Roundup: Rupert Murdoch, Denis Handlin, Foxtel & AACTA partnership

Denis Handlin

• Plus: AFTRS, Denise Drysdale, and Sam Frost

Business of Media

Rupert Murdoch and his most amazing decade ever

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News in America is celebrating its anniversary of 25 years of unparalleled growth and success, writes News Corp’s Terry McCrann.

Extraordinary and impressive as the Fox News story has been in its own right, is the even more extraordinary fact that it was the culmination of a decade of breathtaking entrepreneurial business-creating risk-taking across three continents by Murdoch.

It was a business risk-and-success saga of such mammoth scope, the like of which has never been remotely equalled by any other business person, certainly in Australian corporate history or indeed that of the world.

It had started in 1986 with Murdoch’s audacious move to take over the Herald & Weekly Times, the company that had been built and run by his father Sir Keith until his early death in 1952 from a heart attack.

Given the impression today of Murdoch’s News Corp – publisher of this paper – as the dominant mainstream media player in Australia, aside from the taxpayer-funded ABC monolith, back in 1986 Murdoch was in fact very much the struggling outsider. Back then, media in Australia was dominated by three groups.

The HWT, grown lazy and somnolent through three decades of easy domination in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, was easily the biggest and richest media group in Australia. Then came Sydney’s family-controlled John Fairfax, riding super-rich on its “rivers of gold” classified advertising, and Kerry Packer’s all-dominant Nine FTA-TV network and its equally rich portfolio of magazines headed by the Women’s Weekly.

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Former Sony employees open up about Denis Handlin

Hundreds of former and current Sony Music employees have spoken out about the alleged “toxic” culture at the company under former chief executive Denis Handlin, reports

The staff members from the multinational conglomerate spoke with Four Corners as part of an investigation into what the ABC labelled a culture of “fear and intimidation”, “systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct” during Handlin’s 50-year tenure.

The former CEO and chairman of Sony Music Australia abruptly left the company in June as a staff email declared the company was going in a “new direction”.

It followed an investigation into the workplace culture at Sony after a staff member from the company’s Sydney office alleged they were subjected to bullying and harassment.

There is no suggestion Handlin’s departure was related to the allegations.

But four months later, staff at Sony have broken ranks to detail to Four Corners what they experienced at the company while Handlin was running the show.

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Virtual production studio set for AFTRS

A Digital Futures Summit: Virtual Production will be held online this Thursday focussing on the opportunities that virtual production presents to the Australian screen and broadcast industries, reports TV Tonight.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher will announce government funding for a new Virtual Production Studio at the AFTRS building in Sydney. This facility will support industry-partnered training, degrees, and a space for research and innovation in virtual production.

“The Morrison Government is proud to support the Australian Film Television and Radio School with more than $100,000 in funding to build their state-of-the art virtual production studio, which will upskill and prepare the next generation of talent within Australia’s screen industry,” Paul Fletcher said.

The Universal Studio Group and Matchbox Pictures have also provided a significant initial investment to AFTRS to support a Virtual Production training program for Australian crew, managers and heads of department. This investment will contribute to curriculum development and a series of scholarships supporting places. The partnership aims to graduate over 250 highly skilled Australians each year, equipping the industry with the technical, creative, management and business capacity it needs to capitalise on the domestic and international production opportunities created by this new technology.

AFTRS has launched the Digital Futures Summit series to bring together Australian and international screen and broadcast industry leaders with educators and government in discussions on collaborating, adapting and capitalising on technological changes. The series will explore how technology has shaped, and will continue to shape, the future of work, education, training and creative opportunities across the industry.

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Foxtel Group and AACTA extend their partnership, announce Inside The AACTA Studio

The Foxtel Group and AACTA have announced they will extend their long-standing partnership with a new agreement that will see the Foxtel Group continue as the Presenting Partner of the AACTA Awards for the next three years.

As part of the new deal, Foxtel will produce a new annual streamed entertainment special – Inside the AACTA Studio – that will become a major lead-in program to the AACTA Awards, showcasing the best of Australian film and television and building on the success of a partnership that spans more than a decade.

foxtel aacta

As the critically acclaimed global success story of Wentworth comes to an end in 2021, the Foxtel Group has a number of local productions coming including Love Me, Upright 2, and The Twelve as well as a series of major returning and new lifestyle shows including Selling Houses Australia, The Repair Shop and The Great Australian Bake Off.

The AACTA Awards (formerly the AFI Awards) have honoured screen excellence in Australia for over 60 years, since the first AFI Awards were held in 1958.

Foxtel Group, chief content and commercial officer, Amanda Laing said, “With a history that goes back more than a decade, I am delighted we are extending our partnership with AACTA. We are thrilled to continue to support at scale the ever-growing and ever-changing Australian screen industry, particularly coming out of a year like this one.

“We are very proud of our rich slate of award-winning local productions and to have played a part in aiding the Australian industry to build, celebrate and showcase some of the most acclaimed storytellers in the world, on and off the camera. Our renewed partnership with AACTA, including the newly created Inside the AACTA Studio, allows us to continue to recognise the outstanding work of our burgeoning creative community and take it to the next level.”

AACTA president, Russell Crowe said, “I am thrilled that our partnership with the Foxtel Group will continue for a further three years. Foxtel are a long-term supporter of AACTA, and this increased commitment is an enormous testament to the Foxtel Group’s ongoing commitment and support of AACTA, the Australian screen industry and its talented creative community.”

The partnership with Foxtel Group will span presenting rights, broadcasting rights, marketing, PR, content production and will see both the Foxtel and Binge brands brought to life at key events throughout the year.

Further details regarding the AACTA Awards in 2021 will be announced soon.

Health update on Denise Drysdale

Studio 10 this morning had an update on the health of showbiz legend Denise Drysdale as she battles Trigeminal Neuralgia -a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve, reports TV Tonight.

Her son Peter told hosts Sarah Harris, Tristan MacManus & Angela Bishop, she was making improvements thanks to acupuncture.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were really scared. We had no idea about the problems with this disease and were completely worried. We’ve since been doing high intensity acupuncture… the impact’s been great. She’s been responding really well to it,” he said.

“Mum likened it to a shocking pain right in the back of her eyes, sending like electric shocks. It comes in waves. Little triggers like being on the phone, texting, laughing …anything where she needs to use her brain, has sent these terrible debilitating pains.

“We’ve been in the car and had to stop the car completely to a standstill and just wait for these waves to come through. They’ve sort of dissipated now. These great guys at our acupuncturist are only open three days a week but have been opening every day to help her out until she got to a point where they could ease her off.”

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Studio 10 hosts Sarah Harris and Beau Ryan have slammed Sam Frost for Covid vaccine stance

Studio 10 hosts Sarah Harris and Beau Ryan have attacked Sam Frost after her controversial anti-vax video, reports

Both hosts said they knew Frost personally to be a nice person but that they strongly disagreed with her views on the Covid vaccine.

The actress, 32, posted an Instagram video on the weekend trying to justify not getting vaccinated. It led to widespread backlash that resulted in her deleting her account.

Harris said that Frost had been living a privileged life during lockdown being able to still go to work and film Home And Away when many others were stuck at home.

“I quite like Sam Frost personally she is a really sweet girl and I don’t love the pile on that’s she is copping but I think it was pretty misguided perhaps of her to put this video out there when so many people have lost livelihoods, family members,” she said. “I can understand why some people are feeling frustrated.”

Ryan agreed, saying he sympathises with Frost’s battle against mental health but that she was the one who put the post out to her 500,000 followers.

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