Rupert Murdoch, Italian porn master. As Rupert Murdoch faces another quarter of tough trading conditions and falling profits, there’s a solution from Italy that may help. In fact, as Variety reports from Hollywood, Rupert Murdoch is now the porn master of Italy.

Variety reports that according to an Italian financial paper, Murdoch’s Sky Italia (100% owned by News and the fastest growing part of the company) is making $US2.6 million a week for selling pay for view (perv) porn on a specialist channels.

The number of folks shelling out to watch a pay-per-view p-rn pic on the 26 Hot Club channels beamed by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia satcaster has been growing lately, generating a hefty intake of some $2.6 million per week, according to financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. The take is at least 10 times that of Sky’s regular on-demand movies.

Curiously, when the financial crisis hit the country in late 2008, one of the Silvio Berlusconi government’s first measures was to introduce a 25% “porno tax” as part of an “anticrisis” bill to help replenish the country’s drying coffers.

Rather than despair, this caused Conto TV, a growing digital terrestrial on-demand paybox whose core business is p-rn, to take the tax in stride. It aired a cheeky spot urging Italians to “contribute to saving the Italian economy” by becoming customers.

What Variety failed to mention is that Italian prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi controls much of the Italian media, from newspapers and magazines, to advertising and terrestrial TV. The tax was as much aimed at stifling the growth in Sky Italia subscriptions, as protecting his Mediaset empire. — Glenn Dyer

McClatchy paints the papers red. US newspaper publisher McClatchy Co has joined the group of media companies making losses with a much bigger splash of red ink in the first quarter than expected. The cost of retrenchments and the continuing plunge in ad revenues across the board saw the company, which is the third largest newspaper publisher in the US, post a first-quarter net loss of $US37.5 million, sharply higher than the net loss of $US849,000 in the first quarter of 2008.

Revenue dropped 25% to $US365.6 million. Advertising revenue was off almost 30% to $US284.7 million, including a nearly 5% fall in online ad revenue.

The company joined The New York Times and Media General in reporting losses, while its larger rival, Gannett, reported a 60% drop in earnings, but remained in the black. McClatchy last week received a delisting notice from the New York Stock Exchange because of its low share price. It is carrying $US2.02 billion in debt taken on in the 2006 purchase of Knight Ridder, another newspaper group. — Glenn Dyer

Jimmy Bartel drops the ball. Geelong star Jimmy Bartel kicked a behind in his reference to the recent deaths on the Kokoda Trail while interviewed on The Footy Show last night.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeHrUltKtGM[/youtube]

Headline of the day. It was going to be ABC Gold Coast online headline “Knife-wielding bandit beaten off by victim“, but then we saw this:

We love you Townsville Bulletin.

CMH tech journalists avoid IceTV story like the plague. Technology journalists at Consolidated Media Holdings seem to have gone all coy about reporting on the win in the Australian High Court by electronic program guide Company IceTV in their battle with Channel Nine which is also owned by CMH. A search of Google News at 6.15pm on Wednesday night, some 9 hours after 6 High Court judges ruled in favour of IceTV revealed that out of 33 stories on IceTV not one single story had been written by CMH journalists. A further search of CMH web sites such as the Ninemsn technology section or apcmag.com or the PC User section also revealed that the story had not been covered despite the fact that all the major newspapers in Australia including the Age, SMH, The Australian covered the High Court announcement. — Smarthouse

Gruen Transfer delivers the ratings despite adland backlash. The Gruen Transfer may have been coming in for industry flak in the last few days, but it’s ratings have only been getting better — last night the programme was the fifth most watched in Australia. According to preliminary ratings from OzTam, the programme about Australian advertising clocked up 1.2m viewers last night. The result saw Gruen rate better than any show on Nine, and beat its stablemate Spicks & Specks for the second week running. — Mumbrella

Journalist proposes to anchor on air. Channel Nine reports:

A female news anchor got a major surprise when her boyfriend turned up on air and asked her to marry him on live TV. Anchorwoman Courtney Collins was bantering with co-hosts between segments during a 6pm newscast for KARK 4 News, in the southern US state of Arkansas, when boyfriend Pete Thompson walked onto set.

Then he asked her to marry him, brought out a ring, etc. You can see the footage below. Okay so it’s romantic, but Crikey have a few questions, namely what happened to the news when this whole kerfuffle started? Who cares if they’re in love and have jobs on TV, what’s going on in Afghanistan? Secondly, what has the Channel Nine news dude talking about how he’s been on the job a week got to do with anything?

Seattle PI sinks without print boost. Maybe print does drive online readership. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which published its last edition on March 17, was knocked off the list of top 30 American newspaper Web sites in March, according to the latest figures form Nielsen Online. Seattlepi.com fell to No. 32 with 1.4 million unique users, down 23% compared to March 2008. In February, the site was ahead of its then-joint operating agreement sister The Seattle Times. Seattlepi.com had 1.8 million uniques, while the Seattle Times had 1.5 million in February. The Seattle Times picked up online readers as well. In March, the site recorded year-over-year growth of 70% to 2.2 million uniques. — Editor and Publisher

UK Daily Mail sacked journalist for using outside agent. The UK Daily Mail sacked a journalist for unauthorised use of an outside agent to obtain people’s personal information, the paper’s editor, Paul Dacre, confirmed to British MPs Thursday. Dacre said the unnamed journalist was dismissed for defying a Daily Mail ban on the use of such agents, prompted by a report from the information commissioner. “We let someone go recently,” Dacre told the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee’s inquiry into media standards, privacy and libel. — Guardian

Peter Fray

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