Ask Richard and save Sydney radio FBi. Community radio stations may have mostly escaped the battering handed out to their TV cousins in Tuesday’s Federal Budget, but it seems one Sydney broadcaster is still scrobbling around for cash.

This week, FBi radio, based in Sydney’s inner west, launched a novel campaign to solve its financial woes — instead of appealing to Kevin Rudd or the community for support it has decided instead to “Ask Richard” for the $1 million the station needs to make repayments on an estimated $2 million in loans.

The “Richard” in question is not, apparently, occasional FBi listener Richard Wilkins, but Virgin mogul Richard Branson. Possibly inspired by Branson’s savvy response to dealing with in-flight catering stuff-ups, FBi has asked listeners to appeal directly to the billionaire for a bailout. The listener behind the successful stunt will get $50,000 cash-back from the station:

Ask Richard!!! Get Richard Branson’s attention, get him to give FBi One Million Bucks & You’ll get 50 Grand! Genius!

Branson-baiting stunts in the pipeline involve skydiving, shark tanks and hot air balloons, according to an FBi spokesperson. Even if the pitches aren’t successful, the station still hopes to “raise awareness” over its predicament. Yesterday morning, FBi dispatched a 40-strong flash-mob to parade for Seven’s Sunrise cameras in Sydney’s Martin Place.

The background to the campaign is an interesting one. FBi has been bludgeoned by the global financial crisis, with advertisers and subscribers jumping ship, according to this report in the Sydney Morning Herald . But questions have also emerged over the station’s business model. Critics say FBi has rejected the community participation agenda favoured by broadcasters in other states in a bid to become a “mini Triple J”.

Concerns have also been raised over what a $1 million Branson donation might do for the station’s playlist and for its brand, although this has been rejected by FBi management.

On Tuesday, Kevin Rudd continued core funding for community radio and refunded a $2.5 million national training project for the sector. FBi will still receive the standard $30,000 a year to cover transmission costs. But even if Branson somehow comes to the party, without a boost in subscribers or a significant institutional partnership, the station may still struggle — a grim prospect indeed for musical diversity on an increasingly barren FM dial. — Andrew Crook

Overingtonc: Twitter comedian. We at Crikey have a special love for Oz journo Caroline Overington, or @overingtonc as she is known in the twitterverse. Having taken the concept of Twitter and run with it, Overingtonc has gone from early tweets, where she treated the medium as a type of computerised megaphone, to this week when she bravely twittered her phone number for sources. Now she has written an article where she considers the role of the twittering journo as a comedian. This is what she said about herself,

I like to think I’m pretty funny on Twitter, too (@overingtonc), although with me it’s mostly inadvertent. For example, when this newspaper was looking for people to interview about the budget, I put up a post that said: “Looking for a person aged about 45, who has children aged 16 or 17.” Others re-tweeted it and, by the end of the day, the message had become: “overingtonc is looking for somebody under four-foot-five, with 16 or 17 kids” and I was getting calls from dwarfs in Darfur.

Inadvertent? We love you Overingtonc! Especially when you tweet about roast chicken:

Eleri Harris

Times Online photo needs a rethink. This article is about low rape conviction rates in Britain. The accompanying photograph is of a woman drinking out of a champagne glass. What kind of message does that convey? Think about it.

Beautiful automated advertising strikes again. From Fairfax digital…

NZ Fairfax Magazines looks at a nine-day fortnight. Fairfax Magazines New Zealand, publisher for some of this country’s biggest titles, is inviting staff to go on to a nine-day fortnight so it can avoid job losses. Staff were told yesterday but it was not linked to a Standard & Poor’s surprise move to downgrade Fairfax Media’s credit rating. Fairfax Magazines New Zealand staff have until the end of next week to decide whether they want to take part in the Government scheme that subsidises them for some lost income. — New Zealand Herald

Dutch government to pay salaries of 60 newspaper journalists. The Dutch government is planning to spend €4m (£3.6m) to pay the salaries of 60 young journalists to work on otherwise commercially funded regional and national newspapers across the Netherlands. On a visit to Amsterdam today, Dutch media minister Ronald Plasterk outlined his scheme to fund two “government journalists” to work on each of the Netherlands’ 30 or so daily newspapers. The initial bursary is expected to fund junior positions for two years, with the first journalists expected to start in August. — Guardian

Deal or no deal? When the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Boston Globe ‘s largest union, decided to take the New York Times Company’s latest contract offer to its members last week, ratification seemed like a done deal. True, the offer’s provisions — a pay cut of roughly 10 percent, pension freeze, no more $US401(k) matches, elimination of lifetime-job guarantees — were grim. But since the alternatives seem to be either a whopping 23 percent pay cut or the paper shutting down altogether, you’d figure union members would grit their teeth and acquiesce. Surprisingly, though, the opposition seems to have plenty of support. — Boston Phoenix

$13,000 for Huffington Post internship. How bad is the job market for media types? A charity auction for a two- or three-month internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. “Jumpstart your career in the blogsphere,” the listing suggests, “with an eye-opening internship at The Huffington Post in New York or Washington.” The auction’s beneficiary, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, seems exceptionally worthy. But are unemployed media wannabes really this worthless? — Advertising Age

Google to whining publishers: use a robot to block our spiders . It must not be not easy for the Google crew to be called “parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet” by Robert Thompson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal . Well fine, if publishers don’t want their content crawled, they can easily tag their content with a “Robot” which blocks Google’s spiders from crawling and indexing their pages, says Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker in this interview with Beet.TV Blocking Google is easily done with a simple tag called Robots Exclusion Protocol, or robots.txt protocol. — Beet.TV

Peter Fray

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