Roundup: SCA push to oust board and executives, Alan Jones’ return, Miguel Maestre


Gambling ad ban, OpenAI, Craig Hutchison, iHeartMedia, Paramount, Q+A

Business of Media

Major Southern Cross shareholders in push to oust board and executives

Three of Southern Cross Austereo’s biggest shareholders have launched an extraordinary intervention to remove the company’s chair, board and management, after lacklustre results and slow progress evaluating a takeover offer from rival ARN Media, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

Late on Thursday night, Spheria Asset Management said it would call for an extraordinary general meeting, with fellow Southern Cross major shareholders Allan Gray and Ubique Asset Management supporting a push to remove the board. Together, they account for more than 25 per cent of the share register. ARN, which owns 14.8 per cent, is expected to support the push.

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Australia should have ‘Murphy’s law’ gambling ad ban by now: Costello

Australia’s most prominent anti-gambling advocate Tim Costello is disappointed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not announced a betting crackdown before the Dunkley byelection to honour the legacy of the seat’s former MP, Peta Murphy, reports Nine Publishing’s Paul Sakkal.

The prime minister, who said he has met with Costello on the issue, this week declined to commit to the full, phased-in ban recommended in Murphy’s landmark report handed down in July last year. Governments typically respond to parliamentary inquiries within six months but the Albanese government has not yet done so.

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The Intercept, Raw Story and AlterNet sue OpenAI for copyright infringement

OpenAI and Microsoft are facing a fresh round of lawsuits from news publishers over allegations that their generative artificial intelligence products violated copyright laws and illegally trained by using journalists’ work. Three progressive US outlets – the Intercept, Raw Story and AlterNet – filed suits in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, demanding compensation from the tech companies, reports The Guardian’s Nick Robins-Early.

The news outlets claim that the companies in effect plagiarized copyright-protected articles to develop and operate ChatGPT, which has become OpenAI’s most prominent generative AI tool. They allege that ChatGPT was trained not to respect copyright, ignores proper attribution and fails to notify users when the service’s answers are generated using journalists’ protected work.

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‘Back soon’: Alan Jones’ return to streaming channel on the cards

For the small but dedicated audience of streaming news channel ADH TV, the big question is: where is Alan Jones? Jones, who remains in London, was removed from ADH’s banners on YouTube and Facebook for the fringe channel’s relaunch for the year to the dismay of the outlet’s online fans, report Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan and Kate McClymont.

“Where is Alan Jones??” said one user on the channel’s Facebook page. “Alan Jones needs to be there, he is the man,” said another individual.

Responding to several comments, the ADH admin cleared up the confusion, insisting Jones would be returning shortly.

“Alan will be back soon. Thank you!” they wrote.

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News Brands

Craig Hutchison scores debt goal amid half-year loss

Craig Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment Group has two months to pay down $7 million to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia after agreeing to a new three-year extension of its debt facility. As the company announced its half-year results, it said it had struck a new deal in February with CBA, replacing a previous deadline to repay the bank by August, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

Under its new deal, SEG will have a $20 million loan facility, with $2.4 million in working capital after paying down the $7 million by the end of April, bringing lingering concerns over the bank calling in its loan to an end for now.

The company’s half-year results, posted on Thursday morning, reported revenue rose 8 per cent to $63.3 million across the half. However, the company posted a loss of $20,000 after tax from continuing operations.

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Podcasts drive revenue as iHeartMedia looks for broader ad market recovery

Podcast revenue at iHeartMedia continued to grow in its fourth quarter, reaching $132 million for the quarter, up 17 percent year-over-year, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Caitlin Huston.

The increase, which the company attributed to continued increases in demand for advertising in the medium, drove the 6 percent increase in revenue for the digital audio group, which contains podcasting – without it the group’s revenue was down 1 percent.

Overall, iHeartMedia reported fourth-quarter revenue of $1.067 billion, down 5.2 percent year-over-year, but slightly above its guidance range of down high-single digits. Excluding fourth-quarter political revenue from the prior year, fourth-quarter revenue was flat year-over-year.

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Paramount posts surprise profit as streaming gains offset weak ad market

Paramount Global fell short of Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue on Wednesday but posted a surprise profit as streaming gains helped overshadow a weak advertising market, sending its shares up nearly 2% after the bell, reports Reuters’ Samrhitha A.

The media industry has been grappling with a changing landscape of streaming gaining dominance over traditional television and the impact from Hollywood’s strikes last year, with a soft advertising market adding to the pressure.

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Miguel Maestre on his ‘crazy bull’ energy for Ready Steady Cook and the future of The Living Room

Fittingly enough for the man nicknamed ‘El Toro Loco’, Miguel Maestre says he is taking the bull by the horns in his first solo TV hosting gig, reports News Corp’s James Wigney.

The Spanish-born celebrity chef, whose moniker translates to ‘the crazy bull’, has been embraced by Aussie audiences for more than a decade as a key member of The Living Room, alongside Amanda Keller, Chris Brown and Barry DuBois.

But with the quadruple Logie-winning lifestyle show taken off air in 2022, Maestre is facing up to the reality of going it alone, by hosting a reboot of the much-loved cooking show Ready Steady Cook, without his long-time friends and colleagues.

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Q+A episode was ABC’s most complained about over alleged Israel bias

More than half of the issues raised in ABC content complaints in 2023 related to the Israel-Gaza war, the latest report from the public broadcaster’s ombudsman has found, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

The report, released on Thursday morning, is the first full-year edition from Fiona Cameron, who was appointed as ABC’s independent ombudsman in August 2022. It reveals 24,533 total complaints received across the 12 months ending in December 2023.

Of the complaints, 19,313 were general, while 5220 related to specific content. In the content complaints, 6539 separate issues were raised which Cameron said was a five-year high, owing to an organised campaign about a single episode of Q+A in November, alleging bias in favour of Israel.

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