Digest: No fourth TV network; Telstra’s set-top box; The SMH redesign; Mediacom faces David Jones pitch; short-lived TV

It’s nice to see that The Australian’s new boss for its Media section is leading from the front for his first edition in charge.  

Geoff Elliott, who was announced as the new editor of Media on Saturday, seizes the lead with a decent tale. He reports that media minister Stephen Conroy has privately told free TV bosses that they’re off the hook, and he won’t be allowing a fourth commercial channel which would have competed with them for revenue.

 This is particularly significant, because there’s been speculation that Conroy was using that threat as a bargaining point to make sure the networks supported the digital switchover to free up spectrum. So don’t be too surprised if Seven finally launches its digital offering as a result.

Another significant move for the TV industry comes with The Oz’s revelation that Telstra is to roll out its own set-top box, called the T-box, aimed at delivering content to its BigPond online customers. This will be a move that will potentially make the telco – which already has a 50% stake in Foxtel – an even bigger media player than before. Mind you, speaking purely as a punter, while the technology may be superior, personally I’d rather drink my own bathwater than ever conduct a phone conversation with BigPond’s “customer services” again.

Speaking of Telstra, another good yarn features theinside track on how ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel brought in the CEOs of the three major telcos to bash their heads together over dodgy advertising.

One other item worth a read is an opinion piece by eMitch bigwig John Murray, who argues:

“Ultimately, retail marketing is measured by sales. To date, the digital industry has failed to provide retailers with hard evidence that the online space can bring customers (and their wallets) into stores.”

There’s some breaking news in the Australian Financial Review today. David Jones is putting its media account to pitch. According to the AFR, this is because of therecent changes in the Mediacom management team. The paper points out that so far this year, Mediacom has lost Westpac, Westfield and Nokia.

AFR Sept 21And the AFR’s also been turning to crowd sourcing, offering readers Mont Blanc pens to those who come up with the best ad. The winner was Nigel Webb for “$3 stimulus package”.

Also in the Fin, comes news of McDonald’s own stimulus package. The fast food giant’s premium Angus burgers have been the most successful launch in the company’s history. Speaking as a punter, they’re pretty good.

The paper has also compiled an entertaining league table of the shortest-lived shows of the year before they got taken off the air or bumped from prime time. They are:

  1. Dance Your Ass Off, Nine, one episode
  2. Harper’s Island, Ten, two episodes
  3. Worst Week, Ten, two episodes
  4. Trouble In Paradise, Nine, three episodes
  5. Flashpoint, Nine, three episodes
  6. Gangs Of Oz, Seven, five episodes
  7. Eleventh Hour, Nine, five episodes

Back at The Oz, there’s some advice for Fairfax. Apparently advertisers would like The Age to follow the lead of its stablemate The Sydney Morning Herald which reformatted to a tabloid business and sport section today. It may not have escaped your notice that The Australian is also a broadsheet.

And what to make of the new look SMH? It’s a step forward, in my view. As much as anything for the boring practical reason that it’s now going to be possible to read on the bus. But it also feels like a half-way point. As a punter, the sooner it makes the full leap to tabloid size, the better. I reckon once the readers are used to it, that’s exactly what’ll happen.

Inside the SMH, The Guide has been enterprising. It put a transcript of a Kyle Sandilands rant in front of an unnamed psychologist. The diagnosis makes for the quote of the day:

“He displays symptoms associated with narcissistic or borderline personality disorder. He has such a fragile sense of self that when he’s challenged or feels a loss of face, he becomes highly agitated and loses rational control”.


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