SBS confirms in-house ad change. Yesterday we had the story on how SBS was thinking about bringing its ad sales in-house and away from their ad representative for 19 years, the Sydney-based Stenmark Organisation. Today, SBS confirmed it was doing that in rather an interesting, but financially painful (for Stenmark) way.

SBS and The Stenmark Organisation today announced the Sydney and Melbourne television and online sales functions will move in-house at SBS effective from 1 July 2009.

SBS has been in discussions with its external sales agency The Stenmark Organisation about a variation to the current model for its television and online sales team.

Stenmark will continue to represent SBS in the Queensland, South Australian and West Australian markets, while the Stenmark sales teams in Sydney and Melbourne will become part of SBS.

Stenmark says it will continue to work with SBS in an advisory capacity “for a number of years”. Given that most of the advertising comes out of agencies and buying groups in Sydney and Melbourne, SBS has grabbed the overwhelming majority of Stenmark’s business. Qld, South Australia and WA don’t matter. It’s chicken feed, mainly local advertisers with small accounts.

SBS was after the revenue stream that Stenmark was making from representing SBS and the only way to do that was to grab the sales groups responsible for the two biggest markets: Sydney and Melbourne. It brings SBS closer to these big buying groups.

ITV slashes jobs. “Debt TV” has spread to the UK, where the ITV commercial network is cutting another 600 jobs (after 1000 cut late last year) and plans are afoot to slash drama and expensive TV productions 40% over the next year. Movies and series like A Touch of Frost will all be casualties as ITV struggles with falling operating profits, an expected 20% drop in ad revenues for its main digital channel in Britain and a total loss of 2.7 billion pounds, or more than $A5.5 billion.

Further, it scrapped its final dividend to save money and abandoned its previous content-driven strategy and 2012 revenue and profit targets. Programming budgets will be cut deeply and ITV will look for more entertainment programs, which are considerably cheaper than drama, to fill its nightly schedules. At least one hour a week less drama will be broadcast. That means more game shows and studio-based entertainment, like talent quests, etc.

London media reports earlier in the week revealed that ITV and the Setanta satellite channel are delaying payments or trying to reschedule payments on their contracts with the Football Association. Setanta has a 150 million pound deal, with ITV 275 million pounds. ITV reckons that contract is a loss-maker, hence the 50 million pound charge to profit and loss. That’s a bit rich though, taking future losses into the accounts before they can be incurred. The Telegraph in London reported this week that Setanta had been due to make a payment of more than 10 million pounds this week, but withheld the money as it attempts to renegotiate the terms of their deal.

ITV is trying to reschedule their payments because of cash flow problems. They are trying to spread the payments over the life of the contract instead of there being a series of large payments early on. The Football Association has a four-year, 425 million pound deal with the broadcasters, which began this season. It was signed in 2007 when times were more affluent in TV.

O’Mara leaved Freehand. Chris O’Mara, one of the three founding partners of Freehand Productions alongside Peter Abbott and John Gregory, has decided to leave the company after five years. In a statement yesterday he said:

The opportunity presents itself for me to consider other options or stay on board for another five years. The timing is right for me to move on from the partnership we established five years ago and in terms of Freehand it couldn’t be in better shape to continue its growth and impact on the Australian production industry.

Freehand Productions began as a three-way partnership in February 2004 and then in 2007, BBC Worldwide announced it was taking a 25% equity interest in the company. It has grown in that time to be a significant industry producer dealing with all the commercial networks and PAY TV on a wide range of projects. In 2008 Freehand produced 80 hours of Australian programming for the free-to-air networks. In 2009, the slate looks equally impressive with a confirmed production line-up including: Dancing With The Stars series 9 (Seven Network); Top Gear series 2 (SBS); The Nest series 2 (SBS); Missing Persons Unit Series 5 (Nine Network) and Bush Slam (ABC).

The truth from Ten. Ten says Lie To Me hasn’t been rested, it hasn’t gone to God: it will be back next week because it is is being fast tracked from the US and Fox didn’t show it last week. It is back next week. — Glenn Dyer 

Reruns hit the Tele. It seems the cutbacks at the Daily Telegraph sports section have finally come back to haunt them. On the inside back page they have a new section, “Sports Confidential”, and one of the features is a three or four question Q & A with a sports figure. Problem is, for the second time this week, readers have been greeted today with the same interview — with former Rugby League boss Ken Arthurson! How does someone not notice that? — Anonymous Crikey reader

Rugged Christian women on RSVP. Another Fairfax screwup, taken from The Age‘s website today. I don’t think the picture for RSVP quite corresponds to the caption:

Crikey reader Kirill Reztsov

Oz‘s Michael West moves to SMH, SMH‘s Alan Oakley moves to The Oz. Fairfax Media will seek further efficiencies on the business desks of its newspapers after appointing new business editors to its Sydney and Melbourne flagship newspapers … The shake-up is the latest attempt by Fairfax management to gain better co-operation between the business desks of its Sydney and Melbourne papers and their online arm. — The Australian

ABC digital radio launch stifled. ABC Radio confirmed today that the May 1 2009 target for the digital launch will not be met, with the date pushed back to July 2009 … The public broadcaster admitted that funding confirmation delays pushed back equipment orders and the commencement of infrastructure installation, preventing an earlier rollout. — Digital Media

Please sir, can we have some more, asks SBS’s Oliver. SBS is begging Kevin Rudd for money and has cast itself as a Charles Dickens character eating gruel and day-old bread asking a fat overseer for more. In an extraordinary speech, the multicultural broadcaster’s managing director, Shaun Brown, said SBS “lives hand to mouth” and needed significant extra government funding despite a small rise in revenue from advertising. — Sydney Morning Herald

Growth of BBC’s commercial arm to be curbed. Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, in effect called a halt yesterday to further expansion of BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial operation, which has mushroomed to match the size of the income generated by ITV. His decision is a response to intense criticism generated by the BBC’s £90 million takeover of the Lonely Planet travel guides, which critics said had little to do with the publicly funded broadcaster’s core purpose. — The Times

Financial Times staff to confront Marjorie Scardino over job cuts. Financial Times staff will tomorrow personally tell Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of parent company Pearson, that the company’s record profits mean there is no need for compulsory redundancies or a pay freeze. — The Guardian

Happy birthday, Time Warner. Enjoy it. Do you know what today is? It’s the 20th anniversary of Time Warner. The massive merger that created the media behemoth happened on March 4, 1989. Time Warner was the future! And now? Well, it’s not “the future” so much as… we wanted to say something more clever than “the past,” but in a sense it is “the past.” — Gawker

Is the media stopping us from seeing the real problems of Aboriginal health? As I sat in that Darling Harbour conference room, hearing earnest pronouncements about closing the gap in Aboriginal disadvantage, I thought about how media reporting had contributed to public health advances in other areas — from tobacco control, to road safety and alcohol. And I began to wonder whether Australia has any chance of achieving real change in Indigenous health if there are not some systematic and constructive efforts, by both Aboriginal health advocates and the media, to develop a more useful public debate. — Inside Story