C4

$314 Million in the hole and the reorg’s not over yet. McKenna and Jennings next to face the firing squad?

Mediaworks, the owner of TV networks TV3 and C4, has announced a massive loss of $314 Million dollars (the biggest yet). The Network’s attributing $258 Million of that to a write-down associated with its 2007 acquisition of the business. Although a loss of this scale is unprecedented for the Mediaworks business it is nothing new for an organization, which like many has been smashed around by the recession after a hugely leveraged buyout in the height of the easy-credit financial bubble. The goodwill write-off symbolizes just how much of a premium Ironbridge paid for the Mediaworks assets. Still, with huge losses comes an even bigger demand to cut costs, and as Ironbridge execs have proved in the past, either Mediaworks Management toes the line, or faces the consequences.

TV3 Minus 314... Million

Whilst most of the Mediaworks burden hails from large interest payments the company was also affected by operational restructuring costs associated with dumping its low-rating Breakfast rival ‘Sunrise’ a few weeks ago. In addition cuts across its Radioworks network (consisting of The Rock, more FM, The Breeze, RadioLIVE and more) happen on an almost annual basis. Speculation was rife in 2009 that the Board was looking to slice its Radio and TV businesses in two with some arguing the synergy between the two businesses was almost non-existent, with infighting between Radio and TV execs rife. Additionally if one of the divisions were to be sold, this could reduce Ironbridge’s debt burden and arguably obscure how much they overpaid for the group. But the decision was made to keep the two as one, in the short term.

On top of the substantial write-down and staff layoffs, Mediaworks’ flagship TV network TV3 has suffered at the hands of low ratings in the first quarter of 2010. Last year long time Mediaworks CEO Brent Impey fell on his sword after poor performance in the TV business prompted the board to ask him to make layoffs. When he refused he was cut loose (or resigned depending on who you believe). With that, former Channel 9 (Australia) <strike>axe-wielder</strike> executive Ian Audsley was employed on a short-term contract to do what Impey had refused. Audsley cancelled both Sunrise and ASB Business and announced the implementation of a new Studio Automation System that would replace floor crews with Robotic Cameras and eliminate control room staff (an additional 20 jobs to go). When all’s said and done programming executives are more optimistic for the remainder of 2010, with a new season line-up underway.

More Rolling Heads?

After butchering her side of the business Radioworks CEO Sussan Turner was rewarded with the role of Group CEO, overseeing both sides of the group with former TVNZ marketing executive Jason Paris to head the TV networks in the coming days. Still, the onslaught of new Management has many at the top questioning the competency of those below.

Mediaworks’ online division ‘Interactive’ (largely considered the laughing stock of the business, both internally and externally) is headed by former radio staffer Siobhan McKenna, the board and management alike are said to be frustrated by the lack of performance in what they consider the future and core growth category of the Mediaworks business. Two options are currently being tabled, firstly the idea of dismantling the Interactive business and redistributing control of each Brand’s digital presence back to the Brand itself (in other words TV3 would control TV3’s Website, The Edge would control theirs and so on) with both Radio and TV divisions sharing responsibility for advertising sales. This however is a close second to Management’s preferred option of finding a new more suitable head for the division, with Jason Paris paying particular oversight to the development of TV (specifically the OnDemand business) and insight for new ventures in the radio division.

3News' Mark Jennings next for Axe?

Turner is also reportedly livid with ‘News and Current Affairs’ chief Mark Jennings who managed to absorb huge amounts of staff back into existing positions after ASB Business and Sunrise were cancelled, the argument being same cost structure, less programming. This comes off the back of a 3News reporter signing into a Prison as a relative of Clayton Weatherston, Campbell Live staff dressing up as Medal Thieves, his failure to gain an audience for Sunrise and losing high profile staff such as Rod Cheeseman and Kate Lynch to TVNZ. The trouble for Turner is who to replace Jennings with. Internally staff are impressed with the leadership of 3News Executive Producer Mike Brockie, but he is close to Jennings, and reportedly couldn’t be less interested in the role. Conversely producer John Hale is believed to be keen but he may be too polarizing, alienating several staff in the past, so perhaps Jennings is safe, for the moment.

