Oz media ed is ABC’s new PR flack. Fresh from presiding over The Australian‘s ongoing criticism of all things ABC, recently appointed media editor Nick Leys has been poached by Aunty to head its media relations team. The move is doubly surprising given Leys was only appointed to the role of media editor two weeks ago — Chris Mitchell is reportedly fuming over the defection.
Leys joins a stream of media reporters to leave News Corp in recent months. Amanda Meade, previously at the Oz’s media section for 18 years, took her leave in November 2012. Shortly before her, young gun Nic Christensen defected to Mumbrella, and former media editor Nick Tabakoff left in December and now spins for the Commonwealth Bank. With the shifting out of Geoff Elliott (business editor) and Stephen Brook (now A Plus editor), the Monday spread is looking for its sixth editor in five years. — Myriam Robin
The rising fortunes of REA Group. News Corporation should be thanking its lucky stars for the Reserve Bank of Australia, whose low interest rates have pumped up the property market and sent the profits of real estate listings site realestate.com.au souring. Yesterday’s decision by the central bank to keep rates on hold, as expected, was cheered at News and its 62% owned online property advertising arm, REA Group.
The latest half-year results from REA Group show a 37% boost in net profit, on a 30% rise in sales, meaning the gross profit margin climbed over 50%. Interim dividend was lifted 38% to 22 cents a share. It’s a rare cash geyser at News Corp. On that measure REA Group is as profitable as the big four banks, if not more. In fact, analysts here and in the United States consider REA Group to be one of the rare growth businesses in the dead tree company that News Corp is at heart — Foxtel and Fox Sports will have a miserable year because of the loss of Big Bash cricket to Ten.
The 30% rise in revenue (to more than $209 million) and the $38 million jump in net profit (to $70 million after tax and $106 million on an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation basis) will make REA one of the stars of the News Corp second-quarter and December half-year report when it’s released Friday morning, our time. — Glenn Dyer
Jobs to go at Time. For the second time in a year Time Inc is cutting staff. The faltering magazine giant, which is due to split from its parent Time Warner in the next couple of months, overnight revealed plans to eliminate 500 jobs. A year ago last month, Time Inc cut 6% of its staff, or 480 jobs, as it prepared then for the spin-off, which has taken a long time in coming.
An unexpected extra cut late in 2013 was the then-CEO Laura Lang, who fell out with management of the parent company and missed the top job at the about-to-be-independent company. A memo from new CEO Joe Ripp to staff said the company was eliminating the three operating units — news and sports, lifestyle, and entertainment — that have housed its stable of titles such as popular magazines Sports Illustrated and People (which is now the company’s biggest selling and most popular title). This structure was put in place six years and a couple of CEOs ago.
Time Warner will report its fourth-quarter and 2013 results tonight, our time. US media reports suggest the cuts were made known ahead of that report to ease what is expected to be weak numbers. In its third quarter, overall revenues fell 2% to around $US818 million, with circulation revenue down 4% and ad revenue off 2%. Profit fell to $US116 million for the quarter from $US126 million in the third quarter of 2012. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. The ever-classy New York Daily News has done a breakdown of the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s New York apartment …