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Feb 10, 2014

Media briefs: Rupert's Tumblr ... Foxtel profits ... Lee Lin ...

Murdoch's social media reform ... Aussie dollar slide hurts Foxtel ... Video of the day: starring Lee Lin Chin ...


Murdoch’s social media reform. News baron Rupert Murdoch seems to have tweaked his personal social media strategy: Tumblr is out but Twitter is back on. His official Tumblr, which used to be open-access (and was endlessly interesting to Crikey journalists), has been locked in the last few days. Visitors now see this:

Crikey last checked the Tumblr on Thursday and it was open-access, although nothing had been posted since mid-December (before that it was updated roughly every two to four days). The site was co-ordinated by one of Rupert’s staff and featured lots of fairly informal photographs of Rupert at work — having pranks played on him, opening Christmas gifts, chatting to protege (and News CEO) Robert Thomson, sitting in endless meetings with white men in suits around the world, looking at kangaroos while in Australia. This remains one of our Tumblr favourites — Rupert dancing with a robot (they were performing Do Da Heisman) …

So is the Tumblr dead, or did Rupert tire of seeing images from it in Crikey? We tried various passwords — News, Fox, Murdoch, phone hacking, Rebekah — but couldn’t break in. Interestingly, while Murdoch’s Tumblr has been locked, he has broken a long Twitter silence today. Murdoch used to tweet about every two to three days, but in the last 49 days he had only tweeted on one day. Today the drought has broken with a flurry of seven tweets in a few hours …

Murdoch has certainly had a few distractions lately — not least the fallout from the end of his marriage to Wendi Deng (remember that Vanity Fair piece?), and the ongoing trial of News staff for phone hacking-related charges in the UK. But we’ll take him at his word that it was the bad back and wish him a speedy recovery. — Cathy Alexander

Aussie dollar slide hurts Foxtel. Foxtel, Australia’s pay TV monopoly, recorded a small fall (in United States dollar terms) in its favoured measure of profit in the six months to December 31, the detailed quarterly and half-year accounts from News Corporation revealed. The accounts were filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday night, our time.

Foxtel will reveal its Australian dollar results on Thursday, when 50% shareholder Telstra is due to report its interim figures. The fall in the value of the Australian dollar in the six months to December 2013 makes a comparison between the two half-year results a bit tough. The impact of the currency changes could be significant, as News pointed out elsewhere in its report that 10% of a 17% slide in Australian newspaper revenues in the period came from currency fluctuations.

News said Foxtel’s operating income before depreciation and amortisation was $US431 million in the six months to December 2013, compared to $US443 million for the same six-month period at the end of 2012. Operating income was $US260 million, up from $US214 million as the company’s depreciation and amortisation bill fell sharply to $US171 million from $US229 million. But News Corp said that for the six months to the end of December, Foxtel’s net income was $US122 million (just over $136 million), up from $US60 million earned in the six months to the end of December 2012.

News said it had received dividends of $US46 million for the six months to December 2013, down from the $US57 million received in the year to December 2012 (the fall is due to the decline in the value of the Australian dollar). — Glenn Dyer

Network flags Olympic trouble. Torah Bright hasn’t secured that all-important Olympic hardware as yet, and the commentators also seem to be letting us down. Channel Ten’s commentators kept calling a giant Russian nesting doll on the snowboard slopes a “babushka” (“babushka” means grandmother; “matryoshka” is the word for Russian nesting doll). But at least Ten seems to be able to play “match the flag to the country”, unlike one American network …

Video of the day. Everyone’s favourite severe SBS newsreader has joined SBS2’s The Feed for Celebrity Chin Wag with Lee Lin Chin. In a hilariously deadpan promo, Chin breaks stories such as “a young actress caused a minor commotion when walking down the red carpet in a hairstyle slightly different from her usual one” …


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