Paper review: Digital turn-off, tightened belts and dissing Murdoch

It’s not a good week for Australia’s great digital switch on, if today’s media and marketing sections are to be believed.  

In digital radio, Austereo’s plans for Pink Radio have hit the slight snag that they didn’t get round to asking the artist’s permission, reports The Australian. As a further blow, the ABC has scaled back its plans for new digital radio services after failing to get Budget funding, says the paper.

And in digital TV, the only service unique to Freeview – Ten’s sports channel One – is going to be available on Foxtel from July 1, says The Oz.

Sticking with broadcasting, Commercial Radio Australia is not amused by the Press Council’s proposals to widen its remit to radio and online. Joan Warner, the CRA’s CEO uses the Oz to send a get-your-tanks-off-our-lawn message to the Press Council.

Meanwhile, the Matthew Johns scandal continues to reverberate, with the National Rugby League in full damage control with its sponsors. But, says The Australian, Johns could be back in a commentating role before the end of the season.

The paper also has a couple of stories covering both ends of advertising expense.

It reveals that the long awaited advertising extravaganza to relaunch VB has seen Ballarat virtually taken over for the shoot. The ad is probably the most anticipated since the unveiling of the first work for the CBA by US agency Goodby Silverstein, which received a great deal of initial hostility. It will also be the first major work from Droga5 Sydney, which has had a very low profile since David Nobay left Saatchi & Saatchi to set it up.

Meanwhile at the other end of the media budget, the paper reveals that a small YouTube campaign for software company Lawson has been paying dividends.

There are also various signs of belt tightening. The Oz reports that media regulator ACMA is closing some of its regional offices. And it says that Aegis is to close its OneDigital brand and streamline it into the Isobar network.

And over in the Australian Financial Review, Neil Shoebridge reports that his boss, Fairfax Media CEO Brian McCarthy, sees further tough times ahead. He tells him: “Unlike Rupert Murdoch, I can’t sit here and say the worst is over.” Shoebridge also talks to Kevin Roberts, global CEO of ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. Roberts also tells him that Murdoch was wrong, saying: “This is not a recession or a depression; it’s a catastrophe.”

And Murdoch is not the only News Corp exec on the Shoebridge radar. He flags up Chris Mitchell, the big-haired editor of The Australian, who last week told Sky Business that the paper’s ads had been holding up. Not so, says Shoebridge – pointing to 17% drop in the number of ads in the paper.

Meanwhile Shoebridge’s word of the day is lacklustre. The Nova network has a “lacklustre four month old drive time program,” says Shoebridge. And Nine’s Home Made had a “lacklustre debut”.

Speaking of lacklustre, the Fin also examines last week’s magazine readership figures, flagging up as particularly concerning ACP’s NW (down 26.5%) and PacMags’ Famous (down 17.1%).

Tim Burrowes


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