From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Raining on BOM’s parade. You might tune into the Bureau of Meteorology’s website to learn about, say, the weather forecast — but soon you’ll be looking at advertising. Crikey has learned commercial ads will appear on the website soon, probably at the end of next week.

Digital Network Sales (DNS) has just won the contract to manage BOM’s online advertising. DNS says the website will be “the first Australian government agency to carry advertising on its website”. The firm reckons the site gets 3.3 billion pageviews a year (and this Tips scribe is certainly doing her part), with an average of 25,000 people looking at the site at any one time. It’s expected the first ads will relate to mining, agriculture, banking or insurance.

We’ve known the ads were coming for some time, but now they’re imminent. The ads will go in this space on the right (BOM has been buttering us up for the change by using the box to promote in-house services) — note that the ad space is bigger than Australia:

So what will BOM be advertising? Solariums? Climate denial lobby groups? The Liberal Party? Crowded House’s re-release of the single Always take the weather with you? It will be interesting if miners do advertise — their greenhouse gas emissions are certainly affecting the climate, so they should have a presence.

Some products are banned, according to BOM’s rules for advertising. No ads for gambling, alcohol, anything aimed at kids, bombs (yes, seriously), no political ads, and no “s-xual innuendo”.

We’re not sure how we feel about the government making money from its taxpayer-funded weather website. And wouldn’t it be nice if we could look at the actual weather, not a large ad? How do you feel about the change? Send us an email and we’ll announce a Crikey readers’ verdict next week. Others in the Crikey bunker are pooh-poohing this is a non-story, but they don’t understand the passion of the BOM devotee.

University finds Riady money. Julia Gillard is pretty keen to strip money from the tertiary sector, so perhaps we’ll see more of this. Melbourne University has accepted money from Indonesian business tycoon James Riady, large enough to name a chair in economics after him. This is the same Riady who was charged and fined in (and barred from) the US.

Riady, one of the world’s richest men, gave a sum of money to Bill Clinton for his 1996 re-election campaign. But political donations in the US are limited to citizens and permanent residents only. Riady is neither, and in 2001 he pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to defraud the United States”. Riady received a US$8.6 million fine (around AUD$10 million in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation), and was barred from entering the country (that was dropped in 2010). We asked the University of Melbourne about the donation but haven’t heard back.

Naming Aussie icons. Jetsetting national treasure First Dog on the Moon told us of being shocked and offended when, travelling through an airport this week, our cartoonist noticed the TV displaying flight information used “Ayers rock” as a destination — with no sign of “Uluru”. Dog suggested it might be more appropriate for airlines use the Aboriginal name for the rock.

We had a quick look around and found the Qantas website uses “Ayers Rock” (Uluru), while Virgin uses “Ayers Rock (Uluru)” or just plain “Ayers Rock”. The code appears to be AYQ.

Apart from the fact that researching this little snippet made Tips yearn to fly to Uluru — and the flights aren’t that expensive after all! — what do you think? Should airlines use Uluru instead of Ayers Rock? Add your thoughts to the comments section online or send us an email.

Good news week. Tips feels bowed down by the weight of bad news this week. The Boston Marathon bombings, the explosion in the Texan town of West, funerals, haggling over education funding closer to home … sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. So we thought we’d point to some good news — and boy, that wasn’t easy. We checked various news websites and found about 90% are negative stories. People are dying, taking drugs, getting the flu, being ripped off, and arguing over politics. They are bracing for bad weather, crashing their cars, in court, being found guilty in court, going bankrupt, and saying really stupid things.

We did manage to find a few good news yarns; this story tells of Tasmanian artists raising funds to help fellow artists who were burnt out in the Dunalley bushfires. A NSW life education program for students has had its funding renewed, while this fellow is very pleased he’s had his lost wedding ring returned.

Is the world really this terrible and dangerous? Maybe it’s time the media reflected on its bad news bias.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to or use our guaranteed anonymous form