Roundup: Shane Warne TV drama, Angelos Frangopoulos, Waleed Aly re-signs

Shane Warne

Plus: The ABC, Godzilla vs Kong sequel, Broadsheet Media, SAS Australia, brekky TV, Ray Warren, and James Warburton

Business of Media

Government to introduce laws to combat misinformation, disinformation

The federal government has pledged to introduce new laws to help reduce the spread of harmful content on social media, as the world’s most powerful tech companies try to combat the deluge of misinformation and disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine online, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher is planning to introduce legislation that will give Australia’s media watchdog more regulatory power over tech companies who fail to meet the standards of a voluntary misinformation and disinformation code of practice.

Under the code, misinformation is defined as false or misleading information that is likely to cause harm, while disinformation is false or misleading information that is distributed by users via spam and bots.

The new laws, which are expected to be introduced to parliament later this year, will make it easier to assess the effectiveness of self-regulation and help the government decide whether a compulsory code of practice needs to be introduced to tackle the issue.

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Scale of ABC social media disciplinary action revealed

Australia’s national broadcaster has recorded four instances where it had to discipline staff for their conduct on social media in the past six months under a recently introduced policy that attempts to crack down on personal views being posted on platforms like Twitter, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

ABC managing director David Anderson defended the broadcaster’s new social media policy at a Senate hearing in February as Coalition senators seized on the tweets of high-profile ABC identities including Louise Milligan, Alan Kohler and comedian Julia Zemiro. In response to questions on notice asked by Senators Andrew Bragg and Rex Patrick, the ABC confirmed 16 matters were escalated to the company’s people and culture division since last August. It said they were investigated and resolved.

Of the 16 matters, the national broadcaster said 25 per cent required disciplinary action or counselling. The details of those cases were not disclosed.

Anderson updated the ABC’s social media guideline in August to make clear any staff, including employees of contractors and subcontractors, risked being sacked if they compromised the broadcaster’s independence or brought the ABC into disrepute.

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Godzilla vs Kong sequel confirmed for Queensland in $119m filming coup

The mega-monsters are heading back to Queensland with the sequel to blockbuster Godzilla vs Kong becoming the latest filming coup for the state, reports News Corp’s Amy Price.

In a boost for Queensland’s film industry, the next instalment in the global MonsterVerse franchise will return to the Gold Coast and southeast Queensland, doubling the $36.5 million that Godzilla vs. Kong invested when it filmed in the state in 2019.

The production was secured through a $16 million investment of Federal Government funding and a further $6.3 million from the State Government.

It is the conclusion to lengthy negotiations to lock in the deal with Legendary Entertainment, after the production got caught up in a State and Federal Government stoush over disclosing their funding incentives.

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Marketers missing the mark with Boomers, says research

Australian marketers are ignoring a significant spending group and missing the mark when reaching Baby Boomers with fat wallets, suggests research commissioned by CarsGuide Media, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

According to the research, Australian marketers are not appropriately targeting high-spending Boomers, who hold almost half of the country’s disposable income and are the highest spenders on leisure activities including entertainment, auto, health and travel.

It suggests that Boomers – those aged 55 to 75 years – are “misunderstood or overlooked in favour of younger age groups, such as Millennials and Generation X”.

“What we really wanted to understand about this critical group is how we can engage with them more, about how we can also help marketers communicate with them more effectively,” said Shannon Fitzpatrick, director of commercial partnerships at CarsGuide Media.

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Growth doesn’t have to cost the earth

There is a rapidly growing recognition in the business community, particularly among new entrants, that building companies which respect the environment and social aspects around the company can be hugely profitable, writes James Walker-Smith for News Corp.

Indeed, economic modelling by Deloitte Access Economics for the Business Council of Australia shows that if every sector played a role in reaching net zero by 2070, the Australian economy could grow by $890 billion.

At the same time, people are looking for ways they can individually reduce their environmental impact, with a CommBank study recently finding that 70 per cent of Aussies want to lead an environmentally friendly life.

