Roundup: Nine and Seven’s Tennis war, Business Insider Australia, The Project

Australian Open

Plus: The ABC, Antony Catalano’s public listing, and Scomo’s media blitz

Business of Media

ABC managing director David Anderson ordered to explain staff use of social media sites

The ABC has been ordered to resubmit an explanation to a parliamentary committee about whether anti-Coalition tweets posted by staff were in breach of their social media policy, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

In a rare move, the Senate environment and communications committee has requested the public broadcaster submit an updated response to a question put to it last year about tweets posted by staff members, including former ABC Sydney breakfast radio host Wendy Harmer and business journalist Alan Kohler.

The committee’s chair, Senator Andrew Bragg, said some ABC staff’s use of social media had been “disgusting at times”, and labelled it as “crazy, unprofessional and partisan behaviour”.

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Catalano’s real estate listing plan to exclude publishing

Real estate entrepreneur Antony Catalano and backer Alex Waislitz will exclude their publishing business from an ASX listing as part of a lengthy proposal that involves a takeover of multiple assets and a shell company that once held regional broadcaster Prime Media Group, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Catalano is expected to increase his stake in classifieds business Real Estate View to 72 per cent by the end of the week as he prepares to bring together a range of companies controlled by investment vehicle, IMP, and list them on the ASX by the end of this financial year. Catalano said he can offer investors a competitive alternative to real-estate giants News Corp’s REA Group and Nine Entertainment Co’s Domain.

But the pair’s regional publishing business Australian Community Media, which houses The Canberra Times and The Newcastle Herald, will not be listed, according to a proposal which is expected to be discussed with the board of PRT Company Ltd (formerly Prime) in the next few weeks.

The details of his plan have come to light after The Australian Financial Review reported earlier this month that Mr Catalano, former CEO of real-estate listings portal Domain, was pursuing a listing on the ASX for the second time. Mr Catalano was CEO of Domain when it publicly listed in 2017. He abruptly left the business two months later.

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News brands

Former GB News star and News Corp UK editor Andrew Neil close to new media deal

Channel 4 is lining up Andrew Neil to front a weekly political analysis show, reports UK publisher Broadcast.

The veteran interviewer has been in discussions with director of programs Ian Katz and director of news and current affairs Louisa Compton following his short-lived spell at GB News.

An agreement is yet to be reached but the broadcaster is understood to be eyeing a Sunday evening slot for the show.

C4 News airs an early evening UK Sunday bulletin, most often for 30 minutes at 630pm, which could be followed by the analysis program. The bulletin is currently watched by 600,000.

A Sunday morning slot is off the cards due to a reluctance to clash with BBC1’s longstanding 9am political format The Andrew Marr Show, which is currently being helmed by Sophie Raworth until a permanent successor for the departing Marr is found. 

Sky News also has a high-profile Sunday morning political show, Sophy Ridge on Sunday, which is currently being hosted by Trevor Phillips.

The early evening scheduling would enable Neil to provide analysis of the political appearances on rival shows earlier in the day, as well as featuring heavyweight guests and look ahead to the coming week.

[Read more]

See also: GB News Channel buffeted by advertiser boycott: Ikea pulls the plug

Guinness World Records recognise Rick & Sue

It’s taken two years since the paperwork was lodged, but it’s official, reports TV Tonight.

Seven News Perth anchors Rick Ardon and Susannah Carr have entered the Guinness World Records being declared the world’s longest-serving TV news anchor duo.

They have presented from 1985 to 2022, for ’36 years 361 days’ according to Guinness World Records.

Ardon and Carr began presenting the live broadcast of the 6pm Seven News together on January 24 1985 and have continued to read together since.

Rick Ardon had initially joined in 1978 as a news journalist and he attributes a large part of his success to the fact he had a good grounding in news as an on-the-road reporter.

Susannah Carr began her career in media in 1974 as an announcer after studying Law and Arts at the University of Western Australia.

