Dr Mumbo

Hugh Marks vs Fairfax: It’s great content

A lot can change in a week. Just ask the managing editor of The Australian Financial Review, Joanne Gray, who moderated a Think TV dinner panel this week featuring her “new boss” Nine CEO Hugh Marks.

Marks, keen as he was to talk about television, its effectiveness and the great work of Think TV, could not escape Gray’s questioning on the proposed merger – no matter how many times he tried instead to focus on “great content”.

Much to Dr Mumbo’s delight, Gray introduced Marks as “my new boss”, before Seven CEO Tim Worner heckled that Nine had gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the interviewer on the night was employed by the network.

Joanne Gray, Patrick Delany, Paul Anderson, Hugh Marks and Tim Worner

After trying valiantly to talk about the power of television, Marks was forced to respond to Gray’s question: “Will editors of the mastheads that you plan to buy, will they be empowered to make editorial calls totally on their own…?”

Marks replied:

Yea, look. [To bring it back to television], the one thing that television works is it’s great content. Great content brings engagement. Great content brings engagement, and draws an audience reaction and an emotional response. And that clearly works in television and it clearly applies in other mediums as well. And what you want in any medium is you want something that’s distinctive, that resonates with an audience in a way that the audience is engaged, and if that’s the case, then there’s an advertising possibility, and an effective one. So, you know, great content brings results – and that can apply as equally to print media in the new world, but obviously with television showing the numbers that it does up there [on the screen] in terms of its effectiveness. Will editors be able to [make their own calls]? Yea, we are really reliant on great editors doing great work. Great work leads to great results.

Gray was not yet satisfied and pushed: “And they’ll be empowered to make those editorial decisions….?”

Dr Mumbo delighted when Marks finally announced: “I’m out and proud, yes.”

But Gray had one more question, and it wasn’t about television.

Will Nine enter a bidding war if another Fairfax suitor emerges?

Marks, however, was all about “great content”.

I’ll respond with ‘Nice try’. I’m not going to get into discussing those sorts of things tonight. Tonight is about Think TV. It’s about television. I’ll certainly apply that to great content. We’re in the great television content business. Nine is now, has always been in the great content business as many of the people on the stage are today. I think those themes apply. Great content drives great engagement, drives great results for an advertising medium and if we provide more value to customers as part of that journey – which we all have to do as businesses – then I think that’s the future of all of our businesses.

Great content, indeed. Now, back to television…


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