Network Ten confirms Melbourne Cup rights

Network Ten and the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) have confirmed media reports from last week that they have signed an agreement that will see the Melbourne Cup Carnival live broadcast on Ten for five years from 2019.

It marks the return of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to Ten, which was previously telecast rights holder from 1978 to 2001 — and Ten’s interest and involvement in racing coverage dates back to its early days in the 1960s.

The deal, worth $100 million, gives Network Ten rights to broadcast live the four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival — AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day.

The agreement comprises a suite of Melbourne Cup Carnival media rights, including free to air TV, internet, social media, mobile, OTT (Over-The-Top) and HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) within Australia.

Network Ten has also agreed terms with to provide live coverage of all races across the Melbourne Cup Carnival on its channels and the app. The live vision streaming rights for Wagering Service Providers are excluded from the deal with Network Ten.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson welcomed the Cup’s move back to Ten: “During the comprehensive tender process Network Ten proved themselves to be the best partner to take us into the future. This partnership will extend the Melbourne Cup Carnival to be visible across the network, across platforms and across the full year. In addition, it gives us the opportunity to engage new and growing audiences to our Carnival and to the sport of racing.”

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott acknowledged the contribution made to the Melbourne Cup by current rights holder Seven Network: “While we are excited about this new stage for the Club, our heartfelt thanks go to the Seven Network, a valued and close Cup Week partner of ours for 16 years. Seven has broadcast the Melbourne Cup Carnival to millions of Australians and has played a pivotal role in assisting in growing the event into the global phenomenon it is today,” Mrs Elliott said.

“We look forward to working with Seven on another outstanding Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2018.”

Network Ten CEO Paul Anderson (pictured far right with Neil Wilson) said in a media statement: “We are extremely excited that the Melbourne Cup Carnival is coming home to Network Ten. Our Network has a rich history with this world-class event having been the broadcaster of the race that stops a nation for over two decades. The Melbourne Cup Carnival is one of the most prestigious horseracing events in the world, and Cup Day is iconic, not just in the sporting calendar, but for all Australians.”

“Ten is home to some of Australia’s most loved programming and talent. As part of this landmark media rights partnership, all the thrill and excitement of the Melbourne Cup Carnival story will live on Network Ten across the entire year, and be showcased in new ways across our various platforms, including those of our parent company CBS.”

Source: VRC, Network Ten, Ten Eyewitness News


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From 96 to Neighbours, TV’s long walk to marriage equality

Matt Wilson, Magda Szubanski, Takaya Honda in Neighbours

This week Neighbours (6.30pm weeknights, Eleven) makes Australian television history with its first same-sex wedding.

Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson) and David Tanaka (Takaya Honda) will be wed by celebrant Jemima Davies-Smythe, played by Magda Szubanski. Actor, comedian and writer Szubanski was a prominent spokesperson in the marriage equality campaign which culminated in same sex marriage becoming legal in Australia in November last year.

The Neighbours wedding shows that we have come a long way not just as a society but as far as gay people are depicted on television.

It is a journey that began back in 1972 in the 0-10 Network series Number 96 and two of the show’s original characters, law student Don Finlayson (Joe Hasham, pictured) who was having a relationship with photographer Bruce Taylor (Paul Weingott). But it was Don’s later relationship with movie buff Dudley Butterfield (Chard Hayward) that was the series’ most enduring and popular with viewers. Number 96 creator David Sale was clear from the outset that he wanted to have gay characters when developing the series. In 1974 he told Woman’s Day, “I wanted to put in a couple of homosexuals. But I did want to get away from the concept of homosexuals being all flapping and effeminacy – the homosexuals in 96 are nice people. They don’t wear eye-shadow, carry handbags, or hang about public toilets. I do think the characters of Don  and Dudley have done more to put homosexuals in some sort of reasonable light than the whole of the Gay Lib movement.”

Despite writing gay characters into the series, Sale later wrote in his biography Number 96, Mavis Bramston And Me that network executives were pressuring the show’s producer Bill Harmon to turn the characters straight — despite their immense popularity with viewers. Hasham was receiving more fan mail than any other actor in the series, sometimes from dazed young females determined to turn Don “straight” but more significantly from gay men, sometimes being very isolated in country areas, who were finally seeing someone that represented their reality on television without any sense of gossip or derision.

In 1974, Hasham told TV Times: “Almost a quarter of all the letters I get is the male mail. They say they’re homosexuals and they’re writing to thank me for portraying a homosexual character who isn’t a limp-wristed screaming queen. There are others that are terrifying and tragic; heart-rending letters from young men who pour out their souls to me because apparently in their loneliness they have no one else who will listen.”

