All eyes have been on Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media and the Bauer household initially of the 12 months as they waited to see whether or not the competitors regulator would permit the nation’s two greatest journal publishers to merge. After months of uncertainty, the $40 million deal was accredited and have become the primary asset sale beneath Seven boss James Warburton, who remains to be hoping to promote transmission tower firm TX Australia, which it owns with 9 Leisure Co, Seven’s studios division and its digital ventures corporations similar to Airtasker and SocietyOne.
However the sale of Pacific Magazines to Bauer got here at a price to readers. The deal coincided with the pandemic, resulting in mass job cuts and the closures of some well-known manufacturers, together with NW, OK! Harper’s BAZAAR and Elle.
The closure of the magazines was solely the start. In Might Information Corp introduced it will cease printing 112 neighborhood and regional mastheads, which affected virtually 1000 jobs. Some have been revived in digital kind however the Wentworth Courier, The North Shore Occasions and the Mosman Day by day have been among the many few to outlive the print minimize. Antony Catalano’s Australian Group Media adopted go well with and completely shut a few of its newspapers.
Suspension of main sports activities competitions prompted a number of rounds of redundancies at Foxtel whereas Seven, determined for money, minimize greater than 50 jobs and made its workers take a 20 per cent pay minimize, to deal with market situations. It was an unlucky 12 months for journalism as a result of the ABC was already anticipating greater than 200 job cuts as a result of an indexation freeze by the federal authorities. Goodbye to the 7:45am radio information bulletin and ABC Life.
However it was not all doom and gloom for Australian Related Press, the newswire that was going to be shut down in February after its main shareholders 9 (proprietor of this masthead) and Information Corp determined it was now not commercially viable. Whereas some jobs have been misplaced, it was rescued by a gaggle of philanthropists and traders led by former Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh – a optimistic final result for a sector in any other case decimated by the pandemic.
Mr Tonagh was additionally concerned in one other small win for the sector – the sale of embattled theme park and cinema operator Village Roadshow regardless of dissent from one of many firm’s greatest impartial shareholders, Mittleman Brothers.
The COVID-19 impact
Most media corporations claimed mass redundancies that occurred in the course of the pandemic weren’t the results of the disaster itself, however an acceleration of what was to return in a number of years’ time. The business, which has struggled to function with a drop-off in promoting income lately, accelerated cost-cutting to enhance liquidity.
Others checked out various measures. Southern Cross Austereo, which runs Hit Community and Triple M, oOh! Media and Seven raised capital and negotiated new offers with financial institution lenders. In addition they lowered the quantity of hours workers have been working and in some situations minimize pay.
One other manner media corporations seemed to chop prices was by renegotiating sports activities rights. 9, Seven and Foxtel struck offers with sports activities such because the AFL, NRL, rugby union and cricket after the pandemic prompted competitions to be delayed. These negotiations will proceed within the new 12 months.
However there have been additionally adjustments to the best way the business works. Tv and radio hosts and newspaper executives learnt easy methods to run their packages and mastheads from the confines of their very own properties. For the primary time, the business was working remotely – and efficiently.
Government and expertise adjustments
There have been loads of movers and shakers in 2020 and most have been unrelated to the pandemic. Ten boss Paul Anderson resigned in March after almost 20 years with the community. Months later Nova Leisure boss Cath O’Connor, who was main the corporate that owns Easy FM and Nova FM, introduced her resignation earlier than being revealed at soon-to-be new chief government of billboard firm oOh! Media. oOh! Media’s founder Brendon Cook dinner introduced his resignation earlier than the pandemic started.
Because the 12 months drew to an in depth 9 boss Hugh Marks introduced his plans to go away the corporate after greater than 5 years as chief government, revealing his relationship with the corporate’s former industrial director, Alexi Baker.
There have been additionally main expertise adjustments. 2GB radio host Alan Jones introduced his shock retirement after 35 years on the prime of the talkback radio scores, whereas Community Ten’s well-known tv hosts similar to Tim Bailey, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Joe Hildebrand have been amongst these minimize as a part of adjustments to the broadcaster’s newsroom.
Different tales that modified the panorama
The battle of the streaming giants didn’t disappoint in the course of the 12 months. Competitors for eyeballs was already heating up after the launch of Disney in late 2019, however Foxtel’s resolution to launch its personal leisure streaming service Binge heightened tensions.
The launch prompted tit-for-tat negotiations for WarnerMedia and HBO content material, which resulted in a multimillion-dollar cope with Foxtel. Rival Stan, which is owned by 9, introduced its transfer into reside sports activities streaming after securing the rights to the rugby union and late final week Disney+ introduced plans to develop its providing with the 20th Century Fox and FX exhibits similar to Logan, The Kingsman and Household Man to launch on its platform. ViacomCBS additionally introduced plans to launch Paramount+ within the new 12 months, a transfer that may finally imply Foxtel and Stan lose extra content material.
At one level it seemed like Foxtel’s house owners Telstra and Information Corp had a manner out of the debt-ridden pay-TV firm, with a US particular function acquisition firm led by cable TV veteran Leo Hindery providing to wipe its debt, however the firm stated no.
The combat between media shops and the tech giants Google and Fb reached its peak. On the top of the pandemic Treasurer Josh Frydenberg introduced plans to legally pressure the 2 platforms to pay information organisations to be used of their content material by means of the creation of a information media bargaining code. The proposed legal guidelines have been tabled in Parliament earlier this month however already Google boss Melanie Silva has opposed the plans. Fb introduced earlier this 12 months it will take away information content material from its platform in response to a draft model, however it’s unclear whether or not they’ll comply with by means of with the menace.
Tensions between the ABC chair Ita Buttrose and the federal authorities are additionally at their peak after a tough 12 months. Excluding a combat over funding which led to a significant ABC restructure, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher thrice received himself concerned within the nationwide broadcaster’s resolution making processes – proposing a transfer of workers headquarters to the outskirts of Sydney, asking for pay rises to be paused and requesting a “please clarify” a few 4 Corners episode which investigated the behaviour of politicians Alan Tudge and Legal professional-Basic Christian Porter.
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Zoe Samios is a media and telecommunications reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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