tip off

7:30 Report set for a new look?

AWU backbenchers and Ministers (ministers already in town on Ministerial duty Monday to Wednesday inclusive) in Queensland were summoned to come to Brisbane for an urgent meeting yesterday. Without wanting to speculate, this is a very unusual thing to happen and needs further investigation. There is word around that the end is Bligh.

With The 7.30 Report’s Kerry O’Brien on yet another of his extended vacations, ABC News bosses have begun tinkering with the idea of wholesale change to the program next year. The feeling is that both the show and its host are well past their use-by date. The choices are the nuclear option, which would require a re-design from top to bottom, or to replace O’Brien and his sullen “Welcome to the program” with someone who actually looked as if he/she wants to be there.

Further trashing of The Age brand continues with tacky full page adult-product ad adorning its Epicure wine magazine today. The Sexyland ad in question (a tasteful convergence of two spilt glasses of red wine in the shape of a heart) boasts the arrival of “200 new products”. Age employees increasingly questioning part-time Age CEO Don Churchill’s decision-making.

The Age Business Day had a blog late last week on Real Estate Agents. It collected about 100 comments in the first three hours, 75% of them critical of the industry. About 5pm the first 100 comments were removed, not to be seen again.

What’s going on with the calculator on the desk of the Australian Financial Review’s Market Wrap section?

Look at the graphic with today’s market story: Stock movement last 6 days:

  • BHP + 59.6%
  • CBA + 20.5%
  • WBC + 18.3%
  • etc etc.

Did they. Go look at the price graphs on Comsec. BHP hasn’t jumped almost 60%, or 59.6%. Did someone miss out a decimal point somewhere. Is this the country’s leading financial daily or is it a paper that can’t use a calculator?

Just take BHP. In the six trading days till yesterday it rose from just under $32.50 on July 13, to just over $36.19 at the close Tuesday. At best, a rise of around $4, which is a jump of around 12%.

Westpac (and presumably the other banks) have a nice little rort going on credit card cash advances. Because payments are applied first to purchases and then to cash advances, the only way to clear a cash advance before a statement issues is to repay all outstanding purchases first. So even though the cash advance incurs a (higher) interest charge from the date it is made (and presumably is thus then a debt incurred), amounts which aren’t even due to be paid until after the next statement issues must be cleared first.

Olympic great, Grant Hackett is said to be wistful that the Nine News and Sports departments continue to overlook his obvious Olympic talents. Talk around Nine that two reporters have been chosen for the Winter Games next February near Vancouver, Canada. Tony Jones, the sometimes sports reporter from GTV 9 is one, and Leila McKinnon, wife of David Gyngell, is said to be the other.

The demise of long running drama, All Saints is yet another blow to the television drama industry. Why would you end a drama which consistently gets well over a million viewers? The Ten Network would kill for such a result with an Australian drama. The answer is that with Seven Network exceeding its Australian drama quota, it didn’t need All Saints. It is far cheaper to buy overseas drama to fill that slot. But Thank God You’re Here, essentially a theatre sports improvised comedy show moved to Seven and it qualifies for drama quota under the ACMA rules.

The inclusion of sketch comedy in drama quota occurred in 1995 after much lobbying of the Keating Labor government by Steve Vizard’s company Artist Services. Even Labor thought Steve Vizard was credible then. At the time there was huge objection to it by drama producers but it went through regardless. In the 14 years since its inclusion it has been death by a thousand cuts for Australian drama as drama programs have been discontinued and commissioning has declined.

Sketch comedy is less than half the price to produce with half the turnaround. Isn’t it about time that ACMA reviewed the impact of the inclusion of sketch comedy on Australian drama production by commercial networks? The Federal government can’t distance itself either. It allowed television networks to be eligible for the 20% Tax Offset for new Australian drama up to 70 hours in length. But even with an offset Australian dramas can’t compete with sketch comedies.

There has been no increase in new Australian drama, only decline. The system has failed.