The bigger picture in the coming months is the possibility IronBridge will offload the business altogether. IronBridge’s managing partner Julian Knights recently told Reuters it was looking to dump a number of its businesses whilst the market was hot but refused to include Mediaworks in the list only to say they were exploring their options. When prompted by the NZ Herald on the possibility of a profitable sale spokesman Kerry McIntosh said “We are facing a more difficult set of circumstances than we were at the beginning, but if the market continues to recover and we trade well we expect we will be okay.” That said, with a $91 Million payment in interest alone for the past year the prospect of a profitable sale might seem further and further away.

 

MediaWorks NZ Limited today announced a new management structure. Sussan Turner, the CEO of MediaWorks Radio, is appointed to the position of Group Managing Director, assuming control of the Group which includes TV3, C4, ten radio networks and brands and the Company’s VOD and on-line business.

Sussan Turner is replaced as CEO of the Company’s Radio division by Belinda Mulgrew.

Jason Paris is appointed to the position of CEO of TV3 and C4. Mr Paris was formerly the Head of Digital Media and Marketing at TVNZ. He will take over in June from Ian Audsley, who joined the Company on a limited-term contract in December. Mr Audsley will continue as Executive Director, TV until June when he will become a non-executive director of the Company.

Company Chairman, Brent Harman, commented: “This is an immensely talented management team. Sussan Turner has demonstrated her management skill by building MediaWorks’ radio brands into market leaders in content, marketing and profitability. She has a very strong operational and profit focus.

“Jason Paris is a young executive of exceptional talent and ability. As Head of Digital Media at TVNZ, Jason is widely regarded as the architect of TVNZ’s digital transformation strategy. We are delighted to have appointed an emerging New Zealand business leader of Jason’s vision and drive.

“And, as business development manager of MediaWorks Radio, Belinda Mulgrew has assisted in delivering the strategy and development and profitability of our portfolio of radio assets, and is a well respected senior manager inside the Group.”

Kerry McIntosh of Ironbridge Capital, said the shareholders of MediaWorks were delighted with the appointments.

“In a period of sustained revenue and bottom line pressure, Sussan Turner has delivered consistent results. We are confident that the team she has assembled will operate in a dynamic way to strategically position the Company for the f

uture.

“From his positions at TVNZ, Jason Paris brings a wealth of relevant experience to MediaWorks and in addition to running television, he will apply his substantial digital media experience across MediaWorks’ broadcasting and on-line assets.

“And Belinda Mulgrew, as Sussan’s deputy in Radio, has demonstrated her ability to manage the Company’s highly profitable Radio division.

“We are very excited about the future,” Mr McIntosh said.

Has anybody else been without C4 this weekend? We live in Napier, have a vhf/uhf ariel and haven’t had a signal since Friday- C4 is just a black screen with the odd freckle of static. Yet the inlaws have (satelite) sky and they can pick it up fine.

Can anyone tell me what’s up? 

TV3 kept its lead against TV One in 2009 in the 18-49 demographic – again beating them, and C4’s growth puts them substantially ahead of Prime in the 15-39 demographic.

C4 experienced growth year-on-year in primetime, with a dramatic lift across all demographics by both share and audience numbers.

TV3 again beat TV One in the all important primetime 18-49 demographic. TV3 ended the year with a 23.2% share, with TV One 18-49 experiencing an 11% decline in the same demographic, ending the year with a 20.4% share.

TV3 also beat TV One in the 18-39, 18-49 Auckland, and 18-49 Metro demographics, with a significant lead in 18-49 Metro of 22.6 to 18.6 share.

In 18-49 C4’s audience reach lifted year-on-year by 57.1% and in the 15-39 demographic by 40.4%.

C4 experienced share growth in all key demographics and ended the year ahead of Prime in its own demographic of 15-39 as well as beating them in the 18-49 demographic.

