tip off

Media briefs: wanted: richie for Global Mail … BSkyB results …

Global Mail goes begging for saviour … Swings and roundabouts at BSkyB … Front page of the day …

Global Mail goes begging for a saviour. Graeme Wood will turn the lights off at The Global Mail on February 20, the philanthropic online media start-up has confirmed, but staff aren’t walking out just yet. A statement posted on the publication’s website yesterday afternoon put the hand out for other richies to ride in and save the venture. “Expressions of interest from potential partners” are now being sought:

Graeme Wood advised the management and staff of The Global Mail on January 29 that he is unable to continue funding the digital-journalism producer after February 20.

However, he also agreed that the staff is free to seek other investors or philanthropists who may wish to see the success of TGM continue and expand.

This allows us to pursue ambitious plans for the future. With the support of key figures in media internationally, The Global Mail team is exploring various models — both philanthropic and commercial.”

Despite gaining little traction in the Australian media space, staff say the shift to “more project-based journalism” last year resulted in more traffic despite fewer published stories. Some 120,000 visitors stop by each month, they say, with the e-newsletter doubling its reach to 18,000.

So with Wood now funnelling his cash into The Guardian, will anyone save The Global Mail? Gina Rinehart has always been keen on media influence — and could fund the venture with lunch money. Dick Smith is a vocal critic of the current media landscape and has plenty of dough to throw around. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Crikey publisher Eric Beecher (it was himself) said he wasn’t interested. — Jason Whittaker

Swings and roundabouts at BSkyB. It was the old pea-and-thimble game from BSkyB overnight in its half-year profit announcement — it is a company controlled by the Murdoch media empire, after all. A decent 7.6% rise in adjusted sales, an 8% fall in adjusted profit, but a higher dividend to help Rupert’s 21st Century Fox and those noisy majority shareholders.

BSkyB is the first of the Murdoch companies to report — 21st Century Fox reports next Thursday morning, our time, News Corporation the day after. The bottom line from the results is that they show the days of monopolistic easy earnings growth is over as more competitors pile into the British subscription TV market — led by BT and Virgin Media (controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Global), plus a still resurgent ITV, with the BBC still hacking away. The upshot is that the company — 39.1% owned by Murdoch — is being forced to stump up more money to keep content, or to secure exclusive rights.

Despite the relative weakness of the results, dividend was boosted 9% to 12 pence a share (around 22c Australian, or 18.6 cents US, a significant difference between the Australian and US exchange rates). It’s a juggling act at BSkyB — keeping Rupert Murdoch and 21st Century Fox happy, and making sure non-Murdoch shareholders remain content and well fed, financially, despite the rapidly rising cost of doing business. BSkyB reported an adjusted 8% fall in operating profit for the six months to the end of December to 595 million pounds, or more than $1.12 billion. That was on a 7.6% rise in revenues to 3.75 billion pounds, or more than $A7 billion. — Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. It’s all happening in New Jersey. Scandal-plagued Chris Christie is still under pressure, and there’s a local football game on Sunday people seem excited about — if they can only scrape the ice off the bleachers …

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