Roundup: Hugh Marks next move, Seven’s Adele drama, ABC Funding, AAP + more

Hugh Marks

• News Corp v iSentia, Independent publishers take on Tech Giants, ABC News, Natalia Cooper, and Erin Molan going into politics?

Business of Media

Former Nine boss plans to build film and television studio

Former Nine Entertainment boss Hugh Marks is planning to challenge some of Australia’s leading production companies as he searches for investors to help him create a local film and television studio, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Industry sources familiar with the plans, who spoke anonymously because the project is in its early stages, said Marks was working with former Endemol Shine Australia boss Carl Fennessy. The pair are looking for a third strategic investor to establish the business by next year.

The creation of the studio would be the first major move by Marks since his exit from Nine, the owner of this masthead, earlier this year. Marks resigned from the television, radio, publishing, streaming and real-estate company one year ago after he went public about his relationship with former direct report and NRL chief commercial officer Alexi Baker.

Media sources familiar with his non-compete agreement said he is prevented from running a television company and online classifieds businesses. However, he is not prevented from running a film and television studio.

People familiar with the plans said Marks and Fennessy were trying to create a studio that would not only produce content, but sell it to international markets in the same way that Hollywood powerhouses such as Disney operate. The pair would provide the infrastructure for production partners as well as the capability to sell formats to local and international markets.

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News Corp takes iSentia to court over copyright infringement

News Corp’s Australian News Channel is taking iSentia to court in a bid to stop the media monitoring firm from providing Sky News Australia content to clients without an appropriate licence, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

The case stems from Australian News Channel, which runs Sky News Australia, giving an exclusive licence to iSentia rival Streem, which meant that from September 1 Streem was the only media monitoring company in the Australian and New Zealand market able to provide customers with full content from Sky News Australia, including alerts, streaming, downloads and transcripts.

However, iSentia, which is now owned by UK-based Access Intelligence, continued to provide Sky News content to government clients under section 183(1) of the Copyright Act, which allows for use of copyright material for the services of the Crown.

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Ex-Age editor and The Conversation creator Andrew Jaspan launches new publishing resource called 360info

Former newspaper editor Andrew Jaspan has spent the past four years creating a new wire agency service that from Monday will begin publishing and broadcasting research-based material worldwide, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Titled 360info, the service has been in the works since Jaspan joined Monash University in 2018, when he became director and editor of The Global Academy, and since then he’s been developing the new newswire content platform that will provide research-based material to news and media outlets.

Jaspan, who was editor of The Age and The Sunday Age from 2004 to 2008, said the independent information resource would be available to media outlets both domestically and internationally.

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Senate inquiry into ABC complaints on knife edge as advocate backs review

The fate of Senator Andrew Bragg’s inquiry into the way the ABC and SBS handle complaints will be decided in a matter of days, with two independent senators and the Labor Party signalling they would support a motion by the Greens to terminate it, report SMH’s Zoe Samios and Nick Bonyhady.

But Dhanya Mani, a campaigner against misconduct towards women, backed the inquiry, saying it would be a better alternative to the ABC’s independent review.

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ALP pledge of funding certainty for ABC, SBS

Labor is looking to make funding of public broadcasters an election issue by promising to provide the ABC and SBS with five-year funding terms if it wins government, reports News Corp’s Olivia Caisley.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and opposition communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland on Friday said it was ­essential to guard against political interference in the nation’s democratic institutions by bolstering the independence and stability of the broadcasters.

“In the face of political, social and economic instability at home and abroad, we must ensure that Australia’s instruments of nation building, democracy and culture remain strong now and into the future,” they said.

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Communications Minister Paul Fletcher accuses Labor of milking an ABC scare campaign

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has added further fuel to the political fire that is engulfing the public broadcaster, accusing Labor of milking an “ABC scare campaign” in order to attract campaign donations, report News Corp’s James Madden and Sophie Elsworth.