C4’s share of its target 15-39 demographic increased by 30.6% taking it from 4.5 in 2008 to 5.8 in 2009 – sitting well ahead of Prime’s 3.9.

Director of Programming, Kelly Martin says she is pleased with the lift across both channels and that with all the strong new content coming up in 2010 it is set to be an even bigger year.  Highlights to look out for in the coming month are Modern Family and The Good Wife on TV3 and The Cleveland Show on C4.

Martin says she believes C4’s growth was driven by the broadening of programming across the channel.

“We had some key local successes in 2009 which were great for the channel,” she says. “Movies and popular local content such as the Rhys Darby hosted Rocked the Nation and Jono’s New Show helped cement C4 as much more than just a music channel.”

Once again C4 will be streaming live from the Big Day Out this Friday January 15th.  Those unable to make the biggest music festival of the year – or those attending later in the day – will be able to get amongst it online at c4tv.co.nz. The live stream kicks off at 11am and will run non-stop through to 7pm.  C4 will also screen hourly updates on air from 2pm.  The days goings on will be presented by a team of C4 hosts including Jono Pryor (Jono’s New Show / The Rock), Ruby Higgins (Next Top Model), Drew Neemia (Select Live) – and new C4 talent Shannon Ryan.  We’ll be talking to the bands, talking to the punters and soaking up the madness that is the Big Day Out!  The public are invited to live chat either via c4tv.co.nz forums, via social media sites facebook and twitter – or by texting comments to 580 (free text) – these comments will run across the stream at c4tv.co.nz

Last year more than 8500 browsers enjoyed the Big Day Out live coverage at c4tv.co.nz .   This year –  viewers will enjoy a higher quality viewing experience with thanks to Telecom.  This is the second live stream musical event that C4 and Telecom have worked on together.  In December – thousands watched The Non-Stop Gig, New Zealands first online only concert which streamed for 12 hours.   Performances from the Non-Stop Gig can still be viewed at c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig

It has now become tradition that The Big Day Out  is part of the new year for C4!    Those attending are invited to visit the C4 tent to watch filming –  or to keep us up to date with goings on by texting comments to 580 (free text).    The C4 tent can be found by the Telecom Oasis – near the MySpace signing tent – with a view of both the Green and Essential stages. We’re gearing up for the biggest day out of the year!  See you there (or online at c4tv.co.nz from 11am)  On air, C4 will be providing hourly updates from 2pm.

While recovering from the regular Christmas feast, nana nap, heat stroke and Boxing Day bushwalk that Mrs. Bear & I did, we sat down and watched C4’s “Top One Hundred Songs of the Decade” yesterday afternoon and into the night. We happened upon it when the countdown was already in the 80’s, but it was still fun to reminisce to a few of the songs and go “I thought that was a nineties one” to a few others. I felt it would have helped to have a release year with the song details just for memory sake.

Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed with the top ten and felt that a few in the twenties / thirties deserved lower placings. Green Day, The Foo Fighters and Pink, for instance have been synonymous with the “noughties” but were all in the teens.

So here are C4’s “Top ten songs of the decade” with my un-humble opinions:

10/ “Last Night” by The Strokes (2001)

Not bad, I guess, but not fantastic. Deserved somewhere in the thirties. One of those “indie” bands that end up sounding like The Stones “the early years”. They are to rock and roll what Emos are to 90’s Grungers. A bit too late and nowhere near the soul

 

9/ “My House” by Kids of ’88 (2009)

Speaking of Emo. Just kidding. This song sticks in your head something chronic. Not bad for a couple of, judging by their name, 21 year old kiwi boys. Can’t stand the oversized glasses though. Catchy as chirpy as hell, it was helped by C4 using it in their promos earlier this year. I’m always a bit skeptical about songs released in the last year of the decade making it to the top of a 100 countdown, but well done none the less. I guess the video certainly helped it up the ranks, especially amongst the male 13-30 demographic.