The portrayals of Don Finlayson and Dudley Butterfield were written and performed with utmost normalcy, and with producer Harmon threatening to take the top-rating series to a rival network, 0-10 executives eventually stepped back in pushing the characters to become straight.

Finlayson in particular was often the sole voice of reason and sensibility amongst a series of characters that sometimes, deliberately, was anything but with its mix of melodramatic and comedic tales.  The biggest joke to come from the show’s gay characters was that neighbourhood gossip Dorrie Evans (Pat McDonald) remained delightfully oblivious of their situation for the entirety of the series even though everyone else around them just calmly knew and accepted it.

Joe Hasham and John Orcsik in Number 96 The Movie

But despite how groundbreaking Number 96 was with its depictions of characters like Don and Dudley, there were still some limitations. Any form of physical contact between the characters was strictly off limits — not even so much as holding hands or an innocent kiss was allowed. With more generous rules surrounding censorship in films, it was a restriction that was able to be lifted somewhat when Number 96 The Movie went into production in 1973, with Don ending up in bed with Simon Carr (John Orcsik), although even then the couple’s kiss was cut from the final product.

The character of Don Finlayson was one of only three from Number 96‘s first episode to be seen through to the end of the series in 1977.

Joe Hasham (Number 96) and Paul Karo (The Box) on the cover of TV Times in 1974

The success of Number 96 led the same network in 1973 to commission The Box, set in a television station but like 96 featured adults-only storylines. As far as depiction of gay characters, The Box stepped up on the foundations laid by 96, with bisexual reporter Vicki Stafford (Judy Nunn, pictured) having a kiss with Felicity Baker (Helen Hemingway) in the show’s opening episode. The series also featured the character of producer Lee Whiteman (Paul Karo), who was definitely portrayed as camp but often with the purpose of providing some balance to the show’s heavily dramatic situations. Karo told TV Times that he had originally intended to portray Whiteman as a more sophisticated character. “I think it would have been more authentic, but the role calls for me to play it camp and that’s the way it is.”

From Number 96 and The Box there have varying degrees of gay characters featured in Australian dramas. Prisoner, set in a women’s prison, had an emphasis on lesbian characters including prison inmates Franky Doyle (Carol Burns) and Judy Bryant (Betty Bobbitt) — though not with each other — and prison officer Joan Ferguson (Maggie Kirkpatrick), though very little was actually portrayed on screen. However it is a theme that is also portrayed, sometimes rather graphically, in the Prisoner-inspired series Wentworth.

Gay characters in shows like Skyways and Cop Shop were probably more of an incidental feature, although an early storyline in Cop Shop had Gary Foster (Andrew McKaige) in conflict with his father, police detective Tom (Peter Sumner), over revelations that Gary had been in a relationship with another man. Meanwhile, Tom is revealed to be involved in a series of gay bashings around the area.

The ABC drama GP featured Dr Martin Dempsey (Damian Rice) coming out as gay to his medic colleagues, and later having a relationship with Patrick Walsh (Lochie Daddo), the brother of one of his patients.

There have also been significant “coming out” storylines in Breakers and The Secret Life Of Us, and the more recent series House Husbands featured a male couple bringing up a daughter.

Neighbours, while hosting this week’s same sex wedding, has also not been shy in portraying gay characters and relationships in the past, including teen Chris Pappas (James Mason) coming to terms with his sexuality and later forming a relationship with Aidan Foster (Bobby Morley), and a short-lived relationship between Sky Mangel (Stephanie McIntosh) and Lana Crawford (Bridget Neval). There have also been other incidental characters along the way, such as builder Andrew ‘Macca’ McKenzie (John Morris) back in 1994.

Fellow soap Home And Away has had a somewhat more reluctant approach to featuring sexually diverse characters, despite it carrying the more mature “PG” rating to Neighbours, which up until recently was rated G. Several years ago, a relationship between two females was met with criticism from conservative groups, resulting in a kiss being edited out before going to air. The plot later saw one of the pair enter into a relationship with a man.

However, more recently, the series has featured the storyline of Ty Anderson (Darius Williams) coming out.

Source: Aussie Soap Archive. Super Aussie Soaps, Andrew Mercado. Number 96, Mavis Bramston And Me, David Sale. TV Times, 29 June 1974.




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Melbourne Cup returns to Network Ten

Network Ten is set to take over as the TV broadcast partner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival from 2019.

Media reports have stated that Ten is the preferred bidder for the four-day racing carnival, outbidding the Seven Network which has been telecast partner for the event since 2002. Reports suggest that Ten has offered up to $10 million for rights to the racing carnival and other events on the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) calendar.

