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Mar 19, 2010

Glenn Milne gone from News ... Kim Williams used to love the ABC

Glenn Milne is no longer working for the News Limited Sunday papers? Plus, Foxtel boss Kim Williams and his ABC conflict, Sarah Palin's reality TV show and other media news of the day.

Glenn Milne gone from News? The automated email response from News Limited gallery hack Glenn Milne delivered the news: “Please be advised that as of the 13/03/2010 I no longer work for News Limited Sunday Papers, I still work for The Australian.” Milne is directing correspondents to a Gmail account, presumably because his role at News is now as Australian column contributor only.

So what’s happened? The veteran Canberra reporter had been dishing the political dirt for the Sunday tabloids — including The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Herald Sun and The Sunday Mail (Brisbane and Adelaide) — catching Kevin Rudd at a New York strip club, and swearing at MPs, exposing Greg Combet’s love life, uncovering Jan McLucas’ travel rorts and other salacious scoops prowling the halls of parliament house on Saturdays. It seems all that digging got too tiresome for the man Paul Keating dubbed the ‘The Poison Drawf’ (and that was before his celebrated run-in with Crikey founder Stephen Mayne at the 2006 Walkley Awards). Milne couldn’t be reached for comment.

Crikey understands News stable journo Simon Kearney last week announced to a shocked News Limited press suite he would now be filing for the Sunday titles. Representatives from News Limited didn’t respond to questions by deadline. — Jason Whittaker

CLARIFICATION: An original report wrongly included reference to The Age journalist Shaun Carney. Crikey confused the names — Carney has no involvement with News Limited and we apologise for the error.

Kim’s ABC conflict: Foxtel boss Kim Williams took another swipe at the ABC’s plans for a news channel yesterday at the annual knees-up for the subscription TV industry in Sydney. According to AAP, Williams questioned how the proposed new channel fitted within the ABC’s charter and expressed doubts about how it would be funded exclusively from internal savings:

“The charter actually requires of the ABC that it take account of the broadcasting landscape and that it act in a complimentary sense with that landscape. These things require accountability — not just because it is frustrating to me, but because it requires accountability at law.”

Williams made the point the ABC service would only go to 37% of the population (because the ABC will use its HD-only channel) — strange given Foxtel’s penetration is only just over 30%, and he’s a much bigger broadcaster. The ABC has said its channel will start modestly and be a niche player, much in the way Foxtel and all its channels are broadcasting niche players.

And his comments on the ABC charter are intriguing. Not many people realise Williams is an expert the subject — he was appointed in 1991 to be the ABC’s GM of subscription services, where he started a pay TV news channel which was later closed after failing. The question has to be asked whether Williams raised his points about his pay TV news service and the ABC charter with then ABC management, led by mate David Hill? He must have reassured himself there was no problem. (Ken Inglis’ book Whose ABC has the history of Williams’ involvement.)

Williams is a pioneer of substantive pay TV in this country, and unlike a lot of others (such as Steve Cosser at Australis) he proved himself a clever and talented empire creator and builder. Foxtel’s success is testimony to that ability. So why doesn’t Williams mention his involvement with the aborted ABC pay TV news ambitions in the 1990s when he’s now attacking the latest plans? — Glenn Dyer

CLARIFICATION: An original report wrongly included a reference to Joe Skrzynski as an ABC board member. Skrzynski in fact sits on the SBS board. Crikey apologises for the error.

Rupert’s first shot: The Times to go behind the wall

“The start of the Times Online paywall is imminent, with a special preview about to launch.” — The Guardian

Palin reality show a TV hot property

“Two cable networks are bidding on the reality show Sarah Palin is pitching about Alaska.” — Los Angeles Times

Internet piracy takes big toll on jobs

“Plenty of people download music from the internet every day, but illegal downloading has a huge economic impact and could put more than one million people out of work by 2015, experts say.” — Sydney Morning Herald

Playboy bunny cute enough for kids?

“Young viewers of children’s television programs in North Carolina got a glimpse of something far more risqué than their favourite cartoons when a cable glitch broadcast two hours of the Playboy channel.” — The Australian

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2 thoughts on “Glenn Milne gone from News … Kim Williams used to love the ABC

  1. Rod Webb

    I’d like to see that:

    1. Joe Skrzynski being a board member of the ABC – as reported by Glenn Dyer – while at the same time chairing the board of SBS, and

    1. Crikey spelling Joe Skrzynski’s name properly.

    Rod Webb.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    SCarney hopping off to Newsltd? No more Milne on Sundays? Weird.