Roundup: The Bachelor ratings, Sky News hearing, MAFS abuse probe + more

The Bachelor

• Louise Milligan tweet, WTFN, inc. Digital Media, TMZ, The Logies, Four Corners at 60, GB News, Sony, Kyle Sandilands, CJZ commission, FWAW reunion, The Block

Business of Media

Louise Milligan tweet costs ABC $130K in Laming settlement

A defamatory tweet posted by high-profile ABC reporter Louise Milligan — which “irrevocably” harmed the reputation of federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming — is likely to cost the taxpayer more than $130,000 in damages and legal fees, reports News Corp’s James Madden and Sophie Elsworth.

The payout consists of $79,000 in court-ordered damages, and an estimated $50,000-plus in Dr Laming’s legal expenses.

The costs will be covered by the ABC, not Milligan — who, according to her lawyer, still does not admit “liability” for any wrongdoing, despite deleting an offending social media post about Dr Laming.

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Media watchdog to probe MAFS shock ‘abuse’ claims

Reality show Married At First Sight is being investigated by the TV watchdog over more than 60 complaints from viewers about mental abuse, gaslighting and the promotion of domestic conflict, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

The Channel Nine show has previously been the subject of complaints from former contestants and staff who have made allegations of bullying.

Now the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is investigating a series of viewer complaints ranging from concerns about mental health and “abusive interchanges” to the welfare of contestants.

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Stephen Peters new head of development at WTFN

Independent production company WTFN has appointed Stephen Peters (pictured) as its new head of development. Peters had been working with the company for nearly a year as a contracted consultant, acting as executive producer on ob-doc series Sydney Harbour Force, which is being produced for Discovery Australia, New Zealand, and UK.

Peters joins WTFN with a wide range of credits from some of Australia’s leading TV companies. These include Nine Network, where he recently executive produced True Medical and Inside Crime, having previously been EP on Australian Survivor; Eyeworks where, as head of television, he managed all the company’s output, which included series such as Kalgoorlie Cops and Gangs of Oz; and Fremantle Media, where he oversaw the production of the Logie Award-winning and recording-breaking first series of Australian Idol. Peters also spent three years as head of development at Endemol Southern Star. 

In his new role, Peters will be responsible for expanding WTFN’s development slate by creating more returning documentary and access series – such as Paramedics and Bondi Vet – for which the business is well-known, as well as branching out into fresh new factual genres.

WTFN production output has more than doubled from under 40 hours in 2019 to more than 80 hours already commissioned for this year. Relationships with domestic and international broadcasters have expanded and strengthened and two new business streams have recently launched under the WTFN umbrella alongside distributor Fred Media.

WTFN Be is a branded content and social channels company, while Empire Talent is a boutique talent management agency, representing high-profile media personalities and influencers from Australia and around the world.

Daryl Talbot, WTFN’s CEO said: “Stephen has made a significant contribution to WTFN over the past few months, so we are delighted to have him onboard as a permanent member of the senior team. Our expansion and increased output in the past year is testament to a talented and dedicated team but now, with Stephen adding his tremendous experience, and charged with increasing our content pipeline, we are hoping to turbo-charge this growth trajectory and bring more hours and even more fresh new programme ideas to the market.”

Stephen Peters added: “Having already spent some time at WTFN, when the offer of head of development was made, I didn’t hesitate to accept. Daryl and co-founder Steve Oemcke have built a terrific company, underpinned by an authentic feeling of constant forward momentum. They are very open to new ideas and different ways of doing things, so I am genuinely excited by the opportunities this new challenge brings.”

inc. Digital Media announces the promotion of Craig Sue and Stephanie Hasouros

Independent media agency inc. Digital Media has promoted Craig Sue to commercial director and Stephanie Hasouros to ad operations manager.

The appointments come as the agency records new client wins including furniture company, MCM House and beef jerky snack brand Jack Link’s.

With over 10 years of experience in media buying and planning, Sue joined inc. Digital Media at the end of 2018 as the agency’s ad operations manager. In his new role as commercial director, he will continue to report to inc. Digital Media’s chief executive officer Loan Morris and manage the planning, development, and implementation of the agency’s commercial strategies.

Craig Sue

Hasouros joined the inc. Digital Media team at the start of 2019 in the role of ad operations team leader and now takes on the role of ad operations manager where she will report to Sue and lead the ad operations team. Hasouros will also manage the day-to-day digital operations of the business including analytics, programmatic, search, social and display.

“As we continue to build our independent agency profile and diversify our client base, now is also the opportune time to ensure our team is in a strong and solid position for inc. Digital Media’s short-term and long-term growth. Both Craig and Stephanie have been instrumental to the expansion of inc. Digital Media since they joined and continue to make outstanding contributions to the organisation. I am beyond thrilled to welcome both Craig and Stephanie to their new roles. Craig and Stephanie will be vital to building and leading a high performing ad operations team as well as driving our new product and channels strategies,” said CEO Morris.

