Media Matters: Level playing fields and MIA IPOs

FCB-Massey University conflict controversy continues, local sports channels pipped at post for football rights, and are media company IPOs in the offing or off the boil? With special audio feature.

Doubts linger over the process followed by Massey University in appointing ad agency FCB to its creative and media advertising accounts.

The marriage of FCB group account director Toby Sellers to Massey University external relations manager Penelope Barr-Sellers has sparked concern among other shortlisted agencies – the head of one has said he wouldn’t have pitched for the business if he had known beforehand.

The Government Rules of Sourcing encourage agencies to take responsibility for identifying and managing conflicts as part of the planning and implementation of a procurement process, but it is not compulsory.

The rules also note that a poorly managed "perceived" conflict of interest can be just as damaging as a poorly managed "actual" conflict of interest.

From level playing fields – and the perceived lack thereof – to sports rights: as reported in this week’s upcoming NBR print edition, Sky TV and on-demand sports streaming company Lightbox Sport have been outbid for the rights to the English Premier League by Al Jazeera sports branch beIN Sports.

The winning bid is understood to have been a little shy of $10 million – a great deal more than has previously been paid for the rights.

Given beIN Sports doesn’t have a distribution channel in NZ, it appears to have two options: on-sell the rights to Sky TV or launch a channel in New Zealand.

beIN Sports’ win is another example of how the competition for the once dominant Sky increasingly consists of large international companies rather than small local media players.

Finally, it’s been almost a year to the day since APN News and Media announced a 12-month delay on an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for its New Zealand business but it’s still keeping its cards close to its chest.

The Sydney-based parent company bundled its NZ assets under the NZME banner in 2014 and has been keeping a close eye on the integration before going public.

Its local assets include The New Zealand Herald, The Radio Network and GrabOne.

APN News and Media’s [ASX: APN] full-year results are due to be released on February 25 so an update on the IPO is expected then – but it has been noted NZME didn’t do as well as it may have hoped in the last radio survey, which may cause another delay.  

Another long-anticipated IPO (or trade sale) is that of MediaWorks. Although the appointment of ex-NZX boss Mark Weldon as MediaWorks’ head honcho in August 2014 fuelled speculation that such a move was imminent, all appears silent on that front. That’s likely to be because – like NZME – the company has been focused on an integration programme (in this case involving its digital, radio and TV arms, the most public example of this being the recent launch of Newshub) and the need to improve TV’s performance. 

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