PBL’s share rally yesterday received plenty of attention with the general excuse being a rash of gaming fever. But somewhat overlooked was a better performance this month by Channel Seven – and the only casino they’ve got is a court case.

The Kerry Stokes media company started the month just over the $9 mark, but by Friday’s close it was $9.86, it finished yesterday at $10.41 and was up to $10.72 just after midday today. Channel Seven says there’s nothing happening to explain the sudden rise beyond brokers catching up with the results and re-pricing it relative to PBL and Ten.

When most of the rest of the media sector rallied on the Coonan reform sell out, Stokes’s 14.9% move on WA Newspapers didn’t do Seven any good at all – it was a market for the appreciation of prey, not predators.

And speaking of prey, Allan Fels’s brave call in yesterday’s AFR for the ACCC to tackle Stokes over WAN and Murdoch over his Fairfax stake (yesterday’s Crikey and today’s Smage) is getting short shrift in the anti-competition industry. Fels’s case rests upon granting supernatural powers to the word “likely” – and the ACCC wouldn’t be game to try it.

So, as usual, the ACCC could only act after the horse is at least partially beyond the fence, not just when someone notices the gate is unlocked and the animal is heading towards it.

Meanwhile Rupert’s free to tell his funny stories about being friendly towards Fairfax and keep the politicians hopping to his tune (“$25 million for your American studies hobby? Certainly Mr Murdoch”). Sydney might be Jonestown, but we’re all in Murdochland.

Peter Fray

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