Roundup: Facebook ad-targeting, The Block, Total Control + more

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• Plus TikTok, ITV, Adam Boulton, Brian Williams, Television’s age of innocence, Preppers

Business of Media

Facebook may have to be legally forced to do deals with smaller publishers

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg has warned under-fire social network Facebook it could be the first digital platform the federal government legally forces to strike commercial deals with news outlets if it continues to ignore requests from smaller publishers, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

Bragg, who is chair of Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications, said Facebook should be ‘designated’ under the government’s media bargaining code because of its refusal to negotiate with outlets seeking payment for news articles, including SBS and The Conversation. Being designated under the code means Facebook must enter negotiations with all publishers for use of their content or risk fines of up to 10 per cent of Australian revenue.

“We should seriously consider designating Facebook under the code if they fail to support Australian publishers” Bragg said. “I am not surprised that Facebook has lots of problems at the moment. Their treatment of small and diverse publishers can only improve.”

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Facebook plans to remove thousands of sensitive ad-targeting options

Facebook said on Tuesday it plans to remove detailed ad-targeting options that refer to “sensitive” topics, such as ads based on interactions with content around race, health, religious practices, political beliefs or sexual orientation, reports Reuters.

Facebook gave examples of targeting categories that would no longer be allowed on its platforms, such as “Lung cancer awareness,” “World Diabetes Day”, “LGBT culture”, “Jewish holidays” or political beliefs and social issues. It said the change would take place starting Jan. 19, 2022.

The company has been hit with criticisms around its micro-targeting capabilities, including over abuses such as advertisers discriminating against or targeting vulnerable groups.

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TikTok a ‘game changer’ executives say, amid leaked Facebook data

Some businesses are shifting their advertising spending and ­attention from the likes of Facebook and Instagram over to TikTok, amid leaked data from Facebook showing teenagers are spending twice as much time on TikTok than on Facebook, reports News Corp’s David Swan.

Judy Sahay, founder of digital strategy agency Crowd Media Group, has moved most of her clients to TikTok, saying it was a case of businesses ‘following the eyeballs’. “For a long time, our business was active on Facebook and Instagram because essentially that’s where most of our clients were. However, TikTok has ­completely changed the game for us, and we have been getting a lot of traction on TikTok,” Sahay said.

TikTok’s platform is more ­organic, genuine and raw, Sahay said, and is decidedly less polished than the content on Instagram. “TikTok has boomed in the last few years and teens are loving it – it’s been a big cultural shift,” she said. “It has very little use of filters, people are honest and vulnerable, and there has been a shift from music, songs and dances to real educational, thought leadership and authority.”

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Pandemic bounceback puts ITV on course for record year of ad revenues

Shares in ITV soared on Wednesday after the broadcaster said it was on track to enjoy the best year for advertising revenues in its 66-year history, as businesses pour money into marketing to drive a post-pandemic recovery, reports The Guardian’s Mark Sweney.

Investors sent shares in ITV – which said it was now performing more strongly than in 2019 before the pandemic – up more than 13%, making the broadcaster the strongest performing stock among the FTSE 100.

The UK’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster said total advertising revenue for the first nine months surged 30% year on year to £1.3bn.

The company expects total ad revenues for the year, including the growing income from ads on its streaming service, ITV Hub, to be up by 24% compared with 2020 to hit an all-time high.

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News Brands

Political analyst and anchor Adam Boulton to leave Sky News UK after 33 years

Veteran broadcaster Adam Boulton is leaving Sky News after 33 years, reports Press Gazette.

Boulton has been editor-at-large at the channel since 2014 when he stepped down as political editor after 25 years. He first joined the channel ahead of its launch in 1989.

He currently presents All Out Politics each weekday at 9am and has previously hosted flagship shows across the schedule including breakfast, Sunday morning, and lunchtimes.

Boulton told The Times it was a “mutual decision” to leave and that “it looks like the direction which Sky News wants to go over the next few years is not one that’s a particularly good fit for me”.

