Roundup: MasterChef farewells Jock Zonfrillo, Women’s World Cup, ABC viewer demographics

Jock Zonfrillo final masterchef episode

Facebook, Elon Musk, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, Michelle Guthrie, Streaming quotas

Business of Media

Facebook admits it used app to ‘know nearly everything’ about users

Meta, the operator of social media platform Facebook, has admitted it used data from software marketed to users as a way to keep their personal data safe as a “business intelligence tool” for its own purposes, reports Nine Publishing’s Max Mason.

The company acquired Onavo, a virtual private network software app, in 2013 for about $US200 million ($292 million) and marketed it to users as a way to “keep you and your data safe” by keeping their personal activity private.

But internal documents prepared by Meta and its subsidiary Facebook Israel suggested Onavo user data was being used for another purpose. One document read: “The best part about these apps … is that it gives us a sample of users who we are able to know nearly everything they are doing on their mobile device.”

The data, which was aggregated and anonymised, was used to help advertisers “identify local competitors, notice big trends, find overlaps in use, benchmark your performance in significant-margin differences, notice a shift in consumer attention”, the same document added.

Details of the internal Meta documents are contained in new filings in the Federal Court. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued Meta, then known as Facebook, in December 2020 over the marketing of Onavo. The ACCC has not made any public comment about the matter since filing its complaint, but documents show the regulator and two Meta subsidiaries – Facebook Israel and Onavo – have reached an agreement for the social media company to pay a $20 million fine.

[Read More]

Elon Musk says Twitter’s cash flow still negative as ad revenue drops 50%

Twitter’s cash flow remains negative because of a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue and a heavy debt load, Elon Musk said on Saturday, falling short of his expectation in March that Twitter could reach cash flow positive by June, report Reuters’ Jahnavi Nidumolu and Krystal Hu.

“Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else,” Musk said in a tweet replying to suggestions on recapitalization.

Musk said on Sunday in another tweet that Twitter did not see the increase in advertising revenue that had been expected in June, adding, “July is a bit more promising.” Twitter Spaces also hasn’t generated revenue yet and is “all-cost”, Musk said.

This is the latest sign that the aggressive cost-cutting measures since Musk acquired Twitter in October alone are not enough to get Twitter to cash flow positive, and suggests Twitter’s ad revenue may have not recovered as fast as Musk suggested in an interview in April with the BBC that most advertisers had returned to the site.

[Read More]

The defamation case that could be Fox News’ next Dominion saga

Of all the distortions and paranoia that Tucker Carlson promoted on his since-cancelled Fox News program, one looms large: a conspiracy theory that an Arizona man working as a covert government agent incited the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol to sabotage and discredit former president Donald Trump and his political movement, reports The New York Times.

What’s known about the man – a two-time Trump voter named Ray Epps – is that he took part in demonstrations in Washington that day and the night before. He was captured on camera urging a crowd to march with him and enter the Capitol. But at other points, he pleads for calm once it becomes clear the situation is turning violent. He can be seen moving past a line of Capitol Police at the barricades, but he never actually goes inside the Capitol.

Federal prosecutors have not charged Epps with a crime, focusing instead on the more than 1000 other demonstrators who acted violently or were trespassing in the Capitol. The Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the attack remains open, however, and Epps could still be indicted.

Yet for more than 18 months, Carlson insisted that the lack of charges against Epps could mean only one thing: that he was being protected because he was a secret government agent. There was “no rational explanation,” Carlson told his audience, why this “mysterious figure” who “helped stage-manage the insurrection” had not been charged.

He repeated Epps’ name over and over — in nearly 20 episodes — imprinting it on the minds of his viewers.

[Read More]

Tucker Carlson is creating a new media company

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former White House adviser Neil Patel are seeking to raise funds to start a new media company that would potentially use Twitter as its backbone, according to people familiar with the matter, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Keach Hagey and Alexa Corse.

The new company would be anchored by longer versions of the free videos that Carlson has been posting regularly on Twitter since shortly after his departure from Fox News, but would ultimately be driven by subscriptions, some of the people said.

Carlson and Patel are looking to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the company, the people said.

Users of Twitter and other platforms would still be able to watch free, shorter versions of his show, interviews and documentaries, but would need to subscribe to watch them in their entirety, the people said. The company would eventually add shows from additional hosts, they said.

Carlson and Patel were roommates at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., from which they graduated in 1991, and in 2010 teamed up to found the conservative Daily Caller news site, which Patel still controls. They have lined up financiers, lawyers and media strategists to work on the new company, according to people familiar with the effort.

Carlson’s team met with a Twitter team in recent weeks to discuss the endeavor, people familiar with the matter said.

[Read More]

News Brands

Less than 8pc of the ABC’s flagship news viewers are under 40

More than 80 per cent of the broadcast viewers for the ABC’s marquee news program, the 7pm bulletin, are over 55 years old – with a staggering two-thirds of viewers older than 65, internal data circulated to managers shows, reports Nine Publishing’s Mark Di Stefano.

Less than 8 per cent of viewers for the bulletin are under 40, the figures obtained by The Australian Financial Review show. It is this information that has caused concern among the broadcaster’s executive, with one senior manager describing the audience as “the grey-BC”.

