Roundup: Peter Helliar, MAFS 2023, online only BBC?

Peter Helliar

Murdoch family, Washington Post, Great British Bake-Off, FBoy Island

Business of Media

The sensitivities of Murdoch family finances

Arguably the biggest fan of the Disney board’s decision to return former CEO Robert Iger to the job on November 20 was one of the group’s largest shareholders, Rupert Murdoch, reports Nine Publishing’s Neil Chenoweth.

In March, 2021, when the share price hit $US197.16 under CEO Bob Chapek, the Murdoch family trust, which holds assets for Rupert’s six children, had Disney stock worth $US20.1 billion. When Chapek got his marching orders last month, Disney stock was $US91.80, and the Murdochs’ stake was down to $US9.4 billion.

It’s not just a $US10 billion hit to the Murdochs’ net worth. Disney hasn’t paid a dividend since December 2019. Details of the trust are obscure, but that’s $US180 million a year the family still isn’t receiving.

Yes, the Murdoch trust picks up $US65 million a year from News and Fox Corp dividends, but to misquote Star Wars, these are not the dividends they’re looking for. Dropping trust income by three-quarters doesn’t build bonhomie at family get-togethers.

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Washington Post considers selling tech business it built up on Jeff Bezos’s watch

Top Washington Post executives recently came to owner Jeff Bezos with a proposal. The company had spent the better part of a decade turning an in-house publishing tool into a broader software business, with some success, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell.

The Post’s software, known as Arc XP, now services the likes of pro basketball’s Golden State Warriors and energy company BP PLC. But the business, the executives said, had reached a crossroads and the Post needed to explore a spinoff or sale to realize its potential, according to people familiar with the discussions. Bezos gave his blessing to explore those options, they said.

The Post has embraced digital experimentation under Bezos, who acquired the company in 2013, creating an advertising-technology business and launching new apps and analytics tools. Arc is arguably the most ambitious tech project, with some 250 dedicated staffers around the world.

For news companies that are mostly reliant on advertising and subscription revenue, developing an entirely different line of business is attractive. The Post expects Arc to generate over $200 million in annual recurring revenue by 2027, a roughly fourfold increase over its contribution now, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The business isn’t profitable, so far.

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News Brands

BBC preparing to go online-only over next decade, says director general

The BBC is preparing to shut down its traditional television and radio broadcasts as it becomes an online-only service over the next decade, according to the director general, Tim Davie, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

“Imagine a world that is internet-only, where broadcast TV and radio are being switched off and choice is infinite,” he said. “A switch-off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it.”

Davie said the BBC was committed to live broadcasting but Britons should prepare for the closure of many standalone channels and radio stations by the 2030s: “Over time this will mean fewer linear broadcast services and a more tailored joined-up online offer.”

The future will involve “bringing the BBC together in a single offer”, possibly in the form of one app combining everything from television programmes to local news coverage and educational material. This could ultimately see the end of distinct brands such as BBC One or BBC Radio 4, although the programmes they currently air could continue online.

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Peter Helliar farewells The Project in his emotional final episode

Comedian and longtime The Project panellist Peter Helliar has bid farewell to the show, the third star in as many weeks to say their goodbyes, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.

And as expected there were a few barbed jokes at Helliar’s expense through the hour, with longtime co-star Waleed Aly back-announcing a news segment about footballer Cristiano Ronaldo by saying he had “barely worked and still got paid … They call that the Helliar Method, don’t they?”

And celeb tributes poured in through the show, including one from tennis player and disability advocate Dylan Alcott, who revealed he had Helliar to thank for his regular Project appearances.

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Matt Lucas suddenly quits Great British Bake-Off

Matt Lucas has announced he‘s quit The Great British Bake-Off after three series, reports News Corp’s Jamie Downham.

The comedian – who fronted the show alongside Noel Fielding – said he could no longer host it alongside his other projects.

The star, 48, also presents the rebooted Fantasy Football League on UK television with fellow comedian Elis James and said he wasn‘t able to do both.

He wrote an emotional goodbye to fans – plus his onscreen pals “Noelipops, Paul and Dame Prue”.

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Search is on for Aussie FBoys

FBoy Island is coming with the hilariously named dating show now searching for cast, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

And they are not just looking for any old lovelorn locals for the Australian version of the wild matchmaking series.

The type of women, who will be the leads on the show, being searched for in the “nationwide” hunt need to be “confident, beautiful, and charismatic”.

“Are you an empowered woman who has it all, besides love?

“It’s up to you to separate the nice guys from the players!”

As for the guys, the search is on for a mix of nice guys and fboys.

“Are you a nice guy looking for love who’s ready to prove that nice guys don’t finish last?,” the casting call out read.

“Or a self-proclaimed “player” looking to play the ladies and compete for a massive cash prize?”

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MAFS in the can for 2023

The explosive new season of Married At First Sight, with its brides and grooms, cheaters, love rats, drama queens and mean girls, has finished filming, and if rumours from the set are anything to go by the show will be red hot with romance and heartbreak, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

It would not be MAFS if there wasn’t a cheating scandal, and word is the cast have not let viewers down in that department.

The couples are yet to film the always explosive reunion episode.

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