Who’s a racist? It was a particularly crazy time on the Sunday shows this week. Something went badly wrong with the filter on The Bolt Report, and actual debate got past the filtering process. It happened when Craig Emerson was invited on, a reliable Labor free-marketeer whose presence can give the show a false appearance of left-right balance. Alas! When Bolt swung his guns round on the indigenous constitutional recognition push (and Qantas’ support of it) declaring the campaign to be “racist”, Emmo hit back, telling Bolt that that was an offensive judgement, and that by that token, or any other, Bolt himself was racist. At this point, the Bolter’s Dutch cap blew off with outrage, and he accused Emmo of being, yes, offensive. He appeared to be more offended, even flabbergasted, that he had been challenged on his own crapulous Pravda-hour. Scratch another reliable stooge — Emmo won’t be back.
Mad as that was, it was an Oxford debate compared to the bizarre spectacle that unfolded on Insiders, when Gerard Henderson and David Marr were side by side on the white couch, and both decked out in shades of blue, like a giant Rothko. Poor old Hendo had a tough time of it trying to defend the NSW Liberal Party, to which he is emotionally attached, at a time when 10% of the party’s lower house has been lost to the party whip through corruption. “The only thing that ICAC has done is to remove two innocent premiers” he said, going for the surreal lie. Nevertheless, Marr inevitably led with his jaw and let Hendo get a sneaky uppercut in on Abbott’s Scottish remarks “Gerard, try not to think like a monarchist, try to think like a lawyer…” “Well, I’m both a republican and a law graduate, so…” Classic Marr, left hisself wide open. Hendo wore a blue denim shirt (Anne! For godsake!) and Marr was in blue jeans. It looked like they’d skinned the one animal and shared the pelt.
And on The Bolt Report, Rowan Dean wrapped it all up by describing Eatock v Bolt as a complaint by “dark-skinned albinos”, at which Bolt gave a chuckle. Thank god that’s not racist, otherwise you’d have to conclude such people were scum. — Guy Rundle
APC responds. The Australian Press Council has responded to the series of articles criticising it in Saturday’s Weekend Australian. In a statement by executive director John Pender, the council has addressed criticisms that its more activist stance have caused it to lose credibility with publishers:
“News Corp and the other publisher members of the Council agreed that it should [become more effective] and accordingly increased its funding. The number and tone of the recent articles and editorials may assure some readers that the Council has been strengthened and is not, as has sometimes been claimed, a toothless tiger.”
The APC also disputed a number of the asserts made in articles over the weekend and said it would respond to more of them once its confidentiality provisions lapse. The council also took aim at the paper for, as The Australian acknowledges, breaching these provisions repeatedly in its reporting on the APC:
“Repeated breaches of these obligations, and misrepresentations of the Council’s work, can severely compromise its credibility as a preferable alternative to a statutory regulator, which currently applies to radio and television.”
Meanwhile, The Australian has published another editorial on the body, accusing the council of implementing the Finkelstein Review’s recommendations “by stealth”.
“Examples are piling up of the council’s “mission creep’’. [Chairman Julian] Disney has overseen the rewriting of its guidelines in an effort to extend its reach. And the council has tried to spread its influence by questioning the publication of hard-hitting material readers need to know; meddling in practical aspects of news gathering and wasting time on trivial complaints that should have been dismissed at the outset.”
News Corp results hint at future cost-cutting. Judging by the 2013-14 annual report filed in the United States late last week, which showed a continuing slide in newspaper sales, revenues and profits, News Corp Australia’s local papers face the prospect of another round of cost cuts and possible job losses in the coming year if the weakening trend isn’t reversed soon. News Corp directors warned in the report that the company is facing the possibility of being forced to cut asset values by close to US$1.7 billion, with much of those cuts concentrated in the company’s news and information business. If this happens, it would take the total impairment cuts, write-downs and restructuring charges since 2009 to more than US$9 billion.
According to the annual report:
“The News and Information Services and Digital Education segments have reporting units with goodwill that is at risk for future impairment. As of June 30, 2014, $1.7 billion of goodwill at these reporting units was at risk for future impairment because the fair values of the reporting units exceeded their carrying values by less than 10%.”
Considering News Corp had US$2.78 billion in goodwill in its balance sheet at June 30 (and a further US$2.13 billion of intangible assets), a write-down of US$1.7 billion would represent a substantial cut of 62% to the asset value.
The detailed performance for the News and Information business confirms the damage from the weak Australian results: “Revenues at the Australian newspapers for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014 decreased 18%, as compared to fiscal 2013, primarily as a result of the adverse impact of foreign currency fluctuations and weakness in the print advertising market in Australia.”
Judging by the number of references in the report to weak revenues in Australia, much of the impairments would apply to the papers in News Corp Australia, where the print ad and circulation revenues and earnings continue to slide. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the Day. We’re not quite sure why Wayne Swan is both telling the masses to “eat cake” and leading them to overthrow their oppressors, but we do love this historically inspired photoshop job by The Courier-Mail. Can you hear the people sing?