Roundup: Kate Ritchie to Fitzy and Wippa?, future of Channel 10, Eddie McGuire

Perth Radio Ratings kate ritchie

Press freedom reforms, streamers pulling projects, streaming content obligations, Laura Tingle, Vice Media, sports rights

Business of Media

Press freedom reforms up for discussion at Canberra roundtable

Dozens of media representatives – many from the country’s largest news organisations – will attend Canberra on Monday to discuss key issues facing the industry ranging from press freedom to whistleblower protections and freedom of information, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth.

The roundtable, hosted by federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, will include representatives from News Corporation, Nine Entertainment, Seven West Media, the ABC and AAP alongside industry groups and stakeholders, including the union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Free TV Australia, Public Interest Journalism Initiative, the Press Council and the National Press Club.

Dreyfus said he was “looking forward to a full and frank discussion about press freedom issues in Australia and further ­options for reform”.

He said journalists should not face the risk of being charged or jailed for doing their jobs and there was agreement between the parliament and community that improvements to protections were “overdue”.

Other issues expected to be discussed at the roundtable include national security laws that have become intertwined with journalists’ work, leading to debate on whether they have the potential to impact the public’s “right to know”, and the media’s capacity to deliver it.

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Hollywood insiders respond to streamers pulling projects: “it’s horrifying”

Creatives are burning with rage over Hollywood’s hottest new trend: streaming platforms’ habit of canceling finished films and TV series before they’ve aired or pulling projects from platforms and shelving them indefinitely, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Chris Gardner.

The Hollywood Reporter has been asking around about the effects of consolidation, budget cuts and tax write-offs kneecapping projects like Batgirl, Snowpiercer, Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and Westworld, among others. It’s happening all over town as entertainment companies have been forced to contend with consolidation, inflation, a possible recession and a constant chase for subscribers.

“It’s been horrifying,” prolific creator Rian Johnson (Glass Onion) tells THR. “The fact that it’s becoming common practice is terrible and adds to the awfulness. In the history of the business, there has been a constant evolution of horrible things.”

Last month, THR reported that two Netflix feature films were up for grabs after the streamer opted not to distribute the films. The films included The Inheritance, directed by Alejandro Brugués and produced by Paul Schiff with a cast that included Bob Gunton, Peyton List, Austin Stowell, Briana Middleton, David Walton and Rachel Nichols, and House/Wife, directed by Danis Goulet and produced by Tripp Vinson and Daniel Bekerman with a cast that includes Alice Braga, Kris Holden-Ried and Sarah Gadon.

Also in February, on the heels of Paramount Global announcing that it was revamping its streaming setup and strategy by bringing Paramount+ and Showtime together, originals Kidding, Super Pumped and American Rust were removed from the Showtime platform. Additional cuts are expected as the company looks to cut costs with one analyst estimating $300 million-400 million in cost savings. More examples are found over at AMC Networks where the company axed second seasons of legal drama 61st Street and sci-fi series Moonhaven while orders were rescinded for Demascus and Invitation to a Bonfire.

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Albanese government faces pushback on streaming content obligations

The Albanese government is facing stiff pushback to its plans to impose Australian content obligations on streaming platforms, with local media groups becoming increasingly concerned that the proposed laws will result in the perverse outcome of punishing the companies that are the biggest investors in the domestic production industry, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Soaring costs, coupled with a strong belief that further mandates on an already heavily-regulated local sector are unnecessary, have highlighted the impasse between Labor and local media players who fear the proposed laws will make it financially unviable to deliver Australian content of adequate quality and quantity.

Last month, Arts Minister Tony Burke said the government was pushing ahead with its plans to introduce laws that would require all streaming platforms – both international, including Amazon, Disney Plus, Apple and Netflix, and Australian-based or ‘attached’ platforms such as Stan, Foxtel and Paramount+ – to spend a yet-to-be-determined percentage of their local revenue on the production of local content.

The laws would come into force by July 1 next year, he said.

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News Brands

Paramount shuts down talk it is considering closing Channel 10

It’s the biggest question in media circles right now – is US giant Paramount considering shutting down its struggling local network, Channel 10, asks Nine Publishing’s Zoe Samios?

Since being bought out of administration six years ago, the embattled third player in Australian television has witnessed a decline in traditional television audiences and a reduction in its share of local advertising all while being unable to secure key sports deals or make a new hit show.

Share market analysts have also recently raised concerns about the network’s future at briefings with ASX-listed broadcast rivals, Nine Entertainment Co and Seven West Media.

