tip off

Media briefs: TV in doldrums … republican fact-check … Bolt’s indigenous …

Hey, Australian commercial TV networks aren’t doing so badly after all, right? Wrong. Plus other media tidbits.

Kim Williams wins big with Fairfax. A bad 12 months for former News Corporation boss Kim Williams has had a golden lining: he’s pocketed $95,000 from Fairfax in a defamation settlement. In consent orders from the Supreme Court of New South Wales released today, Williams has been awarded the sum plus costs for a front-page splash in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that claimed he had stormed out of a Sydney Opera House Trust board meeting …

The papers published a correction to the story, penned by Australian Financial Review gossip hound Joe Aston, a fortnight later retracting most of the key claims. But as Crikey reported, it wasn’t enough to appease Williams, who engaged top defamation lawyer Mark O’Brien to sue the papers and Aston. O’Brien told Crikey on October 16:

It would have been a shorter notice if they had printed what they got right. The correction has aggravated the matter because they have admitted they got it wrong, they haven’t apologised [to Williams], and the story is still online.”

The story remains online, with a correction above it. The case lists three defendants: Fairfax Media Publications, The Age Company and Aston. Aston didn’t want to comment when contacted by Crikey. A spokesperson for Fairfax issued a “no comment”.  — Jason Whittaker

Commercial TV is in worse shape than you think. The Australian commercial TV industry is one of the most scrutinised and reported on sectors in the country, especially by print media (and most especially by the Murdoch press). It is also one of the toughest financially, with marginal revenue growth, permanent cost pressures and profits that have marked time and not grown for years. And data out yesterday confirms that while 2013 was one of the better years in the past three, it was nothing to boast about. The industry lifted revenue by the princely sum of $66 million over the course of calendar 2013 compared with 2012. The news pushed up up the share prices of Nine, Seven West Media and Ten, but that will be reversed today in an expected big sell off.

Yes, the metro figures for the December half year of $1.6 billion were the best for three years with growth of 5%, but the overall growth rate for 2013 of 1.7% — from $3.810 billion to $3.876 billion — was less than the rate of inflation (2.7%), which meant the TV companies were behind in real terms.  And what the media reports failed to note was that the 2013 performance left the industry still well behind its strongest effort in the past five years — in 2010 when annual ad revenue jumped more than 16% to $3.976 billion — that’s still $100 million more than in 2010. Metro revenue hit an all time high of $2.155 billion in 2010, up 15%, while regional revenues surged more than 13% to $911 million. The 2013 revenue figures for metro ad revenues totalled $2.980 billion, still well behind 2010’s record $3.066 billion.

Given that the overall economy has grown by more than 11% since the start of 2010, the TV industry has gone backwards. And yes, TV revenue in Sydney grew 6.8% in the December half year, with other capitals showing rise of 3% or more (for a 5% gain overall), but regional TV ad revenues actually fell over the year (which isn’t good news for Bruce Gordon’s WIN, Ten’s suffering affiliate, South Cross Austereo, Prime, Seven’s affiliate outside Queensland, Seven’s wholly owned Queensland operations and Nine’s NBN in northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland). The fall was small — just $6 million over the year — but there was little or no growth last year for regional groups, which reflected the mining slumps in Queensland, northern NSW and Western Australia.   — Glenn Dyer

(Made up) republican blues.  Guardian Australia writer Bridie Jabour is very cross that Australians no longer support becoming a republic, and she blames Princess Shinyhair herself, the former Kate Middleton, and the hoopla surrounding the royal wedding, birth of Prince George and all-around renewed interest in the royals.

Jabour cites no evidence, but she seems certain most Australians no longer support the idea of becoming a republic:

… we have woken up in 2014 with a vast majority of Australians who prefer their head of state to be un-elected and live on the other side of the world …”

A vast majority? In mid-January Essential Research found quite the opposite: 47% of Australians want the country to become a republic at the end of the Queen’s reign, with 32% opposed. A December poll found roughly the same numbers.

Bolt’s an indigenous Australian. He’s baaaa-aaaack! The columnist Australia loves to hate (or just loves) has returned to his weekly column for the Murdoch tabloids, and it’s a doozy. It begins:

I am an indigenous Australian, like millions here, black or white.

Take note, Tony Abbott. Think again, you new dividers, before we’re on the path to apartheid with your change to our Constitution.

I was born here, I live here and I call no other country home. I am therefore indigenous to this land and have as much right as anyone to it.”

We are wondering if Bolt’s feeling emboldened by Attorney-General George Brandis’ pledge to scrap part of the Racial Discrimination Act, or whether he got fired up at a summer barbecue and has charged back into the fray full of beans. In either case, welcome back, Bolt. We missed you.

Front page of the day. It’s not just civil rights campaigners and Lefties who are opposed to Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s punitive new bikie laws. The state’s most senior magistrate has issued a scathing missive to his judicial colleagues, insisting that they must enforce the laws whether they agree with them or not …

3
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Commercial TV”?
    Some manure is good for your garden - burying your garden under it is not?

  • 2
    Matt Hardin
    Posted Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The magistrates should then resign en masse citing an unwillingness to act unconscionably. That would an interesting thing for the Government to confront.

  • 3
    leon knight
    Posted Friday, 31 January 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I went to a bullfight in Arles back in the 80’s and I vividly recall a bull jump the fence to get in amongst the front row of spectators, and the spectators then promptly jumping the same fence to get into the ring away from the angry bull…..Bolt declaring he is Australian makes me feel like jumping the fence to safety..!!

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