Roundup: Sam McClure loses award, 60 Minutes, Leigh Sales successor

Leigh Sales

• Optus, Foxtel, shield laws, Kerry Stokes, Kerry O’Brien, Matt Doran, Mardi Gras broadcast, SAS Australia, Super Bowl ads

Business of Media

Optus focuses on subscription product to retain and attract customers

Optus is expanding its fledgling subscription management platform SubHub, adding educational streamer Masterclass to the platform – but users wanting to include their Netflix or Paramount+ subscriptions will have to wait, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward

The addition of MasterClass is designed to strengthen the product’s wellness arm, and also prove it is not just a tool aimed at handling the growing number of subscription entertainment streaming platforms in Australia.

MasterClass offers access to instructors, such as Natalie Portman teaching acting or Simone Biles teaching gymnastics fundamentals, with each class featuring about 20 video lessons at an average of 10 minutes each.

SubHub was launched as a beta product in September last year as part of Optus’ “living network” strategy, which aims to transform the company into Australia’s most loved everyday brand by putting customers in control of how they personalise their technology and telco experience.

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Sam Neill to front Foxtel’s rebranding drive

Hollywood star Sam Neill will front a major brand campaign to be launched by Foxtel on Monday, as the streaming-led sports and entertainment company seeks to capitalise on stronger-than-expected subscription growth over the past 12 months, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

Neill, who this year will feature in the Foxtel-commissioned Australian crime drama The Twelve, will front the first leg of a year-long multichannel marketing and rebranding drive, aimed at highlighting the evolution of the company from a legacy pay-TV model to a streaming powerhouse.

Hilary Perchard, Foxtel’s chief customer, marketing and revenue officer, said the campaign was timed to run on the back of some of the company’s recent, key innovations – most notably the launch of the iQ5 streaming box and an upgrade of the Video On Demand interface.

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Queensland’s shield laws will expose journalists to jail terms, fines

Journalists hauled before coercive corruption watchdog hearings will continue to face threats of prison time if they do not reveal whistleblower sources after a Queensland parliamentary committee ignored calls to strengthen protections, reports News Corp’s Lydia Lynch.

The Palaszczuk government’s shield law Bill, expected to be debated and passed early this year, will protect journalists from revealing sources in court but will not extend the privilege to secretive coercive hearings by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

On Friday, the Labor-dominated parliamentary committee reviewing the draft laws dismissed calls from lawyers and journalists to extend the protection to CCC hearings. Under its sweeping powers, the CCC can compel witnesses to answer questions and produce documents which may override the privilege against self-incrimination.

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News Brands

What’s next for Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media?

The Australian media sector can be a small pond. And just how small a pond it is was made clear last week when Seven West Media’s octogenarian chairman, Kerry Stokes, told the Australian Financial Review floundering fund manager Magellan was a “fine company” despite not owning a share or having a dollar in its funds, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

Stokes, of course, was helping out his mates. The person currently in charge of Magellan, Chris McKay, used to be a director of Seven West. Stokes’s chief corporate adviser, Matthew Grounds, chairs Barrenjoey, which counts Magellan as a substantial shareholder. So far, so predictable.

But it’s the confluence of media interests that has people talking. Magellan counts Hamish McLennan as its chairman. McLennan wears many hats – he is chairman of real-estate listings portal REA Group and Rugby Australia – but it’s his role chairing radio company Here, There & Everywhere, the home of popular breakfast radio show Kyle & Jackie O, that is of particular interest at the start of a year that is expected to yield plenty of media consolidation.

A tie-up between Seven, which is primarily a free-to-air television business, and HT&E is logical. Both companies have in recent months acquired regional broadcasters in their respective markets, giving them greater scale and letting them sell advertising nationally.

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Former ABC presenter Kerry O’Brien fears some ABC journos are being forced to ‘self-censor’

Former ABC presenter Kerry O’Brien says there is a “creeping depression” among the media organisation’s journalists about the direction of the public broadcaster, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The veteran journalist, who left the ABC six years ago, said he maintained strong connections with current staff and had been told of a general drop in morale across the media organisation in recent times.

“The main sense that I have from the many conversations that I have had is a sense of despondency and creeping depression – not despair, yet – but people do fear for their jobs, they fear that the fundamental conditions that have been a part of the success story of the ABC are breaking down,” O’Brien said.

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Aussies react to Jenny Morrison unleashing on Grace Tame during 60 Minutes interview

Jenny Morrison has copped it overnight as fury grows over her comments surrounding Grace Tame and “manners”, reports

Appearing on 60 Minutes Mrs Morrison criticised the former Australian of the Year after the recent incident at The Lodge, where Tame was famously photographed during a frosty exchange with the PM.

Speaking to Karl Stefanovic for an exclusive sit-down interview alongside her Prime Minister husband, Mrs Morrison quickly admitted she wished Tame had shown “manners and respect” and was “disappointed” by the whole exchange.

“I just found it a little bit disappointing, because we were welcoming her in our home,” she said.

