Ka-Ching air date. The last documentary lauded  ad-man Neil Lawrence produced before his sudden death in July will air on the ABC on Tuesday October 20th at 9.30pm. Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation is directed by Jane Manning and produced by Lawrence and Mitzi Goldman, and explores how poker machines are “programmed for addiction”. It features interviews with “industry insiders” who go on the record to explain “how these sophisticated machines combine graphics and musical elements with complex mathematical algorithms to keep punters hooked”. It also looks at how Australian governments have become “the biggest addicts of all” to pokie revenues, revealing the “powerful alliances that support the pokie industry and benefit from the massive income it generates”. — Myriam Robin

Thirteen scandals and counting. Daily Telegraph columnist Annette Sharp landed herself in rather familiar territory when she penned a column in The Daily Telegraph over the weekend urging Jesinta Campbell and Buddy Franklin to consider postponing their summer wedding after Franklin took indefinite leave from the Sydney Swans to receive treatment for a mental health issue.

She offered 13 “reasons”, including:

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  • “The rumours that simply won’t quit”;
  • “Jesinta may still be absorbing the news that mental illness can be hereditary”; and
  • “Because Franklin’s career and earning power is less certain than it was a month ago.”

Campbell didn’t welcome the “advice”, writing in a statement posted to Twitter that while she didn’t usually bother with Sharp’s column, she considered it important to tell those struggling with mental illness that Sharp was wrong.  “Your challenges do not define you, and your suffering does not make you less appealing as a life partner. You deserve love and happiness and to find someone who will love you, completely. Today’s article was shallow and given the seriousness of mental health challenges, in my opinion, irresponsible!”

Sharp responded that her advice had been meant in good faith and has been misrepresented, and she has been defending the column all weekend on Twitter. “I wish Jesinta [and] Buddy all the very best for the future — hence the column. I wrote it because I’m concerned [for] them,” she tweeted.

According to reports first in the Oz this morning, Campbell is considering suing the Daily Tele over the column. If she does, it wouldn’t be the first time the lawyers were called in over Sharp’s unwanted advice. Earlier this year, the Fin’s Rear Window reported that Candice Falzon and her husband, cricketer David Warner, had gotten a $200,000 payout after Sharp wrote a piece suggesting that Falzon had married Warner for his money (the article has since been deleted). — Myriam Robin

Jumping the gun. Oh look, a Darren Davidson “exclusive” media story on page 1 of today’s edition of The Australian. This effort was an interview with new Communications Minister Mitch Fifield: “Fifield flags shake-up of media laws: Technology isn’t standing still”. And what was this on the front page of The Australian Financial Review? Why a non-exclusive story headlined “Media laws, sports rights shake-up”, under a strapline “Fifield seeks consensus not unanimity”.

Neither report noted the short time frame for any reform — the election will be held in around a year’s time, and that is a very short period for any change to be agreed on with the industry, a bill drafted, put through the lower house and then into the Senate with no certainty it will get up. Both stories make it clear that the “consensus” being sought will involve getting Kerry Stokes and the News Corp gang on side with any changes. But with no real change being signalled in the sports anti-siphoning rules, News is bound to continue its opposition. The so-called reach rule (75% limit of the Australian population for any one commercial network) is the object for lobbying for change by Nine and Ten, but not regional broadcasters, and especially Kerry Stokes. Seven is the dominant regional TV network and doesn’t need any rule change to give it what it already has.

And both stories failed to note that media reform has been a value-destroying effort for those companies claimed to be “winners” from change. Just look at the destruction in value at the Nine Network from the private equity ownership (losses of $4 billion, perhaps more), and the collapse in value at Seven West Media since it was born from a merger in 2011 with a value of $4.1 billion. The company is now valued at $1.15 billion, and Kerry Stokes is the poorer for it. In fact it is a $75 million share buyback program that is keeping Seven shares around its present level of 76 US cents and stopping them from testing the all-time lows of around 66 cents a month ago.

And is Fifield jumping the gun anyway? Could the ACCC and ACMA probes of Foxtel’s proposed investing in a 15% stake in Ten make any changes to the media laws redundant? — Glenn Dyer

Sky’s the limit. Will Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of Sky, be the most highly paid executive in the Murdoch clan’s empire? The Sky annual report, issued in London on Friday, reveals that Darroch’s pay more than tripled to 16.9 million pounds (more than A$36.5 million). The sum includes base pay, bonuses and shares. That was up from 4.88 million pounds paid in 2013-14 (more than A$10.5 million). As CEO of Sky (the most successful company in the Murdoch empire at the moment) Darroch is paid a base salary of 984,750 pounds (more than A$2.1 million).

The jump in his total pay packet was because of a long-term incentive plan, which paid out 11.82 million pounds (more than A$25 million). But it’s not the first time Darroch has been paid a motza. In 2013, Darroch’s pay topped 17 million pounds (more than $A36 million). thanks to an incentive payment of 12.5 million pounds ($A27 million).

Darroch’s big pay rise would have stood out in Sky’s total employee costs of 1.33 billion pounds (over A$2.8 billion). In the year to June, Sky lifted revenues 5% to 11.3 billion pounds (more than A$24 billion). Pre-tax profit of jumped 6% to 1.20 billion pounds (A$2.6 billion).

The broadcaster added 973,000 new customers in the year to June, up 45% on the previous year, in its first annual results since it bought its sister companies in Germany and Italy last year for 4.9 billion pounds. 21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky. We haven’t seen its proxy statement for its 2014-15 financial year to see how much Rupert Murdoch was paid. — Glenn Dyer

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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