For this category we welcomed votes for coverage across any medium – online, print, television and radio.
Winner: ABC News
Perhaps a surprising win given the largely commercial focus Mediaweek has when it comes to covering news broadcasters and publishers.
However it is clear our readers value one of the biggest news gathering operations in Australia and one they pay for.
To learn a little more about ABC News in 2018 and to look ahead, we spoke with Gaven Morris, the ABC’s director news, analysis & investigations since October 2015.
In this role he oversees all the ABC’s broadcast and digital news and current affairs output – including flagship TV programs such as the state and territory 7pm news editions, 7.30, Four Corners, Australian Story, Q&A and Foreign Correspondent; audio programs such as AM, PM, RN Breakfast, RN Drive and Background Briefing; the ABC News website and mobile and social media channels; the continuous ABC News channels on TV and radio; and the Asia-Pacific newsroom.
Morris won’t forget 2018 in a hurry for many reasons. He joined the organisation a decade ago, and previous roles include head of news content, national editor for ABC News Online and head of continuous news.
What were the highlights and biggest challenges of 2018?
Staying focussed on serving the public’s interest amid the ABC’s leadership turmoil and the political criticism meant 2018 was particularly challenging, but editorial teams remained professional and determined to producing excellent journalism and breaking news coverage.
I’m very proud of how some of the new teams set up at the end of 2017 came to the fore: ABC Investigations led the way with the crowd-sourced investigation into aged care in Australia that led to the special two-part Four Corners and extensive broadcast and digital news coverage prompting a Royal Commission. The specialist reporting team produced a number of exclusives across platforms proving beat reporting is still fundamental to great journalism. It was an outstanding year for ABC News coverage around breaking events like the Liberal leadership change, the Thai caves rescue, the Trump presidency and many local stories in the states and territories.
What new platform had the biggest audience growth in 2018?
While we saw incredible growth on third-party destinations like Apple News and YouTube, even more crucial for ABC News teams was reinventing audio and video content for new audiences. Original podcasts (The Signal, Russia If You’re Listening) and TV documentaries (Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane) plus looking at how to create the highest quality digital journalism experiences allowed us to reach younger news consumers and to reach out to audiences who don’t always tune in to our broadcasts.
What can you tell us about ambitions for 2019?
Increasingly, the value of public media to Australians will be in working directly with the public to cover, investigate and debate stories that matter to them. ABC News aims to continue to innovate in finding ways to invite Australians into examining issues they’re interested in and to contribute to our coverage. In a federal election year, empowering every citizen in all parts of our cities and in rural and regional Australia will be at the centre of our approach. We also want to continue to set the agenda – breaking and telling stories that all Australians find directly relevant to their lives.
Do you expect many innovations for your election campaign coverage?
Antony Green’s ability to read the play during election campaigns and on election nights will mean the focus on innovation in the early months of 2019 will be in supporting Antony’s analysis and presenting it in new ways, particularly on mobiles during the NSW and Federal elections. We’ll also be looking to find new ways to tell stories for contemporary audiences – in audio, with video and on TV and in specialist digital content.
Second place: Nine
Writing about the Nine news platforms now is very different to what it was 12 months ago.
The merger of the Fairfax Media brands means consumers and advertisers have access to a wide range of news from the more traditional Nine television and online platforms, through to the various brands connected to the old Fairfax Media – from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and all the associated brands.
The new Nine Entertainment Co looks likely to sell the former New Zealand and regional brands as soon as possible.
The traditional Nine television offering took a hammering with its breakfast show last year as Today relaunched this week. However as we pointed out last week, the turmoil at Nine wasn’t all self-inflicted, give their opposition some of the credit at least.
The decisions Nine’s head of news and current affairs Darren Wick and his team seem to have made good choices with the new Today team, but ratings will be the ultimate judge of those appointments. (And not just the first week.)
Third place: Sky News
Under the leadership of new CEO Paul Whittaker, the news channel is building a formidable team. Whittaker and his new lieutenants Chris Willis and Mark Calvert will be relishing polishing the image of the channel and planning coverage of the 2019 federal election campaign. That alone has made the channel a must-watch in the past and will surely be the same again later this year.
Watching how Sky News “after dark” develops this year under Calvert will also be fascinating.
Six movie length episodes will conclude the epic saga, and will stream and screen in Australia exclusively on FOX SHOWCASE.
