Sky unlocks the town hall. There might be another pre-poll debate between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. It will probably be in Brisbane. It could be tonight, though it’ll probably be tomorrow. On the economy, at least for half hour, maybe more. The ABC’s Chris Uhlmann will moderate. Maybe. Sky News, with News Limited’s local tabloid The Courier Mail, wants to host another town hall-style (why don’t we ever host them IN town halls?) forum afterwards. If the debate happens. Which it might not.

But for all the uncertainty, the new round of debate speculation has at least thawed relations between the ABC and Sky. After Sky declared last week’s forum at Rooty Hill was off-limits to the national broadcaster, the news network announced via tweet last night the Brisbane forum would be open to all. — Jason Whittaker

17-08-2010 11-40-43 AM

Fairfax talking up circulation — as it falls. The circulation of Fairfax Media’s struggling suburban real estate glossies may have fallen off a cliff after Antony Catalano’s $35 million smash and grab raid in April, but it seems someone has forgotten to tell the company’s executives. Recent ads in The Melbourne Weekly‘s Bayside and Emerald Hill editions still brag that “over 1 million” people read Fairfax’s Domain offerings in The Age and weekly freebies. But follow the ubiquitous asterisk and it reveals not only do less than a million readers actually read the titles (995,000), but that the claim is based on old Roy Morgan data from September 2009. The fresh March 2010 data, which Fairfax doesn’t want to promote, shows a drop even further below the magic million, to 968,000. All this as the company scrambles to re-design The Melbourne Weekly with a new logo, stacked masthead and green shading that ape Catalano’s offerings.


Meanwhile, Fairfax insiders say senior management continues to digest last weeks’ devastating drop in The Age‘s circulation. The following comparison is based on historic ABC Audit and Morgan Research data.


June 2007                                                                 June 2010

M-F   207,000                                                           197,500 (down 9,500)

SAT    301,000                                                          279,900 (down 20,100)


June 2007                                                                June 2010

M-F   749,000                                                          655,000 (down 94,000)

SAT   954,000                                                         877,000 (down 77,000)

The Age’s profit has crashed from around $90 million in 2007 to less than $45 million today, with board pressure on Age CEO Don Churchill said to be reaching a crescendo. — Andrew Crook

Lindy haunted by media intrusion

“Lindy Chamberlain, the woman who was jailed over the disappearance of her baby near Uluru, has used the 30th anniversary of the tragedy to issue an open letter calling for changes to the libel laws and accusing the media of continuing to get its facts wrong.” — mUmBRELLA

What’s Murdoch cooking up for Australian tablets?

“Seems like Murdoch is trying to tackle two pretty significant issues. The first is making money from the Internet (something he has not done and something not many have been able to do – especially content plays). The second is getting younger people to read newspapers or newspaper-like content (and pay for it).” — Talking Digital

Times ‘hemorrhaging online readers’ since the paywall

“Internet marketing research firm ComScore reported that the websites for the News Corp-owned Times and its sister newspaper, The Sunday Times, have lost 1.2 million viewers in the three months since the formerly free site was reorganized and split into two separate sites — and, each of which was placed behind a paywall.” — Huffington Post

NY Times starts paywall experiment — in Worcester

“The New York Times Company is beginning to roll out a paywall, starting with its Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspaper.” — WebNewser

Press worried about freedom in South Africa

“South Africa’s government could have spent the past few weeks building on its highly successful staging of this year’s football World Cup. Instead, it is fighting off accusations that it plans to undermine the founding principles of the country’s young democracy.” — Financial Times

Oprah’s ‘hostile work environment’

“Oprah is facing another lawsuit — this time, from a former employee at her not-yet-launched cable channel. Catherine Dunn, a former assistant at the Oprah Winfrey Network, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Friday claiming she was ‘subjected to a hostile work environment’ because she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.” — Huffington Post

Facebook nabs crooks in New Jersey

“Police in a small New Jersey town have set up a Facebook page that reaches out to “friends” to help them nab bad guys.” — New York Post