Digest: Details dribble out on Nine’s digital channel; News Ltd’s pay wall plans; and the red meat ape. Plus spooky times at the AFR

While every journo loves a scoop, the nature of many news stories is that the detail dribbles out a little at a time.  

That’s certainly the theme with today’s newspaper Media & Marketing sections.

Arguably the most entertaining story of the day is Lara Sinclair’s coverage of Nine and NineMSN’s plans in The Australian. That’s not so much because of the subject matter – Nine’s long-expected digital general entertainment channel, but because of Nine CEO David Gyngell’s bombastic  comments.

He’s got harsh but amusing words on Ten and its digital sports channel One:

“One is the red-haired stepchild of sports rights. It’s the stuff that no one wants.”

“Ten has come home like a bullet but that bullet stops in two weeks (when MasterChef ends). They’ll go back from being Superman to being Clark Kent.”

Indeed, there’s still not much detail on the channel, which seems to be called Go! or possible Go!99 – although Gyngell argues that it will rate better than One. However, NineMSN does reveal some plans to push its video content. But full shows from the US won’t be available for a couple of years yet, while the 6pm Nine News and Today show have already started live streaming.

Telling us a bit more about what we already knew is also a theme in the Australian Financial Review today, where the highlight is a photograph of Harold Mitchell (which tragically isn’t available online) standing on a darkened street corner. Never has the phrase “I wouldn’t want to meet him coming down a dark alley,” seemed quite as apt. But the picture is to illustrate what we probably already knew – that there’s not much hope of growing adspend until 2010.

The X-Files seems to be the other theme of the AFR today. As well as the sinister pic of Mitchell, we’ve got a “strange twist” in the Vodafone media review, according to journalist Neil “Spooky” Shoebridge. And an “odd” market update from Nine.

The Vodafone story reminds us that the Australian media pitch is still, kind of, going on, but with the the added impetus of Vodafone’s global review. The new twist is that the UK-based Vodafone execs seem to be more forthcoming than the local people (who are busy implementing the merger with 3). But according to Shoebridge, “the Australian review has been ugly, with one of the competing agencies spreading rumours about senior executives at another shortlisted agency”. As the same page sees Shoebridge quote both PHD boss Barry O’Brien and the aforementioned Mitchell who are both in the race, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to narrow down his source on that one.

Still on the subject of updates on stuff we knew already, Shoebridge informs us that the Government hasn’t moved forward on a “use it or lose it” policy for free-to-air TV sports rights. And, says the AFR, the industry is still sceptical about Newspaper Works’ plans for a new industry currency. And Roy Morgan Research still won’t be tendering.

Back with The Oz, there’s a good yarn on Meat And Livestock Australia’s new campaign to promote red meat, featuring a return for Sam Neill. According to Simon Canning, MLA has moved outside The Campaign Palace the first time in nearly 25 years for a red meat campaign. Instead, the marketing body has turned to former Campaign Palace staff for the ad, which involves Neill dancing with an ape. MLA boss David Thomason cited the turbulent staff turnover at Y&R Brands’ Campaign Palace as the reason for looking elsewhere.

And columnist Mark Day returns to the subject of News Ltd boss John Hartigan’s much-reported speech on the future of journalism last week. He says that the blogosphere’s reaction to Harto’s description of blogs as offering  “such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance” was predictable. But more tantalising is the hint that Day – a former editor-in-chief of The Australian who remains, one assumes, well connected within the News Ltd hierarchy – drops that decisions are imminent on what the company may put behind a pay wall. He says: “I think we’ll hear more about that very soon.” I think another small detail just dribbled out.

Tim Burrowes


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