From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …
Shaken and stirred at News Corp. Word is emerging in TV and newspaper circles about an impending reorganisation of Foxtel/Fox Sports and News Corp Australia later this year. TV industry sources say Foxtel has stopped spending money on new programming ideas (it’s keeping existing ones going) because of the impending revamp. The structure of the various pay TV offerings will change, with the top-tier channel offerings to be shaken up and weak-performing channels dropped. Fox Sports is likely to be shaken up as well because of its weak performance in the past year. There’s talk of job cuts, right the way to the top of some parts of Fox Sports, News Corp Australia and Foxtel itself. Pay TV ad revenues are down 12% or more so far this year. There may be hints of the changes in the annual results of Telstra (owner of 50% of Foxtel) in early August, and in the News Corp results next Thursday in New York.
Indian coal connections. What will Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi want from Australia in exchange for agreeing to think about taking some of the people recently transferred to the Curtin detention centre, wondered Fairfax’s Ben Doherty today. Good question, Ben, and one a Crikey reader has ventured an answer to. A close associate of Prime Minister Modi is industrialist Gautam Adani , who stood by the former Gujarat chief minister through thick and thin. This week junior Industry Minister Greg Hunt approved the vast Carmichael coal mine in Queensland against independent expert advice. Who owns that mine? Why, Adani Mining, founded and chaired by Gautam Adani. Adani also owns the controversial Abbot Point port development, which will require the dumping of dredging material near the Great Barrier Reef, also approved by Hunt. The timing of Hunt’s go-ahead of Carmichael is, of course, completely coincidental, we’re sure.
Who’s next? Will the Abbott government go after the Australia Institute? It would love to. The left-leaning think tank, established by Clive Hamilton two decades ago, has in recent years become far more focused on political intervention under director Richard Denniss, formerly Christine Milne’s chief of staff. Having acted as an unpaid adviser to Clive Palmer during the recent carbon tax farnarkle, the Australia Institute has contributed to a potentially killing blow to the Abbott government’s credibility.
And as a report in last week’s Saturday Paper indicates, the government is going in hard on implicitly leftish NGOs that receive government funding, and they are now banned from any form of advocacy in new government contracts. But the Australia Institute is out of reach because it relies on a tax-deductible charity status to receive donations — the same arrangement by which the far more government-friendly Institute of Public Affairs and Centre for Independent Studies survive. Doesn’t mean the government won’t try. Watch this space.
Bureaucrats don’t gamble. We hear from a tipster that state government public servants in South Australia couldn’t access the Adelaide Casino website, which was blocked because it related to gambling. That, our tipster noted, was rather ironic, given the state government’s own website touts the latest casino expansion as a tourism magnet that’ll generate hundreds of jobs and increased revenue for the government.
It sounded juicy, but we’ll have to strike that one through. Ms Tips asked two Adelaide-based state public servants (in different departments) whether they could access the Adelaide Casino website at work, and both answered in the affirmative.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the tip is completely false. It could be only a particular department that bans its public servants from the site, and if so, we’d love to know which. It wouldn’t be the first time overly cautious public service departments ban contentious websites on work computers — we know that some public servants are even deprived of Crikey (how unfair).
Factional battles at the Victorian ALP. The Victorian ALP announced last week that it had a new candidate for the seat of Frankston, firefighter Paul Edbrooke. Labor needed a new candidate to take on suspended independent MP Geoff Shaw after Helen Constas pulled out of the race when allegations of workplace bullying came to light. Edbrooke is an organiser for the United Firefighters Union, and the announcement was probably just in time — the party has more than a few fires to put out with the news that the leaked Ted Baillieu tape was listened to and destroyed by ALP heavyweights. The Herald Sun‘s source of the bullying allegations is still unknown, but our tipster tells us the leak comes from the office of Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews himself:
“Andrews’ people then blew up Constas’ candidacy in order to install Firefighter Paul Edbrooke who has been given special dispensation to run as he is not a Labor party member.”
We put that to Daniel Andrews’ office and were told, “these assertions are wrong”.
Ooh Aah. Former cricketer Glenn McGrath has taken to Twitter to defend himself after he and fellow fast bowler Brett Lee were criticised for signing cricket bats used as part of negotiations with Indian ministers over the 157 asylum seekers now at the Curtin detention centre:
McGrath says he knew the bats would be used by Scott Morrison and given to the ministers, but it reminds Ms Tips of hearing a current ABC AFL commentator in his playing days being reluctant to sign an autograph for a young fan who admitted to skipping school to meet him. He relented and the fan left happy, but perhaps McGrath and Lee should be just as cautious about where they put their John Hancock.