Lambie unrepentant over pilfered Pope. Remember when we were all able to laugh at Jacqui Lambie without a feeling of impending dread? Before she began her campaign to ban a religious garment, refused to enter a mosque on “moral” grounds and told Parliament that supporters of sharia law would “not stop committing their cold-blooded butchery and rapes until every woman in Australia wears a burqa”?

If you’ve been longing for those halcyon days of hilarity, you’re in luck — our favourite PUP senator has just lashed out at Canberra Times cartoonist David Pope in a frankly baffling statement that serves as a grim reminder of the shortcomings of Tasmania’s education system (click to read a bigger version):

Having repurposed Pope’s original cartoon and recaptioned it, Lambie posted the result onto her Facebook page to the now-familiar sound of universal derision. As you’d expect, The Canberra Times was keen to get a comment.

As befits an elected representative of the Australian people, Lambie responded to allegations that she had twisted Pope’s cartoon to suit, in her own words “my own evil political purposes” by sending out a press release bludgeoning Pope over the head with a grasp of irony you could shave with.

“After carefully examining the cartoon and reading its ‘fake’ comments, I have to admit that we’re dealing with an exceptional offender — a cartoon forger, who not only is a criminal master mind, but has uncanny powers of observations.

“When you refer this matter to fraud squad, which I’m sure you’re about to do — as soon as your (sic) finish writing your cheap beat up — I mean serious political expose — please ask that they contact me ASAP. I’m happy to co-operate fully.”

Of course, it wasn’t Pope who’d called up at all — just a reporter wondering why the senator was pinching other people’s copyrighted material without their permission.

True to form, Twitter wasted no time in imagining what it would be like if Lambie got her hands on the work of some other cartoonists, with spectacular results.

Welcome back, Jacquie Lambie. You’ve been sorely missed. — Paul Millar

Free-to-air TV can’t afford to forget its fans. No wonder the free-to-air TV industry is under pressure. Not from streaming, weak advertising rates or even dodgy programming, but the high-handed treatment of viewers. Nine, Seven and Ten are all guilty of treating fans badly in recent weeks.

Nine has already upset the few remaining Big Brother fans by dropping the Sunday and Friday night episodes without explanation. The Sunday night episode was ostensibly dropped to make way for the new American Batman prequel, Gotham, which has proceeded to sink to viewing levels similar to what Big Brother was getting. But with cricket on last Sunday night and this Sunday evening, Nine has not programmed Big Brother after the end of the first Australia-South Africa One Day International, instead scheduling a weak movie.

The Ten network is losing money and struggling to hold viewers, so you’d think it would go out of its way to keep them happy and glued to the channel. This has not been the case. I have been taken to task for not noticing that Ten quietly moved the weak Homeland back to 10.30pm on Monday, instead of the programmed 9.30 start. That helps explain the 174,000 national viewers, but not the high-handed move by Ten, which has upset the few remaining fans of this dud program. Next Monday Homeland is on at 10.30 and Law and Order SVU, which was slipped into the schedule last Monday night, remains at 9.30pm.

Then there’s the Seven Network, which has been playing ducks and drakes with the faltering reality series The Big Adventure, starting it at 6.30pm then quietly moving it to 8pm. This Sunday night it has been pushed back to an 8.30pm start, with Seven putting Surveillance Oz into the 7.30 pm slot.

And the Ten Network could lift its game and answer viewer queries about changes like we saw with Homeland on Monday night. One Crikey reader wrote in saying that he’s still waiting for Ten to reply to his email about the change. If this is the way Ten treats all viewer queries and complaints, then the network is in self-destruct mode. Party Tricks has been replaced by an hour-long episode of Have You been Paying Attention at 8.30 on Monday night. — Glenn Dyer

Seven West cuts costs as earnings plummet. The Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven West Media shocked the market this morning with a surprise earnings downgrade for the first half profit. CEO Tim Worner told the company’s annual meeting in Sydney this morning that the company was looking at a 10% fall in net after-profit tax for the six months to December 27. But Worner said the company was still confident it would meet guidance for the full-year profit to June 2015.

The cause of the weaker outlook is lower-than-forecast ad revenues for market-leading TV network Seven. It’s a situation that has hit all other networks, including Ten, Nine and their regional affiliates. The fall is despite Seven recording a 40% share of the lower ad market in the September quarter.

As Seven earned a net profit of $150.1 million for the first half of 2013-14, the company is looking at a drop of up to $15 million for the current half year. Worner said the lower profit was caused by the softness of the advertising market, which fell in the September quarter, to the surprise of the industry. He said that means ad revenues will be “flat to slightly negative” over the year, instead of being up by “low single digits”. He also said that the slide in revenue had forced the company to attack costs and they would now be up around 1% instead of around “the CPI rate” for the year to June — around 2% to 3%. Worner said that the cost-cutting meant the company was still confident it would report “an underlying profit within the range of market estimates”. — Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. The New Republic turns 100 and revisits the man who nearly destroyed it.

Peter Fray

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