparency, training and mentoring to help retain and promote women.

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Lachlan Murdoch sends legal threat to Crikey over January 6 article

Lachlan Murdoch has threatened news website Crikey with legal action over an article that suggested he and his media mogul father, Rupert Murdoch, were responsible for the riots at the US Capitol in January last year, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios.

The article, written by Bernard Keane and published in June, made comparisons between the Murdoch family and former president Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal.

Titled Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor and Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator, it alleged Lachlan and Rupert, through their control of right-wing TV network Fox News, were to blame for the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which attempted to prevent the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

Multiple media sources, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, said Lachlan Murdoch has issued a concerns notice and fired off multiple legal letters to Crikey since June. The article has already been taken down from the website and various social media platforms, but lawyers are continuing to negotiate.

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News Brands

Washington Post buffs up international breaking news ‘hubs’ amid hotting competition

A year on from launching its international breaking news “hubs” The Washington Post is doubling down, reports Press Gazette’s Bron Maher.

By the end of the year, it hopes to have grown its breaking news teams in London and Seoul by 40% overall.

Amid increasing competition for upmarket, English-speaking global audiences, the Post has said the investment will allow it to “deepen and expand the coverage across a seven-day week”.

And the past year’s experiences have, London hub editor Sara Sorcher said, already translated into international audience growth.

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After Roe v. Wade reversal, readers flock to publications aimed at women

In the weeks since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, overturning the right to abortion after almost 50 years, the consequences have quickly rippled through American life. States have banned abortion or restricted access. Individual stories about the real-life impacts have become national headlines. Concerns have flared about what the decision means for other civil rights, reports The New York Times’ Katie Robertson.

And through each big news development, readers have flocked to women-centric publications that support abortion rights to understand how it will shape their lives.

Jezebel, a feminist website started by Gawker Media in 2007, saw an 18 percent increase in traffic after a leaked draft of the decision was published by Politico in May. The 19th, which covers gender and politics and takes its name from the 19th Amendment, reported a 63 percent jump in readership for its abortion-related stories. And The Cut, New York magazine’s women’s site, said traffic to its abortion rights coverage increased nearly threefold in June compared with the previous month.

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Foxtel prepares a push for content from US studio giant

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany says he is interested in the latest major film and television output deal from a big US studio, but remained tight-lipped about the Murdoch-controlled pay TV provider’s plans, report Nine Publishing’s Max Mason and Mark Di Stefano.

Foxtel has held discussions with NBCUniversal, which went to market with its content deal in May. However, Stan, which is owned by Nine, has also been in talks with the Comcast-owned media giant and is expected to push hard to retain its deal, after the US studio decided to sell its content rather than launch its own Peacock streaming service for now.

“We look at all content that comes up from time-to-time, and decide what suits us more. I don’t think there’s any benefit for us in negotiating any of these contracts in the press.” Delany said.

As the fight for the deal continues, time will tell whether Foxtel gets “the chequebook out.”

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The Block’s Elle Ferguson’s brutal move against co-star

The Block’s star couple Elle Ferguson and Joel Patfull are apparently not looking to stay in touch with some of their fellow contestants, reports News Corp’s Bronte Coy.

The global influencer and her ex-AFL player fiance dramatically exited the show after just two days, leaving host Scott Cam furious and their co-stars baffled.

Addressing the scandal on Weekend Today on Sunday, contestant Sarah-Jane Wilson revealed that Elle had recently blocked her on social media.

“You’ve had no contact with (Elle and Joel) since (they left)?” Today host Belinda Russell asked.

“No, I got blocked. She blocked me on Instagram,” Sarah-Jane replied.

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The Voice: Generations expands to more countries

Australia’s spin-off on The Voice, The Voice: Generations has been picked up for a local version in Portugal, reports TV Tonight.

When ITV Studios Australia floated the twist of The Voice: Generations, pitting families, friends, colleagues and teammates from different generations to perform together, it hadn’t been trialled anywhere in the world.

At just 3 episodes, it screened as a short-run series in January, ahead of the Winter Olympics, with coaches Keith Urban, Guy Sebastian, Rita Ora, and Jessica Mauboy. A full season screened later in April.

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Sports Media

‘Stuck in time warp’: Foxtel boss unloads on outdated regulation

Foxtel boss Patrick Delany has pledged to make key sports matches available for free on Kayo Sports as he accused free-to-air television networks of using outdated regulation to grow their paywalled streaming products, reports Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios.

Delany has claimed Australia’s anti-siphoning laws, which give free-to-air television networks the opportunity to bid for key sport and cultural events ahead of Foxtel, limit the cable TV and streaming company’s ability to grow subscriptions. He said the laws were “stuck in a time warp” and did not account for the fact free-to-air television networks now own paywalled services.

“We are continually frustrated that the Foxtel’s traditional business is extraordinarily regulated,” Delany said.

“It’s regulated more than free-to-air [television] where the streamers are not regulated in any way. We always do the right thing. But at the same time, I think that the laws need to look at the public interest purpose, rather than just protecting free-to-air TV.”

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Crunch time for AFL TV rights deal

The AFL’s governing body will meet on Monday to begin its final deliberations on how the sport’s next TV broadcast rights deal will be divvied up, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

The AFL Commission, which is chaired by Richard Goyder, is expected to thrash out the finer details of the lucrative contract at the meeting, before publicly announcing the successful bidder, or bidders, in the days following the final home and away matches of the regular season, which concludes on Sunday.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan will address Monday’s meeting to outline the relative strengths of the various offers made by Australian media companies and international streaming services, but it’s understood the sporting body’s much-hyped target of $600m in cash each year won’t be reached, although contra deals for free advertising will inflate the overall value of the deal.

“The AFL might get to the magic $600m figure but there will be lots of smoke and mirrors around contra,” said one source close to the negotiations.

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