Roundup: Coles Radio up for tender, Dr Chris Brown on Seven, Vice News

Coles Radio

Bruce Lehrmann, Facebook, chatbots, Twitter, Bluesky, Laura “Loz” O’Callaghan

Business of Media

Bruce Lehrmann can sue media outlets over Brittany Higgins rape claims: judge

Bruce Lehrmann can pursue his defamation action against two media outlets, a judge has ruled, meaning both organisations will now set out to prove their alle­gation that the former Liberal staffer raped Brittany Higgins, reports The Australian’s Stephen Rice.

Judge Michael Lee ruled in the Federal Court on Friday that Lehrmann could proceed with his defamation action against the 10 Network and News Corp even though he failed to launch the action within the required 12-month time limit.

Lehrmann gave evidence in March that he had not instituted proceedings when Higgins first went public with her allegations on the 10 Network’s The Project and in ­because his then-lawyer, Warwick Korn, had advised against it.

Justice Lee said it was not reasonable for Lehrmann to have started action within the year.

“Lehrmann’s actions reflected the fact that his real priority even before the prosecution was the criminal allegations and in recognising this priority he then engaged a specialist criminal lawyer,” he said.

“I do not consider it is reasonable to expect him to have acted contrary to the advice given to him at a time when his resources and energies were being directed to resolving criminal allegations.”

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Facebook advertising revenues balloon even as local profits fall

Facebook’s Australian profits fell to $34.7 million in the 12 months to December 31 despite a surge in revenues to more than $224 million, new accounts lodged with the corporate regulator show, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The financial documents show Facebook reported advertising sales of $1.26 billion in Australia last year – up from $1.14 billion in 2021 – although $1.03 billion was sent overseas and marked as reseller expenses.

But new data released by the competition regulator suggests Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has actually banked between $4.7 billion and $5.1 billion in advertising from Australian companies for the year to June 30.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry, which released its latest report on Friday, found Meta had “a significant degree of market power” and faced weak competition from social media rivals such as TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat.

The billions of dollars of advertising revenue not disclosed in Facebook’s local accounts came from “information provided to the ACCC”, including from local companies buying ads outside the country, the regulator said.

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SBS loses flagship Vice news show as US media darlings falter

SBS has lost a flagship news show from its Viceland channel after its partner, the struggling US-headquartered Vice Media Group, made deep cuts to its world news division that punctuated a disastrous start to 2023 in the American media business, reports Nine Publishing’s Nick Bonyhady.

Though large job losses at technology firms have garnered more headlines, cuts in the media business this year have hurt more given the smaller initial size of the industry. BuzzFeed closed its news division in mid-April, data journalism site FiveThirtyEight’s founder Nate Silver is leaving after its owner, Disney, announced job cuts, and even the storied Washington Post axed 20 jobs in January.

The cuts are being driven by higher interest rates and depressed economic sentiments that have forced corporate media owners to tighten belts, along with a soft advertising market. But they have been concentrated in the digital media outlets that capitalised on the growth of Facebook in the 2010s. A lack of viable subscription revenue has left them vulnerable to social media sites tweaking their algorithms away from news.

Vice, which started out in the 1990s as a counterculture magazine in Canada before becoming a global media brand, is struggling more than most. It took on a $US30 million loan in February from one of its existing investors as it hunted for a buyer.

So far, none have emerged. Last week Vice, which was valued at $US5.7 billion in 2017 but is now worth much less, announced it would cancel its flagship Vice News Tonight show and close its Vice World News division at the cost of about 100 jobs. Its primary Vice News brand will remain.

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Will a chatbot write the next Succession?

When the union representing Hollywood writers laid out its list of objectives for contract negotiations with studios this spring, it included familiar language on compensation, which the writers say has either stagnated or dropped amid an explosion of new shows, report The New York Times’ Noam Scheiber and John Koblin.

But far down, the document added a distinctly 2023 twist. Under a section titled “Professional Standards and Protection in the Employment of Writers,” the union wrote that it aimed to “regulate use of material produced using artificial intelligence or similar technologies.”

To the mix of computer programmers, marketing copywriters, travel advisers, lawyers and comic illustrators suddenly alarmed by the rising prowess of generative A.I., one can now add screenwriters.

“It is not out of the realm of possibility that before 2026, which is the next time we will negotiate with these companies, they might just go, ‘you know what, we’re good,’” said Mike Schur, the creator of The Good Place and co-creator of Parks and Recreation.

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Social Media

Twitter to let publishers charge users per article read, says Elon Musk

Twitter CEO Elon Musk said on Saturday that the social media platform will allow media publishers to charge users on a per-article basis with one click, calling it a win for both the public and media organisations, reports The Guardian.

The feature, to be rolled out in May, will enable users who do not “sign up for a monthly subscription to pay a higher per article price for when they want to read an occasional article”, billionaire owner Musk tweeted.

On Friday, Musk had said that Twitter will take a 10% cut on content subscriptions after the first year, noting that the company will not take a cut for the first 12 months. These subscriptions include long-form text and hours-long video.