8/ “Can’t get you out of my Head” by Kylie (Minogue) (2001)

I guess she had to be there somewhere, though, as I said, I was expecting Pink to be in the top ten instead. Can’t stand the song, personally, but Kylie has become a bit of a legend ever since Neighbours and “The Locomotion” so well done!

7/ “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon (2008)

One of my favourite bands of the past couple years, KOL have cemented their place in noughties music history. Not such a huge fan of SoF, thought possibly their breakout “On Call” might have been better.

6/ “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce (2003)

I can’t stand Beyonce. I think she is one of the most the most over-rated divas in the industry recently. Singing, dancing, acting? No, no, no. A top ten place was sadly inevitable, however, due to her popularity and media saturation over the noughties.

5/ “Stan” by Eminem (2000)

It was also inevitable that the most popular white rapper since Vanilla Ice (Ooh, too soon?) would feature, as he had a huge decade and this was quite undoubtedly one of his biggest hits. Well deserved!

4/ “Yellow” by Coldplay (2000)

Classic song and so funny to see a gangly, teenaged (?) Chris Martin before he became a mega-star, married a movie star and started naming his children after fruit. Love the clanging, clashing chords. Well-deserved top ten, could have even been lower.

3/ “Not Many – The Remix” by Scribe (2003)

A kiwi rapper who doesn’t try to sound like he’s from the East LA ‘hood’ and use filthy, disrespectful words (though I fail to understand why NZ hiphop has to “stand the @#$% up”, but I digress.). Good on ya mate!

 

2/ “Umbrella ella-ella a a a” by Rihanna (2007)

The second most over-rated female artist of the decade and one of my top five most annoying songs of the decade. I’m almost convinced for most of the shots of legs in ballet shoes, those aren’t Rihanna’s legs. As you either see her legs or her top in the shot. Only a couple of times do you see her ‘full-length”. And don’t even get me started on the tunefulness or elongation of the title word. Ergh! There must be a lot of people with all their taste in their mouth out there. Oh well, oh dear.

1/ “Hey-ya” by OutKast (2003)

Three letters: WTF? Way better songs than this one out there. I demand a recount! If this was really number one, I consider Green Day’s “American Idiot” or any number of the Foo Fighter’s songs to have been robbed. I switched over to watch “Armageddon” for the zillionth time before the song was even a bar in. Boo! Stink!

Last of all, I have to give a “big ups” (nope, I’m too old to pull that saying off successfully) to New Zealand Music over the past decade. Without NZ on Air, the quota system and other schemes, the top 100 would have looked very, very different (and almost certainly not in a good way) and it was very inspiring and pride-enducing to see so many kiwi bands in the top 50.

Please let me know what you think

 

C4 and Telecom broke new ground on Sunday with New Zealand’s first online-only concert. More than 50 of the country’s top musicians performed for 12 hours non-stop covering a wide variety of genres.

Thousands of viewers across New Zealand enjoyed a feast of New Zealand’s top acts which was kicked off by award winning group “Midnight Youth”. The formidable line up catered for all tastes and viewers were treated to some moments of musical magic throughout the gig.  A number of bands including the Feelers, Pluto and Autozamm performed brand new material and Jason Kerrison introduced his new music project Control Freak. Other artists performing included J Williams, Computers Want Me Dead,  Motocade, Ivy Lies, Pistol Youth, The Naked & Famous, PNC, David Dallas, The Earlybirds, Artisan Guns, Dane Rumble, Goodnight Nurse and Erakah.

The Non-Stop Gig was a New Zealand first – never before has a gig been live streamed for such a duration over the net. Despite the gig being the first of its kind in New Zealand, C4 viewers appeared to embrace the concept readily. In total 6,370 unique browsers tuned into C4’s site during the 12 hour period with some viewers claiming to have watched the entire 12 hours!

Live streaming in New Zealand is still quite a new concept and understandably many visitors were surprised at how fast and clear the transmission was.

Hosting the gig online meant viewers were able to engage in live chat with other music fans and C4 hosts and artists throughout the show.  More than 20,000 texts were received from viewers – and these were run beneath the live stream – along with commentary through social media networks and on the C4 website itself.

