Roundup: The Block finishes filming, Return of Cosmo?, The Ashes

The Block

Ciaran Davis, Southern Cross, gambling report, online misinformation, podcast listening, All Over Australia, Meghan and Harry

Business of Media

Kyle & Jackie O’s boss ignites silent fury among his own investors

Ciaran Davis spent this week on the phone explaining himself. The chief executive of ARN Media – owner of the Kiis and Gold radio brands and manager of FM ratings jackpot Kyle and Jackie-O – startled the usually dreary Australian radio market. Davis came to the party with $38 million, buying a 14.8 per cent stake in Southern Cross Austereo, his biggest radio rival and the owner of Triple M and the Hit network, report Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones and Mark Di Stefano.

Davis and ARN tried to sell it to the market as a “strategic equity investment” at an “attractive value” in a sector it knows well.

But did he need to pay so much?

Investors, who discussed the move on condition of anonymity, were perplexed at the move and downright fuming at the 42 per cent premium Davis paid in the Jefferies-brokered transaction on Monday night – $1.08 a share for a company trading at around 76¢.

“That is an insane premium with no takeover offer. Almost unheard of,” one senior media executive told this column.

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Southern Cross plots revival as new boss takes the helm

ASX-listed media heavyweight Southern Cross Austereo enters a new phase this week as chief operating officer John Kelly takes the reins as CEO, with investors hoping for a lift after a torrid couple of years for the company, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.

See Also: Succession in the real world: Why SCA’s Grant Blackley is handing over to John Kelly

Kelly is a long-time colleague of outgoing boss Grant Blackley and widely seen as a continuity choice, after SCA’s year-long external search for a successor failed to land a suitable target.

The $255 million radio and regional television company has been stuck in a rut for the past couple of years, with profits and revenue edging downwards. Analysts say the incoming Kelly will have plenty on his plate to work through.

Apart from anaemic advertising conditions for television and radio, there’s the added intrigue of rival ARN Media landing on SCA’s register, picking up a 14.8 per cent stake in the business last week.

The one thing in Kelly’s favour, say analysts, is SCA’s portfolio of assets, which includes one of Australia’s top digital audio platforms. It still leads the pack in radio advertising revenue share and is about to announce an extension to its regional television affiliate deal with Network 10.

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Media, wagering outfits brace for ads ban ahead of gambling report

The leaders of some of the country’s biggest media, wagering and sports businesses are bracing for potential changes to advertising rules that may result in a total ban of gambling advertising, report Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan and Amelia McGuire.

Multiple wagering, sports, and media sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they expect the report – authored by the parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, following an inquiry into online gambling harm – to recommend a total ban on gambling advertising to be rolled out over a four-year period.

The federal government is not required to adopt the recommendations delivered by the committee, which could land this week. While a complete ban would be an extreme measure, the media and the gambling industry are both reviewing the potential fallout from any such move.

The biggest cause of gambling harm in Australia is poker machines – the majority of problem gamblers in treatment have machine-related addictions. But many gambling harm experts say gambling advertisements can encourage young people and those with existing gambling problems to seek out betting when they would otherwise abstain.

Responsible Wagering Australia – which represents some of the country’s biggest bookmakers, including Sportsbet and Entain – argues that restricting regulated wagering providers from advertising will only entice those at risk of gambling harm to seek out unregulated bookies, who will not abide by the rules.

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Millions of dollars in fines to punish online misinformation under new draft bill

Online platforms spreading misinformation could face millions of dollars in penalties under new proposed government legislation that bolsters the power of Australia’s media watchdog, reports the ABC’s Nabil Al-Nashar.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would be armed with the ability to require digital platforms to keep certain records about matters regarding misinformation and disinformation and turn them over when requested.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said this would “essentially mean that the regulator is able to look under the hood of what the platforms are doing and what measures they are taking to ensure compliance”.

The ACMA would also be able to request the industry to develop a “code of practice” covering measures to combat misinformation.

Violating the code could result in penalties up to $2.75 million dollars or 2 per cent of global turnover — whichever is greater.

And lastly, the ACMA would be empowered to create and enforce its own industry standard.

Penalties for breaching the standards could see companies paying up to $6.8 million or 5 per cent of their global turnover.

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Sex sells? US publishing giant Hearst wants to relaunch Cosmo

Hearst, the New York-headquartered publishing giant, wants to relaunch women’s sex and entertainment magazine Cosmopolitan in Australia, almost five years after it was shut down for being commercially unviable, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.

