Thanks GetUp, but pull the ads: ABC. For those wondering where the “Protect our ABC” billboards on Sydney’s Bayswater Road and Military Road went: it was the ABC that got them taken down. The billboards were erected by lefty activist group GetUp and featured Bananas in Pyjamas, as well as the ABC’s “weave” logo. These trademark images sparked the fears of the ABC’s lawyers.

“While it is clear that your campaign is in support of the ABC, you will appreciate that the ABC is concerned that your distribution of the Works could mislead the public into believing that your organisation is affiliated with the ABC or Bananas in Pyjamas, or is endorsed by the ABC,” the ABC’s senior lawyer Grant McAvaney wrote. Upon receiving the legal letter, GetUp removed the billboards, one of which had been up for two months.

GetUp campaigns director Erin McCallum declined to say how much the billboards had cost, but said the money for them came from 12,000 small donations by members who donated specifically for the purpose of erecting the signs in the electorates of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

GetUp fully intends to go ahead with the campaign, but will tweak it so it doesn’t infringe on the ABC’s copyright. “When we started this campaign, the threat to the ABC was very much on the fringes, with people like [Liberal backbencher] Cory Bernardi and the Institute of Public Affairs being the ones talking about cutting funding. Now, it’s a far more mainstream concern. Last week, ABC managing director Mark Scott said in Senate estimates that no part of the ABC would be quarantined from cuts. That includes the rural services that are critical for many Australians. That’s why we’re going to continue this campaign well into budget season,” McCallum told Crikey. — Myriam Robin

Some good news in dead-tree journalism. The Financial Times‘ 2013 financial results is one of the most encouraging profit reports from a dead-tree company for some years. The company reported a strong rise in profit for the year to December, on a tiny rise in sales. It was a higher-quality report than we saw for The New York Times and Fairfax Media — both of which have showed the benefits of some drastic surgery in the past three years, including huge job cuts, asset sales, debt reduction and the positive benefits of a paywall around the websites of their major newspaper titles.

Like all dead-tree companies, the FT has been forced to change drastically — revenue and earnings are less than half what they were back in 2008. The FT has been notable through the downturn as the yardstick for all other media groups as they adjust to falling advertising and sales in their hard-copy products and try to replace those losses in the online world. The FT has moved faster and deeper into the online world and for the past two-and-a-bit years has earned more than half its revenue and profits from the digital world — subscription income or advertising and other revenue sources.

On Friday night FT owner Pearson revealed a 21% slide in group operating profits for 2013 thanks to a downturn in its dominant education business, especially in the United States, and tougher times in the United Kingdom and Australia. But profits at the FT Group jumped 17% to 55 million pounds (or just over $100 million), despite a 1% fall in full-year revenues to 447 million pounds (or more than $820 million). Digital and print circulation hit an all-time high of 652,000 in 2013, a rise of 8%, and the highest subscription revenue in the paper’s 125-year history. That was due to a 31% rise in digital subscribers to 415,000 (corporate subscribers jumped 60%), which is equal to around two-thirds of total analog and digital sales. The rise in digital subs more than offset a planned reduction in print circulation this year as the paper goers through a major revamp that will emphasise the primacy of the various websites.

At the same time its 50%-owned associate, The Economist, continues to grow, with profit up 3% (no figures were given). The Economist‘s content revenues reached 60% of total revenue, up from 44% in 2008, and digital and services revenue reached 39% of total revenue. Global print and digital circulation hit a record 1.6 million in 2013. Glenn Dyer

Avast! O’Farrell’s no landlubber. New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell looks very good in a powdered wig, we think, as The Daily Telegraph makes the point that O’Farrell has travelled farther than most great explorers of old. Of course, O’Farrell has the advantages of business class flights, rather than three-masted schooners …

Front page of the day. Ahead of today’s ceremony, Oscar seems to have had some work …

New Yorker Oscar cover

Peter Fray

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