Ten was previously the rights holder to the Melbourne Cup Carnival from 1978 to 2001. The network was the first to gain exclusive rights to the event for Australia-wide coverage and the first to telecast the races live into Victoria.

Melbourne Cup, 1980. Source: TV Week (Click to enlarge)

The new deal is a small win for the network given that they have recently lost the rights to the summer Big Bash League cricket competition.

Although the VRC and Ten have yet to formally announce any deal, Seven has admitted that it has been outbid — all of a sudden downplaying the loss as “four afternoons of television”:

“While another party has placed a far higher valuation on these four afternoons of television, we will do what is financially responsible and right for our shareholders.”

The Melbourne Cup deal is the third major sporting rights contract to change broadcasters this year. Earlier this year Seven and Foxtel had announced they had secured cricket rights from the Nine Network, while Nine has taken over the Australian Open tennis from Seven.

Source: Mumbrella,, Sydney Morning Herald

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WIN moves Tasmania news to NSW

WIN Television has announced that it will be shifting presentation of its evening WIN News for Tasmania to centralised facilities on the mainland.

The final WIN News to be presented from the Hobart studios will go to air on Friday 17 August.

From the following day, WIN in Tasmania will broadcast Ten Eyewitness News‘ national Sydney-based bulletin on weekends, and from Monday 20 August the weeknight WIN News bulletin will be presented from WIN’s Wollongong headquarters.

The move further centralises WIN News presentation, with regional Victorian and Queensland and Canberra news bulletins also hosted from Wollongong.

While reporters and camera crews will still be on the ground in Tasmania, some jobs cuts are inevitable as the studios will no longer be in use.

The move, which mirrors a similar production model employed by other regional networks, brings an end to 58 years of production from the station that originally began as TVT6 in Hobart. TVT6 (later Tas TV) was Hobart’s only commercial station for almost 35 years before aggregation saw Launceston-based Southern Cross move in as a competitor.

Tas TV became part of the WIN regional network in October 1994. Two years ago the network changed its affiliation partner from Nine to Ten, and ratings have not been kind to WIN under the new arrangement. In the ratings year to date, Southern Cross (aligned to the Seven Network) rates higher than WIN (Ten) and TDT (Nine) combined. Both WIN and TDT also rate behind ABC (6pm-12mn, Regional TAM).

Southern Cross News, which produces a Tasmanian-based bulletin seven nights a week, is already a ratings leader with Tasmanian viewers.

ABC News also presents a Hobart-based bulletin seven nights a week.

From 2 September, WIN will commence a free-to-air relay of Sky News as a new multi-channel.

Source: ABC, The Examiner, Regional TAM


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Sky News On WIN announces launch date

Sky News Australia has announced the launch date for its entry into the free-to-air market.

From 6.00am (AEST) on Sunday 2 September, Sky News On WIN will present a 24-hour channel via the WIN network consisting of programming from Sky News Australia including Credlin, The Bolt Report, Outsiders, Jones & Co, Richo, Politics HQ, Paul Murray Live, Kenny On Sunday, Speers, Speers On Sunday and AM Agenda. The channel will also include content from Fox Sports and Sky News Weather channels.

Headline News, currently appearing on Sky News Weather (Channel 603 on Foxtel) and hosted by Jaynie Seal, will also be carried on Sky News On WIN as well as simulcast on WIN’s own main channel — replacing programming currently available in the timeslot from WIN’s network partner, Ten.

The new channel is the first of two Sky News channels to launch on free-to-air. The Nine Network and Sky News have announced that they will soon launch Your Money, a re-branding of the Sky News Business channel, to broadcast on free to air channel 95.

Sky News On WIN will be broadcast in regional markets currently covered by WIN on channel 83 (53 in Northern NSW/Gold Coast).

Sky News Australia is operated by Australian News Channel, a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp Australia.


