Australia’s FTA Networks Outperform International Peers But Pay-TV’s Margins Are World Leaders
Australia’s three commercial free-to-air networks have been zapped by falling revenues and profits and rising costs but collectively are outperforming their peers around the world, according to a Citi survey of FTA broadcasters in 12 developed markets, excluding the U.S. The Seven, Nine and Ten networks will post average pre-tax earnings of 22% this year, above the European average of 19%, Citi found. Australia’s commercial networks command a 69% share of total viewing, higher than every other country surveyed except Italy’s 82%. Citi’s report says Australia’s pay-TV services are the most expensive in the world, with average annual revenue per subscriber of nearly $A1,100 ($1,139), which it believes may explain the low penetration rate of 26% (the pay industry claims it’s 34%). However Citi rates Australian pay-TV operators Foxtel and Fox Sports as world leaders in that category, racking up pre-tax earnings of 38.9%, ahead of Cablevision’s 33%, Comcast’s 32%, DirecTV’s 26% and BSkyB’s 21%. – Don Groves

First Of Two Surprise Rome Film Festival Pics Announced
Feng Xiaogang’s Back To 1942 is the first of two surprise films that will screen at the upcoming Rome Film Festival, organizers announced today. The film tells the story of the 1942 famine in Henan Province,  the most devastating famine in modern Chinese history, that resulted in the death of at least three million people. Caused by a severe drought, the famine was exacerbated by locusts, windstorms, earthquakes, epidemic disease and the corruption of the ruling Kuomintang government. The film stars Adrien Brody as an American journalist and Tim Robbins in the role of a Catholic priest. Zhang Guoli, Chen Daoming and Li Zuejian also star.