Rudder steps up as Foxtel 2IC. After Patrick Delaney departed Foxtel to become CEO of Premier Media Group, parent of Fox Sports, the 2IC role at the pay TV giant was left vacant. We hear that will soon be filled by Jim Rudder, the BSkyB and Nine Network executive who was named Foxtel’s content head last month, who will step into Delaney’s shoes as Kim Williams’ right-hand man. The long-time News Corporation lieutenant is considered a safe pair of hands alongside Williams, who shows no signs of stepping away from Foxtel despite the obvious promotional opportunities at News.

Rudder spent time in Italy at Sky Italia where he worked closely with Tom Mockeridge, who was moved to London mid-year to take charge of News International after the phone hacking scandal erupted. Rudder was named executive director of products at Foxtel at the start of this month and according to sources was quickly earmarked for more power.

SBS transmission draining budgets. Budgets are increasingly tight at SBS, as Crikey revealed last week. So is there any fat to be cut? You could start with transmission contracts, with TV and radio analogue and digital airwaves through Broadcast Australia costing some 30% of the broadcaster’s total annual budget, according to one insider. “I would imagine that’s a good place to start looking for savings,” says the former Broadcast Australia employee.

Victorian ex-ministers want out … Who are the former Labor ministers in Victoria not coping with life on the opposition benches and want out? Crikey is hearing four names: former deputy premier Rob Hulls, ex-planning minister Justin Madden, former community services minister and now environment and arts spokeswoman Lisa Neville and upper house MP and ex-treasurer John Lenders. Lenders revealed in September he is suffering from a degenerative eye disease and another of the four may also be ill.

The upper house seat can be subbed in with another candidate, but our Spring Street insider says the party isn’t at all confident it can hold onto the lower house seats and has told the MPs they must stay on for the full term. Neville had her margin slashed to 1.4% in Bellarine at the last poll, while Madden’s Essendon electorate tightened to 2.4%. Labor hacks are insistent neither stand down, we’re told. Still, another insider reckons it’s all a beat-up.

… and current minister clings tight. Speaking of Spring Street moles, take this with a grain of salt but apparently the Coalition’s un-insaultable gaming, consumer affairs and energy minister isn’t winning friends: “It’s being wondered aloud in Melbourne’s Treasury Place as to why Michael O’Brien, who shined so brightly in opposition, is failing so miserably as a minister. Kind souls are blaming white-anting and passive resistance by his Labor-era bureaucrats, the less kind think that opposition was easy on him as there was need for him to deliver. Either way, a reshuffle may not prove kind to him.” Perhaps, but sounds like opposition rabble-rousing to us.

Robert Doyle hacked on Wikipedia. Now they’ve been moved on from City Square, Occupy Melbourne protesters appear to have taken to Wikipedia to vent their spleen against Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. This morning Doyle’s page said he was an “Australian idiot” who “use to teach at scotch colledge [sic] but would only talk to parents of children he thought where [sic] elite”. And further: “Robert Doyle is most definitely not very smart and he is in the back pocket of the rich. Happy DEATH ROBERT DOYLE! is what I would be saying to him if I could see him in person.” That character assessment has since been removed.

Council keeps good coffee to itself. Which Melbourne-based local council recently purchased a $3000 Nespresso machine on the orders of the spendthrift Labor mayor and his Liberal colleague — but only for councillor use? “And far more has been spent on luxuries during this past year,” our tipster says.

One-way hell for hospital sharks. The renovated Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne — to be re-opened by the Queen tomorrow, as Crikey first revealed in July — is making children better but sharks much worse. According to the 3AW Rumour File: “Anonymous says the aquarium at the Royal Children’s Hospital has been built in a round shape, and sharks can only swim in a straight line. He says one shark has died, and one injured. He says one shark has been removed, and half of the remaining fish have eaten each other. He says the science labs have been given plywood desks for microscopes which are unstable, and a safety glass door has been installed in the dark room.”

Peter Fray

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