Tick tock, tick tock. It seems like staff at the ABC and SBS have been waiting forever to hear whether they’ll be made redundant by Christmas, and Crikey, alas, doesn’t have good news on that front. After Media Watch last night said an announcement from Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was due today, and Turnbull went ahead and announced a 5% cut to the ABC on Q&A, your correspondent got in this morning and hit the phones, and was told that while an announcement later today is possible, it is highly unlikely. The holdup, one Crikey source mused, could have something to do with this morning’s Newspoll, where Labor leads the government by 10 points. It’s possible the government figures that by delaying the announcement, they can lessen the impact (though Turnbull, Crikey understands, is sick of the wait and was trying to get it out there through his Q&A answer yesterday).
But an official announcement, as opposed to what Turnbull said on TV last night, is important, because even though we know, more or less, the base figure being discussed, the exact information about which programs and staff members will be affected won’t be revealed until after Turnbull has announced, in an official way, what the cuts will be. Crikey is hearing the broadcasters are planning to announce their response early next week. For viewers though, this is nearly over. They can prepare to kiss the state editions of 7.30 and The Business goodbye. — Myriam Robin
Bolt watch. Yesterday we told you the Columbia Journalism Review reckons Australian media outlets are, well, rather sceptical of global warming. But Andrew Bolt is having none of it, posting an intriguing little tally on his blog yesterday that counted up the number of questions Australian journalists asked Tony Abbott about global warming (four global warming questions out of 10 overall, compared to foreign journos only asking four questions, none of them about global warming).
“Are our journalists the world’s most warming-obsessed?” Bolt asks. We’re not going to try and answer that. — Myriam Robin
Saving Peppa’s bacon. Peppa Pig is a rather cheaply aired show for the ABC. It’s foreign, meaning the ABC alone doesn’t have to shoulder the production costs, and marvellously popular. But the parents of Australia were rather alarmed when, asked by Senate estimates to rule in or out a number of things the ABC would or wouldn’t cut, managing director Mark Scott said he wouldn’t rule anything in or out — not even the pig. But a question and answer session by Scott at Screen Australia yesterday can lead parents to breathe easy. As Scott put it, “we’re contracted with the fine Pig family for a very long time”. He also confirmed, as unsourced reports have previously revealed, that Lateline would also be returning in 2015, after a staff campaign saw any considerations of dumping it shelved. — Myriam Robin
Brooks sent 25 angry emails every morning! Will testimony in a London court be enough to end the comeback of Rebekah Brooks that the Murdoch clan is so obviously planning? Brooks, the former head of News International and a former editor of the News of the World and The Sun was acquitted by a London court over the phone hacking claims and other charges in July. She resurfaced in New York at the News/21st Century Fox head offices in Manhattan in a widely reported sighting, and there are claims she is being readied for a return to the Murdoch fold. Some stories have claimed she is bound for News Corp Australia to do “time” in the colonies. News and the Murdochs appear to be laying the ground for her return.
But in a London court overnight Monday, new claims in a bribery case involving a group of Sun journalists have refocused attention on Brooks and what she did and didn’t do as editor of The Sun in particular. The most serious claim is that Brooks signed off on virtually all cash payment requests as editor. The claim was made by one of a group of Sun journalists who are accused of approving payments to public officials for stories.
Media reports of evidence from Chris Pharo, the 45-year-old head of news at The Sun say he was asked by the trial judge what proportion of payment requests the editor refused to approve. “A very small percentage,” Chris Pharo replied. Asked whether he could give an idea of the percentage, he said “two to 3%”.
The court also gained some insight into what it was to like to work for Brooks, who famously had a reputation for being volatile. The Financial Times reported that Pharo told the court Rebekah Brooks was “nothing short of a nightmare on occasions”. Brooks “would send him up to 25 angry emails each morning,” the Financial Times reported. Pharo also told the court that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of The Sun’s owner News Corp, “would communicate with the editor regularly — often daily, often several times a day”. No wonder Rupert Murdoch bonded with Brooks. — Glenn Dyer
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Murdoch cash injection. While News Corp wrapped up the takeover of US online real estate listings group Move on Friday at a cost of just US$1 billion (with 20% to be sold to REA Group, 61% owned by News), the big financial story for the Murdoch clan was the inflow of more than US$8 billion in cash into 21st Century Fox from its European pay TV reshuffle.
That reshuffle arranged for 30.1%-owned BSkyB (now to be called Sky) to buy Sky Italia and the 57% of Sky Deutschland that 21st Century Fox owned. Fox received the cash and Sky’s 21% stake in the National Geographic international channel (Fox will now own 73% of that).
The cash boost now means Rupert Murdoch has US$12.6 billion of cash on his books to play with. That was to have financed the US$80 billion attempted takeover of Time Warner. Now that Murdoch abandoned that play, he will no doubt use the cash on another buyback to keep restive shareholders happy after some rebelled against the Time Warner deal. But when Rupert Murdoch has cash that is burning a hole in his pocket, and he’s feeling confident, as he obviously is now, then that’s when other shareholders should be worried about value-damaging deals being done. They survived the Time Warner scare this year, but what lies ahead in 2015? Well, News Corp could very well buy a stake in the Ten Network in Australia via the 50%-owned Foxtel, which will have more debt heaped on it and may not exactly be a megabucks deal. — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. Tasmania welcomes Xi.