Roundup: Network 10 sale?, Joe Rogan renews at Spotify, Craig Reucassel’s class assignment

Network 10

Lachlan Murdoch, Hoyts, Record labels, Taylor Swift, Ben Cousins, Charlie Pickering

Business of Media

As billionaires vie for Paramount, a Network 10 sale looks more likely

It is the perennial question – and it’s back again. What is going on over at Network 10, now Paramount? And this time it comes with the added intrigue that this year the home of MasterChef, Gladiators and Robert Irwin may soon be up for sale, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Over the past two months, a series of events has made it all but certain that Paramount Global, the $15 billion media company that owns Paramount Pictures, the Paramount+ streaming platform, free-to-air network CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, and a smattering of far-flung international assets, will change hands.

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Lachlan Murdoch touches base with News, Fox reporters at work in war zone

Media executive Lachlan Murdoch travelled to Israel last week to meet journalists from Fox Corp and News Corp who have been covering the conflict, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp and the executive chair and chief executive officer of Fox Corporation, also visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel where more than 60 people were murdered by Hamas militants on October 7.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with our journalists in Israel to see first-hand the amazing job they are doing covering the war from the front lines. It was also incredibly moving to tour some of the areas that suffered such devastation from the October 7 attacks,” Murdoch told The Australian.

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Hoyts sale up in the air after Chinese businessman snaps up parent

Hoyts’ long-running sales process is on hold after a controlling stake in the Australian cinema giant’s parent company was acquired by Chinese streaming and production investment group China Ruyi, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The company had been controlled by billionaire businessman Wang Jianlin, who in December sold his Beijing Wanda Investment group to China Ruyi.

Wang had been trying to build a Chinese rival to Disney, and once told Hoyts boss Damian Keogh he would be its last owner. But he has suffered since China’s sharemarket bubble burst in 2015 and its government cracked down on excessive debt-fuelled expansion. His personal wealth has fallen from $US46 billion ($71 billion) at its peak to $US6.2 billion.

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Joe Rogan renews at Spotify, but will no longer be exclusive

Spotify is staying in the Joe Rogan business. The music streamer and audio platform on Friday announced a new multiyear agreement with Rogan renewing its partnership with the polarizing host of its most popular podcast. In a sign of the changing economics of the industry, the new deal will allow Rogan’s show, The Joe Rogan Experience, to be distributed on multiple platforms, including YouTube and Apple Podcasts. Under the previous deal, it was exclusive to Spotify, reports The New York Times’ Reggie Ugwu.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported that it could be worth as much as $250 million over the life of the deal. Spotify will handle ad sales and distribution. A representative of Spotify declined to comment on the deal terms. A company blog post announcing the news said the show has consistently ranked as its most listened to podcast globally.

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Record labels accuse radio networks of ‘smear campaign’ in fees row

The Australian music industry has threatened to take “all actions available” against the commercial radio networks in a dramatic escalation to of a long-running stoush over how much artists are paid for their music, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Annabelle Herd, the chief executive of the non-profit Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, which represents the record labels and recording artists, accused the peak body for Australia’s 260 commercial radio stations of “resort[ing] to a misinformation and smear campaign to push its agenda”.

The war of words comes as part of an ongoing effort by the music industry to extract millions more in revenue from radio stations. Music and radio executives are expected to front a Senate inquiry in Canberra on March 7.

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Craig Reucassel’s listeners earn $100k windfall in class assignment on Tolls

Listeners to ABC Radio Sydney‘s new breakfast show were challenged to complete a group assignment this week that resulted in them netting over $100,000 in toll cashback, reports RadioInfo. 

That is only the amount reported by listeners, the full total is believed to be much higher. At one stage during the week the NSW Government’s toll rebate website crashed under the weight of claims, but was quickly restored so that listeners could continue to get their information processed.

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Taylor Swift chases album of year record at female-focused Grammys

Luminaries of the music business gather to hand out the annual Grammy awards on Sunday at a red-carpet ceremony that may culminate with another record for Taylor Swift, reports Reuters’ Lisa Richwine.

The 34-year-old pop superstar in the middle of the world’s highest-grossing tour is competing for an unprecedented fourth album of the year trophy with Midnights.

No other artist in the 66-year Grammys history has claimed the coveted honor four times. Music legends Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder won three each.

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‘There is no quick fix. It’s the long game’: Ben Cousins

Former footy wild man Ben Cousins is winning his battle to rebuild his life. “I can’t change what has happened in the past. All I can do is make the most of today,” Cousins, the one-time pin-up of the AFL, said, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

The road has been rocky, to say the least, with the ravages of substance abuse and stints behind bars dominating his story. In 2020 he was found guilty of stalking and intimidating his former partner. But a new chapter is being written.

Cousins is an emerging media star in Perth and has now signed on as a contestant on Channel 7’s celebrity-studded reality show Dancing With The Stars.

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Charlie Pickering’s favourite moments as The Weekly begins 10th season

When Charlie Pickering quit The Project a decade ago he had no immediate TV gig lined up. There were conversations with most other networks (some offering lucrative deals) but it was ABC’s then-Head of Entertainment Jon Casimir who won him over with a plan for 20 episodes of an untried show in the prized Wednesday 8:30 slot, reports TV Tonight.

“Jon had made some of my favourite shows over the years with people I really respected… Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, Gruen with Wil. I felt that he clearly had an understanding of how to make good TV shows that would work at the ABC. He also was very encouraging as far as giving me and my team control over what we did, and really giving us a chance to come up with the show that we wanted to do,” he tells TV Tonight.

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