Roundup: Catalano eyes Prime, Nine & WIN, Piers Morgan, Meghan and Harry ratings

crown in crisis

• Plus how Australian theatres are giving Broadway hope

Business of Media

Catalano stalks Prime Media

Antony Catalano’s regional newspaper company Australian Community Media has put itself in the box seat to decide the future of Prime Media by lifting its shareholding to just under the 20 per cent takeover threshold, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Catalano, the former Domain boss, and executive chairman of ACM, which publishes more than 170 rural and regional newspapers including The Canberra Times, combined with WIN Corp owner Bruce Gordon to thwart a bid by Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media to merge with Prime last year.

Catalano will be the largest shareholder of Prime Media in combination with his business partner Alex Waislitz should the Australian Communications and Media Authority rubber stamp a deal that will increase their ownership to nearly 20 per cent.

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Nine focuses on WIN in talks with Bruce Gordon

Nine Entertainment is said to be in talks with wealthy businessman Bruce Gordon about a deal to vend his regional broadcaster WIN Corporation into the $5bn media business, reports News Corp’s Bridget Carter

The understanding among some is that Gordon has lost interest in Prime and is now turning his attention to a Nine deal involving his fully owned WIN Corporation, which consists of the WIN regional television network, Crawford Publications and several local radio stations.

It is understood that the discussions centre on a deal that could involve Gordon being paid in Nine scrip for WIN, which some suggest could be worth between $50m and $100m.

Currently, Gordon holds a stake of about 15 per cent in Nine. A sale would probably win him a seat at the boardroom table.

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News Brands

Piers Morgan should be sacked by ITV for his vile attacks on Meghan Markle

Piers Morgan should be sacked from ITV. Really, he should have been dumped from his co-presenter job on Good Morning Britain a long time ago, reports The Independant’s Roisin O’Connor.

But events this week feel like the final straw. His regular attacks on Meghan Markle – a woman he barely knows but seems to be obsessed with – became increasingly vile ahead of Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah. Now he has accused Markle of lying about her experience of having suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant with her son, Archie, as she was overwhelmed by the press intrusion into her personal life.

“I don’t believe a word she says,” Morgan said in response to Markle’s comments. “I wouldn’t believe her if she read me a weather report.” He then proceeded to condemn her for sparking an “onslaught” of criticism against the royal family.

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UK television host Piers Morgan quits show after Meghan Markle row

British television host Piers Morgan has quit his star-rated morning show in the UK, after a furious backlash over comments he made about Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, reports News Corp’s Anne Barrowclough.

After Morgan, 55-year-old host of ITV’s Good Morning Britain said he “didn’t believe a word” of the couple’s explosive claims, including that Meghan was depressed and suicidal, the media watchdog Ofcom said it would open an investigation, as more than 40,000 people called to complain.

Hours later, ITV confirmed Morgan had departed, revealing: “Following discussions with ITV, Piers Morgan has decided now is the time to leave Good Morning Britain.”

Earlier, Morgan had stormed off set after his co-presenter, Alex Beresford, accused him of continuing to “trash” Meghan. The row occurred after Morgan had called on Meghan to prove her claims about suicide and royal racism.

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Piers Morgan quits top-rating TV show following backlash over Meghan criticism

Piers Morgan has left his top-rating British morning television show a day after the broadcaster’s fierce criticism of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex prompted tens of thousands complaints to the media regulator, reports SMH’s Bevan Shields.

Morgan, whose brief friendship with the former Suits actor turned sour after she met Harry in 2016, cast doubt over her claims that she was on the verge of suicide and accused the couple of displaying contempt for the Queen.

Morgan’s own colleagues criticised him on air and said he had gone too far. Morgan walked off the set on Tuesday after co-star Alex Beresford said Morgan’s conduct the day earlier was “incredibly hard to watch”.

Morgan, 55, is one of Britain’s most prominent media figures after a long career editing top-selling newspapers The Daily Mirror and now defunct News of the World. He later switched to US television and was CNN’s replacement for the retiring Larry King.

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Lessons from Oz: How Australian theatre gives broadway hope

Frozen is onstage in Sydney, and Come From Away and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are running in Melbourne. And there’s more to come: Hamilton opens later this month in Sydney, and Moulin Rouge! The Musical is gearing up for an August bow in Melbourne, writes The New York Times’ Michael Paulson.

How are they managing to perform when most of the theater world is dark? And what, if anything, do the Australian productions portend for a resumption of theater in New York, London, and everywhere else?

That’s the subject of the next episode of Offstage, a New York Times digital series about theater during the pandemic.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview dominates Monday night TV

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey was watched by 1.366m metropolitan Australians on Monday evening, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Despite the bulk of the interview, which aired on Sunday night in the US, being plastered across live blogs and online news sites, Network 10’s presentation of the wide-ranging interview won the evening, beating out Nine’s Married at First Sight which aired in the same 7.30 pm timeslot and was watched by 804,000 metro viewers.

An additional 417,000 regional viewers took the interview’s total audience to 1.783 million people.

The interview was most popular in Melbourne where it pulled an audience of 443,000 people, followed by Sydney (339,000), Brisbane (281,000), Perth (156,000) and Adelaide (126,000).

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11m Brits watch Harry & Meghan interview

An average of 11.3 million British viewers watched Oprah with Meghan & Harry on ITV, reports TV Tonight.

The bombshell interview attracted a 54% share of the UK television audience.

The numbers make it the most watched show in the UK this year by some distance, well ahead of The Masked Singer finale at 8.6m viewers in February.

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Oprah, Meghan and Harry Draw 17.1 Million Viewers to CBS

Oprah, Meghan and Harry drew a sizable audience on Sunday night, making for an old-style prime-time television moment in the age of on-demand viewing, reports The New York TimesJohn Koblin.

Oprah Winfrey’s explosive two-hour interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who had largely kept their silence after announcing last year that they would give up their duties as members of Britain’s royal family, attracted 17.1 million viewers on CBS, according to preliminary Nielsen figures.

The number of viewers climbed as the show went on. It drew 16.9 million in the first hour and 17.3 in the second, Nielsen reported. That audience was about twice the size of the viewership for the prime-time ratings winner in a given week.

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