Stephanie Hasouros

“It’s a challenging but very exciting time to be a part of an independent media agency. I am really looking forward to facilitating the growth of inc. Digital Media in my new role and it is very encouraging to have the commitment and confidence of Loan during these uncertain times,” said Sue.

“I am delighted to be taking the next step in my career. I look forward to working with Craig and the ad operations team to ensure we continue to deliver above and beyond the expectations of our clients.”

In the coming weeks, inc. Digital Media will be adding to the team with the appointment of an SEO manager.

See Also: iNC Digital Media CEO on life as an indie after HT&E sale

AT&T/WarnerMedia in talks to sell TMZ to Fox

AT&T is in talks to sell WarnerMedia’s celebrity gossip site TMZ to Fox, Deadline has confirmed, in yet another deal paring down the telco’s entertainment assets, one that comes as it prepares to spin off Warner and merge it with Discovery.

TMZ’s syndicated gossip show TMZ On TV airs on Fox stations. There had actually been rumours that the feisty, sometimes controversial site was on the block all the way back in 2017 after AT&T announced the Time Warner deal.

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News Brands

Sky News hosts including Alan Jones, Rita Panahi and Rowan Dean to front media diversity hearing

Sky News presenters Alan Jones, Rita Panahi and Rowan Dean are among those who will front a Senate inquiry into YouTube’s ban that stopped the channel from posting content for seven days, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

The high-profile presenters will appear at the media diversity hearing on Friday, along with Sky News Australia chief executive Paul Whittaker and former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Google-owned YouTube suspended Sky News Australia – which has 1.88 million YouTube subscribers – for a seven-day ­period that ended last Thursday.

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Four Corners turns 60: Inside the show that exposes governments and divides viewers

When Bruce Belsham took charge of Four Corners in the late 1990s, there were three letters he never wanted to see on his whiteboard: “FBH”. They stood for “f—ing black hole” and appeared when the program didn’t have a 45-minute investigation scheduled for a particular week, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

“The big pressure as an executive producer is you’ve got to fill it; you cannot go to black at 8:30pm on a Monday night,” Belsham, who ran Four Corners until 2007, remembers. “If an FBH was getting close and you didn’t know how you’d fill it, that was scary.”

Four Corners has avoided going to black for six decades. Under founding producers Michael Charlton and Robert Raymond, the program went to air for the first time on Saturday, August 19, 1961. It opened with a vox pop asking people whether a future governor-general should be British or Australian. The program had six staff members and a budget of £480.

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GB News in-depth briefing: Channel to ‘supercharge’ political coverage 

GB News announced this week it planned to “supercharge” its political coverage with the appointment of more political journalists and four dedicated weekday program, reports Press Gazette.

A weekly Prime Minister’s Questions special edition will also launch once Parliament returns in September. Each show will feature interviews, analysis and debate and extend to regional mayors and devolved parliaments as well as Westminster.

Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said: “Politics really matters to the

communities we serve and our viewers tell us they like our fresh approach, especially the way we genuinely listen to all sides.

“As a start-up we set out to shake things up and that’s exactly what we’re doing. After just eight weeks on air, we’re evolving rapidly, learning from our audience, and growing fast. There’s a lot more to come.”

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What happens if the Logies have to be delayed again?

After not being held in 2020 the Logie Awards are next scheduled for November 28 on the Gold Coast, reports TV Tonight.

But with the current COVID-19 crisis on the East Coast, it’s too soon to know if they can safely proceed.

Everything pretty much hinges on NSW.

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Two Sony executives lose their gigs as rival label Universal also investigates toxic workplace allegations

Two Sony Music executives have left the Australian label as its New York head office continues an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour and a toxic workplace culture, reports News Corp’s Kathy McCabe.

Staff at the label were informed on Monday that Pat Handlin, the vice-president of artists and repertoire (A & R), and human resources and corporate affairs head Mark Stebnicki were no longer employed by Sony.

The pair had been temporarily stood down since the label’s longstanding chairman Denis Handlin departed in June after 50 years with Sony.

It is not suggested that the men are accused of inappropriate behaviour as the investigation continues.

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Kyle Sandilands trying for a baby with girlfriend Tegan Kynaston

Sydney breakfast radio king Kyle Sandilands is ready to become a dad, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

The 50-year-old announced on-air on Wednesday that he and girlfriend of two years, Tegan Kynaston, are trying for a baby.

“ … We have decided that we’ll try for a baby I suppose. There’s a lot of pressure, I didn’t want to bring it up in case she feels pressure,” Sandilands said on the Kyle and Jackie O show.