Coming off nine wins at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, it is the most Emmy-winning primetime scripted series ever, with a record 47 awards.
Based on the book series by George R.R. Martin, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and using stories that have gone beyond the narratives in the novels as it builds to a final ending. The Game of Thrones cast includes Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen, JohnBradley, Gwendoline Christie, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel and Isaac Hempstead Wright.
Every episode is currently available to stream through Foxtel On Demand on internet-connected iQ set-top-boxes and on streaming service Foxtel Now. All seven seasons will also screen on Foxtel’s BoxSets channel throughout March.
Nielsen has released to market the December 2018 Digital Content Ratings tagged data news rankings from participating publishers.
news.com.au was again the top news entity in terms of highest unique audience (9.6 million), followed by nine.com.au (7.9 million) and then ABC News Websites (7.7 million). Fourth place was smh.com.au (7.6 million).
Next in the Nielsen news rankings was Daily Mail Australia (5.3 million), followed by The Guardian (3.8 million) in sixth position, up from its seventh place in November. The top five positions were unchanged from the previous month.
In seventh position was The Age (3.2 million), followed by Fairfax Digital Regional Network with a unique audience of 3.2 million.
Yahoo7 and Herald Sun are not reporting for December due to a tagging issue. In the November 2018 data, Yahoo7 ranked #6 while the Herald Sun ranked #10.
The Australian box office is still enjoying the momentum of the school holidays as it saw six movies earn over $1m each this past weekend.
Despite this the overall box office return saw a decline of 28% as it generated $19.32m. However, this is most likely a case of the market correcting itself after some massive weeks of revenue coming off the holiday season.
The biggest earner this week was Aquaman which has returned to top spot as it brought its overall total to $33.30m after three weeks, proving that super hero flicks are still in vogue.
The biggest decline this week was Holmes and Watson which went down 73% from last weekend, and has made $457, 882 in it’s third week, producing a total of $4.45m.
There was only one new entrant to the top five this week after a bevy of big name releases the last few weeks, with Instant Family debuting in third spot, taking the place of Ralph Breaks the Internet which slipped to sixth and made $654,739 bringing its total to $15.61m.
Other notable entries outside of the top five include:
#7 Bumblebee– $654,739 (4 weeks, $10.33m)
#8 Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse– $617,057 (5 weeks, $11.59m)
#10 Vice- $443,293 (3 weeks, $2.99m)
#12 A Star is Born– $365,670 (13 weeks, $34.05m)
#19 The Grinch– $76,913 (7 Weeks, $18.02m)
The big budget hit of the holiday season keeps on rolling as it reclaims top spot despite a 45% decline in revenue. In its third week of release it was screened on 512 screens averaging $6,902.
Slipping down to second spot after debuting in top spot, the concluding instalment of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise continues to bring home strong revenue numbers with its overall total already at $12.97m. It made an average of $6,412 after being shown on 515 screens (which is an increase on the 473 it was shown on last week).
The only new entry this week, the Mark Whalberg and Rose Byrne family comedy has debuted in third spot off the back of a strong opening weekend total. The film did this despite being the least shown film in the top five, screening on 265 screens averaging $10,882.
Slipping to fourth spot in its second week the sequel to the Disney classic still easily broke the $2m mark as it has created an overall revenue total of $12.06m in two weeks. The most seen film in the country this past weekend, it was seen on 521 screens, making an average of $4,614 (The lowest in the top five).
Defying natural convention this films keeps on rolling as its revenue has actually increased 3% on its previous weekend, being the only film in the top five to do so. After 11 consecutive weeks in the top five the biopics total now stands at $47.15m as it continues to surge forward. It was shown this weekend on 272 screen for an average of $5,981.
• Night two of I’m A Celebrity backs up with 890,000 and ranks #1
• Jungle games trounce Big Bash and Australian Open early
• Long night of tennis though pulls enough viewers for Nine win
…and those breakfast TV numbers – Today slips below 200,000
Week 3 2019 – Summer schedule – Monday
The Big Bash League match between Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes started in fourth place in the major markets. It quickly moved to third in Melbourne, yet took a little longer to lift in Sydney. The two innings were both under 500,000 on the first night the cricket on Seven went up against the Australian Open on Nine.
One area where Seven was a clear leader on Monday was breakfast TV. Sunrise was well ahead nationally and in metro and regional markets.