  • Sky News Weather (Every day LIVE at 5:00am)
  • FOX SPORTS News (Every day at LIVE 5:30am)
  • Headline News with Jaynie Seal (Weekdays LIVE at 6:00am)
  • AM Agenda with Kieran Gilbert (Weekdays LIVE at 8:30am)
  • Live Now with Ashleigh Gillon (Monday – Wednesdays LIVE at 10:00am); with Tom Connell (Thursday and Fridays LIVE at 10:00am)
  • All Australian News (Weekdays at 11:00am)
  • FOX SPORTS News (Every day LIVE at 12:00pm)
  • SPEERS with David Speers (Monday – Thursdays LIVE at 4:00pm)
  • The Friday Show with Rita Panahi (Fridays LIVE at 4:00pm)
  • FOX SPORTS News (Monday- Fridays LIVE at 5:00pm)
  • Credlin with Peta Credlin (Weeknights LIVE at 6:00pm)
  • The Bolt Report with Andrew Bolt (Weeknights LIVE at 7:00pm)
  • Outsiders with Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean (Monday and Thursdays LIVE at 8:00pm, Sundays LIVE at 9:00am)
  • Jones & Co with Alan Jones and Peta Credlin (Tuesdays LIVE at 8:00pm)
  • Richo with Graham Richardson (Wednesdays LIVE at 8:00pm)
  • Politics HQ with Nicholas Reece (Fridays LIVE at 8:00pm)
  • Paul Murray LIVE with Paul Murray (Sunday – Thursdays LIVE from 9:00pm – 10:00pm)
  • Hardgrave with Gary Hardgrave (Fridays LIVE at 9:00pm)
  • FOX SPORTS News LIVE rolling coverage (Saturdays from 5:30am)
  • SPEERS on Sunday with David Speers (Sundays LIVE at 8:00am)
  • Mundine Means Business with Warren Mundine (Sundays at 5:00pm)
  • The Adam Giles Show with Adam Giles (Sundays LIVE at 6:00pm)
  • Kenny on Sunday with Chris Kenny (Sundays LIVE at 7:00pm)
  • Heads Up with Janine Perrett (Monday – Thursdays LIVE at 11:00pm) and Peter Gleeson (Fridays LIVE at 11:00pm)

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Lee Lin Chin signs off from SBS

The Queen has left the building!

SBS newsreader and fashion icon Lee Lin Chin gave a dignified sign off from her last SBS World News bulletin earlier this evening.

Ending almost 30 years at the SBS news desk, Chin once again impressed with her eccentric fashion that has become her trademark. She also received tributes from co-presenters Craig Foster and Mike Tomalaris and incoming replacement Anton Enus, returning to SBS after a two year absence.

In the video package that followed there were snippets of changing hairstyles, fashions, news sets, her viral self-parodies at The Feed including the all-network “Broadcast Battleground” plus a greeting from English  reporter Dan Rivers, who Chin complemented in a candid off-camera moment that was caught by the microphones.

YouTube: Australian TV Fan

Starting her media career in Singapore, Chin came to Australia in 1980 to join the new SBS television network as a subtitler. She then went to ABC radio in Newcastle and Darwin, later returning to SBS in the early 1990s as weekend newsreader.

In the years since she has also hosted her own series, Fashionista, has twice been Australia’s national spokesperson in the Eurovision Song Contest, and in 2016 was the first SBS personality to be nominated for a Gold Logie.

In an interview for Ten Daily, Chin said that there are various reasons for her leaving SBS but did not wish to elaborate further. However she is currently involved in a production company, All The Chin’s Men, with The Feed colleagues Chris Leben and Daniel Hartley-Allen, pitching ideas to networks.

She also said, on brand with her The Feed persona, that “working two days a week didn’t give me enough time to devote to the pub and re-reading the complete works of Shakespeare. So now that I work zero days that issue has been addressed.”

Source: Ten Daily, Wikipedia

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Nine / Fairfax deal creates media giant

A $4.2 billion media giant is set to be created with Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media announcing a deal to merge — further consolidating what is already a shrinking media landscape.

In the deal, which is subject to investor and regulatory approval , Nine shareholders will own 51.1% of the combined entity, with Fairfax shareholders owning 48.9%.

The Fairfax name become history after over 170 years, with the merged operation going under the Nine banner, with Nine CEO Hugh Marks in charge and Nine chairman Peter Costello remaining. Three Fairfax directors will go onto the Nine board.

Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood has announced that he will essentially be made redundant.

The new-look Nine will include television assets such as the Nine Network and NBN, newspapers Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Age, radio stations 2GB, 3AW and Macquarie Sports Radio and digital brands Domain, 9Now and Stan. (Stan is already a joint venture between Nine and Fairfax)

The merger is expected to deliver savings of around $50 million per year, mostly to come from support functions. Amid concerns at the combined operation diluting the journalistic independence of the television and print outlets, Marks has said that the newspaper mastheads will operate at arm’s length to Nine’s existing news operation.  Though it has been speculated that Nine News and the print mastheads may collaborate on some joint reporting ventures similar to what has previously occurred between Fairfax and national broadcaster ABC.

Source: The Age, The Age.

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Happy 80th Birthday, Bert

Happy 80th Birthday to Bert Newton!

One of our first and certainly most enduring TV stars, Newton started in TV at the age of 19 as host of The Late Show at HSV7 from August 1957.

