Foxtel comes to rescue Ten. Foxtel is being strong-armed into bailing out the Ten Network, while bedmate Sky in the UK is powering further down the track of being a big, modern, integrated media giant. Sky has just done Rupert Murdoch’s bidding and taken over 21st Century Fox’s satellite broadcasters in Italy and Germany, delivering over US$8 billion in gains to Fox.

Foxtel and Discovery of the US look like being the boobies left holding the mess that is Ten. This morning’s local media mentioned no other possible bids. Ten shares rose to 4% to 25.5 cents here in yesterday’s market rout, a firm indication the bid will be around this level.

But will the bid work? The Australian’s Darren Davidson, the publicity conduit for all things media and Lachlan Murdoch and Ten, claims Ten’s board will reject the first bid — said to be in the range of 20 to 25 cents — as “too cheap”. Seeing the shares fell to 18.5 cents last month, a bid as high as 25 cents is right on the money. Lachlan Murdoch and dad Rupert want the embarrassment tied up. The $200 million loan from the Commonwealth Bank is strangling Ten’s already weak finances, and there are no other bids. The Ten board, led by chairman Hamish McLennan, are having themselves on if they think a higher price is justified. This is what Crikey has been saying for weeks.

What the situation at Ten does show is that the Telstra board is allowing its 50%-owned Foxtel to be used by News for the benefit of the Murdoch family. Without a bid from Foxtel and someone else (and what will Discovery get as a “reward” from Foxtel or the Murdoch empire for this help?), Ten will wither on the vine and eventually collapse, costing Lachlan Murdoch hundreds of millions of dollars. — Glenn Dyer

Pecksniffian pasquinades as far as the eye can see. Sometimes on the road in the US, you meet enough people who have been disadvantaged by the poor design of Obamacare, or suffer from the incredible inefficiency of the US state, and you wonder, “perhaps these conservatives aren’t so out of touch after all” and “maybe I should buy gold”. In those circumstances, you can always reach for the National Review — the once-serious conservative magazine of record, that is now the right-wing political equivalent of a bouncy castle. But they have outdone themselves in the most recent issue, with an article called “The Hayekian Hoosier“, in which Charles C.W. Cooke essays an interpretation of Ron Swanson, the “real man” in US comedy series Parks and Recreation.

You might think this was a comedy. Cooke explains:

“Far from appealing only to the political fringe, Swanson hits repeatedly on timeless and deep-rooted civic ideals that have not disappeared from the public square. When he insists earnestly that ‘the less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am,’ he is reflecting a general anxiety about the rise of celebrity and the omnipresence of gossip … By unabashedly expressing his support for assiduous ‘self-reliance’ and ‘welfare avoidance’, and encouraging all those around him to learn to ‘live off the land’, he is taking his destiny in his own hands: the ultimate American ideal.”

He doesn’t of course. The character’s comic force comes from the fact that he delivers his libertarian homilies ensconced in a bloated government department, and regards it as a victory if he can avoid any and all meetings with the general public. Swanson is a satire of the absurdity of libertarianism — that it can only entertain its beliefs with a vast and complex state churning beneath it. Also, the character’s backstory — married twice, both wives named Tammy, the first of them, having been not only his schoolmarm at junior high, but a volunteer at the hospital when he was born — is a dig at Newt Gingrich, who married his high school teacher, and then divorced her while she had cancer.

There’s an added twist to this, in that the author is a floppy-haired Englishman, who has transplanted himself to the US and become more backwoods than Davy Crockett. He’s not quite there yet:

“Ron Swanson, an initially second-string character whose idiosyncratic mien and tough-but-kind libertarianism was almost certainly intended as pasquinade, has, slowly but surely, become the focus of a micro-cult … Rolling Stone’s sneering 2011 insistence that Swanson is ‘the perfect depiction of aggrieved American manhood at the twilight of the empire’ may have pleased the magazine’s Pecksniffian audience. But it misses the mark.”

That’s how it is in flyover country. Pecksniffian pasquinades as far as the eye can see. Read the whole thing for an insight into the hall of mirrors in which American conservatism lives. — Guy Rundle

Digital media to sweep ad spending. The global media-buying giant GroupM reckons more than half the money spent on advertising in the UK next year will go to digital media for the first time. GroupM, which is owned by advertising and marketing giant WPP, says ad spending will hit 15.7 billion pounds in 2015 (around $29 billion), up 5.7%, compared to the 14.7 million pounds that will be spent by the end of this month. Within this total, the online spend is forecast to grow 12.7% year-on-year to 8.1 billion pounds ($14.5 billion), making the UK the first country in which more than half the spend on advertising goes digital. GroupM says Australia’s got a ratio of 42% (42% of the total ad spend is outlaid on digital media), Sweden’s share is 47% and Denmark’s is 43%.

According to GroupM, paid search advertising will grow to 4.2 billion pounds, with about 29% of that on mobile devices, most of which is hoovered up by Google, which has more than 90% of the UK market.

As in every major economy, the UK’s print media remain under the most pressure, with 2014 advertising in “physical” newspapers and magazines expected to drop below 2.5 billion pounds ($34.6 billion), down 9% from 2013’s level. This will fall to 2.3 billion pounds in 2015, or $4.2 billion in 2015.

For UK newspapers, the news is gloomy. GroupM says UK papers will see 160 million pounds of print ad revenues disappear in 2015 (more than 3 million pounds a week). National papers will see a fall of 80 million pounds to 908 million, while regional papers will see a fall to 820 million, down 82 million pounds. TV ad spent will remain steady at a 26% share, or 4.1 billion pounds, or more than $7.7 billion. — Glenn Dyer

Front Page of the Day. We always knew they thought crocodiles were heroes at the NT News, but now they’ve just come out and said it:

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Peter Fray
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