Breakfast TV Seven v Nine Week 3
• Sunrise 427k (Metro 266k Regional 161k)
• Today 311k (Metro 197k Regional 115k)
• News Breakfast 173k (Metro 103k Regional 70k)
The channel was a winner with both primary and combined channel shares on the first night of the Australian Open.
The Monday tennis audiences were as follows:
• Day 1 evening 538,000
• Day 1 day 344,000
• Day 1 late 332,000
Another strong outing for episode two of I’m A Celebrity with the program again a clear timeslot winner and the hottest show of the night in key demos.
Week one: I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!
• Monday 1.098m and 1.014m
• Tuesday: 890,000
Elsewhere on the channel The Project 7pm was next best on 536,000.
Later in the night two episodes of Murphy Brown did 289,000 and 188,000.
Back Roads did 413,00 at 8pm.
A repeat of Hawke: The Larrikin And The Leader was on 324,000.
If Seven claim the title of “royal network”, SBS can’t be far behind.
It’s best last night was Queen Elizabeth’s Secret Agents on 174,000.
|ABC 2||2.1%||7TWO||4.7%||GO!||4.7%||10 Bold||4.6%||VICELAND||0.9%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||3.2%||GEM||4.2%||10 Peach||2.6%||Food Net||0.9%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC 2||3.1%||7TWO||6.9%||GO!||4.6%||WIN Bold||4.8%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||1.1%||7mate||4.0%||GEM||3.7%||WIN Peach||3.1%||Food Net||0.9%|
|ABC NEWS||1.8%||7flix||1.9%||9Life||2.4%||Sky News on WIN||0.1%||NITV||0.1%|
|MONDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
Clive Palmer is pumping “whatever is needed” into a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz across television, print and outdoor advertising to try to land the controversial businessman back in the Australian Parliament at this year’s federal elections, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
In recent weeks Palmer has take out full-page advertisements in News Corp’s national masthead The Australian, half-page advertisements in Nine’s The Sydney Morning Herald, as well as billboards and television networks Nine and Seven. As well, he has sent thousands of unsolicited text messages to unsuspecting voters, prompting several thousand complaints.
Industry sources believe sustained advertising now and into a federal election could cost Palmer tens of millions and he could outspend the Liberal Party. In the 2016 election then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife Lucy Turnbull tipped in $1.75 million in a pre-election donation to the cash-strapped Liberal Party.
A New York hedge fund known for gutting newsrooms is backing a hostile takeover bid for Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and 100 other newspapers. The unsolicited offer, worth over $1.3 billion, would create the largest newspaper company in the United States and further consolidate a struggling industry, reports The New York Times.
The bidder is MNG Enterprises, which is owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital.
Critics have described Alden as a “destroyer of newspapers” that is prone to “savage” layoffs and as “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.”
Against this backdrop, the Alden name has assumed some notoriety in the newspaper industry. After it made deep cuts to The Denver Post newsroom, staff members openly revolted last year. The paper, which has won nine Pulitzer Prizes, published a series of articles critical of its owner. The lead editorial that accompanied the articles labeled Alden executives “vulture capitalists,” and called for action.
Nine’s bid to relaunch the Today show with an all-female line-up has been overshadowed again by the feud between former host Karl Stefanovic and his former wife Cassandra Thorburn who are understood to be asking pointed questions about their respective relationships with the paparazzi, reports The Australian’s Emily Ritchie.
The Australian reports Stefanovic is trying to ascertain whether any payment was exchanged between Thorburn and journalist Jonathan Marshall after she was allegedly recorded criticising Stefanovic in a public tirade on the day of his wedding to Jasmine Yarbrough last month.
Their relationship has gone from ugly to worse, with Thorburn asking whether Stefanovic or Yarbrough have had any correspondence with photoagency Diimex from September 2016, particularly relating to contracts or payment for photos. Diimex is an online digital media exchange company that sells stories.
Stefanovic is understood to want to see any agreement for payment of money between Thorburn and Marshall, as well as all communication between the pair, including the raw audio of an alleged conversation at Sydney Airport on the day of Stefanovic’s Mexican wedding.
I woke up with the new Today…and two hours in had to check I hadn’t hit the snooze button, comments News Corp’s Holly Byrnes.
Early starts aren’t my thing, so let’s be generous and put this grumble down to sleep-deprivation.
