Another Murdoch raid on the Australian media. Elisabeth Murdoch has swooped to snap up the Fennessy brothers. Mark and Carl Fennessy have been running FremantleMedia’s Australian business for the past five years and have now consolidated it at the top of the TV production sector in this country.

“However, at this stage it is anticipated that Mark and Carl will continue in their current roles as CEO FremantleMedia Australia and COO FremantleMedia Australia until the end of November, after which they will leave the business. ”

The reasons for their departure wasn’t given, but they are going to work for Shine Reveille, the TV and movie production business Ms Murdoch is rapidly building in the UK. They will be leading the opening of the Australian arm of Shine. There had been reports that Lachlan Murdoch was interested in the local arm, but Shine is a much bigger company now, one of the major production houses in the UK.

Ms Murdoch now has the bulk to battle with Fremantle, which is owned by RTL, and through them, the German media giant, Bertelsmann, and Endemol — now back controlled by founder John de Mol, plus Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and other investors. Ms Murdoch revealed plans in interviews late last month to enter the Australian market, where there were reports that Lachlan Murdoch had her lined up as the buyer of Southern Star’s UK production assets if he had been successful in buying the company from Fairfax. — Glenn Dyer

Misleading Welsh money mythology at The Australian. The Oz‘s “Cut and Paste” monkeys had great fun with Obama’s remark about (doh!) speaking Austrian, a moment only slightly ruined by the quote above it from Mark Steyn bemoaning creeping socialism in the US, and noting that “ In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, government spending accounts for between 72 and 78 per cent of the economy”, a condition just this side of “sovietisation”.

Those UK readers who haven’t passed through Checkpoint Daffyd on the road to Cardiff may be reassured to know that the Welsh economy consists of £44bn in gross value added added, another £18bn of taxes, and around £9 bn in grants from London. The last full GDP by sector figures I could find — for 1999 — assess public services as accounting for around £6bn of £30bn total. The public sector employs 33% of the total workforce. So where did Steyn get his figures? From various right-wing websites arguing that 70% of the Welsh economy “ultimately derives” from public sector spending, ie it includes the full multiplier.

Don’t try that at home, folks. Steyn closes his eyes and really sees Jones-the-butcher queing for leeks, as loudspeakers belt out “Men of Harlech”. His technique derives from his early career as a reviewer of musicals, a genre in which the total suspension of disbelief in the absurd is essential — and a principle that conservatives seem to have adopted as their own in these trying times. The “Cut and Paste” monkeys could not be reached for comment as they were busy rubbing faeces into their hair. — Guy Rundle

Small African nation beats News to the punch. After all the fuss and cloak and dagger beavering we can now reveal the secret online project that has absorbed News Limited Australia and its editing wunderkind David Penberthy for the last six months: The Punch, apparently already Nigeria’s most read online news source. We await the next step with bated breath.

Australian PR and corrective media machine unleashed. The Full Story website might cut out out the journalist with delightful press release aggregation and give the voiceless a platform. Or is it just regurgitating the official line from spinners? In their own words, “The Full Story is a media and information release portal where individuals and organisations can post breaking news, publicity, information or their side of the story on issues of local or national importance — free, as it happens, unedited and in full.” You decide.

Google gadgets guy’s GFC entrepreneurship.

Crikey reader Nikolai Ivanovic

GFC cycle of gloom: pipe down, buy a t-shirt and save the economy. Does incessant talking about the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) make it worse? According to a group of Australian advertising gurus, it does. So much so they have launched a campaign in a bid to boost the national spirit, and maybe, just maybe the crisis will ease. And their motto: “Global Financial Crisis — together we can stop talking about it.” Will it work? “Probably not” admits Campaign Director James Hossack. “But since most of us are powerless to stop the crisis, we think talking incessantly about it makes it much worse. We call on all Australians to do their bit, not mention the GFC ever again and see if we can end this seemingly endless cycle of gloom. ” 50 percent of profits from T-shirt sales goes to Oxfam to support the increasing numbers of Australians out-of-work and in need. A novel idea, Crikey says.

Vanity Fair axes annual green issue. In a break with tradition, the glossy celebrity bible Vanity Fair monthly magazine, which has for the past three years made a great show of dedicating its May issue to the environment, won’t be putting out a green edition in 2009. Previous years’ issues have roped in a host of high-profile celebrites including Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Kennedy Jnr. But publishers of the magazine argue that a dedicated Green issue is no longer necessary now that green issues and the environment have become so integral to the general news agenda.Marie Claire

Fox bares its teeth over review of leaked Wolverine. In the history of famous “off-message” missives, it is certainly right up there. A veteran Fox News columnist has lost his job after reviewing a leaked version of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, starring Hugh Jackman, which sister company Twentieth Century-Fox is desperately trying to suppress. A statement released by Fox News said that the company and Roger Friedman had “mutually agreed to part ways immediately”.  Not only did Friedman offer his opinion on the early cut of the film on his Fox 411 blog, joining the estimated one million people who have seen it since it first emerged last week, but he also praised the convenience of downloading films illegally and pointed out that the entire current US box office top 10 was available on torrent sites. — The Guardian

I’m from Google and I’m here to help. Google CEO Eric Schmidt walked into the lion’s den Tuesday as the closing keynote speaker of the Newspaper Association of America’s annual conference and got a polite reception from publishers who often blame him for their ongoing economic woes. He addressed head on publishers’ criticisms that Google unfairly makes money off other people’s content, reminded the news executives they have the absolute power to keep their content out of the search giant’s mix and told them, as nicely as he could, that they stopped innovating online more than a decade ago.Wired

Advertising exec uses Facebook to bust drunken thief. Carla Pillo Mote, an executive director at a Philadelphia advertising agency, used Facebook-stalking skills to track down the drunk guy who stole her laptop, tax files, and wallet. Mote was able to track down the thief faster than the police. And she was able to resolve the problem more efficiently than them, too. Maybe social media has more to offer than we thought. — Agency Spy

Most White House reporters out of loop on Iraq surprise. President Obama’s surprise trip to Iraq Tuesday was not a complete surprise to some reporters, who were apparently either tipped off or followed the rumor mill. But most of those traveling with Obama on this trip were not able to follow him to Iraq, given the last-minute revelations of the trip. Only those pool reporters on Air Force One were with the president when he landed in Baghdad. Those included Associated Press, Bloomberg, USA Today, Newsweek and representatives from television and radio outlets. — Editor and Publisher

The Atlantic looking to expand online. — in our opinion is one of the web’s best success stories in terms of how to establish a magazine online — is apparently looking to spread its wings even further. PaidContent spoke to Justin Smith, president of Atlantic Consumer Media who says that the site has plans to “buy or invest in content sites that can complement‘s coverage.” Meaning? Says Smith: “We’ve moved away from the general nature of commentary on the site and have been looking to do more breaking news… And we’ve been able to prove that long-form journalism can work on the web, as long as you have a blockbuster piece.” — Media Bistro

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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