Executives, led by the ABC’s head of news and current affairs, Justin Stevens, have used an increasingly urgent need to pursue younger audiences as justification for cutting some positions at the broadcaster, including the contentious departure of political editor Andrew Probyn.

Documents obtained by the Financial Review detail viewership information for the 7pm news bulletin across one week in late June, and for the broadcaster’s two prominent news panel programs, Q&A and Insiders.

The ABC is not alone among broadcasters to see audiences age. Young people have been turning away from television for more than a decade as viewership shifts to streaming platforms like Netflix and to YouTube.

[Read More]

ABC management working on a report to urgently overhaul its radio stations

ABC management has been tasked with addressing a list of long-running issues at its major city radio stations, particularly high-level concerns that it is failing to provide sufficient news updates and local content, report The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff and Sophie Elsworth.

This has been made more urgent after the latest radio survey released last week showed ABC local radio in its flagship Sydney market continued to lose listeners, with tens of thousands switching to other stations. Meanwhile, ratings in its other markets remain of concern amid long-term declines.

An internal report on entrenched problems in the radio arm was submitted to the ABC board ahead of its meeting in Perth last month, revealing extensive analysis of what has gone wrong with detailed recommendations on how to fix the issues.

The Australian understands that chief content officer Chris Oliver-Taylor has subsequently been asked by the board to work on a shortlist of recommendations considered most urgent and pertinent to the public broadcaster.

[Read More]


Guthrie returns to disrupt the airwaves

Michelle Guthrie has grand plans to disrupt the radio industry as she embarks on her first major role in the media since her abrupt departure from the ABC five years ago, reports The Australian.

The national broadcaster’s former managing director is the ­incoming chairwoman of the new talkback station Disrupt Radio. Despite being only three weeks old, it was years in the making.

“The name says it all, it’s about trying to do something differently,” Ms Guthrie told The Australian.

“Launching a DAB (digital audio broadcast) station – rather than a podcast, for example – is very different … having a focus around entrepreneurs and small business people and a focus on women and diverse voices is really different.”

The independently owned and operated outfit focuses on business and entrepreneurship and made plenty of headlines in its debut week, helped along by ­enlisting rock legend Sir Bob Geldof as its temporary breakfast host in its opening days.

Guthrie has been working ­behind the scenes to help create the station “from the ground up” with founder and chief executive Benjamin Roberts.

[Read More]


The final MasterChef Australia starring the late Jock Zonfrillo has signed off with his signature farewell

Jock Zonfrillo was given the final word on the grand finale of the 2023 season of MasterChef Australia, which was overshadowed by the chef and judge’s shocking death on the eve of the season’s premiere, reports News Corp’s Joanne Williamson.

MasterChef’s final two contestants Brent Draper and Rhiannon Anderson battled it out in the two-part grand finale on Sunday night.

Draper took out the win, but the final moments of the show were devoted to Zonfrillo with a montage of his five years on the show, before he uttered his catchphrase: “ For the last time – go home, have a cup of tea and be kind to each other.”

The final ended with a montage of Zonfrillo’s moments over the three years he had been a judge, before a picture of the cast and crew projected on the screen.

[Read More]

Streaming quotas decision would ease Hollywood strike headache: studio boss

Australia’s film and television sector will avoid major disruption as a result of union strikes in Hollywood, although the Albanese government is being urged to finalise its decision over proposed local content quotas to ease uncertainty in the industry, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

Former chief executive of Nine Entertainment Hugh Marks – who last year founded Australian studio Dreamchaser alongside former Endemol Shine boss Carl Fennessy – said the writer and actor strike had added a layer of complexity to the Australian industry.

After announcing in January it would implement local content requirements for international streaming services, the government is yet to set a number for the quota. A spokesperson for Tony Burke, minister for the arts and for workplace and employment relations, reaffirmed a decision would be made this side of the new year, ahead of its implementation in July 2024.

Marks said the local offices of the likes of Netflix, Disney and Apple will be affected by the strikes, with Australian content pitches increasingly being angled towards a global audience.

The strikes have coincided with a period where streamers have shifted gears from “a gold rush of global domination”, Marks says, to being forced to figure out how to monetise their vast audiences.

[Read More]

Sports Media

Record World Cup interest to offer Optus its moment of redemption

As the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off this Thursday, July 20, across Australia and New Zealand, major telecommunications company Optus is hoping it will provide a platform for it to rejuvenate its reputation among Australians following a torrid year, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

After 10 million current and former Optus customers had their data stolen in a cyberattack in late-2022, Clive Dickens, VP product, TV and content at Optus says the key metric for success as the official broadcaster of one of the biggest events in Australian sporting history will be reviving the brand’s image.

Aided by the popularity of the Matildas and star striker and captain, Sam Kerr, research from YouGov, commissioned by technology and programmatic marketing platform, The Trade Desk has found two-thirds of Australians plan to watch the event, with millennials set to tune in at record levels.

“Both brands are deeply involved in the event,” Dickens says, referencing Optus and Optus Sport. “The metric here is not about sign-ups. The metric here is about brand,” noting the positive association of an event of such cultural significance.

“Obviously, off the back of what’s been a difficult time for our customers last year, and therefore a difficult time for the brand, this is an extremely optimistic, positive brand moment that Optus and Optus Sport will hopefully be able to bring and benefit from.”

[Read More]

To Top