SBS journo let go after sharing critical article. Yesterday afternoon, New Matilda and The Guardian carried reports saying a SBS journalist of seven years, Marion Ives, had been sacked after posting an article written for The Conversation by former SBS journalist Helen Vatsikopoulos that criticised the declining diversity at SBS.

Ives posted Vatsikopoulos’ article, generally critical of SBS management, to her Facebook page without comment. SBS News senior producer Stephen Wilson wasn’t a fan, commenting: “Shouldn’t people just shut up unless they know the facts?” Ives deleted the post later that same day.

When she turned up for work the following day, Ives was reportedly told she would not receive further shifts. In a farewell email sent to colleagues which was leaked, she wrote:

“After seven years as a regular part of the SBS team in Sydney and in Melbourne, I am sad to say farewell to you all …

“I wasn’t given any concrete reasons, but today I was told ‘budget constraints and reviews of staff’ mean no further casual shifts.”

New Matilda contacted Wilson, who said he hadn’t told anyone about Ives post. SBS told both The Guardian and New Matilda it didn’t comment on the circumstances of individual employees.

Ives was a long-term contractor to SBS, not a full-time employee. This employment is the case for many long-term SBS journalists, who lack formal protections against sacking in such circumstances. According to written answers provided to Senate estimates in June, SBS had 1082.4 full-time equivalent staff in June 2014. Only a third of these — 33.7% — were on permanent contracts. This makes it a lot easier for SBS to discontinue the employment of many of its journalists. For example, many of those who worked on Dateline last year were on casual contracts, meaning when they were told they wouldn’t be given more work this year, they weren’t “fired”, merely told their contracts wouldn’t be renewed. — Myriam Robin

Time of their lives. Another weak result from the dead tree publishing business in the US with Time Inc (which was spun out of Time Warner almost a year ago) reporting another quarter loss and a fall in revenues from magazine advertising and sales and the strength of the US dollar. Magazine reported an 8.7% fall in quarterly revenue, and a net loss of US$9 million, from a loss of US$74 million a year earlier.

Time Inc, whose titles include People, Sports Illustrated and  Time magazine, said its total revenue fell to US$680 million from US$745 million. There was a 9.5% fall in advertising revenues in the first quarter to US$353 million, while print revenues fell by 12% as the company explained in its statement, was due to fewer advertising pages sold due to lower demand. Digital-advertising revenue edged up 1.4% to $73 million. Circulation revenue declined 7.4% to $250 million. Not very good news there at all. — Glenn Dyer

The British Press has lost it. Peter Jukes writing in the newly launched Politico Europe on the UK’s election coverage:

“The press just haven’t reflected reality, let alone the views of their readers. For months polls have put Conservatives and Labour close with about third of the vote each, and smaller parties destined to hold some balance of power. But there has been no balance in the papers. Tracked by Election Unspun, the coverage has been unremittingly hostile to Ed Miliband, the Labour challenger, with national newspapers backing the Conservative incumbent, David Cameron over Labour by a ratio of five to one.

Veteran US campaign manager David Axelrod finds this politicization of the print media one of the most salient differences with the US. “I’ve worked in aggressive media environments before,” he told POLITICO, “but not this partisan.” Axelrod may have ax to grind as he advises the Labour Party, but even a conservative commentator and long-serving lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch has been shocked. “Tomorrow’s front pages show British press at partisan worst,” Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times rued. “All pretense of separation between news and opinion gone, even in ‘qualities.’”

As the cable churns: The fallout from the collapse of the Comcast bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC) continues with reports the deal between John Malone’s Charter Communications and the Newhouse family’s Bright House (America’s sixth biggest cable company) is kaput, according to Reuters and other sources. As a result Bright House could not end up marrying Time Warner Cable because of existing close links between the two. The reports say TWC negotiates Bright House’s programming and technology deals for a fee, and has right of first offer on the Newhouses’ cable systems, something Malone would have been able to overcome had TWC been bought by Comcast. Some reports point to Charter having another crack at TWC (which reported the strongest March results of the cable companies with a rise in subscriber numbers). But the Comcast rejection by US regulators points to the problem combing the two of the five biggest US cable groups. Malone and the Newhouse family (Vanity Fair and The New Yorker) control Discovery Communications. — Glenn Dyer

Video of the day. Let’s get it on …

Front pages of the day. Exit polls provide early glimpses of a result in the UK’s election. The Mirror, which barracked for Labour, spent a lot of money on black ink …

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey