Roundup: Ray Hadley lashes Alan Jones, Tokyo 2020, Gorgi Coghlan + more

acras ray hadley

• News Corp, Fireworks Media Group, TLA Worldwide, Ticketek, Ben Roberts-Smith, and the ABC

Business of Media

American pair to pay up as ABC case dropped

An American couple who sued the ABC over a story alleging they abandoned their disabled surrogate baby in Ukraine because they “did not like the child’s appearance” have abandoned their pursuit of the public broadcaster, reports News Corp’s Kieran Gair.

The move could leave Matthew Etnyre and Irmgard Pagan tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket after they were ordered to pay the ABC’s legal costs.

The pair launched defamation proceedings against the ABC and journalist Samantha Hawley last August over a Foreign Correspondent program titled Motherland, which exposed the treatment of a baby named Bridget, who was born prematurely with a “range of disabilities”.

On Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Wendy Abraham dismissed the couple’s case after they failed to raise $100,000 in security.

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Ben Roberts-Smith case: Afghan witness ‘believed Australian soldiers were infidels’

A key witness against Ben Roberts-Smith has described Australian soldiers as “infidels”, and praised Taliban fighters who died as martyrs, in another day of tense cross-examination in the Federal Court, reports News Corp’s Kieran Gair.

The Afghan villager, Mohammed Hanifa, was asked whether he hated Australian soldiers. “If they are coming to our houses, go inside to our women, of course that’s what you call them — infidels,” Mr Hanifa replied.

In an at times fiery cross-examination, Bruce McClintock SC, acting for  Roberts-Smith, put to Hanifa that he had invented his evidence about the raid on an Afghan village and the circumstances surrounding the alleged killing of unarmed farmer Ali Jan, whom he claims was kicked off a cliff by a “big soldier” and then shot dead by Australian troops behind a berry tree.

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Ticketek secures partnership with Adelaide Festival Centre, replacing BASS

Ticketek will service more South Australians with the announcement of a partnership with SA’s principal performing arts venue, Adelaide Festival Centre.

The collaboration means ticket-buyers can take advantage of Ticketek’s world-leading ticketing technology. Patrons will also get greater access to events touring nationally and internationally through TEG-owned Ticketek’s Australasian networks.

Technological advancements in ticketing and the impact of Covid have prompted the partnership, which will substitute Adelaide Festival Centre’s current ticketing service, BASS. Current permanent and temporary staff at BASS will be offered employment at Ticketek’s Adelaide office and casuals will be offered employment with Ticketek’s casual staffing pool.

A dedicated call centre for Adelaide Festival Centre venues will continue to operate in South Australia with the current 131 246 number remaining the same. Existing BASS outlets will transition to Ticketek over the next three months. Ticketholders will be contacted directly about any ticketing changes.

TLA Worldwide appoints Aysha Down as Sydney Client Management GM

Australian sports marketing agency TLA Worldwide has appointed of Aysha Down as general manager of its Sydney Client Management division.

Down joins TLA Worldwide following a seven-year tenure at Woolworths, where she led sports and integrated media partnerships for the brand including the Olympics, Paralympics, AFL, Cricket Australia, The Voice, Sunrise and more.

Down also served stints at media networks including Australian Radio Network (ARN), MTV Australia and Nickelodeon, where she worked across a variety of brand partnerships and locally produced events such as the MTV Music Awards, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and MTV Snow Jam.

As GM of client management in Sydney, Down will lead TLA’s Sydney-based team and lean on over 10 years of experience and expertise across brands, media and rights-holders to direct the partnerships division in Sydney, which boasts a roster-roll of clients including Ampol and Woolworths.

Down said: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at TLA Worldwide as general manager of Sydney.

“As a former client, I have long-admired TLA’s work and ethos and I can’t wait to help build upon the talent, ambition and incredible momentum that exists among the Sydney team.

“TLA has long-identified Sydney as a key market for its business and I’m so excited to work with our existing team to help grow our base in the Harbour City.”

News Brands

News Corp pays Ronan Keating substantial phone-hacking damages

Singer Ronan Keating has accepted substantial phone-hacking damages from the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World and The Sun, reports Press Gazette.

Keating, who now presents the UK breakfast radio show on Magic FM and BBC One’s The One Show, was suspicious about the origins of a large number of stories that appeared in both newspapers about his private life between 1996 and 2011.

During this period he used his voicemail extensively to exchange messages with family and friends.

Keating also alleged the newspapers had obtained his personal information by deception.

Keating accepted a settlement from News Group Newspapers, which includes substantial damages and his legal costs as well as a public apology in court. It also provided undertakings that it would not attempt to access Keating’s private information by unlawful means.

Press Gazette calculated this month that the hacking scandal has cost News Corp’s NGN more than UK£1bn in the past 10 years.

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‘Bullshit’: Ray Hadley’s huge spray at Alan Jones over Covid

Ray Hadley has launched an extraordinary spray at former colleague Alan Jones, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The 2GB mornings host hit out at Jones for supporting lockdown protests across the country and suggesting a 38-year-old woman died of a heart attack instead of Covid.

