The Citizen launches for election. The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism today launched The Citizen, a new site featuring the work of students, staff and freelance writers. Stories uploaded today include features on CCTV cameras and young military veterans, as well as pieces by former Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn and former Age sports editor Charles Happell.

The site is edited by former Fairfax veteran Simon Mann and will house the university’s Citizen’s Agenda project to give the public more of a say in the issues that dominate election campaigns. Stay tuned.

Double pay for Murdoch in split. No wonder Rupert Murdoch is tweeting about transcendental meditation — he’s facing a nice pay rise over the next year that will be more than six times the rate of inflation in the US and Australia. And with dividends from the his stake in the company, will take home close to $US70 million a year.

As a result of an agreement struck last week, his 2013-14 income is already assured at minimum of more than $US28 million from the two halves of the about-to-be-split family company, according to an SEC filing Friday night our time. Murdoch will receive at least $US28.3 million from being chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox, the broadcast and film content half of the company, and from being chairman of News Corporation, the rump of the company that will contain the newspaper and book publishing businesses and pay TV and digital operations in Australia. That total will be around 15% (or more) above the $US24.6 million minimum Murdoch will be paid for the year to June 2013. Both sums are provisional and will depend on the actual performance of News and its spin-offs.

News Corp board’s compensation committee voted to give him at least $US23.3 million, consisting of a $US7.1 million base salary, a $US10.5 million target bonus, and a $US5.7 million target long-term incentive opportunity. He will also receive $US5 million from the publishing unit, referred to as new News Corporation, where he’ll be executive chairman. That package will include $US1 million base salary, $US2 million target bonus, and a $US2 million target long term incentive opportunity. That should really have been done for director’s fees and nothing more.

The committee says the amounts are “competitive and appropriate given Mr. Murdoch’s responsibilities”. What’s more, News says most of the additional income is tied to company performance, “which will further align Mr. Murdoch’s compensation with the interests of stockholders”. (In truth that means aligning his interests with his interests, given he remains the largest single shareholder.) — Glenn Dyer

Bad sports let Nine talent walk. Some 84 years of combined experience walked out of the Nine Network’s sports department last Friday: Graeme Koos, a 35-year veteran (he started as a tape operator and moved up the chain to be the executive producer of cricket broadcasts); Lesley Tapsall, a reporter/ producer and then EP of Wide World of Sports who had 19 years at Nine; and Tim Sheridan, who was at Nine for more than 29 years as a reporter and presenter of sports.

The departures (with more to come) leave around 10 in the department (headed by executive producer Steve Crawley), down from 35 to 40 some 15 years ago when editions of Wide World of Sports were screened on Saturday afternoon and Sunday (Sports Sunday) morning, and Nine covered golf, cricket, tennis, horse racing, motor racing and rugby league from Sydney. Nine now has just one sport — rugby league — and could share cricket with Ten when the latest rights negotiations are finished.

Ken Sutcliffe, who has been the public face of Nine’s sporting coverage, remains on air in Sydney presenting sport for the 6pm news. He has been at Nine for 40 years, which in the current round of axings is like wearing a big target. The planned redundancies were announced to staff by Nine in late January, along with a pay freeze. Applications for the redundancies closed on February 15 and started taking effect from last Friday. — Glenn Dyer

But Nine ramping up Sunday TV. Still on Nine, Sundays at 10am is going to be a crowded spot for business, politics and current affairs: the Nine/Australian Financial Review production (Financial Review Sunday) kicks off next Sunday at 10am. That puts it up against the time slot leader, Ten’s The Bolt Report, and Inside Business on ABC1. To slot it in, Nine has pushed back Wide World of Sports to a 10.30am time slot, and the Sunday Footy Show now starts at 11.30am.

Of the competition, Inside Business, hosted by Alan Kohler and recorded on Fridays, is the most vulnerable if the AFR/Nine effort is live and up-to-date with US and European market closings and news. Watch for a lot of “exclusive” publicity in the AFR about the new program.

Interesting, it is now clear the revamp Ten gave to Meet The Press by putting it under the control of News Ltd’s TV experts has lost the network viewers. MTP isn’t doing any better than the old version did — in fact, some mornings there are 10,000 to 20,000 fewer viewers at 10.30am. The big loss has been the elimination of the repeat of The Bolt Report from 4.30pm, which used to average well over 120,000 viewers, replacing it with a cut-down repeat of the earlier MTP, which is averaging around 100,000 at best. — Glenn Dyer

Video of the day. US President Barack Obama again brought the funny at the White House correspondents’ dinner yesterday, with plenty of zingers directed at the Republicans and his own political (and physical) failings. “I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be,” he joked. (Stay tuned for the remarkable impression of Daniel-Day Lewis.)

Peter Fray

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