Roundup: Nine news, streaming quotas fail, Toys R Us AI-ad

Mike Sneesby Nine Upfront

Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz aim for more SCA control, Tucker Carlson targets ABC, Gerard Whateley on Olympics coverage, and Richard Gadd’s post-Baby Reindeer drama

Business of Media

Mike Sneesby heads to Greece, as Nine’s newsrooms crumble

Nine’s chief executive officer Mike Sneesby flew to Greece on Friday night for a week-long family holiday, just hours after slashing the embattled media company’s headcount by four per cent in a move that prompted “white-hot anger” among staff, reports News Corp’s James Madden and Sophie Elsworth.

Sneesby, who has come under enormous pressure over the past six weeks due to his perceived mishandling of the serious harassment allegations levelled against former Nine news boss Darren Wick, was spotted in the first-class lounge at Sydney Airport on Friday evening.

It’s understood that Sneesby has taken a week of annual leave to attend the wedding of a family member in Greece.

See also: Nine to cut 200 jobs after Meta pulls the pin on Media Code deals

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Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz focus on more Southern Cross Media control

Domain Group founder Antony Catalano and Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investment Group are now expected to lift their ownership interest in Southern Cross Media after the broadcaster rejected their proposal to merge the business with their media outfit Australian Community Media, reports News Corp’s Bridget Carter.

The pair have 14.5 per cent and, with the market value of Southern Cross Media only at $146m, amassing additional shares is unlikely to come at a major cost. Gaining a stronger interest in the business potentially will gain the pair boardroom influence over the company behind the Triple M network that ARN Media had earlier been bidding for.

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Streaming quotas “No later than July 1 2024”

Short of a planned announcement from the Minister for Communications today, the Albanese Government will miss its planned start date for local quotas on Streaming platforms, reports TV Tonight‘s David Knox.

In January 2023 Arts Minister Tony Burke stated legislation for local quotas on Streaming platforms would be introduced into Parliament in the second half of the year, to commence no later than 1 July 2024.

This has not occurred.

See also: Regulating streaming services: Government reveals timeline for content quotas

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Nine considers expelling AI bots from checking out its content

Nine Entertainment is considering blocking generative artificial intelligence bots such as those used by ChatGPT from scraping articles and images from its publications, reports Nine Publishing’s Nick Bonyhady.

Publications use small snippets of text – known as a robots.txt file – to instruct the computer programs that constantly scan the internet on what they are allowed to access.

These programs inform how sites are ranked on search engines such as Google but also take content, including material behind paywalls, for generative AI bots.

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All-AI ad from Toys ‘R’ Us inspires debate over the future of marketing

Toys “R” Us has released a video ad, one of the first from a major brand that was created almost entirely by generative artificial intelligence, reports The Wall Street Journal‘s Patrick Coffee.

The minute-long video depicts Toys “R” Us’s late founder, Charles Lazarus, as a child who dreams of a toy store and Geoffrey the Giraffe, the store’s brand mascot. Toys “R” Us said it was made using Sora, an OpenAI tool that converts text to video and that hasn’t yet been released to the public.

The Origin of Toys ‘R’ Us generated a range of responses, with creative professionals describing the work on LinkedIn and X as “brilliant” and “exciting” or, alternatively, as an “abysmal insult” that “should terrify you.” 

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News Brands

In Australia, Tucker Carlson finds a new enemy: the ABC

In front of 4000 fans in Sydney on Friday, one of the most influential conservative commentators in the world, Tucker Carlson, added another organisation to the progressives, academics, vaccine advocates, intelligence agencies and immigrants he holds responsible for the decline of Western civilisation: the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, reports Nine Publishing’s Aaron Patrick.

Earlier in the week, in Canberra, Carlson had taken a couple of questions from ABC defence correspondent Andrew Greene about Julian Assange and the AUKUS pact. Paul Sakkal, from The Age, asked about Carlson’s February interview with Vladimir Putin. Sakkal argued mainstream conservatives, including former Liberal prime minister John Howard, regard the Russian president as a tyrant and an opponent of Western values.

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‘I’ll be me’: Whateley vows to cover Olympics his way

For some athletes chasing their Olympic dreams, the process begins four years out from the Games, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam McClure.

For others, it’s six years, or eight, or more.

But for veteran broadcaster Gerard Whateley, who has called almost every sport you can think of, his ambition to call the athletics started a little differently.

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Richard Gadd’s first post-‘Baby Reindeer’ drama, ‘Lions,’ to Be co-produced by HBO and the BBC

Baby Reindeer creator and star Richard Gadd‘s next drama series is set to be co-produced by HBO and the BBC. HBO announced on Thursday that has partnered with the BBC to co-produce Lions, a six-episode drama series from Gadd, who created, wrote and executive produces the series – but isn’t attached to star in it, reports Variety Australia‘s Michael Schneider.

BBC had commissioned Lions – from Banijay UK’s Mam Tor Prods. – back in February, prior to the spring premiere of Baby Reindeer on Netflix, where it quickly became a smash hit and skyrocketed Gadd to the A-list. (That would also explain why Netflix – which generally aims to clear global rights for its projects – isn’t a part of Lions. HBO, on the other hand, frequently partners with the BBC on co-productions.)

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Top Image: Mike Sneesby

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