tip off

Media briefs: carbon copy … Murdoch’s win … Sawyer signs off …

Only one major daily in Australia had no mention of Clive Palmer’s climate change bombshell on its front page this morning. Guess which one? Plus other media tidbits of the day.

Carbon copy. Only Melbourne’s Herald Sun did not put new BFFs Clive Palmer and Al Gore on the cover, instead going with a story on the no-doubt-riveting report Adequacy and the Australian Superannuation System. Everyone else went with the fate of the planet, with subeditors on The Sydney Morning Herald (assuming there are any left on the SMH) and The Daily Telegraph having the same brainwave …

Another court victory for Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch is on a roll — on Tuesday in London News of the World phone-hacking trial went well for him and his favourite girl, Rebekah Brooks, and overnight the United States Supreme Court has delivered an enormous victory to Murdoch’s Fox TV and cable networks.

The highest court in the US has ruled that the Aero, the most serious challenger (so far) to the business models of TV and cable networks (not to mention the cable companies which carry the channels), was illegal. Aero is a digital streaming service charging US$8 a month to subscribers who received their service via tiny aerials linked to receivers, allowing Aero’s customers to watch TV and cable programs without paying for a cable or satellite subscription. Aero took advantage of the fact that Americans overwhelming watch free-to-air TV via cable, with free-to-air TV companies in turn paid re-transmission fees by the cable network owners, such as Time Warner Cable or Comcast.

These re-transmission fees generate around US$4 billion a year for the free-to-air networks from the cable companies (and satellite operators such as DirecTV and Dish). In a 6-3 decision the court upheld the contention of the networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — which claimed Aero breached their copyright by re-transmitting their television signals without consent.

During the Supreme Court hearing in April Aero argued that the attempts by broadcasters to shut it down could also limit the rights of consumers to store and access videos, music and other media using cloud-based technology. But the Supreme Court rejected that contention, saying in its 18-page judgment:

Given the limited nature of this holding, the Court does not believe its decision will discourage the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies.”

Naturally the Aero ruling boosted the share prices of leading companies. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (Fox News and other cable channels as fell as Fox TV) rose 2.1%, Disney (which owns ABC and the ESPN networks and a host of cable channels) was up 1.5%, Comcast shares (owners of NBC and a host of cable channels) rose 1.1% and the biggest gainer was CBS, (which owns the CBS network and cable channels, including showcase) saw its shares surge 6.2%. So Murdoch is 2.1% richer this morning.  —  Glenn Dyer

News sheds more papers. News Corp has sold another small part of its print business, its New York-based Community Newspaper Group (CNG). The price wasn’t disclosed, but the buyer is a New York-based local publisher with previous links to CNG and News Corp.

CNG, headquartered in Brooklyn, consists of of 11 community newspapers and websites, including Caribbean Life, The Brooklyn Paper, The Bronx Times Reporter, Bay News and Bay Ridge Courier, Bayside Times and TimesLedger. CNG also publishes specialty magazines, including Family magazine, The Wedding Guide and Sweet Sixteen. News says CNG distributes over 235,000 newspapers each week in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan. The buyers are a New York couple Les and Jennifer Goodstein, who own NYC CommunityMedia, which publishes other New York community newspapers. Les Goodstein is a former News Corp executive who ran CNG between 2006 and 2013. He helped launch the business in 2006.

It is the second disposal of newspaper assets in New York by News Corp in less than a year. Last September, News Corp sold the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operated 33 publications, to an affiliate of the Fortress Investment Group private equity group.  — Glenn Dyer

Sawyer signs off. Diane Sawyer, one of the titans of American TV journalism, has stepped down from her gig as the ABC’s chief network news anchor. ABC and Sawyer announced overnight that after five years in the role, she will be retiring from the anchor’s role on the network’s World News evening broadcast. She will be replaced by David Muir, the host of ABC’s 20/20 program (which Sawyer had hosted in the past), who has also been the weekend news anchor for the past year. He will also become the managing editor of World News, replacing Sawyer.

Sawyer was the second female journalist to become a solo anchor of an evening newscast, following Katie Couric, who was made anchor of CBS Evening News in 2006. Couric resigned from the role in 2011 for a turn in daytime TV before recently joining Yahoo’s online business.

But in an interesting move, George Stephanopoulos, who anchors Good Morning America and the Sunday morning political chat show This Week, will get a new title to add to those — he will be ABC’s chief anchor during big events, such as this November’s mid-term elections and the presidential poll in November 2016. Sawyer hosted ABC’s coverage of these big events, such as the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

US TV analysts say Sawyer will now be contesting the big interview area where Barbara Walters (who just retired at the age of 84) made her name and that of the ABC network. Sawyer will replace Walters in one of the specialties of US broadcast journalism, the set piece interview screened in prime time, such as Walters’ interview with Monica Lewinsky back in 1999, which went for two hours and was watched by more than 50 million people. But while Walters retired in May, she hasn’t gone. She returns to TV  this week with an appearance on the The View, ABC’s daytime chat show, and what could be the first of occasional interviews, starting with an interview with Peter Rodger, the father of Santa Barbara killer Elliott Rodger.  —  Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. This brave Women’s Weekly hits newsstands today.

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