Responding to the ALP’s announcement on Friday that it would provide the ABC and SBS with five-year funding terms if it wins government, Fletcher said the ABC’s funding was currently higher than when the Coalition came to office in 2013.

“Its three-year funding arrangement provides the ABC with more financial certainty than any other media organisation in the country. This is a significant advantage, particularly in these uncertain times,” Fletcher told The Australian.

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Don’t make us pay for ABC services we don’t use: poll

Australians think that it is unfair that people who do not listen to or watch the ABC are forced to pay for it, with calls growing for the national broadcaster to focus on underserved markets and stop competing in areas well served by commercial media, reports News Corp’s James Morrow.

According to the results of a poll of 1,015 Australians being released in Monday’s episode of the Institute of Public Affairs’ “Their ABC” podcast, 43 per cent of Australians believe ‘It is unfair that Australians who don’t watch the ABC are required to pay for it’.

Only 30 per cent of those polled disagreed, with others undecided or unsure.

NSW Senator Andrew Bragg told the podcast that the ABC should stick to “working where there is no content being provided by the market.”

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News Brands

Independent publishers unite to seek payment from Facebook and Google

Fortescue founder Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation is helping unite small Australian news publishers to collectively bargain with Facebook and Google and demand payment for their journalism used on the platforms, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

The Minderoo Foundation is assisting 18 small publishers, including Star Observer, Time Out, Australian Chinese Daily and The Australian Jewish News, to come together to collectively negotiate with the tech players, lodging paperwork on Monday with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow them to do so without breaching competition laws.The exemption to competition laws will apply automatically on lodgement of the form with the ACCC with the Minderoo Foundation’s Frontier Technology initiative to then assist the publishers with their engagement with Google and Facebook.

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Channel Seven reporter Matt Doran taken off air for two weeks over Adele interview

TV host Matt Doran was suspended by Seven Network bosses after offending pop diva Adele when he admitted he hadn’t listened to her new album, reports News corp’s Annette Sharp and Briana Domjen.

The Weekend Sunrise host was dispatched to London with a Seven crew on or about November 4 to record an exclusive interview with the “Hello” singer – part of a package Seven brokered with CBS and Sony Pictures which also incorporates the broadcast rights to Sunday night’s much-hyped Oprah Winfrey One Night Only special and two-hour concert.

Network sources confirmed Doran was spoken to and suspended from work for two weeks after he offended the singer when he admitted – during the interview – he hadn’t listened to the diva’s new album, 30, prior to their sit-down.

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‘Mortified’ Seven star’s sorry to Adele

Through Nick Tabakoff‘s Media Diary, Doran has issued a mea culpa to Adele, adding that he is “mortified and unequivocally apologetic” to the star.

“When I sat down to interview Adele, I was totally unaware that I’d been emailed a preview of her unreleased album,” Doran says. “I have since discovered it was sent to me as an ‘e card’ link, which I somehow missed upon landing in London. It was an oversight but NOT a deliberate snub. This is the most important email I have ever missed.”

But Doran adamantly denies one story that emerged on the weekend: that Adele walked out on the interview (which was filmed by Sony rather than a Seven crew that flew to London).

Upon returning from London, he was absent from Sunrise for one weekend, but says he wasn’t formally “suspended”.

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Fang to get a test run in ABC’s top news job

As ABC news director Gaven Morris’ final day in the top news job at the national broadcaster fast approaches, all chatter inside Ultimo and Southbank is focused on a long list of contenders regarded as potential successors, reports SMH‘s Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook.

But there are more immediate concerns to attend to. Including who will fill Morris’ chair in the intervening period between him skipping out of Ultimo for the final time and a no-expenses-spared recruitment process landing on a successor. A job ad is imminent, we hear.

As a result, ABC’s head of network and newsgathering Gavin Fang is expected to be announced in coming days as the acting news director.

As ABC news director Gaven Morris’ final day in the top news job at the national broadcaster fast approaches, all chatter inside Ultimo and Southbank is focused on a long list of contenders regarded as potential successors.

