Roundup: Scott Morrison v Nine, Junkee Sale, Alan Jones in politics?

Alan Jones

• Martin Clarke to leave Mail Online, Advertising growth, Political advertising blackout laws, Brendan Jones, NRL TV rights deal

Business of Media

Scott Morrison to Nine: ‘You’re too tough on me’

Last Monday, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby made his first trip to Canberra since securing the role and, in a packed schedule, elbow-tapped with everyone from Labor’s Anthony Albanese, Jim Chalmers and Tony Burke to the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

But for sheer entertainment value, we hear it was Sneesby’s audience with Scott Morrison in the Prime Minister’s office that stole the show.

The meeting between the PM and the media boss may have only lasted 20 minutes or so. But it was certainly meaningful.

Diary has learnt Sneesby – joined for the meeting with ScoMo by his publishing boss James Chessell, along with two prime ministerial advisers including the PM’s media chief Andrew Cars­well – was offered a full and frank opinion by Morrison about Nine’s columnists at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The PM allegedly told Sneesby his columnists were too “tough” on him. The Nine camp is adamant “no concessions” were made in response.

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Junkee sale comes down to final weeks

oOh!Media is edging closer to offloading its youth publication Junkee Media, with a handful of potential buyers still in the running in a sale process that is expected to fall short of initial expectations, reports SMH’s Zoe Samios.

ASX-listed billboard advertising company oOh!Media announced the sale of Junkee, which also runs publications Punkee and AWOL, in July, with plans to complete a transaction before the end of the year. But it was originally unclear whether a deal would go ahead after several interested buyers such as Rollingstone publisher Brag Media and The Latch publisher Val Morgan withdrew.

Industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said several outlets, including the UK-owned Guardian, remain in talks to buy the company. Val Morgan and Brag Media were also looking at buying the company and conducted due diligence, but have since walked. There was also speculation that Mamamia, the website owned by Mia Freedom and her husband Jason Lavigne may also be in the mix. oOh!Media declined to comment.

The sources suggest a transaction could be done before the end of the year if oOh!Media and its advisor Jacanda Capital are willing to compromise on price. oOh!Media wanted the deal done by October 29, but the process has been delayed by negotiations over its value. The Australian Financial Review said last month oOh!Media was expecting $20 million for the publication.

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Martin Clarke to leave Mail Online after ‘once-in-a-lifetime ride’

Mail Online editor-in-chief and chief executive Martin Clarke is stepping down after 12 years building the website into one of the biggest in the world, reports The Press Gazette’s Charlotte Tobitt.

Clarke said he wanted to leave to “pursue new challenges” and DMG owner Lord Rothermere said he had “reluctantly” accepted his resignation.

Clarke said he will “remain available” to the company until the end of 2022 and will help in the search for his replacement as editor.
His remit covering digital revenues, platform and product will pass to DMG Media’s new chief executive Richard Caccappolo.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my eternal gratitude to Lord Rothermere and Paul Dacre – and their predecessors – for affording me such a fantastic career with DMG Media and for the privilege of having worked for the best newspapers in the world,” Clarke said.

“I would also like to thank the thousands of dedicated and talented Mail Online staff – past and present – who have made the website such a unique worldwide phenomenon.

“It gives me great satisfaction that so many websites in the UK, US and Australia have Mail Online alumni in top positions.
“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime ride and there is simply no other job with DMG Media I would rather have.”

Lord Rothermere said: “I have had to reluctantly accept Martin’s resignation as he is without doubt one of the greatest editors of his generation; and, I am eternally grateful to him for all his immense hard work and genius over the years.

“The Daily Mail is great because of the hard work of many not just the few.”

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Sporting events and elections to drive advertising growth

Advertising bosses are confident the economy will continue to improve in 2022, with advertising spend to be strong, with major events such as the Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics and a federal election to keep the sector buoyant, reports AFR’s Miranda Ward.

