In his weekly column in the media section of Monday’s Australian, Mark Day examined the future of Sky news, and in doing so made one good point — there’s too much opinion and not enough news — and failed to mention the war, so to speak.

Day noted:

“The recent appointment of Siobhan McKenna as News Corp Australia’s first director of broadcasting has prompted speculation about a possible brand reset for its newly acquired asset, Sky News … McKenna knows media inside out. She was previously Lachlan Murdoch’s wingman in Australia, running his investment firm Illyria and its Nova Entertainment radio stations during his decade outside News Corp. Now that he’s back as co-chairman of News Corp, and executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, it makes sense for News Corp to harvest her skills.”

Notice what is missing? Any reference to McKenna’s time on the board of the Ten network, from 2012 to a few weeks ago, when the network’s fortunes and ratings collapsed to the point where it’s very much an open question whether Ten can continue in its current form for much longer. McKenna was on the board representing Lachlan Murdoch who owns just under 9% of Ten (his “mate” James Murdoch sold him that stake after buying just on 18% of the network about six years ago).

And towards the end of his column, Day made the very sound point that “I have been an occasional guest freely dishing out my opinion on Sky panels but increasingly I have felt that opinion programming may have gone a step too far. Would it not be better to pull back to the core function of providing more news, at least part of the time?”

Crikey’s Guy Rundle is another with a similar view (now that is a thought that should terrify Sky and News management: Day and Rundle agreeing on something).

But Day’s point is valid when he says, “Sky has affiliations around the world and hundreds of hours of news material flows into the newsroom every day. A fraction of it is used. Why not easily and cheaply package half an hour on news from Europe, or Asia or North America each evening? Why not packages on war zones, science news or the ways the world’s climate or ­environmental problems are being addressed in other nations?”

Given McKenna’s failures on the Ten board, and those of her boss, Lachlan Murdoch, Day’s views look to have more validity. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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