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Jun 19, 2014

Media briefs: exclusive watch … Oz v Media Watch (yet again) … winners and losers …

The Australian is now taking the ABC to the Australian Communications and Media Authority over its plain packaging story. Plus other media tidbits of the day.

Exclusive watch. Fairfax defence correspondent David Wroe had a sobering front-page “exclusive” story in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald on Australians fighting alongside ISIS militants in Iraq …

Meanwhile, writers Paul Maley and Mark Schliebs had a sobering front-page “exclusive” story in this morning’s Australian on Australians fighting alongside ISIS militants in Iraq …

It’s a well-researched, interesting story. But it is certainly not exclusive to either the Fairfax tabloid, sorry, compact, or News Corp’s broadsheet.

Murdochs protect their legacy. News Corp has extended the poison pill established last year to protect the company from raiders during the great split between 21st Century Fox and News Corp.

In a filing with US regulators this morning, our time  News extended its “rights plan” until June 18, 2015. The plan allows the board to dilute their holdings should a raider acquire 15% or more of the company’s shares without approval from the company (in reality, the Murdoch family). It was erected to make sure John Malone, the cable TV billionaire (Liberty Media, Liberty Global, Discover and Virgin Media, and more), did not get control of the Murdoch company. Malone raided News Corp during its flight from Australia to the American state of Delaware in 2004-06, when Rupert Murdoch was forced to sell him News’ stake in DirecTV, plus cable channels and cash in exchange for the 18% stake Malone had quietly assembled in the Murdoch company.

The terms of the plan were not spelt out in the latest News release, but in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They are unchanged from 2013’s, which will allow existing shareholders to buy News’ voting (B) and non-voting (A) shares at a 50% discount if any new investor should acquire 15% of the company. So no naughty raiding, unless it’s with the Murdoch family’s approval, which would be very, very unlikely given sons Lachlan and James have been moved into position to succeed dad Rupert. Glenn Dyer

Smoke and mirrors. There’s been another development in The Australian‘s fight with Media Watch over cigarettes. A quick recap of the saga so far: the Oz published a highly dubious story using research funded by Big Tobacco arguing that the number of cigarettes sold in Australia had gone up since the introduction of plain packaging. Media Watch (and Crikey, days before) debunked the story. The Australian doubled down on its original claim, devoting five new stories to the claims. We’re getting smoke in our eyes (or maybe that’s just boredom creeping in),  but there’s a new twist in the tale …

We suggest Media Watch host Paul Barry and Oz scribe Christian Kerr retire to the parlour for a cigar or two and talk it out.

It’s pinched content all the way down. The issue of republishing other people’s creative content for your own commercial profit has been in the news lately, after News Corp served Daily Mail Australia with a legal letter for lifting its stories. But what about all the news sites that carry videos created by others for their own commercial profit? Yesterday Fairfax carried an article by a Village Roadshow co-CEO on internet piracy. But Fairfax, and plenty of other news companies, also republishes videos from elsewhere on their own video platforms instead of using YouTube embeds, ensuring they get the ads.

The issue was touched on yesterday by whoever’s behind the Twitter account and blog, Quality Jernalisms. He or she wrote in an open letter to Fairfax about several articles it had recently published with videos “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” that embedded an extract of Oliver’s content hosted on Fairfax’s proprietary ad-serving player.

“[The videos are] available on the show’s YouTube page and is not geo-blocked. You do realise that TV shows, such as Last Week Tonight, can generate revenue, through advertising, by putting clips from their shows on YouTube? You do realise that by not linking to these clips and instead placing them in your own ad-revenue-generating video player, you’re denying these content creators revenue, don’t you.”

Brian Williams likes big butts. Our hats are off to the hard-working crew at Jimmy Fallon’s show (and to NBC anchor Brian Williams, of course) …

Broad churches (and broadsides). Herald Sun economics and business editor Terry McCrann is unhappy with the latest addition to News Corp’s economic stable, former Reserve Bank wonk Callam Pickering, now economics editor at Business Spectator. McCrann doesn’t think Pickering, whom he calls a “twit”, is worth reading. He wrote in yesterday’s Herald Sun that Pickering approved of the RBA’s rates decision last month, but disapproved this month:

“Fortunately, for the rest of us, rate decisions are made by the RBA and not the assorted members of the economentariat like Pickering, who have a tendency to rush from one side of the good ship rates at every statistic that surfaces on the economy.”

But Pickering is having none of it. In a response to McCrann posted later on the same day titled “Why Terry McCrann is wrong about me“, Pickering wrote that he didn’t choose his headlines, and that if you delved deeper into the two articles, it became  clear that his opinion of how the economy was doing (not very well) hadn’t changed month from month to month:

“My approach to economics has always been to focus on long-term economic developments rather than short-term cyclical movements. I will often spend more time discussing mining investment or an ageing population than I will the RBA’s next meeting. By comparison, McCrann gives a voice to the RBA’s immediate thinking — which in the past has proven quite valuable — but doesn’t necessarily provide insight into the RBA’s medium-term intentions. There is room for both sets of analysis, and News Ltd benefits directly from this. The reader does too.”

That last sentiment — about readers being served by a multitude of views — isn’t one you often read when journalists disagree with each other.

Video of the day. Australians are very proud of their Socceroos for giving the Dutch team a good fight overnight (with Dutch-Australian Andrew Bolt possibly the only Aussie completely rapt with the result), and our own Tim Cahill’s goal may go down as the best in the Cup …

Front pages of the day. They’re true Blue and brimming with pride in NSW today, while in Queensland The Courier-Mail is getting a bit snippy over its loss …

State of Origin

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One thought on “Media briefs: exclusive watch … Oz v Media Watch (yet again) … winners and losers …

  1. rhwombat

    Ah, The Curia Male & QLD: ‘better’ weather, ‘better’ food, ‘better’ lifestyle, ‘better’ betters, ‘better’ plutocrats, ‘better’ dictators, ‘better’ corruption. ‘better’ bullshit…