The Australian Financial Review’s poll of advertising agency executives found the industry is optimistic its spend will continue to grow next year with consumers set to keep spending, particularly online, generating demand for advertising.

“2022 has been predicted to be the bounce-back year for ad spend. For many brands spending big into next year has been the plan,” said Ogilvy Australia chief executive Sally Kissane.

“However, if the last couple of weeks has taught us anything, anything is possible. I think we can remain cautiously optimistic. And with an election year in play, we can expect significant injections of ad spend in key industries and markets.”

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TV and radio sectors urge federal government to dump political advertising blackout laws

“Archaic” blackout laws that prohibit radio and television outlets from broadcasting political advertising in the final days of election campaigns must be overturned to stop an unfair advantage being given to social media giants, industry groups have argued, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth.

Under existing laws, political advertising on radio and TV is banned three days out from an election, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue for many commercial media outlets.

The three-day blackouts are to stop voters from being unduly influenced by political advertising just prior to lodging their vote.

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Sydney’s breakfast radio wars raging since 2005

While the talking heads of AM radio were boasting record gains in 2021 thanks to widespread community interest in the pandemic, over on the FM band the leading men and women of breakfast radio were splitting into two distinct divisions, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.

In division one are entrenched radio ratings winners Kyle Sandilands and Jackie “O” Henderson on KIISFM, Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller on WSFM, and Bogart Torelli and Glenn Daniel on Smooth FM.

In division two are the once-great FM stations Triple M and 2DAY FM, which are both owned by Austero..

Speaking to this column last week as he prepared to sign off for the year, WSFM’s Brendan Jones said if the past 16 years in radio’s A-league had taught him anything, it’s that you need to be a radio professional to win in Sydney.

“You need to know how to operate a desk, you need to be genuinely interested in music, you need to be able to genuinely connect with your audience — Sydneysiders can smell fake a mile off,” Jones said last week.

“Triple M is a disgrace today. Doug Mulray and Andrew Denton were a bit highbrow for Triple M’s audience for their time, but they appreciated the music and were locals who knew the city,” he said.

Merrick and Rosso (Nova) got to the top of the ratings charts ’cos they cared about the medium.

“If you don’t care and are just taking the money, it shows.”

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Right wing Libs put pressure on Alan Jones to run for federal politics

Broadcaster Alan Jones is under increasing pressure to consider a tilt at federal politics with senior conservatives hoping the former Sky News host will — finally — agree, reports News Corp’s Linda Silmalis and Jessica McSweeney.

Jones, who hosted his final program last month, has been repeatedly asked to consider a political career with one NSW Liberal source declaring he had been offered “nearly everything” from a NSW Upper House seat to the Senate. At a lunch held in his honour in Parliament House on Friday as Jones was again asked if he would have a go with the broadcaster politely laughing off the question.

It is understood one of his key supporters is former prime minister Tony Abbott, prompting speculation Jones is being encouraged to run in Warringah. Nominations were to have closed on December 3, but the deadline was extended on Friday to January 14 to allow former premier Gladys Berejiklian more time to make up her mind as to whether she will nominate. It is understood Ms Berejiklian is now seriously considering the offer.

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Sports Media

NRL news: Broadcast money set to flow after NRL and Nine finalise deal

The NRL has scheduled a meeting with Nine Network powerbrokers on Monday where they are expected to finally signed off on a new broadcasting deal, guaranteeing the game and its clubs a financial windfall in the lead-up to Christmas, reports News Corp’s Brent Read and Phil Rothfield.

The fresh agreement will run for five years and be worth as much as $600 million, solidifying the game’s broadcasting revenue until the end of 2027.

It was initially reported in mid-October that the NRL and Nine were on the verge of agreeing to an extension, but the parties have taken their time to bridge the gap between their respective expectations.

It is understood those impediments have now been removed and the new deal could be confirmed as early as next week, alleviating arguably the game’s most pressing issue in the lead-up to Christmas.

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