Weekend AFR loses 30% of readership in a year. Most newspapers get a circulation boost on the weekend, but not The Australian Financial Review. Read mostly by business professionals at work, the gap between its weekday circulation and that of its weekend edition is widening after the weekend paper posted a 31% circulation decline, according to Enhanced Media Metrics Australia figures released this morning.

The Weekend AFR had an average issue readership of 118,000 in June 2014, compared to 170,000 in June 2013. The paper’s weekday edition held onto its circulation far better, down just 4000 readers over the past year (it’s read by 308,000 on weekdays, according to EMMA).

It’s been a year since the first EMMA figures were released, intended to replace the Roy Morgan newspaper readership measurements, which newspaper companies claimed were underestimating their readership. And EMMA’s figures do remain well above those previously reported, sometimes claiming readership is double what Roy Morgan reports it as. But methodological differences aside, the new measurement also recorded declines in print circulations for many newspapers over the past year.

The Australian has an average print circulation of 524,000, according to EMMA, compared to 540,000 last year. Its weekend edition also lost print readers, from 746,000 an issue to 685,000 (The Oz managed to publish a whole article on the EMMA figures without mentioning its own performance). Fairfax’s former broadsheets also didn’t do well. The Sydney Morning Herald is at 755,000 on weekdays, compared to 814,000 in June 2013. The Age is at 738,000 average readers per weekday issue, down from 757,000.

But there were, for what must be the first time in years, some print gains too. Both of News Corp’s most-read tabloids recorded gains. The Daily Telegraph boosted its readership on weekdays: it had 1,173,000 average print readers a year ago on the EMMA figures, now, it has 1,191,000. The Herald Sun had 1,446,000 readers in 2013, now it’s at 1,452,000. Fairfax title The Canberra Times also reported a lift in circulation to 109,000 on weekdays, compared to 102,000 a year ago. — Myriam Robin

Quadrant wraps the bandana. Life sentences for Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea haven’t dampened spirits at Quadrant, the right-wing magazine edited by one of the KR’s last enthusiasts in Oz (as mentioned in today’s Tips and Rumours). They aren’t taking the defeat over 18c lying down. Online editor Roger Franklin has prepared a form that allegedly turns into a magic racial vilification form when filled in with the word “Muslims”. Questions such as:

1/ Members of the ______ community are disproportionately represented amongst those recently charged and convicted with plotting terrorist acts.

etc etc, ending with

I will be at home and available to be taken into custody at the following time:  __.__ am/pm

Give me liberty or etc. You go, girlfriend. Only one problem. The four statements Franklin suggest will breach 18c, when thus completed, do not even come close to breaching the statute. For a start, they’re a series of statements about some members of a “community”, which are simply matters of fair comment, whether they are true or not. No essential characteristics are imputed to the whole group, no individually named people are being insulted by perjorative use of their race, and the whole communication is protected by section 18d of the act, which explicitly states:

Exemptions — Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith….   (c)  in making or publishing:…(ii)  a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

What sort of act of satire/civil disobedience is it when you prove the opposition’s case — that 18c has adequate protections for fair comment? Only one concocted in the Quadrant brains trust. Fellas, if you’re going to cook something up, make sure you’re not the goose. — Guy Rundle

IPA accuses ABC of bias. The ABC is biased in how it reports on the energy industry, a report released by right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs claims. The IPA commissioned media monitoring firm iSentia to analyse how the ABC covered the energy sector, in particular the coal mining, renewable energy and coal seam gas industries. That analysis found 52% of the ABC’s stories on renewable energy were favourable, while those on coal mining were only favourable 15.9% of the time, and those on coal seam gas only 12.1% of the time.

The problem, the report states, is in the framing of the stories. Reports on coal seam gas, for example, were more likely to be about environmental impacts rather than being focused on assessing economic benefits. This framing towards environmental issues skewed the ABC’s coverage against coal and coal seam gas, the IPA claims. iSentia also looked at the dominant arguments put forward in energy stories by the ABC and found that reports on renewable energy were often framed in the language of hope, while those on coal and coal seam gas were framed in the language of fear or scepticism. The report states in its conclusion:

“All news content is framed in some fashion. Framing can be consciously or unconsciously imposed. The iSentia research collected in this report has shown that the ABC frames the energy industry in a consistent direction. It consistently weights environmental concerns far higher than economic concerns.”

The findings, the IPA notes, are a good argument for privatisation. If the ABC were privatised, the IPA report states, it would be free to pursue any editorial line it wished subject to the “marketplace of ideas”. But given it was publicly funded, it had a duty to be neutral.

The ABC rejects the claims, a spokesman told Crikey. “The ABC’s strong editorial policies ensure a diversity of views on complex issues such as this one. The ABC notes as well that the IPA’s interpretation is not surprising given their strong pro-mining stance.” — Myriam Robin

How to price video streaming. BSkyB in the UK has shown its slower-moving pay TV associates in Australia, Foxtel and Fox Sports, how to price its subscription offerings. It’s all to do with rising competition in the UK pay TV market, unlike Australia, where Foxtel (50% owned by News Corp, whereas BSkyB is 39% owned by 21st Century Fox) and Fox Sports (100% owned by News Corp) are the subscription TV monopolies dominating the sector. BSkyB revealed over the weekend that it was introducing a 10.99 pounds weekly pass to access its six sports channels for 24 hours. Pass buyers don’t have to be subscribers to any BSkyB product. BSkyB has added the cheap option to its budget internet service, Now TV, which initiated the day pass for Sky Sports (costing 9.99 pounds). That broke with the standard pay TV strategy of only making the offerings such as sport, drama, etc, available to full-paying subscribers, and is in effect a price cut focused on the sports channels — BSkyB’s most popular offerings.

The aim is to make BSkyB’s budget Now TV (which started 18 months ago at 9.99 pounds a day) more attractive — there are also monthly passes for Sky’s entertainment channels (4.99 pounds) and films (8.99 pounds). BSkyB is aiming these services at rivals such as Netflix, which raised its price to 6.99 pounds earlier this year, and Amazon, which uses the LoveFilm brand at a cost of 79 pounds a year. In Australia, Foxtel has the Presto movie service at $19.99 a month after a cheap first month offer of $4.99. That $19.99 is expensive and has no sports component, which BSkyB’s offering has. Fox Sports has mobile apps, but nothing like the latest 24-hour, all-sports channel offering from BSkyB. — Glenn Dyer

Video of the day. Why this photographer swears by his smartphone …

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Peter Fray
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