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Media briefs: Seven results … medical dramas … revenge best served icy …

Reckon you’d be more efficient if you could only hear some typewriters? And other media tidbits of the day.

Seven West’s newspaper business takes a hit (good thing TV’s doing so well). It’s just not News Corp Australia and Fairfax which are seeing their newspapers being eaten alive by falling revenues and earnings. The annual profit report from Kerry Stokes’ dominated Seven West Media this morning reveals the rot has well and truly set in at West Australian newspapers in Perth, and at its Pacific Magazines business, which is based in Sydney.

Seven said that its newspaper division, led by The West Australian, saw revenue drop 12.4% in the year to June, to $265.4 million and earnings before interest and tax (EBITDA) drop 23.9% to $65.9 million. And Pacific Magazines, which publishes titles including New Idea, Better Homes and Gardens and Men’s Health, saw a 7.3% slide in revenues to $237.5 million, and an earnings before interest and tax fall 30.4% (ouch) to $20.4 million.

In contrast, Seven’s television EBITDA rose 5.2% to $336.2 million (thanks to the problems at the Ten network, actually). The company recorded a TV EBITDA margin of 25.7% which is still solid (not quite up there with the likes of the big banks and the iron ore miners, but it beats newspapers and magazines). Perhaps chairman Kerry Stokes should again explain the rationale for the complicated backdoor takeover of West Australian newspapers back in February 2011 for a total enterprise value (including debt of $4.1 billion. It now is looking like a right example of “Kerry’s Folly”, right up there with any number of deals done by Rupert Murdoch (say, paying 50% too much for the Dow Jones Co in the US in 2007). The Seven Network’s earnings and revenues now account for 70% of Seven West’s operations. So much for diversification. If TV should ever stumble, then this company has a real headache on its hands, and in the boardroom. The problems in print helped cut Seven West’s group revenue by 1.2% to $1.84 billion. The weakness in print is now having a noticeable impact on Seven West that TV can’t offset. — Glenn Dyer

Doctor, doctor, give me the news. Almost 20 years after the granddaddy of medical dramas, ER, premiered, American TV networks are hoping for more dreamy doctors, sensitive surgeons and naughty nurses. ER was one of the most important TV programs in US history (it had a good pedigree, being created by the late novelist Michael Crichton), and its first episode aired on NBC on September 19, 1994.

Now ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are on the hunt for new medical shows. CBS, which has a strong comedy slate (The Big Bang Theory), is weak in scripted dramas, and with medicine hot, is trying two new medical shows. The first is a medical drama set at a high-tech Silicon Valley hospital with a cutting-edge approach to medicine. Could we call it Dr Google, or Facebook MD?

The second CBS pilot is called Code Black, some of whose producers and writers were associated with Intelligence, which aired on CBS last season. The show takes its title from a code used in the emergency room of an urban hospital when the influx of patients is so great that the staff is too overwhelmed to treat them all and some might die.

A third medical project, 10 Beacon Hill, has been picked up by the ABC network. According to Deadline.com10 Beacon Hill is described as “a medical procedural/workplace ensemble about a brilliant team of doctors who take on the most difficult cases, led by a deeply compassionate medical genius with poor health habits of his own and his 17-year-old prodigy niece.”

And the fourth new series idea is called The Cure at Fox. It’s written by star New Yorker author and commentator Malcolm Gladwell and Medium creator Glenn Gordon Caron. The Cure is described as “a provocative, character-driven medical thriller about a young, impulsive African-American neurologist who decides to take the law into her own hands in the cause of tackling a deadly disease”. —  Glenn Dyer

Year-on-year analysis hides the real picture. On July 1 2013, the price of the 457 visa class rose between 200-800% (depending on the visa-holder’s personal circumstances). Meanwhile, current 457 visa holders can apply for a visa extension before their visa formally expires. So what would you expect to happen in the months leading up to July 1 2013? Why, what you saw in the figures — a huge spike in on-shore 457 visa applications (from an average of around 8,000 per month to nearly 14,000) as visa-holders sought to beat the price rise.

This seems to have been forgotten by some journalists reporting on the latest set of 457 visa figures, which showed a decline from the abnormally inflated rate in June 2013. As migration expert Henry Sherrell has outlined on his blog, both The Australian and SBS published articles on the latest government release of quarterly migration figures that entirely skipped this detail, thus giving their readers the wrong idea about why there was a massive 40% drop in 457 visa application numbers on the year before. It’s worth reading Sherrell’s post on the topic in full.

Revenge is a dish best served (ice) cold. What do you do when the media are out to get you? Generally, you sue. But not Essendon’s embattled coach James Hird. Instead, he’s nominated Oz columnist Patrick Smith for the ice bucket challenge.

Well, I’ve got a few friends in the media,” Hird said just before having ice and cold water dumped over his head (it miraculously missed his hair). “Patrick Smith comes to mind. So Patrick, we haven’t spoken for a while, but you’re next.” — Myriam Robin

Clack clack clack. Reckon you’d work better with typewriter noises in the background? The Times (the UK version) is trialling a looped typewriter soundtrack in their newsrooms to, according to The Independent, “increase energy levels and help reporters hit deadlines”. The sounds will grow from a single typewriter to dozens, speeding up all the time, as the paper’s print edition approaches press-time. We think it’s a crazy idea… who’s left in newsrooms that remembers typewriters anyway?

Front page of the day. Mourning in Ferguson as protests over Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police continue.

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  • 1
    Vincent O'Donnell
    Posted Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Re: Doctor, doctor, give me the news.

    I would have give the granddad award to Ben Casey an the great granddad award to Emergency Ward 10 (staring Bud Tingwell) myself.

  • 2
    Brian Williams
    Posted Wednesday, 27 August 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I would have thought Hirdy would have nominated Caroline Wilson as well. She’s been beyond feral in her attacks on him.

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