Cruelling one government to save another? Four Corners says: no. A few days ago, a conspiracy theory took off on social media that the ABC, possibly at the behest of new Managing Director Michelle Guthrie, had urged Four Corners to delay its broadcast on juvenile detention in the Northern Territory until after the federal election, so as not to hurt the Liberal vote. We didn’t even bother telling you about it, because the journalist behind the broadcast, Caro Meldrum-Hanna, very quickly dismissed the theory and labelled it offensive. Before the theory had even gained ground, Four Corners’s EP Sally Neighbour had given an interview to The Guardian in which she said the footage and pictures that made the story so explosive were only secured by the ABC a week before broadcast.

Liberal MP Cory Bernardi now has another theory about the broadcast, but it’s the other way. He fears the ABC delayed the episode not to save the Coalition in the federal vote, but to hurt the Coalition in the upcoming NT election. As he wrote in his “Weekly Dose of Common Sense” newsletter yesterday:

“Such information gives me cause to question why the ABC chose now to present their story. Could it have anything to do with the Northern Territory election due this month?

“Surely, such a politically charged program wouldn’t present events that occurred under a previous Labor administration; events that had already been investigated and resolved by a court of law, as new material damning of a conservative government just weeks out from an election?

“The mere thought of such a thing happening should alarm anyone who values the charter of independence of our ABC.”

So did the ABC delay the broadcast to hurt the NT government? Neighbour tweeted: no.


All about Fox. The old adage of “follow the money” when looking for an explanation or an understanding of a decision or action by an individual or organisation was driven home this morning by the fourth-quarter and full-year financial figures for the Murdoch clan’s main company, 21st Century Fox. The 1000-pound gorilla in the room was tackled immediately from the start of the post-results release analysts briefing when Lachlan Murdoch explained why Roger Ailes had to go over still-unresolved multiple claims of sexual harassment.

“Throughout this process we have moved quickly and decisively  to protect the business, to protect its employees, and to protect the unique and important voice Fox broadcasts. There is no one more dedicated or more able to transition Fox News to new leadership than its founder. As acting CEO he joins an existing team that is extraordinarily strong and equally devoted to its success. Fox News Channel is on track to have its highest rated year ever and has led all of basic cable both in prime time and total day for three full months of this calendar year.”

The quarterly and full-year figures underline this point: Fox’s cable news and entertainment operations (Fox News, Fox Business, FX, Fox Sports, etc) now dominate the overall 21st Century Fox’s revenue and earnings to the point where the other businesses — Fox TV, the film operations and investment in the European satellite TV operations on Sky — are immaterial to the current value of Fox and the Murdoch family’s fortune. — Glenn Dyer

Not so fast, Kerry. It’s going to be a rougher ride than first thought for Kerry Stokes’ attempt to snaffle a monopoly on print media in Perth by getting his 41%-owned Seven West Media to help out the struggling Murdoch family at News Corp by buying their sliding Sunday Times and the Perth Now news website.

The competition regulator, the ACCC revealed this morning that it was looking for feedback from advertisers and others on the proposal. But the tone from the commission’s statement — and the associated issues paper — should give Stokes and News some heart though.

The proposed buy would combine the two highest-circulating Western Australian print newspapers and related online news sites. The ACCC says it is investigating the impact this would have on two distinct groups: readers and advertisers.

The ACCC wants further submissions from industry participants in response to the Statement of Issues by August 18 and has promised a decision by September 15. — Glenn Dyer

Video of the day. We wish all TV news was like this …


Peter Fray

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