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News Brands

Aussie outsider Angelos Frangopoulos shakes up British TV with GB News

The man who ran Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia for almost two decades is used to long hours, hard work and a steady dose of controversy. But even after a 30-plus year career, the 56-year-old Angelos Frangopoulos has surely never had a challenge quite like this one, writes Hans van Leeuwen in The AFR.

GB News is the first start-up news channel in Britain for three decades. It consciously tries to avoid a London-centric bias in its reporting, and has a roster of opinionated presenters that includes Brexiteer-in-chief Nigel Farage and Kiwi firebrand Dan Wootton.

At various moments, Frangopoulos described this experience somewhat allusively, with adjectives such as “rocky”, “fun”, “full-on”, “hands-on” and “an adventure”. Mostly, though, he exudes pride.

He rejects the way critics have framed GB News, saying the station is pitched at people whose perspectives, interests and values are overlooked by the metropolitan London media class.

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Why we are stopping publication of our content for 24 hours

On Tuesday, Broadsheet Media, the digital media business I founded 12 years ago, joins 25 independent publishers across Australia in a news freeze. For 24 hours we will not be publishing our usual stories covering Australian communities and culture, writes Nick Shelton for AFR.

While under the shadow of the news media bargaining code, Facebook and Google have agreed to meaningful commercial deals with major publishers, they have refused to negotiate on a meaningful basis with many of Australia’s independent and small publishers.

The result of this refusal risks the slow demise of serious and sustainable independent media in Australia that gives our industry its breath and diversity.

Every day, independent publishers compete with the big corporate publishers for both readers and advertising dollars. All these publishers publish content in our category. Now these big publishers have a new revenue stream we don’t have access to and as a result are outspending us on talent, marketing, technology and anything else required to run a top tier publication in a way they haven’t before.

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Waleed Aly chooses The Project over 7.30

There has been plenty of talk recently that The Project’s co-host Waleed Aly could be returning to the ABC, the place he first made his name in the media, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

Aly is already a regular presence on Aunty, with regular panel appearances on Sunday morning shows Insiders and Offsiders, his own Radio National show The Minefield, and even co-hosting the ABC’s periodic special snapshot of Australian life, Australia Talks, with Annabel Crabb.

So when Leigh Sales made her shock announcement last month that she would be departing 7.30 after the federal election, Aly, with his 10 contract up, quickly became one of the favourites to replace her.

But we can now reveal Aly is definitively not headed for the 7.30 host’s chair. Diary has learnt that Aly has chosen commercial TV over public broadcasting – this time, seemingly, for good. We’re reliably informed that Aly has quietly inked a new seven-figure, multi-year deal with 10 in recent weeks. The lucrative new contract cements Aly’s future with The Project until the mid-2020s, leaving Sarah Ferguson and David Speers as favourites to take over 7.30.

The four-night-a-week deal with Aly (who is described by insiders as The Project’s “intellectual heart”) is also seen as a clear commitment by 10 to its long-term future, after a battling second-half of 2021 that saw the show’s ratings decline.

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ABC wants more journalists, expansion of radio into Pacific region

The ABC is planning to employ more journalists in the Pacific region and re-establish satellite feeds for its international service under a $12 million request for funding submitted to government last year, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Expansion of ABC Radio Australia across the Pacific into different time zones and creating specialised content focused on the region that can air on ABC television and radio in Australia are among a series of detailed proposals to boost coverage in the region.

ABC managing director David Anderson flagged the plans to increase the broadcaster’s presence in the region last year, but did not go into detail on what the investment would look like. He was still waiting for the government to confirm the next round of triennium funding. The expansion plans were made public in answers to questions asked by the Senate in February.

The ABC said a $12 million submission to government for boosting its presence in the region included the expansion of ABC Radio Australia’s FM footprint across the Pacific and the re-establishment of three satellite feeds for the ABC’s international TV service ABC Australia.

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Shane Warne’s life to be dramatised for TV screens

The extraordinary life of Australian sporting great Shane Warne will be dramatised in a new miniseries that is expected to air on television screens as early as next year, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.

