Video of the day: Packer and Willesee pash on. It started weirdly with an inexplicable reference to Mike Willesee’s primary school (which reminded him of the Crown chairman’s annex apparently) and went downhill from there. Last night’s Sunday Night interview with James Packer may not have plunged the depths of last year’s notorious fireside chat with The Australian‘s Damon Kitney, but Willesee must be scratching his chrome dome about how a planned serious journalistic investigation turned into an insufferable puff piece.

“James Douglas Packer, he’s fit, he’s trim, he’s a little nervous,” Willesee commenced, before segueing into an hilarious bloopers reel of the duo’s six glorious days together. Packer and Kerry Stokes have clearly buried the hatchet following their Broome sojourn last year, and with David Leckie gone (remember the 2009 public sledge?) the floodgates of beneficence have started gushing. Witness the gravitas. Willesee: “You started, ahh, like all young boys going out with girls … but you were the rich one. How did that affect you finding girls, girls finding you?” Packer: “I think it helped … hahahahaha.” One bizarre moment came when Willesee let Packer get away with blaming the Fairfax press for the heat over the disastrous $5 billion One.Tel collapse — not surprising given it was a joint venture with the Murdochs.

Oh, and Packer teared up — not just over his last 2005 conversation with Kerry (“he was a f-ckin big man Mike, a big man”) but over Tom Cruise saving him with Scientology. Mike quickly jumped in to save his blubbering charge: “I don’t want to go into Scientology because this is not the interview to be investigating religions,” he said, before quickly moving on. The two star-crossed lovers ended it with a hug, a clearly emotional Willesee explaining three of his ribs were “gone”. Touching stuff. — Andrew Crook

Germans don’t bring cash to ACP. This hurts: long-suffering staff at ACP Magazines might have thought German group Bauer would sweep a new broom through the place, but it’s the same old cost cutting. CEO Matthew Stanton had to deliver the bad news in an internal memo this morning that pay rises are still in the deep freeze:

In June last year, I wrote to all staff to advise that salary reviews were to be deferred across the business until early 2013 and indicated that we would review the position in January.

The market continues to be particularly challenging for the media industry and it is important that we act responsibly and manage our cost base for the future sustainability of the business. In this context, I have determined that salary reviews will continue to be deferred across the Bauer Media Group in Australia and New Zealand.

I understand that this is not an easy message to receive and I sincerely appreciate the ongoing efforts of all staff during an unprecedented time of change in the industry.

Our vision is clear in working towards being one of the most innovative and successful publishing companies in the world. In order to continue on this path, it is critical that we work together to do whatever is possible to ensure our future viability and success.

Please liaise directly with your manager should you have any questions or like further clarification on any of the above.

Matthew Stanton
CEO

Exclusive Watch. When is an exclusive not an exclusive? This morning The Age and The Australian both ran front-page “exclusives” on an industrial dispute, reporting a Melbourne construction contractor was forced to use a helicopter to bring workers on site and break a picket line on Saturday.

Ben Schneiders of The Age and John Ferguson of The Australian both reported the protest was pitting local workers against 457 visa holders. Both front page, both ran below the fold, both with the red-lettered exclusive screamer. We’re not quite sure which rag hit news-stands first, so let’s call it a draw. We’ve kept an eye on the prolific use of “exclusive tags” recently — The Australian is a prime offender, and The Australian Financial Review is not above a liberal smattering of redundant “exclusive” or even “revealed” tags. But normally The Age keeps above the fray. — Crikey intern Callum Denness

Front page of the day. In case Europe’s breaking story about horse meat sold as beef confuses you, The Sunday Post spells it out in yesterday’s headline and picture.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW