Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV Network will not air President Barack Obama’s primetime news conference this Wednesday. The press conference is being held  at 8pm (US Eastern Time, 8am Thursday, Australian time) to mark his first 100 days in office, an important milestone and one commented upon at length in News Corp papers and on Fox News. But it is not so important that viewers of Fox TV’s network will be allowed to watch. A total of 10 other networks, cable, free to air and internet will be taking the feed of the historic press conference and Fox will air the regularly scheduled drama Lie to Me (seen on Channel Ten here) instead.

It is the first time a major broadcast network has declined Obama’s request to break into the primetime broadcasting schedule.  Fox said Lie to Me viewers will see an on-screen graphic informing them that sister cable networks Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network will air Obama’s press conference in its entirety.

This will be Obama’s 4th nationally televised press conference this year. Fox News and Fox Business news have been the most vocal media opponents of the President and the Democrats since the election last November tossed out their favourites, the Republicans and President Bush. That opposition has seen audiences for Fox News rise. So it’s either a cunning Murdoch move to force viewers to stay with the Fox empire and watch (in the US 90% of the TV audience has cable). Or it is a subtle Fox comment on they way they see what the president will be saying in his news conference, and that fiction for Fox viewers, is more preferable to fact (And for Fox and News Corp executives?).

The pre-emption of the time in the heart of nightly prime time does cost the networks money as they hold ads from being screened and move or defer scheduled programs. Perhaps it’s a mark of the financial pressures that Murdoch’s Fox TV Network is now under with ad income draining away weekly. We will know a week tomorrow morning at around 6am, Sydney time, when the News Corp third quarter results are released in the US and Australia. — Glenn Dyer

Australia’s two public broadcasters have lost their radio heads (literally). SBS’s Paula Masselos departed this week and the head of ABC Radio, Sue Howard, disappeared earlier in 2009 after several controversial years. SBS radio has seen several years of controversy about changes to broadcasting techniques, departures of long time staff and concerns that SBS’s ethnic broadcasts were being impacted by advertising.

Just as the ABC looked inside and found Kate Dundas to replace Howard, SBS is thought to be going down the same route. But unlike the ABC, SBS is facing budget cuts as advertising income in both TV and radio falls short of budget (an estimated $9 million). The new head of radio might be faced with the tougher task of cutting back, rather than maintaining the status quo or growing it. — Glenn Dyer

Note to National Review, there was an election in 2007. National Review Online is running a five part video interview with John Howard, light entertainment for us, a political wank bank bailout for them. The flyer for it says it all:

“For an astonishing sight — namely, a world leader who refuses to make any concession whatsoever to political correctness — click here.”

That’s um, ex-world leader. Sorry to break the news. We’re run by an un-named official now. — Guy Rundle

If Fairfax was reporting the results of a race, would you lead with who came 28th? So why lead a list of the world’s most-photographed landmarks by mentioning an Apple store? Also, “Flickr images” doesn’t represent “the world”, just the rich Westerners with digital cameras who’ve got the time and inclination to upload photos of toyshops:

Stilgherrian

Where could Daily Telegraph Blogs Editor Garth “Monty” Montgomery have popped off to? Since early February, loyal readers of “Monty’s Pop Fizz” blog on the Terror website have been on tenterhooks with a final post on The Biggest Loser left to fester with no indication as to when another entry might appear. Crikey can end that suspense by confirming that Monty has moved on from the Telegraph, apparently to pursue opportunities as a spinner in Nathan Rees’ stricken state government.

But if Monty’s recent Twittering is any indication, the ex-blogger could still be bitter over what went down at his former employer, launching this spray last weekend at former colleague Joe Hildebrand.

“Still lmao at the Daily Telegraph’s original explanation of lmao. Even trying to fix it online they got it wrong. http://tinyurl.com/cumpqx11:01 PM Apr 25th from web”.

Montgomery is referring to a Hildebrand-penned Tele non-story describing an apparent “leb vs aussie” Youtube bashing in Sydney’s west. Hildebrand, according to Montgomery, appeared to be struggling to translate the routine web neologism “lmao”, which means, of course, “laughing my arse off” and not, according to Hildebrand, “laugh my arse off”. The offensive comments were apparently left on the video’s Youtube page.

By pure coincidence, Hildebrand’s blog appears to contain increasing amounts of celebrity pap since his former editors disappeared from the web. Recent posts cover a “flabby fatwa on man boobs”, a spoof Frank Bainimarama interview and a Chris Martin versus Bono cage match. — Andrew Crook

Swine Flu coverage: reaching for the apocolypse. Authorities have been feeding the media beast in an attempt to show they are on the case. But some analysts say the media are collectively going overboard. “Of course we’re doing too much to scare people,” said Mark Feldstein, a former correspondent for NBC, ABC and CNN who teaches journalism at George Washington University. “Cable news has 24 hours to fill, and there isn’t 24 hours of exciting news going on. If you scare people, they’ll tune in more.” — Washington Post

Crikey thinks a good example of the Swine Flu coverage epidemic is this beautiful photo gallery from the ABC, depicting some very nice pictures of people in masks in Mexico. Overboard? Hmmm, you decide:

NZ TV loses case to broadcast advertisements on the sabbath. A law that bans TV advertisements between 6am and midday on Sundays is certainly archaic. But it’s still the law even if the law in this case is indeed an ass. In NZ last week Mediaworks’ TV station lost a court case over advertisements broadcast during a rugby game. Under the Broadcasting Act, it’s possible to beat the Sunday morning ad ban if a programme’s signal originates outside New Zealand, it is produced and transmitted simultaneously to both kiwi audiences and overseas viewers and is targeted primarily at audiences outside New Zealand. The problem for MediaWorks is Judge AA Sinclair didn’t buy the argument that the games were targeted primarily at audiences outside New Zealand. — Stuff.co.nz

Publishers seize on iphone as great white digital hope for print. Can the Jesus phone resurrect print’s hopes for paid digital content? So far magazines and newspapers have built applications chiefly for the iPhone — and the surprisingly popular iPod Touch — that riff on their core editorial missions. Many publishers would like to turn iTunes into a virtual newsstand and subscription hub. It’s immensely popular, and people like buying things there. What better place to try to give paid circulation a foothold in digital? — Advertising Age

Elisabeth Murdoch continues to take over global reality television. Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group has continued its overseas expansion with the £60m acquisition of the Scandinavian independent TV production company Metronome Film and Television. The Shine Group has bought all 15 production units under the umbrella of Metronome, one of the biggest production houses in the Nordic region. Metronome and its subsidiaries make local versions of global formats including Deal Or No Deal, Big Brother, and the Idol talent show. —The Guardian

Facebook backer wishes women couldn’t vote. Peter Thiel, foremost among Silicon Valley’s loopy libertarians and the first outside investor in Facebook, has written an essay declaring that the USA went to hell as soon as women won the right to vote. Thiel is the former CEO of PayPal who now runs the $2 billion hedge fund Clarium Capital and a venture-capital firm called the Founders Fund. His best-returning investment to date, though, has been Facebook. His $500,000 investment is now worth north of $100 million even by the most conservative valuations of the social network. He writes in Cato Unbound, a website run by the Cato Institute, that all those voting females have wrecked things. — Gawker

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW