Expectation management. At the bottom of NPR’s stories on the Orlando shooting was the following disclaimer:

“This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.”

It’s Maaaaaauuuurice! Our favourite banker does not like these elites (including brainwashing Marxists) and he’s got a book that tells them what’s what: the 1956 classic The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills. Sayeth Maurice: “In his book The Power Elite, C. Wright Mills talks about ‘interlocked prongs of power’ being political, military, and business.” Maurice further quote Mills, writing about the world of the 1950s: “… below them are professional politicians and pressure groups and professional celebrities who have the ear of those with direct power”.

Sadly for Maurice, Mills was a Marxist, a champion of Castro, and a co-author with Herbert Marcuse, the Frankfurt School Marxist usually blamed for “indoctrination” — and the power elite he was talking about wasn’t made of hipsters with blogs, it was banker-bureaucrats like Maurice Newman, writing for monopoly news organisations, and pretending to be one of the people. The ever-fascinating question: is Maurice playing dumb, or not playing? — Guy Rundle

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A simple ‘no’ would have sufficed. Last night’s Media Watch looked at the perfect storm facing digital publishers as ad rates tumble, Facebook sucks up what is left and the public turns to ad blockers.

News Corp and Fairfax were invited to comment and declined. News’ corporate affairs director Campbell Reid had this to say:

“News Corp is committed to the vibrant future of commercially funded, quality journalism in Australia and we will contribute our views and vision for our industry’s future in effective forums.

“Unfortunately that is not Media Watch.”

NZ regulator ponders Fairfax-APN merger. In what could be a template for similar deals around the media world, New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has outlined what it sees as the main issues in the proposed merger of the NZ print and radio assets of APN News and Media, and NZ print assets of Fairfax Media. And it is clear the primary focus will be on the digital/website business of both media giants, Fairfax’s stuff.co.nz and APN’s (NZME’s) nzherald.co.nz websites. Digital is increasingly the focus of all media companies around the world via paywalls, free access, advertising, the rise of ad blockers and the monster that is Facebook (all issues discussed on last night’s excellent edition of Media Watch).

In its statement the commission singled out issues including whether there are separate print and digital news and advertising markets (would a merger allow a reduction in competition?).

The commission will look at the most obvious issue — whether there’s a material overlap in online advertising and the supply of news and entertainment via stuff.co.nz and APN’s nzherald.co.nz websites.

APN and Fairfax Media are pushing the idea that they can’t compete in the online ad space against the likes of Google and Facebook without combining their resources, and that audiences and advertisers  don’t care which platform they use to get information. Both companies have adopted a “digital first” strategy prioritising online editorial and advertising over their traditional print businesses (as Fairfax has in Australia, along with the likes of the Financial Times internationally and a host of big UK dailies).

“We will examine the extent to which both advertisers and readers view different media as substitutes,” the regulator said. “As part of this assessment on the reader side, we will consider the extent to which content is created with a specific platform (print, digital or radio) in mind.”

The Commission says the main competition issues raised by the proposed merger include whether the companies would be able to increase prices or reduce the quality of services, it said. But it said it would also have to consider what would happen if the merger did not go ahead.

The approval of APN’s shareholders would also be required for the merger, as might the consent of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). The OIO has yet to provide confirmation. Should the merger go ahead, the APN company, NZME, wouldfloat on the NZX and then acquire the New Zealand assets of Fairfax Media, which would end up with an expected stake of less than 50% in the combined media business. — Glenn Dyer

Seven riding high.Quietly Kerry Stokes’ favourite media company, Seven West Media, is back in the good books of investors — the shares jumped more than 11% last Friday to hit a year high of $1.215. The last time they were that high was back in early June, 2015 as they fell and fell amid growing investor fears about the a debt restructuring and weakening revenue and earnings fears (which were proven true). Now the trend has been well and truly reversed.

Seven West shares are up a massive 53% or more so far in 2016, while the wider market has drifted and is up a mere 1.7%. Seven West’s biggest recent announcement though carries fears for its earnings — it is negotiating with News Corp Australia to take control of the Sunday Times newspaper in Perth and an associated website. Going deeper into dying print, even in a print monopoly in Perth is a big risk, but that is being ignored by investors newly confident about Seven’s prospects.

And it is better than the shares of its rivals — Nine Entertainment shares closed at $1.15 last Friday and are in the midst of a downtrend (they were $1.27 a month ago). Nine shares are down more than 39% so far this year on weak earnings and revenues and the continuing fallout of 60 Minutes’ Beirut adventure.

And Ten shares closed at $1.06 last Friday and have risen from 96.5 cents in February. But the $1.06 is really 10.6 cents before the recent share consolidation. That still leaves Foxtel with a loss on its 14.9% stake in Ten of around $15 million. Ten is valued at around $393 million, Nine $999.2 million and Seven West $1.8 billion. The market has voted, Seven is the place to be at the moment — so different than a year ago, when it was on every investor’s sell list. –Glenn Dyer

Front page of the day. In Orlando, the Sentinel ran its editorial on its front page. Its managing editor John Cutter explained why the paper choose a non-traditional front page:

“Many talked of the sadness that we were now the leaders on an infamous list of mass shootings in the United States. But also we heard a growing chorus throughout the day that this horror would not be how we are remembered.

“Let our community define itself by our unequivocal response: United.”

“Those are the key words in our front page statement in Monday’s Orlando Sentinel newspaper. We published it with a photo of a pair of people in a sorrowful embrace.”


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