Ian Plimer’s book on global warming covered by Crikey recently is well panned at Wikipedia. Lots of material there for future reference.

Special Telstra unsealed section:

  1. Telstra is offloading more finance jobs to Bangalore (from Melbourne).
  2. If you wanted to complain to Telstra on Monday you were out of luck. All phone lines to the complaints section were down. Even Telstra staff couldn’t speak to each other.
  3. With their never ending journey to extract as much revenue as they can from their loyal customers, my spies at the post office tell me that Telstra is about to introduce both a Post Office account payment fee, and a separate paper invoice fee. If you choose to continue to receive your invoice in the mail, it will cost you several dollars for the privilege  — pay your Telstra account at the post office, and you get slugged again. How long before they start charging me for electronic invoices and BPAY payments as well?
  4. As from the middle of September 09, if you pay your Telstra phone bill at a Post Office or a Telstra Shop you will be charged an extra $2.20 on your next account for the privilege.
6
  • 1
    John T
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Bring back Ali Moore to 7.30 Report. When she relieved KOB, she asked good questions much more persistently. She kept her own agendas concealed, and avoided crass behaviour towards her interviewees.

    I felt she dealt with issues much more thoroughly, and avoided ego contests with her subjects.

  • 2
    David1
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    While I think it is well time for K O’B to be sent backstage and the 7-30 report get a new front person, I suspect as well as Ali Moore has performed, the obvious front runner, if he wants the job, will be Tony Jones. A proven performer and a wealth of experience.

  • 3
    stephen martin
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    As from the middle of September 09, if you pay your Telstra phone bill at a Post Office or a Telstra Shop you will be charged an extra $2.20 on your next account for the privilege. ” -
    You can see Telstra’s point I suppose, it is more expensive to process cash etc than on line payment; but it Seems to me that they are inverting the argument. It is more expensive to pay in the traditional manner than on line, therefore those paying on line should receive a discount, rather than penalize the traditional payers.
    I might add that I suspect that on line payments are earlier payers than the traditionalists.
    Personally I have paid on line for years so I am not affected

  • 4
    meski
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    If you pay on line you already pay a fee, either the credit-card surcharge from telstra, or a transaction fee by using direct debit from your bank. And the government is probably charging GST on these fees. (I’m not sure of that)

  • 5
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Kerry OBrien sullen? You’ve obviously never watched Laurie Oakes about to impale a minister on a Sunday interview.

  • 6
    John Bennetts
    Posted Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Since when has it been lagal to close off methods of payment of a debt without incurring a further charge?

    The concept of offering legal tender in settlement of a debt seems to be at risk of being set aside. What if I choose to pay in nice, crisp, plastic notes over the counter? Where is such a counter?

    This runs parallel to Telstra’s habit of makng chages to customers’ services and contracts without any record being issued to the customer, either on paper or via email. As a multi-service private customer, I have many times felt that Telstra have probably not been providing the agreed service, but in the absense of a copy of the contract, I have no recourse.

    If I do phone the service folk, I eventually obtain an oral response from somebody who I do not know and who is not authorised to consider properly what I am trying to say and who is unable to provide a text copy of the agreed outcome or action which is to happen as a result of agreement reached during the phone call. Perhaps I should record all such conversations and transcribe them in order to maintain a record of my dealings, but this is beyond me and, quite possibly, illegal.

    So Telstra’s customers are to no longer recieve proper invoices the services that they are being held responsible for but for which they have no entitlement to a record? And when payment is offered for this undefined service, the act of payment will itself attract further fees and charges?

    Where does this top-heavy autocratic nightmare end? Where does this road lead?

    Remember, all I really want are a couple of phones and an internet service. Why make things so vague and complex? The imbalance seems to originate from the concept that, while I need and seek a simple service, those in control perceive an opportunity, through complcating things, to make another bob or two at each step along the way, multiplied by 10 million customers.

    I need a contract written for a thousand dollar purchase and end up with a system devised to rip off billions and to pay its CEO mega-bucks purely for p-issing off!

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