Since taking over the social media firm in October, Musk has been bringing in changes to try to boost revenue at Twitter after the social media platform saw advertising income drop last year in the run-up to his on-again-off-again acquisition that closed.

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Bluesky takes on Twitter with a vision of social media heaven

One of Jack Dorsey’s great regrets, he once tweeted, “was that Twitter became a company”. The tech billionaire has long argued that the “global town square” should not be owned and operated by a single company. Such a role was too important to society to be in one entity’s hands, reports The Australian’s Danny Forston.

So nearly four years ago, Dorsey, now 46, began working on an open-source project called Bluesky. In the past week it has taken off like a rocket. Or so it seems based on chatter on the app it threatens to unseat. The app, which very much looks like Twitter, remains invite-only. But its chief executive, Jay Graber, has said there are more than a million people on the waiting list. Last Thursday Bluesky warned that it would have to suspend service for five minutes while it updated its systems to account for its “biggest single-day jump in users — up 2x from yesterday”. Some enterprising souls are selling invite codes on eBay.

Indeed, given Elon Musk’s chaotic rein at Twitter there is a sense that a breach has opened. Bluesky looks quite similar, with profile photos, posts, replies, follower counts, and a blue and white colour scheme.

And its slow rollout has been deliberate: the buzz-inducing equivalent of holding a queue at the door of an empty nightclub. People are desperate to get in but not sure what awaits.

Yet history would say that the odds of Bluesky breaking through are very low. The roster of social media wannabes who burned brightly, if only for a moment then flamed out, grows.

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Coles Radio shake-up could give grocery giant $1b ad market boost

Coles has put its Coles Radio account up for tender as it attempts to increase revenues from the lucrative $1 billion retail media advertising sector – and overtake its supermarket competitor, Woolworths, reports Nine Publishiung’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Nova has run Coles Radio for almost a decade, making it one of the most popular digital radio stations in the country. But the supermarket giant has asked major radio players to explain how they could make ads on its multimillion-dollar audio account more targeted.

Sources with knowledge of the pitch, who were not authorised to speak publicly, say companies including Southern Cross Austereo, ARN, Nine Radio and Qsic have been approached for the process.

Coles wants to improve its in-store audio by making it more variable by location and demographics, and change it into a more automated service for its suppliers, so that a single store, or area, might be able to advertise a product that is on sale.

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Making radio waves: What made Triple M’s Loz the top rating woman on air

Getting the chemistry right is making self-confessed uni dropout Laura “Loz” O’Callaghan the top-rating woman on brekky radio in Adelaide, reports News Corp’s Anna Vlach.

The 32-year-old is queen of the local airwaves, with Triple M’s Roo, Ditts & Loz sitting at No. 1 in the all-important breakfast timeslot.

Heard on the FM band, O’Callaghan and her co-hosts, Mark Ricciuto and Chris Dittmar, won the latest radio ratings.

In what was the second survey for 2023, the trio recorded 14.2 share points, ahead of FIVEaa’s David Penberthy and Will Goodings, who finished with 13.6.

In what could be seen as a classic ‘underdog takes the lead’ tale, O’Callaghan admits to falling into radio.

“If I had a penny for every time I changed my mind about my career I’d be loaded and ironically wouldn’t have to work another day,” O’Callaghan told The Advertiser.

“I was pretty flaky and directionless in my twenties and if I hadn’t impulsively enrolled in a media degree at Adelaide Uni, I hate to think where I’d have ended up.

“But luckily I did, because the second I jumped on air for a student radio program it was like getting struck by lightning. In a good way. I never actually finished that degree but that hasn’t come up with the boss yet.”

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See Also: Laura O’Callaghan: From Fresh FM to Adelaide’s top Breakfast show


Dr Chris Brown’s first project on Seven?

Sunday night’s finale of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! effectively brought an end to Chris Brown’s marathon 15-year tenure with 10, which started all the way back in 2008 when Dr Brown first burst onto our screens with breakout hit show Bondi Vet, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

See Also: Liz Ellis crowned Queen of the I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! jungle for 2023

While the TV vet’s contract with 10 doesn’t officially end yet, Brown’s farewell to his I’m a Celebrity co-host Julia Morris and crew on Sunday night signalled the start of two months of gardening leave for him until he starts with his new employer Seven on July 1.

But already there’s speculation about what Brown will do at Seven on his new $1m a year deal with the network. The early word to Diary from the African jungle is Brown’s first project with Seven looks set to be about as far removed as possible from his roots as a TV vet.

The whisper is Brown will be the front man behind plans by Seven to make a big return to home improvement TV, in a new show which will apparently be made by EndemolShine. That show is unlikely to make it to our screens until early next year, given the time taken to produce these types of shows.

Seven’s last attempt to compete with Nine’s home improvement juggernaut The Block was House Rules, which was officially “rested” three years ago, shortly after the start of the Covid pandemic, amid dwindling ratings.

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