Bands were enthusiastic about the unique experience.

Emla Palmer from Ivy Lies said “It was definitely a new experience for us, it was lots of fun! It is a really innovative idea and awesome because the music is able to have such a wide reach.”

“It was pretty cool knowing that people were actually tuning in to watch us live online; instead of them coming out to see us play, we sorta went to them!  I also thought it was kinda cool for a band that started online to be playing online,” said Brad Carter of Pistol Youth.

C4’s Marketing Director Amanda Wilson commented that the Non-Stop Gig delivered an exciting and unique musical experience. “Online gigs certainly won’t replace live or televised gigs but they definitely offer an entertainment alternative to music lovers around New Zealand and the world.  We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to engage in this type of project with our viewers, it was great to try something new.”

 

Mediaworks chief executive, Brent Impey, has announced he is stepping down at the end of 2009.

A new role, Mediaworks TV chief executive, is being created. A search is currently under way for someone to take on this exciting new opportunity.

Impey will remain in a consultancy role until 2011.

2

The Non-Stop Gig

C4 and Telecom have joined forces to deliver a New Zealand first. On Sunday 6th December a collection of New Zealand’s hottest musicians will get together to perform a mammoth 12 hour gig – streamed live, and non-stop, on the internet. The only way to see this concert will be online at ww.c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig.

The incredible line up includes New Zealand’s top musical talent including J Williams, The Earlybirds, Midnight Youth, Jason Kerrison, Artisan Guns, Dane Rumble, Computers Want Me Dead, Goodnight Nurse, Pistol Youth, Pluto and many more.

To be part of this one off event, tune in to www.c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig on Sunday 6th December from midday to midnight as The Non-Stop Gig is live streamed via C4’s website and delivered to viewers across the country. Every music lover in New Zealand is invited and there’s no cover charges, no queuing, no ID necessary.

With the gig being non-stop – who knows what will happen, who will drop in or what musical magic will unfold! Viewers will be invited to interact via text and online chat – while the bands perform across two stages uninterrupted for 12 hours straight.

“We are really excited about partnering with C4 for The Non-Stop gig. The idea is to create unique online content with top kiwi musicians coming together for a one-off musical experience,” says Craig Herbison, Telecom Director of Marketing and Brand.

C4 presenters Phil Bostwick, Jono Pryor and Drew Neemia will host the 12 hour gig and will interact with those watching online.

The gig will take place at a secret Auckland location and a schedule will be posted online at www.c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig the week before the event.

To be kept up to date with information about the Non-Stop Gig just text NONSTOP to 580. Receive free updates in the lead up to the gig and on the day. Want to hear a certain song? See a certain band? Have a message for a performer? Text your feedback and song requests to 580.

Plus pre-register online now for the chance to win prizes on the day or to have your say about how you think the gig should unfold!

Visit www.c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig for everything you need to know about the event.

The Non-Stop Gig

12:00pm – 12:00am Sunday 6 December

www.c4tv.co.nz/thenonstopgig

Line Up

J Williams & Erakah
Jason Kerrison
Pistol Youth
Motocade
Autozamm
The Earlybirds
Ivy Lies
PNC & David Dallas
Artisan Guns
The Jordan Luck Band
Dane Rumble
Goodnight Nurse (acoustic)
Midnight Youth
The Feelers
Computers Want Me Dead
Pluto
The Naked And Famous

It’s been a tough couple of years for television, something the owners of TV3 and C4 would have hoped wouldn’t have been the case when the private equity group bought the company in 2007.

The $790 million dollar transaction isn’t likely to be the last amount of money Ironbridge will be injecting into their investment though.  With radio licenses and a potential tax bill totaling around $60m, a shot in the arm would be very beneficial to the company.

While advertising revenue has been down, MediaWorks CEO Brent Impey is adamant that the company is performing better and significantly more profitably than its state owned rival, TVNZ.

Ironbridge has no formal exit plans for MediaWorks.