“I have observed Mr Jones very closely for 35 years. I have seen some of his strange behaviour, and I do mean strange behaviour in the past,” Hadley told listeners.

“Now this pandemic and his performance during this has allowed conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers like his old mate Pete Evans, who he does podcasts with occasionally, to gain support from a minority in the community who think the virus is nothing more than a flu.

“He has got to be identified and politicians aren’t brave enough to stand up and refute this.”

Hadley dedicated nearly 10 minutes of his show to addressing Jones’ comments on his Sky News program on Monday night.

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Former Essential Media partner Jesse Fawcett launches production company

Television producer Jesse Fawcett has launched Fireworks Media Group, a North American-based production company to develop and produce unscripted and scripted content.

Fawcett was a co-founding partner of Australia’s Essential Media Group where he helmed North American operations until the company was sold to Kew Media in 2018.

In 2020, Fawcett and another Essential partner Greg Quail re-acquired the assets of Essential from Kew and relaunched as EQ Media Group. With the launch of Fireworks Media Group, Fawcett is aiming to service both US and Canadian markets.

Fireworks Media Group is producing the new original series Pamela Anderson’s Home Reno Project (working title) for HGTV Canada with Baywatch star Pamela Anderson.

The series is executive produced by Brandon Lee, Fawcett and Firework’s new president of Canada, Robert Hardy. Corus Studios will distribute the series internationally.

Fireworks Media Group also has an exclusive first-look scripted development deal with social media sensation Kris Collins, the Canadian TikTok star, who rose to fame during the coronavirus pandemic with comedy videos, and who has amassed over 32 million followers.

Fireworks Media Group is also in production on new seasons of the real estate unscripted series Selling the Big Easy for HGTV in the US as well as Corus Studios’ Big Timber which airs on History channel in Canada and Netflix in the US and other territories.

Other successful shows completed during Fawcett’s tenure at EQ Media Group include No Demo Reno, Restored airing on Discovery+, Ghost Loop for Travel Channel and 165 episodes of Texas Flip N’ Move, for DIY Network.

Australian broadcasters that have links to the new production business include ABC, Foxtel, Nine, Seven, Stan, SBS and 10.

Gorgi Coghlan announces she’s leaving The Project after 10 years

Gorgi Coghlan, who has been a regular co-host on The Project for more than a decade, has announced she is quitting the Channel 10 program, reports News Corp’s Lexie Cartwright.

The 45-year-old TV journalist, who covered for Carrie Bickmore while she was on maternity leave and has been a fill-in co-host and panellist over the years, took to Instagram to reveal she had decided to step back and focus on new adventures.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision but after 10 YEARS on this wonderful show I feel that it’s time,” Coghlan wrote alongside a series of photos of herself with her colleagues.

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Sports Media

Tokyo 2020: Global audiences learning new way to watch in UK, growing in the US

BBC: Olympic viewers urged to be patient as broadcaster juggles live streams

Fans missing live Tokyo Olympics coverage of their favourite sports are being urged to be patient as the BBC juggles live streams in its most challenging Games, due to Covid and reduced broadcasting rights, reports The Guardian.

The corporation’s head of major sport events, Ron Chakraborty, acknowledged viewer frustration that the BBC could only offer two live events at one time – through one television channel and on iPlayer red button – after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sold European television rights to the pay-TV company Discovery in 2015.

During London 2012 and Rio 2016, the BBC slogan was “never miss a moment” as all the individual sports were livestreamed, he said. But Discovery/Eurosport outbid the European Broadcasting Union alliance of public service media across Europe, including the BBC, to get the broadcast rights.

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NBC: Olympic ratings down as NBC’s readies make-good talks with advertisers

NBCUniversal hopes its broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics gives American viewers a grand sports spectacle they can watch at any time they like. Advertisers, however, have begun to wring their hands as more people watch the Games at moments of their own choosing, reports Variety.

Traditional TV viewing for the Summer Games has declined noticeably, and, a decision by popular US gymnast Simone Biles to take herself out of the team competition early Tuesday has spurred advertiser anxiety, according to executives familiar with negotiations between NBC and sponsors. Not helping matters: Her exit came within hours of tennis star Naomi Osaka’s ouster from the tennis medal competition.

While NBC’s Olympics are beating competitors’ programs each night, early ratings for NBCU’s TV broadcasts are “clearly are not what NBC, our agency or our clients were looking for,” said one media buying executive. This buyer cited a lack of must-follow athlete storylines early in the competition; early-morning availability of coverage via streaming; and the absence of live fans at the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic as factors in a downturn of viewing. This executive said early viewership trends were “disappointing.”

There are reasons for some advertisers to cheer. Streaming activity across NBCU’s digital venues has been on the rise. Through Sunday, viewers have streamed 735 million total minutes of Tokyo Olympics content — up 24% from the comparable time period for the 2016 Rio Olympics and 41% compared with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

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