Paper review: Sky News goes local; Westacott goes west; Just like 24?; Group M makes nice

Today is a very strange Monday indeed.

There’s no story in the Australian Financial Review from Neil Shoebridge about TV trading. Indeed, there’s no story from Shoebridge at all. Instead the marketing section (just two pages this week) is edited by Damon Kitney.  

His focus is on Sky News. According to Kitney, who’s been talking to Sky News boss Angelos Frangopoulos, the channel is to launch localised red button news services for Australia’s capital cities.

And here’s a little dog-that-didn’t-bark conspiracy theory for you. Saturday’s The Prince column of the AFR carried an unsourced item suggesting that talk have taken place to put Sky News on Freeview. Curiously, Frangopoulos isn’t asked about this in Kitney’s piece. A suspicious person might wonder about the source of Saturday’s tidbit.

We have to turn to The Australian for our weekly dose of Group M TV-buying intrigue. Following weeks of rumours about bad relations between Group M – the buying arm of WPP agencies – and media owners, Mediacom Brisbane MD Nicole Body is in conciliatory mode, with an opinion piece about how both sides need to be winners in a negotiation.

Still with TV, and The Australia’s media editor Jane Schulze has arguably the biggest story of the day with the retirement of John Westacott, Nine’s director of news and current affairs. And her interview with him is good value indeed, producing his criticism of Nine’s management mistakes:

“There’s a Harvard case study in how to muck up an unassailable business. We were in an unassailable ratings positions, we were market leader as far as advertising went and we mucked it up through a lot of bad management decisions.”

Plus news on the digitisation of Nine’s news operation and even a story in the paper’s general news section offering new insight into packer’s involvement – or lack of it – in the infamous Paul Keating piggery story.

Robert Morgan – chairman of the Clemenger Group – has another passionately argued column for The Oz. This time he warns about the growing clutter in TV ad breaks.

And Washington correspondent Brad Norington wins the award for trying hardest to make a dullish story sound interesting. Writing about the US switchover from analogue to digital TV signals, he breathlessly begins “It sounded like a script line from the high-paced Kiefer Sutherland action drama 24.” Calm down, Brad. No it didn’t.

 Also on the front page of The Oz’s Media section is the revelation from Simon Canning that the ALP is probably looking for a new agency.

Meanwhile a PR push by Vegemite to launch a new variant – blended with cream cheese – is all over this morning’s media. The public are being invited to take part in a competition to name it. Funnily enough, an item in Sydney’s Morning Herald today examines whether consumer-generated advertising is getting tired.


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