Oz‘s ‘exclusive’ a broken embargo. Today’s Australian splashes with a report based on an analysis from the Centre for Independent Studies that found $5.9 billion of government funding on indigenous affairs was being wasted.


The report was exclusively reported in The Australian, but had been sitting in the inboxes of dozens of journalists since yesterday. The release from the CIS had big red writing on every page saying it was embargoed until 11.59pm tonight. Embargoes are requests for journalists not to publish on a report sent in advance until a certain date, to give everyone a chance to properly read, digest and plan their coverage before rushing to print. Nothing much happens if you break an embargo, but whoever sent it to you might be cross enough to leave you off the list next time. It’s hard to see the CIS being unhappy with the front-page treatment the Oz gave them though.

The CIS emailed journalists this morning to tell them it was OK to write about the report now.

“Embargo has been broken, and hence lifted,” the release this morning said.

Speaking of the Oz, we said yesterday that the paper had got Fairfax’s share price wrong. This morning, the paper agrees …


That column was written by none other than former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell. If you enjoy reading about him as much as we do, today’s Rear Window in the Fin might hit the spot. — Myriam Robin

Pollies beware: paper to publish ignored questions. A Queensland APN paper earlier this month announced a new policy about how it would deal with questions to politicians.

An email from the Fraser Coast Chronicle sent to a political staffer (and seen by Crikey) said:

“In future with political stories in the Chronicle, we will be highlighting questions that were asked but were not answered.

“I appreciate with replies to media enquiries sometimes multiple questions can be answered with one answer, so in that case it the question would not be printed.

“But when questions are blatantly skipped over and not answered with no reason given, we will be printing that the question was either ignored or unable to be answered.”

We wondered whether this was a local initiative or a new policy across all of APN, but our media requests to the Fraser Coast Chronicle went unanswered this morning.

The policy seems another step in the eternal tug-of-war between official spokespeople and journalists when it comes to public disclosure. Politicians giving generic, unhelpful answers to specific questions has frustrated every journalist from time to time. Full disclosure of one’s dealings with politicians can discourage this, but it can cut both ways. Last week we read a letter Four Corners journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna had sent NT corrections minister John Elferink, seeking his permission to film in the Don Dale facility. The rather effusive letter — written two months before the episode went to air and before Four Corners got its hands on video footage of the brutal treatment meted out to inmates — made it look like Four Corners had misled the minister about the nature of their journalistic investigation. Perhaps journalism and sausage-making have something in common. — Myriam Robin

Gruen transfers. Forbes reports:

“Comedy Central is filling the vacant 11:30pm time-slot with Chris Hardwick’s @Midnight following the surprise cancellation of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. There’s no word on how long the move will remain in effect, but it’s a certainty 11:30 will be in turmoil until a replacement is found. However, the answer to the network’s stress may not lie with its usual roster, but rather thousands of miles away in the land down under.

“Sitting in the wings of Australia’s publicly funded ABC1 is Gruen, a half-hour comedy/panel show hosted by popular Aussie comedian Wil Anderson. In the series, Anderson examines the world of advertising through his comedic lens along with a group of real-life marketing experts. If approached the right way, this might just be the show to get the post-Daily Show slot back on track.”

Primed for a fall. Reality has caught up with Prime Media Group, the Seven network’s regional affiliate in parts of Australia. New media forms, such as streaming video, the rise of social media and falling viewing levels and ad revenues, as well as diversifying viewing patterns, have impacted the business’ bottom line. And so it was in the year to June 30. Prime’s two trading downgrades during the year to June ended up being accurate warnings of sliding revenues and profits.

And as a result of that slide, and a sharp fall in audience levels during the year, Prime Media Group has bitten the bullet and written down the value of its TV licences and goodwill by just on $123 million as the outlook for regional TV broadcasting worsens. And, in doing so, the company became the last Australian TV network to impair its licence and goodwill balance sheet values.

Directors said of the impairment:

“This adjustment reflects the impact of new and largely unregulated market entrants, increased competition in the form of global and national media platforms, and the comprehensive reach of the internet and streaming services, all of which impact regional television audiences, and revenues.”

Despite the optimism, the result was bad — revenue down 7.7% to $238.8 million, profit down 18.3% and earnings before interest,tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 7.7% to $55.4 million. With the impairments of $122.9 million, the loss was just over $93 million. Total dividend for the year to June was 3.7%, down from 6.8 cents a share for 2014-15. That will hit the income for the company’s largest shareholder, Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings, which controls 11.4% of the issued shares. — Glenn Dyer

TV Ratings. Seven’s night as The Block eased, as did Australian Survivor on their second nights out. Zumbo’s Just Desserts on Seven was the hit of the night, but let’s wait until after tonight (its second night) and then next week to see.  But it dragged in female viewers and helped Nine do well in the major demos, as well as win total people, the main channels and a very big win in the regions. Just Desserts (brought to you by the sugar industry?) averaged 1.532 million national viewers and 1.081 in the metros and 451,000 in the regions — a sugar hit!

Home and Away narrowly survived a Shark Jump with the plane crash. The audience held up well, especially among regional viewers (which are the program’s greatest supporter now). Home and Away had 1.415 million national viewers: 878,000 in the metros and 537,000 in the regions.

Weak performers: Seven’s Cheapest Weddings, straight after Just Desserts. But Weddings still managed 1.035 million national viewers (even if it had 708,000 metro viewers). Australian Survivor failed to crack the million national viewer level – managing 980,000 and 734,000 in the metros. The first episode on Sunday night managed 1.048 million. In a worry for Ten more people watched Have You Been Paying Attention which followed Survivor – it averaged 1.123 million national viewers and 843,000 in the metros, easily beating Survivor which was meant to be its lead in.

The Block second episode out, with a reveal faded to 1.368 million national viewers from 1.581 million for the return episode on Sunday night. That could be a concern for Nine if that slide is repeated. Reveals do the best (apart from the finals) in home renovation programs.

Tonight, The Block and Just Desserts back up. Ten starts a new Offspring-style lifestyle drama called Life In Pieces, while Seven returns 800 Words, which was TV’s most successful new program from 2015.

The ABC ticked over with the Australian Story episode on Little Patti grabbing more than 1.1 million national viewers and deserving more.

And in the regions Seven’s dominant win last night was underlined with the News topping the most watched list with 654,000, followed by Seven News/Today Tonight with 543,000, Home and Away with 537,000, The Chase Australia 5.30pm had 468,000 viewers and Just Desserts had 451,000 in fifth.

And with the Olympics over Seven said that over all Olympic days, it reached more than 18 million TV viewers, with a total of 37.7 million online streams. — To read Glenn Dyer’s full TV ratings, click here.