While he has not had a regular place on television for some years (his last contract with the Nine Network lapsed four years ago), his career has spanned every era of Australian television and covered four networks.

He has hosted the TV Week Logie Awards a record 18 times, plus two occasions as co-host, and won four Gold Logies plus the Hall of Fame. He is the only person to have been paid tribute by This Is Your Life three times — the most recent being for his 70th birthday. He reinvigorated morning television, hosting Good Morning Australia for 14 years — at one stage fronting more than twelve hours of live television a week.

Earlier this year he was one of five Australian TV personalities paid tribute on a series of commemorative postage stamps.

There have been many career challenges along the way, such as his highly reported nervous breakdown in the mid 1960s, the intermittent career lulls that are inevitable in the brutal world of television, and some of the ventures that didn’t quite pay off. Even his recent comments at the TV Week Logie Awards, while not deliberately intended to cause offence, were perhaps not considered a high point. But it would be unfair to tarnish a lifetime of 80 years — and more than 60 of those in the spotlight — on some lowlights.



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Michael Ebeid leaving SBS

SBS chief executive officer and managing director Michael Ebeid has announced his intention to step down from the broadcaster.

Ebeid’s last day at SBS will be 1 October, almost seven-and-a-half years since taking over as managing director in 2011.

In a statement issued by SBS, Ebeid said:

“My decision to step down has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made. Serving as the SBS Managing Director has been a real honour and privilege and I depart feeling confident that this is the right time for a new Managing Director to take the organisation forward.

“SBS is the strongest it has been in over 40 years. We are more relevant than ever and we are ready for the future. Considering the struggle of societies globally to integrate diverse communities harmoniously, SBS today performs a critical role in the Australian community. We are the media organisation audiences can come to, on their preferred platform or device, for distinctive programs and different perspectives that create a better shared understanding within our diverse, multicultural society.

“We have been through a lot of change over the past seven years and our successes have only been achievable with the support of the SBS Board of Directors, our SBS Executive team and of course, our dedicated SBS employees. The SBS team is the most passionate and committed that I’ve worked with in my 30 year career. Our people come to work every day motivated to make an impact and I’ve learned a lot from them during my tenure.

“Importantly, I depart the organisation knowing that we have a very strong and experienced leadership team to help guide SBS forward. The organisation is honoured and humbled that SBS is valued by the communities we were created to serve four decades ago, and whom are at the heart of our organisation and the decisions we make today.”

In the years of Ebeid’s tenure, SBS has increased its television audience, embraced on demand viewing, revamped its radio programming, added NITV to its channel suite, secured long-term contracts with the Tour de France and FIFA World Cup and negotiated Australia’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest.

SBS has launched two new channels, Food Network and SBS Viceland, both formed in joint commercial ventures with US content providers.

He has fronted senate estimates to defend SBS funding and has been an advocate for SBS at a time when both national broadcasters are facing intense scrutiny of their role in the broadcasting landscape. (Both SBS and ABC are currently under a competitive neutrality review being conducted by the Government)

His announced departure comes just after SBS was gifted broadcast rights to all FIFA World Cup games when Optus, which had picked up part of SBS’ commitment in a sub-licencing deal, failed to adequately deliver its coverage online.

An announcement of Ebeid’s successor at SBS will be made in due course.

Source: SBS


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Obituary: Harry M Miller

Harry M Miller, celebrity agent, producer and publicist, has died peacefully at the age of 84.

New Zealand born Miller came to Australia in the early 1960s. He brought acts like Judy Garland, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys to Australia. He also produced the first Australian production of the legendary ’60s musical Hair, introducing a 16-year-old Marcia Hines to Australia and also launching the career of John Waters. He also brought the musical Jesus Christ Superstar to Australia, featuring Hines, Jon English and Trevor White. Twenty years later he revived the same show in an arena setting starring Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens and John Farnham.

He was the prolific celebrity agent, managing the careers of some of Australia’s highest profile talent including Graham Kennedy, Barry Humphries, Maggie Tabberer and, at the other end of the scale, Big Brother contestants.

Kennedy’s association with Miller came to an abrupt end after 20 years in 1989, with Kennedy famously firing him by fax. Miller took Kennedy to court, and lost.

Miller was married three times and had a long term relationship with model turned TV presenter Deborah Hutton.

Miller retired in 2009 amid failing health and was diagnosed with dementia in 2011.

Harry M Miller is survived by five children and his partner Simmone Logue.

Source:, Sydney Morning Herald. King: The Life And Comedy Of Graham Kennedy, Graeme Blundell.



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