Roundup: Patrick Delany predicts “bumpy” summer, Walkley awards review, Chris Dore’s new gig

Patrick Delany foxtel

Bruce McWilliam, Elon Musk, ABC, Vox and Condé Nast, Sports Illustrated, Ben Latimer, Children’s TV, Bluey

Business of Media

Walkley awards to review ‘chequebook journalism’ rules after Bruce Lehrmann rent payment revealed in court

The Walkley board will review its rules on “chequebook journalism” after it emerged that the Seven Network paid Bruce Lehrmann’s rent for a year to secure an interview that was later nominated for the 2023 scoop of the year award, reports The Guardian’s Rafqa Touma.

But a statement released on Sunday by the foundation, which oversees Australia’s most prestigious journalism awards, did not reverse or retrospectively invalidate the nomination. As of Sunday evening, Seven’s interview was still listed on the Walkley website as a shortlisted finalist.

In its own statement, Seven claimed this was acknowledgment from the foundation that its entry had “fully met the entry criteria” for the award.

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See Also: Seven defends paying Bruce Lehrmann’s rent in return for Spotlight interviews

Would Kerry Stokes pay to avoid Bruce McWilliam’s embarrassing emails?

We’ve all sent some zingers over email on occasion. But few people can compete with the sheer volume of late-night email aficionado Bruce McWilliam, Seven West Media’s commercial director and corporate fixer, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

There are those in legal circles who file his messages away in dedicated folders – that’s how memorable they can be. But he truly outdid himself in Seven’s failed defamation case against Nine Entertainment on behalf of disgraced soldier Ben Roberts-Smith. There are 8650 emails from McWilliam to Roberts-Smith and his lawyers that will soon be handed over to a Federal Court, to Nine’s lawyers and, ultimately, to the media.

That is, if Seven is willing to go through with it. The key question here is: how much would one pay to avoid a trove of emails described by a judge as “personally embarrassing”?

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X struggling to win advertisers back after Elon Musk’s profane outburst

Major advertisers like Disney, IBM and Apple are still withholding ad dollars from Elon Musk’s X two weeks after its owner endorsed an antisemitic tweet and two days after he launched an expletive-laden tirade to describe his feelings about the pull back. Marketing agencies are pulling back from it as well. In response, X has said it plans to attract smaller and medium-sized businesses to prop up its income, reports The Guardian’s Edward Helmore.

“Small and medium businesses are a very significant engine that we have definitely underplayed for a long time,” a statement given by the company to the Financial Times on Friday reads. “It [was] always part of the plan – now we will go even further with it.”

Last month, some of the world’s most recognizable brands halted spending on X following his endorsement of the post, and on Wednesday Musk told the boycotters to “go fuck” themselves and accused them of “blackmail” by withholding advertising to try to pressure him into greater content moderation.

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News Brands

Stokes’ Seven West hires ex-Oz boss Chris Dore for national news play

Seven West Media is preparing to launch a digital-only national news publication and has signed The Australian’s former editor-in-chief, Chris Dore, as a senior columnist, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Multiple sources close to the project, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not permitted to comment publicly, said it would involve a nightly digital newspaper called The Nightly. The project has been quietly in development for months.

The Nightly will be part of Seven’s West Australian Newspapers division. Seven is controlled by the billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes and his family.

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ABC asks viewers what they think about a new-look 7pm TV news bulletin

ABC viewers have been given a sneak peak at a new-look 7pm news bulletin and asked whether they are in favour of restyling the nightly TV news, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth.

Questions sent to the ABC’s YourSpace community last week and seen by The Australian, asked whether they watched or listened to its news services and if they were supportive of a new-look opening to the 7pm TV news.

Members were asked about their news consumption in the past seven days on platforms including TV, radio, online, via the ABC app or streaming service ABC iview. They were then asked to watch a 30-second TV news bulletin opening, led by Sydney newsreader Lydia Feng, which played changes to the music at the beginning of the show and a different layout to the top stories.

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Vox and Condé Nast are latest to announce media layoffs

Vox Media and Condé Nast announced sweeping cuts this week in various departments, adding to a long list of recent upheaval within media organizations around the world, reports The Guardian’s Erum Salam.

The two media powerhouses held layoffs on Thursday after losing a hard-fought battle against the declining ad market, which makes up a large portion of revenue for these companies.

Vox, publisher of New York magazine, Grub Street and NowThis, laid off 4% of staff – at least 20 people, according to the New York Times.

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Sora Tanaka is a fitness-obsessed journalist. She also doesn’t exist

Sora Tanaka claims to be a product reviewer for US sports magazine Sports Illustrated. She has “always been a fitness guru, and loves to try different food and drinks”, according to her profile page, reports Nine Publishing’s David Swan.

“Tanaka is thrilled to bring her fitness and nutritional expertise to the Product Reviews Team, and promises to bring you nothing but the best of the best,” the profile says.

There’s only one issue: Tanaka doesn’t exist.

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‘The change coming is significant’: ABC radio set for shake-up

Ben Latimer has barely had time to get his feet under the desk, but the ABC’s head of audio has already started tackling the challenges the broadcaster faces across the dial, reports Nine Publishing’s Karl Quinn.

“I hit the ground running,” says Latimer, who joined the ABC at the end of July after six years at Nova, where he was joint head of programming. “I love a challenge, I really do. I just find it more interesting.”

The hit list for Latimer is long and varied, with big challenges in local radio, Triple J and Radio National. But at core, it comes down to a simple proposition.

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Have you ever, ever felt like our kids are being swept away by foreign content?

A few weeks ago, a simple poster on a Brisbane building asking readers whether they had ever, ever felt like this, stirred memories for an entire generation of Australian children, Jenny Buckland – CEO, Australian Children’s Television Foundation – writes for Nine Publishing. 

The iconic kids’ series Round the Twist is so beloved and its theme song so embedded in hearts and minds that an entire musical has been composed around it. When Queensland Theatre announced that the musical would premiere as part of its 2024 season – more than a year away – fans of the series as far away as London began enquiring about tickets.

Children’s television serves a purpose that goes far beyond simple entertainment. The TV we watch as kids has a profound impact, right at the time when we are developing our identity. The stories, characters and worlds that we inhabit as young viewers become a part of who we are, inextricably tied to core memories, as the Round the Twist news reminded us.

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Bluey tourist attraction to open next year in Brisbane, home of the popular children’s program

The popular children’s program Bluey is set to have its own tourist attraction in Brisbane, reports the ABC’s Jemima Burt.

The animated show is produced and set in Brisbane and follows the adventures of a blue heeler dog and her family.

The ABC program streams to 60 countries worldwide and has become an Emmy award-winning phenomenon.

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Sports Media

Foxtel boss braces for ‘bumpy summer’ of sport without India, Poms

Foxtel boss Patrick Delany has conceded that this summer of sport will be “a bit bumpy” for the pay TV company, as lower audiences are expected for the cricket series against Pakistan and West Indies compared with drawcards such as India and England, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Foxtel, which is majority-owned by News Corp, reported just 2000 new paying subscribers to its sports platform Kayo at the end of September, compared with the previous quarter. Its total paying subscribers on Kayo, Binge and its pay-TV business fell by 77,000 to 4.58 million. Delany said the next quarter would be tougher.

The challenging summer comes as Foxtel looks to introduce artificial intelligence-generated price options for customers, known as “dynamic pricing”. This tailors offers to new or existing subscribers based on a user’s viewing habits.

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