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Media briefs: Rand and Rupert … TV Upfronts … Netflix conquest …

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and media mogul Rupert Murdoch yuk it up at the Kentucky Derby. Plus other media tidbits of the day …

Paul and Murdoch’s seersucker date. United States presidential hopeful Rand Paul brought an unusual date to the Kentucky Derby this year: one Rupert Murdoch. The New York Times, at least, read the pairing as a Murdoch endorsement for the libertarian Kentucky Senator:

For Mr. Paul, the would-be candidate, and Mr. Murdoch, arguably the most powerful broker in Republican politics, Saturday’s day at the races was filled with betting, losing, drinking and a long chat over kettle corn. It was part getting-to-know-you and part political audition, and marked a potential turn in the race for president.

That Mr. Murdoch, no novice when it comes to matters of political imagery, allowed himself to be paraded for six hours around the boisterous and bourbon-drenched grounds like a prize horse behind a proud jockey, amounted to a message to more establishment Republicans that, as Mr. Murdoch put it, ‘I’m very open minded.’”

Times reporter Jason Horowitz recorded much of the (sometimes weird) interaction as Paul introduced Murdoch to political heavyweights and made sure the two were seen:

‘Do you know Mr. Murdoch?’ asked Mr. Paul, making it abundantly clear they were together.

‘I sure do,’ [former secretary of state James] Baker said. ‘Hi Rupert. Excellent to see you.’”

The media mogul’s sons came up at one point, and Murdoch made it clear he has high hopes for Lachlan’s ascension at News Corp:

“You have one son who is involved in the media business?’ Mr. Paul asked.

‘Two, both of them. They were going to form a team,’ he said, his voice trailing off.”

We hope the pair had a lovely time.

Q&A gets a little rowdy. The ABC cut away from last night’s episode of Q&A after protesters appeared above the panel, targeting education minister Christopher Pyne. Unfurling a banner and chanting “no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities”, host Tony Jones tried to hush the students, telling them they were doing themselves no favours. The ABC cut away from the program while the protesters were escorted out. When the program came back, Jones apologised for the interruption. “Apologies to the Minister, apologies to everyone on the panel, apologies to the wider audience watching,” Jones said.”That is not what we want to happen on this program. That is not what democracy is all about and those students should understand that.”

According to a statement, the ABC is now reviewing its procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again. “Illegible banners and chants aren’t a substitute for intelligent debate,” a spokesman said. “Q&A already identifies all audience members and puts together a representative audience based on voting intention but as we saw it only takes a small group to disrupt the discussion.” The ABC will be making a further apology to Christopher Pyne, the spokesman added. —  Myriam Robin

Is Chris Lilley too funny to be racist? TV is sometimes an unforgiving medium. Partly this is because as a society we’re pretty harsh in our judgment of people who appear on it. So when Gerard Healy’s brain explodes during AFL pre-game coverage or when Eddie McGuire’s brain explodes during AFL post-game coverage, we mock, even condemn their actions as unprofessional. When Jeremy Clarkson makes a racist remark on TV that isn’t even live to air, we rightly take him to the cleaners.  But somehow in the midst of all this criticism Chris Lilley gets to make a show in brown-face and for the most part we bicker amongst ourselves about whether it’s better than Ja’mie Private School Girl. 

For the sake of argument let’s assume that Jonah from Tonga is the funniest show on TV this year, and that Lilley’s decision to “brown up” rather than playing Jonah without make-up, or casting another actor in the role was taken to further his incredibly astute and nuanced critique of Australian racism. The main issue here is the lack of outrage over his decision to appear in brown-face, regardless of motivation, that would seem to be consistent with our standard reaction to anything even vaguely controversial appearing on TV. — Peter Green (more at Daily Review)

Do the ‘Upfronts’ still matter? Next week will be the second-most important week of the Australian TV year, when the American TV networks (free-to-air and cable) hold their “Upfronts” in New York from Sunday to Thursday, while the Australian networks attend the screenings of new programs in Los Angeles from next Tuesday through Friday. Although American programming is no longer the “killer app” for Australian TV networks that it once was, the output of US producers is nevertheless helpful.

Seven uses it as second-tier programming: Revenge, Intelligence, The Blacklist, for example. Nine loves hits like The Big Bang Theory. Ten has Under The Dome and faded giants such as the Law and Order series and NCIS.  The two biggest American hits of the past decade were Desperate Housewives and Lost, both of which went to Seven and helped its revival from 2005.

Given the dominance of Australian-made programming in the local network’s schedules, American and British programming has lost its importance (Downton Abbey would be the most notable UK program on Australian TV at the moment, while The Big Bang Theory is the most-watched foreign program). But Nine’s local version of The Voice was a big hit, Seven’s in-house House Rules, The Killing Field and Home and Away are hits, and Ten started its great white hope MasterChef Australia last night and returns local hit Offspring next week. Local viewers prefer these to their offshore versions (especially MasterChef), which hurts the networks because it costs more to produce these local hits than to buy an import.  — Glenn Dyer

How Netflix won the world of TV. Orange Is the New Black returns for its second season early next month after an opening season that gained near-universal praise. But we live in the new Golden Era of TV; all the shows are great and coming back for more seasons. So what’s so special about Orange Is the New Black? Well, even in the current climate of  fine TV it stands out for its exploration of both America’s often corrupt and deeply racially divided prison system and a hipster couple’s complex relationship.  But primarily it is interesting because it was one of the first shows to be produced by a streaming service: namely, Netflix. Given that we spend so much time bemoaning our treatment at the hands of the established studios, and singing the praises of the people’s champions — Netflix, Hulu, etc — how do the crowd favourites measure up now they are selling their own wares?

The short answer is “worryingly well” if you happen to own a major TV studio or cable network, and “surprisingly well” if you’re anyone else. The rise of the streaming services, lead by Netflix, seems limited only by the hardware through which they operate.  — Peter Green (more at Daily Review)

Front page of the day. It was the billionaires’ brawl that stopped the nation (and cost News Corp a pretty penny). We think the NT News did it the most justice with its headline …

5
  • 1
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    If this is how Gyngell & Packer treat their ‘bestie’ just image their ruthlessness should they dislike someone.

  • 2
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The worm is definitely turning….3 months ago Murdoch dissed Rand Paul publicly as not a worthy candidate….now he’s seen publicly endorsing him, most likely on the back of GOP internal polling showing that Rand is a BIG chance to pull off the 2016 US Presidency based on his libertarian views…and that must have the 5 lobby groups who own DC spinning their wheels..in particular AIPAC, as its hold on successive US administrations over Israel is clearly starting to slip.
    Rand, like his Dad Ron, says Israel should be able to stand on its own feet….watch this space.

  • 3
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 7 May 2014 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Re Q&A: Tony Jones made the extraordinary statement that the student demo was ‘not democracy’. I thought democracy was all about free speech - that is EVERYONE’S free speech - not just those like the ‘mincing poodle’ minister, who had nothing credible to say anyway.
    I’m a senior citizen, and it gave me great heart to see that the young ones are active again on issues they believe in.
    A pox on Q&A, Tony Jones and the ABC!

  • 4
    Kevin_T
    Posted Wednesday, 7 May 2014 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    So, is it public protest that has no place in a democracy, or was it something else that Mr Jones was referring to?

  • 5
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 9 May 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Especially when Murdoch has been using his elite resources to dominate msm to much the same purpose, bullying/shouting down of opposite opinion, for decades? To bugger-all similar high dudgeon?

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