Roundup: Q+A to return in 2024, Lachlan Murdoch, Jezebel to shut down,


Antony Catalano, Hollywood strikes, Bargaining code, Seven’s debt renegotiations, Sky Network, Homer Simpson, Big Brother move

Business of Media

The Cat’s ACM takes a swipe at Southern Cross, makes approach

It was only a matter of time. Antony Catalano has taken his first official step towards spoiling ASX-listed ARN Media’s plans to acquire rival Southern Cross Austereo, Street Talk can reveal, report Nine Publishing’s Sarah Thompson, Kanika Sood and Emma Rapaport.

It is understood Catalano, who chairs regional publishing group Australian Community Media, has made an approach to the Southern Cross board, outlining a preliminary plan to merge the businesses.

While the details are unclear, sources close to Southern Cross said the letter was sent by Catalano, and his business partner in ACM, Alex Waislitz, on Thursday. The missive is believed to propose selling part of ACM into Southern Cross in return for scrip in the target.

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Lachlan Murdoch rallying call to condemn anti-Semitism

Australia must address rising anti-Semitism without equivocation following last month’s terror attack on Israel, News Corp co-chair Lachlan Murdoch has urged, reports The Australian’s Jenna Clarke.

“Let’s be very clear. When it comes to anti-Semitism there is no room for equivocation. There is no fence-sitting,” Murdoch said in Sydney on Wednesday.

“From Brisbane to Broome, from Launceston to Lakemba, anti-Semitism does not belong in Australia. It is our duty to address and tackle it, as it is to address and tackle all forms of hatred.”

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With the strikes over, the mood in Hollywood Is decidedly mixed

It should be a rapturous time in Hollywood, reports The New York Times’ Brooks Barnes.

Writers have been back at their keyboards for a month, having negotiated a strike-ending deal so favorable that it seemed to leave even them a bit gobsmacked. On Wednesday, the actors’ union said it had negotiated a tentative contract of its own, all but ending its 118-day strike and clearing a path for the film and television business to roar back to life for the first time since May.

Instead, the mood in the entertainment capital is decidedly mixed, as celebratory feelings compete with resentment over the work stoppage and worries about the business era that is coming.

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News Brands

Seven West taps Grant Samuel for debt renegotiations

The Kerry Stokes-backed Seven West Media has tapped advisory firm Grant Samuel and law firm Ashurst to refinance its $600m worth of debt, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

It comes after the advisory firm was recently working with Southern Cross Media Group before the regional broadcaster instead hired UBS when it became subject to a buyout proposal from ARN Media in recent weeks.

The $442m Seven West, which held its annual general meeting on Thursday, said it had downsized its $600m worth of debt to $525m and extended the payment period to a four-year term from three years.

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Sky Network board in the spotlight over rebuffed offer

Sky Network Television’s board now faces intensifying pressure execute on its strategy after it rejected a buyout offer from a US-based private equity firm that was 50 per cent higher than the share price last traded before the deal was announced, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

DataRoom understands that the board canvassed the views of major shareholders before making the decision on the indicative proposal, believed to be around $NZ3.70 per share.

The feedback from investors is that some with an influential position were holding out for a bid of over $NZ4 and believed what was on the table was too low.

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Jezebel, the pioneering feminist website, will shut down

The parent company of the website Jezebel announced on Thursday that it was shutting down the site and laying off its staff, citing economic headwinds and shifting audience priorities, report The New York Times’ Benjamin Mullin, Johnny Diaz and Amanda Holpuch.

The layoffs will affect 23 people, including the Jezebel team, Jim Spanfeller, the chief executive of G/O Media, said in a memo to the company’s staff. He also announced that the G/O Media editorial director, Merrill Brown, would be departing the company.

“While G/O Media is a lean, nimble organization, we are not immune to the economic headwinds rattling our business,” Spanfeller wrote.

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Why Homer Simpson is no longer strangling Bart

Hit animated TV series The Simpsons has retired one of its recurring scenes, saying Homer strangling his son Bart is no longer appropriate because “times have changed”, reports the Telegraph’s Andrew Buncombe.

The decision was revealed in the third episode of the long-running show’s 35th season, in which Homer indicates he is a changed man after more than 750 instalments about life in fictional Springfield.

Homer strangling Bart had been a regular feature of the animated comedy sitcom since it first aired in 1989.

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Channel Seven’s Big Brother move

Channel Seven is changing Big Brother’s timeslot in the hopes of drawing in more viewers, with the latest series failing to pull in a huge audience, reports News Corp’s Joshua Haigh.

The show launched earlier this week and failed to hit even 300,000 viewers nationwide. Ratings for the show have since dropped to as low as 214,000 and it’s prompted Channel Seven to find ways to bring in more viewers.

The show, which had been airing at 7.30pm in the evenings will now air an hour later, starting from next Monday.

Channel Seven told that it’s not “unusual” for shows to switch timeslots, and revealed some of its flagship shows have increased their viewership this year.

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Q+A dodges ABC axe

There has been speculation all year, after low ratings and personnel exits, that Q+A would not be renewed for 2024, reports TV Tonight.

And while ABC News titles were curiously absent from yesterday’s 2024 content showcase, ABC sources have confirmed the show will return in 2024.

That’s despite the show’s timeslot shifts -from Monday to Thursday and back to Monday- host changes, executive producer departure and pointed criticisms from former host Stan Grant.

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