Roundup: Facebook, Paramount+, Vogue China, WPP, SCA + more

Paramount+ launch

• Plus Schapelle Corby and a record Oscar year

Media Code

Facebook to restore news in Australia as media code becomes law

Facebook has pledged to restore news articles in Australia within the next 48 hours as new laws forcing it to compensate media companies for news were passed by the Federal Parliament, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin.

The government’s media bargaining code became law on Thursday after clearing the final hurdle in the House of Representatives, ending a tumultuous process that included threats from Google and Facebook to reduce services in Australia and last-ditch changes to appease them.

News organisations around the world hailed the new laws, as global momentum builds for rules to force internet platforms to pay media companies for news.

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Greens ‘putting local publishers at risk’, says Louise Pratt

Labor senator Louise Pratt has lashed out at the Greens’ attempt to amend the news media bargaining code, saying the “hypocritical” minor party’s position would have jeopardised Facebook striking deals with publishers and putting local news on its platform, reports News Corp’s Greg Brown.

Senator Pratt, a Left faction MP from Western Australia, said the Greens either did not understand the Morrison government’s legislation or “just wanted to pull a stunt in the Senate”.

Her comments to The Australian came after the Greens used the Senate to try to force changes to the proposed media code, ­including a requirement for media companies to lodge an ­annual report disclosing how they spend the money gained from revenue-sharing deals with social media giants.

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Business of Media

WPP AUNZ eyes greater market share as ad market bounces back

Australia’s biggest advertising company WPP AUNZ has forecast substantial earnings growth this year as companies resume spending following a tough year smashed by COVID-19, reports News Corp’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Chief executive Jens Monsees says the group, which is in the process of being taken over by its biggest shareholder UK ad giant WPP PLC, is looking to increase its market share as the ad market bounces back following its restructuring.

He said the business pipeline is strong following the postponement of some work and pitches last year due to the coronavirus crisis.

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SCA rules out returning JobKeeper, despite flagging resumption of dividend payments

Southern Cross Media has decided against returning nearly $32m of federal government JobKeeper subsidies, despite plans to resume dividend payments after a sharp jump in profit, reports News Corp’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Chief executive Grant Blackley says the company considered returning the money, but believes it helped save jobs across its Triple M and Hit radio and television stations during the coronavirus crisis.

The Morrison government rolled out the $130bn JobKeeper scheme early last year to protect jobs during the economic turmoil.

The majority of media companies that received JobKeeper such as Seven West Media, HT&E and WPP AUNZ have also ruled out returning the funds.

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Margaret Zhang appointed Vogue China editor

Sydney fashion expert Margaret Zhang has been appointed editorial director of Vogue China, reports News Corp’s Glynis Traill-Nash.

Aged just 27, she becomes the youngest person to ever hold this Vogue title (elsewhere equivalent to editor-in-chief) anywhere in the world.

“This new role is an incredible opportunity to combine my background, my skills and my interests,” Zhang told Women’s Wear Daily. “There’s a lot of context about China that is lost; often it’s looked at as this one monolithic entity, as opposed to a country of individuals and innovations.’

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Paramount+ promises a ‘Godfather’ streaming series and a ‘Frasier’ reboot

On Wednesday, ViacomCBS staged a three-hour presentation previewing its newly named streaming platform, Paramount+, which will replace CBS All Access on March 4, reports The New York Times’ John Koblin.

“This is a big day, a new day, a new beginning,” Shari Redstone, the chair of ViacomCBS, said from the Paramount lot in Los Angeles in the virtual event.

The company made a slew of announcements promising new content, including a weekly show from Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show on ViacomCBS’s Comedy Central network; a Ray Donovan film; and new installments of A Quiet Place and Mission: Impossible, movie sequels that will start streaming on the service 45 days after their theatrical releases.

Kelsey Grammer will bring back Dr. Frasier Crane for the Frasier revival, and the company said the sketch series Inside Amy Schumer, off the air since 2016, would have five specials. There will also be a Beavis and Butt-Head movie and a revival of the animated series Rugrats.

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Oscars: 366 films eligible for Best Picture, most in 50 years

Between March 5-10, Academy members will vote to nominate between five and 10 films, with options ranging from Absent Now the Dead through You Cannot Kill David Arquette, reports The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg.

Three hundred sixty-six feature films — meaning 40 minutes or longer — have been deemed eligible for the best picture Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Thursday as it released its annual “reminder list” for members.

This is the highest tally of eligible titles in 50 years — there were 374 titles eligible in 1970 — but only the 22nd-highest total in the history of the Oscars. The first Oscars ceremony considered films from 1927 and 1928, hence its record-setting 562 entries. The rest of the top 20 is filled with other years from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

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Schapelle Corby confirmed for 2021 Dancing With The Stars cast

Hugging has been the hardest part for Schapelle Corby in preparing for her latest reality television role, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

Corby will compete as a wildcard entrant on the latest series of Dancing With The Stars after Australians got a taste of the 43-year-old on hit show SAS Australia.

The convicted drug smuggler has been hard at work training in Brisbane with professional dance partner Shae Mountain ahead of production kicking off in Sydney over the coming weeks.

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