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‘Get it over with quickly’: Awkward Bachelor reveal

Channel 10’s The Bachelor will begin airing double episodes on Wednesday night amid lacklustre ratings, reports News Corp’s Mibengé Nsenduluka.

An insider told Confidential that the network recently changed the show schedule “to get it over with quickly” after the show launched to its lowest premiere ratings in history last month with 482,000 metro viewers.

“Yes, Thursday 12th August and Wednesday 18th August are both double episodes,” a Network 10 spokeswoman said.

When asked for further details, Confidential did not receive a response.

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‘I couldn’t pretend’: Why contestant Tatum Hargraves walked out on The Bachelor

The Bachelor’s Tatum Hargraves said she never felt a spark with Jimmy Nicholson before choosing to walk out of the dating show, reports News Corp’s Amy Price.

The Gold Coast business owner turned the tables on the Bachelor on Wednesday night’s episode of the Channel 10 series, pulling him aside at the cocktail party to tell him she had decided to leave.

“I could have stuck it out. That could potentially have benefited me and my business, but truthfully I was never there for that. I was there for love and I didn’t want to waste my time or Jimmy’s time or take time away from the other girls,” she said.

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CJZ commission for Acorn TV to film in Queensland with Brown and Scacchi

Described as a road trip with a mystery twist, Darby and Joan has commissioned by Acorn TV. The series will star Bryan Brown and Greta Scacchi and will film in various locations throughout rural and regional Queensland.

The series is supported by the Queensland Government via Screen Queensland’s Screen Finance fund.

Produced by Australian production company CJZ, Darby and Joan will premiere on Acorn TV in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Latin America, Australia, Spain, Portugal, among others in 2022.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said this week the production will commence this month.

Darby and Joan will inject an estimated $6.6 million into the local economy and generate approximately 95 jobs for Queenslanders,” the Premier said.

Screen Queensland chief creative officer Jo Dillon said that Screen Queensland promotes the state as an ideal location for homegrown and international screen stories.

“For decades young and older travellers alike have been heeding the call of Australia as a place of discovery, renewal and freedom, and who better to star in this series as Darby than Bryan Brown, an Australian icon, alongside the talented Greta Scacchi playing English widow Joan.”

Matt Campbell, CEO of CJZ, said Queensland is the ultimate setting for this non-stop road adventure with a difference.

“We wanted scope, scale and variety, to capture a sense of awe and the stark beauty that comes from huge skies, vast horizons and roads less travelled; Queensland has all of this and more,” Campbell said.

“We can’t wait to start filming next month and thank the Queensland Government and Screen Queensland for supporting this project.”\

Co-star Bryan Brown added, “Looking forward to working with Greta Scacchi on Darby and Joan. Terrific story and we get to show off beautiful Queensland. Fun all round.”

Darby and Joan will be executive produced by Claire Tonkin (My Life is Murder), David Hannam (Secret Bridesmaid’s Business), Matt Campbell, Bea Tammer and Catherine Mackin, with series producer Pino Amenta (Five Bedrooms, Wentworth). Created by Glenys Rowe and Phillip Gwynne, the series’ writers include David Hannam, Beck Cole, Andrew Anastasios, Giula Sandler, Ainslie Clouston, Adam Zwar and Paul Bennett. Set-up director is David Caesar (Dirty Deeds).

Darby and Joan has also received production investment from Screen Australia.

Farmer Will attends FWAW reunion with Jaimee, Hayley’s pregnancy mentioned at the end

Viewers hoping to see the Farmer Wants A Wife pregnancy scandal play out on Wednesday’s reunion special were left waiting until the final moments of the episode for a statement from host Natalie Gruzlewski, reports News Corp’s Bella Fowler.

The reunion, which was filmed in January, a month after the farmers’ ‘final decisions’, touched briefly on Hayley Love’s pregnancy news while Farmer Will, the alleged father of the unborn child, appeared loved-up with his ‘pick’ Jaimee during the episode.

“One last thing before we say goodbye to another successful season of Farmer Wants A Wife,” Natalie began after doe-eyed footage of Will and Jaimee dancing to Taylor Swift at the reunion cocktail party faded out.

“I have got some exciting news. Since we recorded the reunion, I’ve found out one of Farmer Matt’s ladies Hayley is pregnant. We wish her and her soon-to-be bundle of joy all the very best.”

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Love Island twins abandon The Block – to go clubbing

If former Love Island contestants Josh and Luke Packham wanted to dampen speculation about their Block credentials, they’re going the wrong way about it, reports News Corp’s Nick Bond.

In Wednesday’s episode of the reno show, the reality TV twins were shown abandoning the Block worksite midway through their first room reveal – to go out clubbing.

It was a Friday night – two days until room reveal – and with their guest room still unfinished, the pair decided to “go for a little boogie”.

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