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26 February 2011

Aussie Media Wars: Murdoch Jr Heads Ten; Nine On Guard, by Greg Tingle - 26th February 2011

G'day everyone. It's the Australian media wars, that ugly cousin to the Australian gambling wars, largely dominated by Crown Limited top top brass James Packer, who also happens to be a major stake holder in Network Nine, and good mates with Nine Entertainment Co chief, David Gyngell. Media Man and Gambling911 with your news media fix for the weekend...

Network Ten New Boss Lachlan Murdoch Looking To Fill His Shoes; Bean Counting...

The new acting chief exec of Ten Network Holdings, Lachlan Murdoch... yep, that one, no the old guard, is looking for a new and steady CEO, so he can focus on what he is supposed be doing. Murdoch Jr has been a Ten director since December and took over the posy last Wednesday after Ten's board lost confidence in CEO Grant Blackley. It is believed Murdoch has lined up an appointment with at least one suitable person into the new week. Profit is the name of the game, while they also look to cuts costs where possible, and maintain some quality. Can't let the image slip too much hey. There's not a lot of suitable folks around to run Ten, but rest assured they will find their man (or woman). Funny enough ten's largest shareholder, WIN Corporation owner Bruce Gordon, went on record with News Limited back in December with "If Ten tomorrow wanted a new program director instead of Blackley, we couldn't find one. It's a private club." Seven Media Group's chief sales and digital officer James Warburton is considered a chance since his contract is up for renewal. Channel Seven's CEO David Leckie's contract runs out in June 2012, but Seven leaks state he will remain at the channel beyond that. SMG is the subject of a $4.1 billion takeover offer from West Australian Newspapers. Murdoch sits on the board of News Corporation which has interests in pay-television group Foxtel, and also chairs DMG Radio Australia. His private investment company Illyria also has an interest in Prime Media Group. He gained television experience working for News in the US, but has made it known he does not want to be Ten's CEO for long. The power four shareholders Murdoch, Gordon, James Packer and Gina Rinehart - currently hold 42% of Ten between them. Not all the board is happy with the full on digital strategy which sees Ten also having a Channel 11. Ten chairman Brian Long announced a strategic review run by Murdoch and said no concrete decisions had been made. Analysts and sources close to the board believe it is only a matter of time. "We believe some of the options include giving the existing strategy more time, scrapping the news programming and returning the primary channel to the low-cost network it has historically been or changing the format of One HD away from a niche sports channel, given its ratings share has remained around 1-1.5 per cent," said Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Anagnostellis. Citigroup's Justin Diddams went on record with "The return to a youth audience strategy appears sensible but the additional programming costs make it difficult to execute. The cost of running a TV network has increased, and it's impacted Ten's earnings."

Aussie News Media, Fun And Games, And Power Relationships...

The Aussie news media rumour mill has been running hot with email leaks and phones, if not phone taps, being the order of the day. Ok, we might be thinking of The News Of The World scandal, but the hot news might be reason to try to tap phones for some. Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer are both in the think of the action as far as taking action to get people talking. Grant Blackley is no longer on the team at Ten. What a difference a few weeks makes. Packer mate David Gyngell is understood to have got a call from Ten, plus a face to fact joke about watching his back re media shuffles close to home. Could 'Gyng' join Ten so soon? Not likely, but in this business it can be a never say never. The cleaning house at Ten is understood to have got the green light from shareholders Bruce Gordon and Gina Rinehart. Now get this, Kerry Stokes was even welcomed on a tour of Foxtel's headquarters late last year at the invitation of Packer. He had a large legal case going on with Telstra Telstra, News Limited and Packer's Consolidated Media, but its history now. Packer and Stokes even spent some time at Xmas at Stokes's ski resort in Colorado, US of A. Foxtel's CEO Kim Williams and Austar's John Porter even caught a flight together to Colorado where they touched the flesh with US cable hot shot John Malone. Maybe a merger between Foxtel and Austar could be in the works? What to become of Australia's National Broadband Network? Well, big media companies want it to work for them. Telstra and Foxtel reached agreement last month for the latter to start providing content to Telstra's T-Box digital recorder. Fairfax seems to be a bit of a white elephant in the room at the moment. Yes, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and thei 30 or 40 new media websites, but the direction does not look totally clear, and little presence in mainstream TV. Mind you, Media Man only had YouTube TV, and that didn't stop profitability and maintaining a strong brand. Folks, you know the drum, don't change your dial. You might just miss something, in a business that often moves faster than the speed of sound!

Online Casinos, Online Poker and Sports Betting...

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Australian Casinos

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*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen sectors covered

*The writer owns shares in Network Ten, Crown Limited and Virgin

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