But honestly, day one of the much-heralded revamped show was such a backward step for Nine at breakfast, it lost more than just its recognisable hosting line-up.
It has lost all direction.
For a program sold on the strength of its journalistic pedigree – bringing in Deb Knight to replace Karl Stefanovic and Tom Steinfort to read news – it was beaten to every major interview of the day by market leader, Sunrise.
That’s simply not good enough and any executive worth their salt would be giving today’s show a fail mark.
So, 5.30am on Monday 14 January in the year 2019, who wasn’t up to watch history being made? Asks The Australian’s Caroline Overington.
I speak, of course, of the all-woman panel, on the Today show!
Two chicks, in charge, for the first time ever!
It was ground-breaking, it was history-making, it was like a gender moon landing … except maybe a bit meh?
Because look, OK, I’m a newspaper reporter, what would I know, but to me, it looked very much like they – Nine – failed at the first hurdle.
Because again, not to quibble, but if you’ve gone to all that trouble – sacking Karl on his honeymoon; hiring a woman to replace him, trumpeting the whole first-ever all-woman TV breakfast show panel thing – wouldn’t you, like, actually open with the all-woman panel?
Next came an interview with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who said he was concerned about the permissive drug culture at music festivals; that all options must be considered; that they’ve got to get the balance right; because there are no simple answers.
ScoMo’s appearance gave Deb the opportunity to ask him about the Liberal Party’s problem with women.
“We are starting with two female hosts here today,’ she said, ‘what are you doing about getting more women into the ranks?”
Going by ScoMo’s answer – he rattled on about the pay gap, and workforce participation – not that much.
ITV is heading back into the past with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, reports Deadline.
The British commercial broadcaster has commissioned a series based on his novel Belgravia, a tale of secrets and scandals set in 1840s London.
Downton Abbey indie Carnival Films is producing the series, which is being lined up for an initial six-part run that is set to start production in the next few months.
The series is set in the 19th Century, around seventy years before Downton, when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders the emerging industrial nouveau riche.
Fellowes is adapting his own novel and the drama is being directed by John Alexander, who has directed series such as BBC thriller Trust Me and Sky’s Jamestown. It is exec produced by Carnival Films executive chairman Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Liz Trubridge and produced by Killing Eve producer Colin Wratten.
2019 is likely to be a busy year for Fellowes, who is finally set to launch his NBC period drama The Gilded Age after originally scoring the order in 2012, as well as projects including soccer drama The English Game for Netflix and Five Arrows, a drama about the Rothschild banking dynasty in association with Jemima Khan’s Instinct Productions, as well as a royal drama based on the Queen’s art collection with The X Factor producer Syco.
ABC has given the Heather Graham-led drama The Hypnotist’s Love Story a formal pilot order, reports Variety.
Graham will star in and executive produce the project. In the show, after a string of failed romances, successful hypnotherapist Ellen is optimistic about her current boyfriend. ABC gave the project a put pilot commitment back in October.
The project is an adaptation of the Liane Moriarty book of the same name, with Moriarty attached as a producer. ABC Studios will produce.
Should the project go to series, it would be the latest work from best-selling Australian author Moriarty to be adapted for television. Most famously, HBO adapted Moriarty’s book Big Little Lies into an award-winning series starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. A second season of the show is currently in the works, with the plot based on an original idea by Moriarty.
Moriarty is repped by Intellectual Property Group, Curtis Brown Australia, and The Book Group.
Viewers had a bunch of questions as Channel Nine launched its debut broadcast of the Australian Open on Monday, reports The Age’s Neil McMahon.
Some of it related to the coverage: how would Nine do, taking over the summer tennis blitzkrieg captained by Channel Seven since the mid-1970s?
The last time Seven didn’t broadcast the Open, John McEnroe was in his early teens, Roger Federer was not even born, and Rod Laver was still an active player. On Monday night, Federer was playing on a court named for Laver, who sat a few feet away on the sidelines.
In the intervening years, Seven has owned our summer-of-tennis traditions – and Nine left most of them in tact. They relentlessly hammered promotion of the Australian players, and promotion of their up-and-coming programs; they delivered familiar faces and voices like Todd Woodbridge – on his way to becoming the Bert Newton of tennis coverage; they also added a welcome new voice with commentary booth star Jelena Dokic.