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AAP invests in rural and regional desk thanks to Fairfax family

The Australian Associated Press is launching a rural and regional desk to be based in NSW’s central west, thanks to philanthropic support from the Fairfax family, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

The Jibb Foundation, the family foundation of John B. Fairfax and his wife Libby Fairfax, is funding the new desk, which provides for one full-time reporter with provision for photography and travel.

John B. Fairfax has strong ties to rural journalism through his success in turning Rural Press into a publishing empire, and through his and his family’s investment in agriculture and rural businesses.

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Natalia Cooper farewells Nine Sydney to move home to WA

Nine News Sydney is set to lose one of its greatest assets when Natalia Cooper leaves for Perth this week, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.

Sunday Confidential can reveal Cooper has packed her bags and is moving her young family and career to Western Australia.

“Natalia is moving back to Perth,” one TV insider told Confidential.

“She and her husband Carl and son Ezra leave this week.”

Being away from family in Western Australia because of that state’s border closures has been tough on Cooper.

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Breakfast leaves radio bosses with egg on their face

Management at radio company Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) – owner of Triple M and 2DayFM — is said to be in disarray following the failure of breakfast programs on both stations, writes News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

Sources last week informed this column that executives at the station are only reluctantly backing the return of The Morning Show with Hughesy, Ed and Erin in 2022 after running out of options to replace the trio, who have shed listeners since being promoted to the breakfast slot at the start of the year.

Equally, the decision to cancel Lawrence “Moonman” Mooney’s contract is said to have left Triple M struggling to find suitably experienced stars to replace the radio veteran.

Mooney last week launched legal proceedings against SCA for breach of contract.

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Erin Molan rejects offer to move into politics

Channel Nine star Erin Molan has rejected an offer to move into politics, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

News Corp can reveal powerful Liberal Party figures recently approached the TV and FM radio host about taking on the seat of Eden-Monaro at the next federal election.

The 38-year-old knocked back the offer because of her media commitments. She is under contract for another two years at 2DAY FM and is currently in talks with Nine regarding a contract extension.

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Media companies raise concerns over TV election debates plan

Local media companies are expected to knock back an initial proposal for the creation of an Australian Debates Commission, raising concerns that some take-it-or-leave it measures the government is proposing to implement are too restrictive, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios and Lisa Visentin.

The three commercial television broadcasters and national press gallery have welcomed the creation of a commission that would govern televised debates in the lead-up to a federal election, but are concerned about the government’s foothold over the commission and its rules.

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Sport Media

Streaming takes sports rights into brave new world

Australia’s sport streaming space is now locked and loaded for the forseeable future after Optus retained the English Premier League broadcast rights and Foxtel renewed the Formula One, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

Optus, with the drive to retain relevance in the streaming sector, has dug deep into its wallet to retain the coveted EPL and the rights to the FA Women’s Super league, spending an estimated $80 million a year for the rights for the first four years of the deal, with that amount extending to around $100 million a year for the final two years of the six-year deal, according to a source familiar with the discussion.

The eye-watering amount of money demonstrates what sport could begin to fetch as the streaming era comes of age and more players begin to add sport to their streaming offering to lure subscribers.

The EPL had several competitors circling it – Optus, ViacomCBS’ Paramount+, Nine Entertainment’s Stan, Foxtel’s Kayo and Amazon Prime Video were all believed to have been involved at some stage of the competitive bidding process.

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Gerard Healy to depart On the Couch

AFL commentator Gerard Healy is departing FOX Footy’s On The Couch after some 20 years on air, currently the longest running host of an AFL television show, reports TV Tonight.

Healy has hosted the show since 2002, but will remain part of FOX Footy family commentary on game days.

“While I look forward to remaining part of the FOX Footy team for another couple of seasons, I’ve for some time felt that after twenty years hosting The Couch, it was probably time for a change, both for me and the show,” said Healy.

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