If only the Ten Network could monetise its swag of TV Week Logie awards it wouldn’t be on the verge of collapse. On Thursday the third-placed commercial network posted a shocking half-year loss of $232m and warned its future as a “going concern” was in doubt if it could not secure another loan. The news sent Ten’s shares tumbling by as much as 20%.
But earlier in the week Ten seemed like a winner, flying high having taken home more Logie Awards than any other network. Sunday night at Crown Casino in Melbourne, Ten won over and over again – for its entertainment program Have You Been Paying Attention?, news panel show The Project and its co-host Waleed Aly, local drama The Wrong Girl, lifestyle show The Living Room and even for Gogglebox Australia which is co-produced with Foxtel.
Ten won more Logies than Network Nine or Seven, both of which are far more profitable and ahead in the ratings. What the Ten CEO, Paul Anderson, needs now is more money from billionaires Lachlan Murdoch, Bruce Gordon and James Packer, who already have a $200m debt facility with the network which is due to expire in December. If these guys don’t help, the future for the Neighbours network is bleak, as the directors warned in the results: “As a result of the matters disclosed, there is a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern and, therefore, that it may be unable to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.”
By the way, the Logies has its own special definition of “factual” and “news”. Gogglebox Australia, which features people watching TV, won the award for the best factual show on TV television, beating the ABC’s Australian Story. The Sky News team which included political editor David Speers, former Liberal staffer Peta Credlin and night time host Paul Murray, won for most outstanding news coverage, beating SBS’s exclusive report on Syria.
Fairfax’s long-distance affair
The Australian Financial Review’s Europe correspondent James Chessell officially takes up his post as national editor of the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald next week.
The former Joe Hockey staffer will manage this powerful new editorial role from London because he can’t leave for family reasons until the end of the year. As if that isn’t curious enough, Chessell will continue in the role of the Australian Financial Review’s Europe correspondent at the same time, Fairfax told Weekly Beast.
Although his official managerial role doesn’t start until May, Chessell has been busy flying in and out of London to visit the Fairfax journalists in Canberra and Sydney to give them their new riding instructions, not least with Washington-based correspondent Paul McGeough as we reported last week.
ABC under fire on Anzac Day
It’s hard to pinpoint which commentator has stepped further over the line in criticising Yassmin Abdel-Magied for an Anzac Day Facebook post which she deleted and apologised for before the media even noticed it. But Lisa Oldfield, one of the cast members of the Foxtel reality show The Real Housewives of Sydney, has to be a frontrunner.
Appearing as a panellist on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live this week, Oldfield said the young woman was not ignorant but was a “bitch”. “At the end of the day, I don’t like what she said, I was offended by what she said, but I still support her right to freedom of speech, and my right to be able to turn around and say ‘Lest We Forget Yassmin, that you are brown, you are Muslim and you are a girl and it’s the only reason you have a job at the ABC’.”
Much of the outrage over the Facebook post has been directed at the ABC for not “censuring or sacking” her, including the Daily Telegraph’s front-page headline “Two finger salute: ABC host’s ultimate insult to Anzac legend” followed by the subheading “Un-Australian Broadcasting Corporation backs activist who demeans our war heroes”.
Front page of The Daily Telegraph pic.twitter.com/psIloTgsbK— Christopher Dore (@wrongdorey) April 25, 2017
But to cast Abdel-Magied as an ABC personality or host is a bit of a stretch. The qualified engineer and youth activist is a freelancer who has presented an off-Broadway show on ABC News 24 called Australia Wide since last August. It’s half an hour a week and she just introduces segments from ABC reporters. That is the beginning and end of her casual employment at the ABC where Weekly Beast understands she doesn’t even have a contract. As a commentator she also has appeared in a personal capacity on The Drum and Q&A. As for her original post, it was made on her personal Facebook page not an ABC page.
That didn’t stop the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, linking the issue to ABC funding: “They make life exceedingly difficult for people like myself on the expenditure review committee when we’re fighting for funds when issues such as this are brought up to us. You can’t just sweep it under the carpet.”
Mitch Fifield, the communications minister, didn’t go into that issue, although he still piled in. “Anzac Day is reserved as an occasion to honour the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. ‘Lest we forget’ are solemn and precious words to be used with reverence and respect. Australians would be appalled by someone attempting to hijack and debase this national time of reflection through crude politicisation.”
Logies stunt offends
If you watched Nine’s coverage of the Logies red carpet on Sunday you would have missed two people of short stature covered in silver body paint appearing as real-life silver Logies. They were accompanied by “Intern Pete” from KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O show who was himself dressed up as a gold Logie. Weekly Beast understands Nine producers were so appalled by the stunt they avoided filming them for the broadcast but photographs of the two silver men in shorts appeared on social media. We asked Logies organisers who was behind the stunt and were told it was part of an advertising “activation” for KIIS FM. What that means is that the radio station paid for a designated spot on the red carpet with signage to get talent to chat to them for the radio show the next day.
ABC insider tells all
The ABC is bracing for the release on Monday of an essay, “Missing in action: the ABC and Australia’s screen culture”, by a former director of television Kim Dalton, which is said to be highly critical of the public broadcaster’s TV output. Dalton was head of TV at Aunty between 2006 and 2013, CEO of the Australian Film Commission and an industry veteran since 1973. He was replaced by Richard Finlayson, who resigned earlier this year and was replaced by David Anderson in March. Dalton, whose essay is under a strict embargo, will be speaking about his time inside the ABC at Currency House events on Tuesday and Wednesday in Sydney.