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Anchorman Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC and NBC News after 28 years

Anchorman Brian Williams, a 28-year veteran of NBC News and MSNBC, said Tuesday that he is leaving the company at the end of this year, reports CNN.

“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another,” Williams said in a statement. “There are many things I want to do, and I’ll pop up again somewhere.”

Williams expressed deep gratitude to NBC, saying the network “is a part of me and always will be.”

He is about to become a free agent for the first time in decades.

For the past five years, Williams has anchored The 11th Hour, an end-of-the-day newscast and political talk program. CNN Business reported in August that his contract was expiring in the next six months and that he wanted to move off the late-night hour.

Now he is doing it. But he added in Tuesday’s statement, “I ask all those who are a part of our loyal viewing audience to remain loyal. The 11th Hour will remain in good hands, produced by the best team in cable news.”

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Television’s age of innocence is over, and that’s worth celebrating

We can learn a lot from looking back at the way TV used to be, reports SMH’s Tom Ryan.

For starters, the taboos that once prevailed over what appeared on our sets can now look pretty ridiculous. Back in the 1950s, for one of many examples, when the writers of I Love Lucy (1951-1957, only available in Australia on DVD) attempted to write series star Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy into a script, their CBS bosses forbade it.

She could still be in the show, they decreed, but for anybody to refer to her as “pregnant” was deemed to be offensive. It was OK, though, to say she was having a “blessed event” (see season 2, episode 10, Lucy is Enceinte). One only needs to set this alongside Call the Midwife (2012-present, Britbox, Stan, Binge, Foxtel Now) or the Australian series, Bump (2021, Stan, shortly to begin its second season) to see how far we’ve come.

Once upon a time, when characters had sex, TV used to discreetly close the bedroom door before they got down to it. Not any more. They’re also now permitted to swear properly: “bloody” and “darn” just don’t cut it now. When they were shot, they used to clutch their chests, a convention that gave actors the chance to do great death scenes. Now they routinely vanish behind exploding blood pellets.

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The Block star Tanya reveals ‘national humiliation,’ says she quit multiple times

Controversial Block contestant Tanya has opened up about the fallout from this season’s cheating scandal, revealing she tried to quit the show three times and has had to contact police in the wake of Sunday’s finale regarding abuse sent to her home, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.

Make-up artist Tanya finally confessed the truth about the cheating scandal during Sunday’s finale, admitting it was her who took the top-secret photo of The Block’s production schedule back in the first week of filming – and not the mysterious tradie she’d blamed it on all season.

In a new Instagram post reflecting on the season, Tanya said she wondered why The Block’s producers didn’t axe them from the competition when the controversy first surfaced, and claims she and Vito in fact left the show multiple times.

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Preppers: An oddball comedy about the end of the world, maybe

There’s plenty going on in the world that could bring about an apocalypse. It’s unlikely to be zombies or aliens but it’s not outside of the realm of possibilities that climate change, super volcanoes, global wars and authoritarian governments could spell the end of days, reports News Corp’s Wenlei Ma.

All the doom and gloom is enough to make you anxious, perhaps anxious enough to prep? Or better yet, create a raucous TV comedy about doomsday preppers.

Preppers starts this week on ABC and iview, created by and starring Nakkiah Lui.

Lui stars as Charlie, the co-host of a breakfast TV program, who falls in with a group of preppers on the worst day of her life.

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Total Control and the price of service

Fans of ABC drama Total Control loved watching Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths acting side by side, reports TV Tonight.

But they especially loved seeing them go toe to toe in seething scenes in the corridors of Canberra.

This Sunday they will be witness to another, in a tense exchange in an ABC loading bay following a fictional episode of Q+A.

“It’s my favourite scene. We worked to really make that scene epic and emotionally truthful. For my character, it is a kind of an exploration of white fragility, in a way,” says Griffiths, who plays former PM Rachel Anderson.”

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