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The race to succeed Leigh Sales on 7.30 is on

Much of the speculation for who will replace Leigh Sales as 7.30 host ever since her shock Thursday night on-air announcement has focused on two internal candidates: Insiders host David Speers, and the show’s chief political correspondent, Laura Tingle, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

But Diary hears surprisingly neither is the bookies’ favourite to win the role. Instead, the smart money is on an ABC reporter who’s not even currently working in Australia.

Sarah Ferguson may not have anchored a regular ABC current affairs program for years. But it’s easy to forget she was long considered the obvious heir apparent to take over 7.30, having filled the role unbroken for six months when Sales was on extended maternity leave back in 2014. Soon after, Ferguson moved on to host Four Corners.

Ferguson is among five or so key internal contenders who’ll be considered to take over from Sales: that is, if they choose to throw their hats into the ring when she formally departs later this year. Speers, Tingle, Stan Grant and ABC Radio Melbourne morning host Virginia Trioli are considered the other frontrunners for the role.

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Channel 7 star Matt Doran not expected back at work for another month

Seven Network star Matt Doran remains off air after checking in to a mental health rehabilitation facility two weeks ago for treatment for an undisclosed issue, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

While Seven has refused to address rumours concerning Doran’s latest unplanned leave of absence, sources closer to the host maintain the presenter has been taken off air to address the “severe depression” that beset him following the media backlash to his botched interview with Adele.

Rumours have plagued Doran since Seven was forced to pull the interview in November after Doran, in a long apology, admitted he hadn’t listened to Adele’s new album prior to sitting down with the singer.

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Hamish Macdonald to anchor ABC Mardi Gras broadcast

ABC has unveiled its presenters for its Live broadcast of the 44th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, reports TV Tonight.

Presenters Hamish Macdonald, Mon Schafter and comedian Steven Oliver will anchor the broadcast to be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday 5th March.

Performers Courtney Act, Casey Donovan and ABC News presenter Jeremy Fernandez will all be on-the-ground presenters, capturing the community and pride around the stadium.

In its 90th year ABC returns as host broadcaster, having first televised the event in 1994. Mardi Gras is part of a three-year deal for ABC which also includes Sydney WorldPride in 2023 and offers exclusive broadcast rights across TV, triple j and ABC Radio.

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SAS Australia: Koby Abberton in constant pain after show injury

Bra Boy and SAS Australia star Koby Abberton claims he hasn’t been able to work or surf since tripping over a cameraman and injuring his hip and back while filming the 2021 season of Network Seven’s gruelling reality show, reports News Corp’s Lisa Mayoh.

While the Bali-based surf instructor said his insurance claim covered four months of medical costs of about $22,000, the support has stopped, leaving him unable to work and out of pocket by tens of thousands of dollars.

“I went on the show and I really tried to do well — I was fighting fit and really strong,” he told The Sunday Telegraph from his Bali home.

“I did have a previous back injury from five years ago but this is a new injury and it wouldn’t have happened if not for the show.”

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Sports Media

Age reporter Sam McClure loses award over story on Adelaide Crows

One of the nation’s most prestigious sports media awards has been stripped from an Age journalist after the newspaper was forced to issue multiple apologies in relation to a story about the Adelaide Crows’ controversial 2018 pre-season AFL training camp, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Sam McClure, author of the article that won the 2020 Quill in the sports news category, had his award “annulled” last week after the Melbourne Press Club’s board voted unanimously to rescind it.

The move to strip a journalist of a media award is extremely unusual in Australia; it is understood neither the Walkleys – the media industry’s most celebrated national awards – nor the Victoria-based Quills have ever retrospectively cancelled a winners’ trophy.

The decision to strip McClure of the honour is likely to set a precedent for other journalism awards bodies, some of which have previously granted significant honours to stories that have subsequently been discredited.

MPC runs the Quill Awards and The Australian understands the board discussed in detail whether McClure should keep the honour for his July 5, 2020, front-page article, “The camp that shattered a football club” in light of the newspaper’s apologies.

Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to strip McClure of his award, given the newspaper’s print and online apologies, and the fact that the article in question had recently been removed from all of Nine Entertainment’s news websites, including The Age.

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$10m for 30 seconds: Dr Evil, crypto and celebrities galore in this year’s Super Bowl ads

Everyone from carmarkers to cryptocurrency exchanges will be spending big bucks advertising in this year’s Super Bowl, report SMH’s Martine Paris and Mary Biekert.

The contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals kicks off on Monday morning AEDT from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. NBC, which is airing the showdown this year, said it’s sold more than 70 spots, with some costing as much as $US7 million ($9.8 million) for 30 seconds.

“The big game is the biggest snacking day of the year and the largest stage when it comes to brand exposure and reaching our fans,” said Gareth Maguire, marketing director for Pringles, which is expected to run an ad in the third quarter.

This is the eighth time the Super Bowl will be played in the Los Angeles area, including the very first contest in 1967. The region has participated in some pop culture advertising moments, including New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms declaring “I’m going to Disney World” for the first time after winning in 1987.

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