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Media briefs: Hywood’s salary… ad-nauseam… APN spinoff…

Is Greg Hywood really the best-paid media executive? And other media tidbits of the day.

Fat cats and gossip mongers. Far be it from Crikey to come to the aid of Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood, but this morning’s sledging of Hywood’s remuneration in The Australian’s media pages needs some context. The column, jointly authored by Darren Davidson and Sharri Markson, claimed that Hywood “is in line to become the highest-paid boss of an Australian media company, with share options worth a staggering $16 million at current prices”.

It’s a pity Shaz and Daz didn’t do it a bit more research, or they might have stumbled across the remuneration report in the Nine Entertainment company’s annual profit filing with the ASX. There, on page 19, they would have discovered that Nine CEO Dave Gyngell (James Packer’s pugilistic partner) received a total of $19.6 million in salary, a bonus (worth $5.5 million alone) and initial public offering (IPO or float) incentives in the year to June 30. Besides the bonus and salary, Gyngell also received $11.6 million worth of pre-IPO share incentives and rights. And then there was the $2.5 million pre-IPO cash bonus, worth almost as much as the cash salary he was paid for the year of $2.6 million (with a similar sized bonus). So by our reckoning, Big Dave’s $19.6 million in total remuneration beats what Greg Hywood might receive from his Fairfax Media share rights. A cornucopia all round in a dying industry — and how much does News Corp’s co-chairmen Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch receive?  — Glenn Dyer

Ad nauseam. Between 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Sundays, channels Nine, Seven and Ten can go well above the 15 minutes per hour in “non-program matter” advocated under the industry’s voluntary advertising rules. The finding comes from an investigation conducted by The Daily Telegraph, which added up the number of ads and other non-program matter airing on the three commercial networks on August 24. It found viewers were forced to watch ads totalling up to 17 minutes per hour.

On Channel Ten, there were 132 ads in total aired over 46 minutes in the three-hour block. Seven put to air 91 paid ads, as well as 22 in-house plugs for its shows that totalled 44 minutes. At one point, Seven made viewers wait 4 minutes and 15 seconds for the resumption of the show — the longest ad-break of the night. Nine, meanwhile, aired 40 minutes of ads.

Questions remain at SBS. SBS staff gathered at 10am today to hear an announcement from managing director Michael Ebeid. However, Crikey hears there was “nothing sexy” in the presentation, with staff merely run through the network’s current programming, budget, financials and the like. It was a bit anti-climactic, as staff have been wondering how any upcoming budget cuts would affect the multicultural broadcaster, after the government flagged “significant” budget reductions on Friday (to Crikey’s understanding, the ABC’s cuts could amount to 10% of its operating budget). SBS operates on a shoestring, so it would feel any budget cuts more acutely than the ABC.

Before the meeting, SBS insiders told us they were expecting those employed in the broadcast and playout teams (technicians responsible for putting the content to air) might be let go as part of a restructure. Crikey understands some technical staff have already been given the sack as their managers meet with the ABC to figure out what functions can be shared across the two networks. Such integration was one of the Lewis Review’s suggestions for boosting efficiency at both SBS and the ABC. Crikey will be keeping an eye on further developments in this area. — Myriam Robin

APN spinning off NZ assets. Irish-controlled APN News and Media is on the way to spinning off part of its New Zealand-based print and radio operations into a company to be listed on the country’s stock exchange, or it could sell the company to a collection of local investors.

APN said this morning the move would include the NZ Herald, the Herald on Sunday, digital services, regional and community papers, all of its radio assets and all of the online daily deal site, GrabOne. APN is expected to start talking to possible investment partners, and the timing of any possible deal or IPO is yet to be determined. APN is expected to remain a major shareholder if an IPO takes place, and the new company would have its own board.

This move would leave APN concentrating on its Australian print and radio assets. They were boosted by the buyout of its American partner Clear Channel in the Australian Radio Network and TRN in New Zealand for $246.5 million this year. That helped return APN to profit in the six months to December. If the move happens, attention will turn to what Fairfax Media intends to do with its New Zealand media assets, especially its collection of newspapers.  —  Glenn Dyer

Headless yarns. A Labor party figure had his election to the Moreland City Council partly paid for by an alleged Calabrian mafia boss, the front page of The Age tells us this morning. But who wrote the scoop? There’s no byline on either the front page or the continued story on page 6, though the email at the end suggests it was a Nick McKenzie investigation.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Ever taped, then edited those programs on TV? A 30 minute show is 20 minutes without ads, an hour program is 40 minutes. So 3 hours is actually one hour of floss.
    Get Murdoch’s FUXTEL - and you get to pay for the ads, after the sponsors have too.

  • 2
    SusieQ
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Viewers are not ‘forced’ to watch any of those ads or the crappy programs in between - there is the ‘record’ button, the ‘mute’ button and the ‘change channels’ button, all of which means you never have to watch an ad again.

  • 3
    Scott Grant
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I presume the boffins in charge at these TV channels do know just how many viewers they put off by their contemptuous and contemptible behaviour. I guess their remaining viewers are deserving of their disrespect.

    I am willing to sit through a few ads, reasonably spaced, if I find a program worth watching. These days I hardly ever watch commercial television. Both because of the lack of watchable programs, and because of the utter disregard for viewers.

    A while ago, I noticed several programs where ad breaks and length increased as the program developed towards a climax, until it was 5 minutes (or less) of program followed by 5 minutes (or more) of ads, and repeat. I stopped watching.

    These days, I have noticed that whole advertising campaigns can completely pass me by, until I read about it, indirectly, somewhere. There are probably others I have no knowledge of whatsoever.

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