Nine Entertainment Co is in the early stages of signing on a production company for a miniseries that will explore the colourful life and career of the late spin bowler, who died earlier this month from a heart attack at the age of 52. Nine’s head of drama, Andy Ryan, said the network wanted to show the public what made Warne special.

“Warnie’s life was so full of drama, like the man himself,” Ryan said. “This miniseries will be larger than life – entertaining, confronting, thought-provoking.

“We want to explore what made Warnie so special, and why he had such a powerful effect on people. He was a sporting legend, a national treasure, international kind of icon, but he was also a larrikin, a rogue and a charmer and a flawed man. The national outpouring of grief over his passing had shown us – if we needed telling – just what a sort of impact he’s had on the national conversation.”

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Annette Sharp: Time to rethink Ant Middleton’s role in SAS Australia

In a week in which the Seven Network devoted space in its prime time news bulletin to celebrating being named Employer of Choice for Gender Equality by the little known Workplace Gender Equality Agency this writer marvels that the network continues to employ SAS Australia host Ant Middleton, writes Annette Sharp in The Sunday Telegraph.

Middleton, as SAS’s declining audience is aware, is paid a large whack to humiliate and shout in the faces of exhausted Australian celebrities.

However, Telegraph devotees were split on the former Brit soldier, with an online poll of 699 readers revealing that 66 per cent of them backed Middleton to stay in his job. Thirty-four per cent felt that he was not suited to stay at the helm of the series.

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Seven’s Sarah Stinson a new dawn for TV breakfast boys’ club

Craig McPherson, Peter Meakin, Neil Mooney, Rob Raschke, Ian Cook, David Broadbent, John Rudd, Bob Johnson, Paul Marshall

As far back as any can recall, the Seven Network’s news division, like that of chief rival Nine, has been a boys’ club for suitably hardened men accustomed to playing high-stakes games on behalf of proprietors advocating they win at all costs, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

While a woman is yet to be appointed national news director of either Seven or Nine, there was a hopeful sign last week when Sarah Stinson, long-time executive producer of Seven’s The Morning Show, was promoted to director of morning television at that network.

Stinson knows she’s taking on a high-stress job.

“It’s not really a job, it’s a lifestyle really. But I love live TV. There’s nothing like the energy of it, and I always thought if I were to leave The Morning Show that would be the next step,” she said in her first post-appointment interview with Sharp on Friday.

“My starting point will be to try and improve the slate of number-one rating programs I have, and concentrating on the team and making sure I’ve got the right people in the right places.”

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Sport Media

Rabs unsure about retirement, wrestling with the decision for several months

Broadcast legend Ray Warren says his birth certificate suggests it’s time to retire. Yet at the same time he says he is “tortured” by the enormity of the decision, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

The 78-year-old Channel 9 commentator and NRL Hall-of-Famer has been wrestling with the decision on his future for several months.

“I actually asked them not to put me on the roster,” Warren said. “I need more time and Channel 9 understands the enormity of my decision. They’ve been very generous and told me to take my time.”

Warren has called 99 State of Origin games and been the voice of rugby league for more than four decades.

“I’m tortured by it (the decision),” he said. “I’m full of fear. I’d hate to wake up one day and think I’ve made the wrong call.

“You can’t jump out then jump back in. And I don’t want to undo or damage anything good that I’ve done over a long period of time.

“Honestly I’m not trying to do a Cameron Smith and keep them guessing. I’m still thinking about it.”

With Warren in limbo, Nine is using Matt Thompson and Brisbane-based Peter Psaltis to call Thursday and Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.

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Horse racing: James Warburton’s plan to rattle 10’s Cup Day domination

There is nothing like a good stoush in commercial television. The latest is the Seven Network planning an assault on Channel 10’s ratings monopoly on Melbourne Cup day this year, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

Straight after the race that stops a nation at Flemington on Channel 10, Seven will begin a live broadcast from Randwick to cover Sydney’s new $2 million race, The Big Dance.

The race will start 30 minutes after the Melbourne Cup with Seven’s chief executive James Warburton looking for a huge lead in to the 6pm news.

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