But Paramount’s president and chief executive of consumer products and experiences, Pam Kaufman, is baffled by the question – she has no intention of shuttering Channel 10.

“Of course not. Not only are we not shutting down – we are excited, and we’re investing,” said Kaufman, who reports directly to global CEO Bob Bakish. “This is a market where our strategy is strong, and it’s really working.”

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‘Ludicrous’: Laura Tingle hits back at ABC critics

Laura Tingle’s five years as 7.30’s chief political correspondent have given her a front-row seat on the political games that leaders play. But now it’s Tingle herself who’s contesting an election campaign in her own right, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

For those who haven’t heard, Tingle has thrown her hat in the ring to contest the poll for the next staff-elected director of the ABC. The election is being conducted by no less than the Australian Electoral Commission at the public broadcaster, with voting commencing last Friday and running for five weeks until March 31.

But as Tingle has rapidly discovered, the campaign trail can be a testing place for someone who has never put themselves up for election before.

On Wednesday, she was given the endorsement of one of the key union factions at the public broadcaster, the Community and Public Sector Union. But the cut and thrust nature of campaigning is already well underway, with grumbles from election rivals for the ABC staff director position that Tingle has already made a policy ‘backflip’.

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Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc steps down

Vice Media said Chief Executive Nancy Dubuc is stepping down after five years, as the embattled media company faces a number of challenges amid a sale process, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell.

“Nancy joined VICE at a pivotal time and put in place an exceptional team that has positioned the company for long-term success,” the Vice Media board of directors said in a statement. The board will announce a new leader soon, it said.

Vice recently secured more than $30 million in debt financing from Fortress Investment Group as it owed millions of dollars to vendors and advisers, some of whom hadn’t been paid for more than six months, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. The company also recently enlisted AlixPartners to analyze its finances and organizational structure, according to people familiar with the matter. AlixPartners, a firm known for restructuring, also had consulted with Vice last year.

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Kate Ritchie to join Fitzy and Wippa?

There is strong word around radio circles that ex-Home And Away star Kate Ritchie is about to make a return to radio on a new show, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

A ‘tired’ Ritchie announced last year she was taking a break from her Nova FM national drivetime radio show, Kate, Tim and Joel, to focus on her health. Australian Idol host Ricki-Lee Coulter has been filling in while Ritchie has been away.

But Diary hears whispers that a refreshed Ritchie is now on the verge of a comeback, although her new home could be on another radio show.

The word is that she could join Nova’s Sydney breakfast show Fitzy and Wippa, hosted by ex-AFL player Ryan Fitzgerald and Michael Wipfli, to give the show a boost. If that move were to proceed, it could potentially leave Coulter to stay permanently on Nova’s national drive show. Watch this space.

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Sports Media

Networks pay triple for sports rights even as profits slide

Australia’s major broadcasters now pay more than $1 billion a year for the rights to air the AFL, NRL, cricket and tennis, with the overall price nearly tripling over the past decade despite a slide in earnings, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

New analysis compiled by The Australian Financial Review shows major sporting codes are nearing a crunch time when they may need to look at other ways to monetise their broadcast rights.

But over the past decade or so, the combined earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) declared by free-to-air networks Seven, Nine and 10 have steadily declined from more than $1 billion to just under $400 million. The numbers do not include Foxtel.

Over the same period, the value of sports rights has tripled from about $320 million to $1.09 billion. Sports rights deals for the next decade are all but locked in, and at much higher prices than the past decade.

The AFL announced a $4.5 billion deal with Seven and Foxtel until 2031, and cricket’s deal over the same time, with the same broadcasters, will be worth $1.5 billion. Tennis announced a $425 million extension with Nine until 2029. The NRL’s deal with Nine and Foxtel expires in 2027.

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3AW’s AFL team secures Eddie McGuire for select games this footy season

Eddie McGuire will be back behind a microphone calling a select number of footy games for 3AW in 2023, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

And he hasn’t ruled out teaming up with his former sparring partner, Tim Lane, for some of those games.

McGuire won’t be calling in a full-time capacity, but confirmed at the 3AW footy season launch on Thursday that he had made himself available to commentate on a handful of games this season for the top-rating station.

“I am normally on AW being attacked by the Rumour File or something,” McGuire joked.

“Obviously I founded Triple M football, so that was a big time in my life, and in recent times I have done a bit of calling on the television, but I always enjoyed calling on the radio.

“I am not going to do a whole lot (of calling) this year, because I have a lot of things going on, but it is nice just to keep your hand in and there are a couple of weeks that have been pencilled in.”

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See Also: Nine’s 3AW announces full lineup for the upcoming AFL season

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