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Business Insider Australia to close in global strategic shift

Online business news outlet Business Insider Australia will stop operating in March after its German-owned parent company decided to end its local publishing licence after more than a decade, SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Pedestrian Group, which runs the local edition, will axe three roles following the decision by Business Insider’s parent, Insider, which has become the latest in a string of international publishers over the past five years to shut down editorial operations in Australia.

Industry sources familiar with the decision, who spoke anonymously, said the move was also implemented in other markets where Insider operates.

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Scott Morrison to go on ABC media blitz but no Laura Tingle interview

There was no love lost last year between PM Scott Morrison and the ABC, with well-chronicled complaints at the government’s highest levels about its treatment by Aunty on a number of fronts, particularly by the Four Corners program, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

And election year 2022 has appeared to start in similarly adversarial fashion between the ABC and the government. Earlier this month, stand-in 7.30 host Laura Tingle called out Morrison on air, about his alleged refusal to front up on the program to face an interview.

Tingle repeatedly put ScoMo at the top of a list she revealed on 7.30 of “our leaders from both federal and state governments” who had been “unavailable” to talk about how they were dealing with the Omicron “crisis”.

She also announced to 7.30 viewers that in light of Morrison’s rejection of her interview requests, it “therefore seems only appropriate to ask the alternative Prime Minister, Labor’s Anthony Albanese, for his views on what is happening and what a Labor government would be doing differently”.

But it now seems that Morrison’s absence from the ABC appears to have been specific to Tingle.

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10 boss Beverley McGarvey says The Project will have many more heated on-air discussions in 2022

10’s current affairs program The Project will have plenty more robust on-air discussions in 2022, despite the fallout from last week’s highly publicised tense exchange between co-hosts Peter van Onselen and Carrie Bickmore, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Beverley McGarvey, executive vice president and chief content officer of ViacomCBS Australia (owner of the Ten network), said she welcomed the fact that the program had a diverse range of voices, panellists and guests who had their “own opinions”.

“They articulate them, and they are intelligent,” McGarvey told The Australian.

Controversy erupted last week after van Onselen wrote a column in The Australian stating that Grace Tame was “ungracious, rude and childish” for refusing to smile for photographers who were capturing her meeting with the Prime Minister at The Lodge in Canberra.

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Sports Media

Seven in battle to win back tennis from Nine as Tennis Australia charts financial recovery from $100m loss

Seven West Media is gearing up for a bidding war with Nine Entertainment over the Australian Open broadcast rights – despite more than two years left on the current $300m, six-year deal, reports News Corp’s John Stensholt.

Seven executives have made several unofficial approaches to officials at Tennis Australia in ­recent weeks, The Weekend Australian has had confirmed.

Tennis Australia signed with Nine at a similar stage of its previous contract with Seven for its last deal, and could be officially in the market for the local rights as soon as later this year.

Though the recent Ashes ­series was a ratings success, Seven is keen to shed its cricket rights and is unhappy with the domestic Big Bash League. Interest in the BBL has slipped for the past three years.

Seven is also set for a court battle with Cricket Australia beginning next month over financial compensation the network is seeking for the pandemic-interrupted 2020-21 summer.

The domestic rights could be worth $80m or more annually for the next deal and Tennis Australia is also in negotiations with several potential broadcasters in the important and lucrative North American market.

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Police arrest man for ‘hurling racist abuse’ at football commentator

Police have arrested a man accused of racially abusing former England footballer Ashley Cole during an FA Cup third-round tie earlier this month in the UK, reports iNews.

A 24-year-old is in custody on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence, Wiltshire Police said on Saturday. He was arrested this morning and taken to Gablecross Police Station.

The incident is understood to have occurred in the corner of the pitch at Swindon’s County Ground stadium, where the ITV punditry team was based.

Cole was part of the ITV broadcast team during the match on 7 January, which saw Manchester City defeat League Two team Swindon 4-1.

The former left-back for Arsenal and Chelsea was pitchside as the time of the incident.

[Read more]

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