AWU backbenchers and Ministers (ministers already in town on Ministerial duty Monday to Wednesday inclusive) in Queensland were summoned to come to Brisbane for an urgent meeting yesterday. Without wanting to speculate, this is a very unusual thing to happen and needs further investigation. There is word around that the end is Bligh.

With The 7.30 Report‘s Kerry O’Brien on yet another of his extended vacations, ABC News bosses have begun tinkering with the idea of wholesale change to the program next year. The feeling is that both the show and its host are well past their use-by date. The choices are the nuclear option, which would require a re-design from top to bottom, or to replace O’Brien and his sullen “Welcome to the program” with someone who actually looked as if he/she wants to be there.

Further trashing of The Age brand continues with tacky full page adult-product ad adorning its Epicure wine magazine today. The Sexyland ad in question (a tasteful convergence of two spilt glasses of red wine in the shape of a heart) boasts the arrival of “200 new products”. Age employees increasingly questioning part-time Age CEO Don Churchill’s decision-making.

The Age Business Day had a blog late last week on Real Estate Agents. It collected about 100 comments in the first three hours, 75% of them critical of the industry. About 5pm the first 100 comments were removed, not to be seen again.

What’s going on with the calculator on the desk of the Australian Financial Review‘s Market Wrap section?

Look at the graphic with today’s market story: Stock movement last 6 days:

  • BHP + 59.6%
  • CBA + 20.5%
  • WBC + 18.3%
  • etc etc.

Did they. Go look at the price graphs on Comsec. BHP hasn’t jumped almost 60%, or 59.6%. Did someone miss out a decimal point somewhere. Is this the country’s leading financial daily or is it a paper that can’t use a calculator?

Just take BHP. In the six trading days till yesterday it rose from just under $32.50 on July 13, to just over $36.19 at the close Tuesday. At best, a rise of around $4, which is a jump of around 12%.

Westpac (and presumably the other banks) have a nice little rort going on credit card cash advances. Because payments are applied first to purchases and then to cash advances, the only way to clear a cash advance before a statement issues is to repay all outstanding purchases first. So even though the cash advance incurs a (higher) interest charge from the date it is made (and presumably is thus then a debt incurred), amounts which aren’t even due to be paid until after the next statement issues must be cleared first.

Olympic great, Grant Hackett is said to be wistful that the Nine News and Sports departments continue to overlook his obvious Olympic talents. Talk around Nine that two reporters have been chosen for the Winter Games next February near Vancouver, Canada. Tony Jones, the sometimes sports reporter from GTV 9 is one, and Leila McKinnon, wife of David Gyngell, is said to be the other.

The demise of long running drama, All Saints is yet another blow to the television drama industry. Why would you end a drama which consistently gets well over a million viewers? The Ten Network would kill for such a result with an Australian drama. The answer is that with Seven Network exceeding its Australian drama quota, it didn’t need All Saints. It is far cheaper to buy overseas drama to fill that slot. But Thank God You’re Here, essentially a theatre sports improvised comedy show moved to Seven and it qualifies for drama quota under the ACMA rules.

The inclusion of sketch comedy in drama quota occurred in 1995 after much lobbying of the Keating Labor government by Steve Vizard’s company Artist Services. Even Labor thought Steve Vizard was credible then. At the time there was huge objection to it by drama producers but it went through regardless. In the 14 years since its inclusion it has been death by a thousand cuts for Australian drama as drama programs have been discontinued and commissioning has declined.

Sketch comedy is less than half the price to produce with half the turnaround. Isn’t it about time that ACMA reviewed the impact of the inclusion of sketch comedy on Australian drama production by commercial networks? The Federal government can’t distance itself either. It allowed television networks to be eligible for the 20% Tax Offset for new Australian drama up to 70 hours in length. But even with an offset Australian dramas can’t compete with sketch comedies.

There has been no increase in new Australian drama, only decline. The system has failed.

Ian Plimer’s book on global warming covered by Crikey recently is well panned at Wikipedia. Lots of material there for future reference.

Special Telstra unsealed section:

  1. Telstra is offloading more finance jobs to Bangalore (from Melbourne).
  2. If you wanted to complain to Telstra on Monday you were out of luck. All phone lines to the complaints section were down. Even Telstra staff couldn’t speak to each other.
  3. With their never ending journey to extract as much revenue as they can from their loyal customers, my spies at the post office tell me that Telstra is about to introduce both a Post Office account payment fee, and a separate paper invoice fee. If you choose to continue to receive your invoice in the mail, it will cost you several dollars for the privilege — pay your Telstra account at the post office, and you get slugged again. How long before they start charging me for electronic invoices and BPAY payments as well?
  4. As from the middle of September 09, if you pay your Telstra phone bill at a Post Office or a Telstra Shop you will be charged an extra $2.20 on your next account for the privilege.