The Australian Financial Review has confirmed Hearst has spoken to at least two local publishing companies about taking over the brand of Cosmopolitan. It would be licensed to a local publisher, which would produce the magazine and content under the Cosmo brand name.

Hearst executives have also been reaching out to local journalists who cover fashion through Instagram to see if they would be interested in reviving the brand, which was closed by its former publisher, Bauer Media, after its December 2018 edition. Then-chief executive Paul Dykzeul said the “commercial viability of the magazine in Australia is no longer sustainable”.

“We’re talking to publishers in Australia about the potential of bringing one of our largest global brands into the market,” Hearst Magazines’ Ali Abelson, vice president of global brand development, told one journalist.

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Australians lead world when it comes to podcast listening

Australia has overtaken the US to become the leader in overall podcast listening among English-speaking countries as a growing supply of personable, local content pulls in younger audiences, reports Nine Publishing’s Nell Geraets.

According to this year’s Infinite Dial Australia report – a study exploring the country’s digital audio listening trends – about 43 per cent of the population aged 12 and over listened to a podcast in the past month. The figure translates to nine million people.

This was higher than a total reported in the US version of the Infinite Dial study, which found 42 per cent of its population tuned into a podcast over the same period.

This is the second successive year Australia has recorded more monthly listeners than the US but it’s the first in which it has also reported more weekly listeners (they tied with 26 per cent of the population in 2022). Infinite Dial studies are conducted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US.

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Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara’s All Over Australia program pulled from ABC radio’s international service

The ABC has quietly pulled its most popular weekend radio show, Australia All Over with Ian ‘Macca’ McNamara, from its international broadcasting service, reports The Australian’s James Madden.

While the much-loved and long-running Sunday morning program will continue to air on ABC Local Radio stations across the country, it has been dumped from Radio Australia — an international service which broadcasts across the Pacific.

McNamara has been the permanent host of Australia All Over since 1985, and is particularly popular with Australian expats in the Pacific region.

The show has a rural focus, with listeners encouraged to call McNamara to discuss their every day experiences in the bush, the regions, or in expat communities.

It’s understood that ABC staff attached to the show weren’t informed of the decision to remove Australia All Over from the Radio Australia schedule until they were contacted earlier this month by expat listeners who were curious as to why Radio National broadcasts were airing on Sunday mornings instead of McNamara’s program. Last week, a senior ABC manger told the program’s staff the broadcaster had “decided to go in another direction” and wanted to put more emphasis on “celebrating Pacific voices”.

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The Block wraps filming

Filming on The Block wrapped last week with final touches and judging of the Charming Street abodes completed in Hampton East, reports TV Tonight.

Nine also ran a teaser promo for the 19th season with its 50’s theme and Scott Cam in his best leather jacket and slicked-back hair.

There were also stylised shots of this year’s cast: Gian & Steph / Kyle & Leslie / Liberty & Eliza plus Ash & Leah / Kristy & Brett.

Photos of house exteriors and landscaping have already been posted on social media.

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‘$60m owed’: Meghan and Harry in Netflix row

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been told to come up with more must-watch shows for Netflix if they want to be paid $60 million in outstanding fees, it has been claimed, reports News Corp’s Zoe Smith.

The couple’s six-part tell-all series was a smash hit for the streaming giant but the pair have only been paid half their contract, The Sun reports.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said to have received payment for only half of their reported $121 million contract.

Bosses will only pay them the remaining money if they produce content of real interest, according to reports.

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Sports Media

Nine’s big dilemma amid Ashes triumph

What a difference a win makes. The thrilling two-wicket victory by the Australian team in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on the last afternoon has left Nine with no choice but to elevate the first day of the second Test to its main channel nationally, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

The coverage of the Ashes opener had surprisingly been kept on Nine’s secondary channel GEM despite huge ratings. The two-hour first session of the third and fourth days of the Test managed a whopping 634,000 average capital city viewers on Sunday night and 618,000 capital city viewers on Monday night on GEM – well beyond expectations and GEM’s highest ratings of the year.

Diary understands the huge ratings on Nine’s secondary channel prompted a hastily arranged meeting behind the scenes last week among Nine executives, who seemed to have been caught unawares by the huge viewer interest in the Australians’ battle with England’s freewheeling new “Bazball” approach.

The meeting apparently canvassed whether the final day of the Edgbaston Test should have been telecast on the main channel on Tuesday night. But we hear the last-day telecast stayed on GEM when it became clear that the first session would be washed out by rain.

But the famous Australian victory – with captain Pat Cummins hitting the winning runs and the Aussies going 1-0 up while most of us were asleep in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, local time – has seen a rethink by Nine ahead of the second test.

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